Posts Tagged ‘ christ ’

Abgelehnt.

Ich bin wütend und enttäuscht: wir (die Calvary Chapel Siegen e. V.) wurden als Träger der freien Jugendhilfe abgelehnt. Ärgerlich an der Sache ist für mich vor Allem auch, dass die Abstimmung nicht öffentlich war. Das heißt, dass ich den genauen Grund nur raten kann. Die Fragen, die mir gestellt wurden drehten sich um die Rolle der Frau in der Gemeinde, Leitungsstruktur, Homosexualität und was wir konkret tun, um Jugendlichen zu helfen. Ich denke, dass es nicht viele Möglichkeiten für die Ablehnung gibt.

Einer der Ausschussmitglieder sagte mir hinterher auf dem Parkplatz: ‚Was ihnen das Genick gebrochen hat, waren die ideologischen Sachen.‘ Ihm tat das leid und er stimmte mit mir überein: ‚Das ist scheinheilig. Wenn man das konsequent anwenden würde, müsste man auch eine katholische Jugendgruppe ablehnen.‘ Eine Ablehnung auf dieser Grundlage ist nun wirklich keine politische, verantwortungsbewusste, sondern eine weltanschauliche Bauchgefühl-Entscheidung.

Eine andere Möglichkeit (oder einfach ein weiterer Faktor) wurde ebenfalls von einem Ausschussmitglied (dem die Ablehnung ebenfalls leid tat) genannt: der Skatepark. Weil wir es als Gemeinde nicht einsahen, zu warten, bis die Stadt etwas für die Jugendlichen auf die Beine stellt (was ich nach meinem kleinen Einblick in die politischen Abläufe sehr gut verstehen kann), gibt es Ärger und Missmut uns gegenüber. Ich frage mich, wieviele Skater-Generationen dieser Ausschuss verpasst…

Und die dritte Möglichkeit ist ganz einfach, dass man mir nicht geglaubt hat. Bei der Jugendhilfe geht es eben darum, Jugendlichen zu helfen. Hier ein Auszug aus meinem Eingangsstatement:

Wir glauben an das Evangelium von Jesus Christus. Und wir glauben, dass ein geglaubtes Evangelium den ganzen Menschen zum Guten verändert. Der geliebte Mensch wird durch diese Botschaft zur aktiven Nächstenliebe befähigt. Er lernt, die Probleme seiner Mitmenschen nicht nur wahrzunehmen, sondern aktiv an der Lösung mitzuarbeiten. Teenager werden zu einem reifen, eigenverantwortlichen Lebensstil und weisen Entscheidungen ermutigt.  Wir glauben, dass dadurch Jugendlichen ganzheitlich weitergeholfen werden kann.

Scheinbar glaubt man nicht wirklich an unsere Absichten. …und eigentlich sind es nicht bloße Absichten – diese ganzheitliche Hilfe leben wir konkret Woche für Woche, seit Jahren. Ich könnte mir denken (auch hier wieder bestätigt von einem der Ausschussmitglieder), dass mir das nicht abgenommen wurde. Man denkt wohl, wir hätten nur religiöse/geistliche Ziele. Als ob man das vom Rest des Lebens trennen könnte.

Ich bin gespannt, ob noch etwas anderes aus dieser Geschichte erwächst, bzw. was der WDR berichten wird. Die waren nämlich heute an der Gemeinde und haben Außenaufnahmen gemacht…

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The Greatness of Christ and Interpretations thereof

…that is the title of the chapter of Forsyth’s book „The person and the place of Jesus Christ“, an amazing Christology that was authored as a response to German higher criticism (first published 1909). Not an easy-read, but worth the toil…here comes your Christmas-quote:

