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Monthly Archives: June 2011

The books opened, and every idle word

Our cultural distance from the biblical authors often complicates our full appreciation of their message. For example, because we have essentially no experience of what it is like to have a king, the biblical claim that Christ is a king is one that fails to fully register with us. Only when we come to realize how deeply we (I speak here primarily of Americans) hate kings can we begin to consider the radical authority of Jesus, and how counter-cultural the Christian message is at this point.

Sometimes, however, cultural shifts may make certain biblical images more accessible; the recent debacle involving Rep. Anthony Weiner, I suggest, signals one such shift.

Revelation 20:12
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

The pervasiveness/invasiveness of electronic media is, to a great degree, creating a society in which, if not every idle word, at least a great many of our idle words are recorded and can be opened in judgment against us.

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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Society, Theology

 

The conservatism of the normative principle

At this year’s Conference on Conservative Christianity (which concluded yesterday), Steve Thomas of Huron Baptist Church made a point in one of his sessions that I found remarkably insightful. Most of those attending the conference would either embrace the regulative principle of worship outright, or would advocate something very much like the regulative principle. The contrasting position (the normative principle) would be viewed by most conservatives with some suspicion, as it is typically defended as the basis for allowing innovation in the church.

And yet, as Pastor Thomas observed, the original impetus for Luther’s advocacy of the normative principle was actually a conserving, traditional impulse. Luther did not endorse the normative principle because he wanted to innovate; he endorsed it because he saw wisdom in maintaining the not-specifically-authorized-in-Scripture worship practices that had become common in the Roman church. Because such practices were not forbidden in Scripture, Luther did not see the need to terminate them immediately and risk alienating those for whom such practices had become normal.

Thus, modern advocates of the normative principle, who find in it license to add elements to the liturgy and task of the church that are not authorized in Scripture, still violate the spirit of the normative principle.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in Worship