Categories
Church

Why you go to church and are not the church


It’s trendy in Christian circles to say things like, “You don’t go to church, you are the church”. A great number of books have been written to show how we should live as the “church” in our non-Christian communities.

With this emphasis on “being the church” in your “community”, you might even start feeling bad about gathering in a dedicated building on a Sunday. Home churches seem all the rage.

While I’m overstating the case to be controversial, what I do hope to show is that we can indeed go to church on Sunday and that we are not “the church” as we live as scattered Christians in our non-Christian communities1.

Before you accuse me of heresy please read further.

Categories
Racism

We don’t always need to talk about race

Many people, including Christians, seem to be obsessed with race and racial categories.

Rather than learning from the past, we seem to be re-emphasizing the old racial categories in a new way.

Surely we can do better?

Categories
Church

Improving the gospel?

Why did God send his Son into the world?  This basic question is controversial…again.

There is a movement within broader Conservative Evangelicalism in South Africa to be critical of the gospel “Eternal Salvation” that Conservative Evangelicalism has always cherished. This movement seeks to redefine the gospel to include a physical/political/ temporal liberation of the oppressed.

Conservative Evangelicalism is accused of misunderstanding the Great Commission or being overly committed to the Great Commission to the neglect of the Bible’s other imperatives.  The result being a disproportionate concern with the spiritual dimension of the gospel to the detriment of the real, present concerns of people, especially racism and unjust structures.

Proponents of this “improved” and “contextual” understanding of the gospel accuse Conservative Evangelicalism (and REACH-SA) of having an under-realized eschatology and therefore an insufficient understanding of the nature of the gospel as it relates to the this-worldly expectations of the Kingdom of God.

Proponents of this improved gospel or, at least, improved understanding of the gospel assert that Conservative Evangelicalism’s inadequate or narrow understanding of the Great Commission has led to inadequate social engagement and the inadvertent support of unjust structures, including Apartheid.  

Before we think about social engagement, we must first ask the question: does the gospel include a physical/ political/ temporal liberation for the powerless, the marginalized and the poor? 

Are we not simply seeing the re-packaging of Liberation Theology?

Categories
Ten Commandments

How do we take God’s name in vain?

Names generally are generally speaking significant.  

We named our first child Amelie because my wife and I both love that name.

Our second child, Jacob Johan (Jake) is named after our fathers.

Our third child came as a big surprise so we named him Nathan, which means “gift of God”.

Names have significance and meaning. Names can demonstrate family heritage or my values.

When we refer to someone’s name: it’s more that to just a word. We think of the person and who they are and what they are like.

This is even more true for the name of God.

We don’t like it if our name is slandered, misused or associated with something we don’t like.

We don’t like it if our name is associated with (or tagged on Social Media) something we don’t agree with.

This is even more true for the name of God.

Categories
Ten Commandments

9 truths about the Ten Commandments

Until the age of 21 I had no idea how to use a washing machine. I knew you had to somehow use washing powder, but I was clueless as to where it went, which powder to use or which buttons to press.

Fortunately, after the dirty clothes had piled up for a week, I found the washing machine manual. I studied the manual and ended my quest with a successful outcome – clean clothes.

The instruction manual, published by the makers of the washing machine, made all the difference between success and failure.

The Bible is God’s Instruction Manual for life and makes all the difference to our success or failure. Not laundry or financial success, but real success: living a life that honours God, loves others and continues into the next world with great joy.

When God created Adam and Eve, our original parents, the 10 Commandments were written on their hearts.  But since they disobeyed God, God had to write the Law down on stone so that we can know what pleases him.

The 10 Commandments are therefore a summary of what pleases God and always relevant, applicable and necessary – especially in our day and age.

Here are, at least, 9 truths about the 10 Commandments.

Categories
Racism

Gospel and Race 2: confronting injustice

 In my previous post, we saw how in Genesis 3 human beings disobeyed God and now sin and selfishness has been our reality ever since. Things in our world are not as they ought to be.

Sin, death, disease, racism, anger and immorality taint our world and our history.

We’ve seen the terrible effects of racism all over the world and tragically in our own country under Apartheid. For example,

  • The Population Registration Act that required that every South African to be classified into a race group.
  • The Group Areas Act that divided urban areas into “group areas” that was restricted to certain race groups.
  • The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act which made public premises, vehicles and services to be segregated by race.
  • The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act which forbade marriages between white people and people of other “races”.
  • And a host of other formal legislation and informal bias that was designed to prop up and favour people from one people group.

The Bible does not use the word “racism”, but it uses the words “pride”, “partiality” and “favouritism”, all of which is sin.

 “Race” as a category is artificial, unscientific and unbiblical.  “Race” is usually used to alienate, oppress and dominate people.

The Bible does not use the word “race” either, but the term “nations”, referring to various people or ethnic groups with their own culture, traditions and dialect.