Tuesday, 27 September 2011
His basic premise is wonderfully articulated, that is, the American church is dead. Where he states that the concept of church and the concept of America need to be largely disconnected from one another, I abundantly agree with him. The two kingdoms are at odds with one another, and only one can exist at a time. But, the application and conclusion to this, I find somewhat disagreeable--people are sick of "church" (little c) but maybe the "church" that people are sick of--this because it is not the real "church", that is, a mere reflection of what it is supposed to be.
Regarding the book, I am also unsure if I agree with actively fighting against the government as well, but rather it would be more wise to let the church be the church, and the world be the world--I struggle with articulating where the line is between acting against wrongs in society, and passively letting things be (e.g. in regards to homosexuality, abortion, poor...etc.).
Anyway, I digress, he talks of his time at Willow Creek, Bill Hybel's church:
"I asked someone why there were no crosses at Willow Creek, and he replied, "We try to be seeker sensitive and the cross is not."
I don't agree with what comes after, but you get the idea. The cross was excluded because it alienated people from what they wanted. The reality is, a great multitude of the elements of faith is uncomfortable: Jesus as Lord and Saviour is tough--being a disciple incoporates persecution.
In my last post, I talked about talking about the cross--what consequences would it have when it is removed from church. I was fascinated with something from Shane Hipps, he's actually now the main pastor at Mars Hill Church, the Rob Bell incarnation of Mars Hill, that is, not the Mark Driscoll church. What was interesting was something that happened this past Sunday, he tweeted the following about a Muslim woman:
"Watched members of @marshillorg invite a Muslim woman to the communion table today. You all amaze me. bigjesus"
"@Blogustana For clarification, we practice an open table. Anyone wanting grace is welcome."
"@TheBerker My apologies. I wasn't trying to be cool. I just thot it was cool. We practice an open table. Anyone wanting grace is welcome."
"To clarify, the Muslim woman didn't actually take communion. Even so, taking it would violate her theology more than mine. Open table here"
"@BillyKangas Yes, the word "Sacrament" is from the Latin for "mystery." So I have a lot of room for disagreement on this one."
"@jeffreykauffman I love the Bible. I think Paul is talking to a specific community, like head coverings, slavery, or women being silent." 
I don't understand why he was tweeting during church, I'm not sure if that's what Jesus would do. But, more importantly, the exclusivity of what Christ preached on communion and the cross which He bore, is sorely missing here. What is missing is the understanding of the emblems of the communion inherently mean something exclusive, that it is symbolic of the entering into covenant with Jesus--that is, He will be our Lord and we would be His people. I am joyful that the woman had rejected the communion, for I do not know what type of judgment would have befallen her for not knowing the Lord yet .
Yet, it seems only a symptom of a greater problem, that is, a lack of the cross. It's not entirely surprising for an emergent church to be doing this, undermining what has been traditionally held as holy. The central grounding for everything we believe in, but often it gets in the way of relevance and subjectivity. One observation, I've noticed is that people progressively seem to be treating the cross more of a semiotics instead of a literal wood and nails on a Jerusalem hill.
The loss of a real history happening, bring a disconnectedness from reality and this removes the solemnity and the solidarity of what church history has fought so hard. In exchange, what has been adopted is a more organic, mystical Christianity. This is sometimes a gift, but people stray often to extremes. I see the megachurch as an extreme of what was a passion for seeing people saved, as much as I see the emergent church as a genuine passion for community and intimacy.
I see the emergent church largely as one of the same of the Shane Claiborne I mentioned at the beginning. He sees the church is broken and tired, I do too--yet how we would solve it would be vastly different. I would adhere to a more traditional way, I love the Puritans and those who would stick more closely to a literal reading of the Bible. But how the Shane Claibornes, Rob Bells, Shane Hipps of this world would act is different from what I would do. That being said, I do like Claiborne a lot more than the others mentioned.
They want to wrench the church away from keeping to the Scriptures and hold some subjective standard. The failure is to recognize that the subjective church has already changed the church, yet still wearing the sheepskin of the objective church. The problem is that the church as we see it, is nothing like what the Puritans would have seen it, nor what Martin Luther would have wanted to bring. I would bet if John Calvin came and saw the church today, it would be nothing as he would have fought so hard for. Yet, as emergents see it, they see the American church wrong, and hold all peoples related to the history of the church responsible for this. Because they have brought down everyone responsible for our present church, they have also brought up those who are not responsible.
In application to the Muslim woman, she is who has been brought up. People of all faiths are glorified as the expense of those of tradition brought down. It's a peaceful scene, but I'm not sure how long it would last. It's a rather strange ontological inversion.
How do you like my historical narrative?
"For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself."That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." 1 Corinthians 11:29-30 (English Standard Version)
HT to comingoutcalvinist.com