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Oct 31, 2005

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larry

Well said!!!!!

I especially endorse: "I will be making a recommendation to the General Assembly Council that we scrap the 2006 General Assembly and instead send our commissioners to a Young Life summer camp."

rodger sellers

Can I go? Please? Pick me, pick me! I'll even agree to be on work crew and spend the week in the pits back in the kitchen! (A familiar place that I'm pretty sure every minister (clergy all of us!)could benefit from!

Good thoughts.

RPS

Rev. Toby L. Brown

I've always preferred short telos statements:

"To know Christ and make him known."

Doesn't that say it all for the church?

Sanctification for the believers and evangelism to the rest, as we await God's completion of the "Creation Project".

Michael Kruse

Thanks you all! I have to be honest. I went to church camp a few times and did not like it all. However, in my teenage years I did get to go on some summer youth mission projects and really enjoyed those. I had not thought about that in terms that Dean mentioned but I am reflecting on what she said in terms of my own experiences.

And Rodger, the kitchen help will be great but the real question is how good are you with water ballons?

Michael Kruse

Thanks for chiming in Toby. I think the problem I see is that we mainliners live completely in the present. The danger is the tendency to "go native" with the culture of our times and become captive to the "eternal present." Instead, I think God is calling the Church to be a window into the future and point to the age to come. Christ came announcing the "acceptable year of the Lords favor." I think that was an eschatological announcement.

Said differently, God is the author of the grand drama that is unfolding in history. He invites us to actively participate with Him in the fashioning of the unfolding story. The key word is "active." I think of Philipians 2:12-13 "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." So you ask Paul which is it. Us doing the work or God doing the work? I think his answer would be "Yes!" As the body of Christ with Christ as the head we have our source and being in him. Christ is ushering in the Kingdom and it would seem that his animated body is the primary mode for the ushering.

I think "To know Christ and make him known" said alone runs the risk of turning salvation into "fire insurance" we obtain and then wait around for Jesus to come. Our only business becomes selling more "fire insurance." Paul tells us to be transformed and to be imiators of Christ. The Good News isn't just that I can get a "get out jail free card" for hell, but that a new world order is coming.

I am rambling. I have been in Louisville at a meeting all day and its midnight. So I have know idea if this makes any sense. I guess my summary point would be that the gospel is more than personal salvation and growth. We are saved to someone for mission. The mission is about active participation in God's transformation of all creation into the New Jerusalem.

Rev. Toby L. Brown

Don't worry, you don't ramble, just the conversation!
You're a postmillenialist, eh? I would like to be, but I am not always that optimistic about the future of the world, before the New Jerusalem arrives. I AM optimistic about God's sovereign care over the future, but as to whether or not we will have much to do about it (i.e.--the church growing and being victorious to usher in the finale, so to speak)I am unconvinced.
One more thing. "Making Christ known" really does include the transformative witness and mission of the church. How can we know Christ and NOT be involved in the work of making a better, more God-centered world?
I don't separate evangelism and disciple-making from mission and outreach. Anyway, I don't think we're so far apart on that one, just on the words to express it!
--Toby

Michael Kruse

I not a pre, post, or a millenialist. I am a Mazada Millenialist. I drive a 1998 Mazda Millenia to be precise **grin**

Seriously, I don't know what to make of the millenial question. I am willing to be persuaded. What I am convinced of is that salvation comes through Christ. But salvation is not just from something, it is to someone for mission. And the mission is to exhibit the future Kingdom in the present.

I also know that Jesus used images of the wheat and tares. I see tremendous good happening in the world and tremendous evil on the rise. Jesus speaks of judgement and ultimately a New Jerusalem. Does human existence improve or degrade until judgment? Does it trend in a more or less straight line toward one or the other? I have no clue. All I know is that we are called to live as if the Kingdom is here and exhibit the Kingdom that is to come.

I agree we are mostly talking about words and expressions. My concern is that the conservative side of the church has a tendency to "do salvation" and then sit on their hands in a "Jesus and me" attitude until Jesus comes. The liberal side of the church has a tendency to welcome everyone and anything to expand the kingdom but there with no eye toward the hard road of transformation. Neither ends of bringing the future into the present. I am merely looking for language that will make both uncomfortable with we are at.

