Tag Archives: safety

Ears itching for the 1950’s

As I was shaking my head over the Nashville Statement, a friend linked me to Pastor Nadia’s counter to it, the Denver Statement. In reading the comments, a couple scriptures were posted, and I thought wow, that’s pretty cool.

The 2 scriptures posted were:

Romans 16:11

2 Tim 4:3

And in isolation, I’m going yes, cool I get this… and then I think, wow, I bet some could flip those scriptures upside down around and get things totally wrong. I remember one of the things the late Rich Mullins had to say.

“And this is what I have come to think: That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, whom I claim to be my Savior and Lord the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.”

And the thing is, there seems to be a fairly loud group of folks who see Christianity as the secure little niche in the world thing just for them and people like them. Consider the errant 4 spiritual law thing, the prosperity gospel thing, and a whole lot of other things which take a few cherry picked scriptures in isolation and create a belief system of sand with the labels Biblical Worldview out of them… and folks fall for it, as after all, it is derived from the scriptures.

But what about the lives of early Christians being thrown to the lions?

 

 

 

 

 

And what can we gather about scriptural cherry picking when we consider the temptation of Christ.

 

Or a hundred plus years ago, what about the churches who embraced slavery as a Biblical Worldview thing, to the point of breaking churches apart, to the point of each side using less than kind language to disparage the others interpretation of the scriptures as I wrote about back in 2009.

I think about well meaning Christians looking for the security of an 1950’s Christianity…  I looked up some of my home church records from that era… multiple services, hundreds of people in worship, massive numbers in Sunday school, and youth groups that had enough scale to actually go out and make a substantial difference in the community. That’s some really cool stuff…

Alas, for poor folks, for folks in biracial marriages, for folks of color, women, and lgbtq folks, egads, the 50’s were anything but kind. And yet as an old white straight guy, it is very easy to be blind to their struggles… especially so with that siren song of 1950’s security and privilege.

St Augustine warns us of the dangers of self deception, and the 2 Tim 3:4 trap is an easy one to fall into, perhaps even easier when groups of folks start to self align with it. It seems it goes from ear tickling to the point of ego building pretty fast… and left unchecked long enough resulted in great evils on the part of the church.

Who thought it wise not to condemn racism in a hard core way for fear of upsetting the financial coffers and membership roles during #Charlottesville?

Who thought it a wise thing to release the Nashville statement post Charlotteville and in the midst of #HurricaneHarvey?

Who thinks it a wise thing to encourage suicides and the tearing apart of families as the result of such so called Biblical worldviews?

And while an element of agree to disagree to keep the peace can be prudent over some matters, like worship styles, clothing in church, and other minutia etc… when errant beliefs such as the Nashville statement end up driving kids to suicide, or allowing racism to fester unchecked in the church, agreeing to disagree should no longer be an option.

And this is where it gets hard… some of those signers of the Nashville thing have accomplished great things for the church. Some of their sermons are rock solid out of the park… but just because a individual is a Christian, a great pastor, or  seminary professor doesn’t mean they are perfect. In a lot of ways, there are parallels to the church leaders advocating slavery a hundred plus years ago… some of their actions in isolation, were very bad, but this doesn’t transcend to making them as people or Christians bad, it just makes them wrong.

Alas, how to unwind this….

Safety and Comfort (lyrics)

Safety and Comfort (lyrics)

A church of believers it is…

Not one of servants, although there may be some.

Not one of teachers, no students come.

Not one of seekers, as they are barred from the door.

The verse of the lukewarm seems oh so relevant.

———— Chorus ——–

I had high hopes, yet things move so slowly.

I really thought this was the call.

Yet, I found no sacrifice, no service, no danger at all.

Escape and family tradition reign.

They put up barriers to Christ, and lock the door.

———— Chorus ——–

I honestly thought I could make a difference…

Instead, they demand it safe and comfortable

The cost of discipleship is too objectionable.

No leading required, they just need the pulpit full.

What signs did I miss, where is the door.

————  Chorus ——–

The sandles are shaken, a new call awaits

Lord Jesus, prepare the path, and heal my soul

The Gospel is preached, the bell tolls

Its not safe, its not comfortable, Jesus is here

He set me free, I am no longer captive.

