Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bruce Prescott On Reforming Baptist Identity

These are some good thoughts from Bruce Prescott's latest post---Mainstream Baptist: Reforming Baptist Identity:
Jesus revealed that the meaning of election is not about privilege but about service. Everyone who is chosen by God is chosen for service. Jesus also revealed the meaning of service to God. Jesus set aside his power and privileges and submitted himself to death on a cross in the service of God. That is what he was chosen to do. When he died, the veil in the temple was rent from top to bottom. God himself tore down all the barriers that had been erected to keep people at a distance from his blessings.

Everyone who responds to the call of God has been chosen for service. Service to God always involves sacrifice. We have been commanded to take up our own cross when we follow Jesus. At the very least that means that we must be willing to share the blessings that God has given us with others.

Too many Baptists in America resemble the ancient Jews more than Jesus. They are more concerned about preserving the privileges of their nationality than with sharing the blessings of the good news about God’s love for all people.

Too many Baptists are among the armed vigilantes standing guard at our borders.

Too many Baptists are among the placarded protestors at tea parties blocking the entrance to our medical clinics.

Too many Baptists think God called them for pampering and privilege rather than for sacrificial service.

Blessings can quickly turn into curses when we insist on hoarding them all for ourselves rather than sharing them freely with others.

And here are my thoughts related to the post: Indeed God's call is a radical call to loving and self-sacrificial service to others---it is a lifelong activity as Karl Barth says:
“God so loved'—not the Christian, but—'the world'. 'I am the light of the world', says the Lord, and by His own self-giving He passes the light on to His disciples: 'Ye are the light of the world!' It is the duty of the real Church to tell and show the world what it does not yet know. This does not mean that the real Church's mission is to take the whole or even half the world to task. It would be the servant of quite a different Master if it were to set itself up as the accuser of its brethren. Its mission is not to say 'No', but to say 'Yes'; a strong 'Yes' to the God who, because there are 'godless' men, has not thought and does not think of becoming a 'manless' God—and a strong 'Yes' to man, for whom, with no exception, Jesus Christ died and rose again. How extraordinary the Church's preaching, teaching, ministry, theology, political guardianship and missions would be, how it would convict itself of unbelief in what it says, if it did not proclaim to all men that God is not against man but for man. It need not concern itself with the 'No' that must be said to human presumption and human sloth. This 'No' will be quite audible enough when as the real Church it concerns itself with the washing of feet and nothing else. This is the obedience which it owes to its Lord in this world.”

—Karl Barth, "The Real Church," Against the Stream: Shorter Post-War Writings 1946-52 (London: SCM Press, 1954), 73.

To stand in the unconditional loving service of God and others, the church must first stop acting as if it or bible translations are the Holy Spirit---as if any human, human cultural biases or human institution can restrict and regulate, whom the Holy Spirit wills to call to ministry or in general---for a lot of people (mainly Fundamentalists and bible literalists) actually believe that they can usurp the authority of the Holy Spirit from willing, whom the Holy Spirit wills to call to the ministry or in general and/or that it is their task to determine whom can and can’t be called to the ministry or in general instead of the Holy Spirit alone---and in so telling the Holy Spirit what to do, they not only commit idolatry (ecclesiolatry as well as bibliolatry and poimenolatry/clericalism), but also worse than that it grieves the Holy Spirit (the only unforgivable sin). As Christ is the True pillar of the church for us and in giving the Great Commission, Christ excluded no one from ministering the Gospel, serving and being served including gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and both women and men of every culture, climate, race, type and personality. Secondly, in the Bible, the unfolding of God’s will and self-disclosure of God’s self-revelation, in the Person and work of Christ---we find that God was most fully revealed as being Love itself---for Christ is Love---as Robinson (influenced by Paul Tillich) wrote: "For it is in making himself nothing, in his utter self-surrender to others in love, that [Jesus] discloses and lays bare the Ground of man's being as Love" (ibid., p. 75, italics added). He also wrote: "For assertions about God are in the last analysis assertions about Love" (ibid., p. 105)--- (Honest To God --- When we divinely encounter Christ as Love for us, in the advent of the proclamation of scripture---we see all of Christian ethics is contingent upon the moral axioms of the Higher Law of Righteousness, Love, Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness---the Golden Rule and to love God completely and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self. If the sum and substance of Christian morality and ethics then is this---then why should we read Christian morality out of a vacuum with no insight, inquiry and reference to the Higher Law, on which the line of all Christian morality is drawn? For what profits one to have morality without love? For all of Christianity is rooted in loving service---just as Brennan Manning says*---quoting from Barbara Doherty: "Love is service. ‘There is no point in getting into an argument about this question of loving. It is what Christianity is all about---take it or leave it. Christianity is not about ritual or moral living except insofar as these two express the love that causes both of them. We must at least pray for the grace to become love.’" (*-pg. 29 of A Glimpse Of Jesus: The Stranger To Self-Hatred)

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