What a man! What a maker of men! What a master of men and of events! What a sovereignty was the mien of his self-consciousness! Lord of himself and all besides; with an irresistible power to force, and even hurry, events on a world scale; and yet with the soul that sat among children, and the heart in which children sat. He had an intense reverence for a past that was yet too small for him. It rent him to rend it; and yet he had to breakt it up, to the breaking of his own heart, in the greatest revolution the world ever saw. He was an austere man, a severe critic, a born fighter, of choleric wrath and fiery scorn, so that the people thought he was Elijah or the Baptist; yet he was gentle to the last degree, esprecially with those ignorant and out of the way. In the thick of life and love he yet stood detached, sympathetic yet aloof, cleaving at once both to men and to solitude. He spoke with such power because he loved silence. With an almost sacramental idea of human relations, especially the centralrelation of marriage, he yet avoided for himself every bond of property, vocation, or family; and he cut these bonds when they stood between men and himself. Full of biting irony upon men he yet was their healer and Saviour. Of a quick understanding which tore through the pedantry of the Scribes, with a sure dialectic which never failed him, and never left him at the mercy of his hecklers, he had yet a naive nature and a pictorial speech which brought him very near to the simplest – whom next moment some deep paradox would confound, and even wound. Clear, calm, determined, and sure of his mark, he was next hour roused to such impulsive passion as if he were beside himself. But if he let himself go he always knew where he was going. With a royal, and almost proud, sense of himself, he poured out his sould unto God and unto death, and was the friend of publicans and sinners. With a superhuman sense of authority he had superhuman humility. When he emptied himself it was done in the fulness of God. He could be bitter, and almost rough in his virility, yet he could pity, obey and sacrifice like a woman. The mightiest of all individual powers, he has yet set on foot the greatest Socialism and Fraternity the world has known, which is still but in its dawn. „King and beggar, Hero and Child, Prophet and Reformer, Polemist and Prince of Peace, Ruler and Servant, Revolutionist and Sage, man of action, man of ideas, and man of the Word – he was all these strange things, and more, in one person.“ (Weidel) And he was all that without being torn asunder as a common man would have been; for, if his heart broke, his sould never did, nor his will. He was all that, in a unity greater than the unity of the most uncommon men, a unity ruled by his tremendous will. Dwell on the wealth of his person more than its mystery, on his irresistibility rather than his gentleness, on his steadfast energy of concentration upon his one work more even than his elemental force of passion or his depth of suffering – dwell on such things if you would come near the centre and secret of this personality and its root in coequal God. His effect on human soul is greater than any human cause can explain, whether you think of the extent of his effect in history, or, still more, of the nature of his effect in a Church and its experience.

Criticism

Man….the first one I have to criticize is MYSELF. It has been so long since I wrote the last thing. Sorry for anyone (if you exist) who checked regularly.

Actually I can just blame it on Brian McLaren. Normally I wanted to read his book „Everything must change“ and then write my comments on it. A task which was a little bit too much work for me. First I was surprised by alot of what I read – positively so. To make it short: there was alot I really had to think through in order to be able to remain honest with myself.

Of course I was a little bit afraid. After all I am a Calvary Chapel youth leader – and I like some of the stuff Brian McLaren writes? Am I in trouble? Will I be excommunicated? Aaaahhh! So I decided to ask one of the people I am blessed to know personally: David Guzik (www.enduringword.com). I asked him to read the book and to tell me what he thinks. And he actually did. Not only that: he wrote a little critique on it while he was reading!

So I will ask for his permission and then put it up here on my blog.

Before I go to bed, I will bless you, dearest reader, with a quote from Forsyth’s book „The person and the place of Jesus Christ“, a book which, I think, is a very timely answer to the Emergent approach, even though it was partly a reaction to the early liberal movement in Germany. The book first was published in 1909.

„Criticism is our friend and not our enemy in its place. It is a good servant but a deadly master. It becomes our enemy only when it aspires from being an organ of Evangelical faith to be its controller.“ That is exactly where liberalism went off-track…

Question: is the Christian religion a failed religion?

I am reading Brian McLarens book „everything must change“ now. To find out his opinion on what needs to change in the church. Also to not be dependent on somebody else’s opinion on this book. As he writes in the first chapter: „…you can Google my name and find websites and blogs from fundamentalist groups who consider me the son of Satan or on the wrong side of both the „culture war“ and „truth war“.

Now I personally wonder, why he doesn’t clearly give his standpoint on the „hot-button issues“ as he calls them (My guess is that this shows his frustration, that there are more important questions that are not being asked.) . In my eyes, there would be more evangelical Christians listening to him, if he would just – at least in a short sentence – put these things straight. Now a friend of mine had the chance to talk to Brian personally recently. So if you might have wondered: he did say that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle and that salvation comes alone through faith in the propitiary death of Christ on the cross (he said that literally). Maybe that helps some people to listen in on his message to the church.

I think that he got too popular to pass off what he says on the basis of some well-intentioned criticism. Because maybe, after all, he has something to say that we might benefit from…so what is this book about?

To sum it up, the book deals with two questions. One: what are the world’s biggest problems, and two: how would (or does) Jesus adress these problems, or which solution does he give for them. These are good questions to ask, and they haven’t been asked enough among evangelical Christians. Can one be a Christian, and not care about issues as poverty and social injustice? Doesn’t God show – especially in the OT – that he does care about it? Do we (the church) then have a responsibility towards these things? Or is our mission confined to the spiritual realm?  Before anyone judges Brian Mclaren for asking these questions, I would be very interested to hear some of their answers!

In  this category, I want to just quote some of the things from „everything must change“ and comment on it. I don’t want to do deep analysis, but pick some things that might be of interest. After all, my desire is to promote thinking, learning and growing for myself and all who will read it.

In part 1, chapter 5, MacLaren writes: „More and more reflective Christian leaders are beginning to realize that for the millions of young adults who dropped out of their churches in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the Christian religion appears to be a failed religion. And for a reason not unlike the one expressed by the young healthcare worker from Khayelitsha: it has specialized in dealing with „spiritual needs“ to the exlusion of physical and social needs. [comment: That statement would be hard to prove/disprove. Is that really the reason why many young people leave the church? I doubt it – especially here in Germany.] It has specialized in people’s destination in the afterlife but has failed to adress significant social injustices in this life. It has focused on „me“ and „my soul“ and „my spiritual life“ and „my eternal destiny“, but it has failed to address the dominant societal and global realities of their lifetime: systemic injustice, systemic poverty, systemic ecological crisis, systemic dysfunctions of many kinds.“

Some statements: First, I agree that it would be wrong to disconnect the spiritual from the physical and social. Biblical Christianity does definitely know nothing of that kind of mindset. Second, the point that it is not only about ’spiritual‘ things, but that it is about ‚me and myself‘ is a very good one. Maybe someone has asked you this question before: if someone desires to be saved from sin, death and hell to a blessed life with God and eternal bliss in heaven – is that not very selfish? So the observation is very good. Someone said that one of the principles that young converts need to be taught is: „nothing that is selfish is Christian“. And it is true – the Jesus of the Bible will bring us salvation from selfishness and set us free to seek the welfare of others more than our own. The constant focus on self – even it is spiritual needs – is wrong and sinful.

As long as a Christian, or a church, just focuses on himself/itself, he is in a state of spiritual immaturity as were the Corinthian Christians, who were in need of Paul’s exhortation to seek the benefit of others, which is the essence of true love.

Thirdly, is he right when he says that the church failed to address the issues mentioned above? I disagree! The Bible emphasizes the spiritual realm (man’s relationship with God) as the basis of the physical realm (man’s relationship with man). So when I adress a spiritual issue in someones life, I am addressing his physical life as well. His spirituality is supposed to touch every area of his life. So all evangelizing and all teaching and disciple-making that equipped people to be faithful spouses, honest politicians, fair employers has been successful in dealing with systematic injustice etc. Because any evil system will be attacked through the Gospel message which will in turn destroy that system as individuals who make up that system and keep it running let the spiritual message penetrage their hearts.

A good day, a crucial day – Good Friday

This day is good. It is a day in which we remember that which was necessary to save sinners, and to change them into free, happy, God-lovers. The atonement of Jesus. His sufferings, his death on the cross. Reason enough to bless you with a couple of quotes:

„Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.“ 1 Peter 2:24

The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is „the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.“ The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.

