Saturday, May 19, 2007

enchanted

i found this image on the bbc a couple of days ago and threw it up on religious imagery and somehow keep coming back to it with fresh eyes. i see this neon sign everywhere: in churches, in relationships, at work, on the face of every person who has repeatedly been disappointed by hope. after a while we adopt this as a way of life- declaring to the world and those around us: "mine is not an enchanted forest, and there will be no miracles here."

32 comments:

Aaron said...

phil, i find myself processing some of the same thoughts of late. while doing a paper on the rationalistic philosophy of the enlightenment, i was looking at the medieval cosmos and became increasingly taken by the mystical dimension to her spirituality and her enchanted world. on the one hand i feel a desire to embrace and move toward a more mystical place in my spirituality, yet i was struck by the hypocrisy of it all, in that i'm not necessarily comfortable with the charismatic expressions and manifestations of the spirit and their praxis of gifts of the spirit. (i.e. i want a spirituality where the spirit is real and present, yet still confined to my personal definitions of what he should do)

Lian said...

That's a really interesting comment, Aaron. I wonder if the charismatic way of experienceing the spirit is also a prescribed way of how the Spirit moves. This particular blag made want to cry. I know that we are witnesses to miracles everyday if we chose to see them...

erika

Swift said...

When I first started going to the Orthodox Church (and you're all thinking "oh no, another orthodox plug" - sorry, but it's what I care about) I would hear about miracles performed by saints years ago and think “wow, it’s amazing how the Spirit used to work through the Church”, but then I heard about recent miracles and I was far more skeptical. One in particular is an icon in a church here in Chicago called the weeping icon – an icon of the Theotokos that began to weep oil that many have been healed by. I was incredibly skeptical until I saw it with my own eyes – the clear signs of a miracle right in front of me – the stains of the tears on her face.
So why doesn’t this happen more often? Skepticism, rationalism, a distrust of mystery. I had to ask myself how it was so easy for me to believe that miracles HAD happed – amazing things before the eyes of saints and sinners, and I had no problem with believing in the great mysteries – trinity, the God/Man, The Devine Conception – but I could barely believe that someone had, for instance, been healed by touching the relic of a saint, or that some saints bodies were incorrupt and exude beautiful smells when their coffins are opened. I could hardly believe the modern day smaller mysteries. It was right there in front of me so I had no choice but to make a choice – to remain the skeptic, or to simply embrace this mystery which made me so uncomfortable because I couldn’t get my mind around it. But think about it - so much of our core theology is essentially mystical and beyond understanding – why can’t we embrace mystery in the here an now.
The Pentecostal movement’s experience is simply a skewed grasp at what the eastern Church has believed/practiced/witnessed all along. The reaction against rationalism is good and something I think we’re all experiencing – a feeling of “what have we been missing with our skepticism”. But the lack of discipline in the Pentecostal movement, coupled with desire for the miraculous for the sake of the experience has lead almost to a greater error.

Benjamin Ady said...

alas, my ongoing conversion to the church of reason has gradually been unenchanting my forest as well. This despite my best efforts to resist the tide.

Aaron said...

swift... thanks for your thoughts. i always appreciate the orthodox voice in the midst of our conversations. while i'm intrigued by the amazing miracles that have happened through some of the relics of the saints in your tradition, i'd like to push you a bit on your broad generalization of the pentecostal tradition as "simply a skewed grasp at what the eastern Church has believed/practiced/witnessed all along." I would argue that what they are seeking to do (although, agreeably in a very much abused and distorted way at times) is not grasp at what the Eastern church has experienced all along, rather to move toward an manifestation of miracles and the Spirit closer to Acts 2. In that sense, I would argue (humbly, and with reservation) that without the hyperbolic example cited as norm, they are perhaps closer to a Biblical praxis of the manifestations of the Spirit, as in my understanding (I'm open to correction) we don't see anyone in the Bible being healed through relics, but through Christ himself and the apostolic church. The type of healings you speak of in your tradition as far as i know, did not happen until a couple centuries later.

again, don't misunderstand me-- i'm not expressing a skepticism toward the things you speak of, but just pushing you to critically evaluate both your tradition and the charismatic movement before making generalizing statements.

