Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What's the Point?

Rather, who's the point?

I don't believe in this day and age the Church can stress enough that the "point" of Christianity is Jesus himself. The point of Scripture, the point of prayer, the point of faith -- all Jesus.

We -- and by "we," I do mean American evangelicalism, not necessarily specific churches, much less just BCC -- have not done a great job at making Jesus the point of the enterprise of faith. We take the Gospel notion of "faith alone," a belief many Reformers died contending for, and make it about us. We turn perseverance into personal empowerment and sanctification into self-improvement. We've made religion a bad word by turning Law into legalism and grace into license. We made Jesus our buddy, our co-pilot, our sidekick. We don't have sin -- we have "issues." We say we have bad habits rather than admit we have sinful hearts. We look to Scripture in general as a toolbox of pick-me-up quotable quotes and to the Gospels specifically as a chronicle of warm-fuzzy behavioral aspirations.

But if the point of any of it is not Jesus, it will not, cannot, and does not work.

Let's look at a few highlights from the Gospels, how 'bout?

Last week, someone critiqued my understanding of the story of the woman caught in adultery. (Doing so is fine, of course. I make no claims to be the end-all, be-all of biblical interpretation. I'm just a dude trying to do my best to make heads or tails of stuff that convicts and challenges me daily.) My understanding of that story is that "don't be a hypocrite" is not the main point. It is an application and implication of what Jesus said, but I don't see it as the point. If you want to know what I think the point of that story is, it is this: Jesus forgives adultery.

Here is my guiding principle for reading the Gospels: The point is Jesus. Every saying, every story -- Jesus. If the main point you're getting out of the story doesn't center squarely on Jesus, I respectfully suggest your aim is off.

Some examples:
Lots of people look at the story of Jesus throwing the moneychangers out of the temple and think this is about how it's wrong to sell stuff at church (or some variation of such). As I've pointed out in an earlier post, that cannot be the main point, as at that time, foreign Jews needed to exchange currency to be able to make the required sacrifices in the temple, and they probably needed to buy the objects of sacrifice, since very few packed animals for travel. So the point of that story is not "commerce and temple don't mix," because up until that point, commerce and temple had to mix for the temple system to work. No, the point of that story is that Jesus replaces the temple system.

Similarly, people look at the Beatitudes and see a list of behaviors to aspire to. That's all well and good, but Jesus didn't come to show you how to be a better person. He came because you can't be. The point of the Beatitudes is that that list is what the kingdom of Jesus looks like. Those are the promises of Jesus to those who will enter his kingdom.

The point of the parable of the lost son is not some generic "God allows u-turns" sentimentalism; the point is that Jesus brings reconciliation to sinners.

The point should and must be Jesus. In all we say and do. We can have the best quality presentation, the most dynamic speaker, the greatest list of helpful tips for successful living (in convenient alliterative format), the most incredible music, the nicest greeters, and the most enthusiastic congregation -- but if the point is anything other than Jesus, we've all missed the point. Jesus cannot be periperhal. He cannot be merely included. He has to be at the forefront of our message and ministry. It's not everything and Jesus; it's Jesus, and everything else will be added unto us.
Look, provided you are far enough south, you can be charting a measly 2 degrees off due north and still end up a thousand miles from your destination.

The one writer/scholar who has revolutionized my exploration into personal Jesus-ness more than anyone is N.T. Wright. One of my favorite quotes of his is this:
But since orthodox Christianity has always held firm to the basic belief that it is by looking at Jesus himself that we discover who God is, it seems to me indisputable that we should expect always to be continuing in the quest for Jesus precisely as part of, indeed perhaps as the sharp edge of, our exploration into God himself.

BCC is about helping people find God, is it not? If so, then, we have to commit ourselves, personally and collectively, to "continuing in the quest for Jesus as the sharp edge of our exploration into God himself."

Whatever his perceived deficiencies, I for one think Bill West has already done a fantastic job of making the point of his messages Jesus.

It's Jesus + nothing, folks. It really is.

Peace.

