Saturday, May 30, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I hope you enjoy it.
Monday, May 11, 2009
But what has really impacted me the most are his views on Justification. I hope to pick up his book on Justification soon. For years now, I have questioned a great deal of the reformation theology as more reactionary to the abuses of the Catholic Church rather than actual explanations of what the Bible teaches. I have come to believe that the reformation was more about defending its proof texts for Sola Scriptura rather than extracting what the New Testament authors where actually teaching the early churches. It always seemed to me they ignored the historical context of the passages taught.
Tom Wright addresses this problem in many of his books. I won't go into detail, as, if you are interested, I encourage you to do the research. It's all out there. There is a great interview by Intervarsity on his book, Justification that I recomment for starters. Check it out. Tom's books and papers aren't for the written for the beginner. I find his books to be more written for the scholar, which, in a way, is a shame as what he teaches needs to be put in everyday street vernacular so that the average person can relate to it and understand. Some of his books such as his New Testament Guides For Everyone series are an exception. This series of books are for the average reader and easy to understand.
Those who know me well, know that I love history and am greatly influenced by liturgical thought and have a great appreciation for the Catholic underpinnings of our faith. But Tom Wright is one of the reasons I've not crossed the Tiber or have totally embraced reformation thinking. He and others like him make too much sense for me to ignore God's ultimate call to embrace the entire church at the table of the Lord. Christ teaches us inclusion, not exclusion.
Wright's works really make that clear and for that reason, has made a great impact upon me.
Check him out. Go to his webpage and view more of his works. I guarantee you will be challenged too.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
I've decided that I'm confused. Or is it frustrated...or fed up...I'm not sure which...so I guess that's confused. I mean, what is a theologian? I'm beginning to think a theologian was invented by the devil to confuse the simple minded like me. Who cares what they think anyway? All they seem to do is muck up things. Ok...Ok...before lightning strikes me down...I love theolgians. I love theologians. I love theologians...Love God Love others, (that includes thologians), and serve the World. (Take a deep breath Richard)
I'm a simple minded fellow in my sixties. I was born into an theologically Armenian Pre-Trib, Pre-Mil, Anti-Catholic family. We were the church with the "deepest" theology...after all...we had A.W. Tozer to revere along with our founder A.B. Simpson. I can remember a story told to me by a former student at Nyaak College, the Christian & Missionary Alliance C&MA college in New York, (now a university) about his college professor who would arrive to class each day, walk over to the window and open it and look out over the grave of A.B. Simpson with his hand over his heart in a moment of silent reverance. (And we made fun of Catholics and Mary and Crucifixes)
Then I discovered George Eldon Ladd and decided I was a Post Tribber. I just knew Jesus had to come after the Tribulation and we were going to have to sweat it out through the pain of the Anti-Christ. In the meantime, along came the Charismatic Movement, the Plymouth Brethern Bible Study groups and the nursing mothers I used to stare at during a Bible study. About that time, the Jesus People exploded in Southern California and all hell..uh...all Calvary broke loose. Remember the confusion between Watchman Nee and Witness Lee?
And then of course, Vatican II hit the Catholics along with the insueing Charismatic movement, but the only contact I had with them were a few nutty nuns who would come to a charismatic prayer meeting, end up laying hands on people to receive new teeth to replace fillings, bridges or whatever was connected to the teeth. Over the years I discovered Calvinism, thanks to the great sermons of C. H. Spurgeon. I was convinced that maybe there was hope and maybe some truth to the Baptists.
Then my world fell apart when I ended up being divorced. Christians just didn't get divorced. I was now damaged goods. No one knew what to do with me. My denomination weren't too favorable to divorced pastors so I ended up on the rocks...shelved...And we didn't have Divorce Recovery Groups.
But then I met a wonderful Presbyterian woman, got remarried and became a Presbyterian. I was now a Presbyterian Calvinist. I loved the worship and theology. But then, I got a deep hunger for the word, got introduced to liturgy...first from the Anglicans and then of all people, the Catholics. I loved it and fell in love with private liturgical praying. My life deepend by leaps and bounds.
But while I was in my monk's cave studying ancient theology, the world was changing. The theological world exploded with new ventures in theology I'd never knew existed. Please understand. I'm a simple minded ex-preacher with only a BA in Pastoral Theology. Now that degree is basically a kindergarden degree, for in order to pastor in most churches today, you need a Masters or PhD. And to be able to talk sensibly with anyone at that level you have to go through a bevy of corporate officers to get to the hallowed sanctuary of the mahagony row set aside for the church pastors. Don't pastors pastor anymore or are they all becoming CEO's?
Now we have something called the Emergent Church that everyone is slobbering over. What the h...uh...heck...is the Emergent Church? I certainly don't know for everywhere I look, the description is different. Is God confused too? Are we all just going off into a multitude of directions making up things as we go in order to make an imprint on the theological world?
But then...who cares? The world sure doesn't. They just laugh at us or worse yet, ignore us. Somehow, ...somehow I don't think Jesus had this mess in mind when he pulled his desciples around him...
