Saturday, December 08, 2007

Reactions to Problems in Churches

While writing a paper about discipleship the other day I started to think about the different models of how people respond to problems in churches that I have seen throughout my life. I could think of at least six different responses and I'll briefly outline them here.

I should give a disclaimer...I don't have everything figured out. I'm trying to think through these things in a public way...so if you have ideas or suggestions please feel free to post a response here.

Also, when I am talking about what a Christian is I am talking about those who have an understanding of the gospel and believe it! Another word for the gospel is "evangel" which consists of an understanding and wholehearted belief of the following:
(1) There is one true and living God who always was, Uncreated, Eternal, Triune, Holy and Perfect who created all things and made a covenant with mankind. (2) This man, made from the dust, sinned by not keeping the covenant God made with him by doing what he wanted to do and not doing what God wanted him to do...therefore incurring God's right wrath against him. (3) The Lord Jesus Christ...God became man, fully God and fully man (the Son of God, the second person in the Trinity) and died as a substitute for sin. This substitute worked atonement on the cross making it possible for men and women to have a personal relationship with God. He took God's right wrath against us...in our place. (4) Lastly, response...Jesus was a substitute for all the sin of those who will repent of their sin and believe on Jesus Christ. This believing in and on Jesus Christ positively is a belief in who Scripture says that Jesus Christ is...if we believe in who we like to think Jesus is...we could be worshipping an idol. Belief in Jesus as he truly is consists of a stepping into a life of worship of who Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ is in both word and deed. So there is a cost to us, but the good news is that Jesus saved us from God's wrath. God paid the price for our sin if we will repent and believe.

This great gospel or "good news" is the fact that those who are saved are justified before God by faith alone, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Works are indicative of the gift of faith that God gives to us. Our works have no merit...Aquinas was wrong! William Tyndale described the joy of the gospel as follows:
Evangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word; and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man's heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance and leap for joy.

So... Here's the list of different reactions I have seen to problems that exist in churches. I'm hoping to blog through each of these and describe a bit how it appears that each of them function.
(1) Nominalism/Unbelief
(2) Isolation
(3) False Unity
(4) Schism based on an attempt to Biblical fidelity.
(5) Reformation based on "cultural contextualization"
(6) Reformation based on Biblical principles and what the church has had biblically correct in the history of Christianity

2 comments:

Shane Vander Hart said...

Not entirely sure what type of problems you are thinking of and how they relate to discipleship.

Also what do you consider cultural contexualization - and do you mean it in a negative sense. In some cases it is wrong and twists scripture to address culture. Other times it bringing the gospel and communicating it in a way that can relate to a particular culture (which does relate to Biblical principles and emulates what the Apostle Paul did).

Shane Vander Hart

Noah Braymen said...

Thanks for the comment Shane!

Well, the main problems in the church that I'm referring to are that churches mainly reflect the world. They reflect the world in a number of ways:

(1) Shallowness of relationships...
(2) Fear of man...or structuring how we do things in accordance to what pleases people...hence many times a non-biblical pragmatism (market based approaches to attracting and keeping people which plays on their consumeristic tendencies)...

Some folks have pinpointed the problems that many churches face as stemming from secularization. Os Guinness put it well in "Dining with the Devil", "The two most easily recognizable hallmarks of secularization in America are the exaltation of numbers and of technique (p. 49)."

As far as the connection to "discipleship" goes...some of the effects of the secularization of churches includes the things I listed above.

You might understand more of what I mean as I blog through some of the categories I wrote about.

Thanks for the thoughts brother!

In Christ,
Noah