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No need to dumb down because we start from a low point
The Prayerbook Society of the USA ^ | October 31, 2005 | Rev. Dr. Peter Toon

Posted on 11/04/2005 2:16:40 PM PST by hiho hiho

(reflections arising from reading the book, “Revolution” by George Barna, October 05, from Tyndale House Publishers)

Is it a simple matter of fact that most western Christians, be they progressive liberals or “orthodox” conservatives, are very much “conformed to this world” (Romans) and further even “love the world” (I John) – even though they are clearly commanded by Christ’s apostles not to be and do so?

To say this of the progressive liberals may please the orthodox conservatives, for the latter claim that liberals take their agenda and principles from the enlightened world around them and simple give “God” and “Christ” and “biblical” names to these worldly ideals.

Further, to say this of the orthodox conservatives may please the progressive liberals, for the latter claim that the conservatives are conformed to and love a world of their imagination, a world of patriarchy and sexism, which they find in the Bible through their out-of –date exegesis and interpretation.

The “world” for both St Paul and St John could be the cosmos for “God so loved the world that He have his only begotten Son…” But in moral contexts the “world”, for the apostles, is the presence of evil and sin within human society, organizations, culture and ethos. It is a disordered world where instead of existing for the glory of God, people and institutions support and encourage evil. Of course, human beings are made in the image of God and have the potential to do good and to please their Creator, but their souls are infected with sin and they do not naturally fulfill their potential and purpose.

Let us now reflect upon the situation of the “orthodox” conservatives who are seen as “the righteous remnant” in the old, main-line denominations of the USA.

Is it reasonable or just to say of them (and I place myself within their company) that though they protest on behalf of authentic Christianity, they are in so many ways “conformed to this world” and in “love with the world”? My reply is that with regret I do think it is both reasonable and just even though one can find individual cases of saintliness and heroism that seem to point in the other direction.

Here in a kind of theological shorthand are some ways in which some of the churches within the “remnant” are conformed to this world:

In dress. They treat worship on the Lord’s Day as a kind of special, recreational, leisure activity and this is demonstrated by the way they dress and their general deportment. They do not give the impression that they come to meet the King of kings. Rather, they come casually to meet a “great friend” who says to them “just be yourselves.” Cf. LET God be GOD the LORD!

In style of worship. There is little evidence of the pursuit of excellence in order to magnify the LORD but in general, the average, the normal, the ordinary in terms of the quality of assembling, singing, and form of language used, are seen as appropriate and good enough. Likewise the content of preaching and teaching does not give the strong impression that they are words about the glorious GOD and the amazing Incarnation of the Son of God. Cf. WORSHIP THE LORD IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS.

In reducing the holiness of the Sacrament. The Eucharist is the heavenly meal with the Lord Jesus at his Messianic Banquet and to be there the people must be raised in the Spirit. But how can they when the Eucharist is treated casually and without awe and reverence as it were only holy fast food. Cf. THIS IS MY BODY AND THIS IS MY BLOOD!

In demands made on converts. While there is emphasis on evangelization and church growth, there is minimal emphasis upon the fullness of the transformed life to which Christ calls his own. This is because the congregation itself is too conformed to the world and its standards and cannot ask the new members to aim too high or else they will cause embarrassment. Cf. BE YE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY SAITH THE LORD.

In advertising and publicity. So often the techniques of the communication industry are used without asking first the question whether the Christian Gospel truly can fit into the models which this industry supplies without losing its character as “not of this world.” Cf. WE PROCLAIM CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED – foolishness to the Greeks!

In pastoral care. By adopting uncritically so many of the themes and phraseology of the therapism and the human rights movements and not taking sufficiently seriously the biblical presentation of the human soul and its concupiscence and sinfulness. Thus there is little or no genuine moral and spiritual direction and much counseling and the latter sometimes owes more to the wisdom of this world than the leading of the Holy Spirit. Further clergy are often presented as first of all managers and counselors and then secondly as preachers and teachers and pastors. Cf. THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM AND OF KNOWLEDGE.

In fixation on relevance and meeting stated needs of people. What people are invited to believe, understand, meditate upon, live out in life, and to be and to do as a Christian in the world is so often reduced to “simple” terms which can be received by all without effort, for the idea is that relevance goes with simplicity. This is what is usually called “dumbing down.” Cf. STRIVE FOR THE HIGHEST.

No doubt some will judge me as being harsh. But I invite all to take a look at the very recently published book, REVOLUTION by George Barna of the Barna Group, a research organization based in California. (Tyndale House Publishers of Illinois)

What is the Revolution? It is that evangelical people up and down the USA are realizing that in most of the evangelical churches and congregations they are not truly and really meeting “the real and true Church of God”. Thus they are looking to other ways of seeking to be genuine Christians, wholly consecrated and committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Local churches are becoming therefore less relevant and many will have to close as people seek the real Church, the people of God united to the Father through the Son from all over the world. Returning are small group meetings and the like for people of like mind and like aspirations.

Barna claims that what he says is wholly based on sound research and he is so committed to what his team has found that he has joined what he calls the Revolution, a dramatic change going on all over the USA in people in order to seek to become and be genuine Christians who truly serve the Lord in this world.

In Anglican terms: Are the AMiA and the Network and the FinFNA in the USA and the Essentials of Canada partaking of the Revolution, or are they the very groups from which the genuine Revolutionaries for Christ are departing? This is an important question!

October 31, 2005 All Hallows Eve.

TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture; Worship

1 posted on 11/04/2005 2:16:41 PM PST by hiho hiho
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To: ahadams2; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; ...
Thanks to listmember hiho hiho for posting this!

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2 posted on 11/06/2005 5:14:40 PM PST by sionnsar (†† || (To Libs:) You are failing to celebrate MY diversity! || Iran Azad)
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