Monday, March 16, 2009

Question and Answer (review)

This past week, I started and finished The Church in Emerging Culture (Sweet ed., 2001), which is a collection of 5 essays from various experts in their streams of faith. There is a Methodist, Reformed, Orthodox, Evangelical, and Emergent perspective on how the church should interact with culture. This book is definitely no Christ and Culture. Though it is interesting to read the perspectives of seven years ago and compare them with the church today. It seeks to answer whether we should change our methods and/or message for our culture, and to what degree.

The book is 60% lame, 30% okay, and 10% amazing. Ultimately, it is the perspective I have never heard that makes the 10% great, the orthodox. Frederica Methewes-Green writes this essay in question-answer format, and here are some excerpts (Questions bold, answers not):

"Why does life seem like great weariness, vanity, and striving after wind? Because although he knows us, we do not know him very well. We are lonely and empty because we do not know him very well. We are vacant inside, deafened by the continual wind of our emptiness, and only his presence can fill us. Yet we fail to know him well. Sometimes this is because we don't want to know him and sometimes because we don't know how.

Why do people continually want to revise the prevailing view of Jesus?To relieve the pain of this dilemma by changing Jesus into something we can understand.

What is Jesus' alternative plan?
To change us into something that can understand him.

Do we misunderstand him because our message or methods are outdated? Perhaps in part. But the main reason is that he is scary. Another factor is that he is deep." . . .

"What has the culture to do with this? Christ has compassion on those who are harassed and helpless because they do not know their shepherd. The culture is the ever-changing weather conditions that these sheep must endure, which they try to respond to as best they can, though they are confused and wounded. Protection and rescue of individual sheep is our primary goal. It is less worthwhile to try to change the weather. We may occasionally have isolated success, but it appears that every weather pattern will have both good and bad elements, and weather itself is bound to be a perennial phenomenon.

How can we convert the culture? Culture cannot be converted. Only individuals can be converted. God knows how to reach each individual; every conversion is an inside job. We cooperate by listening attentively for God's directions and speaking the right words at the right moment, doing a kind deed, bearing Christ's light and being his fragrance on the lifes of people we know."

"Is the goal to develop spotless doctrine? No. the goal is to know Christ."

My personal favorite: "Humility, in fact, is the single most important exercise. How does humility change us? When we see ourselves as teh chief of sinners, we no longer take offense at wrongs done to us. We forgive others as we ourselves are fogiven. We love even our enemies. We no longer judge"

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