To the Church Called Mainline by William H. Willimon

To the Church Called Mainline:

Behold I make all things new! Even you. How eagerly you began this century that you so confidently called "Christian." You organized to beat the Devil, to build, to expand, to crusade, to re form, to grow. Quite a contrast to the way your century ends. You, who enjoyed thinking of yourselves as "mainline," got sidelined. Though you are averse to taking my Word literally, for my sake, and for yours, I hope that you will at least take these words seriously.

I, the One who so exuberantly turned water into wine at Cana, tire of your propensity to turn wine into water at your bureaucracies in Nashville, Minneapolis, and Louisville. The best thing about you is your past. What does that tell you? My, how you loved to organize and build! You made North America into the most thoroughly Protestant Christian place in the world. Hospitals, orphanages, schools, nursing homes, printing presses. You really took love of neighbor to a new level, and I'm grateful. And while I enjoyed dismantling sacred edifices rather than building them, you built some beautiful churches. Give me The Lutheran Hymnal any day over most of those tasteless "praise choruses" of some of my evangelical friends.

Fosdick, Harkness, Peale, Steimlie, Thurman, Achtemeier can preach for me any time they like. I wish some of them would steer a bit closer to the Scriptures, but I'll speak to them individually about that. When you mainliners stop talking about me, your preaching tends to get moralistic and trite. I hate that. It wouldn't kill you to get back to the Bible.

You know me, I love to make the oldline new. If you will stick with me, I shall give you a future, new wineskins, and all that. I am Lord of Life, not death. I shall move you from mordant decline to life. ...

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Christianity Today
To the Church Called Mainline by William H. Willimon
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October 25, 1999

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