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Friday, August 31, 2007

Roci has a blog with musings and questions. I should like to discuss the issues raised over there, over here. I shall interpolate my comments in blue. These are in no way exhaustive. They are merely to pint a direction of thought.

Answers to Rocinante's "12 Problems with 'Churchianity' "

The modern Christian Church is a neon lit shadow of its former glory. As I examine the modern church and my own needs for it, I am confronted by its total inadequacy for the role assigned to it by Jesus, its founder.

Nice imagery, there. Reminds me of the enormous neon crosses along the interstate advertising the presence of enormous independent Baptist churches. We share concern for the Whole State of Christ's Church.

1. I can find no Biblical support for obligatory weekly attendance at a particular church.

There are two essential ways that the Scriptures establish authority for a practice. First is by Command: thou Shalt, thou Shalt Not.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:18-20)
We have Jesus telling his followers what to do to upon His departure. More detailed instructions are recorded by Luke. The second is by Example.
7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. (Acts 20:7 NKJV) Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19 NKJV) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also. On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. (1 Cor.16:1-2)
The saints from the very beginning met on the first day of the week (Sunday) As the Apostles were given the authority to bind and loose, their example is potent.They met to break bread (sharing in the Lord's Supper, detailed in 1 Cor.11) and at least in special instances, to take collections for needy saints.

The need for fellowship with brothers and sisters, sharing Communion, and meeting needs is expressed by apostolic example. The early church did so on the first day of the week. It is in no way the Sabbath, as that was fulfilled in Christ's Sacrifice. This is a New Day for the New Covenant.

2. I can find no Biblical standard for what constitutes a church attendance. Why there is singing of certain types in certain places, a collection, Sunday school, a sermon and an altar call. Since there is no common standard, then anything can rightfully qualify as church attendance.

I assume here that you refer to "order of worship". More on this later.

3. The concept of driving over 5 miles to attend any worship service appears on its face to be contradictory to the commandment to rest on one day in seven. Or perhaps Saturday is intended to be the Christian day of rest while Sunday is devoted to the maintenance of the church and its programs. In the modern world, it no longer appears to even be possible to keep the Sabbath. I blame the Christian Church for killing it.

The modern church love affair with the Ten Commandments is borne of Biblical doctrinal illiteracy, with a healthy dose of political posturing. Acts15 makes VERY clear the apostolic take of binding Mosaic Law on (Gentile) believers. There are four "requirements" outside of the Acts 2 Keys of the Kingdom.

24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.


Sabbath-keeping is nowhere to be found in this Holy Spirit inspired apostolic command to the Gentile church.

4. I cannot find any Biblical context or historic tradition of the church to support the concept of driving by 35 churches to get to church number 36.

There isn't any. The multiplicity of congregations is NOT a positive comment upon American spirituality.Rather, it is symptomatic of what Paul rebuked the Corinthians for:

10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you...
To my understanding, there was ONE church per city (To the angel of the church of Sardis write...).

5. The building, wherein the modern church meets, is not a biblically required element of a church.

No argument. The architecture-centric nature of the church today is troubling, and stems from the need to support extra-biblical practices and programs. The (apparent) NT model is an existing central meeting place -whether riverside, meeting hall, synagogue, temple porch- with additional meeting occurring house-to-house througjhout the week. The Jerusalem church of Acts 2 behaved thusly:

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Their meeting from house-to-house was apparently not a program established by Peter and Co., rather their excitement and joy caused them to want to be together regularly to share the good things of God.

NEXT: points 6-12
bethyada puts forth the prescription:

1. Answer maybe it wasn't the Lord because his word says thus...

In a manner that is appropriate for the questioner of course. And you could seek to fully understand what exactly they are saying.

Jesus refuted wrong ideas based on Scripture.


Yes indeedy! The Word is the corral in which the Holy Spirit runs (He will surely not contradict that which He inspired!). The ticklish part is the pervasiveness of this kind of pseudo-doctrinal high-handedness. I mean, how does one argue with the Pronouncements of God?

