In the Mail, “The Church in Exile Living in Hope After Christendom” @ivpacademic

The people of God throughout history have been a people of exile and diaspora. Whether under the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks or Romans, the people chosen by God have had to learn how to be a holy people in alien lands and under foreign rule.

For much of its history, however, the Christian church lived with the sense of being at home in the world, with considerable influence and power. That age of Christendom is now over, and as Lee Beach demonstrates, this is something for which the church should be grateful. The “peace” of Christendom was a false one, and there is no comfortable normalcy to which we can or should return.

Drawing on a close engagement with Old Testament and New Testament texts, The Church in Exile offers a biblical and practical theology for the church in a post-Christian age. Beach helps the people of God today to develop a hopeful and prophetic imagination, a theology responsive to its context, and an exilic identity marked by faithfulness to God’s mission in the world.

Read more here.

Quote of the day: Richard Heyduck on free will and infant baptism

One who practices the baptism of infants cannot logically claim the freedom of the will or individual autonomy as the deepest truth about us.


No clergy at Mt. Bethel #UMC should be paid, starting now.

umc logoGood News magazine is reporting that Mt. Bethel UMC is withholding their apportionments…

Its administrative council voted to place its apportioned funds in an escrow account until the Council of Bishops (COB) fulfills the requests made in the “Integrity and Unity Statement” published by over 120 leading pastors and theologians, and endorsed by nearly 8,500 clergy and laity across the UM connection. All bishops received a copy of the statement in July 2014 and it was formally presented to the council at its November 2014 meeting in Oklahoma City.

via Mt. Bethel UM Church Withholds Apportionments.

Guess what? According to the Book of Discipline they claim to uphold, none of their clergy should be receiving a paycheck.

¶ 639.4. Proportional Payment—The board shall compare the records of the amounts paid by each pastoral charge for the support of pastors and for pension and benefit programs, computing the proportional distribution thereof and keeping a permanent record of defaults of the churches of the conference that have failed to observe the following provisions pertaining to proportional payment, and shall render annually to each church that is in default a statement of the amounts in default for that and preceding years.

  • a) When the apportionment to the pastoral charges for the pension and benefit program of the annual conference has been determined, payments made thereon by each pastoral charge shall be exactly proportionate to payments made on the salary or salaries of the ordained minister or clergy serving it.

¶ 818.3. Proportionality—The amount apportioned to a charge for the Episcopal Fund shall be paid in the same proportion as the charge pays its pastor (see also ¶ 622).

By the way, this is the same UMC church who attempted to do this before. Randy Mickler, the pastor at Mt. Bethel UMC is not known for being an overly…non-hyperbolic person.

Note, they are attempting to force the CoB to adopt a resolution from an outside group that is from outside the General Conference. The General Conference, and only the General Conference, speaks for the Church — not a petition.

If Mickler and Mt. Bethel UMC are truly dedicated to the Book of Discipline — and I hope they are — then I know they are no longer being paid.

Honest Church Expectations

Great Expectations (1999 film)
Great Expectations (1999 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is in the same mold of an ongoing discussion of why people leave congregations.

Some studies (studies… because we can make them say what we want) have shown that people want Churches to be honest. They want to know what “welcome” means. Guess what…

Churches aren’t always welcoming to everyone. Churches have expectations. Organizations have expectations. Units accepting new members have expectations. Then, those same members have expectations as well. Mainly, honesty.

In the end, seekers and searchers simply want the church down the street to be honest. No, we will not accept you if you choose to remain gay. No, we will not accept you if you choose to remain a wife-beater. No, we will not accept you if you choose to remain conservative, orthodox, liberal, a democrat, pro-life, pro-choice, emergent, etc… Yes, we have expectations that you will grow as spiritual beings; yes, we have expectations that you will “faithfully participate in its (i.e., the local congregation) ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness.” Even “progressive” churches have expectations of their members.

If you have no expectations, then this is actually an expectation. “We expect you to not expect anything from us and to remember we won’t expect anything from you.”

This is not a bad thing.

And, on the other hand, many people actually want the Church to be “the Church” (in other words, Church-y, however they define it).

Sam has a good point,

Because some churches are listening to this sort of cultural critique, it’s gotten ridiculous. Since some churches actually believe that they should not be churchy, they try to hide their spiritual donuts, if you know what I mean. Participants can attend, be fairly comfortable and entertained, without being confronted with too many spiritual matters. Then, right at the end, a little “Jesus” is slipped in.

If you are looking for a church, congregation, or small group — don’t you want it to be honest with you and not change to attract you? Are you looking for a church or an extension of yourself?

By the way, at no point should the expectation from the congregant to the congregation be that it (i.e., the denomination) does not change. Change is not dishonest. Hiding or refusing to be something you are is dishonest. 

