“Fortress Mentality”

This last weekend, I preached using an allegory by Christian author Brennon Manning, from his book, “Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus.” Since allegories can be hard to follow mentally, I wanted to print out the basic ideas I spoke on since they are so important for Christ followers today.

What theologians call the “Fortress Mentality” (strong and sturdy walls to protect us from outside harm) is a insubordinate danger to kingdom principles. It cultivates and accentuates a fear of enemies and discourages any contact with “those dangerous/compromised people” (whoever they are). This is a direct assault on neighbor love, what Jesus called the second
most important commandment in scripture (Matthew 22:39).

At this juncture, Manning speaks of two kinds of people (Christians) in his allegory. There are Settlers and there are Pioneers (using a western frontier analogy). Settlers are people who have, well, “settled down!” They have established their “gated communities” and have learned to see life as a possession to be carefully guarded. Pioneers, on the other hand, see life completely differently. They see life as a wild, fantastic, mysterious and livable gift. Pioneers are on the move! They embrace the journey, travel light, live simply, are open to mystery, and have committed to adventure. They always find ways of enjoying and relishing every part of their hard, dangerous, mysterious and uncertain journey.

The reason this allegory is so profoundly important today, is because our worldview shapes our response to people around us. A cloistered and closed worldview (Settlers) is all about self-preservation. An adventuring, exploring, discovering worldview (Pioneers) is all about engaging and encountering new people, new experiences, and new learnings. Both are inherently risky. The former risks suffocation and isolation from a life devoted to avoidance and fear. The latter risks all the rewards and dangers of engaging people who are different than us and (at times) can even be dangerous or hostile to those different than them. The question is, which world will we live in? Here is how Brennon Manning breaks down this allegory into two world views:
Brennon Manning reminds us that Pastors also play a key role in this allegory. He says, “In Pioneer Theology, the clergyman is the cook. He [think “She” as well] doesn’t furnish the meat. He just dishes up what the buffalo hunter provides. This is how he supports the movement of the wagon. He never confuses his job with that of the Trail Boss, Scout, or the Buffalo Hunter. He sees himself as just another pioneer who has learned how to cook. The cook’s job is to help the pioneers, pioneer!”

To be a worshipping community that is anchored in a God-first identity, we must have strong and devoted leaders to this journey (clergy & lay). Church families that are “ordered, present, and accounted for,” will learn to live as PIONEERS instead of SETTLERS. Our walls will be used not to keep us safe from an outside pagan world---but to promote a GOD-CENTERED LIFE,
a RADICAL HOSPITALITY, and an UNCOMPROMISING DEVOTION to becoming a WELCOMING FAMILY of the last, lost, and least of these. This is how we will meet, and ultimately become, just like Jesus.
“I am the root and offspring of David, the bright morning star.”
Revelation 22:16b
Hitch your wagon to a star!

Pastor David 😊

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