The Gospel causes Ragequit [Is the church Incarnational or compromised?]
This post started as a series of quotes but did not grow… but the text fits, so I’ve altered the first sentence, and will leave the rest of the introduction alone.
I note that the sermon on Sunday is going to be by Kevin Ward on how to live in this culture, and I am worried if Kevin is going to go a bit post modern and sociologist on us.
But I have had post modernism and understanding to a point beyond nausea. I hate the fact that one cannot love without fear. I hate that there are no foundations, no vows, no rules, no guilt, no shame and no damnation.
I hate that in the polite post modern silence there is no honour, no need for salvation, and no future.
Who is to blame for men’s unwillingness to become husbands and fathers? Could it be the phenomenon of “frivorce”? This portmanteau of “frivolous” and “divorce” was coined by Men’s Rights bloggers to describe situations in which a woman leaves a marriage that is not objectively bad, but which she perceives as failing to satisfy her emotional needs. The Douchebag Credo: “I gotta be me.”
One of the best books about the disastrous decline of the American family is Barbara Dafoe Whitehead’s The Divorce Culture. To summarize briefly a very complex argument, marriages are falling apart because people have forgotten what marriage is about, replacing traditional beliefs with what Whitehead calls the “love family ideology.” The decline of marriage is also part of what Christopher Lasch analyzed in The Culture of Narcissism as “a society that has lost interest in the future.”
Well, it is now Monday, and yes I heard Kevin’s sermon. He did not preach on today’s passage but the same book. He reflected on being raised in the Brethren and Baptists, and what living his faith has meant: how the Baptists have remained connected with the greater society while the Brethren have stood against it and withered in opposition to society, and how the mainline churches, the Anglicans and Presbyterians have accommodated the society over-much — from being ordered to be chaplains for the crown during our land wars to moving with society and forgetting scripture.
Being an academic, he cited sources: I will not, but he suggested that Christ’s way is instead to be incarnational. To be in the society, and fit into every society: that the gospel is not Western nor Jewish but for all Peoples, and that at the same time in all societies the people of God will not fit in completely, for the society is fallen, and Christ is not.
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
(Galatians 6:11-18 ESV)
What Kevin finished with is that he knows but one thing, and that is that our God is a God of love. Amen. But, and this is a big thing, we have to ask what it is to be loving, and what it is to be incarnational in this time and in our society. Which is why I’m writing this on Monday Morning and not yesterday, because it takes a while to work through these things, and this requires wisdom.
The first thing is we don’t worry about the trivial. It was hot yesterday. (The Southern summer, or this summer is odd. Yesterday it was pushing 30 and the washing got bone dry in an hour. Today it is thirteen degrees outside and raining. In Celsius, folks), Many were wearing shorts or similar. And hats. When I got home from Church, so was I… having felt overly insulated all morning. Providing we are not dressing to provoke (either Anger or Lust) it matters not.
The second thing is that we need to speak truth to each other. Some of this is pretty confrontational and ugly, and needs to be done quietly, ideally one to one, or in very small groups. (By that, I mean two or three: you and a witness). These are going to be necessary, as we counsel those fornicating to marry or separate, the married to have the courage to raise children, accepting the risk and pain that involves, and the single to reform their lives.
And finally, we need to publicly proclaim the truth. We can become all things to all people (which is the passage Kevin spoke from) and be Kiwis in New Zealand, Canucks or Québécois in Canada, and English in England.
But the gospel needs to be preached, and that alone will cause many to take offence. And Ragequit.
But we need to speak out about the evil of our society, particularly those evils that live within the post modern cone of silence. For our society is not merely post Christian, it is anti Christian.
There are now some tests for us as a church. The first is if the truth is being spoken within our congregations, the second is if families are thriving, and the third is if society hates us. If all three apply, we are doing well. If not, we need to further reform.