Glenn Beck: “Putin + Orthodoxy = False Prophet, One World Religion”

English: Cathedral of Christ the Saviour over ...
I wonder if Glenn Beck thinks this is a closeted Mosque? English: Cathedral of Christ the Saviour over Moscow River. Moscow ((Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Glenn Beck is a moron. He has taken his paranoia to a new level, attempting to claim Putin and the Orthodox Church is going to take over the world and force everyone to be converted. While

Evangelicals since the 50’s have suggest Russia is a herald of the “end times” Beck takes it further, much further than suggesting “social justice” is a hallmark of false religion. He actually suggesting that Orthodoxy is…evil.

A few statements in part 1. I do not need to do an analysis of just how (factually) wrong these statements are, do I?

  • It is critical that you understand this, because this is the root. We’ve got to take you back over 1,000 years to the split of the Roman empire. The government power structure was in Constantinople. The religious center remained in Rome. Constantinople was famous for its defense and large number of soldiers; culture was heavily influenced by the Greeks. … Gradually they move away from the Latin language, and they’re increasingly alienating themselves from western Rome and the pope.
  • With the majority of the soldiers in the east, the pope became vulnerable when a tribe called the Lombards attempted to take power. The soldiers in Constantinople couldn’t come to his defense in time. Desperate, the pope turned to somebody else — to Charlemagne. Charlemagne was king of the Frankish empire. He agreed to help the pope. He swoops down and crushes the Lombards. He liberates Rome, but in turn, also ended up uniting most of western Europe. Christmas day, year 800, Pope Leo III is sitting on his throne. He crowns Charlemagne emperor.
  • Do you notice the division of power in Charlemagne’s Europe and Cold War Europe is nearly identical? After Charlemagne’s death, his empire was split among his sons. France and Germany’s beginning stem from this moment, and from here on out, Rome is the spiritual center and Carolingian Christianity would dominate western Europe.
  • So how does Charlemagne and his rescuing of western Rome over a thousand years ago matter to anyone today? It’s all about values, or the stated values. I want you to look closely at what Putin values in his ‘new Russia.’ There has been a trend now of events that indicate Russia is attempting to be one of the highest-profile international defenders of global Orthodox Christianity.
  • Nevertheless, the pattern is now here. Putin himself was baptized in the Russian Orthodox church. He had a high-profile meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2002. He has made strong religious allies and is attempting to appeal to the Orthodox core of the country. “Why? Because he knows trouble is coming, and he’s got to cobble together an army.
  • And how does all of that tie to Putin’s recent actions in Crimea and Ukraine? According to Ukrainian historical accounts, the Apostle Andrew visited Crimea and Kiev. The cities have been woven throughout Russian history as significant religious sites, and when Vladimir the Great was baptized in Crimea in 988. Crimea became the Christian center of the east the way Rome is the Christian center of the west.
  • This fracture in history is critical to understand, because an ongoing dispute in the region is not about anything other than who is going to be the third Rome. Putin is appealing to the historic roots of the Russian people when he aligns himself with Russian orthodoxy…This should send a chill down the spine of every living human being on planet earth.
  • The Roman Catholic Church officially split from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Western Europe continued to look to Charlemagne and France as their protector and leader. Eastern Europe looked to Russia as their champion and preserver of the Eastern Orthodox tradition. That’s what’s happening. He is now saying that West and the Western Christianity has failed the world. We need to restart Eastern orthodoxy, and it will save the world.

Beck has gone on to post more of this delusional fantasies. In the second part, he connects Putin to radical Islamic fundamentalists through Aleksandr Dugin and an eight pointed star:

  • In fact, Dugin’s political symbol is the 8 pointed star….The 8 pointed star is an ancient pagan magic symbol for…chaos….This type of philosophy should sound very familiar to you if you know about twelver Islam. They believe the coming chaos will purify the world in blood bringing forth enlightenment and the 12th Imam. It’s no surprise that Putin’s Russia supports the Shia Twelver regime of Iran and their proxies Syria’s Assad and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Part 3 is not up, but I assume it is filled with the same Jack T. Chick Tract Philosophy of Informational Research and Communication Techniques.

If anyone knows a small amount of history of the Great Schism, of the Lombards, of the Russia Orthodox Church, they will see Beck is a complete and utter historical dilettante. But, beyond that, they must realize Beck is a paranoid loon who has moved from making Rome the bad guy to making Orthodoxy the evil empire threatening our Christianity and ‘Murica. What he doesn’t realize is the connection of Orthodoxy to the Russian people. This is not Putin’s doing, but something that preserved the Russian people against Hitler, against Stalin, and against the long night of the Soviet Union. More than that, it is the constant shaper of the Russian people and should not be dismissed as (and this is something Beck gets right, sort of) the DNA of the Russian people, including Putin.

Go, and read Ivan Ilyin. There is no grand conspiracy, only the continued discourse between the Russian people and History.


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