(I am still working on a post responding to some questions asked. I promise I will get that up soon. I just have lacked a significant chunk of time to give it the attention it deserves. Look for it probably tomorrow (Thursday). Thanks for your patience!)

24 Comments:

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Here are my thoughts on some of your examples, and then your main point.
1. As far as the temple moneychangers go, I do not think just saying the main point is that Jesus replaces the temple system ignores a key part of the story. Jesus did not just go and casually overturn those tables...He did so with a righteous anger..and that anger was for a reason..

2. As to the beatitudes, I can agree that what was stated there are the principles of the Kingdom of God..however...just as important in my opinion is that we try to live those things out.

3. Parable of the lost son...well I believe it goes further than sentimentalism and reconciliation of sinners...to me it goes to the Father's heart towards his children, and shows that beautifully.

As to your main point, I would say that we should keep our focus on the trinity, and its unique parts. Not just Jesus. There is something wonderful, beautiful, and revelatory about the bible when you view it in the context of the trinity, father, son (Jesus) and holy spirit. The prodigal story shows beautifully the heart of the Father for example.

One thing I have a problem with..if you look at how Jesus taught and lived his life, it was not about Himself...it was all about everyone else. Jesus never pointed really to Himself, or if He did it was more in relation to His father.I would even go as far to say in some ways, Jesus is our older brother, and He calls us to be friends.(and servants also - I am not meaning to equate ourselves to Him..He is still God) I guess what I am saying is, Jesus seems to be always pointing away from Himself as the one to be focused on and worshipped and pointing to the Father. Of course this is all academic since Jesus is part of the trinity that is also one. But to focus on just jesus seems to miss out ont he richness of the trinity.

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger Jared said...

Jesus did not just go and casually overturn those tables...He did so with a righteous anger..and that anger was for a reason..

Yes, you're right. I believe Jesus was pronouncing judgment upon the temple system, thereby pronouncing judgment upon Israel itself. This ties in with the curse upon the fig tree, the pronouncing of woes upon Jerusalem, the prediction of the temple's destruction (cf. Matthew 24), and even that "mustard seed" saying most of us don't really get the context of. ("This mountain" that could be cast into the sea was most likely the temple mount.)

I have tried throughout not to dismiss secondary points or other implications/applications of these passages, but only to say the main point has to be Jesus.

I can agree that what was stated there are the principles of the Kingdom of God..however...just as important in my opinion is that we try to live those things out.

Jonathan, I don't know how you're not seeing me saying doing those things is important. I have nowhere said "don't try." I have nowhere espoused some sort of nihilistic Christian living. I'm only trying to emphasize what the Bible itself says, which is that apart from Him we can do nothing. Trying is great, but trying doesn't get us jack squat.

Behavior is awesome. I'm just saying that behavior results from a changed heart, which is something only God can do.

well I believe it goes further than sentimentalism and reconciliation of sinners...to me it goes to the Father's heart towards his children, and shows that beautifully

Yes, okay. I'm not knocking that. But the meat of the story -- which is told in conjuction with the two other "lost" parables -- is not "God loves his children" per se, but "this is how God loves His children." And when you get into all the cultural context of the prodigal son parable specifically, you see how radical that sinner's reconcilation really is. There is scandal involved (b/c the older brother just doesn't get it) and there's humility involved (b/c it was not "dignified" for grown men to run).

I would say that we should keep our focus on the trinity, and its unique parts. Not just Jesus.

Dude, I'm just not getting it. I'm looking at the content of your comments over the last week or so and it seems to me you just want to quibble with everything. I say the main point is Jesus, and you have to nitpick with THAT? It's bizarre.

We know about God because of Jesus. It's right there in the NT; I'm not making it up. He is the image of the invisible God. He came that we may know His Father. He gives us another Comforter.

I believe in God, therefore I believe in the Trinity. If you think by emphasizing Jesus, I'm denigrating the Trinity, I am just astounded by your ability to find arguments where none exist. You really seem to be bending over backwards to ignore what I'm saying to criticize stuff I'm not.