(ps. i wondered to myself "why is it that swift and i always get into these type of discussions" but then i realized it's because i'm really quite interested in the Eastern church and i think i push you on these things as a means of exploring your tradition further, with you as a pawn in my process...) :)

Lian said...

A really great novel on this subject - please read - is "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger. I know it sounds like a crappy Christian living book but its actually a powerful novel that explores mysticism and the uncontrollable nature of the miraculous along with a modern American mythology. It's very powerful. One of the few Christian novels I would ever recommend.

Swift said...

There are a number of Biblical healings by relics - the dead man placed in the tomb of Elisha in 2Kings, those healed by St. Peter's hankerchief in Acts for example. But the main misunderstanding I think is simply in the examples I chose. There are many healings of those who have come into direct contact with saints past and present. Also during Holy Week services there is a service of Holy Unction when all are anointed with oil for healing (it happens throughout the year for the sick who request it) and people are healed - my sister-in-law experienced that this year.
As far as what I meant by "simply a skewed grasp at what the eastern Church has believed/practiced/witnessed all along." I didn't mean that they were intentional in trying to emulate the eastern church in any way, but that the Orthodox Church has continued in the faith of the Apostles - the vibrant, mystical, miraculous faith which is what they are purposefully seeking.
For an accurate extra-biblical account of the early church check out the Didache here:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-hoole.html. My church congregation became Orthodox after reading the Didache and searching for the church today that most embodies that early faith. Though many of the practices have changed and developed, you see there the structure in place, the teaching about the early liturgy, baptism, and discipline.

Swift said...

Our discussions on the various blogs over the months have left me with the impression that some of you dear friends may purposefully be cultivating a faith in which you’ll never feel that you’ve “arrived” at the faith of the Apostles; that faith and doctrine should always be developing. But I wish you all could experience this security in the faith - certainty of where to find the answers. I know that, while I will need to work out my salvation my whole life as I am deified/perfected in the image of Christ, I have everything I need for life and godliness in the Orthodox Church. It has all of the tools. Our discussion of the Pentecostal church reminded me that some protestant churches, now 500 years post reformation are starting to see missing pieces and are stumbling upon a rake here, a shovel there and putting them to good use (sometimes) – but the whole tool shed is hear, with time-tested guides for using every tool for every single task.
This may be a bit raw for a public forum, but I’ll go ahead with it. When I was trying desperately to find some way to overcome addiction to pornography before it destroyed my marriage I almost joined a Sexaholics Anonymous group at the recommendation of my brother. But my brother-in-law, and Deacon in my church told me not to – he told me to rely on the tools that the Church had given me – Confession, Prayer, Fasting. He said “don’t you think that in her 2000 years the Church has dealt with this a time or two?” And the Lord through his Church has healed me and my marriage. I know this is off the subject of your post Phil - my appologies- but I say it to communicate that I really want all of you to come home and stop grasping about at this or that emerging movement that has only part of the picture. And I don’t say this to say “look what I’ve accomplished – I have arrived!”, but that by the grace of God he has lead me to an unshakable foundation in the Orthodox Church. There is an Ortho Doxa, a "right glory", this isn't a mish-mash do it yourself project.
(I really hope I haven't come off all wrong, rude or condecending in this - that is not my attitude at all.) I love you guys.

Nathan Smith said...

wow, Phil, religious imagery can do a lot. A perspective added if ya'll don't mind. In India now the Churches, no matter what they are, are experiencing healings every day. One of the non-Charismatic foreign m-workers who organizes a lot of the ministry that I'm doing as well as much of the work here has said that she is tired of hearing about healings happening. This isn't because she doesn't believe in them. It is because of her disposition. She is pre-disposed to not see miracles as important as others or a verification of sprituality or spiritual depth. That's because it isn't. Uneducated, illiterate, unChurched slum pastors simply pray for a Church goer to be healed or in a visitation or with a Hindu/Muslim family and they are healed. So in the messy world of missions, charismatic, non charismatic, syriac ancient Church, Catholics, Baptists, Good Shepherd Churches, etc... healings are happening. And this is happening all over the world. The number one reason that thousands of Churches are being planted every year here in India is because of the mystical and miraculous. It is usually the entry point - I want to point this out Jeremy because poverty, sickness, hunger - these are the woes that fill 1/2 of the world with people who have no idea what it means to be part of an organized Church. The Church is much bigger than any of us could imagine and much more mystical than any of us would be comfortable with - read Sadu Sundar Singh's biography - a Sikh who believed on Jesus and became a Sadhu (Indian holy man) to preach the Gospel all over India. He was practicing contextualization a long time ago and as a result the inhibitions towards mysticism didn't exist and he experienced Jesus in a way that few ever have. The book will blow you away. Post moderns are great m-workers for Hindus - it's their back yard.

The best cure for a cessationist would be to come to India for at least 2-3 weeks. Either they would lie to themselves more or their life would never be the same. This is true in China, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, etc.... It's simply an every day reality and at some point it actually becomes a little boring if I'm honest. At this point, I've discovered that seeing people mature in their walk with Jesus is more important and the intimacy that follows.

Swift said...

Right on Nate concerning the openness of the eastern mind to the mystical and miraculous! It’s wonderful to hear. I’ve got to ask myself why that is, though. It seems to me to be a freedom from our very western Rationalist mindset - a general comfort and openness to the miraculous that allows the Holy Spirit to act. What do you think?
I agree, like you said, that these are no gage of a depth of spirituality. But what they really have is a childlike faith – the faith we’re all supposed to be seeking – an openness to any work of God without analyzing whether it’s “actually possible” or likely.
The fact that these things are happening in an unchurched, unorganized melee of spiritual hunger says nothing to negate the need for it though. It simply says that God’s grace is greater that we would expect.
And now for some anecdotal evidence:
My parents have been working with Caquinte people in Peru for the last 30 years and many of them have said prayers to become Christians. But this little church is plagued with rampant immorality, Men taking their granddaughters as wives, drunkenness, polygamy – and these are people who are “saved”. In a recent conversation with my Mom, though, she confessed that one of her frustrations is that, though my Dad is a brilliant translator, he is not gifted in church organization. So they’ve never developed the structure of Church that is essential to maturing in their faith, to be truly Saved from their sins. There is very little actual holiness because there has been no one to instruct their Pastor and Deacons on the discipline of the church.

Nathan Smith said...

spiritual maturity - the goal of it all as the Church reaches the nations which are all going to be at different levels of spiritual growth and maturity and will need certain structures that are indigenized, contextualized, etc... but each has to determine their own. The people here were much more open to the mystical but they had too much imported Church practice and now there is tainted expressions of their own expressions of order and worship. AS these are in existence, they don't have enough opportunity to reverse a lot of that. much of what they value in Church life is still their own expressions though some is tainted. Does a particular ecclesiastical tradition or orthopraxis have the ability to be universal? I would imagine the Indian Church looking very different from the Western Church if it was given the chance. It hasn't been and therefore some things are lost that will never be found again in their culture expression. Don't know if that is true, but just as language has the ability to disappear so do cultural practices and expressions - sad isn't it? The one thing it seems is that mysticism, God's Word and a hunger for the miraculous and supernatural will never disappear. Does this tell us anything about Church order, fluxuation in practices on principles, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, etc...?

Swift said...

The first and only Christian church in India, China, all of the east was the Orthodox Church centuries. Persecution drove the Orthodox Church out of prominence as pagan eastern relegions dominated - but the Orthodox Church in India is a Indian as the Russian Orthodox Church is Russian, and the Antiochian Church is Arab. The unity is in the liturgical practice the unity of celebrating together the liturgical year. The essence of the services are the same, but the beautiful cultural differences come through in each country.
Almost off hand it reminds me of when Black Americans run to Islam because Christianity is a "white man's religion" - the Church reached africa through the Etheopian Eunuch decades before it reached Europe through St. Paul.
That's kind of an asside - my main point being that it is the imposition of a western mentality in running church that would be at fault, not a return to the Indian Orthodox structure, which, by the way, has been there all along and still thrives.

