What we do with our children – and what we do to them – is a worryingly accurate indication of what we think about the world, God, and ourselves. To many adults, children are just a nuisance. But the point is that they’re a nuisance (if they are) because they matter. They disturb our organized adult world because they are real people. – NT Wright. Matthew for Everyone: Part two

 

I always love it how God shows the Kingdom of God in action through children.

 

I love it how kids don’t have hooks up on worship like adults and are oblivious to social graces such as standing still at crucial times, in fact sometimes I think they get it much more than adults. Today one small child was heard calling out ‘Hello?!, as much to say… Is anybody out there?!’ when the adults were meant to be solemnly praying (or something similar… I was too busy trying not to laugh) others were also very keen on crawling around places they shouldn’t be and getting looks of exasperation from tired parents chasing them around the church and ushering them back into line.

 

Two children sitting in front of me from different families had been given foods to distract them from crawling and talking at inappropriate times. Child A about 2 and a half had finished nibbling for a while back and her food was on the floor too far for her to reach and was sitting gazing at Child B two seats over who did have some food… Child B (aged about 2) had some crackers and quietly walked on  over to child A and offered the crackers to new found friend. child B then walked back to seat and both sat down  quietly.

 

This is what I like about God everytime I try to come up with a deep theological reason or argument for something he always simplifies it. Many times through the faith of children.

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Okay I lie, but now that i have your attention, I thought you may be interested in this little diagram from our bretheren (nice word that) at Destiny. Does anyone see anything wrong with this diagram….

Pathways

Last time I checked Destiny (or any church) did not have a monopoly on the Salvation stakes. In fact any church that thinks that people can ‘only get saved’ ‘find jesus’ (because he was evidently lost!) etc by entering their most sanctified of warehouses has honestly got to be kidding me. I mean really.

As a point of interest I was just wondering whether anyone could help me understand how the first 3 boxes fit together. I mean to say, if ‘Destiny begins’ after one gets salvation, then what is point of the church? Or is that box meant to mean that Destiny ‘begins’ for the new convert…..  

The rest of it I am not mortally concerned about, although it always interests me how churches insist on getting new christians into the meetings/seminar/education line.

As always I want to remind the faithful (usual quiet) reading and commenting public that this post is about the diagram above and theology pertaining to the diagram and not about your opinions on Brian Tamaki’s hair, his harley davidson, his relationship to TD Jakes or what an amazing person he is for Maori before we get side tracked and all jump on our favourite band wagon.

This post is a reply to Nathanael Baker’s recent post on Syncretism, which I very poorly replied to on his blog site, due to in part the drugged up stupor (all legal – anti biotics and pain relief) I was in and the late hour of the day I was replying.

Nathanael has raised the issue of Syncretism on his blog. Which while sounding like a modern hip ad agency is actually something that dates back to the time of Plutarch. In short Syncretism as it is understood in the modern Christian theological scene is ‘the incorporation of non-christian elements’ into Christendom. Every Christian culture in every epoch has done it. The western church does it, the eastern Church do it, they do it in Africa and Asia, they probably do it at your church (and with that I have now cut my readership).

Syncretism can be found in the Bible and while not mentioned by name (but hey neither is the word Trinity) it is still has a Biblical basis. When I think Syncretism the first thing that popped into my mind was The New Testament Church Jewish Christians who tried to force their laws on gentile Christians in order that they could become ‘real christians’. Other examples of syncretism in the Bible include Israel in the Old Testament who did a pick and mix exercise with God and opted for God and witchcraft/oracles/golden calves.

Syncretism is not just a finger pointing exercise (although my above paragraph makes it look like it is!) Take for example some Western churches fascination with materialism and the way this is incorporated into church worship practices. To get to the bottom of this syncretism and distortion of the Gospel one has to

1) Uncover and Identify the syncretism properly – e.g. name exactly what the syncretism is and how it conflicts with the Gospel ( i.e. this can’t just be a personal dislike campaign because the church doesn’t play your type of funky Gregorian hymn chants)
2) Understand why the syncretism happened – i.e. did this syncretism replace something? What symbols go with it? What has been the wider Church’s part in contributing to it?
3) Restoration or in the words of Mirsolav Volf – ‘exclusion (of the toxic) and embrace (of the good)

Of course Christianity (or any religion) always interacts with Culture. However the issues lies in how much which influences which and in what ways. For example a ‘Christian’ population who are more likely to read Playboy then their Bible are likely to have a dilution of the truth of the gospel, just as a Christian population who only have access to one or two books of the new testament (say gospels) on an irregular basis due to persecution and accessibility may also have some syncretism issues as they do not have access to the full Bible. On the other hand someone in Africa whose heremutic of the bible is from a Word of Faith perspective is also going to have syncretism issues.

