Friday, July 21, 2006

Owning Who You Are

Yesterday Awakening Theology began looking at the complicated matter of unity. We saw from Christ's high priestly prayer that he wants us as one. However, the Church is splintered into many parts. Can it be undone?

Today we will look at unity from the standpoint of a local church. Wesley wanted strong bonds holding together his Methodist Societies. He wrote in A Plain Account:
Likewise, if you would avoid schism, observe every rule of the Society, and of the Bands, for conscience' sake. Never omit meeting your Class or Band; never absent yourself from any public meeting. These are the very sinews of our Society; and whatever weakens, or tends to weaken, our regard for these, or our exactness in attending them, strikes at the very root of our community. As one saith, `That part of our economy, the private weekly meetings for prayer, examination, and particular exhortation, has been the greatest means of deepening and confirming every blessing that was received by the word preached, and of diffusing it to others, who could not attend the public ministry; whereas, without this religious connexion and intercourse, the most ardent attempts, by mere preaching, have proved of no lasting use.'
Notice what Wesley exhorts his Methodists, so called, to observe:

1. all the rules of the Society
2. constant attendance at Society gatherings
3. sharing the blessings with others who couldn't come

I'll risk oversimplification and distill his wisdom this way: Own it!

First of all, if you're going to call yourself a Christian then be a Christian!

I confess I am bewildered by liberal "Christianity":

Denial of Adam, Eve, and other figures before King David
Denial of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch
Denial of the Exodus
Denial of demons
Denial of Christ's divinity
Denial of Christ's miracles
Denial of Christ's physical, bodily resurrection from the dead

In its place...

The Documentary Hypothesis (JEDP)
Deutero or Trito-Isaiah
a late date for Daniel
Paul was a Misogynist
Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and fathered a child
Marcion and Gnostics weren't heretics, simply another branch of Christianity

What's wrong with liberal Christianity? It's a broken wheel and it won't take you anywhere. Why does someone embrace a Faith and then spend his time undermining and destroying it? It makes no sense to me. Either be a Christian or don't. Take a stand. Believe it or not.

After someone has determined to be a biblical Christian then he needs to find a local congregation/church affiliation he can believe in and jump in! He needs own it and be who he is without apology.

I am an ordained minister in the Church of God (Anderson). There are reasons why I am Church of God. There are other reasons why I am not a Lutheran, or a dispensationalist, or a paedobaptist (forgive me, Wesley!) or a charismatic.

In other words, I've owned the fact that I am Church of God. I own it, faults and all. Its history hasn't been perfect (and neither has mine). Still, I carry my Church of God ordination card with honor and don't consider myself inferior to any other clergy.

Further, I am a Wesleyan--not simply in heritage but also in belief. That means I am not a Calvinist or a later Augustinian. I've taken a stand.

Own who you are. What if your congregation/church affiliation has gone south theologically? Well, if you can't reform your congregation/church affiliation to how it used to be then do you need to find a place you can own?

What do you think?