24 April 2011

The Spirit in which I say these things………

Am I really this narrow and severe?

Just a quick note, a final thought to wrap up the recent posts……I argue these points and I believe in what I'm writing. Nevertheless I am happy to overlook much for the sake of charity. I will sit in churches with many things going on that I do not agree with. I will tolerate them, but I often find they will not tolerate me. I make up my mind to be quiet and not to discuss these things with anyone, not to sow discord.

If we talk to any modern Evangelicals we either have to grit our teeth and smile or we try and lightly engage and inevitably offend someone when we don't celebrate Christmas, support Israel, or show enthusiasm for George Bush and Sarah Palin.

So we end up going and virtually not talking to anyone. Then after a while we reach the reality of attending a church where we don't agree with about 95% of what is happening, we're not being encouraged, not encouraging, we're not being fed and there's no fellowship because we literally have nothing to talk about with anyone. For years I have struggled to find anyone who will talk about Scripture, the sermon or theology…except maybe the pastor, but he more than anyone is likely to quickly pick up on our differences. For most folks, the after meeting talk consists of politics, work, 401K/Pensions, Insurance, and things of that nature….polite talk, but nothing particularly Christian.

I'm serious enough I suppose, in my demeanour but I don't believe anyone I know would describe me as a grumpy curmudgeon, though it may seem so in these writings. I'm not exactly bubbly and gleeful, but I'm quite capable of talking with people and I like a good laugh. Though I'm pretty narrow on issues like this, if you've read other posts here you'll see that on many things regarding the Christian life...I'm not that narrow and severe at all.

Why am I saying this? I'm sure in these recent posts I've turned the dial up to about 15 and might seem like someone who is a little unbalanced….(smile) or of a nasty disposition.

Some will undoubtedly believe me to be so merely based on what I've written. That's fine, there's nothing I can do about that. But what I'm trying to say is that despite my very severe positions (as some might describe them)…I'm quite human and relatively normal. I don't sneer at people and try and bite them when they walk by. There are overlapping considerations. Often love for a fellow brother means…I bite my tongue. Wisdom often dictates….this person isn't ready to hear this yet. Maybe later.

But this is a public website, so people come here from a variety of spectrums. Some readers already agree with a good bit of what I'm saying. Some might not agree but they're thinking and these writings are stimulating. Others undoubtedly come here and find it all rather bizarre and shocking. I apologize. If I were talking to you as an individual I would probably deal with it all very differently and in the case of many people….never even venture into some of these topics. I'm trying to look at the big picture…foundations, structures, big and deep questions. For many they're just trying to work their way through the Bible and live their lives. Good for them! I say that with no irony, no tone to my voice. But there are others who aren't satisfied, they are driven to keep learning, they want to know and understand, hopefully for the right reasons…not intellectual prowess but to Know God.

At the beginning of the movie 'Cromwell' Richard Harris playing old Oliver walks into the local parish church to find that by royal decree the 'altar' is now decorated with golden cross and a row of candles. In a flash of righteous indignation he clean sweeps the altar, dumping it all on the floor and launches into a diatribe.

While I agree with Cromwell on those points of worship….and violently disagree with what he did politically and militarily, I'm not running around smashing up churches and wagging my finger at people.

I think wisdom teaches a better way. Rather than smash the cross and candles, I'd rather convince the congregants to deliberately but gently place these items and metaphorically speaking so much of what they do…. into the rubbish bin.

Hope that makes sense.


Anonymous said...

Makes perfect sense. Thank you, Mr. Grumpy-Man ;) for the Easter and Holy Week series, made perfect sense as well! So good. Will get this final thought updated on site.

Anonymous said...

I HEAR you loud and clear, Brother. Attending church is often excruciating. With all our hearts we want to commend and build up what is good, but there is SO MUCH that is offensive! Eggs and bunnies, and a lot of humanistic pep-talks about making a difference, being the best we can be...all quite glib and facile. Or else there's the political church where you are harangued and terrorized and polarized into a frenzy of carnal stiving mistaken for obedience to Christ.

It wasn't always like this. In the 80's people were zealous for conforming to the scriptures, for following Christ in substance and spiritual power, in sharing the real gospel, in meeting house to house, people knew how to pray and even pray corporately. Peope used to love to discuss the Scriptures, the Faith, challenging one another and exhorting one another daily. Where did they all go?

Begin fellowshipping at home around the reality and truth you have received, even if making a Sunday show at the local church building. Pray for the Lord to add those who desire reality and New Testament faith, and pray for our neighbors. How to stay humble and not critical but yet not compromise??? That is the fine line; that is needing to discern the Spirit's leading. How much am I responsible for the syncretised state of the church, if I don't ever challenge anything in love? How much is tacit consent by my silence?


A Watchman on the Wall said...

Such perfect sense. Today being the celebration of 'Easter' we listened to a wonderful message of salvation while the kids hunted 'Easter/Ishtar' eggs.

Made me want to cry.

My road continues to grow more and more narrow while others seem quite content nestled comfortably in their stupor.

David said...

You wrote: "For years I have struggled to find anyone who will talk about Scripture, the sermon or theology…except maybe the pastor, but he more than anyone is likely to quickly pick up on our differences. For most folks, the after meeting talk consists of politics, work, 401K/Pensions, Insurance, and things of that nature….polite talk, but nothing particularly Christian."

Yes, yes, yes, 100%. This has been my (painful) experience as well. This is why I so greatly appreciate your blog. It is here that I can discuss and be stimulated and think through so many of these issues that have been bubbling to the surface over the last few years. It is good to know that I am not alone. As always, thank you.

John A. (Protoprotestant) said...

Thanks for the encouraging notes...everyone. Thanks again Reformed Traveler for posting this series. I'm not sure how well my thoughts are received...but hopefully some folks are being challenged to think in a different way. They can disagree but they need to understand the old Reformed arguments about Holy Days are a little different than they might think.

David......I don't know what to do about it. It's really discouraging. I must say that in Reformed circles the conversation was always a bit more stimulating and we were always over at people's houses after Church. There are problems there as well...but overall Reformed circles tend to be a bit more keen on probing these issues.

I'm afraid that doesn't help a lot of folks though and in some cases I can understand why they wouldn't want to attend an OPC or PCA.