Friday, September 24, 2010

Debunking Heretical Church Business Models with Crass Corperate-Speak

Let's translate our call to repentence in crass terms that you "church as a business" and "pastor as CEO" guys understand:

Proclaiming repentance, eternal life, and the forgiveness of sins is a "niche market". No one outside of Christianity can truly offer this "service". This is the "bread and butter" of the church and is the one place where there is no "competition". In fact, the church holds a "monopoly" in this area that no other entity on earth can penetrate. There is a limitless supply of work to be done in this area so we need to devote "all of our assets and resources" to this monumental task. We can't get distracted by other concerns and go "chasing rabbits in the weeds".

When the church leaves our 2,000 year old "business model" and adopts something else, the church steps out of "a sure thing" and wanders off into areas that are "outside of its depth". Worst of all, other entities have more worldly "capital" than the church and so they will always "price the church out of the market". If the church is exactly like a Christian-ish version of a Las Vegas show, Oprah, a rock concert, a community center, a political party, or a ethics think tank, then there is no reason for people to stay with the church since those organizations "offer their products" at a much higher "quality level" than the church can provide without completely "selling out" to those industries.

Now I hear alot of things around the "water cooler". Alot of people are claiming that the "boss" is looking to unveil something new and different. Well, I don't see Him inviting any of these people into any "special meetings" and he certainly hasn't "put out anything concrete" on these kinds of things. Most of that stuff is just "hearsay" and people "stealing authority" that isn't theirs.

Moreover, our "owner", Jesus Christ, has put forth "strict directives" in His "policy memorandum" titled: The Bible. We cannot go against these founding principles. It's not "who we are". Worse yet, He has already threatened repeatedly that he will remove people who don't do the job and replace them with people who will do it. He has made it clear that He's not really interested in creativity. He wants consistency, commitment, and steadfast dedication to HIS "business model". Questioning the model that has already been established is "above our pay grade". We weren't hired on to rethink, repackage, or reimagine the divine "paradigm". That "ship has sailed". We weren't "delegated" that kind of authority by the "home office". With that in mind, we need to stop throwing "good money after bad" on our own "pet projects" that do not create any "lasting dividends". Most of that stuff has just "artificially inflated our books". Most of those gains "won't be able to produce in the final analysis".

Stop all instances of "mission creep". Let's just "stay on task" and do what we were told by the guy who "built this thing from the ground up". After all, He is the one who "signing all our checks" and "paying all the bills".

There..... now I feel icky and sick to my stomach.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Close ...But Not Quite

Growing up as a... whatever it was I was, I always heard pastors, church leaders, and uberChristians bemoaning the fact that we come to church on Sunday and then fall into our same sinful habits. Even today, I hear these guys talking about how Christians seem to "fall back into the old self." To a certain extent, most of them will even admit--maybe only in private--that everyone does this so that no one pulls off the Christian life the way they are supposed to.

Close... but not quite.

Hey, genius, in this life we never leave the "old self". The problem that you are seeing is more pervasive than you think. You aren't "reverting", because you would have to be something different in order to "revert". If anything you are "continuing". We don't just get religious and holy one day and then have trouble with follow through. St. Paul tells us that the old flesh still clings to us even after our conversion. Everything you catch yourself doing on Monday, you are guilty of all the time if you examine yourself close enough. And it's not just happening Monday morning through Saturday night. It happens on Sunday at church while you sit in the pew.

You think the problem is bad now? If you are giving yourself even an hour of success each week where you think that you are at least "pulling it off" then you just haven't figured out how bad the situation really is. You don't need a holy stamina or a holy strategy to improve your piety.

What you need is a holy Savior, Jesus Christ who died on the cross for you, to forgive your manifold litany of sins. The problem isn't just what you are doing and not doing. The problem is you. The problem isn't just that you commit sins. The problem is that you are (and will remain!) a sinner.

The answer to this problem? Repent and believe the Gospel. When the problem is you and you are powerless to fix it, someone else must save you from yourself.

"So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."

