Tuesday, November 11, 2003

A lot of the ideas in that last post came from my recent re-reading of Dave Andrews' Christi-anarchy. For background sake, and because I just like him so darn much, here are some quotes from the book.

He starts out without a historical snapshot of the incredible evil that has been perpetuated in the name of Christ. He revisits the idea that in the evolution of the Church from Christ to Constantine, already the church as an institution has become contrary to the teachings of Christ:

According to A.N. Wilson, the Nicene Creed, to which all Christians now subscribed on pain of banishment, notably 'contained not one jot of the ethical teachings that Jesus had once preached.' Not for the Emperor was a Jesus who called upon his followers to 'love your enemies... love them, not hate them... bless them, not curse them... turn the other cheek... take up your cross and follow me'; but the 'unthinkable, impossible, perfectly ridiculous ' imperial Christ 'riding a fiery white stallion... and shouting - "Heigh! Ho! Forward charge!"'

From that time onwards no one Christian territory has been safe from Christian tyranny imposed in the name of an imperial Christ. Jaques Ellul laments the fact that 'freedom finds little place in church history'... He says - as we have witnessed for ourselves - that 'whenever the church has been in a position of power, it has regarded freedom as the enemy'.

I have found myself increasingly coming to believe that when Christ says things like "those who Love me will obey my teaching" and "many will say Lord, Lord, but I will say 'I never knew you'", it means that what we look back on and call the Church may be completely different from what Christ sees as his Church throughout history. I have come across various groups in history who were very deliberate about living out the teachings of Christ, and most often they were labelled heretics by the "Christians" in power, as their lifestyles subverted the rulers' power. Andrews touches upon some of these groups and deals well with the power-laden use of the word "heretic".

Another big point that Andrews gets into, which I think is pivotal to changing the way we view our mission as followers of Christ, is the view of salvation as a "bounded" versus a "centered set". Bounded set is the one where we all know the rules plain and clear and the prayer you have to pray to get "in". In that view, we come to believe that the "rules" are so clear that we can pretty much look around us and judge who is in and out just as well as God can. From there we can really go get our condemnation on. The centred set is not quite so clear about the rules, and leaves the judgement up to God:

Peterson assumes that the only way to have a boundary between 'not being saved' and 'being saved' is by having a set boundary. Thus salvation can only be understood in terms of a Bounded Set. However, though there are no set boundaries in the Centred Set, there are still boundaries. And one crosses the boundary, from 'not being saved' to 'being saved', by choosing to follow in the footsteps of 'the Saviour'. In the Bounded Set, the boundary is in the same place for everyone, no matter where they are coming from. However, in th Centred Set the boundary is moving all the time to accomodate anyone who makes a move toward the centre, whether they cross a set boundary or not. The gospels show that 'being saved' depends on choosing to 'follow in the footsteps of the Saviour', but that may mean 'different paths for different people', depending on where they are coming from.

Christ called everyone to follow in his footsteps. But he expected one person to leave home (Mt. 8:22), while he expected another person to go home (Mk 5:19). His expectations of them were exactly the opposite of each other, based on their personal circumstances at that particular time and place.

Christ challenged everyone to give generously to the poor. But while he expected one person to sell all that he had to give to the poor (Mk 10:21), he expected another person to sell only half of what he had to give to the poor (Lk 19:8-10). His expectations were not 'set' standards, but variations on a common theme.

This all sounds a lot like C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.

No comments: