Monday, August 27, 2012

Recommendations To the 21st Century Church From One Who Loves It

Today I intend to provide criticism and recommendations to the Church of this century from the standpoint of one who loves it.

1.  Teach your pastors to in general use the Scriptural Exposition method of preparing and delivering sermons.  Just like avoiding being alone behind closed doors with attractive young women that you're not married to, this greatly reduces the occasion of temptation when preaching.  The sort of temptation is to grind one's own particular ax or to make accommodation to the culture, rather than to God.  You see, if you preach entire books of the Bible, not avoiding any uncomfortable passages or books, you will be forced out of your cultural comfort zone into the deep wherein you and your congregation can actually encounter the actual God of Christianity, rather than the god of Churchianity.  In particular, make sure to give the Old Testament its due, because frankly, the New Testament makes zero sense without the 'spiritual grammar' of the Old.

2.  Don't take official positions on things wherein the Tradition and practice of Christians throughout the ages are contrary to yours.  Not only are you EXTREMELY likely to be wrong when the Communion of the Saints from AD500, 1000, 1500, 1750, 1850, and even 1950 disagree with you, but you are contributing to a hatred of the Church among a lot of people who might have become believers back then and you are seriously squandering your offense budget.  Remember this:  Simply saving nobody comes to the Father but through Jesus is plenty offensive.  When you absolutely need to take political positions on moral issues that have become political, make sure the Christians of the eras previously cited would mostly agree with you.  Also, in pretty much every case, your endorsements ought to be negative--as in, don't vote for X.

3.  If you can't take the Scriptural position on a cultural war issue, at least be silent.  Taking the world's position on said issue simply aggravates the problems in 2).  If you do 1), you'll have a much easier time taking the Scriptural position.

4.  Stop pushing size of congregation as the primary metric of success for pastors.  This just intensifies the temptation to accommodation that pastors constantly face.  Also, in groups of 150 or less, people can actually be regarded as human beings, as opposed to mere social constructs.

5.  Purge your seminaries of heretics.  If you need guys with floppy hats and red robes to do it, using surprise and other tools, so be it.  Just get it done.

6.  Stop being afraid of talking about Hell.  Jesus talked about Hell plenty, way more than Paul, for instance.  He also didn't talk about it like it was a place that only a very select few got into---broad highway and 'many find it' were more His speed on said issue.  Does someone who fails to tell you about a deep dark pit with spikes at the bottom that is in front of you in your path of travel for fear of offending you love you?  Hell No!


Anonymous said...

On #5, are we allowed to use the comfy chair?

Jehu said...

Absolutely, use whatever you require, even a fanatical devotion to the Pope, should your denominational allegiance be appropriate.

Mike in Boston said...

St. Vincent of Lerins backs you up on No. 2. See a nice, simple exposition here.

Chris said...

Agree. Particularly on point one. The closer you stay to scripture, the safer you are.

Jehu said...

CS Lewis also reiterates Vincent's sentiment.
I've excerpted his introduction to 'On the Incarnation' in previous posts where he describes the utility of tradition and in particular, old books.