Important Questions

For all the questions and all of the struggle (which is not a bad word by the way) raised by Viola in Pagan Christianity, I wish he had began the book with this heart of reasoning.

Excerpt from P.C. (Question 9 at the end of Ch 3): ”

…we are raising three key questions: (1) After exploring where the modern Protestant order of worship came from, is it really successful at transforming people and expressing Jesus Christ? (2) Is it possible that open-participatory church meetings are more in line with what God had in mind for His church than the Protestant order of worship? (3) Would it be worth our time to begin exploring new ways to gather and express Chrsit in our church life together?

For me, the idea was never to intentionally attack the Western Culture’s style (and I use this word intentionally), but that, as an active member of it, I needed to ask myself some questions:

1. If I believe in the Priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 1), am I deactivating (or at least endorsing the deactivation) of the congregation’s participation and engagement with the gospel by being a “pastor” with the “laity” under me?  Are we somehow communicating that we are the “paid professionals – don’t try this at home (Voddie Baucham).”

2. Is the modern order of worship (the use of monologue sermons and sing along time) effective?  Keep in mind these factors:

  • The quality of Christian it produces (we are easily compared to the “lukewarm church” in Loadicea in Revelation – Check Francis Chans Sermon).
  • The numbers. As Craig Groeschel stated at Exponential ’08, even the largest mega church has no platform to stand in comparison to the overwhelmingly vast number of lost people in the world.
  • When all the churches look the same, are we reaching different types of people or only the giving the “church folk” more options for their Sunday morning entertainment (Alan Hirsch).

3. If the roots of what we do on Sunday mornings are culturally created, and possibly from Pagan origin, why are we defending it as if it was biblical.

After asking myself these questions, it has become very hard to legitimize the Western Christianity (and it’s sub-sulture) that I was comfortable with (although I would honestly have to say I was discontent with), paid my salary, and that my “professional” life and ministry peers adhered to strongly.

Now, I know that asking these questions are difficult, and I am not saying that I have this figured out, but asking them is not evil, blasphemous, or wrong.  I may be wrong and American/ Western may actually have it all right…but what if I’m not.

What if the questions are from God?  What if I take the chance to look crazy, risk my salary and security, and follow Him.

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8 thoughts on “Important Questions

  1. Great questions. Isn’t it amazing how many people think these questions are “evil or blasphemous.” I think it’s because these subjects affect the comfort level and too many people are comfortable. As it’s been said before, we need to comfort the afflicted AND afflict the comfortable. The fact is, many aspects of the way we “do church” are NOT Biblical. That doesn’t make them wrong; it just makes them unable to be defended biblically.

  2. Eric,
    I applaud the way you stated everything. I think you might question whether I think your questions are evil, or whether they are sinful, and to that i answer in no way do I think you are in anyway an idiot or a sinner. I know im southern Baptist, I was born it, i was raised it, but the most important thing is im a believer in Christ. Now I do think Southern Baptist do a lot of things correct, you can argue the opposite, but i saw a lot of “good” qualities and rewards come from the way they present Christ to the lost. At the same time, I have seen Baptist twist things way out of context from the Bible.
    With the statement on the quality of the believers we are “producing”, i don’t personally believe the church produces any believers, the church should only guide and direct the Holy Spirit in which is our main teacher and preacher. No church will ever “guide” a Christian perfectly, for no church is perfect.
    I do not in anyway down your view or your statement, in fact I think it may lead others to Christ, and for me to be against that…. would be a dreadful thought… The only thing I am scared of for you, is that it can come across that you are “attacking” the western Church, don’t forget the Baptist, with all their issues, are still an establishment of God, not he building, but the body and its staff. You may argue that the Building is a waste, but from what i see, I see a place of comfort, of love, of welcoming, and of security.. every human yearns for these. And I believe Christ uses the lifeless bricks to show his provision and his security.
    With all this said, I pray God will continually guide you, that you would use the Bible as your whole 100% truth. Let the Holy Spirit guide your heart as it discerns truth from falsehood. Just remember I see your view quite clearly, and the fact you state in no way your attacking the western church gains mountains of respect from me to you.
    -In Christ
    Big-Tex

  3. I was talking to a friend and minister and I realized how crazy my thinking was to them AND how I once thought this stuff was crazy myself. I think I wrote the blog to map out the process it took to get there.

    What’s the most loving thing I could do?

    It may be to make people uncomfortable, which I certainly was uncomfortable myself, but it may be to coach them along in the process and allow God to prompt their thinking in the area of church. The encouragement comes when they need to take the risks at blocking points (i.e. what if I find this true and it costs me my job for the sake of these people).

