Monday, November 21, 2005

Conversation about church revisited

Ok everybody,
Some of you in the know may have been following the series of discussion that have been taking place off and on for the last couple months on a couple of friends and my blogs. In light of the newest conversation, I have reposted this conversation that began a while back to see if there are any new ideas that people would lik to add to it. Come let us reason together.

Levi Fuson said...


first, it think you must differentiate the "man" church and the "God" church. They are two completly different things. I believe that the Church as God sees it, is us. you and i. the relationtional connection that binds us, even though we don't really even know each other we are bound by cords that are unseen.

the church proper, institutional church or "man" church is the creation of man, somethign that was initiated first by the early church from a culture that was used to social gatherings in the synagogue. a culture that had a large appreciation for oration. coming largely from the greek/roman culture. it developed eventaully into what we have today. an institution, that has become more concerned with its own preservation than on than on the reason for its existence, the "God" church.

this article is interesting in a couple of ways to me. first it was written over 6 years ago. a lifetime in this age of change. second it really focuses on genx, which i think is a fault, because it leaves out all those who have the same issues that it addresses that are not genx'ers. thirdly, it makes no mention of relationship. its solution of focusing on the narrative is right on, allbeit a little confusing. the one on one relational connection, sharing of life, missional, experiencial connection is imperative to this genre of peoples that she is identifying.


Dan said...

good thought.
as far as the man made church and the "God" church, I don't think the two can be seperated so easily or perhaps even at all. Looking just at Matthew 16:18 (and matt. 18:18 as well) i think there are some interesting things to note. First of all, Jesus says He will build his church on Peter, a man. Second of all, this was not merely a relational church, it was a judiciary body as weel. In the next sentence he says that he will give Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, which should not be seen merely as a generic reference to salvation as some hold it to be, but rather a position of authority. it appears that Christ is using the image of Isaiah 22:22 that says," will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open." so with the keys to the kingdom of heaven comes not only the ability to enter the gates, but to close them. the next sentence echoes this sentiment by saying "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
This last verse has been horribly interpreted in some circles (as a former Vineyardite, I'm sure you have heard this verse used to declare power over spiritual matters). But looking at chapter 18, where it is repeated, we see it for what it is. To bind someone is to hold them to the law, to hold them accountable for their action, to loose them is to treat them as "a Gentile and a tax collector" and no longer hold them to the law. Chapter 18 goes on to say, "truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."
It appears that Christ has given a great deal of authority to men in these passages. These passages also reveal a process by which men must act within this authority. looking into the epistles (which i will not do right now) we see the creation of church offices and the roles of each.
So the church is a relational connection, indeed. But it is also an organized system. These two need to be present for a church to exist. So perhaps we can say that were the church has gone wrong, it was/is due to a lack of one of these two, not the presence of one.

Dan said...

i can see what you mean about the article, but in its defense i still think it has many good relevant points despite its age and it leaves out non gen-xers because it was an article about gen-xers, it wasn't meant to be read as a diagnosis (if this article applies to you then you have to be gen x). Though i agree, since some of it's ideas trancsend the gen x label, perhaps it shoulc have widened the scope. Finally, i think the relational aspect goes without saying. it is not something that is specific to gen x or those who fit within the scope of the article. The need for relationships is opresent in everyone and this article was trying to focus on what is particular to gen xers.
But it is a 2 page article with limitations. There are probably some better articles on the site dealing with this subject. If you haven't checked it out before, you should really peruse the site. There are some unbelievable articles there. my recommendation is 'Christians and the Death Penalty" in this months issue.

iggy said...

reread the passage in Matt... it is not "Peter" Jesus builds His "church" but the "faith of Peter".

Matt 1:17. Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
18. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

In the literal translation is implied "in this statement" I will build my church.

It is the statement of faith.


iggy said...

The Key is faith.. one needs faith in Christ to be part of the HIS Kingdom.

this is not about judiciary authority, but rather relationaly knowing Christ Jesus as savior and recieving the Kingdom of God. All by faith...


Dan said...


There may be something to you interpretation but if we are going to say that the Key is simply faith then we run into problems. First of all, if Peter had faith initially and because of that Christ gives him the "keys" what sense would it make for Christ is give Peter what he already had? Second, looking at the rest of this section
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven"
We see that whether or not it was Peter's faith that Christ was intending to build his church on , He gave him authority within that church (which he later gave to the desciples as well). i am not denying the relational aspects of Christ's church, i'm simply saying that there is more to it.

Dan said...

