Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Love Letters from Moody

Be ready for the most theological post I've made in probably 6 months...

I know that everyone was wondering what I thought about the comment I got on my Moody post from Moody student Hannah. For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, go read my "Moody Hates Old People" post from a week or so ago.

Now here's the response I got from Moody student and Jenkins hall resident Hannah.

"I see that you come tainted to this issue and obviously you have something in for Moody or for evangelicals or both, for you haven't taken into consideration the long-term goals and motives ofan over 100 year old institute that strives to send people out with a worthy cause. OR maybe you have considered it just disregard it, looking for your next victim to lay over on your little blog.

These people that graduate from here? they're on fire, in love with the Lord like you obviously could never imagine.

You come to visit the campus only to criticize, mock, and offend them. (Community showers with old people? are you serious?)

Recommendations for your next flattening of an evagelical institute: 1)Don't leave empty holes about bribes as if MBI would be instable enough to even consider this form of gaining something desired. 2) As I recall, you made inferences ("for all I can tell") which might be construed as another hole.

If you knew anything about the heart of Moody, you'd know that their goal was not to put out old, poor people. Have you read your entry. You contradict yourself completely. Do you even know what amount of Moody students live in Jenkins this year? 160. That's a whopping 4 floors out of 14.

-disturbed by your naivety. A fellow Jenkins resident"

Let me introduce myself, Hannah, for the sake of conversation and a little context to my postings. I am a graduate of an evangelical institution and sought, with all my heart, to lead a revival alongside Tod DeKruyter and Beth Waterman (amongst others) there my Freshman year. We would pray in the library instead of eating lunch. We were on fire and in love with the Lord and wanted everyone around us to feel the same way. Believe it or not, I can imagine the people who graduate from Moody because I know many of them and I know people graduating from many other great evangelical schools and bible college who love Jesus and are going to devote their whole lives to ministry.

Somewhere along my trip through college I came upon some troubling realizations. Primary among them was the disproportionate relationship between people's love for the Lord and care and concern for the people around them. I remember going to college chapel and worshipping with my fellow students and then going to class and studying the Bible and being very excited about following Jesus. I remember reading my Bible and finding things in there that were very different from the way I, and most everyone else I knew at college, were living their lives. While I often would be critical of people who drank alcohol, had sex, and were gay, I found very little if any statements about these topics in Jesus' words in the Bible. Instead, I found lots and lots of statements about how being a Christian and being on fire and in love with Jesus meant living with very little and giving everything to the poor. I read about how the only way to be faithful to the message of Jesus was to serve ones neighbors and act for peace and repay evil with good.

I remember being very confused because most of my schools worship and chapels would say very little about these things and say a lot about how important it was to not have sex and to be the best at whatever you did. I remember asking people questions about these things that Jesus said, wondering how it was that Jesus said to give things away yet the mission of the college I went to was primarily about building nice buildings and having good video equipment for chapel and raising more money from alumni. Sure, they were proud and happy about graduates who decided to devote their lives to the poor in india or africa, but what was most important was loving jesus and having good worship services and making money. They had noble goals, creating disciples of Jesus who would impact their world because of a good education. They often achieved this goal. I just wondered about how it was done sometimes.

When you said "you haven't taken into consideration the long-term goals and motives ofan over 100 year old institute that strives to send people out with a worthy cause" it made me think about many conversations I have had with evangelicals. Usually I ask a question like "why do you think your church needs 5 huge flatscreen tvs to project live shots of the worship band onto?" or "how come your church is building another building when the old one works ok?" or "why are you spending your money on receiving a youth ministry degree when Jesus says to give your money to the poor and follow him?" Usually the answer is something like what you may or may not be suggesting here. They suggest that the goal justifies the steps they are taking. They have a goal, or in some cases even a mission, and they assume that whatever it takes to get there is ok because they believe this goal is God given. In many cases, the goals are: serving people in ministry, bringing people into relationship with Jesus and the church, etc. But often enough, people believe that if the goal is good, whatever it takes to get there is ok too. Sometimes this philosophy is obviously a bad idea. Like when someone so believes they have figured out what God wants them to do that they end up stealing a bunch of money from their church to accomplish their goals. Other times, though, what they see as the best steps to achieve a goal doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Sometimes it looks like a good investment to rehab a building who's property value will go up. Or move to the suburbs where things are safer and lots of other people are moving. Or take a million dollars from a coffee company to let them sell coffee at your church. In these cases, sometimes people need to be reminded that while certain goals are in line with the gospel, there are other, more basic demands of the gospel, that require one to change the course to their goals. I think this is what is happening with Jenkins Hall.

