2007-12-10 The Brief

Culture:

Last week I posted on the The Golden Compass and I plan to see the film sometime this week.  Why would I want to see a film that aims to destroy the church?  First, I think there is much we can learn from this film.  Much of what the film hates about “Christianity” is something we should hate.  In the film, the Magisterium, the ruling authority in the Catholic Church, represents “Christianity” as a whole.  While this attack is clearly directed at “Christianity” as a whole, I do not think his terminology here is accidental.  Much of what the world perceives as “Christianity” is not; it is a stagnant cultural force, an institution, which exists to enforce nonsensical cultural forms on others.  I think the same can be said about much of society, what they perceive to be “Christianity” is not and we should rally to put that stagnant, dead, deceptive, manmade “Christianity” to death.  We do that by submitting to the Lordship of Christ and living as the people of God and incarnating the gospel in our culture as servants of those in culture.  Second, I wholeheartedly agree with Al Mohler, “This is about the battle of ideas and worldviews.”  I have had two conversations this week, one about this film and one about another film, which deeply convicted me because I was unable to engage them in the battle of ideas because I had not seen the films.  As Christians we should not be retreating.  We must see these films, discern their true meanings, and then engage in the battle of ideas.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4-5).

Since the last post on this topic, Al Mohler has done a phenomenal post on the film entitled The Golden Compass — A Briefing for Concerned Christians.

Blogsphere:

Nick Cooper has returned to the blogsphere with his slick new blog Moderate Obscurity.

Justin Tapp has two great posts up on the translation of Scripture: Psalm 1:6 and John 10 and the Jews.  I have commented on the latter post; however, I hope that some of you with an understanding of Hebrew will comment on the first post.

Vintage Faith: While this is not a blog, it is on the internet and there is a blog on the site.  I have recently found Dan Kimball’s website Vintage Faith . . . exploring the emerging church and vintage Christianity.  The website has many great resources that need to be read with discernment.  Yes, that was an oxymoron.  Here is what I mean.  Dan is painting a picture of what he feels the future of the church needs to look like if it is to impact post-christian America.  Much of this picture is extremely helpful and much is not.  His criticisms of stagnant cultural and institutional “Christianity” are very helpful; however, his proposed solutions are not always helpful.  Far too many have reacted in extreme ways against the Emerging and Emergent Church and in so doing have robbed themselves of many fantastic resources to aid them in ministering to the emerging American culture.

I think an example will illustrate this quite well.  For many Karl Barth and Neo-Orthodoxy are viewed as liberal theology.  However, Barth served to buttress the faith against the assault of liberal theologians like Friedrich Schleiermacher, Albrecht Ritschl, and Adolf Harnack.  During this time, the main battle was between Liberalism and Fundamentalism while Barth’s Neo-Orthodoxy appeared and combated Liberalism it was also attacked by Fundamentalists.  Looking back it is clear that Barth had numerous critiques of Liberalism which would have greatly benefited Fundamentalists had they taken the time to understand him.  We need to learn from our mistakes and listen to and learn from the Emerging and Emergent Church and move forward to reach these emerging cultures as better-informed and better-prepared followers of Christ.

With that said, Karl Barth is not for everyone and Dan Kimball is not for everyone.  The key is in the word “discernment.”  Honestly, most people are not very discerning and for that reason, I hesitated to post this.  However, for those discerning individuals who do not want to buy his books but would appreciate his insight check the site out.

Unexpected Insights:

These problems, and the answers, are not new.  But the way we intend to tackle them using the small groups of local churches in large numbers is revolutionary.

The bottom line is that we intend to reinvent mission strategy in the 21st century. This will be a new Reformation.  The First Reformation returned us to the message of the original church.  It was a reformation of doctrine – what the church BELIEVES. This Second Reformation will return us to the mission of the original church. It will be a reformation of purpose- what the church DOES in the world.

In the first century, mission strategy was always congregationally based.  The first missionaries were sent, supported, and accountable to local churches.  The church at Antioch was the first to do this.  There were no mission societies, mission boards, or parachurch organizations.  Local churches accepted the responsibility for Jesus’ Great Commission and his Great Commandment, and the growth of the church worldwide was explosive.

Today, most local churches are sidelined and uninvolved when it comes to missions.  The message from most mission and parachurch organizations to the local church is essentially “Pray, pay, and get out of the way.”  But in the 21st century . . . [We] intend to help thousands of other local churches move back to the frontline in missions, in compassion, and in providing the social services that historically the church provided.  I believe the proper role for all the great parachurch and relief organizations is to serve local churches in a supportive role, offering their expertise and knowledge, but allowing the local churches around the world to be central focus and the distribution centers.

I deeply believe that any organization that marginalized or minimizes the local congregation’s responsibility to “Go”, or bypasses the local church’s moral authority to fulfill the Great Commission,  is out of sync with the strategy God intended, and modeled in the book of Acts.

I was quite surprised when I found out who said those words.  I will do another post on this in the coming week and will announce the author then.  In the mean time, I would urge you to resist the urge to “Google” the above quote and simply discuss it.

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3 thoughts on “2007-12-10 The Brief

  1. I Googled the quote and wasn’t surprised. He’s said a lot of good things, and I hate the lightning-rod reaction and microscope we use to find faults in people just because they are highly praised and publicized.

    I might also add to the quote that the first missionaries were also self-supporting tentmakers. According to Paul, not always because they had to be, but because they chose to be (1 Cor. 9) . They didn’t completely rely on their home church, or the local church they were working with, for complete financial support.

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