Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Not The Whole Story
Make no mistake — in the end, vanishing theological boundaries will amount to vanishing Christianity. This report makes that point with devastating clarity.Mohler here tries to uncircularize the proverbial chicken-and-egg dilemma by picking up his pet peeve - theology. You see, long before belief started to slip in the Presbyterian church, behavioral standards did.
It used to be verbotten to ordain the divorced - we used to not perform marriages for couples that had lived together - we used to strictly enforce tithing standards for those in leadership. Now you try and do those things, and well, ostracization is putting it kindly.
So which came first, theological liberalization or behavioral? I would submit they came hand in hand. I know when I last argued about ordination of practicing homosexuals, the ordination of the divorced was brought up as justification - no theological argument - just "We already ordain those whose sexual practice in compromised, why start drawing 'artificial' lines?"
At approximately the same time, Timothy McConnell at CGO listed "Five Principles for Mainline Resurgence":
One: Gospel Preaching.Good points all, but regarding point two McConnell says:
Two: Culture Making.
Three: Reclaiming History.
Four: Ancient/Future Faith.
The downtown church is well-positioned to make something of the world in which we live; to hear the needs of the town or city and respond creatively. The church that's been there for one hundred years still has a voice on the town planning committee, the parade committee, or the commission to address crime...education...social need. Mainline churches have forgotten that they have gifts for this work, which is ironic.Fair enough, but the church has to first remake its internal culture - a culture that upholds what is pure and right.
We can preach until we are blue in the face, but unless the church becomes demonstrable different from the greater culture, the slide will only continue.
This is a harsh word and it means things will get worse before they get better. Simply reinstituting divorce standards for the offices of the church will result in a severe labor and leader shortage. So be it - we are guided by the power of the Holy Spirit, He will sustain us.
This does not mean we "hate" divorced people - it means that divorced people have other issues they have to get straightened out before they are suitable for leadership. Let's face it - if they break their vows to their spouses, what assurance do we have they will abide by the vow they make to the church? We should comfort and console them - offer them our love and help them grow to maturity. There is hope for the divorced as their is hope for all of us sinners - but we cannot pretend like it is not sin.
Let's make that first principle "gospel preaching and internal cultural restoration" - then we'll be getting somewhere.