Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding is truly one of God’s greatest gifts to the 21st century church. At a time when many (perhaps most) Christians unthinkingly accept the brokenness of this world as “just the way things are”, He has both preached and practiced the vital truth that Christ came to give us victorious life.
He has led Bethel for decades with humility, integrity, and compassion — including a perhaps unprecedented openness to raising up and blessing other leaders. I wish more leaders were like him.
Question: Is there a single thing that both causes and sustains “train wrecks” (i.e., cascades of broken relationships)? If so, can it be inverted to provide a cure?
Perspective: Yes, abjection (i.e. dissociating self from what is toxic or outside our control). The tragedy is that abjection is essential for identity in both groups and individuals, yet ultimately destructive of the larger context. The cure is to follow Christ by incarnating into what was abjected, and overcome it by the power of the cross.
I consider myself a “Paleo-Evangelical” Christian. Like my counterparts in the first century, I have had transformational encounters with the person of Jesus Christ and am devoted to making him known as the Risen Lord; but am still working through which of my inherited cultural understandings and religious teachings are worthy to bear His name.
It may be too late to have a happy childhood, but it is never too late to have a turbulent adolescence!
We as a society have lost sight of what it means to grow up. And that’s a good thing!
The gift (and curse) of the Enlightenment is that each of us must answer the question: who do I want to be when I grow up? It is tempting to envy our ancestors and traditional cultures who had well-defined “markers of maturity”, e.g., marriage, mortgage, and making money. There is enormous security, stability, and support in having society validate who you are supposed to be.
But there is also enormous danger, especially for Christians.
Broken words and broken hearts, Broken lies keep us apart
How can we speak a truth we’ve never heard?
Broken words inside my heart, They are tearing me apart
How can we save the world with broken words?
When I was a student at Caltech in Pasadena, I used to visit the Fuller Seminary Bookstore. One day, I saw a small shelf labelled “Practical Theology.” I turned around and looked at the rows upon rows of bookshelves filling the small building and asked, “Then what in God’s name is the rest of this?”
I still haven’t found a satisfying answer.
Don’t get me wrong. I am fully convinced of the idea of theology. It is essential to know what we believe, and I completely agree that our concept of God ultimately shapes every aspect of our lives. I have been deeply moved and blessed by many of the theologians I have read and studied under.
The modern church was born in the era of broadcasting: mass-market publishing, sound systems, radio, and television. These technologies enabled it solve certain tasks (e.g., teaching, worship music, announcing and producing events) incredibly well. However, by making some problems much easier to solve than others, those same technologies can subtly influence what we focus on and what we ignore.
We are now entering a new era of digital communication, with greater interactivity, richness, and immediacy than could have been imagined thirty years ago. What are the implications for learning, evangelism, discipleship, and outreach? What new problems does that enable us to solve? Which traditional problems and solutions can be profitably revisited? Can all these changes lead us to a deeper understanding of what God truly wants the church to be?
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