A Christ-Centered Church

This was found at:

http://www.gregboyd.org/essays/the-religionless-church-of-the-future/

A Christ-Centered Church

First, in contrast to most people in the past, post-modern people have difficulty being confident about very much and thus have little interest in joining a club on the basis of its distinct religious beliefs and ethical requirements – especially when these beliefs and ethical mandates are based on the credibility of a written or ecclesial authority. The Church that will continue to define itself by a set of authority-based theological and ethical beliefs, all of which are held to be equally important, is and will continue to be increasingly unbelievable, irrelevant, and unattractive to non-believers. It is dying.

Now, it would be unconscionable for the Church to alter the content of her faith for the sake of becoming more marketable to the post-modern world. But as we’ve argued, Christianity was never supposed to be defined by a distinctive set of religious beliefs and ethical requirements in the first place. Of course there are distinctive beliefs and behaviorial ideals the church has always held to and should continue to hold to. But these were never supposed to define us over and against the world. The only thing that is supposed to define is does so in service to the world, not over and aganst the world, and that is the love of God revealed on Calvary. To insist that core definition is more important than all other beliefs and ethical ideals we might hold is not a concession to post-modernism: it’s foundationally biblical. We are to live in love, not our doctrine. We are to place our commitment to love above all other commitments. Everything, including our true beliefs, are devoid of kingdom value without love.

The demise of the Christian religion presents us with a marvelous opportunity to recover this center as the core center, a center the religion has usually lacked. And while post-modern people are resistant to authority-based truth claims, they are as hungry for and thus attracted by genuine kingdom love as people have ever been. The religion of Christianity will die, as Bonhoeffer foresaw. But the love revealed on Calvary can never fail (xxx).

This isn’t to suggest that the Church should abandon all its doctrine except its Christology. But it is to suggest that the future Church will hold all other doctrines in a way that is different from the past. When people get their worth, significance and security from Christ alone, as we all should, they don’t need to get their worth, significance and security from the rightness of their beliefs and behaviors – their religion. And this lessens the urgency to be absolutely certain of the rightness of one’s beliefs and behaviors and of convincing others of this certainty.

I believe the Christ-centered religionless church of the future will thus be a tribe that is more inclusive of and attractive to people who have not fully “arrived” yet. It will see faith as much as a journey as it is a place to have arrived at. With its identity found exclusively on Christ, the future Church will embrace all who simply are attracted by the beauty of Christ and will allow for more flexibility and diversity on particular beliefs than the religious church allows for. It will be a community where doubts are expressed more honestly, questions are wrestled with more authentically and less defensively, and people are given space to grow at their own pace.

Thoughts?

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8 thoughts on “A Christ-Centered Church

  1. theoldadam

    I duuno.

    I think the church must remain counter-cultural (since the culture always gets God wrong).

    I think that expressing doubts in the church is alright in the proper forum..say a bible study…but NEVER in a worhip servce.

    Jesus Christ must never apologize within the church to any other world view or doctrine of salvation.

    The new Christians and believers in the church will be held(or not) by the Word and sacraments. If this doesn’t do it, then it doesn’t do it.

    We ought be aware of the culture, we ought be sensitive towards the community at large but we ought dance with the One that brung us and niot give in to modern attempts to water down the Bible, God’s Law or His gospel to get a couple more in the door.

    My 2 cents.

    Thanks Jon!

  2. theoldadam

    I duuno.

    I think the church must remain counter-cultural (since the culture always gets God wrong).

    I think that expressing doubts in the church is alright in the proper forum..say a bible study…but NEVER in a worhip servce.

    Jesus Christ must never apologize within the church to any other world view or doctrine of salvation.

    The new Christians and believers in the church will be held(or not) by the Word and sacraments. If this doesn’t do it, then it doesn’t do it.

    We ought be aware of the culture, we ought be sensitive towards the community at large but we ought dance with the One that brung us and niot give in to modern attempts to water down the Bible, God’s Law or His gospel to get a couple more in the door.

    My 2 cents.

    Thanks Jon!

  3. theoldadam

    I agree with you, Jon, religion is part of the problem…but church doesn’t have to “religious”.

    It can be traditional. It can have an altar, it can have stained glass windows and chalices and pulpits and still not be “religious”.

    Religion is all about ‘have to’s’.

    We have all that stuff in the small church where I worship but we are about the least religious church that I know of including the modern mega-barn style churches.