Or did he..a tax collector, a fisherman who wouldn't stand up for you when the chips were down, a zealot who would turn you in for thirty pieces of silver, a physician, (good guy there), others who would desert him as well. Then there was that prostitute. But then..she was in good company with a hooker in the Jericho wasn't she. Hmmm...Could it be? Does God fellowship with idiots, crooks, call girls, the poor, the downcast, normal people who screw up all the time...and confused theologians?
Makes my head spin.
P.S. Before you theologians, those paid or not, start throwing your darts, I really do love and appreciate you. You have done a marvelous service to the cause of Christ. But...you aren't as hot as you may think you are.
Sigh...Now I feel better. I needed to rant at somebody........
Saturday, May 2, 2009
"Who needs a church building to worship God? I can worship God anywhere without having to meet in a fancy box. " "We left the organized church and became a New Testament church that just meets in homes." "God never meant for us to have ordained clergy. All the gifts are equal so anyone can teach or preach if the Spirit moves them"
Have you ever heard those kinds of statements? Is it necessary to meet in a fancy cathedral or building to worship God? The simple answer is, Of course. You can worship God anywhere. After all, if Christ is in you and he is everywhere, you can worship. St. Paul said that you couldn't escape his love no matter where you go in Romans 8. But does that answer the question? I'll not have space to answer all those questions, so I'll address only a few.
Jesus said in Matt. 18.20 that where two or three meet together in his name (to worship), he is there also.
"See, house churches are the Jesus way."
W-e-e-e-l-l-l, let us reason together, to coin a phrase I've heard somewhere. Let's travel through a wormhole in time and space to a land far, far, away. Let's walk into a synagogue and see what we find when Jesus walked the dusty streets of Jerusalem.
There's Jesus, over in the corner. He's twelve years old. What is he doing? Read Luke 2:39-52. He's listening to the teachers (rabbi's) and asking questions. And the rabbi's are amazed at his understanding of their answers.
So what's so special about this? Take in the scene. Here's the place of worship. His parents had days before celebrated the feast of the Passover. After they had left, Jesus remained in Jerusalem, unbeknownst to them, and is finally found in the one place that was the central place of worship. (I won't get into the discussion here of his purpose)
This isn't the last time Jesus visited the temple. Throughout the Gospels, you'll find him worshipping in the temples and synagogues, teaching, singing the Psalms (Psalter), and generally dialoging with people there.
Step back into the wormhole and fast-forward to a few years. Look at Acts 2:46. Daily they met in the temple. How? Together. Doing what? Worshipping of course. And they met in the homes to eat around the table and share their possessions. (um..do we do that in our churches)
Fast-forward a few short years. Several thousand have been added to the community of believers that became known as the church. A murder kicks things off. The brutal murder of Stephen occurs in Acts 7. And guess who is in on it? Saul, the man who later became Paul. But then what happened. Persecution!
The "church" was scattered through persecution. Where they had been meeting regularly in synagogues and homes for worship, singing the Psalms and studying the law and prophets, now they were driven out of the synagogues and temples into the surrounding nations. God began his church, ecclesia, the called out ones. They were no longer welcome in the synagogues, although they met there when they could. After all, that was where the scriptures were read and sung and taught. But they were also forced into hiding.
Their homes became church. Not because the home was the new pattern for church. They met because it was the safest place to worship. At first, it was in twos and threes or small groups of family and friends. If they were fortunate, a wealthy person would be converted and they'd meet in larger facilities to accommodate larger groups. If they could find a safe meeting place that could accommodate large groups, they would meet there.
It was not safe for a person to be a Christian. As they were scattered into more distant regions they were continually forced into small groups, homes, caves, catacombs. But, records indicate, where they could, they'd still worship in the synagogues because that was where scripture was taught.
So the small group fellowship we are excited about, was actually a place of survival. The benefit was providential in that individual needs were more easily met and it was relatively safe. What was worship like? If you go back into the history books, you discover it was not at all unlike temple and synagogue worship. There was liturgy. Scripture was read and sung. Psalms were most often sung or chanted. So the Psalter has come down through the centuries and is still sung and chanted today in the liturgical churches. And they celebrated around the meal of Thanksgiving. This later became a dinner separated from the Eucharist (thanksgiving communion celebration) was celebrated on Sunday.
Until the letters of the apostles were written and dispersed, the scriptures that were read, sung, and taught, were the Torah, writings of the Prophets and the history books of what we know as the Old Testament.
I'll wrap this long story up. So what does this mean for today? First, church is a body of believers, not a building. But buildings large or small enable the church to worship and minister to each other. There is a reason the church is called a body. We are part of each other and corporate worship is important. Whether it's done in an organized church or not, is not the issue. What is the issue is, are we ministering the love of God and one another and carrying our ministry to help the world.
The strongest churches, large or small, will have small groups at their core. Not as a program but as the life of the church. We all need closeness and fellowship. That can only be done in a small group. I believe ideally a large church benefits the community at large, giving strength, extending our "reach" and helps build an identity.
Small groups help provide the depth and close friendships of people who become our support system, both in good times and bad.
So there is a place for both large and small. There are no lone rangers in the body of Christ. So let's rejoice where the church reflects Christ and always strive to Love God, Love Each Other and Serve the World.