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The Final Outrage

©02 The Media Desk

"Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason--I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other--my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen."
     Martin Luther, the original Protestor, April 18, 1521

     Whether or not the man actually said "Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders" ("Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise") is the subject of debate by theologians and historians who have nothing better to do with their time.
     What is recorded in the court transcript of his trial is enough, if he didn't say it, he most certainly meant it.- The Desk

     The Desk has been openly wondering what is wrong with the Christian Churches / Churches of Christ on the Delmarva Peninsula for some time. And the answers it has gotten are as varied as the people it has discussed it with.
     It hasn't just mentioned it to people on the inside of said churches either. It has searched far and wide for answers, in Scripture, in sociological textbooks, through church history and treaties on the organization and administration of the local church. It has discussed it with a Wiccan Priestess and the occasional Roman Catholic. A Baptist, a Lutheran, and a Methodist 'oh my'.
     Some of the people from inside these local churches have left on their own accord, others were asked to dis-fellowship themselves from one church and moved to another, only to eventually have something of the same thing happen there.
     One Friend of the Desk moved on because of reasons purely his own, others have shared some of the same problems the Desk has noticed and either decided to put up with it and stay or move on.

     Elsewhere in the 'Dancing' series the Desk has outlined some of the minor incidents that started it down this path. And now, looking back, it recognizes a pattern.
     There is nothing wrong with the churches themselves, the people in the pew, as it were. They are all believers who have answered the call of God as dictated by their conscious and have responded as they think is required by the Word of God and outlined in Acts. As the Desk understands it Acts 22 : 16 is one of the clearest statements that way in the Book, that isn't used at every revival in the land.

"And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name."
     If that requirement is satisfied then they are a CHRISTIAN by definition. If they are living a life worthy of that name, and there are certain criteria here and there in the Book to judge that against, then they are Members of the Body of Christ. If it's in the Book, so be it. If not... leave it alone. Everything else thrown into the soup is of Men.

Want a list? Fine. Here:

     There is more. Years more. But those will do for a start.

     Could it be that these men, those called to lead the local church, get used to being In Charge have their word taken as having Authority in all matters great and small?
     Could it be fear of sharing authority, a turf war as it were?
     Could it be they believe they have some Special Understanding and their flock are incapable of 'rightly dividing the Word' and they have to be involved with everything to ensure nothing bad creeps in?
     Could it be a combination of self-aggrandizement, self-delusion, and maybe even a bit of that old devil greed creeping in?

     On a personal level the Desk has liked, for the most part, the local pastors and preachers and ministers and evangelists it has dealt with over the course of thirty years or so as a Believer. And at one time it even thought about becoming a minister or something like that way. But the Desk knows it is better off in what it calls...

The Last Seat in the Last Pew

     The Desk's Adult Class Sunday School Teacher delivered a series of lessons recently on opinions and their place in the church (with the minister in attendance); Which really is- no place in the church.
     The Desk agreed with that.
     Then it sat through two sermons where the opinion of the speaker was given from the pulpit without being labeled as such.
     It has been said in this series before, and it shall be here stated again.

If it is IN THE BOOK! Fine. If not, get over it.

     Jesus the Christ was not a Republican. It is not in the Ten Commandments that "Thou Shalt Not Gettest Thine Ears Double Pierced'. The Good Lord most certainly does not care either way whether or not the kids color with markers or crayons to make their pictures in class, now why do YOU care?
     Is it 'helping to spread false teachings' by helping a denominational church clean up a burned out building? What happened to Christian Charity and Outreach? Aren't we to Live as Christ did? Oh, the Desk Forgot, Jesus would NEVER be seen around people that didn't believe exactly as He did. He would never have helped them. Or fellowshipped with them to have an opportunity to show them the Truth. As you can tell, the Desk hasn't quite gotten that one unstuck from its craw yet.

     If something is a Sin per the Book; adultery, stealing, drunkenness, driving ten miles an hour too slow in the passing lane... (maybe not that last one, but it ought to be according to the Desk) then there is No Doubt where the Church should be on the matter. If it is Not in the Book...
     Paul addressed this matter in Second Thessalonians 3, among other places, where he called a busybody a busybody in verse 11, noting that they actually increase disorder in the church.
     So exactly where is the line. Nothing the Desk listed above in its list of heartburn causing things is an actual SIN. Poor judgement- most certainly. Abuse of position- in a couple of them, probably. But an out and out Sin such as coveting your neighbor's parents taking the Lord's name in vain while getting blind drunk and committing adultery on the Sabbath?
     Yes it can cause a weaker brother to stumble, and yes it is not exhibiting the Spirit and so on and so forth. But as for a cut and dry 'Thus Sayth The Lord' SIN with chapter and verse? Not really. Case could be made in a couple of them, but...

