What Kind of Christian Are You?

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!

It’s Been… One Week

Wow… a whole week without posting. Yes, I’ve been bad again, but at least I have a decent excuse this time. 😉 Even if I’m not writing much, I’m still reading a lot in the blogosphere! Taking a cue from Adrian Warnock, I’d like to direct your attention to some interesting posts I’ve read over the past few days… The House of Degenhart » You May Be Right… When ill-behaved children lose an argument, they say “SO WHAT!” or “Oh yeah? Well you’ve got a big nose!” Grown-ups say, “You may be right, but in the grand scheme of things your solution would represent a misallocaiton of resources.” Christian grown-ups say, “Yeah, but what’s really important is telling people about Jesus.” You know Jesus – he’s apparently the guy that doesn’t really care about the truth very much, or how people live their lives, so long as people sing happy clappy songs about him and don’t judge each other. Pyromaniacs: How to deal with posts you don’t like—and the flip side I’ve noticed a pan-internetal phenomenon you’ll all recognize. It’s how different people deal differently with posts, articles, essays they don’t like. (Now, I suppose I have to add “and pictures.“) You can not like a post for many reasons, reasons which will vary in part due to the post’s content, and in part due to where you are, spiritually, intellectually, temperamentally, and time-wise (schedualically?). Maybe the post in question is really stupid. Maybe it’s palpably wrong. Maybe it’s wrong and stupid. JOLLYBLOGGER: Fathers do not exasperate your children “Do not be harsh with your children but be gentle.” So this writer does not exhort fathers to exercise their authority. Instead, he presupposes that authority and then sets the bounds for its use. He also presupposes that children are not just property over whom the father has legal rights. They are owed dignity as human beings in their own right. Challies Dot Com: The Tyranny of Quiet Time Johnson wrote about something I had only recently realized myself. “That half hour every morning of Scriptural study and prayer is not actually commanded in the Bible.” Imagine that. He goes on to say, “As a theologian, I can remind us that to bind the conscience where Scripture leaves freedom is a very, very serious crime. It’s legalism rearing its ugly little head again. We’ve become legalistic about a legalistic command. This is serious.” We have somehow allowed our quiet time, in its length, depth or consistency, to become the measure of our relationship with God. But “your relationship with God—or, as I prefer to say, God’s relationship with you—is your whole life: your job, your family, your sleep, your play, your relationships, your driving, your everything. The real irony here is that we’ve become accustomed to pigeonholing our entire relationship with God into a brief devotional exercise that is not even commanded in the Bible.” So what, then, does Scripture command? It commands that the Word of God be constantly upon our hearts. We are to pray, to read the Scripture and to meditate upon it, but we are to do so from a joyful desire, and not mere performance-based duty. We are to do so throughout our whole lives, and not merely for a few minutes each morning. Like Johnson, I came to realize that the “goal isn’t that we pray and read the Bible less, but that we do so more–and with a free and needy heart.” So do not allow quiet time to become performance. View it as a chance to grow in grace. Begin with an expression of your dependency upon God’s grace, and end with an affirmation of His grace. Acknowledge that you have no right to approach God directly, but can approach Him only through the work of His Son. Focus on the gospel as the message of grace that both saves and sustains. And allow quiet time to become a gift of worship you present to God, and a gift of grace you receive from Him.

The Daily Duck: Atonement, Justification, Sanctification, etc.

I’ve been observing as Adrian Warnock continues his God-killed-Jesus series, and so I was delighted to see The Daily Duck: Thoughts on Adrian’s Sermon, a response from the waterfowl who first called Godbloggers to the carpet on this issue. The Duck made some really good points, especially as to how justification and sanctification work out. I’ve included a (rather lengthy) quote from his post, and my own comment is included afterward: