Monday, January 11, 2010

No - We Really Kant

The end of John 15:5 stings with the words χωρὶς ἐμοῦ οὐ δύνασθε ποιεῖν οὐδέν. English does not contain the double negative of the original language since our conventional created "standard" and mind-set does not allow it, but if it did, it would look like: "Without me, you can do no - nothing."

Linda Bergquist and Allan Karr have done a great job of surmising what has historically lead to the current need of ecclesiastical recalibration. This is an excellent excerpt from their combined work in chapter 4 of Church Turned Inside Out.

First, in modernism the world is seen as a collection of things that may be dominated, ordered, counted, and possessed by people. This view of the world leads to an understanding of the universe that is mechanistic, deterministic, compartmentalized, and organized foundationally (hierarchically). More is better than less, and large is better than small. This is the world that invented mass production and franchises. It has also been the “era of organization.” Business and organizational theory, efficiency flow charts, and multi-national corporations organize and manage people, things and information in an increasingly global economy.

This aspect of modernity is not necessarily negative, but it is something that was culturally inherited, and not inherent to the nature of the church. It is not the existence of these ideas that is troublesome to our ecclesiology; it is that they are so readily embraced without questioning the extent to which they serve the meaning of the gospel and the mission of the church. Unwittingly we confuse entrepreneurial business leaders (people who control, count, order, and expand organizations) with apostolically gifted servants of God. We err by substituting our own goals for God’s clear direction, and we miss the mark when we measure success by solely quantitative means. More than fifty years ago, some of the greatest lovers of the church were already starting to react to the church’s conformity to culture. C.S. Lewis wrote: “I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”

…We must pay attention to the reality that some other aspect of Scripture may help new generations of Christians more fully embrace their faith. This would not be the first time that the focal point from which God spoke into culture changed. The Bible tells us that the cultural heresy God called Moses to speak into was idol worship. And the cultural problem Paul most effectively addressed was legalism. The church after modernism is already birthing its own reformers who will speak new meaning into the worldview of a new age. Instead of trusting imperfect humankind, as in the Enlightenment era, the church before us will need to relearn how to recenter its hope in the person of Christ.

I have been saturated with 8 years of "professional training." There are portions of it that have proven to be helpful, if done in the right context. Like a Retriever ascending to a dry shore, it has been a personal challenge for me to shake off the water that mandates me to be the "leader" and allow Christ to lead his people - I mean really lead. I have made the amazing discovery, that Jesus does a pretty descent job taking precedence while working through a network of gifted followers to accomplish Kingdom advances in a lost and hungry culture.

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