Part 3: Ancient-Future Church

Contenti n’andremo se un poco
Noie lo podessemo tocare
Lo podessemo toccar
E pero te nepregamo
Quanto noie, Siam pastori
De poco affare

Comments? Anyone? Anyone?

Bueller?

If you know what that little poem means, good for you. All I know is that they’re the Latin lyrics for a choral piece called (in English) the Shepherd’s Chorus.

It harkens us to an era when citizens were more or less coerced to come to mass on Sunday mornings and listen to songs and readings in Latin, which was completely foreign to them. Talk about irrelevant. We don’t know the meaning of the word anymore. On top of that, you might even describe the Medieval Europe religious experience with the words “malicious irrelevance.” The popes and bishops of the day preferred to have a corner on the scripture-knowledge market, just like any power broker. Thus, people like Wycliffe, who produced a huge chunk of what would later be known as the King James Bible, were promptly knocked off for putting Scripture within reach of the bourgeoisie.

Fond memories, eh?

I don’t accuse anyone of trying to take us back to it. But I do want to provide some perspective for those who foster a nostalgia for the time when western religion was sacred and mysterious. My phraseology should provide a hint as to what that perspective is… because I choose the words “western religion” carefully. I have no doubt that there was a certain number of true Christ-followers among the herds of Medieval clergy and laity. But the system as a whole, in my opinion, did not represent Christ at all.

Some will argue that today’s church establishment doesn’t, either. I would be tempted to agree, with caveats. But that’s a blog for another day.

My point is about the “Ancient-Future” movement, which has gone by many other names. If you refer to my recent post on Post-Modernism, you will understand the post-modern penchant for that which is Retro, Vintage. I personally think it’s great. So go ahead and sing the old hymns with a drum machine in the background! Go ahead and re-occupy some abandoned Victorian church house and breathe new life into it! These things are all fine, and there are many more. So don’t let me discourage anyone from finding and implementing the long-gone ideas that still hold value.

But just as Modernism proclaims, “If it’s new, it’s good!” it is tempting for those in the Ancient-Future movement to herald the opposite view. Old and mysterious and spooky—that’s where it’s at.

Congratulations to those who have seen through the veil of formulaic faith; the veil that claims that you, too, can have God all figured out and if you do x, y, and z then you’ll be His best buddy; the veil that conceals the majesty and mystery of Yahweh. But presented here is yet another opportunity to swing wide, sweet pendulum, and once again miss the point entirely.

0 thoughts on “Part 3: Ancient-Future Church

  1. Coreman,I must digress… Heaven forbid we stoop to the level of the drum machine! AAAAGGHHHH!! Programming, turn tables… those can enhance our worship experience… when they supplement real drums. :) Of course, those who do not share my passion for drumming and for rock ‘n’ roll are more than welcome to disagree as adamantly as you want.I just thought i’d chase a rabbit. Come on, people, drum machines are so 80’s! Okay, okay… sorry for stepping on the toes of the 80’s children (hey, i was born in 81) who are fond of big hair, screeching vocals, bubbly pop, and drum machines. Few good musical elements came out of the 80s that are worth holding on to, U2 being one of the obvious exceptions. :) Tomatoes anyone?

  2. Coreman,I must digress… Heaven forbid we stoop to the level of the drum machine! AAAAGGHHHH!! Programming, turn tables… those can enhance our worship experience… when they supplement real drums. :) Of course, those who do not share my passion for drumming and for rock ‘n’ roll are more than welcome to disagree as adamantly as you want.I just thought i’d chase a rabbit. Come on, people, drum machines are so 80’s! Okay, okay… sorry for stepping on the toes of the 80’s children (hey, i was born in 81) who are fond of big hair, screeching vocals, bubbly pop, and drum machines. Few good musical elements came out of the 80s that are worth holding on to, U2 being one of the obvious exceptions. :) Tomatoes anyone?

  3. At the risk of derailing this thread entirely, I agree that the “drum machine sound” is very 80’s, but modern drum machines can produce a much wider variety of stuff. They’re more likely to be called “loops” now, and they’re still pretty popular. It’s just that the sounds keep changing.

  4. At the risk of derailing this thread entirely, I agree that the “drum machine sound” is very 80’s, but modern drum machines can produce a much wider variety of stuff. They’re more likely to be called “loops” now, and they’re still pretty popular. It’s just that the sounds keep changing.

  5. I kind of talked about this issue in a more broad sense on my ministry blog. I think what all of this “stuff” really comes down to is the WHY. WHY do you want to use icons and chant liturgy? WHY do you want to have incense and candles? WHY do you insist that everyone shave their head,don a beenie and drape a shapeless brown robe over their clothes? (ok, so maybe that doesn’t happen very often). As far as I’m concerned, if it doesn’t serve the purpose of point people to Jesus, helping people enter the holy of holies for a face to face intimate love encounter with Jesus then it doesn’t have a place in the church (far be it from me to tell an individual what they do in their private worship time, but we’re responsible for entire congregations). So the question I would ask a “vintage inclined pastor” is “are you doing this to be vintage or are you doing this because it truly serves a purpose?” “does this glorify God and draw others closer to him? does this reflect his love for humankind or do you just want to be cool?” I think that ancient practices can be very purposeful depending on the culture. I think in certain contexts they have a place…but not “just because we want to be different”And oh my goodness – hymns set to a drum machine beat? blach. that’s not ancient, that’s just creepy 😉

  6. I kind of talked about this issue in a more broad sense on my ministry blog. I think what all of this “stuff” really comes down to is the WHY. WHY do you want to use icons and chant liturgy? WHY do you want to have incense and candles? WHY do you insist that everyone shave their head,don a beenie and drape a shapeless brown robe over their clothes? (ok, so maybe that doesn’t happen very often). As far as I’m concerned, if it doesn’t serve the purpose of point people to Jesus, helping people enter the holy of holies for a face to face intimate love encounter with Jesus then it doesn’t have a place in the church (far be it from me to tell an individual what they do in their private worship time, but we’re responsible for entire congregations). So the question I would ask a “vintage inclined pastor” is “are you doing this to be vintage or are you doing this because it truly serves a purpose?” “does this glorify God and draw others closer to him? does this reflect his love for humankind or do you just want to be cool?” I think that ancient practices can be very purposeful depending on the culture. I think in certain contexts they have a place…but not “just because we want to be different”And oh my goodness – hymns set to a drum machine beat? blach. that’s not ancient, that’s just creepy 😉

  7. Stop forcing me to defend the drum machine, people! I am not a big fan myself. All I was saying is… “to each his own.”and Fisher… a perfect comment. That is The Core question that I am talking about: What is your motivation? Does it make God look glorious, or does it just make you look hip?

  8. Stop forcing me to defend the drum machine, people! I am not a big fan myself. All I was saying is… “to each his own.”and Fisher… a perfect comment. That is The Core question that I am talking about: What is your motivation? Does it make God look glorious, or does it just make you look hip?

  9. yuppers. The comment I heard on the Relevant Podcast this morning sums that up exactly – Being relevant is not about us. It’s showing that GOD is relevant. There’s a difference between being culture savvy and displaying a relevant God to the world through our lives in our relationships with others.Who cares about being culture savvy if it doesn’t accomplish anything eternal?Oh and by the way, Ryan, you look very handsome in your profile pic :) I need a recent pic of your lovely bride, I haven’t seen a pic of her since you got engaged.

  10. yuppers. The comment I heard on the Relevant Podcast this morning sums that up exactly – Being relevant is not about us. It’s showing that GOD is relevant. There’s a difference between being culture savvy and displaying a relevant God to the world through our lives in our relationships with others.Who cares about being culture savvy if it doesn’t accomplish anything eternal?Oh and by the way, Ryan, you look very handsome in your profile pic :) I need a recent pic of your lovely bride, I haven’t seen a pic of her since you got engaged.

