Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Those of us who practice the ancient faith do strange things like: process while carrying the Bible, banners, and crosses; we light candles, & use large amounts of incense; our clergy & altar servers dress as if they were already in the heavens. And if all of this were not strange enough, we say words that were written thousands of years ago, & we sing songs that span the 2000 (to 3500) year history of the church. And we even celebrate days on a calendar that no one in our country seems to know anything about.
We obviously belong to another rhythm of time. Our worship exposes to the watching world that we are aliens. To the outside observer, this kind of experience can be very appealing or very mystifying. In either case, it is obvious to all our worship has within it many layers of meaning. Meaning which is not easily apprehended by the biblically illiterate. Historic worship requires a new mind, heart, and soul, one shaped by another world, a spiritual world where God gives himself to us. For the reason we above all people should be eager to share our spiritual culture with all who will listen.
Consequently, it is imperative that churches that practice the ancient way of worship invest deeply in the training of their people. The mission work for historic churches (& thus the churches of the future) must focus on exposing the uninitiated to that other world that we know by every means possible: we must teach the bible, the Fathers, the councils, the songs, the prayers, the iconography, & the great books. It is by passing down the one faith in its fullness (no subtractions) that the Spirit begins to have his way with us. Historic churches are not to be museums, but rahter living and active, always at work in the molding of persons into the image of the Son of God.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
It is inarguable that the contemporary western culture in which we live is in a spiritual tailspin. Some have labeled our era “the Post-Christian era,” others “the Post-Modern Era.” In any case, we are post, or past that which came just a few decades ago. I would assert that we are in a “The Post-Modernistic Christian Era.”
What I mean by a "Post Modernistic Christian era" is that we live in an age wherein the masses have analyzed & rejected the precepts & practices of the particular brand of Christianity that has given shape to the western mind. Unfortunately, that also means that most persons assume that they know Christianity in toto, & found it lacking.
Consequently, the western church is in deep turmoil. It is undeniable that western Christianity is experiencing a shrinking membership, & a diminishing redemptive effect on our culture; this reality stresses the fact that we cannot remain in this state.
All agree that "status quo" is not an option if we desire to survive in this new world. If we in the western church are to successfully plot a track towards the future, it is imperative that we understand how Christianity arrived at its present place. This also means that we must ask what exactly has been rejected by the masses, & why?
1- The vain God who desires nothing more than his honor.
2- The angry, yet loving God.
3- The simplistic explanations of creation, why evil exists, and right & wrong.
4- The sure versions of truth based on one individual’s view of reality.
The above rejections are completely justified, I say this because the earliest expressions of Christianity did not hold to any of those four precepts. Nevertheless, some version of these precepts listed above are alive & well in most expressions of western Christianity. It seems fitting therefore to state that one can be a Christian & yet not hold to the above objections. Moreover, it may even be said that in order for Christianity is to survive in the west, we must recover the purer Christianity that was free from these modernistic additions.
I suggest we begin by considering how & when we adopted the above points of view above as central tenets of our faith. In other words, we must figure out how these tenets got into the faith & then ask ourselves what existed prior to their entrance. What was the earlier & purer way? If there has ever been a better/purer way, then we should not only be familiar with that way, but also consider using that way as the pattern for the future.