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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

22
Jan

Ock-en-gay who?

   Posted by: Jeff Noble

I was kicked back in this incredibly comforter rocker that I think belonged to Carolyn’s great grandmother. Or maybe she just says that to make sure I treat it well, I don’t know. Sam and I are watching Colts come-from-behind win over the Patriots, rooting on the Patriots. My beloved wife is yelling and pacing the floor, pulling for the Colts. She knows nothing about the Colts except that “Payton Manning deserves to go to the Superbowl.” Sam and I both love the Patriots… I digress.

While I’m watching the game, I’m catching up on some back issues of magazines, one of them being Christian History & Biography. Since it’s redesign pulled it out of the 70s, it’s even more of an enjoyable read to this graphic designer. I am totally enthralled in the Fall ’06 issue, that features the history of the evangelical movement, contrasting it with the resurgent fundamentalist movement. Names like Billy Graham and Bill Bright I recognized, but there were dozens of others, particularly Harold Ockenga (pronounced Ock-en-gay) who had a huge impact on the evangelical movement in this country and abroad, that I’m ashamed to admit, I knew nothing about.

I began to reflect on my ignorance. It took a while because there’s so much of it. (No hearty “Amen’s,” please)

I was in Southern Baptist churches from the time of the womb to 2003. Let’s just mark down 35 years for argument’s sake. I wasn’t just a pew sitter. I was involved. We’re talking a Sunday-School-every-Sunday-snack-supper-before-youth-choir-then-discipleship-training -yes-I-memorized-my-verses-Sunday-night-service-going-occasional-after-church-fellowship -state-Bible-drill-winner-youth-committee-Wednesday-night-supper-youth-group-regular-and-leader -Baptist-college-attending-and-loving-finally-seminary-trained kind of involved here.

And I never heard of Harold Ockenga. Nor had I heard of many of the of the other leaders, except through references in literature the last few years. I began to come to an uncomfortable conclusion there in my easy chair. I have been sheltered. And not in a good way.

The denomination of my upbringing practiced withdrawal and isolation from the world, attempting to create an alternative society based on strict interpretation of the Bible. I believe many in the SBC still practice (and preach) this exclusionary philosophy. Perhaps they appeal to 2 Corinthians 6:17, (which quotes Isaiah 52:11): “”Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.”

I like how succinctly Scofield put it in his notes on this verse, “Separation is not from contact with evil in the world or the church, but from complicity with and conformity” with it.

My conclusion was that my spiritual heritage – the tribe to which I belonged – gave me great biblical understanding and helped expose me to great scriptural teaching, but it did little to nothing to encourage or equip me to engage the culture in which I live. This approach is fantastic is the metaphor for life continues to be that of a classroom. However, it’s not good if the metaphor for life is something different.

I don’t think Jesus ever compared the kingdom of heaven to something akin to a classroom. Rather, he described it in organic terms, like a mustard seed, a treasure hidden in a field, yeast, a fishing net, a merchant looking for fine pearls, etc. The kingdom of heaven in Jesus’ analogies always seem to involve action, engagement, and value to everyone involved in searching for it.

Now, before you ignoramuses (or is it ignorami) start gleefully clapping your hands, thinking that this gets you out of personal Bible study or meditation, just calm down, slap yourself, and think again.

The whole point of what I’m saying is this: I’ve missed out on a lot; but I’ve been given a lot. I sincerely believe that God is raising up a new movement in our nation and this world that will re-engage with the people of our culture. Rather than being consumed by our church activities and programs, this new movement will be consumed by bringing God the most glory. The leaders in this movement will seek the engage their communities in which they live with all they’ve got. You may never see their faces in a national publication or hear their names in the same sentence as a Max Lucado or Louie Giglio, but they will have as much or greater impact on the kingdom of God and our culture.

A generation behind us worked desperately to get the church to come out of its classroom and minister to the world rather than its pews. Their movement may have run aground (or even run astray) as they promoted climatic crusade-type events as the main tool to reach the world’s people. Discipleship was alarmingly absent in those days. It’s created a famine of discipleship in our day. However, at least they tried.

Now it’s our turn. Let’s not be ignorant any longer. Let’s move forward. Let’s press on and engage, with love our neighbors and our world.

11
Nov

Are you ready for some Advent?

   Posted by: Jeff Noble

As the football season winds down for high school, it’s just getting exciting for colleges and fantasy football fanatics. By the way, have you seen fantasy church and even fantasy congress? However, it’s not football that IP wants you ignorant Protestants to get ready for; it’s Advent.

“What’s Advent?” I’m ashamed to admit that until a few years ago, I would have asked the same question. Unfortunately, if you currently attend a church that has two worship services on a Sunday, you are probably still asking that question. In fact, if your morning service is characterized by Welcome/Announcements… Music… (perhaps an occasional solo) a Testimony, video, or isolated scripture reading… Preaching… (concluded by a fervent evangelistic appeal and an “invitation” replete with 3-4 stanzas of insert your favorite hymn), Advent may sound like a a great name for a new Pontiac SUV to you.

Here at IP, we hope to change that and encourage church members and leaders to reconnect with the ancient church by implementing some of the traditions and celebrations that they commemorated to encourage their corporate faith journey.

Advent is the beginning of the church year for denominations and churches that follow the western church calendar. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and concludes on Christmas Eve, December 24. For the eastern church, the church year begins on September 1. The liturgical year is different for Eastern and Western churches and dates back to the “Great Schism” in 1054, although the church had been divided for many years before that in doctrine and issues of authority.

(If you’re totally ignorant of the distinction and history of the Roman Catholic Church and its split from what is not called the Eastern Orthodox Church, you’re definitely an ignorant protestant. Read up. Ask around. Google. Wikipedia. Whatever floats your boat. But don’t remain uninformed. What you’ll discover will enrich, encourage, and shape your faith expression for the rest of your life.)

Dennis Bratcher has an excellent article over at CRI/The Voice explaining the seasons of the church year.

Advent this year will begin on December 3. It’s a deeply meaningful and hopeful way for your church, family and friends to prepare your hearts for the celebration of the Incarnation. What do you plan to do?