Today over at Cerulean Sanctum, Dan Edelen talks a bit about what he sees as two competing “Christianities”:
Externally-Motivated (EM) Christianity sees the Kingdom of God existing in systems and institutions “erected by God” or by Christians faithful to God. The essence of what it means to be a Christian dwells in hallowed monolithic icons, largely existing outside the believer. We see the expression of EM Christianity whenever we encounter Christian groups and individuals seeking to preserve or defend some aspect of the truth they see encapsulated in a system, institution, or organization.
Internally-Motivated Christianity, in sharp contrast, invests little time and energy in externalities. Its hope is not in systems and institutions because it understands that those succumb to entropic forces. To the IM Christian, the Kingdom of God cannot rest on externalities prone to decay.
He’s got me thinking… again. It all seems so clear, and what he’s saying seems to meld with other things I’ve been harping on of late. It seems to match up with different things God’s put in front of me.
At the same time, I’ve seen his description of “Internally-Motivated Christianity” used by people who would otherwise solidly fall into what Dan would consider the “EM Christianity” camp. Those sorts of folks simply use explanations like “the Kingdom of God cannot rest on externalities prone to decay” to bolster their own pet projects that are supposedly “really” worth their time and energy… but are just more institutions and organizations with varying degrees of a “Christian” veneer.
For instance: Jesus said, “on this rock I will build my [ekklesia], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18, ESV). Here Jesus is speaking from a universal, eternal perspective, saying that Satan won’t win his war against the Church because the Church is being built on the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (v.16). However, time and again I’ve heard pastors claim that Jesus is saying something more like, “the gates of hell shall not get in the way of our particular congregation at this particular moment in history.” In other words, they take Jesus’ declaration that Satan will never win the war and warp it into a claim that Satan will never get a good shot in edgewise. (Tell that to the house churches in China.)
So with that disclaimer having been said, I heartily recommend Dan’s post and suggest you read it, think over it, and join the discussions in his comments section!