Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A couple of interesting blog posts this morning

The first is from Scot McKnight and looks at the question of America as a Christian nation. Scot is reviewing a book by Randall Stephens and Karl Giberson. I would certainly not endorse much that those two have written as they are part, at least Giberson, of a vendetta and open war of words with Ken Hamm and others but the questions raised are worth considering. I expect the comments to be far more interesting than the actual post itself.

The second comes from Trevin Wax and Trevin asks a few questions about the new book from Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, 5 Nagging Questions about DeYoung/Gilbert’s “Mission of the Church”.

I haven’t read What Is the Mission of the Church but I suspected what it would look like and Trevin’s 5 nagging questions sort of confirmed that. Here are the two questions he had that I found most interesting:
1. Can we reduce “making disciples” and “teaching Christ’s commands” to the delivery of information?

It seems to me that DeYoung and Gilbert tend to reduce “disciple-making” to teaching and then reduce “teaching” to the transferring of information. I agree that teaching is a central part of discipleship (which is one reason I am dedicating the next few years to the development of solid biblical curriculum). At the same time, we need to recognize that teaching also takes place in mentoring, in modeling, and in collaboration with others. So wouldn’t good deeds of love and justice fit within the overall definition of “teaching”? Isn’t part of disciple-making expressed in older Christians coming alongside new believers and together doing the good deeds Christ has called us to? If so, then doesn’t the making of disciples inherently include, at least in some measure, our work in the world? At the end of the day, I don’t think we can separate “making disciples” from “loving neighbor” in the way that it seems DeYoung and Gilbert do.

3. Isn’t there a sense in which worship is expressed through our life in the world, not just our corporate worship services?

At the corporate level, it’s clear that worship takes place within the church’s gathering. Yet the biblical story line begins with Adam and Eve worshiping God by obeying His commands in the garden. It was their cultivation of the garden that reflected their love and praise for their Maker. So when DeYoung and Gilbert claim that worship is integral to the mission of the church and yet want to separate worship from our deeds of justice, I worry that we are failing to remember that our good work in the world is part of our obedient worship to God.

Those are great questions, not just about this book but globally. Can we distinguish, as we often do, “worship” as an event we attend and “mercy” as something we make time for later in the week, I think we miss the boat. Likewise, “teaching” is far more than “listening to a lecture” or participating in Sunday school. It seems to me that the picture we get in Scripture is that Paul taught in the context of lives lived together with the church. In other words, those Christians who were discipled by Paul learned from both watching him and listening to him.

By the way, Eric Carpenter reviewed The Mission of The Church here if you are interested.


Anonymous said...

hey brother,

I "discovered" your blog a couple of days ago, not sure how, but I am enjoying how you articulate the faith.

It does seem odd, speaking of Wax's 5 questions, how Christians seem to "compartmentalize" different aspects of what it means to follow Christ. It turns into a "one or the other" kind of quandry when the issue is solved by a simple answer of "both/and" when it comes to mercy, good works, etc.

That problem oozes it's way over into the political arena all the time.

Arthur Sido said...

Jonathan, I absolutely agree. Our division of life into "secular" and "sacred" is completely unsastifying and stifles both evangelism and works of mercy.