Monday, September 24, 2007

donde esta el Pablo?

i've just read another book that portrays jesus as an uber-ghandi with lovechild tendencies and a hatred for the church

to be honest, i'm getting pretty bored of this rhetoric

while it's true that jesus was a great moral teacher
it's also true that he was and is more than simply a teacher or an example
so, if all we do is parrot his words and model his human example
we're missing out on the dimensionality of what it means to follow jesus

jesus, after all, wasn't just human
he made divine claims
he rose from the dead
he ascended into heaven
he manifested himself into a glorified body
he sits now at the right hand of the father

so, when we reduce jesus to just the living + poor carpenter without a dad, unable to find a suitable wife, and content to freeload off of his adherents then we're not getting the true, biblical, depiction of jesus

instead - we're getting a non-offensive, pussy cat jesus who only died prematurely because he o.d.ed on the catnip of selflessness


while it is true that jesus fought the religious establishment
and while it is true that jesus would be - at the very least! - critical of 21st C north american christianity
it's also true that the new testament encourages, directs, supports, and commands the followers of jesus to be together
and to love one another
and to serve one another
within the church

being critical of the church is different than being critical of institutionalized relgion

especially since a healthy understanding of the church is that it's the aggregate of christ's followers here on the earth

so, sometimes when people get on the 'abandon-ship--church-is-dumb--we've-screwed-up-the-gospel' bandwagon, and offer instead that we should just share our kfc with some homeless people and snuggle with our kids more
i feel like scripture is being totally neglected

which is tough

because i do actually think that the church is broken and needs attention
and i do actually think we ought to share our kfc with homeless folks
and - if it were at all possible - i'd certainly be snuggling my kids more

but there is great danger in reducing the gospel to simply acts of kindness, even though acts of kindness may be the most respected and visible manifestation of god's love on the earth

ironically, my frustration here may seem at odds with the talk i gave yesterday in fusion where i spoke openly about the need for christ-followers to be involved in justice & advocacy

but i hold both to be true

we must be involved in loving our world

but we must not think that loving and following jesus is only about what we do to be nice or to love our neighbors

at some point, scripture requires that we wrestle with the transcendence of god - not just his immanence; at some point, he has to be lord - not just friend; at some point the immortality of our souls has to factor into our understanding of spirituality - not just the pleasant and gentle emotions of doing good while we're here.

and this tension makes me feel like a ping pong ball

i hate knowing that some of my friends will consider me a heretic for allowing that the gospel is about more than just sin, that our behavior matters more than our doctrine, and that our propositional affronts to the culture are often obtuse

and i hate knowing that some of my other friends will consider me a fundamentalist for maintaining that the gospel is about the lordship of jesus christ, second person of the trinity, who alone grants life and access to god


my study of the scriptures forces me to believe that exactly such ping ponging is required

jesus shows us how to live
and paul teaches us what that meant and how it looks
once we throw in james, john, peter, a few others, and the old testament
we're looking at a fuller picture of christian spirtuality

i think a fairly significant problem with the current jesus-as-hippie monograph is that it ignores the full witness of scripture and chooses only to see jesus through the lens of the red letters and some old testament prophetic discources

if, however, we welcome paul and the other nt writers back into the conversation [along with the davidic monarthy, the partriarchs, eden, babel, exile, etc...] then we get a better idea of who god has always been to his people

this is the task of the theologian

to figure out what god is up to
and what he's been after all along

authors and teachers that advocate greater missional activity in our world are 100% right on that issue

but let's not confuse the desperate need for the church to be engaged in our world with bad theology about other bits


  1. Anonymous1:04 PM

    great message Sunday(09/30/07) on this topic. Big amens your way bro. Maybe i'll start shouting "AMEN!" during fusion, could be fun

  2. Great stuff! Linked to it on my blog.