What I am saying is that this issue can not be simply solved by everyone racing down to their local Christian store and grabbing a copy of the Bible and reading it from cover to cover. Nor will it be solved if we make a long list of rules of things we can and cannot do (the Pharisees tried that and look what happened there) Nor can it be solved by some huge authority (such as myself) declaring what is right and wrong. Although I am pretty bloody sure the prosperity doctrine is a load of crap.

Local communities have to take some responsibility for their own doctrine by looking at
• scripture, (The Bible)
• the universal Tradition of the church, (including looking at things like creeds)
• theological reason
• experience of God including the transformation he has had on the individual (think Holy Spirit here people!). For some Christians this of the four is what their theology is built on – which does mean syncretism is much more likely to occur.

and weighing them all up.
What we find in cases of syncretism is that normally one of these 4 is taken way out of proportion at the expense of the other 3 (or the other 3 are manipulated to fit the
Favoured 1) The church in the past has had some huge syncretic mind explosions. E.g the Dutch Reformed church and Apartheid which if looking at the four aspects above mainly revolved around the misinterpretation of tiny selected bits of scripture e.g. darkness not mixing with light this of course resulted in tactfully ignoring things like the creeds.

As Nathanael quotes in his post – simply declaring ‘Jesus is Lord’ means nothing if our practice does not line up with this. The responsibility lies with every committed Christian to live out ‘loving God with heart, soul, mind and strength.’ For those in leadership the bar is even higher (as stated in James) and one must make sure ones congregation/members/people being ministered are given access to the full breadth and width of Jesus and his Gospel be they culturally favoured topics or not.

Let me introduce to you a new internet virtual reality game. Miss Bimbo.

Miss Bimbo looks kinda like a Barbie crossed with a Pussy cat doll. She is very hip , cool, and pretty pink captures sickens     the eye like a 5 year girls bedroom or the barbie corner in toyland….

The Miss Bimbo website however is no Barbie fun park. While aimed at young girls, Its references on its front page make explicit that this game is not about being comfortable with who Miss Bimbo is but about creating Miss Bimbo and pushing other Miss Bimbo’s out of the way –  references to finding ‘cool places to live’, finding a fun job and all the clothes you could possibly want, advocating becoming a socialite, dating a famous hottie, and explicit points to plastic surgery as a way of to make it up the social ladder to become ‘top bimbo’ are bullet pointed to potential players. Game players earn “bimbo dollars” so they can “shop for the latest fashions and become the trendsetting bimbo in town”. 

When I went onto the site tonight there were about 282 000 registered players on the game. 414 actively playing. The game has raised concern in England where the site is based, some quotes courtesy Sky news UK

  • Bill Hibberd, director of parents’ rights group Parentkind, says the site is a potential menance. “Children’s innocence should be protected as far as possible,” he said.
  • But businessman Chris Evans, who helps promote the website in Britain, said it was “ludicrous” to suggest the game was dangerous. “You can feed the bimbo whatever you want – steak and chips, vegetables, chocolate,” he said.  It is a game, you create your character and you can choose whether to give your character a boob job.” Mr Hibberd however said children may not see it as a silly game. “The danger is that a nine-year-old could easily fail to appreciate the irony and see the bimbo as a cool role model,” he said.

 The most interesting one that I think is one to seriously ponder is this one:

  • Sky News doctor Sarah Jarvis says unfortunately the website reflects society’s role models. “I think the problem is far bigger than the website. Young people are increasingly obsessed with their looks,” she said.

Links Miss Bimbo  http://www.missbimbo.com

Sky News article http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30100-1310501,00.html 

I know it is a day late, however this weeks Friday five from RevGal Pals is a real good one so I had to play. For more goclick on the rev gal pals link on the side bar.  

 1.Our prayer concerns are as varied as we are this day. For whom would you like us to pray?

Children.

2.Are there things you have done or will do today to help the young ones understand this important day in our lives?

On thursday we had our easter liturgy at school. We did the stations of the cross in kids language was very poignant. I speant the afternoon with some senior kids talking about Jesus from the Psalms and talking about his awesomeness from the message translation

3.Music plays an important part in sharing the story of this day. Is there a hymn or piece of music that you have found particularly meaningful to your celebrations of Good Friday?

Beautiful Scandelous Night – Robbie Seay Band (it is a remake of someone) anyway the song talks about going up to the mountain where we were justified. the song also talks about atonement and starts with the sounds of children’s voices in the background.