  11. ok, I just noticed that beloved was born in 81? see…now this just isn’t cool, when the people you hang out with and minister to were born in a different decade than you, you know you’re getting older. oh well, at least I’m ABLE to hang out with people younger than me 😉

  12. ok, I just noticed that beloved was born in 81? see…now this just isn’t cool, when the people you hang out with and minister to were born in a different decade than you, you know you’re getting older. oh well, at least I’m ABLE to hang out with people younger than me 😉

  13. Ahh, Coreman… loops are great… i believe i referred to them as “programming” (programming just referring to the use of multiple loops, often intertwined). I think programming can enhance music tremendously. The word “drum machine” connotes something that is attempting to emulate drums with snare/cymbal sounds, etc., rather than utilizing a wide range of rich sounds that modern programming entails.As to the comments regarding “being cool” and “relevant”, i think we all agree here that doing ANYTHING just to be cool, to get attention, to draw a crowd, is useless and frankly IRRelevant. I would have to agree that some churches try to put on a vintage facade, without truly embracing the important elements of faith expressed in ancient faith communities. We can quickly and easily dismiss any attempts to merely be hip or cutting edge… we’ve established and reestablished that in earlier blogs. Hopefully we can get past that, since we already all concur. No use beating a dead horse, eh?I think there is a much more meaningful dialogue available to us regarding the GENUINE and LEGITIMATE aspects of historical faith and the incorporation of “ancient” elements of liturgy and art into today’s corporate worship. People who do things out of wrong motives are easy targets. Frankly, i’m not very concerned about them. The Bible teaches us not to piddle with fools, to cast our pearls before swine, and so forth. (I don’t mean to derail the conversation in who we should or shouldn’t be concerned with). Who i am concerned with are those who are authentically seeking to express their faith in ways that draw them closer to God and that draw others into deeper knowledge of Him. There are elements of all eras of faith which richly inform our current faith context, and which deserve consideration. If they don’t serve the purpose of glorifying God in your faith community, then you don’t need to be worrying about them. But if they would fit into your faith niche in a way that would enrich, envigorate and mobilize your community to advance the Kingdom of God, then they beg your consideration.I believe that ancient elements of faith can and will greatly enrich our corporate experience of faith in the context of urban Springfield. Some people just don’t know it yet. Coreman, you have mentioned that “ancient faith” isn’t particularly “relevant” to our ministry context, but i couldn’t disagree more. The examples you cited of Medieval European faith are great examples of ancient elements that did NOT glorify God. But that is not what people drawn to ancient faith want to revive. Not the bureaucratic structures, and so forth, but rather the deep, reflective, mysterious aspect of faith that was expressed even before the Medieval era.We can quabble over what physical things help and hinder our experience of God, but the fact is that physical things are in fact used in such a way. You can’t avoid the fact that we experience God through physical means… through all five senses, plus a “sixth sense”, our soul. But if it weren’t for talking or singing (with our tongues, teeth, cheeks, throat, lungs, diaphragm, etc.) and hearing (with our ears), reading (with our eyes), understanding (with our brains), and “going” (with our whole bodies), we wouldn’t experience God whatsoever. Likewise, we shouldn’t be reactionary against physical elements (e.g. architechture, art, candles, projector screens, videography, music, liturgy, literature) which can be–and often are–used to draw us closer TO God and release us with abandon FOR God to the world which desperately needs Him.There is a yearning amongst many, many younger evangelicals, myself included, to be reconnected with their rich spiritual heritage. To deny this is both ignorant and suppressive. In an era of unparalleled dividedness amongst the Body of Christ universal, maybe returning to our roots is the one thing that can truly bring unity.From here on out, let’s continue this conversation ASSUMING that motives are

  14. Ahh, Coreman… loops are great… i believe i referred to them as “programming” (programming just referring to the use of multiple loops, often intertwined). I think programming can enhance music tremendously. The word “drum machine” connotes something that is attempting to emulate drums with snare/cymbal sounds, etc., rather than utilizing a wide range of rich sounds that modern programming entails.As to the comments regarding “being cool” and “relevant”, i think we all agree here that doing ANYTHING just to be cool, to get attention, to draw a crowd, is useless and frankly IRRelevant. I would have to agree that some churches try to put on a vintage facade, without truly embracing the important elements of faith expressed in ancient faith communities. We can quickly and easily dismiss any attempts to merely be hip or cutting edge… we’ve established and reestablished that in earlier blogs. Hopefully we can get past that, since we already all concur. No use beating a dead horse, eh?I think there is a much more meaningful dialogue available to us regarding the GENUINE and LEGITIMATE aspects of historical faith and the incorporation of “ancient” elements of liturgy and art into today’s corporate worship. People who do things out of wrong motives are easy targets. Frankly, i’m not very concerned about them. The Bible teaches us not to piddle with fools, to cast our pearls before swine, and so forth. (I don’t mean to derail the conversation in who we should or shouldn’t be concerned with). Who i am concerned with are those who are authentically seeking to express their faith in ways that draw them closer to God and that draw others into deeper knowledge of Him. There are elements of all eras of faith which richly inform our current faith context, and which deserve consideration. If they don’t serve the purpose of glorifying God in your faith community, then you don’t need to be worrying about them. But if they would fit into your faith niche in a way that would enrich, envigorate and mobilize your community to advance the Kingdom of God, then they beg your consideration.I believe that ancient elements of faith can and will greatly enrich our corporate experience of faith in the context of urban Springfield. Some people just don’t know it yet. Coreman, you have mentioned that “ancient faith” isn’t particularly “relevant” to our ministry context, but i couldn’t disagree more. The examples you cited of Medieval European faith are great examples of ancient elements that did NOT glorify God. But that is not what people drawn to ancient faith want to revive. Not the bureaucratic structures, and so forth, but rather the deep, reflective, mysterious aspect of faith that was expressed even before the Medieval era.We can quabble over what physical things help and hinder our experience of God, but the fact is that physical things are in fact used in such a way. You can’t avoid the fact that we experience God through physical means… through all five senses, plus a “sixth sense”, our soul. But if it weren’t for talking or singing (with our tongues, teeth, cheeks, throat, lungs, diaphragm, etc.) and hearing (with our ears), reading (with our eyes), understanding (with our brains), and “going” (with our whole bodies), we wouldn’t experience God whatsoever. Likewise, we shouldn’t be reactionary against physical elements (e.g. architechture, art, candles, projector screens, videography, music, liturgy, literature) which can be–and often are–used to draw us closer TO God and release us with abandon FOR God to the world which desperately needs Him.There is a yearning amongst many, many younger evangelicals, myself included, to be reconnected with their rich spiritual heritage. To deny this is both ignorant and suppressive. In an era of unparalleled dividedness amongst the Body of Christ universal, maybe returning to our roots is the one thing that can truly bring unity.From here on out, let’s continue this conversation ASSUMING that motives are

  15. “From here on out, let’s continue this conversation ASSUMING that motives are all noble and true.”Wow, beloved just laid down the law. I think I’ve been chastised. Not sure how I feel about that.…anyway, I guess I didn’t at all gather from Coreman’s post that he was discounting any and all forms of ancient worship or the physicality of worship. In fact, knowing he and a little about his wife, I can’t imagine that he would say that or even alude to it. And my point remains – there are many elements to be drawn from “the past” that can greatly enhance our relationship with God. I don’t think that’s beating a dead horse (which honestly is a ghastly picture and a cliche I hate using), I think it’s very apropos to the discussion at large. Because to embrace the good, there is a prerequisite of identifying the bad, the useless and that irrelevant. And it’s not always immediately obvious and it’s not carte blanche.Sucking up ancient practices into our “big bag of tricks” and spewing them all over our church practices leads to fads. Ancient-future church or vintage faith is by its very nature “fadish”. That doesn’t mean it’s all bad or even a little bad. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong. But it does mean we need to procede with caution.I have studied Eastern Orthodoxy in depth – and you can’t get much more encient than that. I have attended services at our local perish. And I can tell you that if you just start plopping elements from EO into your church, you will miss the whole point. But if you take the heart of those practices, look at why they’re there and where they come from and you examine your motives then you will have something eternal.I know beloved that you wanted us to assume positive intent but the negative must be examined in order to assure positive intent.

  16. “From here on out, let’s continue this conversation ASSUMING that motives are all noble and true.”Wow, beloved just laid down the law. I think I’ve been chastised. Not sure how I feel about that.…anyway, I guess I didn’t at all gather from Coreman’s post that he was discounting any and all forms of ancient worship or the physicality of worship. In fact, knowing he and a little about his wife, I can’t imagine that he would say that or even alude to it. And my point remains – there are many elements to be drawn from “the past” that can greatly enhance our relationship with God. I don’t think that’s beating a dead horse (which honestly is a ghastly picture and a cliche I hate using), I think it’s very apropos to the discussion at large. Because to embrace the good, there is a prerequisite of identifying the bad, the useless and that irrelevant. And it’s not always immediately obvious and it’s not carte blanche.Sucking up ancient practices into our “big bag of tricks” and spewing them all over our church practices leads to fads. Ancient-future church or vintage faith is by its very nature “fadish”. That doesn’t mean it’s all bad or even a little bad. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong. But it does mean we need to procede with caution.I have studied Eastern Orthodoxy in depth – and you can’t get much more encient than that. I have attended services at our local perish. And I can tell you that if you just start plopping elements from EO into your church, you will miss the whole point. But if you take the heart of those practices, look at why they’re there and where they come from and you examine your motives then you will have something eternal.I know beloved that you wanted us to assume positive intent but the negative must be examined in order to assure positive intent.

