The Progressive Churches of Christ: Unity, Part 1

progressiveI graduated from law school in 1978 and immediately began my career of teaching Bible classes. And early on, around 1980, I taught a Wednesday night class about the Restoration Movement — which is when I began my Restoration Movement (RM) studies.

I graduated from David Lipscomb College in 1975, a school named after a RM leader, with dormitories named after Tolbert Fanning, E.G. Sewell, and someone named “High Rise.” Anyway, the school was filled with paintings and names honoring our RM heritage — and yet despite taking a daily Bible class and attending a daily chapel service long enough to earn a four-year degree, I managed to graduate knowing nothing about the RM — not even who David Lipscomb was. Continue reading

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The Progressive Churches of Christ: A Little Hauerwas, Part 2

progressiveLet’s consider Hauerwas’s understanding of the gospel

That through Jesus Christ, very God and very man, we Gentiles have been made part of the promise to Israel that we will be witnesses to God’s good care of God’s creation through the creation of a people who once were no people that the world can see there is an alternative to our violence. There is an alternative to our deceptions. There is an alternative to our unfaithfulness to one another [through] the creation of something called church. That’s salvation.

Not your standard evangelical understanding. How can he express gospel without even mentioning forgiveness of sin or heaven and hell? What’s going on? Continue reading

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Christopher Tin: “The Drop that Contained the Sea”

Select full screen, HD, and loud.

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Passover Music from 613

PS — I know nothing about teaching children, but there are several well-done YouTube videos about the Passover taught in song from the Jewish perspective. Some are based on Let It Go from Frozen, which is big in the elementary and preschool world. Could be fun for the kids if you have a unit on Passover to cover.

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The Progressive Churches of Christ: A Little Hauerwas, Part 1

progressiveFor those paying very close attention, I’ve been following the neo-Anabaptist playbook in suggesting the importance of the sacraments and community within the local congregation.

Likely the outstanding spokesman for this point of view is Stanley Hauerwas, who has an annoying way of seeing things contrary to evangelical convention. He makes us see the weaknesses of what we often perceive as strengths.

For example, Hauerwas says, Continue reading

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The Progressive Churches of Christ: Community Disciplines

progressiveSo if it’s important that we think in terms of story and community and formation into the image of Christ, then the scriptures likely provide us with community spiritual disciplines that help this happen. And, indeed, it’s true.

For example, Acts 2 teaches us —

(Act 2:42 ESV)  42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.  

As Luke describes the early church, we see that their practices were designed to form new converts into a community. Continue reading

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The Progressive Churches of Christ: Spiritual Formation

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A few years ago, it was fashionable to have seminars, books, and classes on “spiritual formation.” Many churches hired a “minister of spiritual formation” — a position that has largely degraded into being the minister over the adult ed program and small groups. The minister of spiritual formation is the guy who picks out this quarter’s video series and makes up five follow up questions to hopefully fill up the time after the DVD is through playing.

The original idea reached higher.

(Gal 4:18-19 ESV)  18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you,  19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!

The first mistake we made was using “spiritual formation” to mean “Christ formation.” It’s too easy to fill the word “spiritual” with whatever is easy or fashionable. Continue reading

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Progressive Churches of Christ: Community Formation

progressiveI confess to certain introverted tendencies. For example, I’m really happy sitting at my computer, listening to music, and typing theology for hours on end. That’s the behavior of an introvert.

But, ironically enough, I’m not a fan of the so-called spiritual disciplines, even though they’ve been designed with the introvert in mind. I mean, mention “spiritual discipline” to a preacher or theologian, and you’ll hear a list of such practices as quiet times, prayer, solitude, journaling, Bible study, prayer mazes, lectio divina, and meditation — a list surely compiled by an extreme introvert.

The problem I have with this list is the complete absence of any such a thing from the scriptures. Yes, there are psalms that urge us to meditate on the word of God — but nothing suggesting that this is to be a solo activity. In the ancient world, the scriptures were generally listened to, not read, and they were listened to in a group setting. Continue reading

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Will Christians stand in judgment?

lastjudgmentI get emails —

A friend recently asked the question, “If, in Christ, our sins are forgiven (no longer remembered), why will we all stand in judgment?”

This is a surprisingly difficult question. The end of time is pictured different ways in the scriptures.

(And I apologize for being so long-winded in my answer. But that’s what happens when I have to do original research to answer what you’d think would be an easy question. That is, I had fun answering this one.) Continue reading

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The Progressive Churches of Christ: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

progressiveThis discussion began several days ago with two posts (Part 1 and Part 2) pointing out the latest news on the declining numbers in the Churches of Christ generally. We then looked at the state of the Churches of Christ today more generally — considering the dynamics that are fracturing the “mainstream” congregations.

We next turned our focus on the more progressive congregations. We Church of Christ members in progressive churches have a marked tendency to define ourselves in terms of what we’ve rejected and left behind, rather than where we need to be going. That’s entirely natural. But there comes a time when you need to stop licking your wounds and get on with the business of the Kingdom.

This thought led to the “Resolving the Tension” subseries of posts addressing congregations that try to retain a Church of Christ identity while rejecting the theological misunderstandings of the past.  In Parts 2, 3.1, and 3.2, we considered the challenges of creating much-needed change in a congregation. This led to how congregations and denominations are defined by stories, and how change requires a new story rather than a 10-part sermon series on evangelism. Continue reading

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