Archive for category church
I will likely write an update post soon, but for now, I wanted to post this prayer from yesterday’s daily office because I like it and I want to remember it.
Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic church.
Fill it with all truth, in all truth, with all peace.
Where it is corrupt, purify it;
Where it is in error, direct it;
Where in any thing it is amiss, reform it.
Where it is right, strengthen it;
Where it is in want, provide for it;
Where it is divided, reunite it;
For the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.
As I was pondering this on my Sunday morning walk, two pastors from the neighborhood passed me on their way to services – one the pastor of a large contemporary church, the other the pastor of a small fundamentalist church.
May the prayer above be so for both of them and their congregations, for me,
and for all of the church, wherever and however we gather.
I am hoping that summer will allow me a more regular schedule of blogging. During the few days break between spring classes and summer classes, I did a blog remodel which I suppose is kind of silly since most people read on readers.
A couple of weeks ago there was quite a buzz about the “Sunday’s Coming” Movie Trailer from North Point.
Around that same time, Kevin DeYoung said:
“We need to put to rest the mantra: we don’t go to church, we are the church.”
My friend, Bill Kinnon responded:
Umm, “we don’t go to church, we are the church” isn’t a mantra nor is it sloganeering – it’s actually the truth, Kevin. “Going to church” rather than “being the church” is one of the defining problems of the Church in the West.
So, here is my question:
If the people of your church were to show up on Sunday morning, and “the show” were canceled for the morning, would they know what to do?
Their response in that moment would indicate the level of understanding of being the church.
Thanks for all the great commentary on the last post.
My point in posting was about the message being communicated. Why, if you have the opportunity every Sunday to tell people about the love of God, would you choose instead to tell them that they are bad?
I meant to get back to that post, but I had to finish my taxes first.
Over the weekend, I discovered that the sermon I mentioned isn’t original to our local church. Here is a link to the original message. At least I am assuming this is the original.
In this version, the good news is
You are a bad person.
We are bad people.
(It is between 21:00 and 22:00 in the video.)
It makes me sad that this message was broadcast via satellite to many locations and thousands of people. Apparently this message was also presented by other pastors in many parts of the country earlier in 2009.
The local version I first watched was mostly verbatim to the link I’ve included here, including the ad lib parts. If it were a written paper, it wouldn’t pass turnitin.com.
It seems ironic to take a message about moralism and black-and-white truth and pass it off as your own. I’m just sayin. I know there’s a lot of pressure to perform every week, but what is the point of faking it?
This image from Bill seems appropriate here, via kinnontv.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
Last Sunday evening a few of my friends were talking about what a great sermon they heard that morning, so I thought I would check out the message online.
Here is an excerpt of the message that was preached to about 1,000 people in 3 services.
This is what the Bible says about us.
This is so key to finding truth.
This is so key to our spiritual lives, our eternal lives.
We are bad people.
Just to clarify, this isn’t a random excerpt. This was the main point. We are bad people was displayed boldly on the video screen with the word bad underlined. And this isn’t some fundamentalist sect, this is mainstream evangelicalism.
I understand the gravity of sin and the fact that we are capable of incredible evil. Sin distorts our ability to know God, and in our unbelief and alienation, we act out of selfish, impure, and sometimes evil motives. I also understand that we are not saved, redeemed, or justified by our own goodness; that apart from the saving grace of Jesus, there is nothing we can do to rescue ourselves.
Do you really think the core of God’s message to us is that we are bad people?
This is what I see in Scripture:
• I am a child of God
• I am a friend of Jesus.
• My old self was crucified with Christ.
• I am not condemned by God.
• I have been set free from the law of sin and death.
• I am a new creature in Christ.
• I have become the righteousness of God in Christ.
• I am chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
• I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Christ.
• Because of God’s mercy and love, I have been made alive with Christ.
• I am seated in the heavenly places with Christ.
• I am God’s workmanship created for good works.
• I have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ.
• My life is hidden with Christ in God.
• God loves me and has chosen me.
Does this mean that I think I am good? No, it means I know my value and worth are based in the love of my Creator. His love both exposes and heals the brokenness in my life. Our message to the world is that they are reconciled to God, they are already loved and embraced by the Father. That is the truth.
Back in the day when I used to read for fun, I would go to the library and carefully choose my latest adventure. Sometimes based on title alone, sometimes intrigued by the back cover, I went home filled with expectations. Occasionally an author wildly exceeded my expectations. Oftentimes I was disappointed and more interested in the story I wished had been written.
I have not had time to participate in the latest buzz about McLaren’s recent book. I don’t plan on reading it, but I am disappointed about the book that could have been written, the book that needs to be written. The questions that Brian is asking are in the vicinity of the questions that need to be asked and answered. Based on the way in which Brian framed many of the questions, I suspect that I would find his approach to these topics and his answers somewhat disappointing.
But what if the book that had been written asked and answered the following questions:
- The Narrative Question: What is the story?
- The Bible Question: What is the role of Scripture in our lives?
- The God Question: Is God punitive? How do we understand both God’s love and wrath?
- The Jesus and Holy Spirit Question: Who are Jesus and the Holy Spirit today? What is their role in our lives?
- The Gospel Question: What is the message?
- The Church Question: What is the church?
- The Brokenness Question: What do we do about sin?
- The Future Question: What is the new creation, the kingdom, the second coming, and heaven or hell?
- The Love Question: How do we demonstrate love to the world?
- The Unity Question: How do we love one another in the midst of theological disagreement?
David Fitch asks, “Have we saturated this subject and indeed isn’t it time to move on from these well-worn critiques?” I don’t think so. I don’t think we have even scratched the surface. When the world hears and understands a message of love and redemption coming from the church, we will know it.
The church does need a new theology in order to become all that we were intended to be. Not a liberal, progressive compromised theology, not a rigid, conservative rule of faith, but a beautiful, redemptive, kingdom-centered theology to grow into.
Can this happen? I don’t know. Most theological discussion is mired with gatekeepers guarding existing positions. There is no room to reconsider, redefine, or repent of traditions and beliefs that are wrong. However, I believe that in spite of the gatekeepers, the message of God’s goodness will seep out and eventually bypass all who try to diminish or subvert it.