I have been talking to my mom about the emerging church or the Emergent Conversation that is taking place in the Christian church around the world. Google those phrases and check these out:
I don’t fully understand it, so I am not too sure how I can explain it. I have read criticisms and I have read A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren who is really at the forefront of this conversation (they do not like to be called a movement). I also saw McLaren speak at a conference. I do know this: The Christian church has dropped the ball. Now I want to say that I am not ranting and raving against my mom. I’m just ranting to the air. I guess it is to the church, but to no one in particular.
The church has dropped the ball…and who is picking it up? The government with their welfare programs that keep the poor just poor enough to not want to do anything about not being poor! Who is picking it up? Planned Parenthood slaughterhouses that get rich by pretending to love their victims, while still manageing to offer some sort of false hope. Where is the church? Encouraging the discrimination of gays and promoting war (KEEP READING…). Why isn’t the church helping low-income families? Why isn’t the church helping single-parent families? Why isn’t the church helping the sick and poor? Why isn’t the church promoting peace? Why isn’t the church doing its job? I don’t know, but I understand that the world has turned from the church that stopped offering hope and to the world that has nothing to offer.
So let me clarify a couple of my above statements. I think homosexuality is a sin. Thankfully it is the church’s job to help introduce the sinner to Christ-who forgives sins and transforms lives. I think the winds of change in Iraq were the right thing to force. But I am not blood-thirsty. As I write this there has been a thwarted terrorist attack in Europe, Hezbollah is attacking Israel and Israel is defending themselves and I have not forgotten 9/11. Tyranny and terrorism should be fought against. HOWEVER, war should not be romanticized. War is not good! It is necessary at times. Those times should be decisive and short.
I think part of the problem is that the church should be separate from a capitalistic culture. Don’t get me wrong, capitalism has its place: in the economy! Heck, I eBay, that is capitalism at its purest. But the church should be a socialistic community of believers (within the church and within society). The church should be a place where the members want to make more so they can give more away to those in need! I remember thinking in college that the early church practiced socialism and that socialism could be a good American economy. I was very wrong. Bresee had it right or maybe it was Wesley, “Make all you can, save all you can and give all you can!”
It’s the church, THE CHURCH that should take care of people. The church should love people. The church should give away time and money and love. The church needs do invest in people and not expect a financial return.
Where is the church when it comes to illegal immigration? Should the church be on border patrol with guns? Should the church be harboring fugitives and helping people break the law? Is their another way? Why isn’t the church offering to help immigrants come to The Land of Opportunity LEGALLY? Because it involves, spending money and giving up time! That kind of compassion used to be called sacrifice. Christians are not so good at that anymore; they leave that up to Christ, they nail Christ back on the cross and tell Him to stay there.
I am not a supporter of separation of church and state, I think it is unconstitutional. But it is happening everyday. So Christians can choose to fight it or they choose to accept it. I guess I do both. I vote with my heart, but I also do not believe in legislating morality. We no longer live in a Christian nation (if we ever really did), so once again Christians find themselves as the outsiders or the foreigners within their culture. I think it is important to make that distinction. The world does not understand Christianity! It isn’t their job to pass Christian legislation or to believe the way we do! The world does not follow Christ. It is the job of the sinner to sin! That is what they know! That is what they understand. But yet we Christians still operate like we are still in power. But we aren’t. And that’s OK; it is the way it has always been! That is when Christianity does its best-when it is under fire! It was Tertullian who said, “In the blood of the martyrs lies the seed of the Church! ” I’m not saying that we should sit back and watch while Christianity gets outlawed, but I don’t think that it is always the church’s job to legislate morality.
I think homosexual marriage can put an end to the sacred institution of marriage and I also think that banning homosexual marriages alienates homosexuals from the church. On one hand you have the world doing what the world does, sin! On the other hand you have the church hurting a group of people. It is a way for the church to discriminate against a community of lost people. Christians don’t fight to outlaw couples who live together or protest against couples who get divorced for non-biblical reasons. We don’t rally to outlaw affairs. I mean what is the church doing about Rev. Phelps and his band of haters; they protest at funerals! AT FUNERALS! I don’t know what the solution is, but what if the church fought with the homosexual for their freedom (to sin)? Don’t you think that at some point they are going to take notice and build healthy relationships with folks that represent Christ? And maybe learn what it means to live a life without sin? Wow, how cool would that be? I know, many of my friends don’t agree with me on this. I am also not out there holding hands with the homosexuals as they march down the street. But I struggle with voting to ban gay marriages and civil unions.
Take a slightly less controversial issue: Children with AIDS. What if the church worked with AIDS stricken children the way Mother Teresa worked with those stricken with leprosy? And why are Christians more apt to help children and kick sick adults to the curb? Where is the church? Campaigning for Republicans? Trying to rebuild the Religious Right? Trying to defend the actions of George Bush? I’M GUILTY, right here, that’s been me.
I think I am winding down a bit…
Oh yeah, the Emerging Church… Well, it is all about what it means to be a Christian in a post-modern world. How do you build the Kingdom of Christ when those that need to be transformed are no longer convinced by apologetics? Post-modern people no longer respond to arguments. Systematic theology tries to convince folks that Christianity is truth, that kind of method is a thing of the past. People don’t want to be convinced, they want to see Christians living out an authentic life that actually means something to them. They want to see it, they want to experience it. They don’t want to hear sermons on prayer; they want to learn how to pray. They don’t want to hear about the attributes of God, they want to experience the love of God. It is very experiential which is very close to existentialism, but that is exactly where the unchurched, non-Christians are and they can’t be convinced or talked into something. They want to see it. They want Christians to live what they believe so that it makes a difference in their lives.
How do you present Christianity in a media-driven culture? You present Christianity with media. You present the e-Gospel. It is the same ageless message, but presented in a modern way. And not watered down, but in terminology that represents modern language. Not catering to people that are seekers, but having a message that is presented in a way that the average person can understand. Post-modern people communicate on a 6th-grade level, but are educated on a master’s level! Use smaller words to describe the same message of hope.
How do you build a community of faith in a culture that longs to have community again? Well, you participate in the community!
OK, I am almost done.
Finally, a word about justice. Brian McLaren tells a great story that illustrates the difference between justice and mercy. Say you are standing before Niagara Falls, just looking out into the water in awe. Suddenly you see a person floating in the river, they are drowning, fighting for their life to get to shore before they go over the edge! You panic, regain your composure, get some folks together and pull the guy out of the water to safety! That is an act of mercy. Say you see another person, you pull them out, and then another, and they seem to keep coming! Again, pulling these drowning folks out of the water are acts of mercy. But where is the justice? Justice is when you walk up river and stop the guy that is pushing people into the freaking water! STOP THAT GUY!
The church needs to practice justice & mercy. But the church also needs to first stop pushing people in the water, and then they need to stand up against others that are doing the same.
OK, I feel better.