Saturday, September 12, 2015
Friday, September 11, 2015
High and Low
Yet for all the book’s strengths, it is one thing to demonstrate that a system of thought or group of practices are coherent; it is quite another to demonstrate that they are good. While any fair-minded high-church reader of Ross’s work should be able to finish this book with a greater understanding of evangelical liturgical practices, I am not sure that he will come away from this book feeling more sympathetic to low-church evangelicalism. It is possible, in fact, that greater theological clarity might bring about greater discomfort, as some high-church readers may see their worst fears being confirmed in these elucidating pages, particularly by phrases like “nonsacramental Christianity.” Furthermore, those already suspicious of the excesses of Finney and Whitefield are unlikely to be persuaded otherwise by Ross’s discussion of their role in the formation of evangelical liturgical practices.Precisely. There is a question of which is better, that is to say, which is more good than the other.
My issues with low-church have more to do with the impulses that drive it than the thing itself. It is about ease and comfort; it is about the individual; it is about a lack of discipline, and it is staying where we are instead of calling us forward.
Can one have low church and not have those things? - theoretically yes. But I have yet to experience it.
You know there is physics that everybody knows and then there is physics that you can only understand when you can do the math. That's why some people never get past jr. hi. science. That's fine. Sometimes I wonder if high church liturgy is not the language of faith like math is the language of physics. Sure the person that does not speak the language knows enough to get by, and I have no doubt about their salvation, but I wonder if they are experiencing all that God has for them. I cannot help but think that God wants us all to be advanced in our faith - graduate degree level.
That sounds very egotistical and I do not mean it to. Coming from a high church perspective I have struggled to learn the lessons of low church, the openness to the Holy Spirit and the emotional aspects of faith that are so often missing in high church. Those things are good. And yet, my experience tells me that those that start and then STAY low church miss something vitally important. In high church I have seen numerous mistakes in the name of God. In low church I have seen evil in the name of God. There is a difference and that is what troubles me.
high church liturgy low church
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Jerusalem and Prayer
It seems sadly ironic that Psalm 122:6 is still just as relevant today as it was when it was written about three millennia ago. If anything, the peace of Jerusalem is even more fragile and more essential to the well-being of the world than it was when David first composed the simple instruction: “Pray for peace in Jerusalem” (122:6). What happens in Jerusalem impacts not just that city and its surroundings, not only the people who have a claim upon it, not only the major religions who consider it holy, but also the peace of the whole Middle East and therefore the whole world.AMEN!
Almost inevitably, contemporary exhortations to pray for the peace of Jerusalem come laden with political theories about how this ought to happen. Because people differ so profoundly about what should happen in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, prayers for the peace of Jerusalem often create conflict among potential intercessors. Over the years, I’ve found myself in contexts where praying for Jerusalem implied a strong pro-Israeli approach. And I’ve found myself in situations where prayers for Jerusalem take on a distinctively pro-Palestinian flavor.
All of us are entitled to our opinions about what ought to happen in Jerusalem and the Middle East. But it seems that praying for the peace of Jerusalem should allow us to find common ground, relationally and spiritually, even if not politically and strategically. You and I can have strongly held and diametrically opposed views about Middle East policy. But when we come together to pray, we come on our knees. In humility, we acknowledge God’s ultimate sovereignty and wisdom. We surrender to God our agendas, our hopes, our biases, our prejudices. For a moment, we acknowledge the possibility that our personal perspectives just might be wrong. We bring to God our longing for true peace, a peace that necessarily includes justice for all peoples.
Jerusalem peace prayer
Wednesday, September 09, 2015
A Division The Church Needs To Relearn
But the problem in the end is selfishness. No really, our empathy with the difficulty someone else experiences in, say, overcoming impure sexual impulses, hurts us. Empathy makes their struggle our struggle and so rather than have to struggle with their pain, we just decide that maybe they do not need to struggle with that.
That is classic tempting by the bad side of things. If you have not read Screwtape, recently, do so. Satan just loves to compromise us and make it look good with things like empathy.
Consider this, Christ's sacrifice on the cross was the ultimate emphatic event. He felt all sin for all time. But He was without sin and He had the power to come back from it. We do not. We have to learn strength in our empathy. We need to learn to divide our empathy from our love (which wishes the best (sinlessness) for its object and divide our empathy from justice which demands the best for all.
empathy justice love
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
Millennials gravitate toward classic, quiet church spaces that feel authentic and provide a break from the busyness of a fast-paced, technological world, revealed a study commissioned by church architectural firms.One of the things about "making church accessible" by making it conform to certain cultural trends is that the church is by nature, not trendy - The church is eternal. Trends last sometimes for months. Heck in the online world a trend can last for mere hours. The church has endured for thousands of years. Making things too accessible denies the eternal nature of the church and results in the "bait and switch" emphasized in the quote above.
Online surveys administered to 843 young adults ages 18 to 29 by Christian research firm Barna Group and Cornerstone Knowledge Network, the market research organization created by church design firms Aspen Group and Cogun, found 67 percent chose the word "classic" to describe their ideal church. By contrast, 33 percent prefer a trendy church as their ideal.
"They don't want something created artificially for them; they don't want a bait and switch. What they want is something deeper and more authentic," Aspen Group AIA Architect Derek Degroot said of the survey results. [emphasis added]
We have been told to let our "yes be yes and no be no;" I wonder if we are doing that if everything from our music choices to our architecture is and exercise in bait and switch? Moreover, what happens when we pay so much attention to what is trendy, so we can be trendy that w forget we are eternal.
There is one though I can never escape when it comes to church. To be eternal, the church has to somehow be attractive apart from culture and trends and circumstance. If ti is not, I think the question is not about trends and culture, but about what it is about being eternal that we have not tapped into.
church eternal trends