Category Archives: Christendom

Peter Leithart, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and One Table

Peter Leithart uses his titanic biblical knowledge to respond to respond to critics of his earlier article I am too catholic to be Catholic. Leithart concludes:

Are we in a “Josiah moment” when the divided church can finally share a single feast?  I believe there are signs that it is such a moment.  If it is, then the agenda for every branch of the church is the double agenda of Josiah: Remove the idols, whatever they are, tear down the high places, and join with all brothers and sisters at the one table of the one Lord.

Vacation and Worship

As summer heats upon us, many of us will be vacationing all over the country. As a pastor, I am constantly troubled by how many people treat vacation as not only a break from work, but also a break from Church. To some, if vacation happens to involve a Sunday then their priority will be on a Church-free Sunday rather than gathering with God’s people.

Hebrews does not treat this subject lightly. The author forbids the non-assembling of ourselves. It calls us to not forsake the gathering. The angels and archangels engage in heavenly worship day and night and we are called to join in this duty of worship each time we are gathered together on the Lord’s Day.

Vacation is no substitute for worship. In fact, missing the Lord’s Day gathering on vacation for any trivial reason is to mock the tearing of the veil, which gave us access to the heavenly throne of grace.

With that in view, here are a few things I recommend for those going on vacation this summer:

First, avoid falling for the trap that a few good Christians gathered constitute the Church on Sunday. You may enjoy Christian fellowship, be challenged by an exhortation, but this does not constitute heavenly worship. It may be simply a Bible study, but worship is not a Bible study; it is the very entrance of God’s people into the heavenly places through the work of the Spirit.

Second, before going on vacation google churches near the area. If you are not able to find a church that resembles yours, look to explore a bit outside your tradition. Learn to love the universal church. Find an evangelical congregation that loves the Bible.

Third, avoid making Sunday morning plans. Let your family-especially those who are not Christians– know that you treasure Sunday mornings and that you desire to teach your children to love this day also. It may not be beneficial to theologize about these issues with other family members (since, it may lead to unnecessary arguing), but at the very least offer them one or two reasons.

Finally, when visiting other churches, teach your children (and yourself) not to be overly critical about the preaching, singing, or any other feature of the service. Use this time to teach the little ones about the beauty of the universal church.

The Lord’s Day is a day of rest. It is the feast God has prepared for you. Under normal circumstances, there is no other place for you to be.

Emerging Churches

While on vacation in Gatlinburg, TN, I spent an entire morning in a large bookstore. Though the Christian books’ section was quite small and largely undeserving of my attention, I did find a few gems for $3-6. Among them were Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Churches, Five Perspectives.

I have wanted to get a broad view of the Emerging Churches for some time and this book provides just that. The contributors are Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, and Karen Ward. I have just concluded the late Robert Webber’s fine introduction to the book. The introduction offers a short sociological study of history. According to William Strauss and Howell, history’s seasonal rhythms are: growth, maturation, entropy, and destruction. Based on this rhythm, Webber develops a sort of ecclesiastical history, and concludes that the 20th century is the century of transition. The Emerging Church is “the first gasp of evangelicalism in the postmodern world (9).”

Central to the concern of the Emerging Churches is the unfortunate separation between theology and practice. In fact, Webber notes that the “emerging church reflects a growing concern to bridge the gap between theory and practice (18).” Throughout the different perspectives one can expect to see this point made again and again. The question, of course, is how does this marriage occur and how is it fleshed out in each emerging context? The Emerging Church is a reaction (whether good or bad) to the modern church, which is marked by a rational worldview, propositionalism, and evidential apologetics. The “self” is replaced by the “we” and “certainty” is replaced by “mystery.” These five authors, according to Webber–though affirming mystery in some things– all subscribe to the creedal words of the Nicene Creed, yet, all are attempting to contextualize the gospel in a new age. I hope to offer my observations and summaries as I read through the book.

The Once and Future Christendom…

A fascinating article by James Pinkerton. Somehow I sense I will be reading more of his pieces in The American Conservative. In The Once and Future Christendom Pinkerton argues that Tolkien’s strategy for the Shire is the strategy that the West is to take in combating the evils of Islamic expansionism. What any reader will find intriguing is that Pinkerton’s model does not include neo-conservative tactics, but rather, a religious tactic of unity and a new Christendom; or what he calls a neo-Constantinian vision.

In one of the great epics of Western literature, the hero, confronted by numerous and powerful enemies, temporarily gives in to weakness and self-pity. “I wish,” he sighs, “none of this had happened.” The hero’s wise adviser responds, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide.” The old man continues, “There are other forces at work in this world … besides the will of evil.” Some events, he adds, are “meant” to be, “And that is an encouraging thought.” Continue Reading…

The Presbyterian Church in Brazil

I was pleased to hear through Derek Thomas–via a Brazilian pastor–that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPB) passed a motion, by a good majority, to sever ties with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC). He adds: “It was a very important vote, because it sets the tone and shows that the church is conservative.”