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Lingo (Part III)

"Lingo (Part II)" was the logical side of my problem with some of the new jargon ("Nonreligious Christian Spirituality" in place of "religion" and "Christianity") presented in Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. Here's the heart: I think people often prefer a clean slate to the difficult work of forgiveness. And no one will pretend that there's not a host of garbage, past and present, personal and historical, connected with religion and Christianity. Wouldn't it be nice if we could reinvent and repackage it so all of that could be disconnected and wiped away? Besides, it's so hip to bust on religion and/or Christianity—look at how radical and relevant we are! (some have even gone so far as to invent a mythos wherein Jesus was opposed to religion as a whole rather than simply to the empty practice thereof). Then, if we did church right ("being authentic"), all would be well and more people would have an open path to come to know Christ. Sounds good, yes?

The bottom line, though, is that this tends to sidestep a crucial fact: the Church needs to be forgiven. She's a mess. She's been a mess. She's hurt people time and again, been beset by sin that would take years simply to recount. And yet, her Groom has been made her clean, is making her clean, and will make her clean. That's the reality, and it's hard to reconcile our own hearts to it. It is neither accurate or edifying to disconnect ourselves with the Church's history and pretend we're starting from scratch with "Jesus and me/us." Trying to create a church that doesn't need forgiveness because it's suddenly, after thousands of years, "being done right," is at once denial of reality and idolatry.

Is the gospel powerful enough for the Church to be forgiven? If it is, then that's what we can invite believer and non-believer alike to do instead of playing language games. That's where Miller jumped right back on track—his chapter on confession (where this is drawn from) concludes with some powerful stories of requested and granted forgiveness.

Let me close with a disclaimer that should already be implied: these thoughts are all based on my own perspective and preferences. The Body, the Church is much bigger than me, by design. I'm not very fluffy, and maybe the things I see as fluffy are genuinely helpful to bringing some nearer to Him. I simply don't think rejargoning the Church is a good way to go, and it runs the risks of sidestepping important parts of who we are.

Comments

Of course, it's hard not to get self-defensive when people are constantly refusing to forgive the Church when Christ Himself chooses to.
Such refusal is, ultimately, rebellion against His authority. If He declares something forgiven, it is so.

it's disrespecting us!

At first I thought these were posts about Lisa Simpson's expired grammar robot.

Then I realized that I needed to hear them; you've given voice to a part of my frustration. Too much of what passes for serious religious and spiritual consideration is really just semantics.

Re: it's disrespecting us!

Unfortunately, those semantics can contribute to or cover over bad theology. Hence, I tend not to be a fan.
but what's this about "felt needs?"
"I needs me some felt!"

(Here's my post about that.)
This all slightly reminds me of " A new kind of Christian" by Brian Mclaren, which didn't exaclty sit very well with me. Your comments on the church are right on too.

It's like people are trying to make christianity the "cool parent who lets there kid do whatever they want". Unfortunatly I'm too tired to elaborate...