  17. I should apologize for any misunderstanding of my last comment. I merely meant to emphasize what we already agree on, so that we don’t get hung up on it. We all agree that anything that is done simply for novelty or because it’s cool or fadish is irrelevant and ungodly… it is, in fact, bordering on idolatry. When i made that comment, i was employing a debate concept, which is used to enable a conversation to continue, rather than getting hung up on preceding arguments. For the sake of this conversation, i think we should assume the best in each other, and assume that there are faith communities out there who are genuinely pursuing the deep, authentic elements of ancient faith.I share your sentiments regarding the heart and soul behind some of the valuable elements of ancient faith traditions. You can’t sprinkle those elements onto your modern machine and expect to glorify God. We most definitely should explore the underlying reasons and circumstances behind pre-modern (particularly early church) ecclesiology, and evaluate their merits. You are completely right that we should always proceed with caution. Part of caution is recognition. Part of it is being willing to engage. What concerns me is when we completely dismiss a movement or an era of the church because of some ungodly things about it. I’m not saying that Coreman has done that. I also know him much too well to assume that. But i do know that he has expressed to me that he doesn’t find much merit in incorporating ancient traditions and emblems into our current Church context, whereas i find a tremendous amount of merit. Correct me if i’m wrong, Coreman, but maybe it’s that you’re opposed to the “vintage sprinkling” that characterizes some modern and postmodern worship services, rather than the true and godly elements ancient faith. I am on target here? Are your thoughts on this topic evolving at all as you read this blog? What are your genuine convictions on this topic, aside from trying to spark debate. 😉Much love to all of you.

  18. I should apologize for any misunderstanding of my last comment. I merely meant to emphasize what we already agree on, so that we don’t get hung up on it. We all agree that anything that is done simply for novelty or because it’s cool or fadish is irrelevant and ungodly… it is, in fact, bordering on idolatry. When i made that comment, i was employing a debate concept, which is used to enable a conversation to continue, rather than getting hung up on preceding arguments. For the sake of this conversation, i think we should assume the best in each other, and assume that there are faith communities out there who are genuinely pursuing the deep, authentic elements of ancient faith.I share your sentiments regarding the heart and soul behind some of the valuable elements of ancient faith traditions. You can’t sprinkle those elements onto your modern machine and expect to glorify God. We most definitely should explore the underlying reasons and circumstances behind pre-modern (particularly early church) ecclesiology, and evaluate their merits. You are completely right that we should always proceed with caution. Part of caution is recognition. Part of it is being willing to engage. What concerns me is when we completely dismiss a movement or an era of the church because of some ungodly things about it. I’m not saying that Coreman has done that. I also know him much too well to assume that. But i do know that he has expressed to me that he doesn’t find much merit in incorporating ancient traditions and emblems into our current Church context, whereas i find a tremendous amount of merit. Correct me if i’m wrong, Coreman, but maybe it’s that you’re opposed to the “vintage sprinkling” that characterizes some modern and postmodern worship services, rather than the true and godly elements ancient faith. I am on target here? Are your thoughts on this topic evolving at all as you read this blog? What are your genuine convictions on this topic, aside from trying to spark debate. 😉Much love to all of you.

  19. Honestly, I don’t think anybody’s chastising anybody.Fisher, if you want to know… sometimes Beloved and I are a little hard on each another in this forum, to stir up discussion. It’s almost an act. Devil’s advocate, if you will. But it serves a greater purpose, and that is to help us and others stretch our minds that little extra bit to hopefully encompass reality.I think we can assume the nobility of motive and still have a pretty heavy debate on our hands, because it’s not as black-and-white as all that. I think the majority of ministers who consider themselves “cutting edge” actually do have good motives, but are misled. A person can genuinely desire to build the kingdom of God, yet fall into numerous “fad traps” because of misguided beliefs about relevancy or spiritual marketing. If I honestly believe that more people will connect to God if I start swinging an incense thingy around, then my motives are pure, regardless of my method.I think the debate at hand is that of effectiveness. What expressions of worship will really help the citizens of a post-modern world see the true nature of God and his plan for us? What does it mean to incorporate vestiges of history into current worship without going overboard? What traditions represent a heritage instead of a rut? And what good is a heritage to begin with?Oh, and one more thing, Beloved… YOU’RE A DORK! 😉

  20. Honestly, I don’t think anybody’s chastising anybody.Fisher, if you want to know… sometimes Beloved and I are a little hard on each another in this forum, to stir up discussion. It’s almost an act. Devil’s advocate, if you will. But it serves a greater purpose, and that is to help us and others stretch our minds that little extra bit to hopefully encompass reality.I think we can assume the nobility of motive and still have a pretty heavy debate on our hands, because it’s not as black-and-white as all that. I think the majority of ministers who consider themselves “cutting edge” actually do have good motives, but are misled. A person can genuinely desire to build the kingdom of God, yet fall into numerous “fad traps” because of misguided beliefs about relevancy or spiritual marketing. If I honestly believe that more people will connect to God if I start swinging an incense thingy around, then my motives are pure, regardless of my method.I think the debate at hand is that of effectiveness. What expressions of worship will really help the citizens of a post-modern world see the true nature of God and his plan for us? What does it mean to incorporate vestiges of history into current worship without going overboard? What traditions represent a heritage instead of a rut? And what good is a heritage to begin with?Oh, and one more thing, Beloved… YOU’RE A DORK! 😉

  21. Yes, that’s the direction in which i was trying to get us headed. Talking about the merits of different historical faith traditions, of our faith heritage, and of ruts, of the good, the bad, and the ugly.The key here is, as Coreman said, “effectiveness”. Oh, effectiveness is absolutely of the essense. And, as i mentioned, we can’t debate on the effectivness, unless we trust that each of us are truly concerned, not only with motive, but with the Kingdom… with what will actually bring glory to God. And this is where exploring “the physical” in relation to “the spiritual” comes into play. It’s not a question of whether we’re incorporating physical elements into the experience and expression of our faith, it’s a question of WHAT we’re utilizing. And since that is the case EVERYTHING is literally up for debate. I mean that, including everything we see in scripture. It would be foolish to assume that every ordinance God gave His people at every era was an ordinance for His people here and now. So it is up to us to look back at history, see where we’ve been, see how we got to where we are, evaluate where we are, and see if we either missed some things along the way and if we left some things behind to the benefit of the Kingdom. And of course all this must be out of a complete submission to the Holy Spirit, not merely from our intellect.Let the games begin!

  22. Yes, that’s the direction in which i was trying to get us headed. Talking about the merits of different historical faith traditions, of our faith heritage, and of ruts, of the good, the bad, and the ugly.The key here is, as Coreman said, “effectiveness”. Oh, effectiveness is absolutely of the essense. And, as i mentioned, we can’t debate on the effectivness, unless we trust that each of us are truly concerned, not only with motive, but with the Kingdom… with what will actually bring glory to God. And this is where exploring “the physical” in relation to “the spiritual” comes into play. It’s not a question of whether we’re incorporating physical elements into the experience and expression of our faith, it’s a question of WHAT we’re utilizing. And since that is the case EVERYTHING is literally up for debate. I mean that, including everything we see in scripture. It would be foolish to assume that every ordinance God gave His people at every era was an ordinance for His people here and now. So it is up to us to look back at history, see where we’ve been, see how we got to where we are, evaluate where we are, and see if we either missed some things along the way and if we left some things behind to the benefit of the Kingdom. And of course all this must be out of a complete submission to the Holy Spirit, not merely from our intellect.Let the games begin!

  23. here’s the thing though boys – you know eachother and you post from that place – it’s not effective in drawing others into a discussion.and using debate tactics (of which I’m very familiar) is not a good dialogue tactic.So let’s explore different ancient components and examine which have merit. Here’s a heady one – liturgy.

  24. here’s the thing though boys – you know eachother and you post from that place – it’s not effective in drawing others into a discussion.and using debate tactics (of which I’m very familiar) is not a good dialogue tactic.So let’s explore different ancient components and examine which have merit. Here’s a heady one – liturgy.

  25. Liturgy, eh?Challenge accepted.Let’s see first if we can agree on a definition for Liturgy. Based on a little study and personal experience, let me suggest this one:Christian Liturgy = A program of public worship that includes predetermined verbiage recited by a leader, in unison by a congregation, or a combination of both. Words can be in the vernacular, in Latin, or (less often) in Hebrew or Greek. They can be spoken or sung, and can originate from scripture or from other sources deemed authoritative. Although the words of Liturgy can express a wide range of sentiments, it is typically performed with a great deal of reverence, stoicism, or both.Let me know if there are elements of my definition that you disagree with.My experience with Liturgy is primarily from the Messianic Jewish movement, in which Liturgy was recited and sung in Hebrew, and usually in English as a translation. I also know a little about Latin liturgy from Music History classes and my involvement in various choirs.I believe that Liturgy is like many other conventions of ancient faith, in the fact that it is fine in and of itself, and can be very helpful or very harmful today, depending on how it is implemented.I think those fellowships that have abondoned Liturgy over the past few centuries have probably done so rightly, because Liturgy has a way of becoming habitual… a no-brainer. Imagine if your only prayer every day was the Lord’s Prayer, and you memorized it and said it as fast as possible in a total monotone. The spiritual benefit you would receive from that practice would parallel what I believe was going on in the Liturgical Church.But I don’t think Liturgy itself is to be blamed for this. Part of its impotence was due to the fact that it was in a language that no common people understood. Also there were few clergy who were interested in pouring meaning into the experience for the sake of their parishioners.Another pitfall is the fact that a good deal of the verbiage of Liturgy is not directly from scripture. This is not a problem unless it comes to be venerated on par with God’s Word, which it often did.I personally think that we can draw a lot from Liturgy. We should definitely reexamine the practice of reading scripture aloud in unison, and look into specific Liturgies to determine what it holds for us today. But above all we have to constantly examine ourselves to determine the effectiveness of all that we do in turning our hearts toward God.With that in mind, I think we all need to take a second look at the songs we sing as well. The danger of worshipping God in a perfunctory manner is as present today as it ever was.

