Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Christian Community

Let me start this entry by confessing my appreciation for Eugene Peterson.  I know many a person who's down on the man.  They don't like that he translated his own version of the Bible called The Message.  They don't like that he is (possibly) doctrinally soft in some places or has as broad of a tent as he has.  They don't like that he's got that old, grizzled, wizened, Jedi thing going for him.  

But I'm a fan.

I've read several of his books.  I have The Message on my shelf and crack it open at times.  We don't always see eye to eye, but I don't have to.  He reminds me a lot of my mentor and friend Bill Treadwell (read more here), who also had that old, grizzled, wizened, Jedi thing going for him.

In an interview this past week with Timothy Dalrymple, Peterson implied that to have community means not having a litmus test.  Here's the exact quote:
But the people who are against Rob Bell are not going to reexamine anything.  They have a litmus test for who is a Christian and who is not.  But that’s not what it means to live in community.
Here's my issue with that:  it seems that throughout the NT and in particular the last-half of Paul's letters, community is defined by the litmus test of Christ as Lord of all my life.  The Christian church is in submission to Jesus' authority over every area, such as:
And I could go on and on.

What's more, in the disciplinary passages (e.g. 1 Cor. 5), we see the call to remove people who are out of line with Christ's lordship and unrepentant in that sin.

I recognize that it's popular and culturally acceptable to say we ought to accept everyone.  In a sense, I can see how that's a good thing.  But I also know that the Christian community who live under the Lordship of Jesus does indeed have a litmus test:  is what Jesus wants done getting done?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

1 comment:

  1. Peterson doesn't say "Christian" community, just community. We have done a good job showing the world that we can't live in community with them. I think there is some value in learning how to put the litmus test down and live in community with the neighbor across the street and/or the co-worker a cubicle over from you.

    Here are a few thoughts on the verses you listed for litmus tests:
    Sexuality (1 Thes. 4.3-8) "The Lord is the avenger in all these things" - not me
    Speech (Eph. 4.29) - "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." v31
    Money (1 Tim. 6.17-19) - "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you." v20 - guard your trust, not mine
    Marriage (Col. 3.18-19) - "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." v12-13
    Parenting (Col. 3.20-21) - I like this one! ;-)
    Emotions (Eph. 4.31) - exactly!
    Freedom (Gal. 5.13) - "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another." v14-15
    Government (Rom. 13.1-7) - "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." v8

    I'm feeling a bit ornery today...;-)

    Dustin, don't miss the "winky-smile"