While I was being more sarcastic than anything else in my original post, and while I did express symapthy with Moody finding out that they weren't properly informed when they bought the property, I think that Moody, as a God fearing, Jesus loving institution, has a mandate that supercedes their mission to produce men and women dedicated to following Jesus in whatever form it takes. While this goal is a good one and one that I respect, I believe that there is a more basic mission for all Christians; the care and respect of the poor and the elderly, that supercedes producing college graduates that love Jesus.

You were concerned with some of my inferences, which is fair, if you are unaware of my particular sense of humor that you may or may not find humorous. Clearly I do not believe that Moody students and old people are showering together, however funny the thought may be. Also, I would be shocked and disturbed beyond words if it were true that Moody had bribed government offices to get the building. I wouldn't consider it possible, hence the joke. Thus, my original post was an attempt to make a sort of bland story about old people, a bible college, and public housing a little more entertaining for my fellow evangelical school graduates. I obviously did not make this clear. Also, to finish out fact debates, the news report I quoted acurately said there are 160 students but only 125 eldery residents.

Now, with these clarifications aside, I want to reiterate my whole point and why I was still slightly disturbed and concerned about the report. I truely believe that Moody, being a God fearing, Jesus loving institution, upon hearing that the building they had aquired had an outstanding contract promising affordable housing to poor elderly men and women in the city of Chicago, should have had a very different reaction than the one they had. While maybe disapointed and frustrated that their original plan for reaching their goal of producing college educated, God fearing, Jesus loving students has to be altered, honoring this contract and providing a place for arguably the most forgotten members of our society (old poor people) should be considered a great opportunity for Moody. Instead, they have suggested that pending the results of the law suit they will move to have the contract disolved in 2008. In other words, they seek out the opportunity to pursue their own goal at whatever the cost, in this case a rare opportunity for affordable housing in the city. While I would expect such a harsh cut and run strategy from secular institutions and reality buisnesses, I am saddened to see the same attitude from a Bible college. I believe that as Christians it is essential to honor ones promises, even ones that we stumble upon. Even more so, I believe as Christians that taking care of the old, the poor, and the sick supercedes whatever other goals we have.

The whole story reminds me of the Good Samaratin. I am pretty sure that the priest that passed by the man who had been beaten and robbed had good, God fearing, Jesus loving goals. He was probably on his way to some very important priestly duty. I mean, the priest had devoted his whole life to professional service for the Kingdom of God. But the Priest walks right on by, leaving the man basically to die because this was not a step toward his ultimate goal. On the other hand, you have the good Samaratin who stops and helps the man because he was simply moved by compassion. He was operating out of no large scale moral agenda or goal that included the step of helping this man. He was definately derailed in his travel plans. Yet he is the hero of the story, not the bible college or seminary educated priest who has been commisioned to a life of service to God and who no doubt does many holy and sacred steps toward this goal.

Do you see my point? Like the priest, Moody is trying to pass along the side of the road in pursuit of its greater goal, producing college graduates who are God fearing and Jesus loving, a great and honorable goal. Yet, in this case, they have stumbled across someone who was left on the side of the road with nothing. And Moody, like the priest, are passing along, hoping someone else deals with it. In this case, like the parable, a Samaratin may stroll along in the form of government aid and care and alternative housing. Just like the parable, then, Jesus would probably applaud the "Samaratin" who has aided and, indirectly, disgrace the holy man who leaves in pursuit of "higher callings."

Do I think Moody hates old people? No. Not at all. Do I think that Moody has bought into the very unbiblical philosophy that the ends, so long as good and Godly, justify the means, regardless their form? Yes. Do I think that Moody should find somewhere else for all you students to live and offer these apartments back up for low income seniors? Yes. I really do. I know that it makes zero buisness sense but it makes a whole lot of Gospel sense.

And finally, in regards to your statements that I "come to visit the campus only to criticize, mock, and offend them," I would love a tour of Jenkins Hall and a chance to visit with the students who live there as well as the remaining elderly residents if you want to invite me. And, for the record, I visited Moody in hopes of being a student there, and have since visited to look at the nice buildings, specifically the chapel, and wonder what it would have been like to be there as a student, not to criticize and mock and offend.


At 9/27/2006 10:50 AM, Blogger Jeff BBz said...

hey! I used to pray for revival too! with beth waterman and tod dekryter! we must have alternated times. or maybe i was doing that sophomore year. i can't remember.

I left a message on hannahs xanga, the same one i left on here, and she said she would think about it.

At 10/03/2006 11:32 PM, Blogger JonAmos said...

hey i was just wondering... what makes an institution "God-honoring" anyway?

is it like being in a "Christian band" or working at a "Christian" eye-glasses company?

What constitutes a "Christian" education?

At 10/11/2006 12:14 AM, Blogger Liza said...

I think everyone used to pray with Beth Waterman, unless they were already sleeping in the trash on our dorm room floor.


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