My Thursday post for SearchWarp is up:
I’ve begun elaborating/clarifying on the chart.
In the comments thread of Ed Stetzer’s recent Movemental Christianity post Timmy Brister shared some really excellent thoughts on word-centeredness. I wanted to lift Brister’s remarks and highlight them here, not only because I think he’s right on, but because I think, in the context of Christian “movementalism,” this sort of thinking reflects the possible disparate streams within the missional movement.
What I mean is, while communities self-identifying as missional all seem to share some very common theological and methodological values (which, as far as I can tell, immediately sets this movement apart from whatever the emerging church movement is/was), there is nevertheless at least one bifurcation within the missional movement on some fairly important matters of ecclesiology.
I think this bifurcation may be demonstrated by the relative ways those within the missional movement may resonate (or not resonate) with the following outline:
Should[n't] a movemental Christianity seek to have an undercurrent more grounded in biblical principles and eternal realities?
. . . What I find as movemental Christianity in Scripture is rooted and validated by the Word. You can find this, for instance in
* “those who received the word” (Acts 2:41) resulting in 3,000 added
* “many of those who heard the word believed” (Acts 4:4) resulting a totaling now 5,000
* “and the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem” (Acts 6:7)
* the first scattering from Jerusalem to Samaria is described as “those who were scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4)
* after the death of Herod, Luke writes that “the word of God increased and multiplied”
* in Antioch Pisidia, after Paul’s preaching, it is said that the Gentiles “began rejoicing and glorying in the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region” (Acts 13:48-49)
* in Ephesus, after the sons of Sceva were run out and evil practices denounced, the Scripture says that “the the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily” (Acts 19:20)
. . . [W]hatever movement that is distinctively Christian must inherently and definitively be driven by the Word of God. Why else would Paul ask the Thessalonians, for example to pray that “the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you” (2 Thess. 3:1)?
I don’t want to hash out all the flaws of [David] Garrison’s paradigm, but I do want to positively emphasize what I believe Scripture underscores as movemental Christianity contoured and characterized by the Word of God moving in and through the people of God.
Stetzer of course concurred that the word must be central to any Christian movement.
I think what Brister is touching on is very important here, especially as the missional movement continues to attract Christians who for whatever reasons find the sharp edge of the gospel problematic in their otherwise biblical kingdom ideals.
Both of those posts are on the place of preaching in worship gatherings, but I think the ideas are related to the place of “the word” in the life of the church. If you don’t think is all that big a deal, check out this Brian Jones post, which maintains that Christians can study the Bible too much. (insert eyeroll here)
We recently began a study of John’s Gospel at PRAXIS, Element’s “third place” small group, and something really awesome jumped out at me from this passage this week. Check out John 1:35-51:
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?”
And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come and you will see.”
So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
This is John’s account of Jesus’ calling some of his first disciples. The thing that struck me the more I looked at this passage is the changing titles ascribed to Jesus. There are at least 7 titles/descriptors given to Jesus here:
1. The Lamb of God, ultimately referring to his atoning sacrifice
2. Rabbi, ascribing to him the place of teaching and wisdom
3. Messiah (the Christ), acknowledging him as the answer to Israel’s expectation
4. Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph, which reminds us of his incarnate humanity
5. Son of God, referring to his deity
6. King, which is pretty self-explanatory
7. Son of Man, an earthy title which actually belies its prophetic and apocalyptic meaning, in v.51 connected to his exaltation
Seven titles, seven facets of Jesus’ identity. Seven angles at his all-surpassing awesomeness.
In just 17 short verses, in just one short narrative recounting Jesus calling men into the radical life of following him, we see a big picture of all that Jesus is.
And it occurs to me that this is not just a great picture of this call to discipleship, but that it’s a wonderful picture of our call to discipleship. We tag along and Jesus asks, “What do you want?” and so many of us answer with a piddlin’ amount of expectation compared to the all-satisfying goodness he is actually drawing us into.
In our study last Monday night we talked about the mentors we chose when we first entered young adulthood, and what we would have said if they had asked us, “What do you want out of this relationship?” Our answers varied: guidance, information, affirmation of gifts, encouragement.
And we go to Jesus asking for those slices of wholeness, as well. We saw our needs expressed in these different titles — he is the Rabbi for those needing wisdom, he is the Messiah for those needing fulfillment, he is the Lamb for those needing forgiveness — but the truth is we need all that Christ is, and the truth is that in becoming his disciples we actually receive all that Christ is!