4.As you hear the passion narrative, is there a character that you particularly resonate with?

Yeah as I was reading this at Easter Liturgy on Good Friday I really resonated with the Crowd.

5.Where have you seen the gracious God of love at work lately?

  • In the smiles of children
  • In the humour of children
  • In God providing people to give me comfort and encouragement
  • In particular children and the way they are developing , characterwise!

Here are articles 3 and 4 from the Lambeth Conference of 1920.

3.The causes of division lie deep in the past, and are by no means simple or wholly blameworthy. Yet none can doubt  that self will, ambition, lack of charity among Christians have been principal factors in the mingled process, and that these, together with blindlness to the sin of disunion, are stil mainly responsible for the breaches of Christendom. We acknowledge this condition of broken fellowship to be contrary to God’s will, and we desire fankly to confess our share in the guilt of thuis crippling the Body of Christ and hindering the activity of His Spirit.

4. The times call us to a new outlook and new measures. The Faith cannot be adequately apprehended and the battle of the Kingdom cannot be worthily fought while the body is divided, and is thus unable to grow up into the fullness of the life of Christ. The time has come, we believe, for all the seperated groups of Christians to agree in forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out towards the goal of a reunited Catholic Church (NOTE PLEASE SEE POST 1 ON WHAT IS MEANT BY CATHOLIC CHURCH). The removal of the barrers that have been arisen between them will only be brought about by a new comradeship of those whose faces are definitely set this way.

The vision which rises before us is that of a Church genuinely Catholic, loyal to all Truth, and gathering into its fellowship all who profess and call themselves Christians, within whose visible unity all the treasures of faith and order, bequeathed as a heritage by the past to the present, shall be possessed in common and made serviceable to the whole Body of Christ. Within this unity Christian Communions now seperated from one another would retain much that has long been distinctive in their methods of worship and service. It is through a rich diversity of live and devotion that the unity of the whole fellowship will be fulfilled…

  • Is it just me or did Points 3 and 4 of the 1920 conference sound like they could have come out of a ‘post emergent’ document?  
  • If this exact  document was written at this years Lambeth conference what would your reaction be? 

I ask this because I wonder how much official top-down statements have in terms of impacting contemporary Christian theology.  I mean do you think after the Lambeth Conference of 1920 Anglicians world wide suddenly changed their practice and theology to live out the above? If not why not? I ask this not to be critical but to really think about the impact that ‘official church’ stuff debated normally by academia and in conferences, seminars  and committees has on everyday peoples theology. You know the people who have kids, live in the back block of africa, or the taxi driver in the middle of courtneay place who hasn’t seen his family in 10 years due to some issue with immigration. 

 More importantly does the church (I emphasise church with a little c ) dwell, live,converse, evaluate and reflect on the documents it writes or to they merely become words on pages in church document books?

  • This post is going to be split into several posts due to the size of the following article.
    I am purposely not putting the date of which this document was written – I will put it up in the next post with the next section of the article.
    The Lambeth Conference is held in Lambeth, England and a meeting of Anglican Bishops
    .

From the bishops assembled in the Lambeth conference….realizing the responsibility which rests upon us at this time and sensible of the sympathy and prayers of many, both within and without our own communion, make this appeal to all Christian people.
We acknowledge all those who believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ and have been baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, as sharing with us membership in the universal Church of Christ which is his Body. We believe that the Holy Spirit has called us in a very solemn and special manner to associate ourselves in penitence and prayer with all those who deplore the divisions of Christian people and are inspired by the vision and hope of the visible unity of the whole church.

1) We believe that God wills fellowship. By God’s own act this fellowship was made, in and through Jesus Christ, and its life in His Spirit. We believe that it is God’s purpose to manifest this fellowship, so far as this world is concerned , in an outward, visible and united society, holding one faith, having its own recognized officers, using God-Given means of grace, and inspiring all of its members to the world-wide service of the Kingdom of God. This is what we mean by the Catholic Church.
2) This united fellowship is not visible to the world to-day. On the one hand there are other ancient Episcopal Communions in East and West to whom ours is bound by many ties of common faith and tradition. On the other hand there are the great no Episcopal Communions standing for rich elements of truth, liberty and life which might otherwise be obscured and neglected. With them we are closely linked by many affinities, racial ,historical and spiritual. We cherish the earnest hope that all these Communions, and our own, may be led by the Spirit into the Unity of the Faith and of the Knowledge of the Son of God. But in fact we are all organized in different groups each one keeping to itself gifts that rightly belong to the whole fellowship and tending to live its own life apart from the rest.