  26. Liturgy, eh?Challenge accepted.Let’s see first if we can agree on a definition for Liturgy. Based on a little study and personal experience, let me suggest this one:Christian Liturgy = A program of public worship that includes predetermined verbiage recited by a leader, in unison by a congregation, or a combination of both. Words can be in the vernacular, in Latin, or (less often) in Hebrew or Greek. They can be spoken or sung, and can originate from scripture or from other sources deemed authoritative. Although the words of Liturgy can express a wide range of sentiments, it is typically performed with a great deal of reverence, stoicism, or both.Let me know if there are elements of my definition that you disagree with.My experience with Liturgy is primarily from the Messianic Jewish movement, in which Liturgy was recited and sung in Hebrew, and usually in English as a translation. I also know a little about Latin liturgy from Music History classes and my involvement in various choirs.I believe that Liturgy is like many other conventions of ancient faith, in the fact that it is fine in and of itself, and can be very helpful or very harmful today, depending on how it is implemented.I think those fellowships that have abondoned Liturgy over the past few centuries have probably done so rightly, because Liturgy has a way of becoming habitual… a no-brainer. Imagine if your only prayer every day was the Lord’s Prayer, and you memorized it and said it as fast as possible in a total monotone. The spiritual benefit you would receive from that practice would parallel what I believe was going on in the Liturgical Church.But I don’t think Liturgy itself is to be blamed for this. Part of its impotence was due to the fact that it was in a language that no common people understood. Also there were few clergy who were interested in pouring meaning into the experience for the sake of their parishioners.Another pitfall is the fact that a good deal of the verbiage of Liturgy is not directly from scripture. This is not a problem unless it comes to be venerated on par with God’s Word, which it often did.I personally think that we can draw a lot from Liturgy. We should definitely reexamine the practice of reading scripture aloud in unison, and look into specific Liturgies to determine what it holds for us today. But above all we have to constantly examine ourselves to determine the effectiveness of all that we do in turning our hearts toward God.With that in mind, I think we all need to take a second look at the songs we sing as well. The danger of worshipping God in a perfunctory manner is as present today as it ever was.

  27. Coreman,I am not an expert in liturgy by any stretch of the imagination, but was part of the United Methodist faith community for 12 years, which heavily depends on liturgy (both spoken and musical) for its corporate worship. From that viewpoint, i think you have provided a good definition.In my experience, liturgy was meaningful, but it lost its meaning after a while, because i saw ritual and not authenticity. It served a tremendous function in memorizing scripture, Biblical truths, and affirmations of faith. Who knows, it may have aided my spiritual formation more than i’ll ever realize. All i know is that it became rote, and when i became of age to “leave my nest” (which for me, was my junior year in high school), i decided to go to a different church. I gave this testimony in the last blog post. If you didn’t read it there, you may refer back to it if you’re interested.I agree that in many ways music has replaced liturgy as the rote practice of most traditional and modern churches. The adoption of hymnals as the primary container of “legal” worship songs did a tremendous amount to homogenize the Western faith experience and stunt creativity. Even amongst modern or contemporary worship leaders and congregations, there is a strong tendency toward the familiar. They all want to play and sing the good ole’ camp songs they sang growing up, or at some significant spiritual retreat they went to years ago. Consequently, they dig new ruts, not dissimilar to the old ones.There are many mature men of faith writing new hymns and redoing old ones, who are making significant contributions to the postmodern experience of faith. Unfortunately, their songs, barring a few radio hits which get redone over and over and over…, their music is not widely embraced. A big part of it is comfort, nostalgia, and the inconvenience of learning something new. Another part of it is twofold: The group who is resistant to new music altogether(stylistically and lyrically) feels that the songs aren’t deep or theological enough and are too emotion-driven. The group who embraces “new” music, but mainly the worship songs of the late 80’s and early 90’s, as well as many of the more shallow modern songs, are resistant to this music because of it’s theological depth and lack of “pop” catchiness. They deem it “inaccessible”.Thanks for getting the ball rolling Coreman. That’s all from me for now.Blessings.

  28. Coreman,I am not an expert in liturgy by any stretch of the imagination, but was part of the United Methodist faith community for 12 years, which heavily depends on liturgy (both spoken and musical) for its corporate worship. From that viewpoint, i think you have provided a good definition.In my experience, liturgy was meaningful, but it lost its meaning after a while, because i saw ritual and not authenticity. It served a tremendous function in memorizing scripture, Biblical truths, and affirmations of faith. Who knows, it may have aided my spiritual formation more than i’ll ever realize. All i know is that it became rote, and when i became of age to “leave my nest” (which for me, was my junior year in high school), i decided to go to a different church. I gave this testimony in the last blog post. If you didn’t read it there, you may refer back to it if you’re interested.I agree that in many ways music has replaced liturgy as the rote practice of most traditional and modern churches. The adoption of hymnals as the primary container of “legal” worship songs did a tremendous amount to homogenize the Western faith experience and stunt creativity. Even amongst modern or contemporary worship leaders and congregations, there is a strong tendency toward the familiar. They all want to play and sing the good ole’ camp songs they sang growing up, or at some significant spiritual retreat they went to years ago. Consequently, they dig new ruts, not dissimilar to the old ones.There are many mature men of faith writing new hymns and redoing old ones, who are making significant contributions to the postmodern experience of faith. Unfortunately, their songs, barring a few radio hits which get redone over and over and over…, their music is not widely embraced. A big part of it is comfort, nostalgia, and the inconvenience of learning something new. Another part of it is twofold: The group who is resistant to new music altogether(stylistically and lyrically) feels that the songs aren’t deep or theological enough and are too emotion-driven. The group who embraces “new” music, but mainly the worship songs of the late 80’s and early 90’s, as well as many of the more shallow modern songs, are resistant to this music because of it’s theological depth and lack of “pop” catchiness. They deem it “inaccessible”.Thanks for getting the ball rolling Coreman. That’s all from me for now.Blessings.

  29. There is powerful new worship coming out of the Church today. I’ve been fortunate to experience little of the stuff beloved mentioned. I think many elements of the ancient church should not have been abandoned, they simply should have remained fluid. And much of what was abandoned was done so out of ignorance for the truth of the situation. (take the Lenten season for example) So I have no problem “resurrecting” many elements like liturgy as long as it’s not simply bringing back something that no longer breathes life into our spirituality. I’ve been reading a lot from the UK and AU Emerging movement and there is some awesome stuff coming from them. I’ve read some creative worship ideas that are very cool: liturgies that are extremely powerful, contemplative worship that rends the heart, communion ideas that are much better than what our church does. There’s something to be said for questioning and examining whether we might have been too hasty in throwing out our roots. (including our Hebraic roots btw)I really like the idea of creating new liturgies, using modern iconography, etc. It disturbs me that most modern evangelicals don’t know the creeds and can barely even effectively articulate what they believe – I’m not totally against some sort of catechism to remedy this. The key is to make sure that we’re not simply dredging up dirty water and bringing more death but that we’re moving with the fresh streams of where the Spirit wants us to go. Eastern Orthodoxy and other Eastern faiths are growing..and fast…and we’d all be wise to examine why.

  30. There is powerful new worship coming out of the Church today. I’ve been fortunate to experience little of the stuff beloved mentioned. I think many elements of the ancient church should not have been abandoned, they simply should have remained fluid. And much of what was abandoned was done so out of ignorance for the truth of the situation. (take the Lenten season for example) So I have no problem “resurrecting” many elements like liturgy as long as it’s not simply bringing back something that no longer breathes life into our spirituality. I’ve been reading a lot from the UK and AU Emerging movement and there is some awesome stuff coming from them. I’ve read some creative worship ideas that are very cool: liturgies that are extremely powerful, contemplative worship that rends the heart, communion ideas that are much better than what our church does. There’s something to be said for questioning and examining whether we might have been too hasty in throwing out our roots. (including our Hebraic roots btw)I really like the idea of creating new liturgies, using modern iconography, etc. It disturbs me that most modern evangelicals don’t know the creeds and can barely even effectively articulate what they believe – I’m not totally against some sort of catechism to remedy this. The key is to make sure that we’re not simply dredging up dirty water and bringing more death but that we’re moving with the fresh streams of where the Spirit wants us to go. Eastern Orthodoxy and other Eastern faiths are growing..and fast…and we’d all be wise to examine why.

  31. Amen! Looking forward to hearing some of the fresh ideas (new and old) you are learning about and experiencing. Thank you for your passion for not pouring muddy water back into our faith life. You’re right, rote ritual, even song-singing, is no more honorable to God than the sacrifices that God said He detested in the book of Isaiah. If our worship is not in spirit (wholeheartedly) and in truth (in accordance with His word and in obedience to His guidance), then whatever form it takes, it’s putrid to Him.

