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Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Over at the Parchment and Pen Blog, Michael Patton has an excellent post on his experiences visiting a few churches.  It is well worth the read, and illustrates a few things that I’ve been trying to communicate to my Sunday School class about the proper interpretation of Scripture, and also provides thoughts on church priorities.  Excerpt:

Then comes the sermon. The message itself was good and helpful, but better suited for a Zig Ziggler seminar on self-motivation. He used Mark 7:33 to teach that Christ wants to deal with us each individually and wants our words to be for edification because what we think, we are.

How did he get this you ask? Well, let me show you.

Mark 7:33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva.

“Jesus took him aside”=Jesus wants to deal with us each individually.

“Jesus spit”=Jesus had to form the saliva in his mouth before He spit, therefore, we are to let Him form our words.

“[He] put His fingers into his ears…He touched his tongue…and his ears were opened and his speech impediment was removed” (v. 35)=sometimes we don’t hear people rightly because we already have the wrong words in our mouth. Therefore, we have to have the right words in our mouth.

Well, at least the principles are true generally, even if it has nothing whatsoever to do with the text. God does want us to listen to others and he does want us to think about what we say. As well, I believe that there is an individualistic way in which God wants to relate to us.

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I admit, I’m coming to this conversation late. In reflecting on a book by Bill Hybels, I remembered that there were some relevant recent news and looked them up. The gist of the admission by Willow Creek is that the multi-million dollar seeker-sensitive approach has failed to make disciples for Christ and it is time for them to re-think their strategy. I hope that many who follow their model have the same courage to admit failure in terms of the goals that matter, and that despite the temptation of large numbers, they will return to a more biblical, gospel-centered approach even if it means diminishing in attendance. And who know? Perhaps God will be pleased by faithfulness and bless it.

Here are some snippets from the wonderful introductions of blogs and articles about Willow Creek’s admission that are well written and useful in their own right:

From Out of Ur:

Few would disagree that Willow Creek Community Church has been one of the most influential churches in America over the last thirty years. Willow, through its association, has promoted a vision of church that is big, programmatic, and comprehensive. This vision has been heavily influenced by the methods of secular business. James Twitchell, in his new book Shopping for God, reports that outside Bill Hybels’ office hangs a poster that says: “What is our business? Who is our customer? What does the customer consider value?” Directly or indirectly, this philosophy of ministry—church should be a big box with programs for people at every level of spiritual maturity to consume and engage—has impacted every evangelical church in the country.

So what happens when leaders of Willow Creek stand up and say, “We made a mistake”?

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Here’s something you may not have known or suspected. When I grew up my family went to a conservative Christian church and I subsequently went to a Swedish Baptist college in Minnesota.  I recently went back to my home town and was sickened by what became of the family church over the last 20 years.  The received view is that the conservative christians have taken over the Republican Party.  I think the reverse happened.  The right wing of the Republican Party has taken over the church.  Nothing could be more clear to me.  In a fit of revulsion, and with a nod to Marty Luther, I wrote up the following 95 theses on the relighous right:  Download ludlows_95_theses_on_the_religious_right.doc   In lieu of nailing it to the door  of the Wittenburg Church I’m sending it to you instead.  Not exactly the same thing, I realize. I’m not saying I’m a believer and I’m not saying I’m not, but I am saying that what has happened to the fundamentalist church is revolting.

Examples:

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Already about one-half of all Protestants change denominations at least once, and they probably don’t feel the need to add or subtract a single doctrine in the process. Even within the denominations, I suspect, lifestyle rather than religion is the organizing principle of most lives. They are not “rooted in the gospel”; they are rooted in a social class or a lifestyle, and the gospel is an ornament they wear, like a gold cross around their neck.

H. George Anderson, A Good Time to be the Church, 9

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While looking around for some quotes and responses to the Emerging Church, I came across a good post at Jesus Creed entitled “What is the Emerging Church? Protest.”  Here are its main points:

First, it protests too much tom-fakery in traditional churches. This generation of Christians is not as capable or interested in putting up fronts when it comes to “church” or when it gathers. Instead, it prefers a higher level of honesty.Second, it denounces the divisions in the Church. Why there needs to be so many kinds of Baptists or free church types or so many others kinds of churches is becoming more and more incomprehensible to the emerging generation. If the gospel is what it is supposed to be, if Jesus prayed for us to be “at one,” and if we are supposed to be able to do things together, why not worship together?

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Evangelicalism Discussed

  • “How do you define ‘Evangelical,’ in a way that distinguishes Evangelicals from other believing Christians? And has this definition changed over the last several decades?”
  • “Has Evangelicalism matured since the 1950s, and if so in what ways?”
  • “Has it lost anything in the process of maturing (if it did)?”
  • “Are there any fundamental differences within the Evangelical movement today, and do you think they will deepen into permanent divisions, or even have already? How might they be healed?”
  • “What does your movement, speaking generally, fail to see that it ought to see?”
  • “What would you say to an Evangelical tempted to become Catholic or Orthodox?”
  • “What has Evangelicalism to offer the wider world that it will find nowhere else?”
  • “What else would you like to say?”

These questions are answered by Russell Moore, John Franke, Darryl Hart, Michael Horton, David Lyle Jeffrey, and Denny Burk at the Touchstone Forum.

HT: Reformation21

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Christians and Baldness

Reformation21 posted this article by Carl Trueman which sounds exactly like something I can expect to hear (and have heard) from C.J. Mahaney. But he does tie in some cultural observations and provides a decent conclusion:

Yet baldness is nonetheless a great gift from the Lord, in that it imposes a certain dignity on the ageing process by cutting off the various less dignified options (e.g., ponytails, which shouldn’t be sported by anyone over 30; and mullets which, frankly, should not be sported by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Period.). Of course, there are those, even Christians, who fight against this divinely-imposed dignity. Dreadful toupees abound in the church, along with frightful transplants, and the ubiquitous `comb-over’ or `sweep.’ The latter seems predicated on the false notion that, if you have six hairs to stretch across the barren landscape of your otherwise shiny pate, nobody will notice that you have gone completely bald. Or perhaps there is a belief somewhere that, in the country of the bald, the one-haired man is king. Come on, gents, parade your baldness with pride and accept the dignity which your divinely-imposed hair loss brings with it.

Conclusion:

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