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« Are You Going? | Main | The End of Humanity »

January 06, 2005

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The only fires we all need are the fire of revival brought by the fire of the Holy Spirit.

As Leonard Ravenhill once said concerning our ability to get people into our churches, "You never have to advertise a fire."

Persecution, though...how does that work within postmodernism? Postmodernism tends to work by a "live and let live" mantra or by the idea that no one has the handle on the truth. The only way you can persecute anyone is if the persecuters are absolutists of some position contrary to the absolute position taken by the Church. Since neither postmodern society can take an absolute stance (or so pure postmodernists contend) nor can the postmodern church, how is persecution even possible?

You can't persecute a people who have no fixed beliefs.

I wouldn't go so far as to say postmodern Christians have no fixed beliefs, but rather that those beliefs are less focused on modern formulations of doctrine. And yes, the less zealous you are about your brand of truth, the harder is to be persecuted.

Maybe we can persecute ourselves by taking on the suffering of others (tsunami victims, the homeless, the really persecuted in other nations) as Christ took on our suffering. That'll keep us busy for a while. Or we could TiVo the news, fast-forward through the depressing stories about those less fortunate than us, and buy more stuff, but that tends to result in less persecution and fatter rears.

Dan, I'd agree with Justin's response concerning the beliefs of postmoderns. In some ways, some of their beliefs (esp. the peripheral ones) are in flux -- in part, due to the work of deconstruction. By-and-lage, however, the centrality of Jesus is alive and well among so-called postmodern Christians.

Hebrew Christians and Gentile Christians certainly had their differences regarding dogma and doctrine, but they were all persecuted for their faith in Jesus. That experience did something to the spread of the gospel and the advancement of the kerygma (good news).

In modern times, persecution against Christians in China has had an interesting effect: The church went "undergrown", divesting itself of modern trappings (buildings, paid staff, etc.) yet grew exponentially.

If persecution against followers of Jesus were to break out today, believers both inside AND outside the institutionalized church would be forced to decide what was essential to believe and stand for. This would be good, not only for postmodern, emerging church believers, but those from established institutionalized faith communities as well.

Justin -- you've mentioned "the really persecuted" in other nations -- and that's what I have in mind here. That's what every overly confident, confortable, pomo-resonnating Christian needs.

Self-realization and repentance would also work -- but I have serious doubts we'll see that anytime soon in a culture soooo addicted to the personal benefits of individualism.

Yes, the comment on pomos was overly simplistic. Still, I have had FAR too many conversations over at TheOoze in which even a central tenet like John 14:6 can't be agreed upon. It's hard to be persecuted when things are so fuzzy for so many people in postmodernism.

As to the issue of individualism and persecution, well, once again, DP, we are tracking on the same brainwaves. An American Church as individualistic as ours cannot possibly be prepared for or endure persecution. I wrote on my blog this last summer the story of a church up north that would rather install an $80,000 sound system then to help two families who were threatened with losing their homes due to layoffs (and the tough economic conditions in Ohio.) Those families went down in flames, but the church got their precious sound system. The idea that everyone needs to look out for himself did in those two families. God help them!

Now take that story and put the screws of persecution to that church and ALL of the families in it. What then? If they can't act like a real community during some down times, how can they act ever hope to survive people going to jail, most everyone being put out of work for their faith, and maybe even being executed for it?

No chance of survival at all. And sadly, that is where most churches in the US are because we simply will not wake up. Even a simple thing like rescinding tax exemption would be enough to severely hurt most of the churches in this country due to the financial strain of property and payroll taxes. And let's not forget that some communities are pressuring churches to leave prime real estate that could be devoted to taxable, revenue-producing business that would keep local town coffers filled the next time the economy takes a hit. That case of a church versus a California town that wanted to put a Costco on their property was scary, but did we learn anything from it? Sure doesn't seem like it.

We are not ready.

we never are DLE, we never are.

I agree with DP -- ready or not, we need testing. We need dross-removing, impurity-revealing, make-room-for-more-of-God-and-less-of-me fire.

Maybe it won't come in the standard "persecution" we've seen in the church's history.

But I hope it comes.

soon.

(am i crazy too?)

"We need dross-removing, impurity-revealing, make-room-for-more-of-God-and-less-of-me fire."

I love the way you put that, Keith.

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