Two days after I posted my series “Beyond Evangelical?“, Milt Rodriguez – who I took to task in my series – wrote a blog which helps close the gap, so to speak, that I was addressing.
I urge everyone to read Milt’s new blog. It really is very good, and is at http://miltrodriguez.wordpress.com/2012/02/24/10-myths-about-organic-church-part-9/.
But the gap still exists so long as he continues to have a very limited view of the “objective” aspect of his “holistic approach” (as he discusses in his blog).
Specifically, does he still discredit, as he’s done in other blogs, those who (to quote him directly) engage in “praying and working toward … bringing this nation back to God” because political and civic engagement “is just another distraction from the person of Christ Himself” (emphasis added)?
Helping the poor and needy – as Milt’s blog urges – is not just doing charity and personal ministry (it certainly can include that, and I’m active in those areas), but also can legitimately include dealing with systemic social and political issues. It also can include those who labor in economics, law, politics, media, the arts, education, and all other spheres of life – not as “distractions” from Jesus but as expressions of the love of Jesus which is alive in them.
I have no idea if God has called Milt to those larger arenas, but my plea is that he expand his vision to embrace those who are called – and rethink some of his very harsh prior rhetoric against other brothers and sisters whose holistic approach may be broader than his own.
As a fellow church planter, I think it is best that we avoid imposing our own gifts, callings and sensibilities (including our political likes and dislikes and maybe our natural tendency to discount those things that we don’t necessarily personally grasp) on God’s people as somehow normative. That is so limiting to those who have God-given abilities and motivations which may exceed or differ from our own.
As I state in my Beyond Evangelical? series, and it bears repeating: Jesus is subjective, personal and relational. But He is also objective, cultural and propositional. And true fellowship – organic, missional, or whatever – must permit folks to express all of Jesus, no matter what our gifts, our callings, or our sensibilities.
Again, though, I think Milt Rodriguez’s latest blog is excellent and I applaud him for it.
I appreciate your statement, “Jesus is subjective, personal and relational. But He is also objective, cultural and propositional.” I will, admittedly have to chew on the “Jesus is Subjective” part. It strikes me as odd that those who claim we need to get back to a Hebraic style of thinking that includes the “both & and,” are quick to say that any given concept is “either-or.”
Milts article is very helpful in the discussion, though I still feel your series has a lot of value even as it relates to communication coming from Milt, Frank and others… even if they have been misunderstood. We each see through a glass dimly and just have a measure of grace and understanding to bring. That said as long as we each acknowledge we only speak to a limited audience and sphere of influence, its ok. God gives us the truth both subjective and objective we need to fulfil our purpose here. Thats why I have concerns when someone claims to speak for the church global or the beginning and end of gods purpose… or claims to be presenting the ‘real’ Jesus which by implication others have missed. Perhaps they are presenting the ‘real’ Jesus as he relates to say church leadership, but Jesus touches many aspects of life and ministry beyond the scope of any group of authors as I see it. Shalom
Dear Jim, the same friend who introduced me to your blog introduced me to Frank Viola and his books Pagan Christianity and Finding Organic Church. I’m able to follow your critique and at the same time see the truth in Viola’s books. I’m afraid we’re not really serving the good cause of unity when we’re shooting at each other. Present day Christianity is a joke when we see it through Jesus’ prayer for us to be “one”.
We’re all making mistakes – mine might be to post this reply. I cherish the truth in you and Frank, let’s love and support each other …
God bless you! John