Jun 24, 2009


"If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. And to be steady on all the battle fields besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."        --Martin Luther

The "Modern" Church and the Sacraments

Most modern Churches in Protestantism have relegated the Sacraments (Ordinances for most) to what can best be described as appendixes to "real ministry". In today's Church it isn't unusual to see pastors delay Baptism for new converts for months and sometimes years. In today's Church it isn't considered abnormal to take the bread and wine(or Welch's) of The Supper once per year. Or, if you're lucky, once per quarter. ............. but Why?

I'm convinced that the answer is to be found in the 'culture of individualism' which has infiltrated the Church. I think this is most clear with regard to The Lord's Supper, but is also true for Baptism. In both, it is a case of a rejection of 'ritual'. And this rejection of ritual is rooted in favoring individualism over community. There are certainly other factors involved, like rationalism and the Protestant tendency to idolize the intellect, but individualism is at the root. 

The ritual of Baptism is about inclusion into the community (body) of Christ and the ritual of the Lord's Supper is all about the sustaining of that community. The Sacraments communicate to us and to the world (at least in part) that in Christ we have forsaken our individualism and self-centeredness for community. This community is the "new man" or the "new creation" that Christ has brought about by His life, death and resurrection. 

To reject the Sacraments or treat them as unimportant appendixes to the life of the Church is to embrace modern culture's disdain for ritual. Modern culture rejects ritual because it is seen as an infringement on 'individual rights'. 

Is it any wonder that the "modern" Church has all but rejected our 'rituals'?

Wade B.

Jun 21, 2009

What is man?

What a question: "What is man?". This is the question the Psalmist asks in Psalm 8. Depending on who you ask, you are likely to get very different answers. Some 'reformed' folk tend to take the position that man is, always was and always will be nothing more than "a worm", scum or dung. 

These teachers keep whole congregations in a constant state of introspection, examining and re-examining themselves for sin. They do this because they are convinced that in order to maintain a proper view of God's exalted position and holiness, all Christians must continually view themselves in as lowly and miserable a way as possible. These teachers will interpret Psalm 8 to prove man's lowly place in God's created order. 

Is this a Biblical view? ..... I am convinced otherwise. The Bible teaches that man is the pinnacle of all of God's creation. 

The Church has been commanded to sing Psalm 8 in order to teach us of our exalted place among all of God's wonderful creation -- not to beat us down and make us feel worthless.  We are to praise, honor and glorify YHWH because He has made man "a little lower than God and crowned him with glory and honor" (Ps. 8:5).  Did you catch that? The Psalmist, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, affirms the lofty position of man, not the lowly position. He then goes on to sum up the work which God gave man to do in verse 6 when he says, "You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands.". This only affirms what we already should have known from Genesis 1:26, that man was created in the "image" of  God and that we were to "rule" over His creation.

So, what is man? Well, the "new man" (the Church), is that new creation of God that is to be all that God has always intended man to be. In Christ we are to be servant-rulers, and guardians. We are to be king-priests. We are to reflect the one in whose image we have been recreated. In short, we are to be like Jesus. 

To the extent that the Church fails to see "who we are", we will fail in our mission to transform this world for the glory of God. We will fail to properly reflect the true image of God. 

But if we will begin to see ourselves rightly, as the pinnacle of creation, created to serve, rule and guard all of God's works, then we can begin to answer the question: "what is man?".

Wade B.

Jun 14, 2009

The "Modern" Church's Idol(s)


As the previous post pointed out, Modernity (and the Modern Church) has a particular disdain for tradition. In keeping with this principle, the modern church must satisfy her cravings for the "novel" by seeking out new ways to keep her members entertained and happy. 

Think about this for a while -- Does your Church always seem to be looking for and grabbing hold of the newest 'Christian' fad to come along? -- If so, Why?

The real question for you is: "When did Jesus stop satisfying -- When did Jesus cease to be enough to keep us happy"?

Wade B.

Jun 11, 2009

The "Modern" Church

Some have described "modernity" as possessing the attributes of value pluralism, privatization, individualization, and over-intellectualization, which have characterized Western civilization since around 1500. From a political perspective "modernity" is know as (or shaped by) liberalism. 

Liberalism, according to Peter Leithart, is "the political system dedicated to the one proposition that political systems must not be dedicated to one proposition". It is an ideology which is founded upon a self-refuting principle .............. It's insanity! Please don't think I'm only talking about a particular political party, I assure you I'm not. This is the ideology which characterizes, for the most part, our entire political system. It characterizes America and 'the West' in the modern era.

Peter Leithart paraphrases Alasdair MacIntyre's description of this ideology when he says, "liberal democracy claims to liberate individuals from all tradition, leaving every member of society free to live according to whatever concept of the good he finds pleasing, to live out whatever narratives he can conceive.". To drive home the self-refuting nature of this ideology, Leithart, paraphrasing MacIntyre, continues, "liberal democracy does have its own overriding story and its own overarching purpose. Despite its claim to liberate from tradition, liberalism is itself a tradition and has a particular vision of the good society." (emphasis mine). In other words, you are free to choose any 'story' to define yourself ..... except a story which conflicts with the ideals of liberalism. How's that for freedom?

