What’s Wrong With How We Do Church?: Willow Creek Rethinks How to Do Church

Reveal Most of you are familiar with the Willow Creek Church in suburban Chicago (they now refer to themselves as “Willow”). It’s a congregation of over 20,000 members pastored by Bill Hybels. He and his staff have written lots of excellent books and worked to encourage church growth around the world.

Therefore, it was astonishing a few months ago when Hybels stood before the congregation and apologized for not spending their donations as well as the leadership should have.

He and the other leaders have been conducting a self-study of ministry effectiveness, and they found that, despite their colossal growth, they were failing in their support of the most spiritually mature.

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The New Perspective: Where Are the Dead Before the Second Coming? Part 2 (Modern Physics and the Second Coming)

ascension-cropped.jpgTo this point, we’ve seen that the dead in Christ are most commonly described as being asleep until the Second Coming–the End–when the old earth and old heaven will be destroyed, the living and dead will the judged, and God will transform the earth and heaven into a New Earth and New Heaven–and he’ll transform our bodies into new, incorruptible, imperishable bodies.

And yet, as mentioned in the previous post, this leaves us with some apparent inconsistencies. How can the dead be asleep when so many will have no bodies at all? Consider those who died in Hiroshima. Their bodies were vaporized, not buried, and their atoms are scattered, quite literally, all over the earth!

And how could Jesus promise the thief on the cross Paradise “today” when Paradise won’t be prepared and ready for the saints until the End thousands of years later?

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The New Perspective: Where Are the Dead Before the Second Coming? Part 1

ascension.jpgIn the previous two posts, we considered the idea that at the end of time, after the Judgment, God and the New Jerusalem will come down to a renewed and purified earth, where we will dwell in new, imperishable, incorruptible bodies.

The verses seem plain enough, but Wright (and others) admit the we are told very little about what happens to us after our physical deaths and before the End.

Some verses speak of Christians sleeping. Others speak of believers being transported to Paradise with Jesus. Others seem to speak of our being in heaven.

Although Wright offers no real guidance, I thought surely the scriptures would have a plain teaching on such an obvious and important subject. Continue reading

A Communion Meditation Reflecting on the New Perspective

CommunionWe struggle sometimes with even talking about the Lord’s Supper. We want to avoid any accusation that this is some sort of “sacrament.” We want to make this event purely, 100% symbolic.

But when we do that, we say that the only thing that happens is what we do. God does nothing. He did a lot. But now, we just remember the past.

newperspective.jpgAnd we should most certainly remember the past–what Jesus did for us. Of course. But we can do that and the Lord’s Supper can be even more.

The story of the Bible has a simple outline. God made the heavens and the earth. Man lived in a perfect place in daily, intimate communion with God. But man sinned, and so man and the earth were cursed. God has ever since worked, in love, to restore us to Eden–a place where God provided man with his food as a gift, where man did not have to work for his meals. Continue reading

The New Perspective: The End of the World as We Know It–The Second Coming

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(Hab. 2:14) For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

With this passage, in The Simple Church, N. T. Wright lays out his theory for how the world will be reborn at the end of time. The End, you see, is not about the world ending, but about heaven and earth being merged–God making this new earth his home together with his people.

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The New Perspective: The End of the World as We Know It–Introduction

ascension-cropped.jpgI’ve never been particularly interested in eschatology (It’s a ridiculous word and I promise never to use it again. It’s the study of the end times.). I just kind of figure that however things end up, they’ll be much better than the present, I’ll have either no body or a better body (either is good), and the details just don’t matter. I mean, it’s like Christmas times infinity-and I like to be surprised!But I’ve been reading Wright’s enjoyable little book, Simply Christian, in which he goes into some detail as to how he figures things will be. And his views have some interesting implications in terms of how I understand God’s existence–outside the universe and so outside time. At least, that’s my theory.

So I figure it’s worth the effort to see how Wright’s theories test out against the scriptures.

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The New Perspective: On Being “Called”

[This material has been relocated from the preceding post. It occurred to me that this material really didn’t add to the baptism discussion but remains important in its own right. So I moved it and fixed it up just a little.]

newperspective.jpgN. T. Wright argues that our “justification” occurs after we are saved, when God declares us saved. If “justified” doesn’t mean saved, then just when are we saved? Wright argues this happens when we are called.

But “called” sounds so much like “invited.” Surely many have been called and not responded! I mean, how many have heard the gospel message and refused to turn to Jesus as Lord? Continue reading