Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 22)

Read the entire series of posts here.

A pastor I know tells the story about a former church of his that didn't have a "formal" membership. There were some people there that were living in a pattern of sin, so the pastors decided to confront them with their sin in order to correct them, and restore them to a right relationship with God. The people in sin replied, "since you don't have a formal membership here, we're not members, and therefore you don't have any authority over us to confront us." The pastors agreed, and decided not to pursue the confrontation, and the sinning people were allowed to remain in the church and to continue in their sin. Years later, each of these pastors recalled this instance and used it as a reason in their arguments for constructing "formal" memberships in each of their subsequent churches.

But with the biblical idea that every Christian is already a member of the church they attend simply by the fact that they are a Christian, what the pastors should have said is this: "Not so fast. But you are members of this church because you are members of Christ and you attend here. You are in sin, and we're here to help you back to God." Most arguments that I have heard for man-made "formal" memberships place such blame on rebellious Christians who refuse to obey the church leaders in becoming "formal" members of the church. But the reality is the opposite. Yes, those people in sin are to blame for it, but it was the church that refused to practice discipline because of their church membership doctrine. Because such churches refuse to obey Christ in disciplining sinning people, they allow sin to continue unchecked. Quite often these types of churches complain about "pew-sitters", yet these people are "pew-sitters" because the churches refuse to recognize them as members of the body, and refuse to discipline them to become mature Christians.

In Matthew 18 Jesus did not say, "If your fellow formal church member sins, go to him." He said, "If your brother sins, go to him." Who is one's brother but a fellow Christian? Jesus understood that all His people are members of His body, but many churches don't. Jesus also didn't say, "Church leaders with formal membership doctrines will build my church and the gates of hell won't prevail against it." He said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell won't prevail against it." Formal membership doctrines neglect the treatment of all Christians as fellow brothers, allow sin to exist in their midst, and refuse to help all gain the status of mature Christians.

Part 21 . . . . . . . . Part 23

Monday, April 21, 2008

Death Of A Car

Not long ago I posted about hitting 300,000 miles on my 1990 Honda Accord. Well, this last week it died. It blew an oil seal and the damages are more costly than the car is worth. So, we've all been running around trying to deal with the corpse and find a new car, juggling other things with a borrowed vehicle. Car shopping is not much fun for me, especially if you need one soon. Hopefully we'll score soon, and things will slow down.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We Freak About Stuff

Upon reading through the archives over at Richmond Roadie, I came across this post about finding his high school yearbooks in the garage. He was class of '85 and tells about all the stuff teens did back then that we today would completely freak out about. Chewing tobacco, beer t-shirts, pictures of students drinking wine in hot tubs, smoking, crazy hairdo's, etc. I was class of '82 and remember stuff like that, too. Jocks and stoners, low riders, Cholos, rah-rahs, thespians. Jocks drove "high riders" which were jacked-up muscle cars (I had a Camaro) and burned rubber around every corner. We had a junior high school across the street, so when I turned the corner, I laid some rubber down to scare all the jr. highers. Every day. Stoners were often associated with low riders, although I've since heard that Concord, CA was the only place anybody knew about where the low riders were white kids. Chevy Impalas with fuzzy dice and custom upholstery. Kids too tame to lift a set of hydraulics from a delivery truck usually had their weight set in the trunk to lower the car.

Kids smoked, and we had a smoking section that was near the "portables" and the entire field behind the classrooms. Teachers openly smoked with students, and teachers often smoked in their offices between classes. Kids smoked pot, too, and many of them came to class stoned. Some teachers had beer parties for their students (invite only). We etched rock group graffiti in all our desks, and smoking wasn't allowed in the bathrooms, but it happened anyway. The bathrooms were ruled by the stoners, and they freely smoked pot there. We had an open campus and students were free to leave campus at lunch or recess.

In student government we had a couple of wild comedians run for activities commissioner as a pair. They promised things like tight underwear Bee Gee's sing-alike contests, new ideas for spirit week and such. They won. Their crowning achievement was the annual "Underwear Day." They planned a stage performance for a lunch period with students performing a dance to music in their underwear, chicks too, but with bags over their heads for anonymity. The school administration surprisingly approved, and all the TV news crews came out to film. What the school didn't know was that upon completion of the staged event, all those in underwear would run wildly around the school and out into the streets and shopping center nearby. This made big headlines. The following year, the vice-principal came on the intercom to say that underwear day was cancelled. But it happened anyway, all four years I was there as an underground event. Today we would freak about such things.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Voluntary Justice

Ron McKenzie at Blessed Economist has an interesting series of posts on justice as it is portrayed in the bible and how that would relate to a society built on biblical ideals of justice. It goes against the grain of most of what we moderns have been indoctrinated with on the subject of justice. He argues from the bible that judges in ancient Israel had no power to enforce their legal decisions. Justice was a matter of voluntary submission of the criminal that was convicted. He could either submit to the judge's decision, or he could be forced from the community that he lived in for refusing to submit. The community could exercise power in the form on not engaging with such an individual. Such an individual would be at his own risk due to the lack of others to protect him. He could become part of an outlaw community, but such a thing could be dangerous.