  4. Erik – “What’s the most loving thing I could do?” is a great question. It’s not always the easiest to answer. Jesus, love personified, had no problems disturbing the comfort level of the religious establishment of the day. He wasn’t attacking Moses or the law; he was attacking what the leaders of that day did to distort the law of God.

    It’s the same with the church today. Questioning, and even condemning certain commonly accepted practices (like the creation of a clergy and laity distinction) is not the same as condemning the church. The church is the body of Christ. We are the church, and as the church we MUST question such practices.

    Tyler – You wrote, “Now I do think Southern Baptist do a lot of things correct … ” and I agree. I think the Roman Catholic Church does a lot of things correct also. However, to question, or even criticize the practices of any organization or institution is not the same as criticizing the Church. Remember, the Church is the body, Christ is the head, and we need to correct any part that’s not properly attached. (Please forgive the awkward analogy, but I think you get my point.)

    1. I agree that Catholics do allot of things correct also, but my point was that the Building in which the Body of Christ meets stands for much more than just a couple lifeless bricks. I know multitudes of lost people who have found the Christ because they were scared, lonely, and unsure of life, so they turn to the steeple, they feel safe and warm inside it’s walls big or small, because the Body of Christ fills these empty nails with love. I believe the building stands for so much more than shelter from the rain, but stands as an apex, a place of meeting, a place of habit (humans are habit driven), and a place of security. I found security in Kingsland Baptist because i know what the people who filled it stood for.

      The reason i expressed this to erik, was because many people who call themselves “destructionist” not only show their views on what the church should do differently (which is fine), but instead “attack” (and i mean attack) the establishment. What if this “attack” causes a new believer whose found security inside it’s walls, see’s this attack, feels it.. and runs…

      I could care less what anyone else says, i saw GOD use Kingsland lifeless bricks, and big expensive spiritless glass tv’s, to reach others for Christ. And that is all that mattered. God uses buildings, just as He used to a bush.

      I am not against the view Erik had, i am against anyone who wants to bring harm to the church. My office and mind and time has always been open to opposition, and to other ideas, but we have to be careful how we express our views, for we are watched daily.

  5. Hey Tyler,

    You wrote: “… we have to be careful how we express our views, for we are watched daily.” I couldn’t agree more. Our exchange of ideas need to be done in love, even when we disagree.

    To your statement: “I saw GOD use Kingsland lifeless bricks, and big expensive spiritless glass tv’s, to reach others for Christ …” I say, “Amen. That’s great.” I saw God use the Elmwood Theater, the Neutral Ground coffee shop, and my own home to reach others for Christ. I have nothing against Church buildings. I just happen to think an “incarnational” type of approach to sharing Christ is more effective (and less expensive) when it comes to reaching the lost. But God uses what we offer, and he can sure use Church buildings.

    Finally, I’d like to address the “attack” issue. It could happen that a non-believer hears or reads a statement which he/she perceives as an “attack” on the church (or the way we “do church”), and runs away. However, most of my experience has been with people who run away from “church” BECAUSE of the way it’s done. These people are drawn toward Christ when they hear someone being honest about the problems they see in organized religion. If you look at Jesus’ public ministry, he said many things that could have been taken as an attack against the religious practice of the day; yet, the only ones who took offense were the religious. The sinners loved him and his message.

    I know you’re not against the view Erik has, and I too am against anyone who wants to bring harm to the church: the body of Christ. Let’s keep the dialogue open and loving and I’m sure we can both benefit from each others opinions and experiences.

    Peace,

    Bob

  6. Erik, its good to always think, question and challenge. Unfortunately its become a lost art. In Jesus day it was the basic building blocks of education for every child. To question was to learn. Unfortunately we have grown up in a society where people are afraid to be offensive, that we may hurt someones feelings and that would just be bad. How could we possibly question somebody it may just be our opinion. You especially cant question the leadership, their the leaders. Yet if we were to only open our eyes and see what has happened to the moral fiber of our country, Christians included you would scream, “there’s a problem here!” All you have to do is open the paper to find a priest, a pastor, a leader somewhere been convicted, arrested or smeared. Where were the people questioning them. Not to mention where are the people questioning the fact that our roots of Christianity are filled with racism. Why is racism such a bad thing today yet our fathers of the church hated and participated in the destruction of Jews. Who questioned them? And if our the roots of racism have permeated our history as a religion then how has that shaped the way each of us read the scriptures. I think the problem goes far beyond our modern day contemperary western church model. Viola is only half right in his summation. But at least he brings up the question. May we all start to question. Maybe we will actually find truth in our journey.

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