Friday, January 13, 2006

The Church - and the Need for Renewal

“the church is the front where all of these other battles are joined simultaneously—
1. our view of ourselves as consumers who are sovereign rather than seeing that sovereignty in God,
2. ourselves as unique selves rather than as those sharing the same human nature,
3. as those who are only wounded or maybe deficient rather than sinful,
4. as those who find God within rather than as those who are addressed from without,
5. as those who shape reality rather than respond to it,
6. those who choose rather than those who are chosen,
7. those who see in Christ only a source of therapeutic aid rather than the One who holds all of reality together. “

These words belong to David Wells, written in a response to a Roundtable discussion on the Reformation21 website. He is responding to those reviewing his new book, Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ In A Postmodern World. He responds to critique with a more penetrating self-critique, and then goes on to write about what is prohibiting the church from taking Scripture, God, sin, and Christ seriously.

Of these seven points listed above, we have been addressing several in some ways, and some points have been neglected.

Concerning #1, we speak of our consumer culture often, and we have suggested that it will take serious activity in at least three different spheres to help one move the center from self to God: corporate worship in which the Word of God is seriously preached; personal devotion in which the heart is laid bare and serious thinking takes place; and group interaction where one is called upon to express their faith in word and deed.

Concerning #2, it seems to me that the Martin Luther King, Jr. observances point to this truth. How is it that it was so deeply ingrained into a white person’s thinking that a black person was less than human, or less human, or of less value? How could that thought exist in a Christian? And the question for today, how does it continue to exist, not only with regard to those who have black skin, but those who are different in other ways?

Concerning #3, I do not know precisely what other preachers in town preach, but I wonder if there is any other church that addresses seriously the subject of sin.

Concerning #4, “God-within” seems to be the major trend of evangelicalism today, and the popular movements, whether mega- or emergent, are drifting this direction.

Concerning #5, we are oblivious to our vulnerability in the shaping and defining of our view of the world. We think we are masters of our minds and affections, even as we sit in front of our televisions and let programmers and advertisers shape reality for us.

Concerning #6, this seems to be a rewording of #1 – “let God be God, and every man a liar”

Concerning #7, “holding all things together” is a translation of the title of this blog, anakephalaiosasthai, the form of the Greek word found in Ephesians 1:10. I must do a better job in the ways that I habitually use language to describe the importance of Christ. We, in our culture, too easily interpret what we hear as, “what’s in it for me?” That is not the kind of leap that leads one to fly to Christ or to cling to Christ, as one finds in the verbiage of Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards.

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