The Reformation’s truly radical understanding of the Christian faith

__

This is an excerpt from Pastor Mark’s class this last Sunday.

__

Good stuff.  To any newcomers…hang onto your hat!

_

Listen > The radical nature of the reformer’s understanding 

(it’s only 16 minutes long)

Or…

_

_

_______________________________________________________________________

_

Thanks, Pastor Mark.

_

Thanks to flickr and Jon Wu, for the photo.

_

__

“The Wounding Church” by Howard Nowlan

_
__
“We limp in faith from the bed of our death, through the blood of the cross, to the the joy of Christ’s resurrection”.   Robert Capon Farrar.
_
_
_I watched a two-hour long documentary last night on the growth and teaching of the emergent church. The analysis was telling, not only in its accuracy with regards to where the likes of this phenomenon has departed from orthodox theology and practice, but equally, if unintentionally, as to why so many have made such an exit from mainstream Christianity. Amidst the sharp critique of some (not all) of those defining the painful declarations of de-constructive spirituality, was a clear adherence to the kind of theology which internally wounds the church as much as any external intrusion of alien (non-christian) approaches to God.It’s usually pretty easy to unmask teachings which present a God or faith which is contrary to the character and relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to His handiwork, but what is equally, if not far more dangerous, is those welcomed within the very fold and ministry of the faith who are effectively tearing down the very core of God’s redemptive work in Christ (justification by Grace alone through Faith alone) by a seeking to re-establish the place of the Law over and above the Gospel.Sometimes this happens simply out of ignorance. I recently attended a service where a young student minister was preaching in such a fashion, that I don’t  think he was even really aware of what he was doing. It made my blood boil to hear it, but I know that there are others in that church who will work hard to take and keep people beyond such folly, so that is something (and quite rare right now), but watching the documentary made me realize afresh why it is that so many have been so scarred and bruised amidst Christianity- not by Christ, but by the church- that they have had to go elsewhere to try and find something better! The reason why such movements begin and grow is because of the great numbers of people who have gone to ‘orthodox’ churches and been thrashed again, and again, and again by nothing but a ‘gospel’ of law which has been emptied of the riches of Christ and God’s unmerited mercy and love towards us.When the Gospel is ‘clipped’ of this primary, essential message of the redemptive work of God in Christ, then all religious belief and practice becomes nothing more than our seeking to be valid before a god of our own making, and most certainly not the living God who justifies the wicked.We can indeed become grieved when men profess a faith which denies Christ as seen in His own words or those of His Apostles and Prophets, and rightly so, but should we not be all the more deeply anguished when, in those very churches which deem themselves to be genuinely ‘christian’, the life-giving bread of the Gospel, the person, of Jesus Christ, is not broken and shared, but in truth withheld from the very souls which are there to feed upon Him – to meet with God with a broken and contrite heart and to eat of His grace in their time of need? Is that not the greatest evil of all – to leave men and women outside of that mercy and fellowship when that is why we are here… to hold out that word of life?

We simply cannot deal in many of our churches today with the manner of ‘Lordship’ evidenced in Christ Himself in the upper room at the last supper – removing His clothing and girding Himself in a towel (dressing Himself as a slave, as the Living Bible so succinctly puts it) to wash the feet of those who were His friends – those who, in spite of all the failings and denials, He loved totally, and would give His life to save just a few short hours later. 

This gospel means we totally and entirely saved “not by our successes but in and through our failures… Our so-called ‘successes’ cannot be saved – they are nothing but suits of obsolete armor, ineffective moral and spiritual contraptions we have climbed into to avoid facing the thing which can save us – our totally naked vulnerability before Jesus, for it is the person He lives and dies for, not the suit we contrive to wear” (Farrar – Parables of Judgement).

Is this the God with whom we have to do in our Sunday services, our bible studies, our daily lives, because if we are not focused upon this God, seen in the incarnation and life of His only begotten Son, then we really have nothing to say  – THAT is the reality.

The pain of the emergent church is great, but that is primarily because it shouts so loudly regarding the failure of mainline Christianity to ‘speak’ the truth in love, evidenced in God’s reconciling work in Jesus Christ. Because of that failing, many of us who, miraculously still attend a church, know only too well of such wounding, and can only hope and pray that even as such bruised reeds and smoldering flaxes, we can seek to point to true grace in these days of such great need.

__
_______________________________________________________________________________________________
_
Thank you, Howard.
_
Howard’s blogsite is Rebel by Nature, Righteous by Force
__
_
___
__

How is the musical form, the ‘fugue’, like ‘the Cross’?

__

From  Pastor Mark Anderson’s Daily Devotional blog site

__

_

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

       –  1 Corinthians 2:2

_

November 26, 2012

_

Johann Sebastian Bach is known for his mastery of the ‘fugue’, a musical form built around one, recurring theme. Bach’s  ‘Art  of the Fugue’  is a collection of brilliantly constructed fugues that exemplify the form. So much so that they can be played by virtually any instrumental combination with satisfying effect. These fugues can be quite complex. At the same time they never lose sight of that one, central theme.

 

Bach offers an insight into the nature and purpose of theology, of the Christian witness. Like the winding counterpoint of the fugue, the great theme of the Cross may be amplified in any number of voices. Indeed, it should be. But if that theme is broken or lost, the composition wanders aimlessly. The composition is disharmonious and ultimately pointless. 

 

One can sense today the widespread confusion regarding the Christian faith. There are many voices but the counterpoint often lacks harmony and focus. When the message of the Cross falls out of the center of the Christian witness disharmony results. St. Paul was among the first Christians that we know of to tap the podium in an effort to get the attention of the members of the orchestra who were wandering off into themes of their own making. He heard, as we can today, elements of the church that were losing their voice for the Cross. 