—————–

 Chorus…

Safety and comfort are paramount.

Where is ministry, when ears only want tickling?

Can the Gospel still be heard, despite the bickering?

Shall I shake my sandals at the door?

Safety and comfort are paramount.

******************

Not exactly the type of tune one would use in worship, but sadly the tune often felt by recent seminary grads sent to dysfunctional congregations.

To some extent, such can be self fullfilling prophecy. Ie, if one views ones congregation as dysfunctional, it likely will be, and a look in the mirror is needed. Yet, to deny the fact that there are congregations from hell is a serious dis-service as well. There has to be an element of realism… and hopefully one will identify such, well before the newbie pastor ends up either so disillusioned and shredded, they quit ministry entirely, or worse.

Concepts for this came from a kazillion pastor’s I’ve know over the years, and as of late Pastor Joelle’s and Father A’s blogs.

2 Timothy 2:16 Godless Chatter, Getting Real, Transparency

Hmmm, been thinking about this one a bit… There is an element of being “real” or transparent, and there is Godless chatter too. Its incredible hard to define, as realness and transparency can cross into a lack of reverence and gossip pretty easily. Perhaps this is one where one has to rely on the still small voice, albeit scripture does address this in a multitude of areas.

sadly, I think it quite easy to put up a brick wall and not listen to the Holy Spirit in such matters, whether it be common parlance, or something one really likes for other reasons. Or perhaps worse, being a guy with a log in the eye, its what others do (being middle aged), ie the young whipper snappers and their enthusiastic chatter over movies or the little old ladies who mix fellowship and gossip.

Of course there is also the issue of conviction. We dont get hit with every detail of the law at once… it may take years to be led in that direction. Yet, if God is calling, we best listen. Ultimately, the quesiton is where do we pick up the cross on this, and should we put lines in the same, and if so, where should they be. Perry Noble has some interesting thoughts on that, concerning personal safeguards. I think he makes a lot of sense, know ones vulnerabilities, and make the lines from there.

For me, is it endless bantering over theology? It could be, but perhaps not, as it could also lead to edification. Its tough though… I must admit I do like to spar periodically, but when is the line crossed? I know I never let things go personal, but that may well be too far.

Is it crass language? This is a tough as well, as its regional, its cultural, and its even time sensitive. What about a couple blog titles I’ve read. One is Jesus says Dont be a Dick (which btw is quite funny, and surprisingly theologically profound too, but the language is bothersome to me). Another is a title I’ve shared here, “Giving Jesus the bird” There was also the outrage over the use of some language on Christian radio that resulted in the removal of Chuck Swindolls show on VCY a couple years back. This is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I guess I draw the line some of the time, and not others on a case by case deal. Probably more cultural/regional than anything though.

What about song lyrics? Heart of a Pastor in Garbage in Garbage out brings up some interesting ideas. In some ways I agree, but in others not so much. The lyrics in Highway to Hell are very much aligned with someone who doesn’t know Jesus. I obviously dont think such has a place in worship, but for a teenage youth group as a discussion topic, absolutely. Whether teens should be listening to such, I’m not so sure. I dont make the same connection with music as Heart of a Pastor makes, at least as concerns these lyrics, although there are others, which go way too far ie actually promoting sin etc. However, as a bass player for hire years ago, on a Saturday night, I may well be playing “Highway to Hell”, and 6 hours later at a church somewhere playing “Awesome God“. Perhaps I am putting up a brick wall.

I will say after living on the road playing CCM for 3 months, and not hearing any secular music, I was taken aback when I first heard Chicago’s Stay the Night on the ride back to LAX. Granted, there is a difference between Highway to Hell and Stay the Night, but no where near as much as between them and Let There be Praise.

By the same token, if we sanitize our communications such that we dont even mention some scripture, or completely disregard real life, hurts and all, thats not cool either. Granted, just because the size comparisons of male anatomy is present in scripture, I doubt one should not make such discussions common parlance. (Yep that was going on, way before the advent of spam)

I think perhaps part of the answer resides in context, 2 Timothy 2:15-18, seems to present a significant amount of lattitude, yet obviously its not the whole story, there is still the outright condemnation of gossip, and reverence is a common theme throughout scripture. Alas, it is late, and thus those are for another blog entry.