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Friday, September 28, 2007

The Line Drawn in the Sand...

From: Losing my Religion (a SVS excerpt)

On another blog they slightly went into agreeing about the 'right belief set' for the faith. I am not sure I can be down with that idea altogether - since it very human nature to disagree on certain ideas - ex: predestination.

Also, to put it bluntly, predestination as a teaching has very little relevance as compared with teachings about 'do not judge unless you want to be judged or do unto others as you would like done to you'. There is something different about those sets of teachings (which really hits home in the gospels) we all need to start to realize - one requires us to be involved and the other is a random theology play with no bareing on how we will live.

So even if predestination was found to be true - there was nothing you or I could do to make that any less true (or more true). However, with the other teachings (ex: do unto others) there is something we can do to make that more or less true/real. Those teachings are not true/real unless we we can live them out and see the procedure happening and what it does.

That's why I think 'what we do with truth' is more important than what 'we believe is truth'...it's really something huge that church doctrine is stumbling over hard-core right now - I think it is the central problem in most church teachings or doctrinal statements. But if we figure that issue out and get back to the basics of the gospels - we will find that what Jesus taught he expected to be lived out first and foremost. That also why I think 'belief requires itself to produce something or it is not a belief at all'.

EX 1: Someone can believe that Adam and Eve are literal people- okay cool. That belief requires nothing on your part - as in - what do you do that makes that any more real? It kind of just 'is'. That's one form of belief - it's like a 'faith' belief - we just don't really know and in the end - doesn't matter a whole speck of a lot.

EX 2: Now someone can believe that being responsible for the wrongs they did (repentance) and they have to make them right. This requires actual action on the part of the 'belief' or one could say 'they say one thing but do not do it at all'. If this is treated like example one (a faith belief) - then in the end you are a hypocrite (an actor). I would say firmly that a person that claims to be repentative and does nothing to make right the situations they wronged in - is lying and does not believe their own words - therefore - there is no belief existing (just some hot air).

Do you see the fine line I just made out in the sand there?

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Friday, September 14, 2007

salvation sales rep



i've taken the bait.

after literally months of absenteeism i have been drawn back into the dialogue. nice to see someone has kept a candle burning here at northvus.

i would've been more talkative, except that i've been busying 'pastoring.'

dang, and i really thought that i was impervious to this kind of temptation, yet here i am, off the wagon, typing away.
the catalyst? the question about pastoral role and responsibility posed in the previous northvus blogpost.

see, i don't think a lot about what a pastor should be- to think this way is to somehow willingly accept the imposition of the realization of someone else's calling upon my own life and to begin to simply run this person's script. in my first while as one who has accepted a call in this way, i tried a lot of things and watched them fall flat, only to realize that these were things that others (in my view) had done well which did not necessarily have anything to do with the man that i was sensing God calling me to be. for my part, i just try to prayerfully respond to the present need using the gifts entrusted to me.

God is not templative. i would even risk sounding like a bit of an existential relativist and say that God seems to be very situational. immutable, sure. holy, definately. but the only reason that i can come up with why there are so many different pictures of God is that God's character is far too deep to summarize as 'this but never that.'

so, the call of God is probably as diverse as dialogue between this creator and the diversity of his created can be.

however, for me to aspire to be the Jesus representative in the crowd is a bit too ad hoc messianic for me- my feet just aren't big enough or beautiful enough to fit into those sandals, much less be wept upon and anointed with myrrh. for any of us to accept the mantel of 'salvation sales rep' is to presume some things that will probably end up burning us to a crisp down the road.

yet it is in our vernacular. i know that i have heard myself extol the brethren in the past with that classic we are the only Jesus some people ever see speech...
(yeah, i know- the representative bit probably comes from the commissioning time when Jesus sends out ministry teams in luke 10, the 16th verse in particular)
... and we, clergy and laity alike, bear words like 'ambassadorship' freely without, perhaps, considering the depth of what it is we're claiming or accepting responsibility for. is it any wonder that Jesus' words to peter and the boys seem to be a bit harsh whenever they start arguing about who was the greatest?

'boys, boys, boys, believe me- you have no clue...'

in my view, the best example of this ridiculous egocentricity is found in matthew 20. on the road to jerusalem, the culturally significant city in which he will be executed shortly for speaking openly in the temple and being kind to the outcasts left outside of it, Jesus has been sharing that he is about to die when he notices a bit of a stir in the group. now, prior to all of this passion prophecy on the path, he has been talking about how important it is for those who would follow him to be more interested in putting others before themselves. so his frustration seems warranted when those into whom he is investing great amounts of time and teaching completely miss the point of the dialogue over the last half hour or so, hearing only an opportunity to be somehow exalted over their peers in paradise.

this means he has to reteach the lesson.

again and again he teaches it using different examples and again and again those listening seem to miss the intended learning.

in his famous 'sheep and goats' speech, found five chapters later in matthew 25, Jesus refers directly to isaiah 58, a passage that everybody in his listening audience will readily recognize. in this great challenge to make a difference in the world, he doesn't even hint that we are to be his representatives... in this passage he is the one who comes with nothing but a need and is served by those who would be faithful to the Way.
the deceptively simple lesson:
the Jesus in life's interactions is always the other guy.
serving the other guy is serving Jesus.

yet it seems to be easier to make everything about us.
it even seems more natural to do so.

but, defaulting to the notion that everything is about us, and then having to yet acknowledge that in spite of this we are incapable of both successfully pulling off the salvation of others single-handedly and accepting the efforts of others to rescue us from our own calamity, we heat up the tar and unpack the feathers when it comes to those who have agreed to try to help.

in short, if we can't be God's salvation sales rep, then nobody else can either.

somehow the picture of one called of God to serve others is only permitted positive expression and depiction in the media and the occasional blogpost where it does not include the stewardship of a leadership gift- using the gift of leadership to serve others by providing direction for them seems a bit culturally suspect. this suspicion is portrayed brilliantly in terry gilliam's time bandits film:

Randall: "Look, do you want to be leader of this gang?"
Wally: "No, we agreed: no leader."
Randall: "Right. So shut up and do as I say.


hmmm. we have so much trouble trusting other human beings.
so much fear of each other.
so much fear of ourselves.

so all of the other giftings are valued and celebrated, but love-driven spiritual direction is questioned, devalued, scandalized and ultimately relegated to something reeking of spiritually justified codependency. this indirectly asserts not only that the meeting of basic physical need is important and real (no argument there- not even from Jesus) but also that attending to the social need for leadership is merely opportunistic exploitation and never legitimate in its expression. boy, you'd better not admit to having been apportioned a spiritual leadership gift or your journey will be frought with fear and mistrust or pedestalization from others until the day of the Lord.

too bad. we could use some love-driven leadership.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Role of the Pastor in a Church?

I have been considering this for some time now - but what do you see the role of a pastor in the church to be? Are they your equals or someone with a position slightly 'higher than yours'? Does a pastor need to be involved in every single decision a church makes? Should the pastor be very knowledgeable about church history and many the views taken on the scriptures?

Just what is a pastor supposed to be?