I used to live in sunny Cali – home of beaches, Disneyland, traffic, In and Out (if you have to ask, you are out of it), and earthquakes. Several shakers have knocked me around pretty good. Everyone was a wake up call…the earth is beyond our control.
The next chapter in The Tangible Kingdom is entitled, “Tremors”. Many of us have realized that the foundations of Christendom have been not only shaken to the core but have completely been annihilated. That causes many of us, according to the authors, to discern that we as followers of Jesus (individually and in community) are in a huge mess. Yes, we have hearts for the “sojourners” in life who need a deep drink from the well of God’s mercy, life and grace…that’s a heart breaker. But we are also tired! We are tired of church growth formulas, ego driven conferences, “success” strategies promoted by the Creeks and Backs and Keepers and every other movement out in culture. Tons of ministry leaders and your average “Joe and Jackie” Christian are burned out – we’ve put our lives on the line for Jesus and we haven’t seen results (at least the kind of results that merits a book deal or some national recognition). Many people are also fearful…change and transformation calls us all to have to deal with “cheese that has moved” (again, if you have to ask, you might be irrelevant).
Hugh and Matt see a number of these dynamics alive and well and causing many faith-filled, passionate, and loving followers of Jesus to get discouraged. They remark that many of these dynamics could be leading to an outright “civil war” in ecclesiastical circles as mainly two “camps” square off:
Jerusalem Christians = those who see the person of Jesus through their traditions and the literal interpretation of doctrine. Often Jerusalem Christians turn belief into dogma…dogma that often makes the life of Jesus hard to see. These are people who “tend” to be more literal and conscious of doing church “right”.
Gentile Christians = those who see the Christian message through the person of Jesus and the narratives about his life. They tend to deal more honestly with grey areas of life and praxis.
Their pressing question in this chapter, instead of simply hammering away at a stated bias, is simply this – WOULD CHRISTIANS TODAY BE DIFFERENT IF WE ONLY HAD THE FOUR GOSPELS TO INTERPRET? Would it be better “on the streets”? They think so…yes, admittedly, we would miss out on the rich theology of Paul, Peter and others…but at least we would “default” to thinking LIKE Jesus and living more LIKE Jesus.
What do you think? Do you have tensions in the faith? Do you feel tremors like those above? Have you noticed any clear distinctions in how people look at the organized church? I believe the answer is obvious…
More to come tomorrow…