Rhetoric of Crisis

“The church is immersed, in short, in a rhetoric of crisis….  At first I joined fully in the rhetoric of crisis.  I found that it gave me entree to audiences…I began to get uneasy about my zealous viewpoint for three resons….  For one thing I found myself part of a cadre of interpreters who were touring the denomination saying things that seemed to procure more and more invitations to say more and more potent and decisive things.  I began to realize that the rhetoric of crisis is a rhetoric of power.  It gives poiwer to the speaker…the rhetoric of crisis takes power away from the laity and pastors by diminishing the significance of their work….  Second...the rhetoric of crisis profoundly serves U.S. culture’s idol of success.…   Worse, the rhetoric of crisis distracts the church from the gospel it has been entrusted with proclaiming.  It focuses on the institution instead of the messege the institution represents to the world.”

Polity, Practice, and the Mission of the United Methodist Church, 2006 Edition, Thomas Edward Frank


7 responses to “Rhetoric of Crisis

  1. Great quotation. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. With John, great thoughts – thanks for sharing.

    I think it is a similar vein of thought underlying a growing number of new churches too. Starting new churches from the rhetoric of there NEEDING to be a change – that other churches are FAILED. I think it also seems to empower many blogs.

    I’ve been challenged and encouraged to comment on a great deal of rhetoric that I feel simply does not contribute to the reasons why I blog.

  3. John, Ken: Thanks for taking time to share with me.

    Ken, I agree with your thoughts. The quickest way to gain popularity with a group is to carry the gossip and point out what’s wrong with a thing.

    I hesitated posting this as I fear that it falls into the very category I’m pointing to in the post. In fact, these words are the reason I have been posting less and less over the year.

    However, I post this in a repentant way, not in an arrogant way.

  4. Jim,

    I trust you won’t mind if I repost this at Irenic Thoughs this coming week. Thanks for placing it here as a reminder to crank down the rhetoric and be about the work of the Gospel.



  5. I noticed this at Conference this year. Rather than talking about the essence of the Gospel we became so entrenched in trivial matters. I wonder if we don’t talk much about the Gospel because we assume a room full of pastors and faithful lay people don’t need to hear it since they are faithful enough to attend conference??? If that is so, that telling the Gospel at such a meeting is a waste of time and redundant for the said audience there, I wonder if we are being a bit pretentious on our “status” in the kingdom?
    I say all of this to say Dr. Frank (proud he will be my polity teacher next year) has it right that we are focused on the trivial instead of the Gospel. And pastors are the main culprits.
    And I agree that new churches are often started and grown because they can serve as the “anti-establishment” church rather than their faithfulness to proclaiming the Gospel.
    One more thought, do you think we project this sense of crisis out of a deep seeded desire to be needed? I mean is it easier from a job security standpoint to perpetuate crisis in the church over just sticking to the Gospel and letting it do the work? Or have we become so “advanced” that we just don’t have the faith that the Gospel can do what it says it can???
    Great post Jim!

  6. Pingback: Check Out Jim Morrow’s Blog « everyday theology

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