But to focus on just jesus seems to miss out ont he richness of the trinity

Well, tell it to Paul, who never used the word "Trinity" and wrote about Jesus like he was Jesus' number one fan.

I'm sorry my saying we should be preaching Jesus seems to you worthy of "correction." I don't understand it, but you're entitled to keep reading between whatever lines you're imagining are there.

 
At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like the comments being made my Jonathab are similar to comments Pro-Foster people have made about David Foster. Except in the reverse. Considering the same pastor that was looking to leave BCC and leave his fervently faithful behind here in Nashville to go to Austin. Funny, they all seem to not be able to read between the obvious lines therein and are still commited to following him blindly, or at least as long as he stays within a 12 mile radius. How many of his ever-faithful would have moved to Texas, you think? Although, Jesus is surely in Austin.
And, I think that points to the whole statement about BCC returning to a place where the focus is on, absolutely, without a doubt, no back-peddling - Jesus Christ.
What has confounded me in this whole divisionary thing that happened at BCC is that it was due to the focus being on one person (primarily) and that person was considering bailing out at BCC for another church and those that are still blind to his charisma don't even get that.
So, maybe the true hope for BCC i, and always has been, in what you have suggested. It's Jesus + nothing. It really is. But, try telling that to those that showed up at The Gathering and have been hanging out in church-limbo ever since, anxiously waiting for the latest blog entry from David. Still hoping he will create a newer version of what they seem to have been drawn to via his talking-headism so they can follow him down the same road he had been leading them down. The Jesus+Foster road. Go figure.
And, I think allowing the straining of gnats is a waste of your time and talent, Jared. I guess it's hard to tell someone they are just flapping their gums, but that seems to be what Jonathan is doing for someone hard to fathom reason.

The Church Lady

 
At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Jonathan was just giving his thoughts, I didn't sense any hostility toward you.

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Anonymous, the word "hostility" is nowhere in my previous comment.

I don't know what you're "sensing," but the history of these exchanges tends to go something like me saying "Jesus is the main point, even though other points can be made too," and the response being "Hey, other points can be made too."

After a while, avoiding my main points to focus on all the little things one either disagrees with or ignored when I clearly addressed them can get frustrating for someone who would rather talk about the important stuff than wrangle over someone else's picked nits.

So I'm not bristling at any "hostility" or anything like that. If I can attempt graciousness enough to allow criticism on the site, the critics can attempt graciousness enough to allow my response to it. Right?

 
At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Please quit attacking me personally. I do really believe what I am saying and have tried to do so in an intelligent manner and without hostility. I do not disagree that Jesus should be the focus necessairly, just that the examples you gave I thought focused more on principles and other parts of the trinity, and not Jesus himself per se. And to the church lady, what you are saying is perposterous. I didnt even have bcc or David Foster on my mind when I wrote this. All I am trying to do here is stimulate discussion...I do not mean any ill will or anything to anyone personally..but if you dont want me to express my opinions, then dont allow posting. I am not posting just to be disagreeable either. In fact, I agree with Jared on aspects of the BCC situation..so..just quit with the personal attacks. And jared, what you said came off as attacking me personally.

 
At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Amy Lou said...

I don't find you gracious.

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger Jared said...

I guess everyone's allowed to say how they feel but me, eh?
Oh well . . .

I do really believe what I am saying and have tried to do so in an intelligent manner and without hostility.

There's that "hostility" again. I don't think you're hostile. I do think you nitpick arguments, and I only say that because since you started commenting here, you seem more interested in pointing out what you think I've got wrong than even acknowledging that that stuff wasn't the main point of the posts you're finding it in. Sometimes you make a point without acknowledging that I made it myself in the post.

I don't know what to make of all that, except that you're not really interested in the main topics but in whatever periperhal point interests you the most. I've let all your comments appear on the site, and I've done my best at each point to answer questions, clarify, and respond. But, yeah, after a while, taking up all this time to interact with someone who demonstrates not fully reading what I've written only to quibble with things I haven't said or wouldn't disagree with anyway, I begin to feel like I'm wasting time.

