As you know these postings when I am away are usually pretty long and I have to say that while it sure is interesting to hear your take and I value it greatly these postings really come out of my desire to reformulate many of the thoughts that I have been processing through the week. (It is also cool to see some of my class mates have stumbled onto my blog site and welcome.
1. Back to the entry point of faith for a bit: Dale reminded us that for years as kids we were told that if our lives were a train then emotions were supposed to be the caboose of that train. Probably if I remember some of the Bible College teaching I received the engine was belief or reason. Good people kept their emotions in the background and certainly under control. Is there another way to think that in propositional truth? I don’t think I would be misinterpreting Ryan to say to say, No. and I would agree. This means that even our emotions are propositional in nature. This one is probably not as commonly held but I haven’t closed the book on that discussion. What I do want to say is that a more wholeistic view of interacting with faith does not see emotions as following reason or belief or belonging but that these three things can have different roles in coming to faith and different prominence. The other thing is that I am pretty sure the emotions are pretty different than thoughts. Whatever more grist for the mill?
2. It is interesting that no matter how open we say we are there are always qualifiers for who belongs in community with us. Is being a welcoming community in conflict with being a moral community? Yup you bet. My suspicion is that Jesus pretty much focused on the welcoming… I don’t know. Dirksen said at his church they often say, “we accept you the way you are but we expect that you won’t stay the same way as you are.” I like that.
3. Any body out there wanna tackle a theology of time. I think we need one. We have for a long time judged people on their attendance of our Christian events but we have not really understood well the amount of time it takes to establish meaningful consistent honest community.
4. Dave Guretski joined us for part of a session. He told us about locked and open churches. He said that john Calvin locked his churches so that people would realize that prayer could happen at home and that only when people gathered together did the church actually meet (the space became sacred). The Catholics on the other hand left the churches open because the sanctuary was the sacred PLACE so people needed access to it at all times. Interestingly enough, Calvin’s model may have led to isolating the church from the people and whereas the Catholic model preserves the access people have to the church. Both are protective in their own ways but lead to different outcomes. Today we lock churches for slightly different reasons. To preserve contents and protect from vandalism. Something unthinkable in Calvins day… Paul Johnson do you have any insight on this at all… (in 100 words or less - - kidding)
5. Dirksen had a part in the chapel service today. He commented on the affront that the wise men from the east (astrologers) would have had to Hebrew sensibilities regarding the announcement of the Messiah. Obviously for the messiah to be announced by anyone other than the reliable sources of Hebraic culture would have been seen to be almost blasphemous. Dirksen said that homosexuals and psychics might be good contemporary models of what the magi represented. He mused out loud at what we would think people like that making significant pronouncements of faith in our context. He was being provocative and I have to say I was loving it.
6. We watched a video and one of the things that stood out for me was a statement that almost every one in the video said. The video was a sort of documentary on “emergent” churches like mosaic and marshill etc. this was the comment:
“It doesn’t even seem like church!”
I winced when I heard that cause to me it seems like this statement is causing a pretend alienation from the church. It seems to further honor our deeply consumeristic approach to church as well. Give me what I want. And as long as it doesn’t look anything like the church I am used to then fine. You see it’s all about fulfilling selfish desires. YIKES! And the ultimate consumer gets to go to heaven and when that is not enough give me some abundant life on top of that. So then these essentially consumer churches tout themselves as some new form of something and they attract a whole bunch of consumers and whammo we have success – worth following??! I know that is cynical. But these leaders were touting the fact that their membership was an average of 22.5 or something like that. That means it is not multi generational. Sure there is a whole gigantic group people in the 22.5 range that remain essentially out of touch with the church but is the answer to throw a whole new church at them. One that consists only of themselves. Please tell me this is not the only way otherwise what am I doing in Coaldale for these last 12 years.
7. We talked about how we hold family as such a high value and how it conflicts with church. Interestingly enough people will miss church gatherings to attend family functions we say this is good. But has this become a form of idolatry where we elevate family before our identification with God’s people. This seems like a no brainer for a guy whose extended family lives at least 4 hours away and family natural takes a back seat to ministry – partially cause it’s my job. But I certainly would not want to compromise my family’s health for church ministry. Or would i? Lots of stuff to chew on there…
8. Erwin McManus quote: “voraciously hedonistic in our worship.”
9. Dirksen suggested that accurate reading of the Bible should help us see that worship is pausing from our daily routine to do something different. He agrees that worship is not just music. He says we need to stop. This matches the Biblical concept of Sabbath. Now I would say yes we need to stop. But Sabbath seemed to be more about rest and community building then giving cudos to God. These massive praise sessions were more extra special events and festivals. Worship still seems to be mostly about obedience and service in the Biblical context.
Okay I am done
Thanks for all who prayed for me and my family this week and a special thank you to john and sarah doerksen who as always were very gracious. Thank you mo for joining me on this trip and Char I cannot wait to see you.
Bless you all.