Of course, by using the Word. The reaction is the fun part. Years ago, we went to a "Bible Study", briefly. It was actually the Thursday night cough-and spew, otherwise known as a "deliverance meeting". The woman (!) who headed this group had it from the Lord Himself ( He spoke to her!) that she was to withhold conjugal favors from her hubby 'til he got right with the Lord. Ummmm... "Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband."

I had a Righteous Anger rise up in me, and what came out of my mouth was:

"Whispers in the night
Don't change what's written in black & white."

I informed her of the Scripture, whereupon it was darkly hinted that perhaps I had a demon.

We cleared that part of our social calendar.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happy Sunday, all.

I note that I have had a visitor from Florence, SC. As that used to be my stomping ground, in the way-back, I would love to have you email me, on the off chance that I may in fact be acquainted with you.

Yeah, I've got SiteMeter, and I'm not afraid to use it.
We are getting into some ticklish areas in our Sunday morning class, which I am currently leading. Two things were brought up this morning:

1) How do you deal with folks that use the "The Lord laid it on my heart" to explain or justify a (usually non-Biblical) practice or belief that they hold.

2) Since the Scriptures say "Call for the elders of the church, and they will anoint you with oil" in cases of illness." (James 5), why don't we do it?

Y'know, I think I'm gonna be in trouble one way or another. Frankly as to #2, I think folks are just afraid to look too much like the Pentecostals.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Aardvark's suggestion for the Democrat Party '08 bumper sticker:

That Burqha Won't Make You Look Fat!

Vote Democrat 2008

An also-ran that I heard on Boortz:

Your Ignorance Is Our Bliss

Monday, August 20, 2007

...Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Galatians 5 is often referred to when doing Cautionary Lessons against the gross activities of bodily lust, but the list of "deeds of the flesh" contains a majority of non-squishy activities and attitudes:

...idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying...

It's really interesting to look at those, and compare them to the Whole State of Christ's Church today. Jesus' prayer that we may be one is at variance with that list. I have a pet peeve, and that is cool, distinctive names of churches. The Crossroads, Crosspointe Church, The Church of No Color (honest...there really is one), New Life Family Worship Center. Second to that is preacherly "gimmicks": "My preacher wears camo and preaches on spiritual warfare...". These things serve to make that particular group different from the others, as well as making the message distinct from the others.

This distinction militates against the unity Jesus prayed for. The purpose of God for the church is that we make disciples of the nations, as part of His redemptive plan for the world: one mission, one message, one purpose, one plan.This bespeaks of Unity in the church.There is no hint of "look at ME...look at MY MINISTRY...look at MY METHOD...we're DIFFERENT from Those Other Churches.".The imagery in the New Testament is of the Body of Christ, the collectivity of brothers and sisters in Christ, each having "a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let(ting) all things be done for edification.", striding through the earth with redemption on every side, unified, authoritative in the Word, by the Spirit, redemptive and reconciling.

Sadly, the image the world has of the church is of a Frankenstein's monster of mismatched and disunified parts, shambling across the world scene, shedding rejected bits across the landscape, making incoherent and disjointed noises this way and that, blown from here to there by the blows it suffers from the world, and reacting to the things it sees in the world.

A local church (Athens, AL) recently made the national news by initiating a Temperance Drive in an attempt to get the sale of alcohol repealed.Try as I might, I cannot see a single instance in the New Testament where Jesus, Paul, Peter, James or John initiated a march, drive, petition, or mass pout to stop people from doing something that offended. Take slavery, f'rinstance. Paul did not start a campaign to stop the Offending Practice. Brights and other annoying persons find this terrible, for clearly it meant that Paul Did Not Care, that God Did Not Care, and thus ANY modern atheist is morally superior to either if he opposes slavery. (Perhaps they should stage Abolitionist Marches in Sudan.) The fact is, Paul recognised that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (rescue, deliverance from bondage), and was thus sufficient to quell the deed, which indeed it began to do, as believing slave owners learned the difficulty of calling Property whom he also called Brother. Long and short: you teach the Word. Do something silly like. oh...do it like Jesus said. Make disciples of the nations. That means show them, teach them HOW to live the Kingdom life. This takes years, like it took years for Jesus to teach His disciples. Saying a prayer and sitting in a pew doesn't cut it. Baptise them by the authority of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. You are promised to receive the Holy Spirit, God Himself residing in your person.This is for starters.