Neil

I don't know about going the dispensational route. That's to big a price to pay! If we could just get a straight reading of revelation, a 'letter to the seven churches' and treat it as such we'ed be in great shape. Eugene Peterson has a gerat book on it, 'Reveresed Thunder' a must read on Revelation and Craig Koester has the best readable commentary.
If we Presbyterians could only get back to Westminster question 1 and glorify God we would be in great shape.

Michael Kruse

And I do hope it is understood that my suggestion of going the dispensational route was most decidedly tongue-in-cheek.

I too would recommend "Reversed Thunder." I was just thinking of going back an rereading it. Thanks for the Koester suggestion. I am not familiar with his commentary. I will check it out.

Westminster? Confessions? We still have those? **grin**

Q. 1 What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man's chief and higherst end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

Kinda makes you think those guys were on to something.

will spotts

OK. I very much hesitate to say this, but I think get too hung up on the word "dispensationalist". The 1944 PCUS statement on the topic described a belief system that is clearly non-reformed. However, it did not describe the working belief system of most people I know who follow elements of that eschatological viewpoint.

Many people today are under the impression that the 1944 statement somehow commented on pre-millenial views in general or on any literal / predictive read of prophecy. This is clearly not the case. Honestly, I believe the intent was to discourage all pre-millenial views, but they were unable to do so and be academically honest.

I mention this because I tend toward a pre-millenial interpretation, but this is a discreet opinion -- not an article of faith. It is frequently said (particularly in the recent statements on Christian Zionism) that this view is pessimistic concerning the church. I do not believe that to be the case. It is pessimistic concerning the effectiveness of the church at creating a kingdom of heaven on earth. (Yes, even Christians who hold pre-millenial views would do what they could to improve the lives of their neighbors and communities, but the pessimism comes in the form of the view of unregenerate human nature -- it would sort of be a "man that corrupted Hadleyburg" view.)

On the other hand, the pre-millenial view is very optimistic in the fulfilling of the great commission. It insists that the gospel will be spread in every nation -- and will have those who respond to it in every nation.

There is (or should be) no justifiable separation between the changed life and salvation. Those who respond to the gospel, can have positive effects in their time and place. History demonstrates this -- Wesley and the slave trade, for example. However, history also demonstrates that Christianity seems to have had a devastating impact in other situations -- pogroms and the Inquisition, for example. I'm persuaded this is a result of Constantinianism -- the pursuit of political power and ambition instead of the great commission. Looking at the people instrumental in these devastating actions, I conclude that many were intending good results. They may, for all I know, have been legitimate Christians -- who even, in the beginning, meant well.

Michael Kruse

I agree, Will. Dispensationalism is a theological interpretive system. Sharing one or more of its interpretations does not make some one a Dispensationalist. The problem is that it is the dominant comprehensive eschatological framework. People often believe in the rapture, pre-millennialism, the re-establishment of Israel as a state not because they are Dispensationalists per se, but because there is an absence of any other clearly articulated framework.

I have heard pastors disparage the rapture, for instance, and then they are asked what the alternative explanation is. My experience is that they are either unwilling or unable to articulate a coherent eschatology. Or maybe they are just afraid to cross a popular perspective. Whatever the case, the end result is that being Dispensational equates to believing in eschatology and opposition equates to not eschatology. These are the only choices. I know this a bit exaggerated but as this stuff works its way out in the daily lives of believers I think there is a lot of truth in this.

I just read “The Drama of Scripture” where the authors write “Yet David Lawrence reminds us that fixing our attention on such things [time of Christ’s return, the millennium, the rapture, the final judgment, the antichrist, and the tribulation] is bit like becoming obsessed with the nature, strength, and frequency of the birth pangs when we should be thinking about the baby!”

I am convinced that Jesus will return, that the dead will rise, we will be judged, and the new creation will begin. Much of this other stuff is useless in my estimation.

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