Coincidences are those things that happen that make us all a little uneasy. You get up in the morning and think about someone and remind yourself to call them and later you get a call that they are in the hospital. You hear a strange word that you have never heard before and you look it up and study it for a minute. Then you hear that word spoken several times that same day by various people. You remember an old movie and as the days goes on the sound track is played on the radio and other scenes from the movie are shown on TV.
There is something eerie about coincidences and names have been given it like synchronicity and serendipity but at the heart it is a reminder that there may be more to the world around us than meets the eye. The creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming, has his massive villain “Goldfinger” quip that when something happens “once it is happenstance, twice it is coincidence, and the third time it is enemy action”. Social media of course can make it appear that things are going on that may not seem to be as huge a deal as some think. When you read that “thousands” have signed an online petition to get rid of so and so because of some “gaffe” or so called politically incorrect comment, it needs to be remembered that there are ways of making a few basement boy creeps look like a massive social movement. A conservative talk show host was boycotted for a while because of tremendous pressure on advertisers from folks angry about what was being said. A later investigation shows that the whole thing was a set up by a few to make it look like “thousands” were disaffected and would no longer buy products from those who advertised. All the “spontaneous” disgust and anger and coincident twitter folks that just decided one day they had enough was nonsense and “enemy action”.
Churches are not immune to nastiness and division and political plotting. Over the summer I met many people at funerals and different functions who brought up a question concerning confessional subscription. Now to get the idea understand that confessional churches stand for something – Biblical authority and a set of confessions based on the Scriptures that are “binding”. The Scriptures are the only rule and authority for our doctrine and life and our confessions are a true and correct exposition of Scripture. Pastors then are bound to the scriptures and confessions and congregations are too. Individual members also make a confession when they join the church either as confirmands or as new members after receiving instruction. People serving are asked to sign the constitution of the church. The reason for this confessional subscription, or subscribing to these beliefs is simple – to keep the authority of the Scripture as the word of God front and center and to protect people from coming under the influence of authoritarians that would usurp the Word and become the authority. In other words the subscription is meant to keep churches from becoming cults. So that seems to be a strange thing to be brought up in conversations at funerals and prayer services and burials but it happened at least three times over the summer. The old “Goldfinger” statement came to mind when I saw on social media some comments about cults, and found out there was a conscious and organized effort to accuse certain churches of being cults.
When folks don’t get their way at conventions of churches and cannot change policies or direction by convincing people and getting a majority of votes they have been known to try the ways of the world. Whisper campaigns, charges of false doctrine, accusations of sexual harassment, political incorrect speech etc. have been know to happen and continue. So folks that pay attention to such things might want to pay attention across a wide swath of your organization. Accusations from social media against certain people in important positions; charges of sexual harassment; malfeasance or misfeasance; and on it goes. Just remember ““once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and the third time it enemy action”. Of course the permanently offended will wonder who is the enemy? Principalities and powers and those who have the “form of godliness and deny it’s power” that’s who.