May 2009


[A guest post from Hunter Beaumont of the Resurgence Network]

“And” is the most theologically important Christian word. We can’t even describe God without it. He is Father and Son and Holy Spirit: three persons, one substance. The same goes for Jesus, fully God and fully man in one person.

Orthodoxy Requires “And”

Like a journeyman point guard, And forged the way to early Christian orthodoxy. The key to And’s genius? It held together things that are distinct but inseparable, neither confounding the persons (distinct), nor dividing the substance (inseparable). Most heretical blunders missed this. They either emphasized one thing to the exclusion of another or blended them into an unholy confusion. But And struck the perfect pitch. “So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet there are not three Gods but one God,” sings the Athanasian Creed.

The Church Requires “And”

In similar manner, And is essential to building a healthy church, one that makes true converts and growing disciples for Jesus. If we picture the gospel as the bridge between God and culture, then we have to ask, “What are the support pillars that hold the bridge up, making sure it doesn’t crack or collapse?” The support structure is not the gospel itself but is essential to ensuring that the gospel stays strong and vibrant—that people from culture cross the bridge to be with Jesus and that the church crosses to do life in culture. The support pillars always include And.

  • Contend and Contextualize. The purity of the gospel must be constantly fought for. And the gospel must preached in a way that connects with people in the world.
  • Scripture and Tradition. Scripture is our final authority on all matters; it has to be proclaimed, explained, and obeyed. And it has to be interpreted in a way that honors orthodoxy.
  • Doctrine and Life. The gospel requires faith in a certain body of teaching about God, Jesus, humanity, and the world. And our creed has to overflow into the stuff of everyday life.
  • Words and Deeds. Evangelism requires proclamation and explanation. And it needs to be buttressed by visible good works toward the world.
  • Personal Faith and Church. People must be called to an examined, personal conversion. And they must be integrated into an organized, visible church.
  • Purity and Grace. The gospel calls us to sanctification from sinful lifestyles and attitudes. And it gives us the power to change when we are weak, the forgiveness we need when we fall short.

Don’t Neglect “And”

History is littered with churches and movements that atrophied because they didn’t exercise both arms of And. Perhaps they met the need of a fleeting moment, correcting their parents’ biases, but once they grew up, they died of their own one-sidedness.

The same thing is happening in Evangelicalism. As we transition to post-Christian America, some are working out the neglected left arm while insisting that the right arm isn’t needed for today. Others are still flexing their one good bicep. But churches that lead a lasting resurgence will embrace the full scope of And.

[This is part of a larger series by Hunter Beaumont found at his blog at TheResurgence.com]

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I hope you guys have been keeping up with these “love dares”.  This dare marks the end of our first week, and I want to encourage you to share your thoughts about how things are going.  Are you seeing a loving response from your wife?  Is she curious about why you are doing these nice things?  Let’s keep this our own little secret.

For today’s dare, get two sheets of paper. On the first one, spend a few minutes writing out positive things about your spouse. Then do the same with negative things on the second sheet. Place both sheets in a secret place for another day. There is a different purpose and plan for each. At some point during the remainder of the day, pick a positive attribute from the first list and thank your spouse for having this characteristic.

Today’s dare requires a pen & paper, and an open heart.

Choose today to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation. Begin by making a list of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. Then list any wrong motivations that you need to release from your life.

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

—Proverbs 16:32

So you’re bored and surfing the web.  As long as you have served your wife faithfully today, I would suggest one interesting web site to visit.  It’s called www.coolthingsinrandomplaces.com.

You could show it to your wife, if you like.

How about some comments?

What are the polling results so far on location for men’s retreat?

The mountains have a 2-to-1 advantage, with a total of three votes cast.

Ask your spouse to tell you three things that cause him or her to be uncomfortable or irritated with you. You must do so without attacking them or justifying your behavior. This is from their perspective only.

He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him.
—Proverbs 27:14

[A post from John Piper’s blog]

In the Religious Affections Jonathan Edwards ventures this explanation of why there is song and poetry.

And the duty of singing praises to God, seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned, why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections.

For this to have the weight it does for Edwards we need to remember that 1) “true religion consists very much in the affections,” and 2) there is no true Christian faith without the affections being awakened, and 3) God is most glorified when he is affecting us and not just known by us.

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