Every Sunday morning, we’ll be posting articles and links that are saying something important about church, culture, and mission (or that just made us laugh). Here’s what resonated with us this week on the web:
On Not Going To Church:
Donald Miller wrote the viral religion blog post of the week (and follow-up) on why he doesn’t worship God by singing…or attending church:
So, do I attend church? Not often, to be honest.
Like I said, it’s not how I learn.
I’m fine with where I’ve landed and finally experiencing some forward momentum in my faith. I worship God every day through my work. It’s a blast.
David Fitch responded with an appeal to to the “real presence” of Jesus in the gathered practice of Eucharist:
Evangelicalism, especially the kind I imagine so prevalent in Nashville, TN where my bro Don Miller is from, doesn’t take the Eucharist with the same sensitivity. The focus in most evangelical churches is cognitive. It’s about 45 minute sermons, where the Bible is taught and we sing some songs that coordinate with the lesson (to reinforce it cognitively or something?). But I go to the gathering for something completely different. I go to be in His special presence, His real presence of forgiveness and new life in the Spirit by the bread and the wine, and the earth crashing, mind transformative, imagination funding proclamation of the gospel – the world as it is under the Lordship of Christ. In these two acts, Jesus becomes specially present. His voice is heard. It shapes my senses for the rest of the week. If I want teaching I go to a Sunday school class.
Nate Pyle made a similar pastoral point about what’s going on behind the songs and sermons:
Maybe we aren’t just singing songs, but maybe people who are vastly different than one another – mothers and fathers, young and old, men and women, black and white, widows and widowers, rich and poor – are joining their many voices into one voice and declaring something together.
Maybe we aren’t just lifting a cup with cheap grape juice into the air while we recite some words. Maybe we are acting as hosts to the Table of God, where the presence of God rests uniquely as it invites people to a space of grace and equality.
And then Sarah Bessey poignantly illustrated why she still “goes to church”:
Because we walk in and Pat will hug me while she hands Joe the bulletin. Because after a week of Facebook and school pick-ups and drop-off lines, a week of writing and laundry, a week of working and to-do lists, I hear my name called out in the lobby and, maybe for just a moment, someone sees me. Because we laugh with one friend, ask how another one’s health is doing, figure out who needs a meal this week. We exchange quick hugs as placeholders for the conversation that might unfold this week or next, maybe next month. We engage in all the small talk that precedes the heart-talks. I hear about a dear young couple whose baby might be coming home soon and now I’ve got a little tunic to knit for a beloved and longed-for baby to cast on later this afternoon. Because someone is always glad to see my tinies. Because these are their friends. Because my tinies head for the kid table of colouring pages and crayons just to offer up a high five to their children’s pastor, they are home. Because we sit in folding chairs in a rather drafty school gym and our tinies sprawl on the floor at our feet or perch on our hips or stand beside us and watch it all, all, all, taking it in. This is what we do on Sundays, we tell them, we live it with them, we gather.
We rounded up recent musings about the “New Calvinism” appearing online, including a post from Reformed pastor Derek Rishmawy on The Gospel Coalition.
Derek wrote a follow-up to his post, commenting on some of the responses he’d received:
No, This is Not All Reformed People – Just to be clear, for those who couldn’t catch it earlier: I don’t think all Calvinists sneer or are terrible. Actually, I generally like them. I read them. I agree with them. When they’re not teetotalers, I drink beer with them. In fact, the bottom half of my article was dedicated to talking about a couple of them who were instrumental in my own journey into the Reformed fold. As I’ve come in, I’ve found that there are plenty more like them. Finally, the post was featured on The Gospel Coalition–visible Calvinist central. I wouldn’t write for them if that wasn’t the case.
On Creation, Evolution, and “Great Debates”:
On Scot McKnight’s blog, RJS gave her thoughts on this week’s Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate and the viability of creationism:
The answer is quite clear. The creation model preached by Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis is not a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era. Frankly the science is not at issue. The stretches required to fit even observational science into a young earth view strain credulity.
Creation itself, however, remains a viable model of origins in the modern scientific era. Science (historical science even) tells us a great deal about the world and the universe. Ken Ham returned at every opportunity to the need to rest one’s view on Scripture as the authoritative word of God. But the reading of scripture advocated by Answers in Genesis is not the only one out there. There is an alternative that involves neither distorting science nor abandoning Christian faith. Many Christian scholars are pointing out the alternatives and wrestling with the deep questions involved. John Walton, Tremper Longman III, Pete Enns, Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright, and the list goes on. I’ve reviewed and discussed a multitude of books over the years dealing with these issues, with no end in sight.
The BioLogos Forum also provided a thorough response:
The question of the debate was whether creation is a viable model for explaining origins. Not surprisingly, they disagreed. Perhaps part of the reason for that was that the question was not specific enough: Viable for what? Viable for whom? Young Earth Creationism is certainly viable for millions of Christians. It’s not viable for millions of other Christians. From both sides we heard a lot about what is reasonable and what is unreasonable. But “reasonable” like “viable” is a relational term. Individual claims like the age of the earth or the reality of miracles seem reasonable or unreasonable only against a backdrop of other beliefs. If Ham’s interpretation of the Bible is accepted, then it isn’t reasonable to think the universe is billions of years old. So no amount of evidence about the age of the universe will convince him otherwise. The argument instead needs to focus on his interpretation of Scripture before he’ll even consider the science. If Nye’s naturalism is accepted, then it isn’t reasonable to think that God has any role in the world today. So no amount of quoting Bible verses to him will be effective. Perhaps his concerns about suffering and Christian exclusivism need to be addressed before he’ll even consider a Christian view of creation.
Missio Alliance contributor Gary Alan Taylor wrote over at Red Letter Christians about our “selfie” culture:
The humanity of Jesus is the mirror through which we see our own humanity as it should be, not the false self we parade through social media. Therefore, if we keep in mind that Jesus reveals both the nature of God and the meaning of the human person, what does it mean that he spent the majority of his life in complete obscurity? Or, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.” (Philippians 2:6) In a time when celebrity Christians require a platform to serve God, when athletes are canonized for their all to public prayers and mega-church pastors star in their own reality TV shows, Jesus demonstrates the path of downward mobility. Do you remember how he urged the lame and leprous to remain silent? Or, when the huddled masses rushed to his side, he quietly retreated into seclusion. And when his dense disciples argue about who will be greatest in the Kingdom, Jesus subverts their conventional wisdom by reminding his followers that “whoever is least among you—he is the greatest” (Luke 9:48).
On a Recent Sermon Podcast You Should Definitely Listen To:
Dr. Chris Green recently preached a remarkable message at Renovatus Church in Charlotte, NC, entitled “Becoming Christ’s Body.” Listen and subscribe here.
On a Call for Submissions Here on the Missio Alliance Blog:
Over the next week, we’ll be accepting submissions for an upcoming series here on the blog entitled, Christianity and Violence – a conversation about the the life of the Church at the intersection of brokenness and hope. We hope to navigate this topic from a variety of angles and perspectives, and we’d love to hear from you. Among the topics we’d like to see addressed are the following:
- Interpersonal violence/abuse and the best ways to deal with this in the church
- Christian participation in the military
- Stories of violence in Scripture
- Testimonies of God’s action in non-violent resistance
- Theological and biblical perspectives on Jesus’s teaching regarding violence
- Practices for peace-making
- Just war theory and pacifism
So if you’re interested in contributing, contact us! We’d like to begin running these pieces on the week of February 17th. We look forward to hearing from you.