Simultaneous Ecclesiology Dispensations

I am not seeking after novelty or trying to impress, I simply have an idea for you to think about and I would love to hear your thoughts.

I find that many Christians struggle with other Christian traditions that are different from theirs. Yes, this is a pejorative type discussion, we we have all meet people like this. You know, the Baptist that thinks lesser of the Methodist because the sprinkle instead of immersion. The Bible Church’er who with great confidence just knows the Assemblynara_visa_rc_churchof God and Pentecostals are so off on their healing and prophecy beliefs. Or the Charismatic who believes all those churches with boring music and passive worship services just are not filled with the Spirit. No matter the tradition, they all seem to look on at other traditions with an “us – them” mentality. (FYI, I have personally heard every one of these from different people)

So here is my question? What if God is working with all these traditions simultaneously in time and allowing all these differences to co-exist at one time and it all still be considered to be “Truth.”

Now, please know I don’t have so much as a good biblical argument for this idea it is simply something I connected in my own head. No doubt there is work to do to discover this concept to be within God’s revelation, but for now I am just putting the idea out there.

The idea started with thinking about dispensationalism. On aspect of dispensationalism is that God has related to human beings in different ways at different times known as dispensations or periods in history. This is a linear view of how God has interacted with people in different ways. So, in the past, were not the ways God was dealing with his people different from other times? Did God change? No, he simply changed what he was doing. Thus, if God can do this in a linear fashion, why can’t he also do this in multiple ways at the same time…hence simultaneously expressing himself through multiple traditions that do not agree in every area of doctrine but still remaining all truth.

Now, before i go much further, let me assure you that all traditions that are Christian adhere to the core orthodox beliefs of the faith that have been passed down throughout Church history. I am not talking about God changing to this extent. Core beliefs such as, The nature of God as Triune, The Person and Work of Christ as both God and Man, Salvation by Grace through Faith, and the Nature and Effects on Sin. Even within these there is some disagreement within term meanings and how things work.

Now that we have that out of the way, back Mount_Mary_Church_(Bombay)to the point of this post. Perhaps God is so great and so big that he can work through his people through many different expressions and allow for what seems to be multiple disagreeing truths within those traditions and maybe that’s okay. Maybe we should view other traditions that are not like ours and see them as our brother and sister in Christ. Yes, they may not worship like you, Yes, they may not do the Lord’s supper and Baptism the way you do. Yes, their emotions to their loving creator may not look like your emotions. However, we are all unified in the things that matter most and perhaps the idea of Simultaneous Ecclesiology Dispensations can help us to frame what a beautiful picture that God has created in this Church Age.

One more additional thought: I actually thought about drawing the distinction as Macro Dispensationalism and Micro Dispensationalism. That might help some people to picture what I am talking about. However, the idea of Micro didn’t really capture the time aspect of this idea.

Advertisements

Serve it Up

We have all either had or heard the question: How do I grow in my faith?

grow_logo

All my Christian life, I have heard a fairly consistent answer to this questions. If you want to grow in your faith, read you bible, pray, and go to church. I believe these are correct, good, and should be encouraged, but I believe this answer to be incomplete.

Over the past few months, I have been wondering if Jesus himself followed this trifold solution (of course, not that Jesus had any problems…he was perfect). I would like to set out a survey of the Gospel of Mark that looks at the story and attempts to categorize everything with three actions:

Personal Bible Study, Prayer Time, Serving Others.

These terms need to be defined. Personal bible study would be Jesus alone with his bible reading away (my intention is not to discuss what bible Jesus read, that is a whole other discussion). Prayer time would be Jesus going alone to a place to pray. Serving others would be Jesus investing time, energy, and talents to the betterment of others lives. Serving may look like teaching others, healing others, feeding others, etc.

Here is my survey of 8 chapters of Mark in light of this discussion:

Passage                              Basic Description                            Category

1:1-8 John the Baptist prepares the way Serving
1:9-13 Jesus Baptized and Jesus Tempted Praying
1:14-20 Calling of the first Disciple Serving
1:21-28 Jesus drives out and evil spirit Serving
1:29-34 Jesus Heals Many Serving
1:35-39 Praying in a solitary place Praying
1:40-45 Jesus heals a man with leprosy Serving
2:1-12 Jesus heals a paralytic Serving
2:13-17 Calling of Levi Serving
2:18-22 Jesus answers questions about fasting Serving
2:23-3:6 Teaching about the Sabbath Serving
3:7-12 Crowds Follow Jesus/He heals many Serving
3:13-19 Jesus Appoints the 12 Apostles Historical Description
3:20-30 Jesus and Beelzebub Serving
3:31-35 Jesus identifies his spiritual family Serving
4:1-34 A string of parables: sower, lamp, growing seed, mustard seed Serving
4:35-41 Jesus Calms the storm Serving
5:1-20 Healing of a demon possessed man Serving
5:21-43 Dead Girl and a sick woman Serving
6:1-6 Teaches and miracles in hometown Serving
6:6b-13 Jesus send out the 12 and the preach and heal Serving
6:14-29 John the Baptist Beheaded Historical Description
6:30-44 Jesus feeds 5,000 Serving
6:45-59 Jesus walks on water Serving
7:1-23 Teaching on Clean and Unclean Serving
7:24-30 The Faith of a Woman Serving
7:31-37 The Healing of a deaf and mute man Serving
8:1-13 Jesus feeds 4,000 Serving
8:14-21 Jesus teaches about the Pharisee Serving
8:22-26 Jesus heals a blind man Serving
8:27-30 Jesus teaches who he is through Peter’s confession Serving
8:31-9:1 Jesus predicts his death Serving

Serve-Banner

Through 8 chapters, we have 2 historical descriptions, 2 occurrences of praying, 0 occurrences or personal bible time, and 28 occurrences of serving others. What can we learn from looking at Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospel of Mark? We learn that by far Jesus spent a great amount of time serving and investing in the lives around us. Next time someone asks you, “What can I do to grow in my faith?” or you yourself are wondering what you can do to grow in your faith…by all means read your bible, pray, go to church, but please do no neglect the reality that we are most like Christ when we serve others.

