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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer

Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

7 “Christian” Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible by Jonathan Fisk

This is the fourth in a series of articles expounding on the quotes from the book 7 “Christian” Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible, by Jonathan Fisk. As you read the quotes, honestly think about the answers to the following questions: Does this “belief” remind you of anything (denomination, preacher, philosophy) in our world today? Have you ever had this “belief”?

“Revivalism: A philosophical movement arising in eighteenth- and nineteenth century Protestantism that believed an increase in spiritual interest and renewed life could be achieved in all churches through the introduction of so-called ‘new measures.’” “Restorationism: A nineteenth-century movement of Christians who sought to bring back, or ‘restore,’ the Church of Jesus Christ, which they believed had ceased to exist. Instead of ending denominationalism (as they had hoped), they only further splintered the American spiritual landscape, giving rise to such new denominations as the Plymouth Brethren (1827) and the Disciples of Christ (1849).” The Threefold Path to a Failed Church: The Idolatry of Oder, thinking that the right church structure will solve the declining church. The Idolatry of Worship, thinking that the right recipe for the way we worship will solve the declining church. The Idolatry of the Leader, thinking the right charismatic leader will solve the declining church. The problem with all these solutions is that the focus is on the wrong thing, in the wrong place, on the wrong person. The idol of spirituality is religion, to think that you can find God in the churches.

Some of the thinking that went into Revivalism and Restorationism can be seen in the so called Church Growth Movement and the new version the Missional Movement. One of the underlining ideas of these movements is that church “success,” usually meaning numbers of people or prosperity can be achieved apart from the very means God has given His Church to “succeed.” Of course, God never uses the word “succeed” when speaking about His Church, rather He gives us His Word and Sacraments as the means through which He grows His Church and His Church grows, not necessarily numerically, but in faith, in nurture and in admonition of the Lord. As a matter of fact our Lord even reminds us that as the end days approach the visible church will struggle.

Studies confirm that neither the polity of the church (the governing orders), nor the type of worship (tradition, blended, contemporary), nor the charisma of the leader are what achieve “growth” and “success” in the church. The question should be asked, “How does the Church grow?” and the answer is, “God makes the Church grow.” God grows His Church and He does so through the very means He has given to grow His Church, the means of grace, thus where the means of grace are eliminated, so is the ability for the church to thrive.

When we point to ourselves and our own reason and strength, our own imagination and ideas, we end up with false hope. As always we get it right when we are pointed back to the sure and certain source of hope and salvation, the very Word of God.

“Freedom: The belief that God’s will for you is that you choose your will for yourself, that His strongest presence is found in His absence, that His only law is that you become a law unto yourself. Freedom, then, is nothing more than worship of lawlessness.” “Freedom’s lie: You can’t really find God.” The idol of lawlessness is freedom, that you can find God in God’s absence.

“I don’t believe in organized religion.” Nice out we might think, although my usual response is that we are not really that organized. “I worship God in nature.” So, is that a worship of the creation rather than the Creator? Truly any excuse is a good excuse, yet that is what most excuses are, simply excuses.

God loves us and He has shown His love in His Son. God speaks this love to us through His very Word, the Bible. And in His Word He tells us not to cease meeting together, for our own benefit and for the benefit of others. Indeed, He has given us His Word as well as His Sacraments as means through which He promises to pour out on us all His good gifts and blessings. The antithesis of making regular and diligent use of the means of grace, and being where those means are distributed, is to refrain from Divine Service and Bible Class, thus refusing and rejecting the gifts God has to give, and ultimately putting our very souls in eternal peril.

As we have been saying over and over, we get it right when we are pointed back to the sure and certain source of salvation, the very Word of God.

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