Back to the point.If everyone does JUST what the Word says, it will result in unity. If, however, I insist on MY neat name, MY cool new way to do the gospel, thinking MY way is THE way, then I make myself distinct from my brothers and sisters. I become the enemy of unity.I become factious, jealous of other "ministries", become angry when you don't agree with MY way.

The world will not hear us unless we are unified. They will not believe our message unless we love. They will not believe in forgiveness in Christ if the church puts on its judge's robe.Wait...it HAS no such robe, 'cos it's NOT OUR JOB.

Yes. I yelled.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Fashion faux pas

The rolling-up of the trousers leg is not my sole sartorial sin.

Oh my, no.

Besides having short legs (when descending stairs, my gait is not dissimilar to that of Dr. Loveless) I also have size 8 1/2 wide schoon. The local shops have what are purportedly 8.5 W, but are exaggerating somewhat.Thus I was driven to try... (Pretty Lady, I struggle )

To try Crocs.

A local head shop (what used to be called such...now it's Trendily Nostalgic) "Crossroads" carries the artless beasts, so I went to check them out. I picked the black original design for guys, and mercy, it's the best idea I've had since the last best idea I had. I have no discomfort after a prolonged bout of printing t-shirts. Relatively cheap, and very comfy. And ugly. I just wish the old-style Earth Shoes were available, or even the Thom McAn knockoffs.

'Course, they were ugly, too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How I Left My Ministry, and So Single-Handedly Ended the Charismatic Movement.

No fire burns longer than the banked embers of Regret.I have long considered that this will be the most potent pain of Eternal Judgment.The woulda, coulda, shouldas, whether regarding relationships, poor business decisions, or Dark Secrets, are an abiding source of internal darkness, and hold the power of unhappy wakefulness in the dismal AM's.

I have not had a terrible life. My major testimony earlier on was that I was a mediocre sinner. Nonetheless, I find Regret lurking betimes, and must be vigilant lest I begin to auger in. It is SO easy to take a measure of comfort in an old friend, regret. It is familiar, and so ready to spend time with you.

Back in college, my best buddy and boon companion, Brad Bradfield, a core of other Christian kids, and I began an experiment in New Testament Reality. We sought to do the church the way the early church did it, and we had a wonderful time of it. We had an enthusiastic group, members from all kinds of backgrounds, including an Iranian girl.
We were, as they say, "Spirit-filled", Charismatic, Neo-Pentecostal. We did not give way to emotional excesses, having a Reformation view of the primacy of the Scripture.
(The way I have explained it: the Written Word of God is the corral in which the Holy Spirit acts.-how can the Inspirer of the Word act in contradiction to it?)

After the Dread Dormomoo and I were married, we stuck around, and I still worked in leadership of the church with Brad and a couple of others. We had oversight by a dear brother and overseer, Roger Bush (whose wife went to seminary with Fred Rogers, no less.). My "calling" was clear, but one must keep body and soul together, so I did work as a variety-store portrait photographer, as well as doing product shots for the same store chain. This of course had us away on weekends, which kinda puts a crimp in helping lead a young congregation. The situation caused me to be out of fellowship. A lot.
This creates Hunger, unless you are wilfully seeking the Jonah route and running from your God-appointed Task. I was not intentionally wilfully rebellious; I was merely in the situation at the time.The DD and I went to a store on the coast, where I ran into some Christian pals from high school days, who invited me to their church.

I was beguiled.

The LOVE...the SINGING...the UPBEAT PREACHING...it was What I Wanted.
The upshot: we moved. I left the place in which a Sovereign God had placed me, left the people I served, and the people with whom I served. I rationalized the move as a Career One, as I sought to open a photo studio of my own. It failed spectacularly, in the Hindenburg style. The church turned out to be a "Faith Walk, name-it-and-claim-it" variety. The DD and I were ultimately rejected- partially due to immaturity on my part, partially due to taking people up on offers of help once too often (also a function of immaturity), partially due to the pernicious nature of the doctrine which produces an "MLM love". As long as you Measure Up, and Do the System, we'll back you, but step outta line, and well...

