Is it time to quit the Church?

The past few weeks have been heavy news for the Church. For evangelicals… it’s been Willow Creek and the leadership failure of that megachurch. (Then there are those trying to cling to evangelical as “tribe” but the politics of it right now are a bad mess.)

For the Catholics, it was the grand jury findings in Pennsylvania, then another bombshell this week when Pope Francis himself was accused of hiding information on a pedophile within the Vatican. Continue reading “Is it time to quit the Church?”

Is it really time for civil disobedience?

The issue in the last couple of weeks with the Obama administration and the Catholic church has been over healthcare policy and contraception. Originally, the Obama administration was going to enforce the policy that any organization over a certain size had to provide a health insurance policy for employees, including the option for contraception. This would apply even to religious organizations. The Catholic Church was up in arms because that would affect their schools, hospitals, etc.

It is an unnecessary position by the Obama administration, because states like Hawaii demonstrate ways to get around it.

Some have said this is an outright attack on religious liberty. It might be. Those early salvos have to be tested because there will continue to be issued where human rights will clash with “religious liberty” in our society. If you always want to land on the side of your version of “human rights” you will have to battle “religious liberty” at some point. This is quite possibly a way to test the waters early.

Those who have called this an outright attack also say it may be time to think about civil disobedience. THIS POST links to several other articles and calls.

This is a tough call and it is certainly yet another opportunity to truly understand who we are as Christians.

The Search for “Home”

I met with a former student today and we caught up on life. Over the years I have gained a deep appreciation for all the streams of Christianity that have come through the centuries, so when I see people exploring streams other than the one they grew up in,  I’m interested.

He has reached a point in his life where his walk with Christ has led him from an Assemblies of God upbringing to finding “home” in the Catholic church. He and his wife are in the process of entering the Catholic church. We had a fascinating conversation about his journey. I was so encouraged by his thoughtfulness in the matter.

More and more I have met former students and heard of others who have left the Assemblies of God after college to find “home” in more liturgical confessions. I know of those who have gone to Eastern Orthodox as well.

Meanwhile, here I am in the Assemblies of God. I do not dismiss the decisions of others. I carry deep admiration for them. What I am left pondering is this: Are we, in the Assemblies of God, and in many evangelical movements, suffering from a brain drain? When I watch people contemplate their faith and really THINK about it… many are making a move toward the more ancient traditions.

Now, either I’m not “thinking” clearly enough, or something else may be going on. One thing I DO wish for is more contemplation in my denomination. Maybe we put such a bad spin on contemplative thought, or intellectual pursuits, we just chase some people off. What I would wish for is people to think, embrace the ancient traditions of the Church, and find they can actually stay in Assemblies of God, or other evangelical streams, as well. It doesn’t ALWAYS mean a move… or does it?

I have found that my meanderings through the streams of ancient faith have not endangered my place in the Assemblies of God. Of course, they may not even care. I keep sending them my “dues,” so why bother me? Yet, I have found I can freely share my explorations in liturgy with District leaders and not be shot down. Of course, they could secretly wonder what in the world this guy is doing… but they don’t give me any grief about it.

At any rate, what I appreciate from my friend and others is their processing. They have THOUGHT about their place in the Church. They have sought for “home.” It’s one reason I celebrate the wide variety of the Church. There is a place for “home” for believers. I just wish more would see that there are places in the evangelical/Pentecostal stream (like my church) that have a place for contemplation and thought. It can be “home” as well.

Thoughts About “Icons”

Recent blog activity has been caught up in a discussion over the Manhattan Declaration. This is a statement coming from Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelicals concerning three major points about our current culture in America. The debate is over whether this is just some right wing political move or it’s legitimate.

Some of the disagreement comes down to theology. How can an evangelical stand alongside a Catholic? Some objections (like from John MacArthur) raise up old lines of division that show the Body of Christ really has a hard time standing together for just about ANYTHING without an argument breaking out. (There’s a reason it’s called the “family” of God, I suppose.)

Some objections raised would be Catholics and Orthodox theology. Perhaps it’s also the veneration of saints and icons. There are fundamentalists and Evangelicals who have a serious problem with the saints and icons of the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

This stirred my thoughts. In my own sordid sense of humor, I would present the idea that while we don’t have “icons” in the sense of the Orthodox Church, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Reformed and other Protestants do have our own versions. We take the “high” road and say it’s not worship. But I would argue there are times we fall into celebrity cults in the Church.

It’s a serious issue I’ve seen raised since the days of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Now, it’s even hit the Reformed movement. The likes of Mark Driscoll and others raise serious questions about our tendency to celebrate certain people. I am NOT saying Driscoll and others seek worship! I am saying we tend to set these guys up in places they do not belong.

I would offer (in a sense of humor kind of way) some of our Protestant “icons” through the centuries.