This morning, I attempted to read through a biblical commentary covering John, chapter 17, for our Home Group meeting, tonight. I came across a piece of paper with names and phone messages written on the outside – from my time as an undergraduate at Bowling Green State University. Inside, the sheet of paper was a bible-study outline neatly printed by one of my roommates who lead a small-group for our campus ministry at BGSU – Active Christians Today (ACT). ACT is a ministry of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ fellowship/denomination, one of the historic results of the Campbellite movement.
So, as ease as it is to become distracted from one’s original intent when the Web is involved, I searched for “Cambellite” on google and came up with a website that dealt with a poster’s question of whether the Cambellite churches are cults or not. The person asked the question because Cambellite churches believe in a form of baptismal regeneration (as well as taking communion every week).
Then, an advert appeared at the top of the page: “Because a modest woman is a beautiful women.” It is an ad for “Modest Apparel” for women. I suspect a man could dress immodestly and get away with it??? Can we become any more distracted???
Anyway, back to the bible-study notes from college I discovered. A couple posts ago, “What the heck,” I woefully attempted to put into words thoughts about strong beliefs, about what Anglicanism or Christianity is not with regard to the prevailing culture (liberal or conservative) and all that. A train wreck, but I “process out loud” and it was yet another attempt to get at what I believe as I figure out what I believe.
On this bible-study outline was a verse from I Corn. 3:11:
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Perhaps, all the stuff from “What the heck…” dealt with the question of foundations. What is our foundation upon which we build our organizations and our own faith?
It is easy to say, of course, “Jesus Christ.” Yet, I sense that for too many people in certain segments of The Episcopal Church and within parts of Anglicanism (and Christianity all together), we are attempting to lay a new and different foundation in reality. Subtly similiar, yet profoundly askew. On the ground, when most of what we hear comes along the lines of a Christianity or a Jesus that aligns with either, 1. materialism/consumerism, nationalism, and hyper-individuality or 2. the “inclusiveness” or “diversity” mantras born out of political-correctness and identity-politics, then it seems a new foundation is being constructed. These new foundations, at least with regard to living out the Kingdom of God as Jesus described bringing us “life to the full,” will, well… fail. And, they are failing. We see the results all around us as we attempt to justify our culturally subordinate religious opinions about what is and isn’t “Christian.” We see the results particularly at present as more and more people find nothing worthwhile in our organized religion.
When our modus operandi is to point accusing fingers at anyone other than our group and our determination to rebel and our demand for self, I don’t blame people for wanting to stay away. If we lived as Christians, in whatever knowable sense God might intend for those claiming his Son, I would guess that far more people might see something far more compelling in this thing called the Christian life than they do now. Those who do claim Christ just might find themselves living a far less deficient life in the Spirit, also.
What is our foundation? The more I think about it, really, the more I come back to the simple, yet profoundly befuddling, two commands of Jesus. Frankly, this is one of my favorite parts of Rite I and I am glad I get to say it so often,
“Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
So simple, yet so profoundly difficult that we chose to build other foundations so to attempt to justify our religion and our dogmatism. What shall come of the cause of Christ? What shall become of us?