Swift said...

p.s. "survives" is probably more accurate than "thrives" in my last sentence.

Nathan Smith said...

Love you swifty. First Church in India was planted by Thomas the Apostle in Kerala and Tamal Nadu. He sailed there after Jesus death and landed on the western shore and made his way across to Tamal Nadu. The southern region of India has been reached since the 1st Century. Then it was the Syriac Church from the Middle East as I understand. Quite interesting history. In the south of India they've had those influences as well as Brethren, Anglican, Charimatic and Baptistic all at different times and as such have adopted what each group brought into their larger ecclesiolgy. India is a fascinating conglomerate of cross denomination influences and it dates back to Doubting Thomas.

Swift said...

Dear friend, St. Thomas the Apostle, and the Syriac Church are Orthodox - it wasn't called that, it was just called the Church.

Swift said...

Phil? Aaron? I know you're busy fathers/husbands, but if you have a minute I'd like to know what you think. (Even if it's "wish he'd keep this crap on his own blog")

Aaron said...

ha... don't you love how i stir the pot and then disappear? sorry about that... i posted a comment and then started writing a paper that i have just finished, so i can breathe/write/live again...

i think these are great thoughts, swift, and as i said before-- i always appreciate your voice in these conversations because you are coming from a different perspective-- and one that i respect. i appreciate your honesty in sharing how you have found freedom from your struggles through the help of the Orthodox church. you said that many of us "may purposefully be cultivating a faith in which you’ll never feel that you’ve “arrived” at the faith of the Apostles; that faith and doctrine should always be developing. But I wish you all could experience this security in the faith - certainty of where to find the answers. I know that, while I will need to work out my salvation my whole life as I am deified/perfected in the image of Christ, I have everything I need for life and godliness in the Orthodox Church. It has all of the tools." i am actually quite comfortable living in the tension of "not yet arriving"... i think this is the call to live in the "now" and the "not yet"... i believe in the importance of being firmly rooted in the traditions of our heritage, and thus i affirm the creeds, study the Fathers, and believe in the importance of learning from the saints. however, i also don't see ecclesiology (or at least the praxis of a church community) as a static entity... how the gospel manifests itself in my life is different than yours, and how it plays out in various cultures is unique as well... where i'm at right now, i want to be in a place that hangs in the balance of both of those realities... i.e. what does it mean to be firmly rooted in our tradition, yet a part of the here and now? i know you can blow holes through this rationale, and i'd love for you to... i'd love to hear how your tradition does this, and how it has played out in your life.

and as far as the discussion of mysticism that i was prodding you on... that's just what i was doing, and i appreciated your answer...

and, swift, in my understanding you're right on that the church in india was first established by the orthodox church... the other denominations were certainly non-existent until the 16th century and after...

anywya, you have a lot more you wrote that i'd love to unpack but my son has just woken up, and i work much better chatting across the table over a pitcher than via blog... maybe someday

Nathan Smith said...

Hey guys, me again. I was corrected rightly by Swifty on my understanding of the Churches here in India, but a question still remains. How could the Eastern Orthodox tradition of liturgical unity, etc... be what Thomas had going when he came to India if his was a 1st century faith? I don't think we can identify him with either or. So much of that had been developed by then. They didn't even have the whole Cannon yet and what he did there would have reflected his time with Christ rather than any ecclesiasical tradition. What's the Word on this?

I would think that Thomas' Church planting would have reflected much of what Paul was doing in his regions of Church planting - which wasn't about the east or the west - it was the beginning. So i'm confused on how he would be claimed under the umbrella of Eastern orthodoxy. Confused on that...

