America Is Not the Future of the Church (Reblog)

“Statistics show that church actually isn’t dying. But it is changing.”
Another great article from Relevant Magazine. Worth a read.
A few good lines –
“[T]he church in the U.S. is indeed changing and indeed losing some of its unchallenged dominance over the culture … and I actually think that might be a good thing. My hope is that it will remind Christians that “success” isn’t measured by money or power or numbers, but rather by the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Where those characteristics are present, the church lives.” – Rachel Held Evans
“Christianity has had a series of revolutions, and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.” – G.K. Chesterton

Re-rearranging the chairs: a response to Richard Dahlstrom and Rachel Held Evans (a.k.a. in defense of liturgy)

J. Barrett Lee:

The Eucharist is the beating heart of Christian worship. It brings transformation in a way that even the best sermon can’t. It speaks to the whole person, not just the mind.

Originally posted on Ben Irwin:

IMG_6222 Baptismal font at the Parish Church of St. Peter & St. Paul, Olney (UK)

Seattle pastor Richard Dahlstrom challenged something Rachel Held Evans wrote in a recent op-ed for CNN.com about millennials leaving the church.

Richard Dahlstrom is one of my favorite evangelical pastors. Rachel Held Evans is one of my favorite bloggers. If you want to see a successful pastor building real community instead of just building his own empire, watch Richard Dahlstrom. If you want a window into the spirituality of millennial Christians, read Rachel’s blog.

Rachel often talks with pastors about why millennials are leaving the church. She’s written about how younger Christians feel forced to “choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness,” how evangelical Christianity has become “too political, too exclusive,” etc.

Thus far, Richard and Rachel are on the same page. Their disagreement comes over what Rachel says next:

Many of us…

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Running Away from the Resurrected Life

J. Barrett Lee:

Abbot Andrew of St. Gregory’s Abbey on the Resurrection.

Originally posted on Imaginary Visions of True Peace:

yellowTulips1The ending of Mark’s Gospel is abrupt and enigmatic. So much so that the early Christian community added a “completion” that doesn’t connect well with what Mark wrote. There has also been speculation that the ending broke off from the manuscript or that Mark was nabbed by the Romans and thrown to the lions just before he could quite finish it.

The conclusion where the women run away because they are afraid is so strong that it is enough to make us forget that it is preceded by a ringing proclamation that Jesus has been raised and has already arrived in Galilee where he is waiting for them and the disciples. When we remember this proclamation and let it sink in, we realize that this enigmatic ending is not pessimistic or skeptical about the risen life about Jesus, but perhaps it is pessimistic, maybe even skeptical, about the ability of…

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Eating the Being of Jesus

J. Barrett Lee:

Thoughts on the Eucharist from Abbot Andrew of St. Gregory’s Abbey:

Originally posted on Imaginary Visions of True Peace:

AndrewWashingFeet - CopyThe Holy Eucharist has been accused of being a cannibalistic rite. René Girard would accept the accusation. In a snippet from an unpublished interview, he suggests that the Eucharist recapitulates the entire history of sacrifice and its violence and that history includes cannibalism. When I took a college course on African and Oceanic religions, one of the essay questions I was confronted with on the final exam was to discuss a few anthropological eyewitness accounts of cannibalistic practice. This was the first time I had encountered anything like it. What struck me about the accounts was how these people were intentionally absorbing, through ingestion, the being of the person, sometimes in mockery but more often in respect. (My take on these documents was affirmed by my professor with a top grade.) This is also Girard’s take. He ties this data into his analysis of the dynamics of mimetic rivalry where…

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Universal Salvation: Drawing ALL people?

Universal Salvation: Drawing ALL people?

Originally posted on North Presbyterian Church:

Sermon for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

The text is John 12:20-33.

As promised in the sermon, here are some key biblical passages in favor of both Particularism (God will save some) and Universalism (God will save all).

Universalism

Isaiah 25:6-8

Isaiah 52:10

Luke 15:11-32

John 3:17

John 12:32

Romans 5

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

Colossians 1:15-20

Titus 2:11

1 John 4:16

Particularism

John 3:36

Matthew 25:31-46

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10

Revelation 20:11-15

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