The People with the Signs
You just miss out on some things at Christian school.
For instance, one thing I never saw in my time at Harding University, was a crazy pro-Christ protest. There wasn’t much of a need for it there. But here at the University of Arkansas, apparently there is.
The protesters, who I sat and talked with today, were named Dave and Tom. They are some indy-folk resembling a couple of homeless guys. What initially drew me to these guys though was the different messages displayed on their poster boards, written in black Sharpie marker.
One side, in big black letters read, “Jesus wants you to make Love not War!” The reverse said, “Women should wear Head Coverings!” Now… I don’t know where you tend to fall in the realm of religious thought, but in my background those are two expressions that then to reside at opposite ends of the religious spectrum. That was pretty funny to me so I knew I had to go talk to these guys.
We sat down and I started talking. They were a bit defensive being as they had been heckled most of the day, but once we worked past that we were able to have a good discussion. Turns out they are a couple of self-taught guys who really felt like they needed to start supporting a Gospel that encompassed the whole New Testament. That means believing in nonviolence and the head coverings of women. It means resting on the communion and child-bearing for salvation.
I asked them where they think this all got messed up and why we only focus on some things not others. Their answer was a bit suprising, “The church fathers.”
“Church Fathers?” I asked.
“Yeah man, look at guys like Augustine, Aquinas, the popes. They all wanted heretics, that is people who don’t agree with them to be lit on fire man. Disunity lies on the shoulders of Martin Luther he is to blame for all denominational problems. Those are all guys that gave the Church a bad name man, and we are trying to get away from all of that and just be the church like Jesus wanted.”
“But, the church father’s weren’t all bad. I mean we get a lot of our insights and some real honesty from guys like Augustine. We get some real expressions of love and mission from a lot of the saints. You wouldn’t have a Bible in your hand, much less in English if it wasn’t for Martin Luther.”
I laughed a little bit to find myself discussing and defending many of these characters.
“Okay dude, imagine that you were standing here and I handed you a Bible. Then I went off and burned people alive. Would you call me a Christian? Would I go to heaven?”
“I guess not. But what percentage of their writing do you think is useful, and what percentage do you think should be thrown out? I mean, like I said, there is some great stuff to be said for the insights and pursuits they made toward God. So 70% good, 30% bad?”
“What if I gave you a cup of coffee that was 30% poison?”
They were a fun couple of guys. I would disagree with them sternly, but we had a good talk none the less and I think we understand where the other was coming from. They hope to be around campus every couple of weeks until the end of the semester, so I am sure I will see them again.
If you see them, tell them hello!