Soul Winning or Person Winning?

If you are like me, you have heard there words many times, “We need to be soul winners.” Even inquisitively, people ask, “Are you a soul winner?” (As if to say I am a better “soul winner” than you but this is not the place to touch on this elitism). As best as I can tell, what people mean by this is that Christians should be about the business of proclaiming the gospel (Good News!) to the lost. It is an exhortation to Christians to spread the good news of Jesus Christ as part of God’s plan in saving, rescuing, and redeeming his people.

While reflecting on this idea of being a soul winner, I am not sure I would be a soul winner. I am not sure Paul or even Jesus would call themselves “a soul winner.” You see, we are much more than a soul, we are also a body. If God only saves the soul than my body is lost and thus a part of me is not fully saved in the end. I believe God is in the business of saving the whole person, not just the soul. I know the intention of the “soul winner” person is not to deny the body or even the resurrection, but we should strive to be correct in our doctrine and steer far away from any notion of dualism. (Dualism in this sense means an emphasis in the immaterial, such as the soul, and an underemphasis in the material, such as the body).

To emphasize the winning of the soul is to undermine the resurrection, which is the Christian hope, redemption of all things. Consider Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians. “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and  your faith is in vain.” 15:12-14 Paul certainly believed the resurrection was important to a Christian worldview.

By emphasizing “soul winning” is very much like saying there is no resurrection or at least that the resurrection is not important.  As Paul shows us, if resurrection is not apart of our Christ centered lives, then is seems that our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain. We must change our evangelism philosophy from being “soul winning” to be whole person winning. God is interested is saving both soul and body and so should we.

Perhaps our evangelism mentality should be much like Jesus’. Jesus said, ““I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Raptured with Encouragement

RAPTURE, RAPTURE, RAPTURE, was the echoing headlines on September 17th 2011. Harold Camping had predicted that the rapture would occur on such a date. However this was not to be the case and Christianity took one more step towards lunacy in the eyes of the world. Nonetheless, I took the time to refresh myself on the passage in First Thessalonians and noticed something I had never seen before. First, let’s recap the text:

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” – 1 Thess. 4:13-18

Of all the things that could stand out in this text, the final verse caught my attention. Paul makes a concluding exhortation by commending the believers in Thessolonica to “encourage one another.” What is the content of this encouragement, “with these words.” I see two propper uses of the rapture as opposed to the abuse of such teaching.

1. The rapture is to be encouraging. How often do we use the rapture as a scare tactic. This was done ever so well with the “Left Behind” series. This may not necessarily be wrong, but the text at hand teaches us that we are to encourage one another with this promise of salvation by Christ. Let’s not scare people with the rapture, let’s instead encourage one another with such a marvelous rescue opperation by our Lord.

2. Not only is the rapture encouraging, but it is for believers. I believe Paul is being very direct with this teaching in that we are to encourage “one another.” This is an in-house subject, but the rapture has found constant use with evangelism and sharing the gospel. I am not so sure that the rapture is the best way of presenting the gospel, much like a long conversation on predestination, varying justification views, and the sacraments.

Thus, although the rapture did not occur, it did cause me to see who the teaching of the rapture should be for, us the Church, and how the teaching should be used, that is for encouragement. Be encouraged Church, our Lord has not abandoned us, but will soon return to rescue all of us.

A Homeless Man and Tacos

Busy and yet bored was the day I had work done on my car. Fortunately my mechanic is in a random industrial area of Garland, so I wasn’t too bored. The work on the car was slated to be 6 hours, so I walked to the nearest fast food restaurants to spend the day. I spent a few hours at Wendy’s and a few hours at Braums, reading and writing. Before I knew it, it was lunch time.

As I began my trek to find a place to eat, a homeless man crossed my path. I casually said hi and thought nothing of it. On down the road, I sat under a tree and began reading my bible for a few minutes when I saw the same homeless man asking for money from cars at the street light intersection. I thought, “I should help him out and offer to buy his lunch or at least give him some money.” But avoidance set in. You know that feeling. The thought of, “I REALLY don’t want to walk that direction. Perhaps I will wait and he will carry on down the road.” Isn’t it great how God supersedes our avoidance tactics.

Nevertheless, I was getting hungry, so I walked to the Taco Cabana, of course I walked across the street and not the crosswalk that would have placed me right in front of the homeless gentlemen. I got my lunch and sat down to eat. ENTER GOD! As I ate, that same man asking for money sat down at the table next to me (without food). Well, this was obvious so I offered to buy him some tacos and we had lunch together.

I learned a great deal about Jim. He was not fond of Churches or Christians or the book I had been reading called, “The mission of God.” He said, “How could anyone know the mission of God?” Nevertheless, Jim is a very intelligent guy and I am glad that I got to have lunch with him while my car was in the shop.

Avoid the road of avoidance when you have compassion for others. It is great that God works with our stubbornness and unwillingness, but open obedience is better. I hope that you are encouraged to help those in need and if you are like me, be encouraged that God still works through our avoidance schemes.

The Genesis

Throughout my wonderful year and a half marriage to Kathryn, she has heard my various opinions, rantings, and jabber about various things. So finally, I am taking her up on the advice to get a blog. My intention with this blog is everything from reviews to music, books, and movies, to random ideas about theology history that continually pop up in my mind. Overall, I hope to encourage you the reader in your faith as you journey with God and the community of faith. Happy readings!