Thursday, October 6, 2016

"Whaddya got?"-- part 1

The Word for today:
Psalm 119:129-152
mark this: Psalm 119:139 --
My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words.
(Due to the length of this article, it will be published in two parts.)
Warning: The first part of the article will protest current church practices and is certain to offend. I, you, we must be awakened--rudely if necessary--to the insidious encroachment of traditions which stunt the growth and impact of God's church.
The love we proclaim for scripture demands more than the love we might have for a poem or a painting or a symphony. Love for scripture demands that we align our lives and our churches with its precepts. When Jesus Christ observed that the house of God had forsaken God's precepts, he made a whip of cords... 
But bear in mind that protesting against the wayward traditions of man, as Jesus Christ and Martin Luther did, is a far cry from the divisive grumbling we often hear in the church.
Jesus Christ cleansed the temple so that it would once again fulfill the purpose God intended. He acted according to scripture, in order to repair the house of the LORD.
Mere grumbling against Sally, Sue, Tommy, and Tim (as an appetizer before we dig in to the main course--roast preacher) is seldom according to scripture, and results in a house divided--which, scripture tells us, will fall. (Mark 3:25)
Unless our protestant voices are according to scripture, we do well to zip it. There is a vast difference between a rebel with a cause and a griper with an ax to grind.
I'm a protestant. Not the denominational kind with a big 'P," but the personal kind with a small 'p.' I'm a protestant because I protest.
And because fair is fair, I try to be equally offensive to everybody--in the proud tradition of Johnny, the classic Marlon Brando movie character (1)--
--"Hey Johnny, what are you rebelling against?"
--"Whaddya got?"
I know some Catholics who are protestants. Martin Luther was a Catholic protestant. So my kind of protestant is nondenominational.
Speaking of denominations, I think they're all silly, or worse. I don't see them in the New Testament model of the church. New Testament churches were identified by geographical locale, not by differences in doctrine or practice.
More than anything else, today's denominations remind me of the Pharisees, the Herodians, the Zealots, and the Sadducees.
Like the Pharisees, Herodians, Zealots, and Sadducees, I'm not sure that most of our denominations would know Jesus if he were standing right in front of them.
What else ya got? Let's tackle seminaries. They're probably well-meaning, but my $14.95 Bible-only education has trained me in the faith beyond any seminary you can pay for. My Bible even says so--right here in Psalm 119, and over in the New Testament as well:
I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. (Psalm 119:99)
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Like denominations, seminaries didn't make it into my New Testament--except for the Apostle Paul's seminary of sorts, which he later "counted as rubbish." (2) That's because church leadership (in scripture) is organized according to spiritual gifts, not diplomas:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Alright, those were some big subjects. How about some smaller departures from scripture's pattern? Let's see...
I've got it. Women's and Men's Sunday school classes are a pet peeve of mine. Sunday school classes are supposed to be about Jesus--who, when he held a class, taught men, women, and children together:
So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained. Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children. 
(Matthew 14:20-21)
The context of gender specific classes sends the subtle message that Sunday school is more about who we are than who Jesus is. If not, why segregate? What important thing about Jesus needs to be delivered in a gender-specific context? I've asked that question many a time. I'm still waiting for a reply.
There. That ought to stir things up.
The few topics touched upon today serve only as background to something we should begin to see as we read the awesome and wonderful Psalm 119...
(To be concluded tomorrow.)
(1) "The Wild One," 1953; (2) see Philippians 3:5-8 and Acts 22:3

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