I was a shepherd who left his flock. The college group puttered along for a time with the others, but ultimately fizzled out. The Brave experiment in New Testament Church Life was successful 'til it died.A Word-based Spirit-led congregation disappeared. Perhaps it was the plan of that same Sovereign God all along...

I don't think you really believe that. I know I don't.

Now, this is not a pity-party. I do not lie awake in despair over the awful thing wot I done.
God's grace and mercy are, well, gracious and merciful. (I coulda been King David's understudy!). In the years spanning the mid-50's into the 80's, the Holy Spirit was doing a work of biblical and spiritual unity.The Wave of the Spirit had disparate factions coming together under the banner of Jesus' Lordship. Things were happening that had not been seen in 1500 years. Spiritual gifts manifested in orderly fashion for the most part. Men and women took seriously their roles of servants and teachers, making disciples. There were controversies, sure, but unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace was happenin'. Arminians were loving Calvinists, who were loving Orthodox who were loving Catholic believers, who were lovin' up on Messianic Jews. Walls of sect and faction were tumbling down, until folks were spooked by the Spirit, and wanted a return to The Familiar. " We'll STILL be Spirit-filled, but, you know, let's have our own Presbyterian charismatic conference, to better meet OUR peculiar needs. Likewise, Methodist, Catholic, you name it. No sooner does the Spirit work to de-Babel-ize the church factions, we have to go and Balkanize the church once more. I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I of Calvin, I of Moody, eye of newt.

So, the soulish desire for What I Want put the kibosh on the Dream. Sovereignty vs. Free Will. How to reconcile them? As one preacher said, "I never try to reconcile friends." The answer lies in taking seriously the heart of the Gospel. Jesus is Lord.
As Roger Bush was fond of saying: "How do you spell Lord?".


We need to ACT like we believe it. Me, I'm in the water paddling on my board.

I want to be ready for the Next Big Wave.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Back from Ft. Wayne.

Riatsila and I went to IkasuCon in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.this weekend. Nice town, good con.
The weekend before we were in Orlando at AFO. Another excellent convention. We have done very well.Yaaay. I suffer from car lag big time, though.

This weekend I reacquainted myself with the exegetical stylings of W.J. "Ern" Baxter.
His teaching, along with that of the other Gulf Coast Fellowship worthies did much to form me spiritually in my high school and college days. A quote that means a lot to me is:

"God is more intent on the production of Character than the provision of Comfort.".

Bro. Baxter was known for taking the long view, for seeing the Big Picture. I know of no preacher or teacher better able to communicate the vastness of scope of the Redemptive work of Jesus Christ, the Very Reclaiming of our silent planet into the song of Moses and the Lamb, as 'twere.

The impact is that of Scale. God works a work of cosmic redemption, while we argue over the arrangement of toys in the sandbox. At the risk of being utterly misunderstood, I see in the Scripture Jesus praying for the Church, that "they may be one, as (the Father) and I are one". Jesus prayed that we be One, not that we be Right.

I must bow to His will in that prayer.

Clearly, Jesus is not praying for "peace at any price", or tea parties with the Gnostics.
The scope of our unity is clearly defined in God's Word.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

The point I see is that I must not sacrifice Unity on the altar of my rightness.I hold views and opinions which may be at variance with my brethren. The heretic (the factious man) insists upon "my way or the highway". This leads to division. I must instead trust that God is Sovereign:

All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you. Philippians 3:15 (Contemporary English Version)

Once again, the Word defines our bases for unity. My opinions do not. The Issues do not. Only the Word. To borrow again from Bro. Baxter, "the Word of God is the Intelligence of the Holy Spirit". He will not act at variance to that which He has so ably inspired.

Coming next:
How I Left My Ministry, and So Single-Handedly Ended the Charismatic Movement.