Friday, May 20, 2005

Further Discussion on the 20th Century Two-step and The Urgent Need of the Church

I will certainly attempt to elaborate on this phenomenon of the twentieth century two-step over the weekend as I prepare for my sermon this Sunday on the Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount, BUT, in response to a few comments, I would like to say the following:

I am not, for a second, blaming dispensationalism. I use this as an extreme example of actually making theology that justifies a lack of liberation. Paul in Romans 7 discusses the same problem of a person thinking simple knowing and presenting (Romans 6) works to find liberation from sin. But Paul says the reality is that if we just know and present without learning the basic principles of Romans 8, on-going confession and serious maintenance of our intimacy with God, then we end up back in the old misery. If I am stuck in Romans 7 then I need to realize my need for a Spirit-led program of some simple practices of relationship and community based discipleship. Instead, many Christians actually think Romans 7 is our inheritance. The need is not for a new theology BUT instead we who are liberated and walking in a program that liberates out of Romans 7 into the kingdom life, we need to go find other beggars and teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded. The need is for a discipleship program that leads people into every aspect of the life of Christ. This current need is the point of thesis #5 and the preceding theses 1-4. We do not need better theology but simple practical discipleship.

The second issue is that "but we are not all alcoholics". I use a lot of AA but that is just again to make examples that illustrate a simple path to liberation. The biblical example I am using is Paul in Romans 7 and Paul's habitual sin wasn't some life debilitating addiction. Paul's problem was covetousness. Paul found himself resenting other people possessions and power. Paul found that that old Pharisee could come back if he didn't stay in the solution of Romans 8. Therefore, Paul left the legalistic path of his religious training and found a righteousness that came straight from heaven through faith and the power of the Spirit. But the key is that this extreme make-over that Paul teaches isn't just believe and preach. Paul finds that those who believe need again to learn the basics of Romans 8, which I am elaborating as a Spirit empowered community based discipleship program as opposed to the two-stepping methods we have in the 20th century. The two stepping program is to understand Romans 4-7 and totally get lost as to what Romans 8 is about. The reason for this confusion is because the 20th Century taught us about decisions and the autonomous individual to such a great extent that we only really have a grid for Romans 6 (knowing and presenting) but just knowing and presenting doesn't work.

Jesus took the disciples to the Mount for an explanation of the discipleship program that would equip them to enter every aspect of His life. The wonderful truth, the great liberating truth, is that Jesus actually made these men look like Him. These guys entered into every aspect of the life of Jesus, and this simple kingdom walk is available to all of us. All we need to learn is a Spirituality founded on our powerlessness and helplessness (the beatitudes), a simple but ruthless grid to take constant inventory of our hearts (Matt 5) and a radical orientation toward God and the world which guarantees our abiding renewal and maintains our intimacy with God (Matt 6). Having been equipped with these extreme but simple measures, the church will find again the keys to the kingdom and will become again a light that cannot be hidden. If we again return to the basics of community and relationship-based discipleship, the church will be rebuilt and restored to its former glory.

God Bless,

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