What I Read Online – 04/20/2012 (p.m.)

21 Apr
    • This man’s church did more than pursue his unrepentant wife. They pursued him, the sinned-against.
    • I was once involved in counseling a woman whose husband had cheated on her. An older brother advised me to assure her not only of God’s love, but of God’s hatred for the sin. “God hates what your husband did. He’s against it. He grieves with you.” Yes, sin is first godward, but don’t forget the human element. Empathize with the hurting like Jesus did (Heb. 2:17; 4:15).
    • A church’s process of discipline says to the person who has been sinned against, “Right there in that deep, deep place where you feel most torn open, you, who are made in the image of God, have been wronged. We, his royal representatives, know an injustice has been done, and we want you to know that God sees it. Indeed, he feels it because it’s against him, too. He’s with you. What’s more, he would have us, his beloved children, tell you that he loves you and is for you in that deep, deep spot. Nothing can separate you from his love, not even your spouse’s betrayal.”
    • Presence is important.   In a world where it is easy to simulate presence, even visible presence as by television, webcam or skype, it remains the case that actually being in the immediate physical proximity of somebody is important.   We all intuitively know this: given the choice of talking to a loved one on the phone or over a camera link up or in the same room, who would not want actually to be with them?
    • One might suggest that it moves the church towards a model where the accent in preaching is increasingly on the information communicated, nothing more; one might also raise questions about the way it detaches pastoral care of congregations and individuals from the ministry of public proclamation.  For church officers it should surely be a nerve-wracking notion that pastors are to be held accountable for those entrusted to their care; and how can they give a credible account of such care if they do not know the faces, let alone the names, of those thus entrusted to them?  Finally, one might point to the extreme example now being set by groups such as Mars Hill: what does ‘contextualisation’ mean when one man based in Seattle can pipe his message to congregations across the country, perhaps eventually across the world, regardless of any local context into which his messages might be broadcast?  Even those of us who think the whole preoccupation with contextualisation of recent decades has tended to be rather overblown find such an action to be contrary to good sense.
    • although the preacher was piped in by videolink, the music band were actually present.
    • nobody in the multi-site world pipes in the music by videolink in the way that is simply assumed as legitimate when it comes to the preacher.  Yet in so doing, it seems to me that such ministries are conceding the importance of presence – of real, physical presence – to the gathering of the church.  They are also begging the question: why have a real band when the most important thing, the preaching, can be beamed in?   Or is it that the preaching is no longer the most important thing?
    • First, it reinforces the developing mythology that preaching the gospel is very difficult and that there are only a couple of dozen people in the entire United States who are any good at it. 
    • Anyone who has ever taught or preached in the immediate presence of a live audience or congregation knows that there is a dialogical relationship between speaker and listeners.  It may well take place at an almost subconscious level; but one instinctively reads signs from those listening and modifies one’s voice and even one’s content in the light of such.
    • Watching a video of a preacher, even in a crowded auditorium, is similar: immediate presence is confrontational; mediated presence is always easier to domesticate.  Not two forms of the same thing but two different things.
    • Sure, the message can be preached boringly, badly and even heretically by some; but there are more than a half dozen men in the USA who are competent to teach.  Good preaching may be at a premium; but that still does not make it either rocket science or infused Gnostic knowledge given only to a few of the chosen.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Posted by on 21/04/2012 in Current Issues


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