Thursday, September 08, 2005
Is faith foundational or dynamic?
In his book, Doug Pagitt says....
"Are we above such a call to be willing to rethink what we blieve to be right and true when faced with the greater truth of God?" (p.59)
One of things that this book has gotten me thinking about whether we view faith as a static thing or as a dynamic thing. Let me explain.
This weekend I was at a church retreat on worship. And, I was one of the few token persons under 40 from our church that was there (half were given babysitting duties). And the speaker (Brad Berglund) talked about some basic qualities that are important for worship, and then experienced and discussed Taize worship and some of the things that are happening with the emergent church movement and postmodern culture. As he shared, people kept saying...where is the STANDARD? If you change how we do worship, aren't we getting away from the core of what our Christian faith is all about? These more contemporary churches are more about hanging out with their friends and eating bagels than the Bible.
I think this struggle of feeling that other worship forms and styles will "water down the faith" stems from a deeper theological struggle. I believe a lot of people think of the Christian faith as something that is static. Jesus set down the ideal and our job is to return and get back to that standard or ideal as much as possible. Some even try to adopt the cultural customs of the ancient near east to do this. Or they look back to a reformation as the unchanging measuring point of the Christian movement. And they say that we should live up to that standard. But Jesus said "I will send the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth..." and "you (plural you I believe) will do greater things than I have done." The strange thing is, I believe that if we tried to live our faith exactly the way the early church did, we would be unfaithful to the gospel call of Jesus on our lives.
Even in the early church, the church was moving forward. The Holy Spirit was coming on people in ACTS 2, and they were speaking in strange languages. God was calling Peter to bring the gospel to non-Jews (as Pagitt points out in his chapter on Cornelius). People were deciding that circumcision was unnecessary for people who followed Jesus. Paul was saying to people less than a generation "I say this not the Lord" in part because the Jesus movement was a explosive, dynamic movement that was forward looking and dealing with issues that Jesus never anticipated. I believe that God's Word gives us some ethical boundaries, and I believe it also gives us some clear truths about God and his will for our lives. But the narrative of Scripture encourages also to look forward, to look for new ways to communicate and express our faith. To struggle with new issues. To sing new songs. To be rewiring the connections of the Christian faith to be more accessable and authentic to a lost world. To be "pressing on toward...the call of Christ Jesus."
The standard is not the cultural form of the Reformation, or the early church even. The standard is the heart of Jesus. A heart for people to come into authentic relationship with their creator. A heart that calls us to love the world around us. A heart of compassion. A heart that is open to the ever moving, ever forward pushing spirit of God.