Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Church as the Conscience of the State? Bad Idea

A video making its way around the news circuit features the church of Pastor Dennis Terry hosting  GOP candidate Rick Santorum for a political "revival" meeting.

Its a little scary...

And its indicative of what happens when the Kingdom of Heaven and the American Republic get seen as one and the same.  Poor Pastor his eyes the bad guys are winning so he's backing the candidate who. to him, represents Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

If you watch the below video you see that he declares (and even puts it on Power Point) that, "The Church is the conscience of the State."

Now I've read the New Testament  and there are many things that the church is called to do...but I don't remember "the conscience of the state" being one of them.

In fact I'm pretty sure that instead of being "the conscience of the state", the church is supposed to be representing, and foreshadowing,  the Kingdom of God.  Its not supposed to be the morality police for a temporal nation-state but instead declaring that there is a new King on the throne and he is calling all people to come and and be citizens of His Kingdom.  A Kingdom centered on Christ and that emanates love and forgiveness.

But instead of operating as an Ambassador of God's Kingdom demonstrating that love and forgiveness  to a captive audience, Pastor Terry instead chooses the role of  "the angry American" who is watching  the privileged  position he inherited as a white, male, Christian slip away   He is flailing and grasping for what is "temporal" at the expense of representing the "eternal".

The Church as the Conscience of the State?  Definitely a "bad idea"!

There is a better way Pastor Terry...there is a better way!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm on a Book Roll Now: Reading Pete Rollin's "Insurrection"

In my last post I mentioned how I hadn't finished a "Christian" book in 10 years.  Even my wife was surprised when she read that.  Now, don't misunderstand, I've started a number over the years but for whatever reason, they lay half finished somewhere...and a few had some good things to say.

For whatever reason though (Holy Spirit anyone?), Zahnd's book Beauty will Save the World awakened something in me that was laying a little dormant...

...the sleeper must awaken.... (movie quote test for the film buffs)

Now I'm on a roll.  The Harvest Show (which is one of the few Christian shows I can enjoy because it assumes the audience has at least half a brain) ... anyhow, The Harvest Show which introduced me to Brian Zahnd just  had Peter Rollins on for an interview. ..and like Zahnd, I had never heard of him.

Rollins is an Irish Christian author, teacher, and self proclaimed "barroom philosopher".  And I began asking myself the age old question, "Why when the Irish speak of the things of God, does it  just sound so much cooler?"...Could it be because of Bono?

Anyhow, I've picked up Rollins latest book called "Insurrection: To Believe is Human, to Doubt is Divine"  I'm only about 20% into the book right now but Rollins has a great insight into what Christ suffered on the cross and how, if we are to be crucified with him as Paul extols, we need to share in that experience.

The story that we tell ourselves that makes sense of the world and gives it meaning was torn from Christ.  The religious system conspired for his execution, the political system (Rome) provided the means, and he was betrayed and deserted by those he loved.  In the Garden on the night before the crucifixion, Jesus chose the Father's will and gave up everything for God.

On the cross...He loses even God.  "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken Me?"

Rollins is not for the feint of heart but he brings a valuable perspective to the church.

And he's going to have written the 2nd Christian book I've read in its entirety in about 10 years.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Book that is bringing my "Spiritual Mojo" back!

I've been a Christian for 36 years and in all of that time I can name 3 or 4 moments where I met a person, attended an event, or, as in this case, read a book that caused a fundamental paradigm shift in my faith and my understanding of the nature of God.  Its happened again...and perhaps none too soon.

The book is "Beauty Will Save the World: Rediscovering the allure and mystery of Christianity" by Brian Zahnd.  I saw Zahnd interviewed by Drew Summeral on The Harvest Show and I was immediately intrigued.  He talked about Christ and his Lordship in a way that resonated with me so, of course, I had to check him out.

The next thing I knew I was downloading the above title onto my Kindle.  Now understand, I probably haven't finished a "Christian" book in almost 10 years (and I'm a voracious reader).  With Beauty I found I was upset when I got to work in the morning because it meant I had to stop reading.  But then I would subject my staff to a play by play analysis of what God was doing in my heart based on what I had read that day.

To put it bluntly... Beauty is helping to bring back my "spiritual mojo"!

Much of what the book discusses I've been nibbling around the edges for years.  Zahnd  puts words to the direction I felt God leading but was asking, "Does anyone else feel this as well?"

So what's the book about?

A lot of things really.   From the beauty of Christ's work on the cross to an understanding of the Kingdom of God and what it truly means to be a prophetic person.  That God has set up an alternative society and He is calling people to be part of it.

The book ends with an "unpacking" of the Sermon on the Mount which, rather than being the nice platitudes of Jesus that we should keep in mind from time to time, they are royal announcements of the fundamental underpinning of the new order which has come, and is now coming.

I'll finish by saying that the book mentions that the disciples were executed eventually by Rome not because they were sharing that if people received Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, they could be saved and go to heaven.

No, the disciples were executed because they were claiming a new King was sitting on the throne and were announcing the establishment of His Kingdom.

Yep, it's all coming back to me now.

Watch this space!!!!!!