After, rereading the verse (as you suggested) it seems even more obvious that Christ is refering to Peter himself, not simply his faith. Why else would he make a point to identify Peter (not his faith) and declare "on this rock," an obvious play on words with the name Peter, "I will build my church." The previous verse, is too show that Peter is worthy of such an office. So I'm not sure what you mean by "literal translation" so please inform me if there is something I don't know.

Levi Fuson said...


"Looking just at Matthew 16:18 (and matt. 18:18 as well) i think there are some interesting things to note. First of all, Jesus says He will build his church on Peter, a man. Second of all, this was not merely a relational church, it was a judiciary body as weel. In the next sentence he says that he will give Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, which should not be seen merely as a generic reference to salvation as some hold it to be, but rather a position of authority."

i think you may need to explain this to me in greater detail. im slow sometimes, :) but i don't see how you jump from tying, the church as god sees and the institution together, to this verse? your drawing conclusion that don't relate. for Jesus to build his church on a man, still does not draw the two into one. its a matter of perspective. the man can then take it and do what he wishes with it. Im just not seeing how this scripture has anythign to do with it. it seems very subjective to me.

"To bind someone is to hold them to the law, to hold them accountable for their action, to loose them is to treat them as "a Gentile and a tax collector" and no longer hold them to the law."

again here some explanation is due. first i don't understand how this is relevant, second, how do you juxtapose this with Paul talking about Christ coming to abolish the law? not bind us to it. again im might be misinterpreting what your trying to say.

"So the church is a relational connection, indeed. But it is also an organized system. These two need to be present for a church to exist. So perhaps we can say that were the church has gone wrong, it was/is due to a lack of one of these two, not the presence of one."

i geuss im just not seeing the correlation. you are very much dealing in a subjective interpretation of the scripture. im not denying it, im just trying to get you to see how the way you haev strung these together don't neccesarily prove your point. as iggy has shown, it can be looked t viably from a totally different perspective. niether way is wrong from my perspective they are just different and therfore you get different praxis resolving from it...... or should. :)

please expound.


Dan said...

well, to see what I'm getting at, lets look at the definition of institution.
1. The act of instituting.
1. A custom, practice, relationship, or behavioral pattern of importance in the life of a community or society: the institutions of marriage and the family.
2. Informal. One long associated with a specified place, position, or function.
1. An established organization or foundation, especially one dedicated to education, public service, or culture.
2. The building or buildings housing such an organization.
3. A place for the care of persons who are destitute, disabled, or mentally ill.

Looking mostly at definitions 2.1 and 3.1 I think that it is fair to say that Christ is setting up an institution in these verses. He is placing into the hands of the church the authority and responsibility to uphold the teachings He has taught. The church is not just the place where Christ's teachings are read but where they are lived. In this way the church becomes an institution, according to the definitions i have provided. if this is not what you mean by institution, then perhaps we have missed each other.
As far as the binding and loosing, it goes to the same purpose. Christ has given the authority to tell someone that their behavior is no longer that of a christian and so they shall no longer be treated as such. What treating someone as a "gentile" means could be another interesting discussion.
As far as the law, I'm not sure what verse you are refering to. The only verses i can think of that refer to abolishing the law are when Christ says, in matt. 5:17
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill."
Paul also speaks of upholding the law in Romans 3:31
"Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law."
Does this clear up where I was going with this?

Dan, 9:27 PM | link | 6 comments |

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car

Wow, I'm on a posting streak here.

Anyways, at the mens group i go to we are reading On Hope by Josef Pieper. For those of you who have not encountered Pieper i suggest you go to and pick up a book immediately. His stuff can be pretty dense, but it is phenomenal work. Back to what i was saying; the chapter we read for this week discussed the subject of natural hope v. supernatural hope. SImply put, natural hope is what is instilled in all of us as humans. It is the hope that after 2 weeks of work you will get a check, that you will become knowledgeable from going to school, that the girl you met will become your wife, etc. Basically it is the hope of fullfillment in this world. Supernatural hope on the other hand comes only with the knowledge and acceptance of Grace. It is the hope of a world to come and humanity becoming fully present with God. It is supernatural in the sense that it will not be fullfilled until after this life. What was interesting about Pieper is that he writes that supernatural hope does not replace natural hope, but rather refines it. In supernatural hope we encounter the Ultimate Good and through faith we know that all things will be perfected through Christ. It is with this hope that we can then look to the world and see that it will be made perfect. He goes as far as to say that it is wrong for us to loose natural hope in light of supernatural hope. Such was the case with some early Christians who believed that we should seek God and look to His coming kingdom, but should not desire the joy and happiness that it will bring. Thus the council of Trent declared that anyone who teaches that should be "anethema" meaning devoted to public abhorrence or destruction.
We don't hear too many people today saying that we should not seek the joy of the coming Kingdom, but natural hope has gone to the wayside in the eschatalogical haze of evangelical America. A poignant example of this was on a recent news/talk show where a conservative and liberal were discussing political influence. The conservative man stated something along the lines of
" In the next generation conservatives will have control of the government because we have more children that liberals do."
To which the liberal man said,
"That's fine, we'll get them in college."

