Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience

One of the biggest issues for a Christian is the Prosperity Gospel/Legilism spectrum. At one end of this spectrum you have view that 'God will make your life okay, give you riches, solve your problems and you won't have to lift a finger, change your ways or worry about anything'; at the other is the 'you are a sinner, you should be doing this and you're not, so that makes you bad.' Neither end is good, one leads to hypocrisy and the other leads to a burden of guilt.

It's a really difficult balance to get and no matter how hard you try some people will think you're verging on one side or the other.

The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience by Ronald J. Sider is on the legalism side. It's premise is good. It higlights the problem of hypocrisy in the church. In the American Church, divorce rates are higher than secular society, racism is rife, and the people are miserly. We say we have a God of love, generosity and relationships but our lives don't reflect it. No wonder so many people get angry with the way the church's message and life doesn't match.

However, some of his 'solutions' verge on the legalism by making churches 'stricter' and having a period of teaching before become a 'member' of a church (woah, what's with all the inverted commas?). It does paint a beautiful picture of what church as a community should be like but the route seems to focus on rules and regulations.

My dad suggested reading Classic Christianity that has a different take on how to improve the situation, so hopefully I'll be writing about that soon. Sorry that this was a bit of a jargon filled post.

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe American Christian divorce rates are hight than secular! Scary.

    I think (because I've not read books based on this) that Romans 1-6 is perfect for this. It doesn't give you practical advice, but hints where your hear should be, I heard yesterday that Paul doesn't make a single instruction until 6v11, it's all about Jesus, grace, love and peace LOL but Paul is far from the 'yay hugs!' type...

    As for the solutions part of the book, turning towards restrictions and periods of teaching, my church does that latter ( as you know) It seems to me newfrontiers are very big on getting the balance of having an orderly time together, and allowing the spirit to do what he likes! In a service this would be a prophet or anyone with a edifying story speaking to the church during worship via a microphone, but first they would go to an elder, and explain what they are about to say, essentially eliminating any nutters getting to the mic.

    We also have family meetings, for which you have to be a member of the church (which requires 7hrs of certain teaching from an elder). Some people concider themselves as christains, when they are in fact not, whether that's 'I was christened as a baby' or, I've been going to church all my life!' Family meetings avoid non christian's from say taking communion. Not that 7hrs, proves your a christian...Also if someone hasn't completed the course, but is clearly involved with the church etc etc, they won't be stopped from going, but advised to take the course.

    Anyway epic.


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