"There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

"You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus fro the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." -Romans 7:21-25; 8:1-11

Hey, looky there! That sounds like "simul justus et peccator". It's time to get off the hypocritical moralism rat-race and look at sin the way the Bible actually looks at it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Christianity: A Message of Salvation to All People

Christianity is a message of slavation to all people. Christ is a friend of the lame, blind, sick, possessed, widowed, alien, rejected, outcast, heavy-burdened and especially children.

Not only does Christ reach out to these people, He encourages everyone to see themselves this way. From various passages we find that who wish to come to Him are to consider themselves sick and powerless. Then they must take up their cross and be like little children. They will be aliens and outcasts.

So--knowing this universal truth about being a Christian--it becomes really easy to spot the false teachers. All you have to do is find the people that insist that you have to be more than that to really get to the meat of God's Word. When someone is having to do philosphical gymnastics to explain to you why the clear meaning of the text as it would be plainly read by a child is not what Scripture really means, odds are pretty good that you have found someone who is missing the point and is probably deceived. Odds are pretty good that when you find a person who takes individual passages out of context in order to have God say what he wants Him to say, odds are pretty good that you are dealing with someone who is of a different spirit. After all it was Satan, the father of lies, who offerred the first philisophical commentary that perverted God's clearly stated Word when he spoke to Eve and asked, "Did God really say....?"

You need special training and skills to teach Christianity properly and be a shepherd, but you don't need to be a philosphy student to understand it's universal message: the unmeritted forgiveness of sins on account of Christ by His death on the cross so that all who believe might have eternal life in heaven.

Anyone who tells you different is being too smart by half.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Irony of Modern American Protestantism

Modern American Protestantism these days seems intent on having you dream big. They want you to cast your vision for the future and see all of the great things that God desires for your life. They want you to live your best life now and not be afraid to pray boldly for the things that you want. They teach that God has a desire for you that is beyond your imagination and you were designed with a purpose to achieve this plan that God has.

.......unless your dream is to be held captive by the entire Word of God properly handled and in context.

.......unless your dream is the forgiveness of sins.

.......unless your dream is to see the churches around you grow in spirit AND truth as their understanding of the true faith matures and deepens in the knowledge of pure, Biblical doctrine.

.......unless the vision that God is laying on your heart is a fervent desire to kneel at the cross of Christ daily as a member of a congregation that has a single-minded focus on the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins where God's gifts are distributed to His children which He purchased with the blood of Jesus.

By their own statements and example, it seems that God presents everything but those kinds of dreams. If you look at the Parable of the Great Banquet [really the whole chapter of Luke 14], it would seem from these false teachers that it is God's desire to help you take care of your field, your oxen, and your wife rather than to bring people to the feast.

Do I sense a desire to see God draw men to Himself rather than humans just luring people into a building to create slightly better-behaved sinners? That kind of nonsense is the one thing that can't be coming from God!

The irony of this kind of thinking is not lost on me. It is the worst idolatry when we secretly make our own desires seem holy by claiming that God wants what we think sounds good for us rather than truly listening when He speaks for Himself in His holy Word. We all do this. We gather around causes and pet projects in the name of God rather than around the cross. We follow the teachers in great throngs of nominal admirers who are still totally loyal to earthly concerns and will not come and die in Christ's death so that we might live in His resurrection.

Christ's response to this great, casual multitude is clear and earth-shattering. He says, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."

The way of a "Christ follower" is always the cross. It is a call for nothing less--and nothing other--than total death. You cannot follow Christ without picking up your cross. A cross-less journey can never be one that persues God's desire for you. Christ is the one mediator between God and man. This mediator bids you to come, hate your own life, despise your sin, and die... so that you will live eternally with Him in heaven.

This teaching seems horrible, terrible, harsh, and damning.

But then again, the Law always sounds horrible, terrible, harsh, and damning to those of us who are miserable sinners. This teaching from a just and righteous God absolutely kills us... and rightly so! What ungreatful guests we are: to snub our Lord's gracious invititation for earthly and temporal concerns.