Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dangerous Thoughts on Holy Saturday

I can't even imagine what Jesus' disciples were feeling the day after his crucifixion. Their greatest hopes had died with him the day before, and the new hope beyond all their dreams was yet to be realized. They must have felt completely desperate. So it's not such a bad day to indulge some dangerous ideas.

It's in that mood that I came across John Frye's "The People Formerly Known as 'The Pastor'." It's more strongly worded than I would ever dare, but seriously, it reflects a lot of how I sometimes feel as a refugee from formal ministry. It's a response to another piece by Bill Kinnon, called "The People Formerly Known as the Congregation," which seems to me more strident and more typical in its complaints against the established church. This one is more the view from a disillusioned insider. But another piece, "Underlying Issues," kind of unpacks it and deals with the issues raised in more measured tones.

And they're issues that need to be dealt with. There may be much inchoate anger in some of the emerging movement; there may be youthful idealism and unrealistic expectations; there may be too much throwing out of the baby with the bathwater. But there are reasons--real, justified, even biblical reasons--why people engaging in the emerging conversation are rejecting the institutionalized church. We need to listen to these voices. We need to ask if what we are doing is what Jesus intended, what he wants from us now. We need to fight the perennial temptation to substitute the traditions of men for the glories of the life God wants to give us.

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  1. McChurches are very much the product of Rick Warrens method of Pastoring and the spreading of his gospel, please note I did not say THE Gospels. The word faith movement is not exactly the same but quite similar in approach. A Pastor can no longer simply be a Pastor, in the New Age Christianity that Warren and others have brought forth, a Pastor is a Guru, and there are very few actual requirements from those in the Congregation (or their children)in regards to morals, ethics or even old fashioned self restraint. There are no requirements because there is feel good, metaphysical Christianity with feel good songs that DO NOT teach the gospels like old more boring songs do, or barring that, ones that at least do not sound as if they are the next number one on the billboard chart for rock/pop/hip hop. Our God is An Awesome God may be a great feel good song, but it gives no reason God is awesome, there is no context. Amazing Grace may be old but it teaches the main precept of Protestant Christianity. And no one feels the wish to thrust their hips to it like too many comtempory Christian songs do.

    There are several books out there that address these issues very competantly and from a firm theological basis.

    And be careful regarding the ideals of holding things in common, being accused of being socialists would not be far off the mark. What should be clear is that the option to live thus is one of free will, not one to be imposed. One can go from one extreme to another if not being deliberate in the direction you opt to walk. Read what the Bible says, not what you want it to say. While Acts refers to commonality in living, it does not mandate it. I also must point out that those who teach in the church are expected to be examples and be "cleaner" living then their congregations, Paul makes this clear, and jealousy regarding what their congregants have and what they themselves do not is not attractive in a teacher of the Lord. I actually find it distasteful anyplace I encounter it, but even more so by a person of the cloth. Questioning what is going on within an area of Christianity is certainly not without precedent, doing so in terms of snide poor is me does not do justice to what is at the core of what is wrong.

  2. Well, Red, I hope you feel better now that you got that off your chest. I dunno about your argument regarding music, though. "Amazing Grace"? Not a word about Jesus, nothing about the cross, the blood, atonement, sin, or repentance. Sounds like some kind of new age easy believism to me.

    Meanwhile, "Awesome God" has in its verses stuff about judgment, wrath, getting kicked out of Eden, and the need to be ready for our Lord's immanent return. Maybe the "meaning" we get out of music has something to do with what we bring to it.