I don't wanna stop the atonement discussion if that's still got legs - and I've got loads (I mean, too much!) to say on the universalism thing, but these just couldn't wait.
Firstly, this from Jonny at Organic Church just rocks!
Secondly, Alan Creech posted a great little rant the other day that I'm gonna have to quote at length:
Every kind of church is NOT OK. I won't go off indefinitely on this here, but I'm sort of tired of the hyper "get along" attitude that has crept into some of our conversation. And I don't mean to say that I like a hyper "don't get along" attitude either, so please don't put me in that category. I usually say what I mean, unless I'm holding back so as not to get attacked by those who await such opportunities like a Heron standing on a creek bank. This time I'll try to say it and be very brief. There ARE forms of church that ARE crippling and harmful to Christians who are part of them - there just are. And some of those are churches that we have generally thought of as OK for a long time. But they're not. "Well, isn't there room for this kind and that kind in order to reach everyone?" Well, probably - I would never argue for total homogeneity of expression - that would NOT be my point. I am not simply mad at the "traditional" church because somebody pissed me off or hurt me. Just not.
I think - I have a mind. I also have a heart and a spiritual awareness and I see things. The change I live and talk about is not about being cool or different for its own sake - that, as I have said before, is pointless. The change I live and talk about is about stripping away things that have built up like so many barnacles on our collective hull, so that our ship can travel as swiftly and as gracefully as it was designed to travel. Maybe it means noticing that the material the sails have been made of for the last 500 years is really not the right material for good sailing - it actually causes drag, even though the ship goes forward when they are raised. Perhaps the way the Captain "runs the ship" is actually causing people to die - and the food on board, although there is real food, causes Scurvy in the crew members.
Even though when I speak here in this setting, I'm generally only talking to those in the same "boat" as me, I say these things because of our transitional times. Our ideas of what it means to function well as the Body of Christ on Earth are in great flux. They are still captive in many ways. We have to constantly be careful not to assume things with the assumptions that were handed on to us. So, things need to be said and thought about. I'm not just pissing and moaning because I'm some angry young man. I'm really not that angry. "Well, you come off that way." Sorry. I AM passionate about the importance of what I'm saying, so if that comes off angry, I suppose it'll just have to.
"Isn't it just about reaching people for Jesus and it really doesn't matter how you do that, as long as people get saved?" Well, frankly, NO. It's NOT only about that. That would be part of the problem. That mindset. And if you have that mindset, we're simply not in agreement on some core things. I'd still go fly fishing with you, but we just disagree. Very simply put in this setting, it's "about" the re-creation of human kind into its original form - full trinitarian transformation (spirit, soul, and body) of the human person. It's "about" the whole process AND the church is the greenhouse in which we grow - the ground of transformation, as it were - and it DOES matter how that entity functions because it either will or will not to some extent or another facilitate real transformation in those who live within it. This is what I live and talk about with such passion, not being new and different - not being cool and shifting with the culture - not those things. It IS a positive. We do what we do for a real, positive, theologically considered reasons. OK, I'm done. Yeah, that was brief. Lord have mercy.
Well, it had to be said, didn't it?