So what does all of this have to do with the Church? Look around you. We have allowed secular, pluralistic, individualistic, privatized ideologies into the Church. This is another way of saying, "we are worldly". The problem is ............. we don't recognize these attributes as a problem. We are drowning in the sea of 'secular, liberal modernity' and we don't even know it. 

How often have you heard Christians characterize , and even emphasize, their 'relationship with God' as being "a private and personal thing"? How often have we heard preachers/evangelists call people to Christ by stressing the need for a "personal relationship with Jesus"? This type of thinking has led Christians to conceive of salvation in strictly individualistic terms. The "It's just me and Jesus" attitude is a result of the influences of 'modernity' and  has crippled the Church. 

How many times have you heard (thought), "Well, that might be o.k. for that Christian / Church / Denomination, but it's not for me."?  Or, "I'm not going to join a local congregation because I can't find one that believes exactly like I do or offers a worship style that I like or plays the type of music I prefer."? Or,"I know my pastor preached on this or that, but that's just his interpretation. He is entitled to his opinion on the matter and so am I". Or, .............. I could go on and on. These are nothing less that the symptoms of our common illness. The Church is infected with the disease of modernity and all the individualistic symptoms that come with it.

The cure is to reject the modern ideologies which have infiltrated the Church. It is to reject worldliness. And we will do this only as we accept as our own, the full story which our God has given to us in the pages of the Bible. Only as we retrain ourselves to see the world through a Biblical 'lens' will we be able to understand who we are and what our true place in this world is. 

Wade B.

Jun 8, 2009

Resurrection and the Covenant

Another thing the resurrection teaches us is how God normally operates. Not that raising people from the dead is a common occurrence, -- what I'm speaking of is how God ordinarily works in redemptive history to accomplish His will or the common patterns of God's working that we can discern from the scriptures.

The bodily resurrection of Jesus teaches us that God doesn't abandon a work previously started. This is clear in the Psalms where God promises not to abandon His servant to the grave or "let your Holy One see corruption" (see Psalms 16:10) (and Act 2:27). And it is also seen in His promise to all believers to finish the work He has begun in us (see Phl 1:6). Our God starting a work and then seeing it through to completion should not come as a surprise to us because this is the pattern of God throughout all of scripture. God does not change. When He makes a promise, the promise will be kept. When He says He will do something, we can be sure that it will be done.

In the context of the Biblical Covenant(s) this is important because of the tendency we have to separate the Old Covenant (OC) from the New Covenant (NC) in such a way as to make it seem that the OC and NC are not vitally and organically connected to one another. We treat the OC and NC as Plan A and Plan B respectively.

The question is: "To what extent are the OC and NC connected"? The resurrection of Jesus teaches us that they are so connected that they are really ......... the same covenant. They are really both Plan A. Jesus didn't do away with the OC, He took it up in Himself, fulfilled it and made it what it was always intended to be. The OC died, was buried, and then was resurrected and transformed(as the NC) with Jesus. In Christ, the OC was was made perfect.

Jesus alludes to this when He says "Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them" (Mat 5:17). We (Christians) are fond of quoting this verse, but I'm convinced we don't grasp what Jesus is really saying, because after quoting it we go on with life as if the OC scripture has nothing to teach us about how to live our lives before a Holy God. And we conceive of OC and NC saints as not being vitally connected to the same body of Christ. We teach, preach and live as if the OC has been abolished. 

In maintaining this false dichotomy between the OC/NC and OC saints/NC saints, modern pastors/preachers/teachers have short-changed the Church by only teaching us one-third of our identity. We are not "New Testament Christians" only, we are the Biblical people of God whose story begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. For the Church to understand who She is we must tear down the wall that we have built between the OC and NC. We must learn to think "Biblically" by seeing all of scripture as one continuous story of God's love for and redemption of His people.

To be sure there is much mystery involved here. There are certainly many differences in the Covenant now that Christ has appeared and the NC has been inaugurated. Our Father continues to work in us, transforming us from glory to glory. Because of the resurrection, you can have hope that "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phl 1:6).

Wade B.

Jun 6, 2009

What the Resurrection Teaches Us

One thing we learn from the bodily resurrection of Jesus is that God is concerned about His creation. God is concerned about the real, physical world (the entire cosmos) that He created. Salvation reaches far beyond any concept of the "individual" and "spiritual", to embrace all of God's created works (Rom. 8).

What does this teach us about the full content of the Gospel?

Wade B.

Jun 2, 2009

Old Covenant vs. New Covenant ... or is it?

Is it possible that the modern Church holds to a dichotomy between the Old Covenant people of God and the New Covenant people of God because we hold to a dichotomy between the Old covenant and the New Covenant?

Not infrequently, we hear Christians make statements that separate The people of God in the Old Covenant(OC) from the New Covenant(NC) people of God. The statements usually go something like this; "The OC relationship with God was 'outward and physical' where the NC relationship is 'inward and spiritual' ".

Is this a Biblical view?
What's your take on this?

Wade B.