Friday, May 21, 2010

The church of King Henry VIII

Thursday's A-hed, In England, Buying the Farm Can Be a Fate Worse Than Debt, outlines the abusive power held by English churches to extract money from unsuspecting neighbors. Unfortunately, the reader may mistake the church of St John the Baptist in Aston Cantlow, and even the Church of England, as being Christian. Nevertheless, from a Biblical perspective, the church of St John the Baptist is unlike Christ's church as outlined in the New Testament Scripture.

Paul told the Athenians at the Areopagus, that God "does not live in temples built by hands." Yet so-called Christians continually call the church building "God's house." The building becomes the center of worship even though God doesn't live there. Whether the Church of England, and especially the wardens of St John the Baptist, believes in God is perhaps a dubious assumption. Nevertheless, the so-call church benefits from the presumption of Christianity. It's easier to extort money in the name of God than in the name of greed. Still, the excuse, It's for the building, just doesn't ring true.

Even 2 Chronicles 6-7 makes it clear that Solomon's temple was not for the benefit of God. If 2 Chronicles 7:19-22 prophesies the eventual destruction of Solomon's temple, I doubt that God holds the building, St John the Baptist in Aston Cantlow, with any regard (its association with William Shakespeare notwithstanding). God holds his name in higher regard than any building, but churches hold church buildings in higher regard than they hold God's name. Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4,

Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem . . . Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4:21, 23-34 (NIV)

If the ancient temple does not matter in worship because God is spirit and worship is spiritual, then how can any building assist "worship in spirit and truth?" Jesus tells us that geography and architecture are meaningless in worship. Emphasis on a building disparages the Gospel preached by Jesus Christ.

Even if the building is somehow important, the church is un-Christian to sue. Paul berated the Corinthians for suing each other in the courts. He writes, "The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers." 1 Corinthians 6: 7-8 (NIV) Apparently the Church of England has no qualms about suing Christians for financial gain. Of course, God doesn't care about buildings, so obviously the church wardens can't expect Him to provide. The Wall Street Journal quotes it as saying, "The church cannot be expected to forgo sources of funding to which it is entitled." Assuming the church, St John the Baptist, was somehow entitled, according to Paul they should rather be cheated than take a church member to court!

But nothing in Scripture entitles St John the Baptist in Aston Cantlow to any money. Even the Old Testament tithe rendered only 0.33% to the temple (one percent every 3 years). The Levites, who collected the tithe in the year of the tithe, did not use it to support buildings. They used it to support orphans, and widows, and foreigners. The tithe didn't support buildings, it supported people. The church of St John the Baptist's entitlement comes not from Scripture, but from the dead reprobate King Henry VIII.

Since King Henry VIII's laws are obeyed within the parish of St John the Baptist in Aston Cantwell while Christ's laws are ignored, we should never mistake the church of St John the Baptist, and the greater Church of England, as being anything other than the Church of King Henry VIII.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Second fiddle

This weekend as we drove out of town to see Dad, I tried to explain to Claire my ambivalence toward so-called popular Christian music. My arguments summarized amounted to this: "Don't take your theology from an entertainer."

Now, the Apostle Paul says, "All things are lawful," so Christian entertainers are free to entertain. They certainly don't need my permission. However, Paul follows his first thought by saying that "not all things are expedient." That is to say, not all things edify or build up. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Tonight, on Facebook, Lisa posted a link to a viral YouTube video from Rend Collective Experiment The video shows kids accompanying their singing using iPhones as musical instruments. As such, the video is novel and mildly entertaining. The fact that they chose a popular Christian worship song is somewhat confusing, however.

What are they promoting?

  1. The iPhone
  2. God
  3. Themselves
  4. All of the above

Pop culture expert Marshal McLuhan coined the phrase, "The medium is the message." Accordingly, the novelty of performing as an iPhone ensemble overwhelms the content of the performance. Without the iPhone, would the video go virile? Not a chance. Does that justify the performance? Do the words of the song sanctify the iPhones, or do the iPhones rather profane the meaning of the song?

Herein dwells the conundrum of the Christian entertainer: Who is glorified by the performance? To whom is the audience' attention drawn? Why does it matter? Or, does it matter?

Perhaps it should matter. God speaking through the prophet Isaiah, says,

I am the LORD; that is my name!
I will not give my glory to another
or my praise to idols.

Isaiah 42:8 (NIV)

Does God need to play second fiddle to an iPhone?

Does God really need any gimmick? Or do we need a gimmick to talk about God?

What does this say about us?