>Image via Wikipedia
— Ed Stetzer
>Image via Wikipedia
— Ed Stetzer
>Image via WikipediaSomewhere in my reading the last couple of days, I came across a Stanley Hauerwas quote. It went something like this….
I don’t like the word “community” for a church. “Community” seems to imply that we like each other. But a “Church” isn’t a place where people “like” each other. It’s a place where people love each other, whether or not they love them.
This has had me thinking.
>Image via WikipediaOK, I admit. I’ve not read Rob Bell’s book. I don’t find the topic of universalism all that threatening to me or my faith…not that I’m a universalist. But…if God were to choose to save everybody or nobody at all, I really leave that up to God. But I’ve been fascinated by the discussions about Rob Bell and his book Love Wins. I’ve read stuff on the left and right of the issue and I’ve sort of found a home somewhere in the middle. And I’m sure that’s either weak or upsetting to some folks. But, alas, that’s where I am. I’ll let God be God and trust in his grace and mercy and the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus, whose death and resurrection we remember this week.
But, again, it’s the discussion about this issue that’s kept me fascinated. Is Rob Bell a false prophet? Can God save those outside of the Christian faith? What is hell like? Where is it? Who will be there? What is the proper Christian response to false teaching…or to diverse belief? How much diversity can we have within the faith and still keep the faith? THIS I find interesting.
Perhaps the big issue is not Rob Bell, but about Christianity as a whole.
Jason Boyett, who writes over at “O Me Of Little Faith” has a nice post addressing the latter issue…diversity within the church, within the faith.
Right now, Christian theology is broader and more diverse than most Christians are comfortable with. In fact, over two thousand years of biblical interpretation, the Christian religion has proved to be ridiculously flexible, able to tolerate significant theological and practical differences without, you know, us having to say “farewell” to people who land on a different interpretation. Consider:
There are Christians who believe they are saved exclusively through grace, period, full stop … and Christians who believe some manner of works are involved (those “works” may be as basic as an acknowledgment of Christ’s lordship or as complex as to what extent we cared for the “least of these”).
Some Christians believe salvation is eternal. Others believe it can be lost or cast aside.
Some Christians believe the elect are predetermined by God, chosen for either salvation and damnation. Others believe God gives mankind real freedom to make his or her own choice.
Some believe salvation occurs at the moment of baptism. Others believe baptism to be an important, public confession of salvation — but only symbolic.
And he goes on, with some pretty stark differences, diversity we can find within the Christian Church. I know, every time I lead a talk at the Walk to Emmaus spiritual retreat or even preach on Sunday morning, that there are people who are going to disagree. Maybe they come from a different background. Maybe they think it’s unbiblical that I practice infant baptism. Maybe they question my interpretation of Scripture. Maybe they’re offended that I talk about my female (gasp) clergy friends.
So, how do we still manage to come to the one table to eat and drink Christ’s body and blood together? How do we work together as the Body of Christ in the world? How do we act in love, welcoming and not excluding the other?
Girdwood Chapel has been a great model of this for me because we have such great diversity in our midst. When we stand together in a circle at the end of worship singing “On Eagle’s Wings” I see it as a foretaste of heaven, when the walls that divide us come down.
We need to approach these discussions with, probably, more humility than we want to. Jason Boyett closes his post wonderfully…with such humility…and a lot of perspective.
Though we base our beliefs on the same source (the Bible and the last couple thousand years of tradition), we Christians are a fantastically diverse people. Some of our core beliefs are not just very different from another, but frequently at odds with one another.
Most of us think we’re right. But we can’t all be right about everything.
Which is to say: almost all of us are wrong about something. Regardless of what we believe, there are Christians somewhere in the world who think you are dead wrong. Dangerously wrong. Maybe even a heretic. Why? Because you are on the wrong side of what they consider a core belief.
For all our talk about narrow roads, Christianity has become a broad, gushing stream. Acknowledging that, with humility, ought to give us pause before we start all the in-fighting and name-calling. I need to remember that the next time I decide Rob Bell is wrong…or John Piper is wrong…or I am right.
