Monday, March 5, 2012

The Fear in Godliness and the Godlessness in Fear.

I’m coming the startling conclusion that no one is as cool as they’d like to be, and yet everyone is as close to the edge as they ever plan to be.  I mean, while it’s nice to think about “living dangerous” we’re quite happy to confine and define that phrase to mean not locking our cars at fast stops and watching the occasional pirated movie.  We are geared to seek out our own self safety and yet, we long to trust other than ourselves.

To explain…

So there’s this church.  A jolly church.  A jovial church.  In a word, they are a hipster church.
Now as clips from Rob Bell’s Nooma videos dance in your head let me shatter your, “Everything is Spiritual,” nostalgia to say, this is not Rob Bell’s church.  This is nowhere near Rob Bell’s church.  Apparently the classic 3 determinants of an, “Emergent,” are flawed! FLAWED I SAY!


Now observe, Pastor Bell.  We have our 3, clothes, media, bible facts.  These people are hip! They dress like the coolest of the cool, they have the snazziest websites (iphone apps to boot!), and all of their bible teachings are laced with interesting facts, 5 minute history lessons, and rhetorical questions.

Now observe, we have the imposter!  Note the snazzy, the clothes of our grandparents mixing with Christianese tattoos, but what?—what is this! Oddly, fundamentalism.

1.sometimes initial capital letter ) a movement in AmericanProtestantism that arose in the early part of the 20thcentury in reaction to modernism and that stresses theinfallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and moralsbut also as a literal historical record, holding as essential toChristian faith belief in such doctrines as the creation of theworld, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, atonement bythe sacrificial death of Christ, and the Second Coming.
2. the beliefs held by those in this movement.
3.strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles: thefundamentalism of the extreme conservatives.

Fundamentalism, and Emergentism don’t mix.  Since a picture says a thousand words let me show you


You see, they are cool.  They have cool clothes, they look unhappy, the girls don’t look afraid of boys, those boys look like grandpas.  Alcohol, and coffee!!! this is perfectly cool—but not.  Fundamentalist have a nasty habit of saying rather out of date things.  Things no one is even sure about.  They say stuff like, “these are the facts folks!” “this is the truth!” “You’re not living biblically,” and our favorite, “you are going to hell.”

Now let me explain.  Since my hipsters seem impostures to their own faith let me defined a more emergent view...

1. “Facts” are something from math and sciences.  If we learned anything from Dr. J.R. Wile’s homeschooled science curriculum we learned that “SCIENCE DOESN’T PROVE ANYTHING!” I believe that was an essay question…  And to the extent of being absolutely right, not very many people are willing to even argue that we can know everything.  Most would say we simply can’t.  We can make educated guesses, believe based on our experience, and have faith, but to ‘know’ is a different matter.

2.  “You’re not living biblically.” Either A) I don’t agree with what you think the bible means, or B) I’m not a Jew or Greek living before 60 D.A.  Your biblically and my biblically can be radically different.

3. “You are going to hell,” because you are the judge?  Oh, because God gave you a copy of the entrance form? I honestly hope that is what people mean by this statement because all that is left is the whole... “if you forgive…if you don’t forgive…(See John 20:23)” bit, and if that’s the grounds you’re damning people than you can just !@#$@%^$^%—

These are actually fairly well rounded arguments and widely accepted in the more progressive (non-fundamentalist) Christian world.  They have the same Jesus, both believe in salvation, both in gospel—and yes mom, they both believe in sin, and hell…to an extent…  What is comes down to is, how much we trust our own perception. 

Do you?

I mean really, do you?                   

As I’ve said before, if believing the right thing is the only thing that gets us into heaven or hell we’re still working.  We are earning our salvation by what we know the law to be.  If you’ve ever been wrong about something this is startling.  Because what if you are wrong?—what if you get something wrong but it was an accident?  How much stalk do we put into what we do?  In believing the HOLY BIBLE! and our infallible ability to discern this book?  How much faith do we put into our knowledge of the evils of dancing, smoking, and drinking? How much faith?

Have I painted a scary world for you?  That if YOU are the only person YOU can trust and YOU don’t even have faith in discerning if YOU are "working out your salvation" properly are we all DAMNED?


Because if all we have is us,
  then we have no God,
and the Godless are truly damned.

So we try to create this lovely bubble.  Of “informed,” “discerned,” biblical interpretations that way we can make rules.  Rules that will assure we don’t have sex with the wrong people, we don’t get drunk, we don’t step out of bounds with that weird Holy Spirit, we don’t “disorder” the worship services, and NEVER question Church authority.  If we could only make those rules God will always be happy with us and we will all go to heaven, and all the people who don’t, can go to hell. J

This hasn't ever happened before...really...

"Look I know you're pissed Mo, try not to drop this set.." 

"Now see here kids, we've narrowed down those 10 commands to 613 rules!"

"Please read through our brief doctrinal statement"

We don’t need a god when we have a rule book.  Like Israelites, because they were afraid to die, sent Moses to deal with the Darkness and the Cloud on Mount Sinai. (See Exodus 20.)  They were afraid, and so they asked for:


Rules are God at arm’s length, they maybe the truth but there is no love.  They are instruments reduced to clanging and crashing, because the love that makes them beautiful is nowhere to be found. (See Corintians 13)

And why isn’t He anywhere to be found?

I think, in part, it's why Jesus spoke in parables. (Mark 4:11-12)

Because the truth is always to be revealed in love.  In relationship to the God, not to get close to him, but to be made visible when he comes better and better into view.  Without love, giving your coat—walking the extra mile—the beautiful remembrance of Christ's death in communion is nothing but a rule and a curse.

We long for our creator,
to trust, but learning to trust is scary. 

We are afraid.

And so I conclude:  while we want to want the deep darkness.  The thunder and lightning, the mountain top with the omnipotent, is far too scary.  We must trust in the darkness of God, or be left as fools making rules on the things we claim our eyes can see in spite of the darkness.  We are blind and in need someone to lead us, yet that trust is almost more terrifying than groveling in our own incapacity.

"Jesus loves me this I know..."--sung no one in that crowd.

I sit in a crowd of supposedly intellectual, relevant the culture, young and energetic, thinkers, to hear someone say, “that sounds almost like Grace covers everyone's sin, but we KNOW this can’t be true…so what else could it mean?”  I sit.  I watch. My heart breaks.