Protest averse Protestants

5 12 2008

lutheratwormsOccasionally as we engage people in conversations about restoring aspects to the church  that  appear to have been lost (5-fold ministry, structuring like a body, the mission as city-wide discipleship) I’ll hear through the grapevine of a person (often a church leader) that writes us off saying “they think they are the only ones who know how to do church”.  Their summary judgement seems intended to allow them to avoid the uncomfortable process of wrestling through biblical concepts that are unfamiliar and, therefore, might require some change.

What I find terribly ironic about this reaction is how quickly Protestants seem to forget their history.  Protestant comes from the word “protest” and was given to our movement because we had a heart to reform and restore things to the church.  And reform we did.  Every Protestant church today stands on the back of 40 or more very hard won restorations that are far more fundamental than anything we’ve ever suggested.  Things like salvation by faith, the authority of Scripture, the priesthood of all believers and on an on.

So a Protestant who refuses to engage in any further reformation or restoration conversations is actually saying, “our church has finally figured out the final restoration and we now, alone, represent the fully restored church.”  In a phrase, they cease to really be Protestant.  They fall prey to the objection one Catholic voiced over the Reformation when he said, “you will simply replace one pope with thousands.”  Sadly, his prediction has become a functional reality.  Just look at the language we use.  Someone who believes strongly in the tenets of the Reformation during the 1400’s is said to be “reformed”.  Not a refromER or reformING but reformED.  As if all that needed to be reformed occurred 600 years ago and now we can truly stand and say the reformation is over and we are now reformed.  They are theologically Amish and chose to pause theological converation at an artibrary date in history but without the Amish integrity to admit it.  If we were living through the reformation today doubtless 90% of the people who are committed Protestants today would have been the most ardent supporters of church status quo because their actions reflect protecting church tradition as their most passionate agenda.  How did this happen?

I believe true humility is for all of us to admit that we have a long way to go to see the church fully restored and we need to graciously and rigorously engage in restorative conversations.  This should be an ongoing part of our Protestant DNA. So please, don’t cut off the conversation prematurely but give us all the benefit of your wisdom and experience as present and future generations continue to discover elements long forgotten but in need of restoration.

Is The Church A Fortress or An Army?

22 10 2007

FortressWhen you read the New Testament do you get the picture that Jesus and Paul were hoping that some day there would be thousands of Christian fortresses across the Earth where the people of God could gather apart from the world once per week and then disperse individually back to their normal lives? Or do you picture an army of disciples in small platoons, living life as one and going throughout the Earth training disciples, confronting evil and spreading the Kingdom. My experience is that 99% of Christians say they picture us like an army but sadly my experience has also been that 99% of the time Christians actually build the church like the first picture – a fortress. These two pictures are not compatible. They are drastically different visions of the church and you can’t become an army by building a fortress and you can’t win a war by only playing defense.

For the past 6 months our community has been in intensive discipleship training. We believe training is not something you do for a season but something every disciple is doing continuously. But training for what? An army trains for two reasons – to defend AND to attack. Jesus and Paul were almost always playing offense and the modern church seems to almost always play defense. It’s time to rethink our strategy.

Are Sermons Destroying Christianity?

26 09 2007

***UPDATE  – While I continue to greatly struggle with the dominant use of weekly sermons as a means of training disciples I don’t like the spirit this post was written in and so I’m removing it from my blog***

Has Christianity Done More Evil than Good?

30 07 2007

Should Christians apologize for the great evil done in Christ’s name?  This is a question I’ve asked but no longer after reading this rebuttal of Christopher Hitchen’s letter by Douglas Wilson in CT.

“…you say that if “Christianity is to claim credit for the work of outstanding Christians or for the labors of famous charities, then it must in all honesty accept responsibility for the opposite.” In short, if we point to our saints, you are going to demand that we point also to our charlatans, persecutors, shysters, slave-traders, inquisitors, hucksters, televangelists, and so on. Now allow me the privilege of pointing out the structure of your argument here. If a professor takes credit for the student who mastered the material, aced his finals, and went on to a career that was a benefit to himself and the university he graduated from, the professor must (fairness dictates) be upbraided for the dope-smoking slacker that he kicked out of class in the second week. They were both formally enrolled, is that not correct? They were both students, were they not?

What you are doing is saying that Christianity must be judged not only on the basis of those who believe the gospel in truth and live accordingly but also on the basis of those baptized Christians who cannot listen to the Sermon on the Mount without a horse laugh and a life to match. You are saying that those who excel in the course and those who flunk out of it are all the same. This seems to me to be a curious way of proceeding.”

Feeling excommunicated…again.

18 07 2007

Every once in a while we Protestants forget we’ve been excommunicated and its helpful to be periodically reminded that we’re not the true church. Check out this article by today’s Time “Pope: Christians Not True Church.