I do not disagree that Jesus should be the focus necessairly, just that the examples you gave I thought focused more on principles and other parts of the trinity, and not Jesus himself per se.

Fine, Jonathan. But why? Ask yourself why? In a post designed to emphasize the salvation Jesus brings, which is the clarion call of the entire New Testament, why was it worth both of our time to ignore that main point to quibble about my not emphasizing the Trinity? I will be honest in saying I have no idea where you're coming from. I have no interest right now in "general discussions" about theological minutiae. This site isn't to shoot the theological breeze; it's to call BCC to make the main thing the main thing.

Look, let's workshop your call to fold Jesus into a more explicit Trinitarian context. The next time someone comes to you and says, "I'm lost and hurting and need help," what are you going to say? Are you going to talk to them about Jesus? Or are you going to suggest they go reflect on the richness of the Trinity?

The Trinity is a rich, rich doctrine. It is a meaty truth even long-time believers have trouble wrapping their minds around.
But the Triune God became flesh in Jesus Christ so that we sinners could know God. We know the Trinity through Jesus.
And that's why I say Jesus is the main point.

if you dont want me to express my opinions, then dont allow posting

You haven't insulted me, and even if you had, I'd still give you some leeway (as I did for others). I'll make you a deal: I'll keep posting your comments if you'll quit characterizing my responses to them as uncalled for. If you just want carte blanche to say whatever you want without me replying to it, no deal.

And jared, what you said came off as attacking me personally.

Fair enough.
And what you've been saying comes off as being argumentative and nitpicky. So you see how far written impressions can take us.

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger Jared said...

I don't find you gracious

Amy Lou, duly noted. Thanks for commenting.

 
At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Jared,

I do not believe I have ever called a comment of yours uncalled for, just for you to quit attacking me personally. If you want to attack what I am saying, I do not mind that at all, but to attack my motives and so forth IS uncalled for. I do not believe I have ever made a comment about you personally. I thought I have made some very good points throughout the entire discussion, particularly about bcc. Also, if you do not want individual points analyzed, then do not make individual points. I mean, as to your larger point..what is there to disagree with there..what is there to debate? Even dave foster would agree im sure that Jesus (or God) should be the main focus of whatever is taught at any church. The question of course is how do you present that to people. I mean if you want someone to agree with you all the time, that is not going to happen. You posted something, the larger point of which is an obvious one and I am not sure anyone would disagree with..so what is left to discuss but the minor points?

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jared,Jonathan, Amy Lou,
I am strictly a follower of Jesus Christ - and not a believer in
the stars - however , there
is something in the air today,
and I have found it to be the case in/at my workplace that everyone is on edge today/and in an argumentative/nitpicky frame of mind. (using those terms very loosely - so allow me that).
So I think you all just need to lighten up. I'm sure no harm was intended by anyone. I think Jonathan you often have great commentary, rebuffs, or enlightenments, and Jared you
always have a way of expressing and "teaching" the Bible that makes it seem so RICH AND FULL.

bottom line I believe is that
you both are saying, but Jared even more so,.....
JESUS IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and the THE LIFE.
John 14:6
So if you were trying to share with someone who might not know anything about Jesus or the Bible, that would be the way to cut to the chase. Forgive me Jared, I don't mean to speak for you.

Let's all keep talking and not
take offense so easily.

Rhonda

 
At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jared,

Thank you for this blog. Your biblical priciples and thoughts have aided my healing through this tough situation. My family has served at BCC as members for about 7 years now. I look forward to the posts, as they seem to be in tune with the emotions alot of us are trying to deal with. Again, Thank You.

Jonathon,

I sense you agreement and support for Jared and the information he posts here. However, I think your comments often indicate that you have missed the point of the post entirely. You are obviously an intelligent and concered guy; however, your comments are distracting and unecessary from my perspective. I do not feel you are inspiring discussion of the posts. I feel that your comments are inspiring 'pot shots' at Jared from yourself and others, and discussion that is not on subject (like the one I am writing now).

