So you don’t like Barth… How about Bloesch?

Seems to be a new backlash about NOT reading Barth. Brian LePort gives a good post linking the recent rantings. A few years ago Barth was back in, mainly, I think, because Christian Books was selling Dogmatics for $99. I snatched that up myself. I think I’ve made it all the way to the… third volume.

Barth is hard. Barth is controversial. I don’t read theologians very well.

One theologian I’ve known very little about but have always enjoyed his writings is Donald Bloesch. I still don’t know very much about him, but near the end of his life he penned his final works of theology which IVP put into the Christian Foundations series. I’ve read a couple of those volumes, along with a couple of other works he had earlier.

The volume on the Church is challenging. As an evangelical, more on the Reformed side, he is pretty adamant about recovering more of an ancient view of the Eucharist. I am finding it refreshing.

He writes that the Church has stepped back from theocentric worship, and part of that loss is due to our lack of focus on sacramental reality.

Baptism is no longer an initiation into the mystical body of Christ through faith and repentance but now an outward profession of belief that certifies our agreement with the precepts of church tradition. Sacraments are no longer signs and means of grace but ordinances of the church that regulate the life of the church. Karl Barth in his earlier years (oh, dear, he mentions THAT MAN!) lamented that the Reformed church had been misunderstood when it created the impression that it was a church bereft of sacraments, even a church inimical to sacraments. P.T. Forsyth in early twentieth-century England astutely perceived, “A Church cannot… live without sacraments, which are ‘essential means’; but still less can it live without sacramental souls, which are also ends in themselves.”

For a Reformed guy, this is something that resonates with me.

Sin

“Sin is not a mistake. Our sin is our willing unlawfulness, our purposeful breaking of God’s law. In attitude and in deed, we rebel against God, and we have for that reason forfeited our right to live. We deserve to die for our sins. That’s what the death of Jesus is for; our deliberate unlawfulness.

We all make mistakes, and we can all brush them off. But our dilemma caused by our offense against God, the removal of the penalty we deserve, can only be solved by the act of God. God must provide the solution…

Jesus didn’t die for your mistakes; he died for your sin.”
— David Hansen, The Art of Pastoring

Why I am Sacramental, Part 2

I need an addition to my affinity for the sacramental life. Another deep appreciation I have for the sacramental life is the love for the Church. There is a solid connection to the Body of Christ.

There is probably not one person in the Church that has not suffered some form of abuse in the institutional Church. Yet, I hear of more and more Americans who are “burnt out” on Church. They become a “church” unto themselves. They’ll feed themselves through the internet or TV or books. When I hear that I am grieved. It’s not because I am a pastor. It’s because I am a part of the Body of Christ. The CHURCH is his body.

I don’t think we understand the grief our Lord goes through when someone says, “I don’t have to be a part of a church.” Christ is the head. That is not “head” in sense of “general of the army.” It’s “head” in the sense of being attached to a body. When we “self-amputate” ourselves from the body, Christ is hurt. Not just the Church. Christ. We damage our Head!

Abuses and all, I understand the Church is made up of humans. It makes mistakes. That does not mean Christ is still not attached! Let us love one another. Let us love his Body. Let us celebrate together. I love the Church.

Why I am Sacramental

Really, I’m probably not. I tossed between “Orthodox,” “Liturgical,” “Mainline,” or something else. What I appreciate so deeply in my life is the addition of the meaning of the Lord’s Table. I have a deeper love for liturgy. Public prayers. Reading of Scripture.

I have a deeper appreciation for the love of the Church. I believe in the Body of Christ. The Church is not a building. It is the Body of Christ. I cannot lightly dismiss the Church, as other seem so ready to do. (EX: Saying, “Church is a box. My God does not dwell in a box.” Silly.) Christ is the head of his Church. I am part of that. I love others in the Body of Christ. I love public worship. Together. Not over the internet or by Twitter. The Body…together…loving Christ.

I am not fully Sacramental, and I realize that. Yet, it is part of my life and I deeply love it.