Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

S.A.G.E. pt. 1

This will need to be a short post, but I wanted to get this down in writing in order to commit more to it in the the coming days. The convergence of several events have me thinking about the forces that have shaped me, and what it is that contributes to my theology and perspective. While here in Colorado, teaching at a Bible School, I'm aware of how powerfully I've been shaped by Sanctification theology of the Torchbearer Missionary Fellowship. If you're ever interested in reading a book that describes the life of this community, I'd suggest you look here. The life transforming truth that we are called to enter the "rest of faith" by daily relinquishing our own agenda and living in the confidence that Christ is expressing His life through us, has been key. This understanding of growth has given me access to confidence, joy, and purpose that had remained inaccessible to me throughout the faith of my childhood. I will forever be grateful for this central truth, so centrally shared among the Torchbearer family around the world, and so critical, I believe, to their ongoing fruitfulness in ministry.

And, I'm equally grateful for the slowly dawning shift over the years from my strict dispensational theology, to what is commonly called Graduated Eschatology. This latter understanding has been shaped primarily through the writings of NT Wright, a teacher and author who has spoken in Seattle. The notion that the kingdom of God, though not yet here in it's fullness, is nevertheless here in it's seminal forms, completely changed my outlook. No longer simply waiting for the reign of God to come with Christ's return, we have the privilege of presently living as people who embody that reign by painting the colors of hope on the canvass of our hurting world, in the name of the King who shall one day reign fully.

Santifcation And Graduate Eschatology. I'm increasingly convinced that holding these two elements together is necessary for both individual Christians and the church to walk in the callings God has for us. But, like dieting, theology seems trendy. Back in the day, high carbs and low fat were deemed the way to go. Now carbs are the devil, and it's all about the right fats, at least in some circles. What happened? The real value or non-value of foods didn't change - we just changed the way we viewed them. But we tend to react, throwing out one thing as we embrace another, as we move from a rice and celery diet to bacon, eggs, and steak.

I'm convinced the same thing happens theologically, and that's why I don't know many GE folks who hold to the old school notions of santification, interior holiness, and our moment by moment need for Christ. But maybe we need some brown rice AND a little more protein? Maybe we need to be less reactionary and more willing to embrace what nourishes us... body AND spirit.

I'd like to unpack each of these pieces more thoroughly next week, but for now just note the importance of never sacrificing interior holiness for exterior kingdom work, OR vice versa. The only way any of it seems to work for me is by being both/and


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