Thanks,
Gill
I posted once before here as 'First post from this Anonymous'

 
At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jonathan,

I guess you missed the point I was trying to make about reading between the lines that Jared alluded to in his initial response to you. It seems that we all have the ability to read into things however we see fit or deem necessary to carry our point or make our rebuttals to ideas, thoughts or comments. I just found the thread of the post that this is linked with to be how it is really Jesus+nothing and there are no lines to read between in that, whereas many of the followers of David Foster can't seem to read between the very obvious lines of it being (for them) about Jesus+Foster. I hope you didn't find my comments offensive or meant to be an attack. I do think you have shown, over a series of posts and comments, a tendency to quibble with the fringes of the overal posts that Jared has posted. All well and good, I suppose, but a little tedious for some. I don't doubt you are sincere but I think you could better read and absorb the whole of what is being posted before you embark on any tangents that seem to be an open season from your perspective.

I find it also very amazing for Amy Lou to suggest that the host here is ungracious. I have read pretty much everything on this site and I have seen Amy Lou post only once (as best I remember) and that was today. So, she obviously has not read all that is here regarding responses to comments. But, if she has, then she doesn't know what the word gracious means. I think Mr. Wilson probably is more guilty of being over-gracious than anything.

To everyone-
What a wonderful and lively forum this is and how even better it would be if everyone kept it free of insinuations of hostility or suggestions of being attacked or arguing for the sake of argument.

Debate is not for the thin-skinned or the easily offended. And, it should be fair for all to comment and respond based on how they feel. The only caveat would be the rules clearly set forth by the owner of this blog forum. I would like to think this is not a sandlot but a marble table we are all sitting around, freely and maturely discussing the past, present and future of BCC, where it is appropriate.

The Church Lady

 
At 2:17 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Jonathan, even if I had the time, which I don't, to keep replying to you, I would be rapidly losing the interest anyway. I have tried to respond to your comments as respectfully as I can, and I won't apologize for finally confessing frustration with whatever it is you're trying to get out of interaction on this site. You once asked why I wasn't responding to your comments, and at that time, it was just because I was being deluged with comments, and it wasn't purposeful. But now that I've tried to engage, I am seeing it is as purposeless, at least for me.

So provided you keep saying pretty much the same things, this is going to be the last time I say something back. That doesn't mean I won't publish your comments; it just means I probably will ignore them. It's not you; it's me. I have an aim with this site, and I personally find having to keep up with your comments distracting from it.
But anyways...

I do not believe I have ever called a comment of yours uncalled for

You said I was attacking you, so I assumed that meant you thought my comment was uncalled for. That seemed fairly easy to infer.

If you want to attack what I am saying, I do not mind that at all, but to attack my motives and so forth IS uncalled for.

I'm questioning your motives, no doubt. Because, my own admission, I don't understand them. I said it before, and I'll say it again: Your comments demonstrate over and over missing or dismissing the main point to focus on some periperhal issue that is either irrelevant to the thrust of the post or is actually something I don't disagree with anyway. Like the Trinity being important, for instance. Did you think I was going to say "Nah, the Trinity's not important"? I just could not figure out where in the world that came from. I do a post on Jesus as the Gospel, which is something the Protestant church has made its foundation for five hundred years, and you want to say "Yes, but . . ."
It honestly confused me. And that's why I asked, based on that comment and past comments, what your point in being here was.

I thought I have made some very good points throughout the entire discussion

I have tried -- and you'll see this if you'll review my responses to you, including the very first response of mine in this comment thread -- to affirm the things you've said I that I agree with and clarify the points of departure you seem to express criticism and/or questions about. You'll see me saying to you things like "Yes, I agree" or "You're right" or "Okay." It's not like I haven't been cooperative with your intention for discussion. I've tried to walk with you on these paths you're wanting to take here, even when I didn't understand where you were wanting to go. But now I just have to say it is frustrating trying to keep up. It is counterproductive to the expressed purpose of this blog.