We settle too easily. As C.S. Lewis says, “We are far too easily pleased.” We want and expect Jesus the information desk, Jesus the ATM, Jesus the boyfriend, Jesus the socially conscious vegetarian, Jesus the culture warrior, Jesus the chest-thumping ultimate fighter, Jesus the tea drinking beatnik, and he is none of that (but perhaps all of that). He is all of God, and he is all of life.
There are two instances of “evangelism” in this account, also. The Baptizer’s disciples ask Jesus where he’s staying and Jesus responds, “Come along and see what’s happening.” Philip doesn’t just tell Nathanael about Jesus; he says to him, “Come and see.”
Clearly it is one thing to impart information about the goodness of Jesus, but the real affect, the real impact upon those desperate for life, occurs when someone “sees” the fullness of Christ in action. If discipleship means embracing the fullness of Christ, the community of disciples should radiate the wonder and worship life in the fullness of Christ really evokes.
We worship an amazing God who supplies all our needs according to his riches in King Jesus.
I have updated my reading list in the sidebar to reflect what’s actually on my plate.
A few have asked about my impressions of The Shack. You might have noticed it has disappeared from the reading list. Truth is, I don’t have much to report. I started it about the same time I started Don DeLillo’s End Game, got about two chapters into Shack when Game‘s more captivating prose captured my attention, and then my wife wanted to take The Shack on her business trip, so I gave it up.
I’ve got it back now but my interest in reading it has waned. I’ll probably give it another go sometime.
Based only on the first couple of chapters, I think I can say that the enormous success of this book is just proof evangelicals don’t really know literature. Is it poorly written? No. Is it masterful and life-changing? Well, maybe it is for those who only read what they sell at Christian bookstores or supermarkets.
But maybe I’ll change my mind after I eventually finish it.
I have no opinion on whatever good or bad theology it may or may not reflect.
So . . . what are you reading?
My newest SearchWarp article is up:
Gonna start on that chart on Thursday.
Jim Gaffigan on cake.
Laugh it up.
I’ve got several post ideas in the works, but “real” writing has taken over lately (which is a good thing!), so I’ll get to the blog when I can.
So last week I mentioned getting my act together. So how’d week one go?
Not as well as I’d intended, but my weigh-in this morning showed I lost 9-1/2 lbs. after one week of sort of having my act together. Not bad, I don’t think. And it encourages me to keep up the intensity!
Element’s worship service has been on break for three weeks, and I’m really missing preaching. I’ve begun studying some in Ephesians as prep for the series we’re gonna do when we come back. It’s called “The Supremacy of Christ: The Gospel According to Paul” and will focus mainly on Ephesians 2. My reading this morning just really stoked a fire in me. I can’t wait till September 7 when I get to proclaim to our folks the incredible “riches of God’s mercy” (Eph. 2:4).
Here are some links to get your week started off right . . .
C.J. Mahaney talks about Preaching Hell Well, highlighting some messages from the recent Resolved: Heaven and Hell Conference.
“The Missional Yoda” Ed Stetzer reflects on one year of blogging.
Been at this church? Join the club.
Speaking of atypical Baptists, pray for Tom Ascol.
Also, for Greg Laurie’s family and his son’s family.
God bless ya, blogosphere.
This time with video!
5. Radiohead, “Bodysnatchers”
This is my favorite song off their last album, In Rainbows. Why? Well, it rocks my face off. And the lyrics are self-referentially nonsensical. Eg. “I have no idea what I’m talking about.” You and me both, Thom!
But for anyone who cares to see, I’m alive.
4. Ray LaMontagne, “Jolene”
Okay, I officially have a mancrush on Ray LaMontagne. But his voice is just so pleasingly souful! And this song is so heartbreaking and sweet at the same time.
(This is not a remake of the Dolly Parton song, as awesome as that would be.)
3. The Lost Dogs, “No Ship Coming In”
The best Christian rock supergroup nobody ever heard of. I love this song. So romantic.
2. Al Green, “Sha La La (Make Me Happy)”
I posted this back on Valentine’s Day, but Al Green is wonderful at any time. They just don’t make music like this any more. (And notice, in the wide shots of the dancers on the floor, nobody’s grinding on anyone’s booty or anything.
If you don’t like this, I don’t like you.
1. George Harrison and Paul Simon, “Here Comes the Sun”
Two geniuses playing one of my favorite Beatles songs. Beautiful.
(That’s it for the week. Have a manifesto brewin’ but I’m gonna save it for next week. Have a great weekend.)