 

This is not to say that the Cross is not widely talked about today. But much of that talk “spins” the Cross to be a moment of divine identification with us poor victims of whatever injustice we feel has come upon us. Poor Jesus was a victim, too. So He can relate. He can identify with us and we with Him. But this is not the message of the cross. This is not the theme  The fact is that the Cross reveals that no one was interested in identifying with the gracious God in Jesus. He died alone and despised. “Weep not for me”, Jesus said,. “but for yourselves and your children.” 

 

This, then, is the great fugal theme of the faith. On the Cross God seals the exits so that there is only one way out. That way is the crucified and Risen Lord Himself. The Cross does not identify with us. It indicts us. At the same time, the great theme of the Cross rings with the sound of pure grace. “Father, forgive them”, he said. If the cross indicts us in our godlessness, even more does it reveal God precisely where He means to be found, in the suffering and dying Jesus where God moves against us and for us. 

 

The Cross is where the Truth is told, revealed, where God is known, where godless ones like you and me are brought to an end and invited, commanded to resin up our bows, break out the trumpets, xylophones, clarinets, electric guitars, kazoos or whatever voice we have and join the theme! Plumb it to the depths, soar to its’ heights with the madness and reckless abandon that can only come from those who know they are as good as dead, and yet so very much alive through our Crucified and Risen Lord!

_

 

“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

_

_

_____________________________________________________________________________

_

Thank you, Pastor Mark Anderson.

_

__

_

Do you like the religious/ascendancy project?

_

Many do.

_

If you do, there’s probably not a lot to sway you from that course.  At least for the time being.

_

But if you see yourself starting to despair a bit because you just can’t quite cut the mustard in keeping up with all that you should be doing, and or you are still doing those things that you know you shouldn’t be doing…or you are starting to notice (in your most honest moments and reflections) that you might be becoming a bit prideful, because you delude yourself into believing that you really aren’t doing so badly at all this ‘Christian progression/self-sanctification’ stuff….then maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

_

If you’re in the latter category (see world’s 2nd longest sentence above) then this might mean something to you:

_

click > Two HUGE ISSUES in a proper understanding of the Christian faith

_

_______________________________________________________________________

_

Thanks, Pastor Mark.

_

And thanks to flickr and chawayipiran, for the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_

_

_

“Now Thank We All Our God”

_

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,

who wondrous things hath done, in whom his world rejoices;

who from our mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way

with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

_

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,

with ever-joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;

and keep us in his grace, and guide us when perplexed,

and free us from all ills in this world and the next.

_

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,

the Son, and Holy Ghost, supreme in highest heaven,

the one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore;

for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.                   

   

                                  – Martin Rinckart        

_

_

_

_

_________________________________________

_

Thanksgiving Eve sermon by Pastor Mark:

_

     click >   ‘How could Martin Rinckart write that hymn?’

_

  ______________________________________________

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving.

_

_

“Destroy this Temple and I will raise it again in three days.”

Impressed with all the great things that man can do?

Some of it is pretty impressive. But none of it will last.

_

Listen to > “Destroy this Temple and I will raise it up again in three days.”

_

_____________________________________________

_

Thanks, Pastor Mark.

And thanks to flicker and isawnyu, for the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_

_

What is the most errant and damaging belief in most Christian churches?

 

Here’s a clue:

_

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,…”

   Colossians 2:13

__

_

I can just see Jesus standing at the tomb of Lazarus hands folded and silent, surrounded by the weeping entourage as one of the exasperated, grieving sisters tugs at His sleeve;

_

 ‘Jesus why don’t you do something?’

I’m waiting’, He replies.

‘Waiting for what?’

‘I’m waiting for Lazarus to make a decision.’

_

The trouble with Jesus was that He refused to play by the rules of conventional, religious wisdom. That wisdom stated that God rewards the good and punishes the sinner. But Jesus unsettled the conventional wisdom. He forgave people who by their obvious misconduct revealed themselves to be truly wicked. And, to add insult to injury, He blasted the good religious folks who by their obvious outward conduct appeared to be godly. With Jesus on the loose nobody knew what would happen next. Sort of like grace. Jesus spoke and acted as if He were actually in charge, as if He had the final authority over life and death.

That, of course, is our problem with God.

We too have a conventional religious wisdom. And that wisdom tells us that we have a free will that must choose God. God may be the Creator of the universe, the One who is beyond time and space, eternal and almighty, but where we are concerned, God stands with His hat in His hand waiting for us to decide.

We like this conventional, free-will view of God because it keeps us in the center of the action, where we can work on our variously defined programs of godliness and success, showing God how serious we. This is precisely what Jesus ran into among the religious of his own time. Claiming to be all about God, they were actually all about themselves, even if their intentions were good. That, in the final analysis, is what free will religion comes down to. It’s not about God, it’s about me. And the insistence on hanging on to even a little bit of freedom where God is concerned, reveals that the will has already made its decision. It has decided for the self, and that leads not to life, but death.

Jesus came to the grave of Lazarus to say something and to do something full of grace – free, unmerited grace. He came in His own time and on His own terms. And when He arrived He took control of the funeral. He commanded the grave to be opened and he called Lazarus out of the cold grip of death by a word.

Hanging on to the illusion of free will is about as useful as the dead hand of Lazarus clutching his burial shroud. So,that same Word of death-defeating grace and power must be spoken to you. God saves you by His grace. God chooses you. 

In the absolution and your baptism, this same Jesus who was plunged into death, wades into death’s deep waters to find you – and does some free-will choosing of His own.

 

“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

_

________________________________________________________________________________________

_

From  Pastor Mark Anderson’s Daily Devotional blog site.

Thank you, Pastor Mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_