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Emmaus & Issues of the Church

The following letter, signed by both the Emmaus International Spiritual Director and International Lay Director, addresses The Walk to Emmaus’ involvement, or lack thereof, with doctrinal and social issues.

 

Christians, like all people, do not agree on everything.  Yet, this divergence is set aside in Emmaus.  In Emmaus, there are no issues since Emmaus is designed to present those fundamental concepts of mainline Christianity where everyone is in agreement.

 

The church faces many issues of doctrine and of social concerns.  That is right and proper, and the church must wrestle with these issues.  Emmaus is not THE church and Emmaus is not A church.  Thus, issues of doctrine and social concern have no place in Emmaus.  Emmaus does not have the forums and councils to authoritatively debate such issues.  Emmaus does not have a hierarchical structure that would allow Emmaus to have a seat at such discussions.  Thus, Emmaus does not offer a platform for such discussions and Emmaus does offer a safe haven to join with Christians of various ilks to share in what we hold as commonalities.

 

The various issues of doctrine, can, and have been, divisive within the church.  These have included the method of baptism, gifts of the Spirit, salvation, and eschatology to mention a few.  In Emmaus, these issues are transcended and set aside as we affirm one another in our fundamental beliefs and join together to help sisters and brothers advance in their discipleship.

 

Similarly, various social issues have rocked the church.  These have included the marginalized persons who are homeless or imprisoned, pro-life vs. pro-choice, abortion, caring for the aged, ethnic inclusiveness/exclusiveness, and gender affinity.  Again, in Emmaus, such social issues are transcended and set aside as we affirm one another in our fundamental beliefs and join together to help sisters and brothers advance in their discipleship.

 

Emmaus does not deny the existence of the issues, but Emmaus has no basis for resolving the issues and thus Emmaus does not attempt to deal with nor discuss these issues.

 

The stance of Emmaus is that all Christians are sinners in need of forgiveness, that we, as redeemed people, can let issues be set aside and let the love of true service (e.g., see Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline, chapter 9) be our rallying call to help all of us advance in our discipleship.  God has provided much grace, love, forgiveness and acceptance for each of us.  As the recipients of this grace, we are to extend that grace to others.  Just as Christ extended grace to the outcast, the unloved, the disenfranchised, and the worst of sinners, we are asked to share that grace in the same manner as Christ shared.  We are called to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.  (Micah 6:8).

 

Emmaus is an effective instrument to develop leaders for the church.  If Emmaus becomes issue oriented and a platform for special interest groups to espouse their agenda, then Emmaus becomes a forum for seeking to divide and conquer, instead of a place to promote the commonalities of the Christian faith.  The issue-oriented platform will engender a total loss for Emmaus, a lack of leadership development for the church, and contribute to a vacuum of leadership in the local, church.

 

Those persons who are so passionate in pursuing their concerns and their issues that they can not set aside these concerns and issues at any time should excuse themselves from participation in Emmaus.  Persons who intentionally violate the sanctity of Emmaus by intruding their issues should be politely asked to leave.

 

Team Selection Committees are to operate on factual information, not on rumor or innuendo.

 

For the Emmaus Office Staff

 

International Spiritual Director                                   International Lay Director

 

February 3, 2005