Saturday, August 30, 2008

Top Of The Heap

Back in the Apple. Feeling good. Feeling really good. The weather is exceptional right about now.

However, during my summer travels, I did grow accustomed to being transported places and not using my limbs unless completely necessary. Meaning: Four flights of stairs, carrying my sweet wife's luggage/anvil-collection almost flat-lined me. "Clear!"

After I laid down for a few minutes to calm the ole' ticker, we headed out to eat at one of our favorite restraunts.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight flooding my mouth with cobbler diviiiiIIIIIINE. Hallelujah, I'm almost bloating...

Okay, tired of the hymn-perversion.

Going to church in the morning. Looking forward to it.

Spirituality Rant Alert!:

I have decided that I am no longer an Evangelical Christian. I am simply, a Christian. Seriously, why don't we have Apostlical Christians? (I guess we do, they are called Catholics.) Prophetical Christans? Pastorical Christains? Teachical Christians? Healical Chrisians? Administrationical Christians? Those are all Spiritual gifts, right? Why do we teach all Christians to be Evangelists when maybe, just maybe they haven't been given that particular spiritual gift? Maybe that's why we're in the schtick we are today? Maybe that's why "Evangelical" has become synonymous with "close-minded and irritatingly pushy." People are trying to be evangelists to their neighbors when they should be cooking their neighbors dinner.

When I was a young lad, I used to tremor something FIERCE when I was forced to go door to door and hand out tracts. My words would jumble and the four Romans road turned into to something very unorthodox. To be honest, I hated it. Later I discovered that that wasn't my particular spiritual gift, and good Lord, what a relief. I thought I was just a no good un-born-again heathen.

Maybe, just maybe, teaching our kids to love their neighbor when their neighbor is mean or nasty to them is a better witness then telling them to cram the four spirchal laws down their throats?

The bottom line for me is this: The Holy Spirit is in the business of drawing a soul God. The Holy Spirit is in the business of giving the gifts to those who are there to close the deal. That may come through evangelism, preaching, teaching, cooking a meal, being a good and kind boss, or being a true friend. God speaks in a still small voice, and when done through the properly allotted gifts, they take on that attribute. When done improperly, it becomes a still obnoxious voice.

Evangelical? Who are we to claim the market on any one of those gifts.


MamasBoy said...

Evangelical, charismatic, apostolic, traditionalist, fundamentalist, pentecostal, Lutheran, Protestant, Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, these are all just labels that we assign to groups based on certain doctrinal or practical traits. I personally give less meaning to their literal meaning than the common characteristics that are ascribed to such groups. These characteristics can be fixed and dogmatic (e.g., Lutheran, Oriental Orthodox, Protestant) or more indicative of trends in doctrinal emphasis/approach. I would put charismatic and evangelical in the latter category, since they tend to emphasize certain traits that can be found in very diverse theological groups (e.g., one can find evangelical and charismatic Catholic groups in every major US city). Terry Mattingly has an interesting article in which he discusses the various definitions of evangelical. I'm less interested in the political ramifications than in the various doctrinal definitions proposed.
Personally, I like the definition Billy Graham proposed because it includes Catholics and I still consider myself to be an evangelical Christian. It is a heritage that I feel that I've been able to take with me in my conversion: an emphasis on the importance and authority of Scripture, an emphasis on the obligation to share one's faith and an emphasis on the foundational doctrines embodied in the Nicene Creed (virgin birth, sinless life, bodily resurrection, etc.). While I no longer feel guilty if I don't pass out tracts or witness on a daily/weekly basis face to face with folks, I still believe that there are times when we are called to tell others about Christ and that I need to be open to the Holy Spirit's prompting in this area. That's an idea that certain liberal theological wings throughout across denominational lines have lost in their relativistic mire. On a practical day to day level, I think evangelical Catholics are often more comfortable with evangelical Protestants than with liberal Catholics and vice versa.

Interestingly enough, I think the only people you would find calling themselves Apostolic Catholics are basically schismatics of a Protestant bent (though I'm not sure one would call them Protestants) who trace their roots however loosely back to the post Vatican I era.
Also, the apostolic movement within what is safely called Protestant is (in my experience) largely confined to certain Pentecostal circles. While the literal apostolic definition would most readily apply to the ancient Christian groups (Catholics and Orthodox), 99.9% of them would never call themselves by that title because of the confusion it would cause in practical terms.

Labels are broad brush strokes that often fail in the details. However, we all eventually get them attached to us and groups who fight this tendency often end up with the more odd or derisive names attached because it is people outside their community attaching their label to their group instead of themselves. (e.g., have you heard of the denomination called the "no-names" or "two-by-twos"? Who would have picked those for denominational labels?)

This is all just a really long comment to say that, whether you like it or not, if you demonstrate certain religious tendencies, people are going to consider you an evangelical (and I would be one of them). It's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just a label contrived to group people along sociological/theological lines. It has no bearing on whether anyone believes a group has cornered the market on the literal meaning of their label.


Bill Hensley said...

Seth, I hope in your zeal to repudiate the Evangelical label you won't stop sharing your faith with your friends and neighbors -- at the right time and in the right way. You don't need the spiritual gift of evangelism to share the good news with people.

Perhaps what you've really hit on is a mistake we often make as Christians. We tend to annoint a particular approach to evangelism as the only/best way and look down at other Christians who don't do it our way. That's a mistake for two reasons. One is that each person is an individual, and different things work for different people. The other reason is that times and cultures are different. What used to work may not work now. Billy Graham's crusades, for instance, were powerfully used by God to reach many people. But they were a phenomenon of the Television Age, and we may never see anything quite like them again.

You go right ahead and cook dinner for your neighbor and show them how much you care about them as a human being. But don't miss the divine appointment that may someday happen when they are facing problems they don't know how to handle and they turn to you as a trusted friend. You know they need Jesus. We all do. Just tell them what God has done in your life, and love on them in their moment of need.