Editor’s note: Sometimes the Council is criticized for being too involved in issues of social justice. Here is a letter to the editor published in the Raleigh News & Observer. Lee Foster, a summer intern with us from Duke Divinity School, responds below:
The writer of the Jan. 2 letter “Christ’s example” exposed the spiritual corruption of the N.C. Council of Churches, of which she serves as a board member, through her statement that the “work of the council [includes] the critical issues of peace, hospitality and stewardship of the Earth.”
Although these are exemplary, the example and mission of Jesus Christ in coming to this Earth as true God and true man was first and foremost to bridge the gap between sinful man and a holy and righteous God, through his death and resurrection in paying the penalty for your sin, and mine, and purchasing a place in Heaven for us.
In that light, all the good works of the council and its associated churches are as wood, hay and stubble if members are not taught that they are sinners and that they need a savior.
Unfortunately, that central theme appears nowhere in the stated values of the writer nor the mission statement of the council.
While it is true that central to Christian theology is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it would be erroneous to reduce the whole of Christian theology to a narrow set of beliefs. If one surveys the gospels, then a person will find Jesus both expounding upon theology and liberating people. For those who were sick, he cured them of their sickness. For those who were blind, he gave them sight. For those who were saddened, he comforted them. Jesus gave concrete solutions to the problems that people faced in the 1st century and did not merely offer them a set of beliefs.
The NC Council of Churches occupies a specific role to fulfill a specific purpose, namely, to promote ecumenism among peoples of faith in order to work together for change in the wider social arena. It is for the betterment of society that we work. By doing so, we show our nation that people of faith aren’t merely those who live with a pie-in-the-sky mentality. We show that we care deeply and intimately what happens to our neighbors and fellow human beings. We show that our actions are part of our theology.
–Lee Foster, NC Council of Churches Intern