SanctiFusion

Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

Archive for the ‘destiny’ Category

The “Christian Minority”

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In Western society the Church is in the minority. In even the “Bible Belt” only a minority of the population is actually in church on a given Sunday, or is even nominally active in a church. This much is known and noticed. Yet there is enough of a minority that it should have a significant influence- far more than it does, especially in terms of real evangelism. What is the problem?

In actual fact, the “active” Church is far smaller than what is recognised. We start with recognising that 80% of the work, as in any organisation, is done by 20% of the membership, but then let’s look at that membership.

In any given church today, between 55% and 80% or more of the congregation is women. Church traditions vary from one group to another, but it is safe to say that of the roles most directly linked to the ministry of the church, most of them are closed to women’s participation. Without getting close to approaching the Women’s Ordination question, we do well to ask of the Lord had the same policies when He chose women to announce His Resurrection to the men and defended a woman’s right to sit at His feet to learn theology. There were men and women receiving the Spirit in the Upper Room, Philip’s four daughters preached (one may preach (proclaim) without prophesying, but prophesy without preaching?), and it was not uncommon for Paul to recognise female “co-labourers” in his epistles.

Due to factors better discussed elsewhere, the Church has over a 60% divorce rate to a 50% rate outside. In many churches, divorce is seen as a permanent disqualification for service in the Church, except maybe something behind the scenes like knitting or taking a turn cooking for the men’s breakfast. This, of course, is seldom a problem since once a person does divorce they generally become an unwelcome stranger to their best friends, and are gone within a month. This is a majority of the Church’s adults, lost to their churches. Very often, these are people who have risked all they had to save their marriages, and possibly survived the break-up only at the very highest cost, only to see their best friends all to ready to believe any bad thing heard or imagined against them. Not only does this cost the churches some good people, but the ones who stay are poisoned by the violence they have done to their hurting brothers and sisters.

So, then, before examining the increasing marginalisation of seniors and the all-too common practice of giving the “prominent” members full reign in church matters, and before bemoaning that the noble 20% are carrying the load, we have already reduced the number eligible for much else but parking cars down to 20%. If only 20% are allowed to serve, and the 80/20 rule applies, that means that the churches are presuming to carry on with the talents not of 20%, but of closer to 4% at best. And that 4% can’t even claim any great dedication, since they’ve reduced themselves to such an “elite” group by running off all those who wish they could serve. Now if we take that 4%, and divide out the ones holding to an authentic Christian faith in the face of so many innovations, and find what part of that group is not affected by a sense of prejudice and elitism in their having “attained” that status, we might be close to identifying the actual, living, Church.

Faithful Reader, if you’ve read this far, please take this as it is intended: Not to build a spiral of ill-feelings, but to encourage, exhort, beg everyone to examine ourselves in light of the revealed truth and love of God, and apply ourselves to be “part of the solution,” regardless the cost. The Gospel went out to the known world, at first, with no more than what meets at your church on a Sunday. That was with all the technology of a scribe’s brushes and the back of a strong mule. Once the Christians are right with God, once we’ve turned from our own prides and prejudices, and been transformed and anointed for the work we can finish the job, but not before. The time to repent, to learn, and to act is now.

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Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 26 September, 2009 at 21:21

War on Terror, and Faith

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The “War on Terror.” The US has, in the past, declared war on poverty, and on drugs. In both cases little progress was made on those fronts. It’s really hard to wage a negative campaign against a negative concept. In this one we seem to have a war with a few more concrete objectives and photo-ops, but until the Western governments get what, and why, it is they’re fighting they stand to lose a lot more than their confusion lets them see. The war that has embroiled the “Western Powers” is far more far-reaching than a bush operation against a motley bunch of sand bandits, as the American Press would have us believe. What we are looking at is an ideological war- a campaign of values, ethics, and dogma that forges the rival Islamic sects and nations into a de facto coalition, and either joins Liberal Western leaders with them or at least keeps them out of the way. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 7 August, 2008 at 20:42

What Gospel?

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Today we see a vast spread of what we call Christianity. Churches are springing up worldwide, largely influenced by the glut of “Good Christian Teaching” from the US. The problem, though, is seen in looking at the state of affairs in the US Church. Substance abuse, teen pregnancy, STDs and marriage breakdowns match if not outstrip the “sinners” who never darken a church door. The “Hardshell Baptist” has become a standard, and a bye-word, for American religion in general: Quick enough to state a position, but completely unable to give a reason for it which reflects in a godly life. The shell is there, and in good repair, but the yolk has been sucked out years ago, leaving what looks like a healthy egg, but neither food nor life inside.

Severe words? Yes indeed. Un-called-for? Then why do we have cities in the middle of the “Bible Belt” where churches outnumber filling stations, nearly 90% of the people report being “born again,” and the biggest two industries seem to be illegal drugs and prostitution? Why does the head of the Evangelical Alliance have to resign because of a queer sex scandal, the biggest “evangelists” on the media circle the wagons when asked about their finances, and one of their number pack a sports stadium while refusing to confess Christ as Savior on national television? Ranting? Yes. Called-for? What do you think? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 3 August, 2008 at 18:02

Three Options, One Choice

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When Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life:” He chose His words very carefully.

The: Not that He said a way, as if there are “many paths to God,” but neither did He say “my teachings are the way!

Way: He Himself is the road to God.

The truth: Again the exclusive. Any notion is true, relative to this one truth. Himself!

The life: What does this say about those “outside?”

He then emphasised, “No one comes (not goes) to the Father but by Me.”

And, notice, He started off that statement with a phrase that fit the conversation disturbingly well!

A popular song some years back said, “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.” If right were a matter of opinion, then nobody could really, be right, could they? What would “right” mean? A plurality of opinion votes? 51%? Full agreement?

