The Just Truth About Injustice, Part 2

“So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive. Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.” – [Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 King James Version]

Next, I turned to look at all the acts of oppression that make people suffer under the sun. Look at the tears of those who suffer! No one can comfort them. Their oppressors have all the power. No one can comfort those who suffer. I congratulate the dead, who have already died, rather than the living, who still have to carry on. But the person who hasn’t been born yet is better off than both of them. He hasn’t seen the evil that is done under the sun.” – [Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 GOD’S WORD Translation]

When I was a senior in high school, I was sitting on the bleachers in the gym one day reading my Bible. I remember that I had an old 1917 Scofield Reference Bible, King James Version, and I determined that I was going to read through the book of Ecclesiastes. I read the first three chapters, but as I begin to read the fourth chapter, I stopped right after verse three and I had to absorb exactly what Solomon was talking about. For roughly three years now I’ve had Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 rolling around in the back of my mind and whenever I read it I go back to that moment where I was sitting on the bleachers in the gym at Dover High School and my mind was going over the subject of oppression.

I was a nerd in school and as a result, I didn’t fit in with very well. I mainly stayed to myself and was often picked on. I thought I knew what oppression was. I had no idea what oppression was until I did a word study on ‘oppression’ and found out that this word in the Hebrew implies tyranny by a ruling authority such as a master mistreating a slave, but this isn’t ordinary mistreatment, this is mistreatment by deception. The same root word is used in verses where the words, “deceived” (Leviticus 6:2, KJV), “robbery” (Leviticus 6:4, ESV), and “wrong” (Psalm 105:14, KJV) are also used. What I was going through as a social outcast in high school was kid stuff compared to what Solomon was describing in Ecclesiastes 4.

When we look at the subject of oppression we find that God has a lot to say about oppression and about those oppress other people particularly widows and orphans. One of the first commandments concerning widows and orphans is found in Exodus.

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”– [Exodus 22:22-24 ESV]

God is very plain about what the punishment for the mistreatment of widows and orphans is. From in-depth study of widows and orphans, I think it’s safe to say that He holds them very dear to His heart. This isn’t just an old testament command either. Let’s look at what God has to say through James.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” – [James 1:27 ESV]

In the Church, we’ve created this mantra that has infected infected Christian culture in almost the worst way possible. “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.” Does that sound familiar? Anytime I hear someone say that it’s like a cat’s claws running slowly down a chalkboard. It has to be one of the most ignorant and theologically inaccurate things I hear on a weekly basis from various cheesy Christian bloggers that still think it’s so cool to say that. The fact is that pure religion has been defined for us in this passage and it would do us well to realize that and apply it to our lives. No, Christ does not merit us on our good religion, but rather, our good religion stems from the relationship that we have with Christ. The Bible is clear. Injustice and oppression against people, especially widows and orphans, will be recompensed either in this life or the next. One day God will right the wrongs of our society and we will live in peace and harmony the way we were meant to.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” – [Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV]

Methodology vs. Meth-idolatry

“Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” – [Ecclesiastes 7:10 ESV]

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols”. – [1 John 5:21 ESV]

I was listening to a lecture given by Mark Driscoll and he was talking a new movement that he and a few other pastors are a part of called, ‘New Calvinism’. The four points of this movement are:

  1. Reformed Theology (Traditional Calvinism)
  2. Complimentarian Relationships
  3. Spirit-filled Lives
  4. Missional Churches

I won’t exactly dwell on the movement but I’ll provide you with the information and you can do the research for yourself.

What I wanted to focus on was something that Pastor Mark said in his lecture that caught my attention. He said that if you’re not careful, you’re methodology can turn into meth-idolatry. This happens when you love tradition more than you love Jesus. This is why it’s hard to convert a lot of Mormons because they love their religious structure more than they love Jesus. Of course, no one would ever verbally or even consciously admit to loving tradition more than Jesus but if you’ve ever been in a traditional church long enough then you know it happens. And don’t think that because your church isn’t traditional that it means that your church isn’t subject to it. It happens in traditional and non-traditional churches alike. People fall in love with method instead the God who inspired the method. But after a while, culture changes and as the culture changes our methodology should also change. While all this change is taking place our message should remain the same: “Christ died to save sinners.”

I grew up in an old-school Pentecostal atmosphere. I firmly believe that there is no school like the old school but there are some disadvantages to ‘traditional church’. The problem is that the concept of ‘traditional church’ will die. Church hymnals will be in the museum; pulpits and kneeling rails will be nothing more than relics of once was.

One thing you must realize if you’re a young pastor and you’re trying to mix things up in a traditional church is this: If you’re going to move the piano in a Pentecostal church, do it one inch at a time. If you shake things up too quickly then you’ll have a bunch of old religious stiff getting their boxers in a knot over something that has eternal value. For example, the minute you bring in theatre seats in a church instead of pews you have people saying stuff like “This is church; it’s not supposed to be comfortable.” (Yes, I’ve actually heard that one.)

Remember, I also said that more modern churches were susceptible to this as well. What happens is this, they get into a mentality that all tradition is bad and because it’s old is must be thrown out the door. This is an erroneous presumption that stemmed from Emergent Church movement. Pretty much the concept of emergent churches was to throw out anything old, have no kind of tradition at all to the point where they starting questioning fundamental doctrines just because they were a tradition in the church such: the divinity of Scripture, the issue of homosexuality, the existence of Hell. A good example of an emergent church pastor would be Rob Bell. He does not believe in the literal existence of Hell. He also doesn’t believe in the divinity of Scripture because anyone who doesn’t believe in the existence of Hell doesn’t believe in the inspiration of Scripture, it’s just not possible.

Another thing about traditions and methods is that they vary from culture to culture and geographical location to geographical location. A lawn mowing ministry would not be needful to someone who lived in the desert and didn’t have a lawn to mow. If you’re going to do good ministry you need to be a student of your student and learn to adapt in a way where you can bring the message of Christ in their own language and in their own terms.

In conclusion, there’s no need to get into an argument about tradition, culture, and methodology because it’s all going to die anyway. The only thing that will last forever is the word of God.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – [Matthew 24:35 ESV]

As for those resources that you were promised:

Four Points of the Movement – Mark Driscoll
http://theresurgence.com/v/h7ue7jqmuff1

Four Points of the Movement Re:visited - Mark Driscoll
http://theresurgence.com/v/zfw9npg3d2r6

Article in Times Magazine about New Calvinism

carm.org on the Emerging Church Movement