>Image by marcopako via FlickrI’m sort of an Apple fanboy. I admit it. I type this on my MacBook Pro. I have my iPod in my pocket. I’m a new user of an iPad. We have a PC, too. I’m comfortable on Microsoft products. But, I really like the Mac stuff. It just seems to make sense to me. I know others have different experiences, but this is mine. I switched to Mac about 8 years ago after a Dell laptop went dead with a motherboard problem and I was struggling with Windows ME — which was a waste of an operating system. I thought I’d give Apple “a fair shake” and haven’t looked back.
One of the things I’ve bee interested in is the very different business model that Apple plays by. I’m sure they’ve wanted a bigger piece of the PC pie. But, even at 5-7% or whatever it is, they’ve made their money and they’ve made their fans.
But I’ve been amazed at how they’ve functioned. In my PC days it was always a matter of getting faster, bigger, more powerful hardware. And it was cool. And, while it’s still cool to get faster, bigger, more powerful hardware on the Mac, they’ve been much more holistic in their approach, looking at the total experience. Perhaps it can be analogous to bigger, more powerful churches not necessarily providing the best experiences.
I read an article yesterday that furthered my thinking on this. It’s from Eric Jackson from Forbes Magazine. It’s called “Apple Doesn’t Have an iPad Strategy, It Has A Post-PC Strategy.”
Here are some select quotes:
We are looking at the forest instead of the trees when it comes to the current tablet wars between Apple, Google’s Android platforms like Motorola Xoom and Samsung’s Galaxy and Research in Motion’s soon-to-ship PlayBook.
Apple doesn’t look at their businesses through separate product groups. They don’t have an iPhone strategy conceived of by people who never talk to the iPad corporate strategy people. Take a step back and look at the forest: Apple is following a Post-PC Strategy.
Apple used the term “Post-PC” at least a dozen times in its most recent iPad keynote last month. Apple doesn’t just slip words and phrases in its corporate messaging at random. They are always deliberate.
So what is their Post-PC Strategy? It is an iOS strategy. They want to be the dominant operating system through your life – at home and on the move. That sounds a little geeky but it means that they want you to be so delighted with your experience on the iPhone’s operating system that you want that same experience on your tablet. After you are satisfied with that experience, you start to wonder why you are still using a PC versus a Mac or MacBook Air as your “desktop computer.” And then that will extend to your television.
So, could this be telling us something about a “POST-CHURCH” World? Are we, perhaps, putting too much energy on failed systems or, perhaps, missing out on the holistic view of faith?
So…I sat with that for a while.
And then here comes a video by George Bullard of the North American Baptist Fellowship with a very solemn look at the decline of denominations. I thought this was really good and made me scared and excited at the same time.
Are we looking towards a post-church, post-denominational world out there?
If so, what can we learn and do?
Looking at Apple, what is the iOS, the operating system, the building blocks of faith that we need to be building across platforms?
What does a missional outlook on ministry mean to this?
(I realize I say this as pastor of a church with a new building, within a denomination that has been declining in the US.)
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>Image via WikipediaThe following is a quote from Brian McLaren from a collection of essays entitled Ancient Faith, Future Mission (Canterbury Press, 2009). In the essay, there is this interpretation of the stewardship of the “wine” with which we’ve been entrusted through our use of “wineskins.”
“If we believe that the fresh wine of the gospel is ever fresh, then we will realize that every wineskin is destined to serve for a while and then be discarded for the sake of the wine. When the old container grows rigid and inflexible, what are the church leaders to do? They have three options I believe.
1. Wait until it’s too late. Wait until the wineskin ruptures and the wine is lost.
2. Throw out the old wineskin when it’s too early. If we discard the old wineskin before we have a new one in place, ready to receive the wine of the gospel, the wine will be likewise lost.
3. Develop the new wineskin while the old wineskin is still working, so that the wine may be transferred before the old wineskins burst.”
My friend (like “actual” friend and not just someone I’ve heard about) Jon Disburg has a great blog post about this quote and United Methodism on his blog.