25th Apr, 2009

An Inarticulable Irony within the Church

As I read through the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament this past two weeks I could hear the religious voice inside my head repeat the mantra that the book wasn’t “normative” or a basis for doctrine. (I grew up being very indoctrinated in a great, very conservative, denomination.) And it got me thinking. I still haven’t figured out how to articulate my thoughts – so if this post is unintelligible… well, I’m tired and perhaps it’s a wrong headed concept.

Isn’t it a little bit odd that many in the modern church focus so much on tangible acts or rules but that when it comes to miracles and some of the amazing manifestations of the Spirit found in the Book of Acts, those things only happened back then? For example, many churches will say things like – “you must go to church,” (meaning come to my building and listen to me preach) or “you shall not drink alcoholic beverages.” These are actions that one can do or not do by an act of the will.

At the same time they will say that things like speaking in tongues, healing, miracles, and more only occurred at the time of the original Apostles.

Something strikes me about this. There’s irony in it. And there’s something terrifying about it. And why have some theologians decided Acts is just a story about the past when we are still serving the same awesome God?

How can we as Christians, a people founded upon faith, put more faith in following rules than we do in the amazing work of the Holy Spirit in and through us? I understand it is much more easy to rely on the flesh in the short term, but it seems we are much like the Church in Galatia in this way – we are bewitched.

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

What do you think?

Responses

I agree completely. We have believed the lie that our own righteousness somehow surpasses the glory of the resurrected Christ. Not that any of us would say it quite that way, of course. Part of the big lie is that it is actually HUMILITY that has lead us to ‘know’ that our piety is the fruit of adherance to traditions-turned-law. The truth is, PRIDE has blinded us to agree to this act of heresy that empties the cross of Christ of it’s sublime power. With true humility and repentance, may we embrace the grace of God, the power which raised Christ from the dead and see limitless signs and wonders.

Cheri Keas’s last blog post..If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile…

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