If we were to “campaign” for truth, then surely Jesus would have some great qualities as a teacher, but a lot of things He said about His own person and purpose don’t let us stop there. While skeptics today doubt all the miracle stories and “I am” statements in the Gospels, we must remember that there were enough witnesses to those miracles, and to the Resurrection, that for the first several hundred years the Church didn’t have to argue for His divinity, but His humanity. There seems to have been no doubt about the Resurrection, even among the enemies of the Faith. If the priests or the sect leaders could have opposed that notion, surely with their thousands of followers it would not have taken a week to find the body, but nobody seems to have even tried. Their concern, from all accounts, was for “damage control” /after the fact!/

So what do we do with this claim? As somebody put it, either He’s a liar, a lunatic, or Lord of all. If His had been another messianic movement, then why was such love, and not power or authority His main thrust, even when His followers were ready to launch a revolt in His name? And surely, any other man would have confessed under the torture He endured, hoping at least for a quicker death. Besides that, a politico or scam artist would have been a bit more careful to tell people things they could understand, and not rock the boat so badly. He rocked everybody’s boat, from the far left to the far right in religion and politics!

A lunatic, then? What He had to say was too consistent, and the root of mental illness seems to be a heightened sense of pride or self-preservation. He taught about “laying down one’s life,” and demonstrated it! A “great teacher” would have spent more time on discourses, but He basically affirmed the moral law and its foundation in the Jewish Bible, and went so far as to say it applies to our hearts as well as our hands, and that He was come to be the ultimate holocaust: the sacrifice victim that would finally take our sins away. Radical, but definitely not crazy.

Logically, that only leaves us with Lordship. But what do we do with that? History gives us three options. We may, like many of the rulers of that day, oppose His message (can we divide the Person from His message, if the Person is true?) in a scramble to maintain control regardless of either truth or consequences. For such a person, I have only the deepest pity. Others somehow insist on dis-believing these things based on things they have read or heard. Those who make this choice I would beg, on bended knee, to check your sources. There is a lot of publishing that is based on a writer’s attempt to prove what they already choose to believe, but this is a matter much more important than merely picking opinions like sports teams, though some do enter into it that lightly.

The third option is simple belief. He has said it, and proven it, and history supports it. Belief though, is not a mere opinion, but a life: A life lodged within the Life!

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 13 April, 2008 at 8:40

Eternal Candyland?

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God’s plan for Israel never was a free ride to a candy-coated oblivion. Jesus, the Son, didn’t come with any Big New Plan. There is a difference between the Old and New Testaments on what trust in God looks like, but the real story is that, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” is true here if any place. There is a price on faith. It’s called obedience. Really,
is there a difference?

Back to the candy shop: Western Christianity has gone from real faith in Christ for salvation to a “prayer of faith” for a promise of eternal self-indulgence, to a “word of faith” for the same selfishness here and now. It’s become popular to think of the Afterlife as being defined by our “fondest dreams!” There are some references to the New Jerusalem with the pearl gates and streets of transparently pure gold, where Christ is the light of that city. While I have no problem with that city being a real thing in the future, let’s look at those gates and streets.

Written by Robert Easter

Tuesday, 25 March, 2008 at 0:17

A Bargain at Any Price!

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We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. ..everything exactly as in war, lacking only one thing . . . the danger.

So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible–only one thing is lacking . . . the danger.

[Søren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon Christendom, trans. Walter Lowrie (1944; reprint, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), 180. Borrowed from http://www.kairosjournal.org

Where is the danger in Christianity? Is there any challenge? What is the hope? Some church people won’t even talk to others if those others talk like this. “They actually believe that there can be a danger!” they say. Did God send prophets to promise Israel a free ride to a candy-coated oblivion? Did Jesus bring such a message?

Jesus said if we want to win, we’ve got to learn to lose, to be the chief means to wash feet, and to find life means yielding our lives to Him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” So why do millions risk their lives in hostile countries to claim his name? Stay tuned!

[Painting, Crucifixion, Emile Nolde, 220.5 x 193.5 cm, Oil on Canvas, 1912]

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 20 March, 2008 at 19:53

Only Visiting this Planet

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A great hero to a lot of people, and a mentor to many, passed on to Glory this morning. Larry Norman, the first musician to use his musical “first language” (at least in the modern Western culture) pioneered was was disparaged as “Christian Rock and Roll” by a generation who still esteemed Fanny Crosby as the last word in hymnody. While not quite as prolific as Miss Crosby, Larry was responsible for songs like “Why Don’t You Look into Jesus,” “I am a Servant,” “The Outlaw,” and “Why Should the Devil (have all the good music).” Curiously, the last title was a tribute to Martin Luther, though many reacted as if he had attacked both the Church and her Lord in singing it.

For over ten years he was the only musician in the States singing for the Lord with contemporary styling, and one of very few to use a guitar. Besides his own talent, he graced us with such musicians as Mark Heard, Randy Stonehill, and Steve Taylor, and seemed to have borne much influence on Bob Dylan as Dylan did on his own work. Norman’s “Reader’s Digest,” “Six-O’Clock News,” and “Why Don’t You Look into Jesus” and such Dylan hits as “Serve Somebody,” reflect as much.

Having grown up in the only white family in an African-American neighborhood in Los Angeles, Larry learned early to love the Lord with his all, and to put his heart and soul into what was put before him, and in his case that “what” was proclaiming the praises of His Savior, which he did with everything he had: A guitar, a heart of love, and a voice that never impressed but always reached straight to the heart. Having assisted with his sound at one concert, that was what came across without ever trying. A real man of God who will be sorely missed. Sing loud, Larry! You’ve finally got the ultimate Audience!


Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 24 February, 2008 at 20:28