World Convention

note:  I’ve still not worked out how Katherine can post her own material, so she sent me the following post which I am putting up for her.  This is Katherine’s material.  – Mr. Answer

As I write this, there are thousands of men and women from over 170 countries who have gathered at the World Convention in Nashville, TN.  Every four years since 1930, those who have a history in the Restoration Movement-which includes the Christian churches, Disciples of Christ, and churches of Christ gather together for this event in different venues.  This is the first time in 16 years that it is being held in the United States.  

I had never heard about this until a few months ago, but as someone who has a vested interest in this movement and heritage, this is VERY encouraging.  I would encourage you to go to their site and read more about the convention, our history, and efforts to unify around the common bond of Jesus Christ.

They describe this gathering as “a time of worship, fellowship, and sharing; but more importantly a time of expressing our UNITY IN DIVERSITY.  There is recognition and appreciation of each others traditions and practices, while at the same time affirming our unity in Jesus Christ and our common heritage in a unity movement which began over 200 years ago”.

They claim that “For over 75 years we have been working to build fellowship, understanding, common purpose and effectiveness within the family of churches known as Christian, churches of Christ, and the Disciples of Christ”.

Lorraine and Lyndsey Jacobs, the former General Secretaries of the World Convention have written a great article entitled “Are We There Yet?”

They claim “Now is an appropriate time to be looking ahead.  As the world moved into the twenty-first century, our global family moves into its third century.  This is our bicentennial era of the Stone and Campbell movements.  And it is also clear that we are ‘not there yet’.  That also makes it ‘map and compass’ time.

You probably know the saying that ‘those who without goals are bound to achieve them’.  Unless we shape our third century (seeking God’s presence and leading under the Lordship of Christ), our third century will most certainly shape us.

The pioneers in our movement were deeply concerned that the church of their time was not effective in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.  They saw division of the church, which had broken down even further in many cases into bitter sectarianism, as one of the major obstacles to the church’s witness.  A divided church could not, without hypocrisy, preach the gospel of reconciliation.

How could unity, they wondered-the unity which Christ prayer for ‘that the world might believe’-be achieved?

The question led to their vision of a church united by restoring ‘the ancient order of things’-returning to the New Testament to discover what the church was to be like. Surely, they felt, that would be a sound basis for all Christians to find their unity in Christ.

Unity became their polar star.  Unity was to be an end in itself but unity would guide the church to becoming the serving, witnessing, universal church of Jesus Christ.

In this transformed Christian community (which they at first hoped to achieve from within existing denominations), there would be ‘unity in essentials, liberty in nonessentials and love in all things’.”

There are many churches that have gone back into the bitter sectarianism way and have gone FAR away from the original goals of our movement-of unity and love, of being “Christians only, but not the only Christians”.  They have missed the point of Jesus’ prayer and have decided to separate themselves from anyone that may differ with them.  Some do it unknowingly and some do it willingly.  Many claim no ties to our history whatsoever-which I believe is only to their detriment.  This is especially true for those that claim we are the “one true church” because it would ruin that premise.  We can learn a lot from history-the good, the bad, and the ugly-and move forward from here.  To ignore it is useless-it will still be there.  I love that these people who participate in the World Convention are embracing and learning from history-not letting it shape them-but are coming together to search for ways to unify HERE and NOW amidst our differences, in order to further the kingdom of God.

So, where do we go from here? That will be addressed in the next post…for now, what are your thoughts?  

Churches of Christ and the Emerging Church

Believe it or not, I have found several blogs of people in the churches of Christ who are trying to figure out this new movement called “the Emerging Church”.  

Personally, I’m not completely sold on the Emerging Church, but I do think that it is good that they are trying to figure out how to relate with the 21st Century western culture.  I appreciate their willingness to thrash through the issues of traditional -vs- Scriptural.  And I think that especially hyperconservative churches of Christ need to ask themselves hard questions about this issue (as do all Christians from every Christian background).

Of course, some Emergents go too far and throw the baby out with the bathwater, so that Scripture plays little role.  But I appreciate that God is using this movement to continue the building of His kingdom.

The church of Christ and the Emerging Church?  Wow.  That’s a union I didn’t see coming.  It’ll be an interesting discussion!

You can read about it here.

And here.

And here.

If you Google “church of Christ” and “emerging” or “emergent church” together, you’ll find more. 

Thoughts?

My “Aha!” Moment

I had an “Aha!” moment just now.

No, not that kind of “Aha!” moment.  You know, like a “Eureka!” moment.  Or an “Of Course!” moment.

Let me explain.  A few minutes ago, I was walking past a house on my street and heard some sort of “Hillsongy” P&W music coming from the window. I didn’t know the song, but it was one of those obviously Christian songs – and as notoriously bad Christian music can be, I don’t mean “obviously” as a critique. In fact, it made me nostalgic for a few years back when I listened to a lot of that sort of music, and it also reminded me of some pretty significant things that happened to me at that time, in my Christian walk.

Then, the “Aha!”, “Eureka!”, “Of course!” moment hit… one of the reasons why I (and probably so many other people) get so angry and sad about the message that the hyperconservatives are trying to get out, at least in my community in NC/VA.      

According to their message, the Jesus that died on the cross for me and for so many others was insufficient.  His death was insufficient.  His defeat of hell and the grave was insufficient.  The blood that he gave as an atoning sacrifice for our sins was insufficient.  

According to their message, the Jesus that walked with me and my family through personal tragedy (the death of my father and the burning of my church not long after) was false.  The comfort we felt from the Holy Spirit as we grieved was false comfort.  The unity that we experienced with our fellow church members was a farce.

