Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the positive, eliminate the negative (Hart)

I don't always agree with Daryl Hart, but when he's not lobbing "old school Presbyterian" hand grenades at my man Tim Keller he often hits the nail on the head. From a post arguing that a constant drumbeat for revival (i.e. revivalism) breeds an unhelpful discontent toward the ordinary ministry of the local church. . .

To be sure, Christians can be cold and casual about matters of faith. After all, saints are still sinners and so prone to various spiritual afflictions that impede sanctification. But why do churches have to engage in extraordinary ways of displaying their commitment to Christ? Why do evangelistic rallies, intense meetings of small groups, suffusing water cooler banter with God-talk, numerous conversions, or visible displays of piety (such as listening to inferior Christian music) constitute a work of God? Why doesn’t the weekly worship by word and sacrament, or a regular meeting of session, presbytery, or General Assembly count as a work of God’s Spirit? Why can’t genuine Christian piety be ordinary?

In the case of the church, what is ordinary is actually extraordinary. If you start with the supposition that people are sinners and in rebellion against God, and then find a gathering of believers for a worship service, you may actually think that something remarkable has happened in the lives of these people. And if you consider that most Americans don’t know how to sing independently of singing along with the radio or Ipod, and then you see people on Sunday holding hymnals singing praise to God, you may actually be struck by how extraordinary congregational song is. And if you think about the history of the Christian church and recognize how prone she is to error and unfaithfulness, and then you find a communion that is orthodox in its teaching and sane in its worship, you may be tempted to think that you have experienced a taste of heaven.

Well said. It's easy to look around on Sunday morning and find our fellow worshipers, and the worship, lacking. But maybe the problem is our yen for the unusual "mountain-top experience" when God intends instead to shape us through the week-in week-out means of ordinary grace and interactions with the redeemed sinners in the pews around us.

Speaking of session meetings -- of all the lousy luck Florida's first round NCAA tournament game tips off tonight smack dab in the middle of our monthly meeting. I thought about excusing myself, but alas, duty calls. Hopefully the boys in Orange & Blue will take care of business without me. Losing to the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara would make this an infamous St. Patrick's Day for Gator Nation!

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