Showing posts with label Unity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unity. Show all posts

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Stuck in the Middle with You

“Clowns to the left of me,
  Jokers to the right,
  Here I am
  Stuck in the middle with you.”

— Stealers Wheel, 1972

Doesn’t it seem these days like the world has divided right down the middle? We’ve got Conservatives and Liberals, Democrats and Republicans, Brexiters and Europhiles, open borders advocates and controlled immigration people, social justice warriors and free speech advocates, the politically correct and the deliberately controversial, individualists and collectivists … and on, and on, and on.

Iron and clay, maybe.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Rage, Rage …

I had a conversation with one of my brothers in Christ recently that left me a bit shaken and concerned, I must confess.

It was outside of a local church building. The man was speaking to me about the mask mandates and the distancing regulations that the church had implemented.

Suddenly, his eyes flashed with fire, and his words became tense and cruel: “These people,” he said, “These people who just think they can …” He went on with such fierceness that his wife had to put her hand gently on his arm, and say to me, “You see we feel strongly about this. Pray for us.” “Come along, dear.” And she pulled him away.

He was still in mid-rage, I could see, and there was much more he wanted to say.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

The Ironic Ending

Not all friendships get off on the right foot.

One of my best buddies in high school was a skinny longhair with similar tastes in pop music. But Terry and I met under less than ideal circumstances. Another student had a serious grudge against me and was determined to make my early high school life as miserable as possible; however, he wasn’t quite sure he had it in him to handle a six foot 200 pounder on his own. So, one day after school, he and his hulking sidekick chased me into the nearby woods. On the way, they drafted Terry to help out.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Too Hot to Handle: He Ain’t Baptist, He’s My Brother

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: Quick quiz, IC: How many different local churches have you been part of? I’m not counting churches you’ve visited, but just those you would have considered “my church” for a period of time; churches in which it would have been notable to others if you weren’t there.

Immanuel Can: Um … rather more than most people, I suspect. I’ve been regarded, for some time, as a regular attendee of … I make it 14. I might be missing one or two. My youth and early adult years were marked by a lot of moving around, so it wasn’t a product of unhappiness in most cases. How about you?

Tom: Eight. Second question: How many of those churches were in the same town as one of the others?

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Stuck in the Middle with You

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: The Correct Church

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

In 2002, Julie Staples (for the Protestant side) debated Apolonio Latar (representing Catholics under the initials ‘AL’).

At one point in their exchange Latar said this:

“Sola Scriptura leads to doctrinal anarchy, which is further reason why you need an infallible authority. Look at all of these Protestant denominations, 30,000 of them the last time I checked. How do you know you’re in the correct church?”

Now it turns out the “30,000” is vastly, wildly overstated, as others have since demonstrated. Regardless, everyone would certainly agree that there are lots of denominations and lots of different beliefs within Christendom.

Tom: So my question is, how would you personally have answered Latar? How do you, Immanuel Can, today, know you’re in the correct church?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Call and Response

Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline is not the most intuitive choice for a hockey arena anthem. It goes over so well for one reason: audience participation.

NEIL: “Sweet Caroline ...”

18,000 FANS: Bah bah bah

NEIL: “Good times never seem so good.”

18,000 FANS: So good, so good, so good!

You get the idea. It’s call and response, and people love to join in. The “response” part was not built into Diamond’s original lyric; it seems to have evolved over the years as fans got increasingly comfortable with the nightly routine of familiar tunes and started improvising on them.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Guess Who’s Not Coming to Dinner?

Yesterday I dealt with the most practical reason ecumenicalism is a non-starter.

But not every argument against a major campaign to reunite the Church organizationally is all about utility.

The other reason we haven’t seen a lot of small, local churches devoting their energies to ecumenicalism is theological.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sacrifices and Trade-offs

Nathan Abdy says some churches pay insufficient attention to what’s currently being taught in the larger evangelical community. I have argued that, at least in my experience, lack of elder awareness about the big picture isn’t a problem.

