False orthodoxy

These are some things I read the past couple of days. Quotes, then my notes at the bottom.

"The Big Lie is our false orthodoxy, our pseudo religion, our finger-pointing self-righteous Evangelicalism. We are too smart to be duped by false prophets who predict the return of Christ on such-and-such a date but too blind to see our own cheap substitutes for the real thing. Some call this pseudo-Christianity, others Christendom. I think "Churchianity" says it well. We choose simulated piety, and God lets us reap the consequences of our choice." (Dave Black, 5/19)

"Unity with one another is not something we have to choke down like brussel sprouts... It should be something that actually enriches our relationship in the church!
As we look into the Bible, God seems quite concerned that we be united because of our differences. The “dividing wall of hostility” has been removed and God uses all sorts of images and examples (Jesus among the formerly untouchable, Peter going to the home of a Gentile and the image of “unclean” animals on the sheet, “there is neither Jew nor Greek”). One of the key features of the Old Covenant was dividing the people of God from everyone else. Under the New, we are still separate from the world but we are united together by our common salvation. Yet we for some reason still seek every opportunity to find ways to argue endlessly with one another, divide from those who disagree with us and develop a bunker mentality that keeps most Christians at arms length from one another.
When we embrace our differences, we gain important perspective on all sorts of stuff. " (Arthur Sido)
"It is common in Christian circles to point fingers at other Christians or groups of Christians. There are so many Christians teaching really wrong stuff on so many levels. It is common to go as far as concluding that they are a cult, or false teachers, and that they likely are not even true Christians.
I find it a little arrogant. Considering all the denominations, movements and doctrines across church history. To assume my corner has finally got it figured out the best is equally misguided." (Jonathan Hutton)
"There’s so much polarization in the evangelical church that it’s a true scandal. We’ve got to learn how to talk to each other and listen to each other in a civil way.
Do evangelicals need to reexamine our doctrines of hell and damnation?
Yes, I guess I do think they ought to reexamine. They ought to be a good bit more biblical, not taking things out of context.
But the people who are against Rob Bell are not going to reexamine anything. They have a litmus test for who is a Christian and who is not. But that’s not what it means to live in community.
Luther said that we should read the entire Bible in terms of what drives toward Christ. Everything has to be interpreted through Christ. Well, if you do that, you’re going to end up with this religion of grace and forgiveness. The only people Jesus threatens are the Pharisees. But everybody else gets pretty generous treatment." (Eugene Peterson & Timothy Dalrymple, "Would Jesus Condemn Rob Bell?")
I think that we confuse uniformity with unity. Can we meet other streams of Christianity at the river and celebrate them? Can we affirm the ancient style of learning that is dialogical, where we debate and ask questions? Have we confused our interpretation of the Bible for the truth? Have we become so enamored with our tribe, our brand of Christianity that we become more followers of it rather than Christ? Have we become so detached from the person of Jesus that we forget that as a man, he was hated and brought up on charges of heresy by theological experts of the day?

What's the central message?

I've been watching this video of Dallas Willard over and over and thinking about this all week and decided to share it.

"Unless you understand that Jesus invites us, through faith in him, that means putting your confidence in him, to actually live in the kingdom of God now; there will not be a basis for discipleship and transformation... (John Ortberg asked- "If the gospel of Jesus isn't primarily how to get into heaven when you die, what is Jesus' Gospel?") It is how to get into heaven before you die. That's it. That's why the New Testament for example, routinely treats you as if you have already died. It's because you have made a transition from a life on your own to a life that God himself is living in his kingdom. So, you get to be a part of that... What he preached was the availability of the kingdom of God to everyone, wherever they were and whoever they were. And so he announces this and by his own presence makes it available."
-Dallas Willard

Catalyst West 2010: Dallas Willard Part 1 from Catalyst on Vimeo.

Have you felt like giving up lately?

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
"God has lost track of me.
He doesn't care what happens to me"?
Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening?
God doesn't come and go. God lasts.
He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don't get tired,
they walk and don't lag behind.
Isaiah 40:27-31

Have you felt like giving up lately?

Brenton Brown wrote the song "Everlasting God" during a season of tiredness. He and his wife were diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Here's Brenton talking about the inspiration behind the song:

Here's the song:

Churches need plural leadership

From Dave Black yesterday: (Dave is Christ-follower, a husband, father, grandfather, NT scholar, mentor, missionary, and surfer)

The church at Ephesus had no pastor. (If it did, surely we would know his name.) In the New Testament, ministry was shared. Pastors were always members of a team.

Moreover, in the New Testament, "ministry" was the privilege and obligation of all Christians, not some. Pastors are no different from the rest of us in this respect. They are not "called to the ministry" while we sit around and soak. All Christians are commissioned to ministry.

It is often assumed that the church at Ephesus had a single pastor (sometimes Timothy is incorrectly identified as such). But in Acts we read that Paul met with the Ephesian elders (note the plural) in Miletus. I am quite certain that this is the New Testament pattern, despite the fact that so many of our churches are in effect one-man bands.

Where I live in southern Virginia, pastors come, and pastors go. We live in a day when the "pastorate" is often considered a job rather than a ministry. (There are many exceptions to this, of course.)

As honorable as the desire is to serve as the pastor in a local church, would it not be healthier to follow the biblical pattern? Shared leadership protects the congregation from the idiosyncrasies of one man, and -- let me add -- it protects the pastor from becoming the lightening rod for various and sundry complaints from disgruntled parishioners. Shared leadership pays handsomely. I wonder why this is so difficult to see?