Thursday, September 8, 2011

I've Finally Figured It Out

In blogging about the church, the discussions will frequently focus on issues of deep meaning and conviction to us. No surprise there. Almost all of us (at least the readers of this blog) agree that we must look to scripture to inform our decision making.

Some blog posts will be more positively oriented, while others will look more at the negative. As we examine what the bible has to say about the church, we will necessarily run into areas of our lives that do not correspond to what we read in scripture. We all have faults that the Holy Spirit is pleased to point out to us in the pages of holy writ.

In this blog, I attempt to look at a wide variety of topics. Frankly, I usually post about what happens to interest me at that particular time. For the most part, blog posts target church issues. I suppose this is because I continue down an exciting road in my life of learning what Christ wants His church to be.

As for blogging about the church, I sometimes look intensely at myself. Other times I look at our church family. Still other times I look at the broader church in this country and beyond.

It's in writing about this last category that I've finally figured something out. Here's what has become clear to me:

In the Christian blog world, when writing about the church, it is accepted by almost everyone when we point out problems within the church in general. Even specific problems are considered acceptable writing material as long as no one is named. However, it is often thought of as unacceptable when we write about specific people and/or churches who are functioning as the church in unbiblical/nonbiblcal ways.

Let me provide three examples:

1. It is thought of as fine if we say that worship services are foreign to the scriptures. However, we may be labeled divisive if we point out a specific church or churches that have worship services.

2. When we talk about the way churches spend money, it is generally accepted when we say that money spent on large buildings and a large salaried staff cannot be defended by the bible. However, if we link to a church that spends thousands upon thousands yearly on its buildings and/or staff, then our motivations and intentions will be called into question.

3. When discussing elders within the church, we can point to the clear multiplicity of elders in the New Testament. Talking about the problem of a single pastor is not seen as a problem. However, if we point out a specific church with a specific single pastor and say that this is an unbiblical practice, then we may be called a trouble maker.

My question is this: Why can't we point to specific people in specific situations who are doing unbiblical things related to the church?

We see Paul do this very specifically in Philippians chapter 4 with Euodia and Syntyche. These two Christian women appear to have been at or near the center of the disunity within the Philippian church.

I'm not calling intentions into question. When it comes to the church, I'm convinced that there are many godly Christian folks who are doing many unbiblical things with very good intentions.

I'm not talking about sin issues either. Rather, I'm referring to church practice that is foreign to scripture. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know the topics I'm talking about.

If we only ever write in generalities, then we won't be able to see the specific problems. When we discuss particular situations and people, then the discrepancies with scripture become more apparent. In doing this, we can (I hope) be spurred on to look at our own lives to see where we fail to live up to the standard set forth for us in scripture.

In this blog at least, I'm going to continue to occasionally point out specific problems that I see in the church. I hope to speak the truth in love.

Specific examples of problems help us to gain an accurate diagnosis of broader problems. Then we can learn how to better deal with them, and proceed to engage other Christians in productive dialog.


Arthur Sido said...

I don't have any problems naming names. If I were to present a contrary view, it would be that in Philippians Paul knew Euodia and Syntyche personally and so calling people out that we have no personal relationship with doesn't apply. Having said that, in today's world when you put things out on the web, whether your blog or mine or whether it is a church video, a website or a podcast, you have entered the public square. We should always address these issues in love and for the purpose of building up, which I am not good at all the time, but public declarations are open to public response.

Steve Scott said...

Very good question, Eric. I think there is somewhat of a double standard at work here. But I've also experienced things so many times from so many sources that they can be spoken of in general. Often I get blog posts from such an experience combined with several more occurrances in the past week that I can write in general. However, I don't have a problem naming names if either that individual already made their views public somehow, or if a private experience with an individual has reflected their views already made publicly.

What gets me is when somebody says "if you got an issue with the pastor's message you need to speak to him privately" when it just went out over the web for the whole world to see and hear. And when that pastor is too busy to see me? Hmmm.

Eric said...

Arthur and Steve,

I agree. If it is out there for the public to see, then it is our there for critique.