Aaron said...

in my understanding (which, incidentally, is VERY limited)... the early church was "one holy catholic and apostolic church" but it was comprised of (although not formally divided until the great schism of 1054) an eastern part (greek speaking) and a western (latin speaking) part. the "eastern orthodox church" proper was not necessarily established until the Catholic church was, as the formal definition of each tradition was, in a sense, a definition of itself over and against the other half of the Great Schism. so prior to 1054 there was one church, although the drifting apart happened long before 1054, but came to fruition over the "filioque" issue in the Nicean Creed and the issues of authority that lie at the heart of the contention. each tradition lays claim to the apostolic succession (and i would argue in my limited understanding, really, that both are right since it really was one church at the time).

as far as what apostle planted what church, that's well beyond me. perhaps the Didache or other patristic materials would be of help in that area... i'm lost when it comes to that period of time between the New Testament and the high medieval era on.

and, nate, i think by the end of the first century, while the Bible wasn't formally canonized by that time (it was in the 4th century), i would argue that there was a collection of Pauline works, and authoritative works that would later be canonized. after all, the council of nicea wasn't a result of pulling writings out of thin air and ascribing them with authority, rather it was an act of affirming the books that had already been embraced by the church as authoritative and been used in liturgy for a couple of centuries by that point. i'm not sure i would place a whole lot of weight on the 4th century as a moment that the Bible was officially birthed, rather, the time that it was formally affirmed as such.

i guess i would have a question, swift, that somewhat echoes nate's, and that is:
in my understanding of Acts 2 and the early church in its purest, most organic form as found in the new testament, i don't see it playing out as the eastern orthodox church is carried out today. it was in homes, shared a common meal (apart from communion), and so on. how did that transition play out from Acts 2 and the Pauline epistles to the liturgical structure of church found in your tradition?

wow... we're all over the place in this discussion... and i'm not even sure it's where phil intented the original discussion to go! i guess i quickly railroaded that one! i'm really enjoying this though, guys...

Swift said...

Wow, I was gone for a day and now I’m way behind with so many different directions this could go. Aaron, again you claim to know nothing and then unfurl a wealth of accurate history. I guess I’ll interact with this latest comment and then pop back to the last one. Nate- he said exactly what I was going to say – it was “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” as described in the Nicene creed and there were a number of cannons in use until the 4th century (one of the widely included books was the Didache). The Church which started out in the upper room grew and developed – as it grew Bishops were placed in Authority as needed, and as the Apostles passed away. The Church in India would have been developing shortly after this new birth of the Church and it grew right along side it (inside it really). The Church had to develop and change and grow in structure and organization – especially as it became, from the outset, attacked from within by various heresies. Without the discipline of a structured Church to say we who are the Church of the faith of the Apostles affirm this faith as the true faith and that one that Arius or Nestorius is teaching is a false faith and unless they repent of it and come back into communion they are not a part of the Church. It’s not just another alternate church, it is damnable heresy – were most of them trying to teach lies – No! They were usually trying to do something like, for instance, defend the Diety of Christ but in so doing they taught that he was not human. And the greater Church says no- that’s not what the Apostles passed down to us.
Just as the cannon developed from various collections of Apostolic writings, the liturgy developed and was eventually unified, but the intrinsic elements were there and flowed straight out of the worship in the synagogue. Pascha (Easter) is Passover, Pentecost is fifty days later in the Jewish calendar (you can see it in the name) and so on. The Vespers and Matins services follow directly with the Jewish first century practice. The Jewish fasts on Tuesday and Thursday become the fasts on Wednesday and Friday (though changed so that, according the Didache, “we do not fast as the hypocrites” meaning the Jews). You can argue that there is not sufficient evidence of structure and Apostolic succession in Acts (though I would hardily disagree), but you cannot by any honest means say that there was no structure and liturgy in the 4th century when the cannon was finalized. How can you possibly trust the Church to have recognized the cannon of Scripture, but not trust the same Church to have preserved the Apostolic faith in it’s structure and liturgy. It didn’t disappear nearly immediately, only to reemerge, perfected under Luther. Luther rightly reacted to the gross hypocrisies of the Western Church (I’d argue that they came into so much error by separating themselves from the guiding greater Church and promoting the Pope over against all other Popes), but his mistake was to rebel and think he could come to an individual understanding of proper theology rather than reuniting with the Eastern Church. It’s his offspring of Protestantism that later came in with it’s very western thought and, while in most cases well intended, began applying this slew of rapidly fracturing churches and theologies and foreign ways of worship on the Indian people.
That said – the Church culture is foreign to us all. It is the culture of heaven to which we all conform. If it conformed to Jewish or Roman cultures completely it would not have been so persecuted. It is the Church’s very counterculture that makes it so powerful and unifying. Each culture lends a few threads and color to their part of the picture because that is how they know how to weave, but the Great Tapestry is till the same.