    We don’t ‘have to’ have any of that stuff. We have it because it keeps us anchored and tied to Christ and His work for us.

    What is being articulated is important. Is God’s law being used to convict and kill and not as principles for living? Is the gospel being handed over to you free of charge without cost to the hearer? Are there any add on’s to Christ?
    ie, a decision needed, an experience needed, a certain bible needed, a pope or any other magistrate other than Christ Himself?

    I do think that un-sacramental churches tend to be more religious.

    Well, Rome is religious, true enough, they are another story altogether. Their understanding of the sacrament of the altar is altogether backwards anyway.
    But in real terms, many so-called non-denominational churches are semi-Pelagian in their theology and are every bit as religious as Rome is without all the window dressing!

  4. theoldadam

    I agree with you, Jon, religion is part of the problem…but church doesn’t have to “religious”.

    It can be traditional. It can have an altar, it can have stained glass windows and chalices and pulpits and still not be “religious”.

    Religion is all about ‘have to’s’.

    We have all that stuff in the small church where I worship but we are about the least religious church that I know of including the modern mega-barn style churches.

    We don’t ‘have to’ have any of that stuff. We have it because it keeps us anchored and tied to Christ and His work for us.

    What is being articulated is important. Is God’s law being used to convict and kill and not as principles for living? Is the gospel being handed over to you free of charge without cost to the hearer? Are there any add on’s to Christ?
    ie, a decision needed, an experience needed, a certain bible needed, a pope or any other magistrate other than Christ Himself?

    I do think that un-sacramental churches tend to be more religious.

    Well, Rome is religious, true enough, they are another story altogether. Their understanding of the sacrament of the altar is altogether backwards anyway.
    But in real terms, many so-called non-denominational churches are semi-Pelagian in their theology and are every bit as religious as Rome is without all the window dressing!

  5. theoldadam

    Mankind is a tactile being that needs to see, touch, feel, experience.

    But we are to walk by faith and not by sight.

    So when we are in a church we (because we are still sinners) we just can’t leave it at ‘Christ alone’.

    This is exactly why there always seems to be a ‘yeah but’ after the gospel is announced. Biblical principles for you to follow, 6 steps to greater spirituality…or whatever. For Heaven’s sake, they just can’t annouce the forgiveness of your sins and leave it at that!

    That’s is exactly why I believe jesus instituted the sacraments. because he knew what we are all about. In the sacraments we can actually touch, see, feel, and taste the forgiveness of sins. It sounds goofy but it is true. He gives Himself to us that way to keep us off of the religion project!

    He commanded that we do these things, regularly. What for? Some religious exercise? Heavens no! Because He is active in these things for our sakes. That we might know He is. To keep us non-religious.

    I never felt that way before Mark showed me these things, using scripture of course and doing good theology.

  6. theoldadam

    Mankind is a tactile being that needs to see, touch, feel, experience.

    But we are to walk by faith and not by sight.

    So when we are in a church we (because we are still sinners) we just can’t leave it at ‘Christ alone’.

    This is exactly why there always seems to be a ‘yeah but’ after the gospel is announced. Biblical principles for you to follow, 6 steps to greater spirituality…or whatever. For Heaven’s sake, they just can’t annouce the forgiveness of your sins and leave it at that!

    That’s is exactly why I believe jesus instituted the sacraments. because he knew what we are all about. In the sacraments we can actually touch, see, feel, and taste the forgiveness of sins. It sounds goofy but it is true. He gives Himself to us that way to keep us off of the religion project!

    He commanded that we do these things, regularly. What for? Some religious exercise? Heavens no! Because He is active in these things for our sakes. That we might know He is. To keep us non-religious.

    I never felt that way before Mark showed me these things, using scripture of course and doing good theology.

  7. theoldadam

    Good points, Jon.

    Online churches may do some good but they cannot physically bring people together to share in the body and blood of our Lord.

    I may sound like a broken record, but the gathering to break bread together and encourage one another in the faith is something that does not translate all that well online.

    I do believe the sacraments are key. Jesus thought that this aspect of our worship was so important that He commanded that we do it.

  8. theoldadam

    Good points, Jon.

    Online churches may do some good but they cannot physically bring people together to share in the body and blood of our Lord.

    I may sound like a broken record, but the gathering to break bread together and encourage one another in the faith is something that does not translate all that well online.

    I do believe the sacraments are key. Jesus thought that this aspect of our worship was so important that He commanded that we do it.

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