Also, if you do not want individual points analyzed, then do not make individual points.

As I said above, when you analyze individual points, I have responded. If I didn't want your remarks here, not only wouldn't I try to attempt answers to them, I wouldn't publish them in the first place. At least give me that.

I mean, as to your larger point..what is there to disagree with there..what is there to debate?

Right.
I think this may get to the heart of it, eh? You want debate. You want disagreement. So if you can concede my main point, you'd like to go engage debate on the finer points. That'd be fine in other contexts, but I just don't get it in this context. I try to proclaim the main point of Jesus to readers of our church, and you say "That's cool, but let's debate the point of the prodigal son." It's not wrong to do that, but I guess I have to keep asking "why?" This blog isn't about debating the parables. I've tried to entertain your needing to quibble with all that stuff, but what it boils down to for me today is "Why do you feel that is necessary, given the point of this site?"

I mean if you want someone to agree with you all the time, that is not going to happen.

Look, I've been talking theology since elementary school and, even worse, blogging for about four years. ;-) Neither of which would I do if I only wanted people to agree with me. You don't have to be patronizing. If you really thought I only wanted agreement, you should ask yourself why I even publish comments like yours and previous disagreeable types. Good grief, I let one guy keep insisting my motives were impure. So if it was about creating a "You go, Jared!" echo chamber, I will be the first to admit I have failed miserably.

I have said it before and I'll say it again: I don't mind arguments; I just tire of argumentativeness.

You posted something, the larger point of which is an obvious one and I am not sure anyone would disagree with..so what is left to discuss but the minor points?

This question assumes this site exists to house discussion of minor points. It does not. Most of your minor points I have not really even disagreed with. You say, for instance, Jesus was angry with a reason when he overturned tables. I agree. So if we're actually in agreement on many of these fine points you want to "discuss," my question is "What's your point?"

I'm fine for now with letting you continue to quibble with the minor points. I don't understand it, but as long as you're not abusive or offensive, I'm cool with it. Just don't ask, as you have before, why I'm not interacting with you. If another commenter wants to, that's awesome. Hopefully you'll get the debate you want.

Peace

 
At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Amy Lou said...

I don't think it's gracious to jump down someone's throat like Jared did with Jonathan over a disagreement.

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Rhonda, Gill, and Church Lady, thank you for your comments. Much appreciated.

 
At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

ok..you want to get to the larger point..lets go there. How do you feel that BCC has not incorporated this concept? I admit that going there myself you didnt hear much Jesus spoken around..but the people that I met there who were introduced to Jesus, obviously knew enough about him to convert. The question is..how to express this main focus to the people? When I went to BCC it seemed to be more of an inside out approach...here is how you do x, and you can do x because of Jesus..obviously this worked to some degree..so..how do you feel BCC can do a better job of communicating Jesus only?

By the way, I do see your point and will try to address more of the major issues...all I ask is that if I do address the issues of your post, that you respond to them.

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger Jared said...

How do you feel that BCC has not incorporated this concept?

By focusing on a self-helpy message that focuses on our efforts rather than Jesus' work on our behalf. I'm not saying it's an either/or deal; I'm saying it's a "first, second"-type deal. And when you consistently put what's supposed to be second in the first position, it stops being the gospel.

I say that as I confirm for the umpteenth time that I've always appreciated Dr. Foster's messages and always found good stuff in them since the day they attracted my family to the church in the first place.

But when so many people keep talking about church in terms of what are they going to get out of it and how can they listen to someone who's not exciting, I think it's fair to ask ourselves what sort of message we're weening seekers and new believers on.

how to express this main focus to the people?

This is something I actually plan to discuss on the site soon, probably as early as that FAQ's post in the works.

all I ask is that if I do address the issues of your post, that you respond to them

You're asking me to promise to always reply to you? Jonathan, even if I wanted to do that, I don't have the time. I have two little girls I'm trying to take care of, a house to tend, meals to cook and clothes to wash, a novel to write, a wife to love, four other blogs I contribute to, and in between all that I'd really like to keep actually living all this Jesus stuff I'm talking about on here.
I can't bind myself to such a requirement. I can't even promise to respond to everyone who agrees with me, as plenty of emailers could attest.

