March 17, 2008

The Gospel for the Church

Posted in Sin and Grace, The Basics, Theology at 4:49 pm by Matt Porter

ItIsFinished(This is yet another stop along the way to my ideas on gospel presentation.)

Here’s the working definition I’ll be using during the rest of these posts; see my last post for a more detailed approach to it:

gos-pel (n.): God’s plan for the redemption of all creation, especially mankind, accomplished through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ

Does the Church, the Body of Christ, need the gospel? The answer to this question determines how we shape our ministry to each other and how we view our place in God’s plan. More »

March 14, 2008

What is the gospel?

Posted in The Basics, Theology at 6:47 pm by Matt Porter

CrossPage(This is the next stop along the way to my idea of presenting the gospel. It appears to be more related to the topic; never fear, I’m sure we’ll meander a few different directions before we get “there.”)On our path to deciding how to present the gospel, it’s necessary to settle on just what the gospel is. This is not important merely to determine the content of our presentation; it also affects the context and the method of presentation.

There are several competing views of the gospel, with plenty of shades in between. First, the gospel is frequently seen as the message of justification—Christ died so we might be reconciled to God. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some view the gospel as the message that Christ came to make things right, end poverty and injustice and tyranny, or correct other social ills. In the last couple of decades, the New Perspective on Paul has emphasized the social and cultural context of Paul’s proclamation of the gospel, arguing that Paul’s writings on the gospel were intended to announce Christ as Messiah-King and were a direct challenge to the rising emperor-worship flooding the Roman Empire. More »

March 7, 2008

The Church Formerly Known As Yugoslavia

Posted in Christian culture, The Basics, Theology at 9:25 pm by Matt Porter

Yugoslavia(Yesterday, I promised to take a long, winding route to get to my ideas on presenting the gospel. This is our first stop in that journey.)

Remember the country of Yugoslavia? Located north of the Adriatic Sea, this Communist state contained a surprising variety of cultures for its size. After the implosion of the Soviet Union and the weakening of its own totalitarian system, Yugoslavia became engulfed in civil war. Old cultural hatreds which had been suppressed by the sheer weight of the dictatorship exploded into violence, and they repeatedly split and rejoined into anywhere from five to a dozen separate areas. Despite the interference intervention of the United Nations, the underlying conflicts were not resolved, and each micro-nation retains its inherited dislike of the others. Despite their commonalities from fifty years of Communist oppression and thirty years of the preceding monarchy, each culture apparently wanted nothing to do with the others (unless it was to kill them). The region has even been verbed: “balkanize” means to micro-divide into hostile groups. More »

March 6, 2008

Free Gospel for Everyone!*

Posted in The Basics, Theology at 7:29 pm by Matt Porter

*with a $10 purchase. See store for details.

The gospel is the heart of the Christian faith. (I’m not sure if that more of a definition, or a truism.) Few Christians would outright deny the need to spread the gospel, so how should we communicate this central aspect of our faith? There are dozens? hundreds? of different methods. Despite all their differences and similarities, they can all be viewed with one basic contrast in mind: whether the local church or the individual is primarily responsible for the proclamation of the gospel.

Church-centered methods focus on getting people into a church function, typically so they can respond to some type of invitation. There are several flavors of this approach; fundamentalist churches might emphasize preaching to those who are brought in, while more seeker-oriented churches may emphasize making them feel comfortable and welcome. In both, the individual’s responsibility consists of getting people through the doors so the church can do its job. Churches use anything from casual services and heavily marketed programs to bus ministry and promotional “bring-a-friend” days to accomplish this. More »

February 7, 2008

What do you want?

Posted in Commentary, The Basics, Working through Life at 7:57 pm by Matt Porter

WaitingSnowIn the morning, when I rise,
In the morning, when I rise,
In the morning, when I rise,
Give me                         .

How do we finish the song? What is it that we desire above all else? To what do we assign the highest value? Looking at our lives, what would someone else say we want? More »

February 1, 2008

Stripping paint, peeling onions

Posted in Bad Christians, The Basics, Working through Life at 2:59 pm by Matt Porter

OnionsI recall the time my family purchased its first piano, an old upright which had been painted a rather dismal white-ish color. Whoever painted it should have been incarcerated because the wood underneath was nicely stained, and the paint did a great disservice to the instrument. In an attempt to restore the piano to its former glory, my parents decided to strip the paint, revealing the original stained wood underneath.

And, oh what a job it was. That paint tenaciously clung to the piano. The paint stripper heated the paint to make it easier to scrape off, sending the smell of burnt paint throughout the house. The ornately carved scroll work was the worst to clean, as both paint stripper and paint scraper worked best on flat surfaces. Eventually, the paint was removed, and the work of making it look presentable could begin. More »

January 11, 2008

So, why a blog?

Posted in The Basics, Working through Life tagged , , , at 5:28 pm by Matt Porter

Why bother? Who’s going to read this beyond family? What does this medium provide beyond what a phone call, e-mail, or letter could do?

Ah, the start of something new. A time of hope and fear and excitement and doubt all wrapped up in one squirming bundle inside my mind. Why bother, indeed? What do I hope to accomplish through this? More »