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Friday, April 01, 2011

I'm in trouble for writing this: "I cannot allow Green to use the word ‘Church’ (and the word ‘Eucharist’) in a catholic sense without a discussion of whether we mean the same things as they meant, or a note on how our own divisions make such generalizations dangerous. In our individual confessional positions, we may find agreement with the Fathers on some points, and disagreement on others. But as we make use of their insights—seemingly selectively and arbitrarily, I daresay—the degree to which we invoke them as authorities (and Green certainly does this) undercuts the legitimacy of critiquing them. And that reality simply amplifies the question of whether we can hold our confessional distinctness with any firmness at all, or if there is an invisible ‘Church’ to which we are joined at all, because it is defined by our various confessions, combined with a presumption of our ecclesial validity in its particularity." In other words, your definition of 'Church' (invisible) is as certain as your confessional distinctives. There comes a point where holding dogmatic certainty in a particular with a certain looseness in recognition of Christian truth outside of one's ecclesial visible expression must relativize those certainties (or relativize the boundaries of the Church). You have to choose. Evangelical Protestantism has largely chosen the latter, with disastrous effects for unified, visible Christian witness and influence in the culture.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

5 Thoughts For Today 5. I'm thrilled to be FINALLY done reading Evangelism in the Early Church by Michael Green. The first 200 pages and the last 8 are especially great, and I recommend the book to any committed Christian, whether papist, Eastern pope-dissenter, or fractious biblicist (Protestant). 4. Baseball season is upon us, and I'm PUMPED. Tomorrow, it begins. And the highlight is of course is Chris Carpenter taking the hill in St. Louis against San Diego. 3. Prayer is good, and overdue. 2. My mind is on the weekend. 1. Those crafty zealots at the local Jesus TV station have started showing Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes at 9 PM. But I wonder if they realize they might be militating against their own evangelistic appeals? Gene Roddenberry was a kind, but militant, secularist. (But, I suspect that the Christian faith of Star Trek writers has been formidable indeed.) Larry Rice Bonus: I know that Larry Rice is a left-wing hippie. I know that some people think he's corrupt. But for my part, I found it hard to argue with the exhortations to faith in Jesus combined with calls to serve the poor.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I woke up singing. That has to be good, right? "Praise to the Lord, The Almighty." It's either the first or second in the Trinity Hymnal, (PCA, OPC) I think. I don't know for sure, because I haven't seen one since I was at Christ Our King. But I sang it through twice. No, I didn't miss any words. It's a staple. If you believe the words of this hymn even a little, you're a different person, a new person. Note to the bishop of Rome: Steal the Trinity Hymnal now. If you are the shepherd of all of Christ's sheep, everything good and true belongs to Him and you anyway, right? I wouldn't mind a little editing here and there. On the other hand, most of the tunes are way too melodic for the average Mass. No offense. So maybe you can use it for kids or something. I was talking to Jesus yesterday, and I remember wondering with him what I'll miss most about the PCA, should I choose to accept this Mission: Nearly Impossible. And I said, "The hymns and the people. But I repeat myself." Isn't this right? What good is a song, if you don't share it? I always hear it in the voices of my friends and brethren, even when it plays in my head. [Of course you would say that; you're dangerously close to becoming known as, 'The Guy Who Sings All the Time.'--ed.] You forget, dear Editor, I barely sang at all until I was baptized. Whatever it is, it's a new thing. [You sang at that RUF men's retreat almost 12 years ago.--ed.] That was a song about a girl. Grace builds on nature; it doesn't destroy it. Anyway, I always hear "Praise to the Lord, The Almighty" in the voice of 'The Real Deal' Joe Choi. We called him 'The Real Deal' because we had attempted to affix it to another member of our group, Brandon Teel, but somehow, it failed, at RUF Summer Conference '99. Jim Frese (say, FRAY-zee) thought it would be funny to try to stick it to someone whose name didn't rhyme at all, and it stuck. To this day. We also realized that we started calling Joe 'The Real Deal' (or just 'Real Deal') because that's the kind of guy he is. Maybe he took it as encouragement in godliness the whole time. In any case, one time, we had come back from some trip, (and most of those were ended officially by Sunday worship) and Joe ended up next to me. We sang the hymn, and I promise you, his voice sounded like the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. So I told him so, minus the superlative. Somewhat embarrassed, he said, 'Aw, I'm not a good singer.' And maybe not. But it made me realize that unlike "AI" judge Randy Jackson, Jesus doesn't care if you are 'pitchy.'