This exchange, while quite witty I must say, was a disturbing wake up call to the reality of the church. We are in an enviroment where there is so much focus on the Kingdom coming that we have lost all hope the the world we are currently in. The university is a perfect example. Almost every major college in this country was founded by the church or with a Christian focus. Harvard, Yale, and almost all the Ivy league schools were founded by Christian organizations and even had/have divinity schools. Yet when adversity came, the church abandoned its institutions faster and ran to the safety of a shanty it calls Bible college. Don't get me wrong, there are some good things about Bible college and there are some excellent ones out there, for what they are (But ultimately these school lack the scholastic merit found in the university, and for every good Bible college there are several bad ones). However my point is not to bash Bible college but rather to bash how easily we abandoned hope for what God had founded in this world. We see it happening again in the grade schools of America. Prayer gets thrown out of schools and every year they become more decrepit but rather than fight the good fight every holy joe in the community throws together a Christian school. What's worst of all is that these schools are so reactionary that they become propaganda mills that allow no room for free thought outside of the 7 day creationist model. The same people who lobbied for side by side teaching of evolution and creationism bar any other ideas from their own schools.
This cycle has repeated itself for centuries. When a group goes ga-ga for Armageddon, they abandon the world around them with horrible results. Post enlightenment Christians abandoned science ending the tradition of God centered science with Descartes. In the beginning of this century, film and music was abandoned by evangelical denominations, a relationship that is only now being mended. Under the Reagan administration, a high ranking official in the White House said that he wasn't very interested in the environment because he didn't think we had very long to before Christ returned. This is outrageous. Worst of all Christians are abandoning their own history!!! Christians will freely associate with "the early church" (a term they define so idiosyncratically I'm suprised it still has meaning at all) but forsake the whole of Christian history between then and when their church plant started. Some even go as far as to not call themselves Christian because of the "baggage" associated with it.
Such acts are a cop out of God's command that we subdue the Earth. It reminds me of the gospel reading this past week the parable of the talents. We all know it, a guy is given 5 tlents and earns five more for his master, another guy gets 2 and brings back 2 more, then the third guy gets one and buries it. When the first two give their money to the master he tells them "well done good and faithful servant." But the last guy he throws out into the outer darkness with the moaning and gnashing of teeth. I hate to say it, but the church is burying its talent as we speak. They are hiding in their stained glass bunkers waiting for the Master to return so that they can unbury themselves. Looking at this through the lens of that parable, I wouldn't be so excited about the master coming home if I were them.
Dan, 7:01 AM | link | 0 comments |


Ok, I'm back again.
The last area I would like to discuss is:
4) As Christians, men need to be more active in serving and protecting women. It is not enough to be responsible for yourself, we must also strive to correct the wrongs commited by men in general within and outside of our church walls. Men need to take a stronger stance against rape, dead beat dads, and anyone who takes advantage of women. Too often men will take a stance against promiscuous women and abortion. These are certainly ills in our society. But niether one of these would be possible if it weren't for the men who prey on women. One specific area where men are desperately needed in these sort of circumstances is at rape crisis centers and battered women's shelters. While in most cases men will not be effective in counseling victims, there is a desperate need for men to volunteer to simply go and play with the many children who are brought there with their mothers. These children have seen the worst kind of men imagineable and are destined to grow up with a slanted persepective on what it is to be a man and worst of all on who God the Father is. This is just one way we can help correct this wrong.
Ultimately it comes down to remembering that every move we make is made as a model of Christ. As I have said before, this is true for all Christians. But since Christ was a man there is a heavier burden upon men. Always remember that your interaction with women informs their concept of men and in turn their concept of God. This is a heavy burden we have been given and to whom much is given, much will be expected. But Christ has promised to share our yolk. Seek the shelter of Christ and let your pressence be a blessing to all people.
Dan, 6:45 AM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Thoughts on gender

"For a the image and reflection of God."

