Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

Not Layers of Paperwork

Seasons on social media come and go a lot faster than the weather, which has it’s own benefit: if you don’t like what people are complaining about at the moment, just swipe left to see a new mob.

It’s been “The church as institution is bad” season, and I know some of you have braved the storm without even taking an umbrella. Even in Romans 16 we’ve read about churches meeting in houses; should Christians only meet in houses? Let me remind us all of two things.

First, institutions can be a blessing, even if they are regularly not, or grow up to have bad attitudes. But a dad with an attitude problem, who can’t submit to anyone else for longer than two months, who decides to have home-church for his family and a few friends, is not going to be the big blessing either. It’s easy to argue for church as Organism vs Organization, one or the other. But a virus is an organism too, and organizations win more wars than casual coffee shop conversations.

Second, the institution is not with whom you have to do (think Hebrews 4:13). No one is saved because of membership in an institution, and no one confesses his sin to the board or president. Each of us answer to the Lord (Romans 14:12).

For that matter, one thing we will answer to the Lord about is how we interacted with His Church. When Jesus said, “I will build my church,” I do NOT think He meant adding layers of paperwork. I also don’t think He meant, “Make sure there are never more than two or three gathered together in My name.“

Don’t hide among the numbers in an institution, don’t hide at home by having no one else to listen to.

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The End of Many Books

On the Church

by Abraham Kuyper

Many years ago I heard John Piper say that one of his seminary teachers had encouraged each student to choose a theologian and make that theologian his, as in, “consider the outcome of [his] way of life, and imitate [his] faith” (Hebrews 13:7). While I’ve appreciated almost all of Piper’s biographies on different men, Jonathan Edwards was obviously Piper’s choice.

I am a different man (Christian, husband, father, shepherd) because of God’s use of Edwards in my life; affections for the win. I also am abundantly thankful for John Calvin, and even named my only son after him. But when I really got down to making a choice, I decided to try to read all the things I could by Abraham Kuyper. Most days I try to pick up and plod through five minutes of whatever is my current Kuyper.

On the Church is one of the twelve volumes in his Collected Works in Public Theology. It’s a collection of various writings on the subject, and I had actually read some of the entries before (for example, Rooted and Grounded, which is fantastic, is its own booklet). It was really interesting to read Kuyper’s almost giddy enthusiasm for the state of the (Calvinistic) church in the United States, free from State encroachments and entanglements. This is, if it ever was as great as Kuyper describes, no longer the case.

Kuyper loved the Church/churches, pastored a few churches, started a new denomination of churches, and constantly worked to edify the churches whatever hat he was wearing at the moment. More than that, Kuyper loved the Head of the Church, and consistently points to Him.

Jesus Christ himself can be established as the binding agent of the fellowship of the church. He in fact must be the lively center of the whole organism of the church; he is like the hub of the wheel, by whose rotations and circular motions the entire effort of the church receives its impulse and is moved. He is that splendid sun, whose shining radiance glitteringly illuminates the whole church body, by whose glowing heat the heart of the whole church is warmed and inflamed.

4 of 5 stars

Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

Built of Very Different Stone

Abraham Kuyper on the chosen and precious foundation of our churches:

Your church is then a colony of heaven living on the earth. It has its own autonomous existence, resting on its own foundation; it is constructed in its own unique style; it is built of very different stone than those offered by the mines of the world; and in its state and organization it depends not on the laws of nature, nor on the legislation of earthly lawmakers, but only on the law of life of its divine founder.

On the Church, p. 323, emphasis added; think also of 1 Peter 2:4-5
Categories
The End of Many Books

Joy for the World

by Greg Forster

2018 – Reread this and talked through it with the men’s group at our church. Forster is not Kuyper, and I think he’s more happy about that than I am, but it still provoked a lot of good discussion about how Christians can influence our neighbors with more joyful living and labor.

2017 – I don’t share Forster’s view on the Christian-or-not founding of the United States, nor do I share his view on a variety of other specifics in the book, but I definitely share his enthusiasm for “awakening from the dogmatic slumbers of fundamentalism” and very much enjoyed sharing the “victory feast of [his] liberation” from dualism (page 16). I would recommend this for anyone trying to add a little more Kuyperian into his worldview who doesn’t necessarily want to read about, or by, Kuyper himself.

4 of 5 stars

Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

The Trojan Rabbit Church

This is good:

“The approach of today’s attractional church is like the Trojan Rabbit of Monty Python‘s Arthurian nincompoops–smuggled inside the castle walls with nobody inside.”

Categories
Lord's Day Liturgy

On Not Being a YAC

I’ve heard it said that if you want to memorize another person’s name, try to say it three times the first time you meet them. That exercise certainly won’t hurt, since the more we work a muscle the stronger it gets, including the brain. I really like a phrase that one of our elders uses frequently, but I was having trouble remembering it. We talked about it again at a leaders meeting last Saturday, and I’m going to talk about it now to burn it in my brain.

For over six years Jim has both asked how we can avoid becoming, and has passionately proclaimed that he did not want us to become, a Y.A.C.: yet another church. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean that our local body should seek to be preeminent over every other local body, nor does it mean that we just think we are better than all the other churches. In one way, we want to be just another church making angelic beings wonder at the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10) as God in Christ by the Spirit has built up many local bodies over the generations. We’re not trying to innovate the gospel, we’re trying to be faithful to it.

But we do not want to be yet another church by maintaining the status quo in terms of our discipleship and image-bearing. We do not want to be yet another church where attendees punch their Sunday morning service card and show little transformation in their lives.

In our discussion on Saturday Jim also asked how we can avoid becoming a Y.A.C., and Ryan answered that, among a few things, we must confess our sins. We must not get comfortable with our sins. We must be willingly convicted by the Word and Spirit, we must be humble to acknowledge our disobedience, and then we must turn away from our sin, not just those of the culture or country or superficial Evangelical churches.

Are you bitter? Are you envious? Are you gossiping? Are you self-righteous? Are you unthankful? Are you tolerating impatience or anger? We may not change Marysville by our confession, but we will not change Marysville without being changed ourselves.

Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

One Thought

God’s entire counsel may be reduced to one thought, that in the end of the ages He may have a Church which shall understand His love and return it.

–Abrahm Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit, quoted in, For the Healing of the Nations: Essays on Creation, Redemption, and Neo-Calvinism

Categories
The End of Many Books

Rooted and Grounded

by Abraham Kuyper

Kuyper’s inaugural message upon his installation as pastor at the Reformed Church in Amsterdam. It is the sort of sermon that raises the hackles of some and the hopes of others. A profitable meditation on the church as both living body and constructed building.

4 of 5 stars

Categories
A Shot of Encouragement

Wearing Out Hammers

It is the part of the Church to suffer rather than to strike, but it is an anvil that has worn out a good many hammers.

—John Brown, John Bunyan—His Life, Times and Work, 196, in reference to Buynan’s submission to the state.

Categories
He Will Build His Church

Closed for Business

The Graduate makes an excellent case that the church is a body, not a business. My favorite paragraph:

It seems that if someone sees a weakness in the body, he treats it like a messed-up fast food order. He is displeased and complains to those around him. He may just deal with it for a while, but if it happens week after week, then he decides to leave and never come back. He may leave without talking to anyone, but he may also ask to see the manager to give his two cents about how he thinks it should be done and then storms out.