According to their message, the Jesus that has inspired men and women through the centuries to give up everything they have to work with people who have nothing was anti-Christ.   Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, Jim Elliot and Roger Youderian?  All Lost.  Lottie Moon?  Lost.  William Carey?  Lost.  The people talked about at the Voice of the Martyrs?  Lost.  All the faithful followers of Jesus through the ages who have believed differently than they do?  Lost.

Why?  How could this be?  It is because they all served an insufficient Jesus.

The Promised Land

And for what? What is this wonderful alternative that they have set up? This Newly Restored Promised Land to which they are attempting to lead us?  Certainly it will inspire a new generation of people who want to go to the four corners of the earth to share the Good News of God’s grace!   Well, let’s look and see.

“If you don’t take the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week you are lost!”

“If you play a guitar in a church service, you are lost!”

“If you aren’t baptized exactly the way I say you should be according to my interpretation of Scripture, you are lost!”

“If you don’t follow the rules I have set up from my “study” of Scripture, you are lost!”

“If you aren’t in a church that I approve of, you are lost!”

And, finally, said to the “unbeliever”:  “we are here to defeat destroy you and uplift truth”!

It Is For Freedom You Have Been Set Free

When I let myself think about the bondage that they are setting up for people through their deft mishandling of the Word of God, it makes me really, really, sad. It makes me sad for the people who will fall for their mishandling. It makes me sad for the people who halfway listen to them and, hearing them quoting Scripture, think that they are somehow authoritative. It makes me sad because it is an attempt to turn the Gospel into something that it is not – a prison, when Christ came to set the prisoner free (Luke 4:18); to give us freedom (John 8:32).

(image from here)

The Word as Blunt Weapon

“But they make people go back to the Bible!” some would say. Yes, that is true, but do they make people go back and sit at the feet of the Master to grow closer to Him, or do they make people go back so that they can also learn to prooftext the Word and fight with it like some sort of blunt weapon?

(Image from here.)

An Answering Voice

And I was suddenly glad that I had started this blog, so that there would be an answering voice out there.  JR likes to ridicule us, that we may only have five (or so) people commenting here each day, but my blog status report tells me that we have hundreds of people visiting and reading each day.

It’s my prayer that some of them might be people who are looking for a way out of the bondage of this way of thinking, and that somehow we might help them to see that Christ exists outside of their assembly, regardless of what they might hear from the pulpit on Sunday morning.

My Prayer

And to any of those folks who might have stopped in here today, I share Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 3:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” 

(image from here)

 

Christian Unity

This looks like an interesting blog from a church of Christ elder from Georgia, Alan Rouse.  The title of the blog is “Christian Unity”, and it seems that, unlike the hyperconservatives in our area, when he says “unity” he doesn’t mean “uniformity” (thanks, Katherine).  He means actual unity.  Look for his blog to be added to the blogroll!

I would encourage his posting entitled “Advocating Against Unity“.

For any of our local hyperconservatives who may click over to look at the blog, please note that the man is very much Biblical in his arguments, and he seems to have a very Christlike attitude.  Take notes!

For those who didn’t grow up in a church named “church of Christ”…

If you are trying to understand where these folks are coming from, I would highly recommend spending some time on the ex-church of Christ website – especially in the “Church of Christ: Doctrine & Culture” board.  There are some insight into this culture for those of us who weren’t raised in it.  

It’s really interesting to me as a person who was raised in a different faith tradition, and you might find it to be so as well.  At the least, it is informative to understanding any hyperconservative churches of Christ that might be in your community.

Make Sure to Watch for Chris Knight Sunday Night

For those of you in the WGSR viewing area, Chris Knight is supposed to be on Sunday night at 8:00 for 25 minutes.  Charles Roark has apparently offered Chris 25 minutes to give his position regarding Johnny Robertson and their recent encounter outside the WGSR studios.  Knowing Chris from his blog, I would bet he’s got something interesting up his sleeve!  Let’s all watch and support him.

 

Sunday, June 1 – Prayer Day for Johnny, Norm and James

I’ve been feeling convicted recently about this blog, and what it could become.  And what I don’t want it to become.

When the subjects of the blog are people who seem to revel in stirring things up and getting people riled up (regardless of what is motivating them to do this), then it is easy to find ourselves getting comfortably in a permanent defensive posture.  Johnny Robertson’s visit this week just underlines how easily that can happen.

I don’t want this blog to be a place that Johnny, Norm and/or James can give to their supporters and say, “Look at how I am being treated!  I must be doing something right if they are so upset at me!”  Rather, I want it to be a place where the three men would see the love of Christ exhibited.

I would ask my regular commenters to consider the following Scripture passages:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34).

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-28).

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse (Romans 12:14).

We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it (1 Corinthians 4:12).

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9).

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble (1 John 2:9-10).

Now, I am not saying that any of the people who have been posting here about the three TV hosts have been acting improperly.  However, I want this to be a place where Jesus’ name is honored, and I think one important way we honor Him is when we act like Him.

So, I invite you all to join me on Sunday, June 1 as I pray for Johnny Robertson, Norm Fields and James Oldfield.  Some suggested things we can pray for them:

1.  For the well-being of their families

2.  For their health  

3.  For Godly wisdom as they attempt to lead the churches where they teach and preach

4.  That Christ would dwell in their (and our) hearts through faith.  And that they (and we), “being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that [they] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:17-19

Won’t you join me in praying for these men this Sunday?

Thanks,

Nathan