Friday, January 23, 2009

The Presence of the Kingdom and Bothering With the Church

While reading The Tangible Kingdom by Halter and Smay, I was impressed with these words from the introduction. Speaking of the struggling consumer church in the West, "The idea of the God's Kingdom is now relegated to the realm of heaven, the afterlife, and we just assume that we won't get to see God and his beautiful redemptive plan until we pass over. The church therefore becomes something we may not need anymore, something that at best is worth only our recreational enjoyment" (pg. xviii). These two convictions, the presence of the kingdom now and the necessity of the church, have been important to me for some time. However, I'd never made the connection that they are related. In Bible college, I was taught pretty forcefully that the Kingdom was the literal thousand year millennium for which we are waiting. Since then I have become convinced that Jesus' life, death, resurrection, ascension and sending of the Spirit are all reasons to believe the kingdom is present in power now and the church is called of God to engage that power through Gospel acts of love and service while we wait for Jesus to come again and bring in the kingdom fully. So what are your thoughts? Can an under-realized dispensationalism that relegates the kingdom entirely to the future be blamed (among many other things) for the optional attitude many "Christians" in the West have toward the church? Interesting.

Ask the Pastor Session 1

Sunday evening we begin our Winter Sessions of "Ask the Pastor." The questions have been submitted, sorted, some of them destroyed and two great questions remain.

1) Why does our church (and most churches in the West for that matter) feel free to basically ignore Paul's command to women in 1 Corinthians 11 to cover their heads on worship? I'm looking forward to the discussion I believe this question will generate. My desire is that our discussion will help us grasp the complexity of taking the Bible seriously.

2) How can we integrate the Pauline teaching of "Justification by Faith" with his equally clear emphasis on Judgment according to works? It is my feeling there is much confusion over what I believe to be a false dichotomy, "Faith vs. Works."