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A Vision for the American Church (1)

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A Vision for the American Church (1)

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:15-17

(This is the first in a two-part series on the church in America, her problems and God’s vision for how to fix those problems.)

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Music: Myths, Meanings, Messages and Mediums

Popular-Christian_Music

Music and the early Church
As I’ve been reading Saint John Chrysostom’s On Marriage and Family Life, one of the things that strikes me is how concerned he was about the deleterious effects of pagan music on the Christian household.

Saint John Chrysostom (347-407) was not the only church father to share this concern. In his book A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church, Calvin Stapert shows that music was an abiding concern among many of the Patristics. This naturally included a desire to encourage the church to glorify God through hymnody, but it also involved warnings against the spiritual harm of pagan music.

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Hamlet and the Power of the Tongue

tongue

Death and life are in the power of the tongue....
Proverbs 18:21a

Shakespeare’s finest tragedy
According to the renowned Shakespearean scholar Frank Kermode, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet was the “first great tragedy Europe had produced for two thousand years.”[i] And aside from Shakespeare’s other tragedies (especially King Lear), one could argue that no play written in the past 400 years has come close to matching the complexity and grandeur of Hamlet.

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Unseen, but Real

worldview

Before the universe began to be,
and all that it consists of and contains,
the Word already was.

-          John 1:1

The focus of a worldview
Worldviews are about, well, the world – the things we see, deal with, and that impact our lives; the places we go and the people we meet and have to do with there; the mysteries, patterns, and goings-on of everything we see around us every day.

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Rethinking Doctrine

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…so that we may no longer children, tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Ephesians 4:14


Distaste for doctrine?
The distaste for doctrine, currently present among a great many evangelical Christians, is indicative of a kind of spiritual malnutrition which, if uncorrected, can stunt the growth of the Church and leave her listless and languishing.

You see, it’s not that we’re not feeding on doctrine. We are. Everyone is. As Alister McGrath explains, doctrine is nothing more than “a principled response to reality…” (Alister E. McGrath, A Scientific Theology 3: Theory [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003], p. 76) “Doctrine” is how we make sense of the world and our experience in it. This is that. This means that. This relates to that in this particular way. And so forth.

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True Worship

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All of life is worship

And He said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
-          Mark 7:6-8

Say what?
There’s a kind of “what’s wrong with this picture?” quality to Jesus’ comments in this passage.

The Pharisees had accosted Jesus about His disciples’ failure to wash their hands before eating. “Our people always wash their hands before eating, especially when we’ve just come from the marketplace.” Mark notes in passing that they were also a little obsessive about washing their cups, pots, copper vessels, and even the couches on which they took their meals. Cleanliness next to godliness and all that, I suppose.

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