The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience. The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.

The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened – but the crash is on the heart of God.“ (Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest)

 

What was the death of Christ? „A martyrdom,“ cries modern thought. „A mischance in an unenlightened age,“ replies the reviewer. „An outcome of all such efforts to battle with evil,“ says the broad-church teacher. „A SACRIFICE!“ thunders this Book. A voluntary sacrifice! A voluntary sacrifice, by which sin has been borne and put away. Here we rest, content to abide, in a world of mystery, at the foot of one mystery more, which, despite all its mystery, answers the cry of a convicted conscience, and sheds the peace of heaven through our hearts.“ (F. B. Meyer; The Way Into the Holiest; Commentary on Hebrews)

 

Have a good friday! (This expression comes from Martin Luther, by the way: Guter Freitag)

Question: Is uncertainty spiritual?

I read something else which I feel balances what I wrote before. It is from P. T. Forsyth’s book „The person and place of Jesus Christ“, Lecture 1: Lay Religion.

„The root of all theology is real religion; of all Christian theology, and even apologetic, it is Christian religion, it is saving faith in Jesus Christ. It is justifying faith, in the sense of faith in a forgiving God through the cross of Jesus Christ. But this religion cannot be stated without theology. If theology can be shewn to be irrelevant to a living and evangelical faith, then the Chruch can afford to treat it with some indifference, and to leave its pursuit, lie philosophy, to the Universities. But the Christian religion is theological or nothing. We are but vaguely and partially right in saying that Christ is the Gospel. Years ago to say that was the needful word; but it is now outgrown and inadequate.“

A question I ask myself at this point: Is it enough to say that Christ is the Gospel at this point in time? In my culture? The first edition of this book came out in 1909.

„The Gospel is a certain interpretation of Christ which is given in the New Testament, a mystic interpretation of a historic fact. It is the loving, redeeming grace of a holy God in Christ and His salvation alone. Theology, it is true, does not deal with thoughts but with facts. That is the great note of modern theology. But the Christian fact is not an historic fact or figure simply; it is a superhistoric fact living on in the new experience which it creates. The fact on which Christian theology works is the Christ of faith and not of history only, of inspiration and not of mere record, of experience and not of memory. It is the Christ of the Church’s saving, justifying faith.

A Christianity without such faith is not Christianity. Spiritual sensibility is not Christianity, nor is any degree of refined unction. A spirituality without positive, and even dogmatic, content is not Christianity; no are gropings when stated as dogmas; nor is a faith in the broad general truths of religion. Christian faith must surely dogmatise about the goodness of God in Christ, at the least. A conversion which is but a wave of spiritual experience is not the passage from death to life. Religion can only be made more real by a deepened sense of the reality of the salvation. An access of religion which does not mean, first or last, a deeper repentance and more personal faith in Christ’s salvation may be sincere enough, and it is certainly better than worldliness and unconcern; but it is not believing unto life. It is not New Testament Christianity. And, tender as we should be to it as a stage, we must be very explicit when it is offered as a goal. Gentle as we may be to it as a search, we must be quite plain with those who proclaim it as the great finds.“

A clear warning and call to only accept uncertainty about who Christ is and what he’s done for us as a stage but never as a goal. That would fly in the face of all who are trying now to promote even uncertainty about Christ’s nature as a higher form of spirituality. It is not. Even though the disciples started out that way, Christ was constantly teaching them and revealing himself to them – all his revelations centered on himself as a person.

I understand that this teaching might be a reaction to the over-emphasize on the new birth as a „at-one-certain-point-experience“. Now while of course a birth by itself is a one-time-event and not a process, there is a whole process leading up to that point (pregnancy) and another process starting at that point (growth).

So is uncertainty spiritual? No. But if this uncertainty leads you to seek, knock, and ask, it can be helpful in leading to a deeper understanding, a deeper trust and a closer walk with Jesus. There is some things which we can never know in an intellectual sense. But that doesn’t mean that we should look up to a state of ignorance as something noble. Blessed are those who don’t see (intellectually), but yet believe.

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