  32. Amen! Looking forward to hearing some of the fresh ideas (new and old) you are learning about and experiencing. Thank you for your passion for not pouring muddy water back into our faith life. You’re right, rote ritual, even song-singing, is no more honorable to God than the sacrifices that God said He detested in the book of Isaiah. If our worship is not in spirit (wholeheartedly) and in truth (in accordance with His word and in obedience to His guidance), then whatever form it takes, it’s putrid to Him.

  33. Frankly I’m not sure I understand people who put more effort into reviving ancient customs than they put into reviving God’s original, biblical intentions for His church. For example, why concern ourselves with people’s ignorance of the creeds when their ignorance of scripture is even more striking? I would rather teach a person to memorize a verse from God’s Word than a sentence devised by a committee in Nicea. Ancient creeds have a way of getting promoted to the rank of scripture, and I think that’s dangerous.Isn’t it possible to restore the reverence and mysticism to our worship without reviving a number of eccelesiastical conventions that were often conceived for political rather than biblical reasons?We, as 21st century Christians, have three heritages, in my mind. 1) Biblical Judaism. Although we are arguably (don’t let this de-rail our discussion) not bound to the many ceremonial and health laws found in the Torah, we do stand on the shoulders of a great Hebraic Heritage, and we will never fully understand our own faith until we grasp the faith that Jesus expressed Himself.2) First-Century Christianity. This I have already discussed in my post about the First-Century Church.3) The faith of all those since the first century who have adapted God’s real truth to their own cultures.This list of mine excludes all the church customs and rituals and holidays (where is Lent in the Bible? It might be there… I just don’t know) that never served the purpose of loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

  34. Frankly I’m not sure I understand people who put more effort into reviving ancient customs than they put into reviving God’s original, biblical intentions for His church. For example, why concern ourselves with people’s ignorance of the creeds when their ignorance of scripture is even more striking? I would rather teach a person to memorize a verse from God’s Word than a sentence devised by a committee in Nicea. Ancient creeds have a way of getting promoted to the rank of scripture, and I think that’s dangerous.Isn’t it possible to restore the reverence and mysticism to our worship without reviving a number of eccelesiastical conventions that were often conceived for political rather than biblical reasons?We, as 21st century Christians, have three heritages, in my mind. 1) Biblical Judaism. Although we are arguably (don’t let this de-rail our discussion) not bound to the many ceremonial and health laws found in the Torah, we do stand on the shoulders of a great Hebraic Heritage, and we will never fully understand our own faith until we grasp the faith that Jesus expressed Himself.2) First-Century Christianity. This I have already discussed in my post about the First-Century Church.3) The faith of all those since the first century who have adapted God’s real truth to their own cultures.This list of mine excludes all the church customs and rituals and holidays (where is Lent in the Bible? It might be there… I just don’t know) that never served the purpose of loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

  35. All that said, Fisher… I love your heart and your mind, and I believe that in your search for spiritual worship and truthful worship you will not steer people wrong.Keep us updated as you make new discoveries.

  36. All that said, Fisher… I love your heart and your mind, and I believe that in your search for spiritual worship and truthful worship you will not steer people wrong.Keep us updated as you make new discoveries.

  37. Are you proposing that everything the apostles taught is in the Bible?I think it’s very dangerous to take a “Bible only” stand. The apostles themselves said to learn and take example from their teachings and traditions. (2 Thessalonians 2:15Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle; 1 Corinthians 11:2Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you..)The Apostolic churches had practices and traditions outside of that which is recorded in the Bible. All you have to do is examine the Didache (Estimated Range of Dating: 50-120 C.E.) to see that. I’m not suggesting that (like the EO church) we need to go “back to” that and practice the ancient traditions exactly as they did. What I’m suggesting is that traditions/practices are important components to the Christian life. Not just in corporate worship but in our own individual relationship as well. I’ll address your creed comment.The reason why I believe it’s important for Christians to know the creeds and other such statements of faith is because many heretics memorized scripture. Memorizing the Bible without any foundation of orthodox understanding of Christianity can easily cause a person to become errant in their faith…and while some may argue that it doesn’t matter if they’re errant, I disagree. I think it matters a lot.Our focus ought to always be Jesus and him crucified. But the only way to teach people “which Jesus” is to go back to what has been established as orthodox Christian theology and understanding. To know it, to teach it and to base our relationship with Jesus on that knowledge.It’s very possible to incorporate ancient elements of our faith without exalting them to the status and authority of Christ himself. In fact, as long as the purpose is to point people to Jesus (as is the purpose of Lent), then there is no reason why that would happen.Problems arise when someone finds something good and looks to that instead of using that good thing to point to Jesus and being willing to move on, change, etc. if the Spirit leads. Any extreme position in this area can create dangerously stagnant faith but the other extreme can become dangerously wishy washy.I believe people could easily and quickly reject false teachings when using the discernment of the Spirit in conjunction with a good foundation of what Christianity REALLY teaches. How that looks will be unique to each body but the core should be consistent throughout the whole Body.

  38. Are you proposing that everything the apostles taught is in the Bible?I think it’s very dangerous to take a “Bible only” stand. The apostles themselves said to learn and take example from their teachings and traditions. (2 Thessalonians 2:15Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle; 1 Corinthians 11:2Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you..)The Apostolic churches had practices and traditions outside of that which is recorded in the Bible. All you have to do is examine the Didache (Estimated Range of Dating: 50-120 C.E.) to see that. I’m not suggesting that (like the EO church) we need to go “back to” that and practice the ancient traditions exactly as they did. What I’m suggesting is that traditions/practices are important components to the Christian life. Not just in corporate worship but in our own individual relationship as well. I’ll address your creed comment.The reason why I believe it’s important for Christians to know the creeds and other such statements of faith is because many heretics memorized scripture. Memorizing the Bible without any foundation of orthodox understanding of Christianity can easily cause a person to become errant in their faith…and while some may argue that it doesn’t matter if they’re errant, I disagree. I think it matters a lot.Our focus ought to always be Jesus and him crucified. But the only way to teach people “which Jesus” is to go back to what has been established as orthodox Christian theology and understanding. To know it, to teach it and to base our relationship with Jesus on that knowledge.It’s very possible to incorporate ancient elements of our faith without exalting them to the status and authority of Christ himself. In fact, as long as the purpose is to point people to Jesus (as is the purpose of Lent), then there is no reason why that would happen.Problems arise when someone finds something good and looks to that instead of using that good thing to point to Jesus and being willing to move on, change, etc. if the Spirit leads. Any extreme position in this area can create dangerously stagnant faith but the other extreme can become dangerously wishy washy.I believe people could easily and quickly reject false teachings when using the discernment of the Spirit in conjunction with a good foundation of what Christianity REALLY teaches. How that looks will be unique to each body but the core should be consistent throughout the whole Body.

  39. Provocative and insightful thoughts from each of you. I have found C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity to be such a book that contains “the core” truths that all true Christians believe, and is a very helpful one for us personally, in reminding us of what is of utmost centrality. Not that i agree with every conclusion he draws in the book; there are several that i disagree with, because he draws them by philosophical and anecdotal means, to the neglect of what the Bible actually says. But there is a tremendous amount of valuable common ground available in most of it.Regarding all the customs and traditions, i believe it would be presumptuous to claim that certain historic traditions and rituals had no Christ-centered beginning, but were dead before they even began. That may be the case, but i don’t think there are any of them that we can automatically dismiss without giving them serious consideration and anthropological attention. Wish i had the time to do that sort of stuff! Someday, someday…Fisher makes a good point regarding the knowledge of scripture. The pharisees were the biggest experts on scripture in Jesus’ day (except Jesus, of course!), and they managed to miss the point completely. This is why affirmations, confessions and creeds were necessary, because to say that we believe in the Bible doesn’t mean much. Mormons believe in the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the Bible. Several religions claim that the Bible is a holy book. But all of them except orthodox Christian faiths hold incorrect views of Scripture.Even the New Testament itself evidences the need for the word to be incarnate, that is, experienced and communicated via community. Incarnation is what brings the scripture to life, gives it meaning, actualizes its truth. Words, in and of themselves, are meaningless. Language is the product of human beings expressing what has actually happened or is actually happening. It is informed and shaped by one’s culture, and we cannot escape the importance and implications of linguistics and culture.Hope those thoughts don’t detract from the topic… they were meant to season the “Bible vs. Creeds” conversation. With all that said, the confessions are empty and meaningless without the scripture. Coreman, you are absolutely correct in asserting that the teaching of creeds and confessions in place of scripture, or more heavily than scripture, is out of priority. But that’s a far cry from eliminating them altogether. Remember, the “either-or” ideology most often gives way to the “both-and”. When we talk of emphasis and priority, there’s a fine line we must continually remind ourselves of, so we do not become pendulums (to use your example, Coreman).Peace.

