Saturday, April 12, 2008

Purifying the Church - an Alternative Approach

In these days when purifying wayward denominations and claiming a truly orthodox orthodoxy seems to be the driving force within some Christian circles, I am struck with how forcefully impure and unorthodox Jesus seemed to be.  Take, for example, a brief passage out of the early chapters in Matthew just after Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him.  He went about Galilee (of the Gentiles) preaching, and his fame spread throughout all Syria.  How about that for going in the wrong direction?  Then they brought to him all the sick, pained, diseased, demoniacs, epileptics and paralytics and he healed them.  Going in the wrong direction, being surrounded by the ritually unclean, and restoring to wholeness those who were “obviously” afflicted by virtue of their sin and God’s wrath.  To top it off, the crowds that began to follow him were first from Galilee and the pagan cities of the Decapolis, and then from Jerusalem and Judea.


Since all of that is very earthy, what about the idea of shedding all things “earthly” in order to be more “spiritual.”  Whatever else he has to say on the subject, Paul keeps coming back to a central point that is articulated quite well in Colossians.  To me, at least, the earthly things we are to get rid of are the very things we are most likely to cling to in the defense of purity and orthodoxy:  anger, wrath, malice, slander and foul talk.  Paul goes on to suggest that the conditions for our greater life as Christians are ones we are least likely to adopt because they are the most likely to threaten our purified orthodoxy: among us there can be no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ “is” all and “in” all.  Dang!  It looks like to follow Jesus and listen to Paul according to their ways of becoming a more pure and more orthodox Christian one has to wade more deeply into the earthly morass of the here and now.  To do that, Paul suggests adopting holy and spiritual ways of being characterized by compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, patience, forbearing of one another, forgiving of one another, and love, which binds everything together with the peace of Christ ruling in our hearts.  Sounds like you have to be a wimpy door mat who will just lie down and let anyone tromp all over you, right?


For crying out loud, this could ruin everything.  This sort of stuff just tosses out the window any chance of forcefully demanding a more orthodox church that strictly adheres to biblical moral standards, and it makes a mockery out of political efforts to reform America into the good and moral (white, Protestant) Christian nation that it once was.  No, we can’t go that way.  I think we need to come up with something else in order to bring true Christianity back into the world.  I’ll check with Akinola.  I’ll bet he has some good advice.  


1 comment:

Country Parson said...

My spouse objected to the Akinola reference as a cheap shot and would rather I not name names. Since I had three or four other names in mind as well, I thought I was rather reserved. In any case, I don't see it as a cheap shot. It's only a simple observation that, indeed, he has proposed other more pragmatic ways of being Christian in much the same way as Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor had another way