Kevin A. Miller is Associate Rector of Adult Formation at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, IL.

In 1999, because of its “calling to be a place of healing”, Mr. Miller’s church left the US Episcopal Church and associated itself with the Anglican Archbishops of Rwanda and South East Asia, thus asserting some tenuous though confused connection with the worldwide Anglican Communion.

In a curious demonstration of his church’s dedication to healing ministry, Miller has recently written an article in Christianity Today (http://www.christianitytoday.com/parse/channel/comments/allreviews.html?id=116670&showall=true)in which he takes to task well-known authors Donald Miller, Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell (MM&B).

Mr. Miller is unhappy with the direction MM&B have taken in their thinking in the past ten years. He is upset that Messrs. MM&B have in his eyes “flirted” with universalism, abandoned the authorized “biblical” stance on homosexuality, and, in at least one case, abandoned church.

What has led these Christian thinkers to fall prey to Miller’s trinity of evils? Mr. Miller proposes as his starting explanation that MM&B have been seduced by “celebrity’s corrosive power, a power Jesus understood and fled from (John 6:15)”.

My journey is not unlike the journeys of MM&B. But, I certainly have never had the privilege of being seduced by “celebrity’s corrosive power”.  So, Kevin Miller is going to have to reach a little deeper to explain my transition from safe card-carrying evangelicalism to something that feels to me to be equally rooted in Scripture and faithful to the Gospel but gentler and more open than my past adherence to the agendas of the rigid narrowly-defined evangelical culture that apparently makes Mr. Miller feel truly Christian.

Kevin Miller reaches for a deeper explanation for the cause of MM&B’s departure from “the church’s teachings and worship” suggesting that their error in fact was embedded in an imbalance inherent in popular evangelicalism itself.

Miller argues that the problems in evangelicalism that have given rise to MM&B’s present apostasy is that evangelicals have tended to put “the individual getting right with God” ahead of the communal,” stressing “the religious born-again experience” over “received teaching,” and “the innovative way to do mission” over “the Great Tradition.”

I doubt either MM or B would recognize themselves in Mr Miller’s analysis. Certainly, I do not recognize myself in his description.

I am deeply committed to encouraging people individually to live in right relationship with God, with one another and with all of creation. I pursue this commitment to individual spiritual growth and practice in the context of a vibrant living community of faith in Christ. Miller’s conflict between individual and communal has no bearing on the realities of my life. This is not an atom that can be split.

Christian faith is profoundly individual and deeply communal. There is no place in Christian faith for an individual/communal dichotomy. We are spiritual beings who live in community. The more deeply we enter into an awareness of our true nature the more fully we come to experience ourselves as connected to all other forms of life.  This awareness may not always be expressed in exactly the ways Mr. Miller wants to authorize, but the important thing is the awareness that in Christ we are bound to one another.

It is not apostasy to acknowledge that some of the traditional ways we have in the past attempted to manifest in communal form our individual commitment to God have been less than helpful. I do not feel called to get all grumpy and perturbed when new ways of communally expressing Christian faith do not exactly parallel precisely the patterns with which I am familiar. Rather than attacking creative attempts to make the Gospel accessible in a radically and rapidly changing cultural context, it might be more helpful to affirm these efforts and find ways we can move together in the Spirit to communicate the good news of God’s love in Christ to the world.