So, no, I don't promise to respond to all of your comments. I'll decide one comment at a time. I hope that's understandable.

 
At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jonathan,

While BCC was being directed and guided, somewhat forcefully and agressively by the strong arm and the myopic vision of David Foster, I don't think BCC really did fully incorporate the concept. I feel that God was emphasized much more than Jesus and the scriptures were revised, reworked and rephrased to express the talking poins approach to the Gospel that David Foster so tirelessly employs. Not necessarily bad stuff, but somehow off the relational path the Bible clearly states regarding knowing God by first knowing the Son. Yes, there are many who say they 'got it' and gave their hearts to God?Christ? but the depth to which they were plunged weekly seems to indicate that it was more about bells and whistles, big screens and videos, feel-good and warm-fuzzies as opposed to the Cross, the Blood and the fuller, personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. My opinion, my perspective, of course.

So, I would think the first step towards more truly incorporating the concept you allude to has been taken at BCC. Meaning, the elders and staff have struggled with and finally made a decision to refocus the churches mission and eliminate the 'great speaker - bad pastor' element which should go a long way in at least giving the current/future attenders and members the clear option of looking to Christ, alone, for their conversion and/or salvation and daily walk. Not filtering and basing it and their ongoing journey through the 30-minute weekly charisma machine that was David Foster, or any 'man' in particular.

I do wonder about actual complete conversions as opposed to talking the talk but not walking the walk among some who profess they found God via their relationship with David Foster. Interestingly, too, many say they found God instead of finding Jesus through whom they found God. Point here is, God was more often the focus as opposed to Jesus. And, from what I've seen, read and heard from many of those converts, there seems to be a very different espousing of 'to the Father through the Son' coming from their lips. It seems more like 'to the Father through the Son through David Foster'. I have also heard many say they just can't or won't attend BCC any more because one particular man and/or speaker and/or pastor no longer commands the stage and the spotlight. Seems a little weak in content and strong in adoration for man, not Jesus or God.

And, perhaps, just maybe, BCC can do a better job of communicating Jesus, only, by possibly considering the validity of the - What's the Point - Rather, who's the point? - overview Jared has offered, which, can you believe it, is what the topic of this post/link really is stating. Ultimately saying, the point really is Jesus+nothing.

And, not to forget, Jared suggests that - BCC is about helping people find God, is it not? If so, then, we have to commit ourselves, personally and collectively, to "continuing in the quest for Jesus as the sharp edge of our exploration into God himself." - an insight that summarizes the whole of the post.

There are surely other things that can and will need to be done, but as I have offered, it seems BCC has taken a huge, large, major, good, thoughtful, difficult, controversial, courageous and biblically-sound step in the right direction.

The Church Lady

 
At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Well..that is not really what I meant by asking you to respond to my posts. I obviously understand that you have other obligations...I was just asking that you dont shut me out when I address the main subject of your posts because you feel I have been too nit-picky in the past or whatever.

As to your reply, I tend to agree with you. It seems like at BCC and some other places, the service and the church itself isnt really focused on the cross and Jesus..from the moment I stepped inside BCC....to the music..which could hardly be called worshipful in my opinion..to the general atmosphere, and to the message, it was centered all around "the speaker" and entertaining music..and that speaker could have been Dave Foster or Bill West, but the fundamental structure. For example, how many altar calls has BCC had..and btw im not picking on bcc here because there are many churches like it...how many calls to repent have been delivered..by Foster...Bill West..or anyone? It seems to me like that in order to place the focus on Jesus at BCC and other similar places you have to have an entire re-design of how that particular church does business so to speak. By the way, and this is the last time I will comment on this..but I will submit to your request as far as keeping replaies on the main post..while I disagree with you re the points earlier, I do know that my replies have not been thought provoking to some people like I intended..and as a brother in Christ I apologize for frustrating you.