This is an interesting passage from 1 Corinthians. It is also a heavily debate one. But my thoughts at the moment are not about whether or not this section was meant only for one church, culture, or time but rather with what it says about being a man. However you feel about this verse, one cannot escape the fact the Christ was a man and that God is often portrayed in a masculine way (*important side note- despite what some believe, God is not exclusively masculine. He is referred to as "the breasted one" in the OT; El Shadday and wisdom in Proverbs is perdonified as a women and is accepted to be the Holy Spirit by most theologians).
What struck me about this recently is the absolute lack of humility and fear that men folk have about this notion. If we are truly the image and reflection (sometimes translated as "glory") of God, then we must realize that any poor representation of men that we cause is defiling God.
Think about how a woman's view of Christ is shaped by an image of men as uncontrollably sex focused, emotionally cut off, callous, and violent among other things. Yet this is the widely accepted image of men in our society.
Unfortunately, Christian men are not left out of this stereotype and in some cases perpetuate it. Whether through prescribing to the "boys will be boys" mentality, looking at porn or media that exploits women, serial dating just for "fun," or even something as simple as neglecting to be vocal about others' mistreatment of women Christian men have neglected to take their role as a man seriously. If we are to truly reflect God's image and protect His name I think men should consider the following.
1) No matter what your personal experience tells you or what the latest scientific research has found, men need to control their sexual drives. Yes, we have a much harder time than women, yes we may be "programmed" to be more sexual aggresive. In this way we are finite, physically limited by the chemistry and biology of our bodies. But we are not slaves to this body. God has also made us free. We are self aware of our condition and, by our free will and the power of the Holy Spirit, able to control this condition. For a Christian to claim that he has no control over his state is to deny free will and God's power.
2) The objectification of women in the media and the pornography industry should not be endorsed or tolerated. It is obvious that porn is condemned by the Bible and Christian tradition, but for this point I am appealing to all men Christian or not. Unless you are a nihilist or a sadist you have no reason to support pornography. Here's a couple interesting points, it is believed that 70% of women in the porn industry are victims of sexual assult or incest. In january of 2002 there were 100,000 child porn sights and, over a six month period in 2002, there was a 345% increase in child pornography on the internet. 53% percent of teens pornography, hate, or violent material in the internet, 91% or which was found unintentionally. In one study 28 children's show characters (such as pokemon and my little pony) generated porn sights in a search engine. The porn industry fosters and supports the abuse of children and women. Even without these statistics, if you take a real objective look at pornographic material you find on the internet, do you really think that this is how women like to be treated? Do you really think that women enjoy the acts that are being performed to them? The fact is many of these women are ployed with promises of money, auditions, acting deals, and all sorts of other lies not to mention drugs and alcohol. Think of the women around you, how many of them do you think would like to go to some hotel, be used by several men and called a slut and whore on camera? If any of you know women who would, ask yourself if they were abused at some point. I can understand that some people may say that there are consenting well adjusted adults that make "classy" porn which does not objectify women. For the sake of arguement, let us assume that this is true. But should we allow pornography to go on unchecked because of these rare cases? Should we have allowed slavery to continue for the sake of a few men who treated their slaves really well? In my opinion, if all pornography were made illegal for the sake of one child that would become a victim, then let it all burn to the ground.
As far as mainstream movies are concerned, I am in no way saying not to watch any movie with sex or nudity or what have you. But I do think that, because of the abuses in some cases we must be over vigilant so to speak when it comes to such material. Maybe seeing Fast Times At Ridgmont High doesn't affect you or cause you to sin, but if women find it offensive and see you enjoying it, how does that look?
3) Women deserve better than to be a rung on your ladder to Miss Right. I have a big problem with serial dating. I can't think of a single thing that you need to date someone to find out if they are worthy of an exclusive marriage focesed relationship. If you can't find out if a women is a good and Godly women who would make a good wife by being friends, then you have problems you need to address before you even think about dating. If our marriage is supposed to be like God's relationship to His people, then we must note several important things. A) God has only one people, he didn't try out a bunch of other people to see if they were compatible. B) Just because a person wasn't in a relationship with God doesn't mean that worshipping other God's is fair game. When you come to Christ all things you worshipped before were still sins. In the same way all our past relationships are sins against the person we marry. From the time we were concieved that person is our wife.
I'm going to stop there becuase I have to go to class. More later.
Dan, 7:00 AM | link | 1 comments |