  40. Provocative and insightful thoughts from each of you. I have found C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity to be such a book that contains “the core” truths that all true Christians believe, and is a very helpful one for us personally, in reminding us of what is of utmost centrality. Not that i agree with every conclusion he draws in the book; there are several that i disagree with, because he draws them by philosophical and anecdotal means, to the neglect of what the Bible actually says. But there is a tremendous amount of valuable common ground available in most of it.Regarding all the customs and traditions, i believe it would be presumptuous to claim that certain historic traditions and rituals had no Christ-centered beginning, but were dead before they even began. That may be the case, but i don’t think there are any of them that we can automatically dismiss without giving them serious consideration and anthropological attention. Wish i had the time to do that sort of stuff! Someday, someday…Fisher makes a good point regarding the knowledge of scripture. The pharisees were the biggest experts on scripture in Jesus’ day (except Jesus, of course!), and they managed to miss the point completely. This is why affirmations, confessions and creeds were necessary, because to say that we believe in the Bible doesn’t mean much. Mormons believe in the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the Bible. Several religions claim that the Bible is a holy book. But all of them except orthodox Christian faiths hold incorrect views of Scripture.Even the New Testament itself evidences the need for the word to be incarnate, that is, experienced and communicated via community. Incarnation is what brings the scripture to life, gives it meaning, actualizes its truth. Words, in and of themselves, are meaningless. Language is the product of human beings expressing what has actually happened or is actually happening. It is informed and shaped by one’s culture, and we cannot escape the importance and implications of linguistics and culture.Hope those thoughts don’t detract from the topic… they were meant to season the “Bible vs. Creeds” conversation. With all that said, the confessions are empty and meaningless without the scripture. Coreman, you are absolutely correct in asserting that the teaching of creeds and confessions in place of scripture, or more heavily than scripture, is out of priority. But that’s a far cry from eliminating them altogether. Remember, the “either-or” ideology most often gives way to the “both-and”. When we talk of emphasis and priority, there’s a fine line we must continually remind ourselves of, so we do not become pendulums (to use your example, Coreman).Peace.

  41. I really like this.“Even the New Testament itself evidences the need for the word to be incarnate, that is, experienced and communicated via community. Incarnation is what brings the scripture to life, gives it meaning, actualizes its truth.”One of the things we will likely be incorporating into our service is artistic expressions of worship. Icons are a really cool way to worship and to draw others into worship and I love the idea of new, fresh and modern icons being created by members of the service. To me, that is one way to take an ancient concept and bring it into the “now” of our lives. I also like the idea of people writing new liturgies that may be recited once to “drive home” a teaching point or recited weekly to draw us together to Jesus in unity on an ongoing basis. Frankly, the whole idea of avoiding something because it has a risk of becoming meaningless is not really a strong argument. Even memorizing scripture can become meaningless. Praying can become meaningless. The responsibility of keeping meaning in our religious practices ultimately falls on the individual worshiper. I cannot know what is in each person’s heart and whether or not they are keeping meaning in their worship. Also, IMO, worship in and of itself has meaning, even if the person is less than aware of the meaning.I like the idea of sacred art being used to enhance a worship space.I like meditative songs, poems, chants, instrumentation, etc. to accompany a time of contemplative prayer.I like the concept of the stations of the cross.The key, again, in my opinion, is to ask the “why”. Some things I like might not serve a valuable purpose and those things (no matter how cool) should be abandoned or at least changed or moved to a different usage.

  42. I really like this.“Even the New Testament itself evidences the need for the word to be incarnate, that is, experienced and communicated via community. Incarnation is what brings the scripture to life, gives it meaning, actualizes its truth.”One of the things we will likely be incorporating into our service is artistic expressions of worship. Icons are a really cool way to worship and to draw others into worship and I love the idea of new, fresh and modern icons being created by members of the service. To me, that is one way to take an ancient concept and bring it into the “now” of our lives. I also like the idea of people writing new liturgies that may be recited once to “drive home” a teaching point or recited weekly to draw us together to Jesus in unity on an ongoing basis. Frankly, the whole idea of avoiding something because it has a risk of becoming meaningless is not really a strong argument. Even memorizing scripture can become meaningless. Praying can become meaningless. The responsibility of keeping meaning in our religious practices ultimately falls on the individual worshiper. I cannot know what is in each person’s heart and whether or not they are keeping meaning in their worship. Also, IMO, worship in and of itself has meaning, even if the person is less than aware of the meaning.I like the idea of sacred art being used to enhance a worship space.I like meditative songs, poems, chants, instrumentation, etc. to accompany a time of contemplative prayer.I like the concept of the stations of the cross.The key, again, in my opinion, is to ask the “why”. Some things I like might not serve a valuable purpose and those things (no matter how cool) should be abandoned or at least changed or moved to a different usage.

  43. Fisher, you are chock full of great ideas… I can’t wait to hear how they pan out.The most important thing in my mind is not to buy into the Modernist view of history that tends to throw it all out like so much old milk. As if worship styles and rituals had an expiration date. I say let’s look at all of it, and give it a try if the Spirit so leads. But I still contend that there are some practices that were meaningless (or worse) to begin with. Can you say “indulgences”…I’m gonna stand my ground on Creeds. What is the purpose of a creed except to try and clarify a perspective that scripture is unclear about, then rally everybody around itself. If God is ambiguous about something, maybe that’s because He wants people to be able to disagree in love and unity. In that case, a creed will unnecessarily divide us. And if He’s clear about something, then what do we need a creed for? Let’s just pick out the scriptures that represent what we consider to be Primary beliefs (a.k.a. dealbreakers)and rally around those instead.

  44. Fisher, you are chock full of great ideas… I can’t wait to hear how they pan out.The most important thing in my mind is not to buy into the Modernist view of history that tends to throw it all out like so much old milk. As if worship styles and rituals had an expiration date. I say let’s look at all of it, and give it a try if the Spirit so leads. But I still contend that there are some practices that were meaningless (or worse) to begin with. Can you say “indulgences”…I’m gonna stand my ground on Creeds. What is the purpose of a creed except to try and clarify a perspective that scripture is unclear about, then rally everybody around itself. If God is ambiguous about something, maybe that’s because He wants people to be able to disagree in love and unity. In that case, a creed will unnecessarily divide us. And if He’s clear about something, then what do we need a creed for? Let’s just pick out the scriptures that represent what we consider to be Primary beliefs (a.k.a. dealbreakers)and rally around those instead.

  45. I would argue that the creed is what unites us. If you disagree with the creed then you are not an orthodox Christian. The creed does not serve simply to reitterate the Bible, it serves to clearly and concisely declare the key points of Scripture that serve to unite us all in a common faith.

  46. I would argue that the creed is what unites us. If you disagree with the creed then you are not an orthodox Christian. The creed does not serve simply to reitterate the Bible, it serves to clearly and concisely declare the key points of Scripture that serve to unite us all in a common faith.

  47. To which creed(s) might you be referring? The Apostles’ Creed? The Nicene Creed? I find it interesting that there are so many creeds which have been formulated over the centuries. Apparently the first one wasn’t good enough. Some Christians thought that they were either incomplete, too vague, too specific, or a combination of other issues, and so they established their own.Ok, so they created documents that reflected what their beliefs were as a faith community, and not necessarily what every Christian must believe. But then you have each faith community adopting creeds or belief statements of their own, and POOF!, we have different denominations and sects. The question remains, “Does that mean there isn’t still unity, despite lack of uniformity?” I don’t know the answer to that question, but i believe the answer lies in how those differing beliefs affect the actual decisions we make. Beliefs are irrelevant if they do not impose action, and are nonexistent if they are not acted upon. So, could we agree that differing beliefs within the Church lead to differences of practice, which are often hotly debated, which then rears the ugly head of division? Correct me if this progression is illogical.I am not posing a judgment here, either for or against creeds and confessions, just stating the implications of them. Whether you want to adopt certain “key verses” of scripture as your “belief set”, there is really no difference from a creed, except for slight difference in wording. Creeds CAN be completely reflective of scripture, and since all scripture must be interpreted into a context which is able to be understood in order for it to be beneficial, then it stands to reason that creeds based entirely upon scripture, which comply entirely with scripture, could be placed on a close level with scripture, because they are, in essense, scripture.Note that i did not name any specific creed as scripturally inerrant and synonymous with scripture, only that such a thing is possible.