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Jonathan, I appreciate your last comment.

I was just asking that you dont shut me out when I address the main subject of your posts because you feel I have been too nit-picky in the past or whatever.

Fair enough. I didn't read it that way when you said it, but I hear what you're saying, and that sounds more than reasonable to me.

Your second paragraph, btw, is speaking my language. I would reemphasize that BCC gets a whole lot right, and that's why, throughout the years of having my own concerns, I've stuck around and hoped for the best.
But we have an opportunity to reload our vision here, and to refocus on the Gospel that people actually need. So I'm excited about the future. And the "how" of all that stuff is something I hope to keep talking about here (always understanding, of course, that I'm one guy with an opinion who is not speaking and cannot speak for the actual church leadership).

I will submit to your request as far as keeping replaies on the main post

Hey, you don't even have to do that. Just relieve me from the expectation to respond to replies to peripheral points. Talk all you want about whatever you want, man. I just can't always do it with you.

and as a brother in Christ I apologize for frustrating you.

And I you.

Thanks for that, brother.

 
At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Nathan said...

Interesting conversation. I may be missing something in regards to anyone being hostile or ungracious from either side.

Something to consider. BCC is a seeker church, at least in the mind of it's founding ( and former ) Pastor.

Does the Bible support that man, in a broad sense, is seeking truth or that God is seeking the lost ?

In other words, are all these "seekers" really seeking a relationship with God or are they seeking a sense of "comfort with the infinite" on the scavenger hunt of life ?

It's been my experience that there are a few seekers in the world, but by and large the seeker movement has found it's target in the consumer market. People who tend to compartmentalize life and take care of the check list. There just isn't great passion for the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Seeker movement.

What you win them with, you win them to.

 
At 6:32 AM, Anonymous diane said...

Nathan,

I love that last line "What you win them with, you win them to". That is exactly true. If you came to BCC for a great speaker, then you missed the point. To be honest, this whole situation at BCC woke me up to the fact that I wasn't coming to church just to hear a good speaker. I come to church to help grow closer to God. That happens when I work toward that goal, regardless of who is speaking.

It is the basis of how we should live. If we truly try to glorify God in and through our actions of loving people, we win them over to GOD, not ourselves.

Thanks for the line...hope you don't mind if I use it in the future.

diane

 
At 7:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto, Diane and Nathan,
you Nathan hit the nail on the head.

It has always been a dilemma, I have felt, that with great speaking and entertaining worship times we have done a great job of
bringing in, and engaging, the seekers, but then we have done
a terrible job (frankly, dropped
the ball totally) in helping them take the next step in their faith. Most of us come to BCC at different points in our faith, but we have not tapped the knowledge/wisdom/experiences of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters, who could help the seekers move forward in their newfound belief. I guess that is part of what small groups is meant to do. I know there is more we can do on a larger scale. I know serving is in itself an aspect of learning and worship. But we also have to do a better job of communicating that through service will come great returns in the growth of one's faith and in their relationship with Jesus, and in their relationship with others. I just know there is so much more we can, and hopefully will do, to help the seekers as well as the "mature" believer grow in their faith. I don't think we need to change the focus of being a seeker church, we just need to put our efforts at doing a better job of being more well-rounded, and communicating to ALL that Jesus is our focus, and we stand firmly on the Bible. I know this may be a minor point, but I'm for throwing out the pieces of paper and "fill in the blanks" mentality - - how about more of putting the scripture passages up on the screen ? - - as we do alot in some of the songs we sing - - or when we recite passages. There was also different points in time, maybe it was on Wednesdays, when we encouraged using the Bible in service, and we often had some available for use, and for keeps with a small donation. How about trying that more on Sundays when we have the abundance of the seekers in attendance ?
I am excited and hopeful for the future of BCC. I am anxious to hear more ideas of how we can actually apply and implement new ideas to help us all FOCUS ON JESUS MORE.

Rhonda

 

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