Friday, 7 November 2008

A cross-killed rant

I'm fed up with Evangelicalism. That's the cultural / theological trend sort.

The theologically light, pragmatism-driven, technique, programme and fad-obsessed.
The historically unaware, easy-breakaway / new vision! / church / group at the drop of a hat.
The experience-seeking when over and against faithfulness to the gospel entrusted.
The lack of ecclesiology, that celebrates a lack of demoninations with clear confessions of faith (as 'divisive'), and doesn't see a problem with having 5 different independent churches within a few streets of each other, each with a minimal basis of faith.
The celebration of doctrinal minimalism, as if God's truth is unimportant.

I love the good news of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. I love partnership with those who hold to, believe, proclaim and live out that evangel. I am Evangelical in that sense. But in a cultural, theological and trend sense, I am foremost a Protestant. We may mourn the liberalism in some Protestant denominations, but the answer is not Evangelicalism. The answer is the truth of the Gospel, in all its richness proclaimed by the apostles and prophets, church fathers, reformers, puritans: throughout the ages and across the world. It could be called warm-blooded Protestantism - and much as that is ill-defined and open to interpretation, it is better off that way than Evangelicalism. It is better that the 16th century Reformers disagreed on some things, than that they thought theology of word, sacrament and church didn't matter.

Now I try not to rant on this blog, but to relate everything to the gospel. It does no good to simply sound off. So I confess at the cross that where frustration easily leads to self-righteousness, I am not the answer. I believe at the empty tomb that where sadness would lead to despair, I do not doubt that God will be glorified in making a spotless Bride for His Son, and he will not be thwarted either by my sin or our weakness. I proclaim as I look to Jesus' coming again, that by His grace I will not just rant or condemn, but lay down my life in service of all who love His appearing.
The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end:
Though there be those who hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against or foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.

O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
There, past the border mountains,
Where in sweet vales the Bride
With Thee by living fountains
Forever shall abide! [Stone, 1866]

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