  48. To which creed(s) might you be referring? The Apostles’ Creed? The Nicene Creed? I find it interesting that there are so many creeds which have been formulated over the centuries. Apparently the first one wasn’t good enough. Some Christians thought that they were either incomplete, too vague, too specific, or a combination of other issues, and so they established their own.Ok, so they created documents that reflected what their beliefs were as a faith community, and not necessarily what every Christian must believe. But then you have each faith community adopting creeds or belief statements of their own, and POOF!, we have different denominations and sects. The question remains, “Does that mean there isn’t still unity, despite lack of uniformity?” I don’t know the answer to that question, but i believe the answer lies in how those differing beliefs affect the actual decisions we make. Beliefs are irrelevant if they do not impose action, and are nonexistent if they are not acted upon. So, could we agree that differing beliefs within the Church lead to differences of practice, which are often hotly debated, which then rears the ugly head of division? Correct me if this progression is illogical.I am not posing a judgment here, either for or against creeds and confessions, just stating the implications of them. Whether you want to adopt certain “key verses” of scripture as your “belief set”, there is really no difference from a creed, except for slight difference in wording. Creeds CAN be completely reflective of scripture, and since all scripture must be interpreted into a context which is able to be understood in order for it to be beneficial, then it stands to reason that creeds based entirely upon scripture, which comply entirely with scripture, could be placed on a close level with scripture, because they are, in essense, scripture.Note that i did not name any specific creed as scripturally inerrant and synonymous with scripture, only that such a thing is possible.

  49. Is there a difference between an orthodox Christian and a Christian? Is there a true Christian which is not an orthodox one? I have no problem proclaiming that in order to be any kind of authentic, born again Christian, there are certain things you must believe and certain experiences you must have had (and speaking in tongues is not one of them.) :)~

  50. Is there a difference between an orthodox Christian and a Christian? Is there a true Christian which is not an orthodox one? I have no problem proclaiming that in order to be any kind of authentic, born again Christian, there are certain things you must believe and certain experiences you must have had (and speaking in tongues is not one of them.) :)~

  51. yes, I do believe there are many claiming to be christians who are not orthodox Christians. I really don’t care if you use the apostle’s creed or not, I just think it’s a very good unifying statement that we all can agree with and a good way to seperate true Christians from christian sects while at the same time uniting the different denominations and groups within orthodox Christianity (including Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox).I’m not really following you coreman. There are many different statements of faith out there, many vision statements, stradegies, etc. that vary greatly and are debated. THIS is exactly why I think a simple creed like the Apostle’s or Nicene is so cool – because it unites us in spite of our variety. And as I said, I really don’t care if a body uses it or not. Although, I think that it’s pitiful how many Christians cannot articulate their faith in any kind of accurate and succinct manner. I think it’s scary how many leaders in churches all over this country have false theologies and false teachings.The reason why I talk about the creeds (and by the way coreman, I think you need to take a closer look at your history and why the creeds exist and why different ones exist) is because they are historical, they have stood the test of time and they are accurate.

  52. yes, I do believe there are many claiming to be christians who are not orthodox Christians. I really don’t care if you use the apostle’s creed or not, I just think it’s a very good unifying statement that we all can agree with and a good way to seperate true Christians from christian sects while at the same time uniting the different denominations and groups within orthodox Christianity (including Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox).I’m not really following you coreman. There are many different statements of faith out there, many vision statements, stradegies, etc. that vary greatly and are debated. THIS is exactly why I think a simple creed like the Apostle’s or Nicene is so cool – because it unites us in spite of our variety. And as I said, I really don’t care if a body uses it or not. Although, I think that it’s pitiful how many Christians cannot articulate their faith in any kind of accurate and succinct manner. I think it’s scary how many leaders in churches all over this country have false theologies and false teachings.The reason why I talk about the creeds (and by the way coreman, I think you need to take a closer look at your history and why the creeds exist and why different ones exist) is because they are historical, they have stood the test of time and they are accurate.

  53. I guess what I’m saying about creeds is that, you know if you have a good one if you can say the same thing with a simple list of scriptures. And if you can do that, then is the creed really necessary?If you can’t do it, then I think it’s a sign that we’re trying to read certainty into the Bible where it doesn’t exist. (For example, one of the Assembly of God’s 16 “fundamental truths” is that Speaking in Tongues is “the initial physical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”) This list of 16 assertions serves as the A/G creed, even though they don’t memorize it word for word or recite it in unison. The excerpt above is an example of an unbiblical level of certainty, in my opinion. So instead of uniting all true Christians, it unites only the members of a particlar denomination, and divides them from others.So my question is, how do we know which creed is THE TRUE CREED? If there were such a thing–a creed that’s responsible for helping determine who is a Christian and who isn’t–then it would actually rise ABOVE the level of scripture. I say this because the consequence is that every interpretation of scripture must then subject itself to the creed in order to be viewed as correct, not the other way around.And although standing the test of time is a good thing, I don’t think we can reasonably use it as a measuring stick for truth.

  54. I guess what I’m saying about creeds is that, you know if you have a good one if you can say the same thing with a simple list of scriptures. And if you can do that, then is the creed really necessary?If you can’t do it, then I think it’s a sign that we’re trying to read certainty into the Bible where it doesn’t exist. (For example, one of the Assembly of God’s 16 “fundamental truths” is that Speaking in Tongues is “the initial physical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.”) This list of 16 assertions serves as the A/G creed, even though they don’t memorize it word for word or recite it in unison. The excerpt above is an example of an unbiblical level of certainty, in my opinion. So instead of uniting all true Christians, it unites only the members of a particlar denomination, and divides them from others.So my question is, how do we know which creed is THE TRUE CREED? If there were such a thing–a creed that’s responsible for helping determine who is a Christian and who isn’t–then it would actually rise ABOVE the level of scripture. I say this because the consequence is that every interpretation of scripture must then subject itself to the creed in order to be viewed as correct, not the other way around.And although standing the test of time is a good thing, I don’t think we can reasonably use it as a measuring stick for truth.

  55. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead.He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.Amen.How could it be a bad thing to use this as a common, united statement of belief and recite it as such?

  56. I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead.He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.Amen.How could it be a bad thing to use this as a common, united statement of belief and recite it as such?

  57. I don’t think it’s bad.Really I just think it’s probably unnecessary.The only bad thing I can think of is that it might–MIGHT–cause people to believe certain things not because they’re in the Bible, but because they’re in the creed.What if you come across a verse that seems to suggest that Jesus does not “judge the living”? Well, since we have this creed that I have to believe every word of in order to be considered a Christian, then I have to assume that no verse in the Bible can disagree with it. Even if it turns out that there’s not a conflict, the creed has kept me from learning to rightly divide the word on my own. It’s done all my thinking for me.But if a real conflict should arise, do we re-write the creed, or re-interpret the Bible? The first invalidates the creed, and the second invalidates the Bible.

  58. I don’t think it’s bad.Really I just think it’s probably unnecessary.The only bad thing I can think of is that it might–MIGHT–cause people to believe certain things not because they’re in the Bible, but because they’re in the creed.What if you come across a verse that seems to suggest that Jesus does not “judge the living”? Well, since we have this creed that I have to believe every word of in order to be considered a Christian, then I have to assume that no verse in the Bible can disagree with it. Even if it turns out that there’s not a conflict, the creed has kept me from learning to rightly divide the word on my own. It’s done all my thinking for me.But if a real conflict should arise, do we re-write the creed, or re-interpret the Bible? The first invalidates the creed, and the second invalidates the Bible.

  59. I guess your perspective depends on whether you believe in and ancient/historical faith that is living and breathing today. I’m not willing to be divided over this issue but I disagree with your perspective and your conclusion.

  60. I guess your perspective depends on whether you believe in and ancient/historical faith that is living and breathing today. I’m not willing to be divided over this issue but I disagree with your perspective and your conclusion.

  61. oh but for the record, I think reciting the creed is about as necessary as having a drum set – i.e. not at all.But I do think that every Christian should know the fundamentals of his/her faith and what defines us as Christians and be able to clearly articulate it. And to do that, I think it’s important to have a proper interpretation of the Scriptures – not just take the scriptures and create whatever statement of faith strikes us at thetime and interpret it however we want. the AoG example is a perfect one. If you look to the ancient/historical church, it’s clear that their interpretation of tongues is inacurate. But if one is to say it’s not relevant to go back to the ancient church to determine (in part) how we rightly divide Scripture, then you cannot fault the AoG for that line in their statement of beliefs.

  62. oh but for the record, I think reciting the creed is about as necessary as having a drum set – i.e. not at all.But I do think that every Christian should know the fundamentals of his/her faith and what defines us as Christians and be able to clearly articulate it. And to do that, I think it’s important to have a proper interpretation of the Scriptures – not just take the scriptures and create whatever statement of faith strikes us at thetime and interpret it however we want. the AoG example is a perfect one. If you look to the ancient/historical church, it’s clear that their interpretation of tongues is inacurate. But if one is to say it’s not relevant to go back to the ancient church to determine (in part) how we rightly divide Scripture, then you cannot fault the AoG for that line in their statement of beliefs.

