Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Different Church

Matt asks,
I feel like there is a disconnect in the logic that may be advanced by the "sterotypical" church. In all these solutions to the inevitable extinction of the church, is there a point where the boundary has been so extended that the original entity is something entirely different?
I think that's the point of church. The church is continually called to reach to people outside of it. In essence, the entire point of its very existence is to engage people outside of its walls, not cater to the comforts of those already in.

Therefore, with each new person included, the church will look different than it did before. And that's the beauty of it. And that's also where the struggle is. That's why we see Paul's theology and proclamations differ to each community he writes. That's why some ideas contradict each other in the second half of the New Testament. As time passes, needs change.

Matt goes on to ask,
As for the concept of blessing love in every form, maybe it's just me but it doesn't seem silly to affirm relationships like those that unfold on Dateline's "To Catch a Predator"?
Is this the slippery slope so many people warn me about? I don't think the church (or anyone) should bless pedophilia. I think that's a manifestation of an eros-centered love and is not on par with the recommendations I made in my last post. If that's the natural next step between what I suggest and what could really happen, then I'm curious as to the train of thought that got you there.

In sum, the church is called to be a redemptive force in the world, not a bouncer to the kingdom of God. While Matt has had great church experiences (as have I), there are many who have not. Sure, well-intentioned people may have inadvertently misbehaved and excluded many. But this is the very reason we need corrective actions such as valuing creativity and blessing love. Whether it was intended or not, the Bible has been used to exclude people some thought needed to be excluded. And over time, the lines blurred as to what Scripture intended and what individuals did in the name of fear. If the church is to truly live out its call to help others, this has to be stopped.

Comments (2)

I guess this all goes back to the original discussion. Should the church innovate its outreach (marketing) or innovate its product? Isn't it like Coke's attempt to capture a new market with New Coke compared to sticking with Coca-Cola Classic. So you might say its a bad example because Coca-Cola Classic was and is a great product unlike the church, but although certain church's attendance is down there are many proliferating in America and certainly in other countries without neccessarily evolving its position on these certain issues.

The pedophilia example I gave was indeed ridiculous to us Americans, but it was just to say that at some point a line is drawn to exclude certain consenting relationships and who is to say which fall on which side...merely ourselves?

But even if the church or myself condemns those relationships in the name of God, it does not mean the church or myself cannot love those parties involved and through that love exemplify God's redemning power without affirming.

Two things.

We should bless love in any form. So that includes love of money, power, and the Republican Party. Sweet, I'm in! J/k. The problem with the premise of your argument is that the church shouldn't bless distortions of love. Matt's example of pedophilia can legitimately compared to homosexuallity. I'm not saying that it's the same, yet they both can be considered distortions of normal eros-centered love.

If the larger picture in the frame is how we reach out to others, we would be wrong to thing that it was the Church that was trying to constantly change itself to reach people in the New Testament. The Church was trying to change the culture. Today the Church needs to change and so does the culture. I just think that refrence may be slightly out of focus... It's ok. I still like 98.87% of what you typical write.

Bottom line for me. We need to love each other in the agape sense. And it doesn't require any action or guidlines from those we come in contact with. We are too judgemental as the Church. But that doesn't mean not to judge at all. Matthew 7 is a commentary about cleaning up our views, before trying to help others. We still are to help others interprete what is right or wrong.