Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The shame of not being ready

Leighton played a bit of a conference MP3 from Wolfgang Simson that talked about house church as a return to a more biblical model of the Christian life. In a summary a church that was relationally driven instead of event driven (Church once a week on Sunday being an event not a relationship)

I wasn’t ready.

I hold somewhere in my head the echo’s of Ephesians 4:14 (Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth.) So whenever I hear about a new movement or a new way of doing things in church I’m sceptical. That’s not all a bad thing but I think I take it too far. It wasn’t Wolfgang’s words on the tape so much as reading through much of his book “Houses that Change the World” that made me change my mind. After Constantine, the church changed forever becoming an official political instrument. The reformation overturned much of the bad doctrine but kept the hierarchical power structures. The historical 1st and 2nd century church was small and simple, meeting in peoples houses not in cathedrals or even “church buildings”. Wolfgang sees a new reformation by returning to this simpler way of doing church. Nothing wrong with that, right? So why do I resist?

Here’s what I think is going on in my mind. An over adherence to Ephesians 4:14 (above) and not paying attention to Mark 7:7-8 (These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings.' For you ignore God's specific laws and substitute your own traditions.") The church has developed a whole range of apologetics defending the way of doing church as biblical (which it is) without looking at other ways of doing it that would also be biblical. We have ignored our own history and attempted to cover our mistakes.

My Problem.

I’m still not ready. I’m not ready to give up on church as I know it. Even though I agree that it is not the only biblical model for fellowship, discipleship, ministry, evangelism, and worship. I’m just not ready and that’s a shame because if those five things are the important ones then I have to confess we are not doing any of them very well or in a way which is easily multiplied.

Someday I hope I can leave my cocoon of safe, “politely disconnected” (as Dave calls it) church and allow myself to go where He tells me, when He tells me, and how He tells me.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Mike wrote: The reformation overturned much of the bad doctrine but kept the hierarchical power structures

Although I'd disagree with the first half of that, perhaps we can politely disconnect on the first half and focus on the second half - and explore the possibility that you have stumbled upon an insight that we can both currently appreciate.

Namely, although we would disagree as to whether the reformation was throwing out good doctrine or bad doctrine - perhaps we can agree on the answer to the following question: What is the point of even having a hierarchy / Magisterium which does not enjoy the God-given gift of getting doctrine infallibly right?

Perhaps the answer both of us would give (in opposition to mainstream Protestants) is: none at all.

After the Protestant Reformation, transubstantiation was gone, but liturgy police remained. Papal and Magisterial Infallibility was gone, but the hierarchical authority of bishops remained. The blessing of removing original at baptism was gone, but the requirement to get baptized remained.

Reminds me of a joke that said that when the Protestants Reformers left the Roman Catholic Church - they took all the worst parts.

I realize my perspective is an outsider's perspective, but it seems that you make do without the stuff I love in the Roman Catholic Church and yet still have to endure all the burdens that I wish were gone.