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Well said, Peter. A little sarcastic, but well said. I find it interesting that alarms are sounded throughout the world and the Church based on (Nobel Prize-winning) "science" brought under serious criticism by the scholarship of a high-school student.

What does this say about the direction of our denomination in the areas of "social" and "envirionmental justice"? I'm interested to see how far Synod – or just certain committees – believes it can bind the consciences and actions of individual believers on these issues.

I was just wondering why syncretism is only a North American/Northern European concern. Isn't it a Korean concern, or an African concern? I don't get the sense that Korean missionaries are "unconcerned" about ANY culture assuming a re-interpretive authority over the Gospel.

I believe that Church history teaches us that a Christian Native American culture will not (and should not) look exactly like a Christian Northern European culture - just like a Christian Northern European culture does not mimic a Byzantine, Coptic, or 1st century Jewish convert culture. However, Church history does teach us that if there is problem with a "Christian" culture unable to confess the Apostle's Creed, then there may very well be a problem calling that culture "Christian."

Posted in: Current Issues

Michael Bentley on October 7, 2010

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm curious to know WHY that issue keeps coming up. It's not that the Reformed faith doesn't have an answer to the "why not?" in that circumstance. Are teachers not educating their people in a Biblical understanding of Communion today? If so, then do "Reformed" members not believe it, or are the answers we have not good enough? I'm not on a rant (which is what too many question marks look like online), but rather, I'm just wanting to ask questions to establish where the fences are. If we had no doctrinal answer for such things, then confusion would be inevitable. But, since we do have answers to these questions, why are our current answers not acceptable to "Reformed" believers in these situations? (Caution: Answers to these questions may be applicable to many areas of ministry)

This is one of the most confusing discussions I think I’ve ever seen. I’m not referring to Rob Toornstra’s article, but to the whole Belhar debate in the CRC. Dr. Cooper at Calvin Sem. pointed out (rightfully, I believe) that there are radically divergent mindsets laying claim to the same language of the Belhar. Without clarity of language and meaning, we will adopt a new confession out of passion, or zeitgeist, or guilt, or politics, but not out of our unified love for the language of this document.

Easily solvable. We'll have a synodical overture demanding that, first: for every person hired or placed on a committee, another person who represents the opposite political position of the first person be hired/appointed alongside the first person. And, second: all hirable positions and committee appointments will be made on the basis of providing a representation of the spectrum of political views in both Canada and the United States to the hiring entity or specific committee.

In a year or two, we can read fawning Banner articles on how the Kingdom of Christ is being realized on earth by the fact that Conservatives, LIberals, Progressives, Tea-Partiers, Marxists, Libertarians and Anarchists are all working together for the Gospel of Christ. 

I would be very interested to know how delegates to the WCRC meetings (synods? conventions? assemblies?) are chosen and what power to address and vote they have. I have heard nothing about this.

Great discussion, guys. You both have excellent points here.

However this plays out, I really do believe we need to maintain the theology of “calling” when it comes to issuing and accepting a “call.” Otherwise we're just dealing with getting a "job" out of seminary, with little vocational sensibility between, "Take, eat, remember and believe…” and, “You want fries with that?” Seriously, if we act on the same panic as the average University of Wherever MBA graduate – and use the same methods to secure employment following the completion of our (expensive) education program – are we approaching our "calling" with a proper trust in God's sovereignty? How can we expect others to do so if we do not?

I write this as one who did a bit of investigating into a call before my candidacy was solidified, engaged in some highly questionable “exhorting” on some unsuspecting believers, and participated in some other activities and speech that I may not reccommend to another seminarian. If the process can be improved, then let the brainstorming begin. John, are you up for an idealistic synodical overture?

I really like the overall attitude of pastoral work and attitude in this proposal. It acknowledges some deep needs of the Church and outlines a love-first position of official work in the local body. Thanks for this.

One of the things that I'm not sure how to integrate are the statements, "What is the path for living a life of honesty and authenticity within the Body of Christ where one does not need to deny or suppress his/ her sexual identity?" and "Being gay is not a problem to be solved but a way of seeing and being in community that can be a genuine gift for healthy community life."

Honestly, I really do understand the position of meeting people where they are as they move forward in sanctification, but doesn't that assume that there is a "moving forward" towards Christlikeness? If homosexuality is condemned in scripture, I have a hard time understanding how we as officers of the Church encourage others to see homosexuality as "healthy" for a Jesus community. Doesn't repentance have to emerge somewhere? What might be your take on how that manifests in this context?

If you could elaborate on this, I would appreciate it. Thanks.

Are we Christians so saturated with consumer marketing paradigms that we can't praise God without obsessing about the targeted demographic? If there wasn't truth to this video would we still be talking about it months later?

I understood your post, Micah :)

Thanks for brining this up. The method of our disagreement says a lot about who we are and whether we love each other - through speaking the truth in love and in submission to the authorities God has placed over us. Blog posts are a dangerous trap for us all.

Hey, Josh. Good post.

I took a call to a rural church in southern Minnesota 6 mo. ago, and what you said up front about not knowing people – but families – is spot on. I think a lot of YFC (Youth for Christ – it rolls off your tongue if you've spent some time there) methods for evangelism are so individual-focused that they really lose functionality in a rural community. Here's what I've seen so far:

1) What works for teens in a more metro-based, disconnected social structure has little power "on the farm." Getting someone “alone” to consider what Jesus has done “for them personally” is, in many ways impossible because the community is so tightly interwoven – thought ‘outside’ of that community is often nigh to impossible. I have coffee in the same kind of café over here, with similar farmers and other regular customers. They are the parents and grandparents of my Catechism students. They are ALL connected (and re-connected) by blood, name, land and institution (church, Christian school, farm-support businesses, etc.) Nothing is decided without considering – in some way – the community values and expectations. Even the kids who have found homes and lives far away are marked by the choice to disassociate themselves from the community.

2) With that much value-based interconnectivity, change happens slowly, and suspiciously. The community methods of life and worship are gifts from one generation to another. They are comfortable and reliable. If they are deceptively comfortable as substitutions for a redemptive Gospel, then real Holy Spirit-empowered redemption can separate someone from their own community by a change in values. See point 1: separation from the community is difficult due to fear of the unknown.

Now, I'm not saying that everything in town is horrible. Both the RCA and the CRC here (they're about a block apart) have done good things to preach a redemptive Gospel. And, the above points are just earthly factors which the Spirit of Christ is not bound to respect. However, when the earthly factors are tallied up, it does seem like people in rural areas are more prone to keep their head down and trust that God loves them if they just keep working hard.

I thank God that this is not always the case.

I pray to God that I can preach and embody a redemptive Gospel that challenges those who need to be challenged.

I praise God for loving me – even when I've stacked up my own city-slicker idols in front of him.

Keep up the good fight, Josh.

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