  63. John 3:17 and following proves that Jesus already has judged the living. It’s just that he reverses His judgment when we surrender to Him and receive salvation.I can’t agree to the Apostles’ Creed because the Bible doesn’t clearly say that He descended to Hell, specifically. It says He descended to the lower, earthly regions, which to me means that He descended to this filthy, fallen earth, which was Hell compared to Heaven. Some translations say “hell” and some do not. My conviction is, first of all, that it doesn’t really matter which it says, but that i don’t think it meant hell. But i could be wrong. And if i am, who cares?Coreman, you’re arguing in a circle when addressing “which creed is the true creed” and “the creed rising above the level of scripture.” Interpretation is difficult, but not as difficult as it seems. You have to have a good grasp of scripture as a whole, unified, coherent piece. That itself cannot even possibly BE scriptural, because such a conclusion is being drawn ABOUT scripture. That is why the verse that says “All scripture is God breathed…” is of no use in interpreting or accepting the New Testament as scripture. Because those words were penned BEFORE the New Testament was compiled.That verse was applying to the Old Testament canon which was affirmed by the church at that day and time. Sure, it coincides with our current belief about the New Testament scripture. But that verse was not utilized in the canonization of the New Testament. It’s a crutch that ignorant ministers and laypeople use to validate the authority of the Bible, and a very weak one at that. (They use it because they do not really know why the New Testament was canonized the way it was.)

  64. John 3:17 and following proves that Jesus already has judged the living. It’s just that he reverses His judgment when we surrender to Him and receive salvation.I can’t agree to the Apostles’ Creed because the Bible doesn’t clearly say that He descended to Hell, specifically. It says He descended to the lower, earthly regions, which to me means that He descended to this filthy, fallen earth, which was Hell compared to Heaven. Some translations say “hell” and some do not. My conviction is, first of all, that it doesn’t really matter which it says, but that i don’t think it meant hell. But i could be wrong. And if i am, who cares?Coreman, you’re arguing in a circle when addressing “which creed is the true creed” and “the creed rising above the level of scripture.” Interpretation is difficult, but not as difficult as it seems. You have to have a good grasp of scripture as a whole, unified, coherent piece. That itself cannot even possibly BE scriptural, because such a conclusion is being drawn ABOUT scripture. That is why the verse that says “All scripture is God breathed…” is of no use in interpreting or accepting the New Testament as scripture. Because those words were penned BEFORE the New Testament was compiled.That verse was applying to the Old Testament canon which was affirmed by the church at that day and time. Sure, it coincides with our current belief about the New Testament scripture. But that verse was not utilized in the canonization of the New Testament. It’s a crutch that ignorant ministers and laypeople use to validate the authority of the Bible, and a very weak one at that. (They use it because they do not really know why the New Testament was canonized the way it was.)

  65. I take it you’re not Calvinist then beloved? hehe..I actually didn’t notice when I copied that, that it had the “hell” statement in there, that was error on my part.the original version of that creed does not have that part in there.

  66. I take it you’re not Calvinist then beloved? hehe..I actually didn’t notice when I copied that, that it had the “hell” statement in there, that was error on my part.the original version of that creed does not have that part in there.

  67. Oh heavens, these aren’t issues worth even considering being divided over. They are mere means of practice; things that we can take or leave, and if they cause division, then we must leave them.Our purpose here is not to stake out and defend positions, but to dialogue to enrich one another’s understanding according to what God has taught us. It is also to build relationships with one another, so that we can challenge one another’s viewpoints with a spirit of unity and humility.So far, i am enjoying the dialogue. Keep it up! (But feel free to rest and recooperate when necessary. I have to do that from time to time.) Hey Fisher, tell your friends, or your husband, or pastor to chime in on our discussions. You’re right, Ryan and i have this bantering that we do with one another, and i can see how that’d make you feel either a confused or a little left out. :)We’re enjoying your conversation though.

  68. Oh heavens, these aren’t issues worth even considering being divided over. They are mere means of practice; things that we can take or leave, and if they cause division, then we must leave them.Our purpose here is not to stake out and defend positions, but to dialogue to enrich one another’s understanding according to what God has taught us. It is also to build relationships with one another, so that we can challenge one another’s viewpoints with a spirit of unity and humility.So far, i am enjoying the dialogue. Keep it up! (But feel free to rest and recooperate when necessary. I have to do that from time to time.) Hey Fisher, tell your friends, or your husband, or pastor to chime in on our discussions. You’re right, Ryan and i have this bantering that we do with one another, and i can see how that’d make you feel either a confused or a little left out. :)We’re enjoying your conversation though.

  69. no, not confused or left out – just making the point that for others it does not serve the discussion well to play devil’s advocate…a tactic which I dislike strongly because I believe it’s manipulative.and no, I’m not the least bit worried about this issue becoming divisive. it’s been a good discussion but I don’t want to get hung up on the creeds…for some reason they’re contentious in evangelical circles.

  70. no, not confused or left out – just making the point that for others it does not serve the discussion well to play devil’s advocate…a tactic which I dislike strongly because I believe it’s manipulative.and no, I’m not the least bit worried about this issue becoming divisive. it’s been a good discussion but I don’t want to get hung up on the creeds…for some reason they’re contentious in evangelical circles.

  71. Heh, i started writing my last comment before your previous one (the “Calvinist” one), so i wasn’t responding to that one.BTW, my daughter was born 6/20/06! And she has to be WAY cuter than yours! :) J/K!I agree that playing devil’s advocate is dangerous if you don’t let people know up front that that’s what you’re doing in each instance. To be honest, most of the time i am not playing devil’s advocate, but when Coreman thinks i am doing so, i generally prefer to let him believe that if it makes him feel better. :) On the other hand, i do tend to be somewhat of a renegade in both conservative and liberal circles, and so i am almost always swimming upstream. I guess you could say that i’m a hardcore moderate, if that’s not too much of an oxymoron. Think of it this way: i think outloud, i explore my thoughts in print and see how others react, which in turn affects my ideology in some way. A lot of my convictions i would not die for; it’s just that they are the result of the best evidence and reasoning i have gathered and employed up to this point.And to your surprise, i am fairly Calvinist, although i am very sympathetic to the Arminiast view. If i am Calvinist, it is not because i think i have God’s sovereignty all figured out; it’s because i recognize the limits to my understanding of His sovereignty (if i completely understood it, He wouldn’t be sovereign). Ironically, this is the same reason Coreman gives for leaning closer to the Arminiast view. How truly fascinating! But i know that this is not the time and venue for that conversation. Maybe someday. I don’t find it as contentious an issue as some. Both sides make their point very well, without pinning scripture against scripture, and to a large degree, both are right. That’s as far as i’ll go. :)Have a fabulous evening.

  72. Heh, i started writing my last comment before your previous one (the “Calvinist” one), so i wasn’t responding to that one.BTW, my daughter was born 6/20/06! And she has to be WAY cuter than yours! :) J/K!I agree that playing devil’s advocate is dangerous if you don’t let people know up front that that’s what you’re doing in each instance. To be honest, most of the time i am not playing devil’s advocate, but when Coreman thinks i am doing so, i generally prefer to let him believe that if it makes him feel better. :) On the other hand, i do tend to be somewhat of a renegade in both conservative and liberal circles, and so i am almost always swimming upstream. I guess you could say that i’m a hardcore moderate, if that’s not too much of an oxymoron. Think of it this way: i think outloud, i explore my thoughts in print and see how others react, which in turn affects my ideology in some way. A lot of my convictions i would not die for; it’s just that they are the result of the best evidence and reasoning i have gathered and employed up to this point.And to your surprise, i am fairly Calvinist, although i am very sympathetic to the Arminiast view. If i am Calvinist, it is not because i think i have God’s sovereignty all figured out; it’s because i recognize the limits to my understanding of His sovereignty (if i completely understood it, He wouldn’t be sovereign). Ironically, this is the same reason Coreman gives for leaning closer to the Arminiast view. How truly fascinating! But i know that this is not the time and venue for that conversation. Maybe someday. I don’t find it as contentious an issue as some. Both sides make their point very well, without pinning scripture against scripture, and to a large degree, both are right. That’s as far as i’ll go. :)Have a fabulous evening.

  73. Oh don’t even get me started on whose baby is cuter. Not only do I have the cutest baby ever but I have the 2 cutest daughters ever 😉I’m always swimming upstream…come join the salmon

  74. Oh don’t even get me started on whose baby is cuter. Not only do I have the cutest baby ever but I have the 2 cutest daughters ever 😉I’m always swimming upstream…come join the salmon

  75. oh I forgot to mention, there is no way I’m bringing my husband into these discussions until you bring your wives. I will not be the only woman with even more guys…it’s bad enough with you 2. hehe. I talked to David about this issue last night and he’s the “common ground” kind of guy – very much a peacemaker. He would just help us all find the common ground and go with that. In other words, he’s a wet blanket 😉

  76. oh I forgot to mention, there is no way I’m bringing my husband into these discussions until you bring your wives. I will not be the only woman with even more guys…it’s bad enough with you 2. hehe. I talked to David about this issue last night and he’s the “common ground” kind of guy – very much a peacemaker. He would just help us all find the common ground and go with that. In other words, he’s a wet blanket 😉

  77. Ha ha.“There is neither male nor female, Greek nor Jew, slave nor free…”Common ground guys would be good for The Reach, where there tends to be rather flagrant disagreement. Maybe you could point him that direction, eh?:)

  78. Ha ha.“There is neither male nor female, Greek nor Jew, slave nor free…”Common ground guys would be good for The Reach, where there tends to be rather flagrant disagreement. Maybe you could point him that direction, eh?:)

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