     To answer the Question here... perhaps we should begin at the beginning.

     What is the Mission of the Local Church, and what does the Desk call 'the Final Outrage'?

     Last one first. The Final Outrage is ... Preachers that seem to forget they too are but 'sinners saved by grace'. Oh, they mouth the words, they say they stumble and loose sight of the Lord, but they don't believe it and think that they are a little better than the rest of us that were 'created a little lower than the angels'.
     And yes, the Desk believes that 'but for the grace of God, there he'd be'. Thank Heaven the seminary wanted to talk about money before they would talk about course credit transfers. Or the Desk might be in that boat right now... errr... in that pulpit.
     It's not new in the world of TV Evangelists. It's not even new in the world of Local Preachers. But it is new, as far as the Desk is concerned, when you can't find a church within fifty miles of home without one.

     Now... The Mission of the Local Church.

     There are year long seminary classes on that matter. Panel discussions are held at the Christian Conventions. There are books and volumes and series devoted to it. And you can raise a halfway decent argument if you get more than two preachers in a room and ask it.

     As the Desk sees it, the Local Church is to...

  1. Worship God.           
  2. Take the Word to the Lost.           
  3. Edify the Saints.           
  4. Repeat 1 thru 3 until the Lord Comes.
     Now where in that equation does it say anything about 'Telling the women of the church they can't sing the way they see fit or have their Bible Study without the Preacher'?
     The Desk seems to have missed the part about making sure the name 'Santa Claus' is never mentioned in anything the church does Christmas-wise?
     Could there be something between the lines about doubting someone's Salvation if they don't care which color the finish is on the new Communion Table?

     From where the Desk sits in the last seat of the last pew, as long as they don't dress the Archangel up as Kris Kringle and the church furniture isn't an eyesore and holds the trays up and the lady that's singing is dress 'modestly'... get about the Lord's Business and quit worrying about it.

     Some things are NOT Salvation Magnitude Issues. Isn't there a verse or two about arguing over nothing causing the downfall of the church?
     Second Peter two comes to mind. As does 1 Timothy 6 : 3 -5

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
     How's that again? 'An unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words'. And they have been 'Robbed Of Truth'.


     Does this apply only to the People in the Pew? Or could this be aimed at the one doing the teaching?
     Well. Since Paul says 'if anyone teaches...' it would seem to be meant for somebody besides the people in the pew.
     Is expressing your personal feelings from the pulpit, or the office, or behind home plate as the Word teaching false doctrine? What else would it be?
     What does the Lord say about those that use their position for their own ends?

     One of the verses often used, and the Desk would say 'Abused', for offering meditation during church services is from Malachi: "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, `How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings...." It's a perfectly good verse. And occasionally we the people in the pew need to hear it.
     But those same men that spout it to make a guilty congregation dig deeper into their pockets have never read the beginning of the previous chapter....
     The Desk will end this one with it. Malachi 2: 1 - 9

"And now this admonition is for you, O priests. If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name," says the LORD Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.
   "Because of you I will rebuke your descendants ; I will spread on your faces the offal from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it.
   And you will know that I have sent you this admonition so that my covenant with Levi may continue," says the LORD Almighty.
   "My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name.
   True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.
   "For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction--because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty.
   But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi," says the LORD Almighty.
   "So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways but have shown partiality in matters of the law."


Comment from a Friend of the Desk after proofing the article.
      So many church "leaders" want to gather a following unto themselves. No doubt many of them started off in ministry with sincere hearts, but somehow they managed to supplant the guidance of the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit with their own "greater" wisdom. I am glad to be sitting in the back of the church on the most inconspicuous pew, but sometimes being there is quite a lonely place to be. I have to remember that I am surrounded by many other who are sitting there with me.
      Today, however, I have to believe this by faith since I too have become an outcast. Maybe we have placed to much emphasis on trying to do this "church" thing according to the traditional format. Maybe we just need to be simplify our Christian thinking and get back to the basics as you suggest.
      I long for this kind of Christian community. I long for the relationships that grow from the purity of this kind of Christian thought. Thanks for your commentary.

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