Lian said...

Jeremy, I feel like you are making a lot of really powerful statements about something that was possibly the work of God.

"but his mistake was to rebel and think he could come to an individual understanding of proper theology rather than reuniting with the Eastern Church" Many people have come to know God under these "wrongfully" established churches. Didn't even Paul the apostle split from Barnabas with the God intended purpose of spreading the church further? Wouldn't a Pauline "church" and a Barnabas "church" look a little different within the cultures of the respective churches? I can appreciate your passion for your church, but not your condescention for something that may be beyond the understanding of all of us. God calls us to be one, to love each other. That does not mean that we have to worship in the same denomination, or practise the same liturgy.
It's quite possible that I missed your meaning, so please forgive. I'm just a girl.:)
-erika

Swift said...

Erika, as my priest has said, “you can lose your soul on a blog”. Though we know each other, communicating in this format that is so stark and separate from tone, it’s easy to begin to offend each other – not my intention at all. Please forgive the way that that came across. The protestant church is the faith that brought me to the way of salvation – my parents are protestant through and through and they are very godly people who’s discipline in prayer, fasting and service has brought many to repent of their sins and seek Christ for salvation.
Remember the man who was healing in Jesus name and the apostles tried to stop him, but Christ told them that what was done in his name was from the Father (or something to that end), or Apollos when before he had heard the full Gospel was teaching the Baptism of John and repentance from sins. So many great things are done in Christ name – the Apostles did not stop Apollos from teaching, but merely filled him in on the fullness of the Gospel. An attitude of – the intention is good and the action is good so don’t change it would have had many following an incomplete message from a well-intentioned messenger.
When Paul and Barnabas disagreed over whether they should take Mark with them they did go separate ways. But they did not begin planting the church of Paul and the church of Barnabas, they planted the Church of Christ, the Kingdom of God – there was one church only. That is why the creed says “I believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”. Christianity is founded on the councils and creeds – if not for the councils you wouldn’t explain Christ as two Natures in one Person or the Trinity as three Persons in one Essence – you get those from the councils. How can you then pick and choose among the statements of the creeds and councils. They define our faith and protect it from error.

Swift said...

What I failed to point out is that Paul and Barnabas were reunited - and quite clearly even on the issue of Mark as he is later found to be with Paul.

Aaron said...

swift... what is it that makes the church "one"? is it that all are worshipping as a part of the Orthodox church? or is it geography? or is it the Spirit?

Swift said...

Good point Aaron - it is the Spirit beyond doubt, but this isn't some symbolic unity without actual effect. He's guided his Church to a structure for discipline and worship that provides an actual unity in our worship and peace in our communities. The Church in Acts was united by the Spirit but still there are clear structure and discipline, and order of Authority - why else was there a council at Jerusalem?

Aaron said...

phil... sorry we're completely taking over your blog... swift, i'm not sure we're entirely polarized on these issues, yet i feel we'll probably end up in a position of agreeing to disagree on many of these things. nevertheless, it's been fruitful for me to engage in this conversation. i think i'll post this last comment and let the conversation (or at least my voice) fade and give you the last word, lest we discuss this until Christ himself comes to tell us we were both wrong. :)