But then I also happen to know some exceptionally well-studied, highly intelligent older Christian men. I hope they represent the larger trends, but I could be wrong.

If so, that’s an issue. After all, elders keep watch over both the flock and themselves. That’s their job. “Pay careful attention,” said the apostle Paul. So they should, and so should we all.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Stuck in the Middle with You

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

On Not Showing Up to the Conversation

I’ve watched with interest the back-and-forth over at assemblyHUB around Nathan Abdy’s multi-part online defense of ecumenicalism.

Abdy is a Bible College student who feels the churches in which he circulates are out of touch with the broader Christian community: “If the greater Evangelical Christian world is a party, then ‘the Brethren’ are in the corner twiddling their thumbs, waiting for it to be over.”

Now, in some quarters them’s fightin’ words, and the feedback reflects it: “It’s so sad to read articles like this,” or “Today, [evangelicalism] is a big mess.” Other comments are cautiously approving or even enthusiastic.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Bad Idea Revisited

Here’s yet another post about the need to reunite the visible Church. They’re a dime a dozen at the moment, a fact which might set off alarm bells in the heads of our premillennialist readers.

As is usually (but not always) the case, well-intentioned folks are convinced the Church cannot be effective on the world stage until it is politically unified:

“The first step in [retaking our culture and rebuilding our civilization] is UnSchisming the Church. And the first step in UnSchisming the Church is to agree that the Body of Christ needs to be whole again. The 3 segments of the Church [Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant] are going to have to agree to that before we can make any movement on resolving this issue.”

Color me a bit cynical on that front, but I appreciate the thought.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Falling Down Together

The Battle of Gibeon is a perplexing episode in Israel’s history.

Let me set the stage: Saul, the first king of Israel, is dead. The nation has not formally acknowledged a new king but instead is slipping back into tribalism. David has the anointing of God, but lacks a unanimous mandate from the people. His kinsmen in Judah formally recognize David as rightful king, but that probably says less about their spirituality than it does about their sense of family loyalty.

Of course you’d want your guy at the top of the heap. Everybody does.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Nothing to Worry About

The other day I happened across a series of comments responding to a post that referenced in passing the words of the Lord in John 17. You remember: the part where Jesus prays, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me”.

What did the Lord mean? I have rarely encountered greater diversity of opinion about just a few words. One person even not-so-tentatively floated the proposition that the Father has answered his Son’s prayer in the negative.

I’m thinking Eh, not so much.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Here, Let Me Fix That For You

The always-delightful Doug Wilson (and I say that without a trace of sarcasm) engages with the work of Russell Moore in this piece about building “collaborative majorities” in the Christian community for the purpose of politically engaging the broader culture, as the U.S. religious right has (often unsuccessfully) attempted to do.

As I have mentioned many times before, Doug, despite being postmillennialist Calvinist Reformed (is any of that redundant?) is one of my favourite Christian bloggers. He’s been on a tear lately about unity in the Body of Christ; a very reasonable concern that is close, I suggest, to the heart of our Saviour.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Inbox: Breeding Atheism

Mac Pier, head of a parachurch organization in Manhattan called The New York Leadership Center, is calling for unity in the church.

Fox News thinks Pier’s “confessions” on behalf of the church are important enough for Bill O’Reilly to spend five minutes quizzing Charles Krauthammer about the church and how its longstanding divisions are alleged to encourage atheism in the world.

Our reader Qman asks, “What’s your take, is it valid?”

Monday, September 21, 2015

Walking in Lockstep

Some people feel the inability of Christians to agree is a fatal flaw in our faith. The fact that believers understand the word of God differently and apply it differently is, to them, evidence that there is something wrong with the scripture itself, or that Christians are deluded about it, or that perhaps God does not really exist at all.

On the contrary, I believe it is evidence of precisely the opposite. It is exactly what we ought to expect.

To Kendall Hobbs, the inability of Christians to agree about either the will of God or the content of scripture and how it ought to be applied constitutes a valid reason to abandon Christianity. So he did.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Too Hot to Handle: The Correct Church

The most recent version of this post is available here.