I'm giving a link here to Ron's entire month of April for all the posts in this series.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Blog Feed Survey

How many of my readers use blog feeds to monitor their blogrolls? I've never used a feed and don't know much about them. I use the old-fashioned way of blogrolling through my favorites list. I've heard some say that this is a waste of time, but I also heard somebody say once that correcting spelling mistakes or updating things once something is posted can cause a problem for those who use a feed.

I place some value on hitting a site on my blogroll even though that site hasn't posted in a while. I get to see (remember) what and when the last post was. It keeps that blog fresh in my mind, as I interact with many blogs on a daily basis. A question to those who use a feed to keep up with my blog: does tinkering with my posts cause a problem for you? As an example, just five minutes ago I back-dated a post for housekeeping reasons when I realized I originally accidentally posted it with today's date on it. Did it show up twice? I added labels to ten other posts and republished them. Did you get swamped with feed notices? I'd also like to hear the pro's and con's of using feeds. Thanks!

Blogger Label and Series Problems

I'm running into some problems with Blogger's label feature. I've got a number of ongoing blog series in my margin where I want all posts on that topic available to readers (or myself) just by clicking. Before labels, I made one long post made up of cutting/pasting each post into one large one. The text editor's limited abilities made it difficult and time consuming to do. Once labels came into being, I used them. But now I've found that labels have a 20 post limit. For example, my "Re-Thinking Church Membership" series now stands at 21 posts, only 20 of which are visible, so I've taken to making "sub" labels, grouping parts 1-10 together for the reader to somehow access. And having accepted Bloggers new format, I don't have the "older posts/newer posts" feature available for my readers to delve back into my blog history through a label.

Some bloggers, like Ron McKenzie at Blessed Economist, have a separate website for completed works of writing, and link there. Ron's blog is his thinking-out-loud scratch pad where he formulates ideas. I use my blog to develop ideas, too, but don't yet want to use another source, so I'm stuck with its limitations. I don't want to get another blog host just yet. Any ideas on how to access all posts on a single topic? Thanks in advance.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 21)

Read the entire series of posts here.

Over at Reformed Catholicism, Kevin Johnson makes the argument [Update: link no longer in use] that simply being a Christian is reason enough to be viewed as being a member of a church. To quote:

The reason, for example, that vows of membership are wholly unnecessary simply has to do with the nature of what Baptism already is. Among other things, Baptism is a public profession of faith and serves as the sign of the entrance vow or commitment in our churches–or at least that’s how it should be. The notion that a particular commitment beyond that which we embark upon in Baptism is necessary is frankly going well beyond a biblical understanding of the church and far off normal catholic practice in the matter...

Likewise, churches that pretend that membership vows are necessary to embark upon good church discipline and commitment in their churches also hit well wide of the mark. What commitment isn’t implicitly or explicitly made in Baptism that is reflected in these church vows that are made when a new family joins these churches? Why is an additional post-sacramental vow necessary to reaffirm what has already been promised in converting to Christ?...

Put simply, if you are a Christian you are already a member of the Body of Christ.

Read the whole article. [Update: link no longer in use] Kevin makes some great points.

Part 20 . . . . . . . . Part 22

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm Still Here

I haven't posted in several days. Busy, busy, busy with other things. I'll hopefully post again this weekend.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Law Written On The Heart

According to all I've been taught, non-believers have God's law written on their heart. So they have no excuse. And when God saves a sinner, He writes His law on that person's heart.

Why the redundancy? What purpose would writing the same thing have? But Romans says that natural man has the work of the law written on his heart. I'd have to say that the law and the work of the law are two different things. Maybe?

Compassion, Need and Greed

Quoting the post in its entirety, here is the Blessed Economist:

A good quote from Joseph Sobran.
"Need" now means wanting someone else's money. "Greed" means wanting to keep your own. "Compassion" is when a politician arranges the transfer.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Belated Easter Week: Easter Sunday

Good Friday was the death of Christ. But Easter Sunday is the resurrection. It is one thing to have our sins dealt with (which is pretty major), but to gain newness of life is the better thing. What good is it to be released from prison if there's nowhere to go? I view the resurrection as central to Christianity.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Music Is Reversible

At the heart of the debate between the Covenantal and Dispensational views of the covenant(s) is the argument of continuity or discontinuity from Old to New Covenant. Covenant theology stresses continuity and dispensationalism stresses discontinuity.

Yet, in the area of music in the church, they quite often switch positions. The hard core covenanters often hold a "biblical" position limited to the singing of psalms alone, a cappella, completely ignoring both the instruments used in the psalms themselves and the "continuity" that would invite their heavy use today. Dispensationalists on the other hand often sing only "spiritual songs", citing the New Testament reference as replacing the Old way, yet use every instrument that makes a sound (without reference in the NT for validation).

So much for systematic theology...

I Haven't Been Bored In Over Ten Years

When I was young, I was bored quite frequently. When I got a car and then when I was old enough to go out on the town, I was always bored. I always had to wait on my friends to get together, etc. I had time on my hands. Now, I've been so busy with life, I haven't been bored in over ten years. Not a dull moment.