Given that it is the spirit that unifies us, and not the structure of church, I would argue that the tangible outplaying of this is that we will be of one mind and that we will be known by our love. ideally, this would manifest itself within a single structural church, but unfortunately history has not afforded us such an opportunity. i think the important thing to understand with regards to this is that the Church is people, and the structure, discipline, and authority are a means of serving the Church (the people). the idea that the Eastern Church is the only proper church even today (i'm not sure if you're purporting this or not) sounds more like the idea of the Temple as God's dwelling place. when Christ came, the veil in the temple was torn and the people became the dwelling place of God... we are his temple, not the church structure. through the great schism, the reformation, the anglican reformation, and any other faction happened in church history, those who left the church did not leave the presence of God, even if God may have been saddened by such division. again, the Jerusalem Council (as with all other councils) exist because of the church (the people) not the opposite. the church does not exist on account of the councils, doesn't recieve its authority from the councils, rather the people held councils as a means to address specific issues and further define itself. In Galatians 2 when Paul rebukes Peter, it is over issues specifically addressed at the Jerusalem council, yet Paul did not make any mention of the council... why not? My NT prof argues that this is because Paul (as spoken emphatically elsewhere) does not recieve his authority from man, from Jerusalem, or from councils, but from God alone. This does not disregard the creeds and councils in any way, rather it places God at the center of Church (the people), enables those people to plant, attend, and support churches (the structure, and note the plural form) and enjoy the presence of God not confined to the church but "wherever two or three are gathered" at any given time...

(i hope i haven't come on too strong... if so, add a dose of humility to this and you'll get my intended message.)

Swift said...

"I would argue that the tangible outplaying of this is that we will be of one mind and that we will be known by our love. ideally, this would manifest itself within a single structural church."

My car looks prety good but when it sarts rolling it rattles and squeals. I drive it to work every day - it works mostly as it should and mostly as it is intended to work. But that doesn't mean that I won't fix it when I pull the money together.

You recognise that the ideal is to be one, not only in the basic functions, but structurally unified as well. What keeps you from making a step in that direction? I believe that the Church can be united again. We miss out on miracles because we think them impossible, beyond the reach of nature and our understanding so some even begin to call the biblical miracles symbolic. Jesus didn't really multiply the loaves and fish, he just taught people to share. We see the error in this - why would we then assign the unity of the Church to something symbolic simply because we find it difficult to believe that actual unity can be accomplished again.

Swift said...

Aaron, I think Chicago could use a visit and a pitcher or two at Moody's could use drinking and a few hours could use spending.

Clay said...

Hear, Hear!

Nathan Smith said...

MMMhh Moodys - I need a blue cheese burger and a pitcher right now. I want to have Church at Moodys. God convo guys and as others have, I'm bowing out too. Another chance, another time. i just love the fact that we are all passionate about our Jesus. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking of it. I just read a bunch of profiles about teenagers on facebook that I worked with back in Canada between my Moody years. They have all walked away from Jesus in some way or another and my heart is heavy as I write this to you. Some days, I just want Jesus. I am thankful for all of you and our common love and commitment to our Savior - he is so precious and I wish these ones who have left could know that preciousness. You guys encourage me and spur me on to love and good deeds and towards Jesus. Thanks for standing with Jesus and being men who won't walk away. I'm moved.

Swift said...

Nate, I was just thinking yesterday about one of the darkest times in my life when I lived alone in a little studio appartment and you were one of only a very few friends that were around. You were a great encouragement to me as I'm sure you are to the people around you now.
Thanks for your grace in this conversation too - these things can get out of hand, but this remained a peaceful passionate discussion.

Pax Vobiscum

bethany said...

I lived in my own unenchanted forest for a great many years. I pushed miracles aside in favor or "doing it myself" and "hard work". I became an atheist because I could not believe in a God who was apathetic to my pain. It was better to believe that God simply did not exist than to face my supposition that he was thoughtless, careless, and unwilling to visit me with the miracles I so desperately needed.

Yes, I was very dissappointed with hope.

The odd thing is this, after I had given up hope completely; after I had moved on from my former life as a believer, I felt that I could finally open my eyes and begin to actually live, fully present. It was then that I began to see God-like actions in my drug-addict friends. It was then that I could see the beauty of creation in my niece's smile. It then that I could experience love for a world that I had disowned. I found that not only was my forest enchanted, I was enchanted...and somehwere in that forest, I found a God who is infinitely better than religion had made him seem.

My forest is enchanted and there have been and there will continue to be miracles here.