Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Living Among the Bones

In my time here at WSU I often wonder what the entire point of this endeavor is. It’s certainly not money, as I will probably never be paid well. It is certainly not pleasure as graduate school is one of the most sadistic things you could do to yourself. Is it knowledge? I came into grad school thinking knowledge was the point of this endeavor, but now I realize differently. WSU certainly has the knowledge, there are a lot of great physicist here, but they have all missed the point. My experience here has been one of great amounts of knowledge but no understanding.
WSU is one of those bastions of secular thought, an Athens, full of all the modern science and modern ways of thinking, very progressive and on the cutting edge, but for all this they miss the point entirely. There is no understanding.
“Have you not heard? Have you not seen?” For all the proof, for all the glory, all the wonder that is revealed in this place of research and study, those here miss the Truth shouting at them. It depresses me how modern mans distrust and loathing of faith has made it impossible for them to see reality through the eyes of faith. They do not see the beauty, the life, the Divine Harmony in reality. All they see is atoms and molecules, numbers and figures. The universe is dead in this world view, a bland set of rules and matter that exists and acts for no reason and no purpose.
Why have I come to WSU? Why have I come to Athens? I doubt there are many schools that are different from WSU. The dead universe is the prevailing world view in academia. How can there be life in a worldview that rejects the Life? Why am I here in this dead place? To share the Life.

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD." Eze 37:1-6

God grant me the patience, the faith, and the perseverance to prophesy to this valley of dry bones, that your abundant life may flow into them and let them live. Amen

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Ecclesial Depression

I continually find myself frustrated and aggravated with modern Christianity. It is not one specific denomination or group, it is a predominate reality that very few people are educated about the Church. This often leads to false perceptions and expectations of God, and leads those outside the Church astray into believing that the Church is something its not. There are many reasons for this mistaken view of the Church, but the one that I believe is the most dangerous, and damaging is the individualization of faith.
Individualism was one of the great triumphs of the renaissance and modernism. It is wonderful to consider individual rights, and treating everyone with proper respect and dignity, but as with all ideas, there is a dark side tagging around. Individualism no longer means that each person has inherent dignity, now it means that the highest good is the individual. A long list of societal and political woes can be made because ‘I’ and ‘me’ have become our most favored pronouns, but my concern is with the Church. Individualism has crept into the Church in the form of individualizing God and our relationship to Him. The view of ‘me and my god’ is overwhelmingly present in the Church, at least in America. Congregation’s have begun to cease the proclamation of the Gospel and who God is, and instead now proclaim an individualized god, an individualized gospel. I have had the odd chance of traveling a lot and experiencing congregations across the US and it disheartens me the number of congregations that get the individualized gospel of “believe in God and he’ll make your life turn out alright”.
Christians have forgotten what it means to be the body of Christ. We have forgotten what it means to have a communal faith, a faith shared by the saints in heaven and here below. Faith is now about myself, in a room with my Bible and God, about praying and having God answer with warm tingly feelings. And if we cant get those experiences we cry to God and ask what is going on, why is my ‘individual walk with God’ going so rough. The reason is, there is no ‘individual walk with God’! The road of Faith is one filled with the communion of saints, it is one populated by those who have gone before us, those who come after us, and those who walk with us. When we suffer the body suffers, when the body suffers we suffer.
A few years ago I was suffering severe depression after my grandmother’s death, and I told my pastor that I wasn’t planning on coming to Church because I couldn’t bring myself to sing songs of praise when all I was doing was mourning. He replied that even when we cannot seem to sing praise, and we are in mourning, the Body is there to lift up songs of Praise, songs of Mourning and songs of intercession on our part. The One True Faith, is one shared by the body of Christ. It is not some individual path. God is not revealed by sitting alone with a Bible in some wilderness, God is revealed in the assembly, proclamation, and work of the Church. It is when we assemble and hear the Word proclaimed to us and for us that God is revealed.
There is a lack of strong Ecclesial theology in the Church in America, and not only does this lack harm the Church’s members by not doing its job of proclaiming Christ crucified for us, it also hurts its mission to the world. Individualism is a plague upon the Church, and its cure is for the Church teach and educate its members in its ecclesial nature. The American Church must reform or else it will follow Europe to the same depressing end.
If the Church is to survive and succeed in its mission of proclaiming Christ crucified we must stop going along with society and falling into all the popular ideologies. The Church plagued by individualism, must start healing by having individuals reject the lie that the self is the most important thing. Only by the death of self will the individual find life.