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Individualism and Authority

Pastor John Sleadd noted recently on his blog that “there is widespread disdain for authority in America today. Children disrespect their parents. Employees resent their bosses. Politicians are lampooned on talk television. There seems to be more respect for athletes and celebrities than for our leaders.”  On my last post Chadwick tried to bring the two together suggesting that as Christiasn we must learn “to fit…faith into [a] compartment of the ‘personal life’ that joins everyone else’s ‘personal faith life’ in a corporate gathering on sunday. If you bring your ‘personal faith’ with you on sunday, then you are good.”

Chadwick makes a great point noting that as we come together we become the corporate body of Christ that, if done correctly, embodies the kingdom of God in the here and now.  What do we do, however, if people disagree on how the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ should be portrayed and lived out in the church?  If we are protestants, we have a tradition that has been in tension with the Roman Catholic Church since the 1500s. Protestants come from a tradition of protesting, and we have no problem with church splits over such issues.  Over at Inhabito Dei, Halden argues here whether or not protestantism should even exist.  Halden argues that the protestant movement was birthed out of a protest against the Catholic Church which Luther wanted to reform within the church.  I particularly like what Halden says here:

“To be a protestant, if that term is to have any real meaning at all, is to live one’s ecclesial life precariously, in essential vulnerability while attempting to call for radical reform of the Roman Catholic church.  There can be no severing of the churches of the Reformation from the Roman Catholic church.”

If we, as part of the universal (Catholic?) church, have stopped attempting to reform the one church, and we have further splintered among ourselves into a decentralized and largely localized evanglical movement, what good are we doing to unite the church?

Matt Timms makes a good point when he admits:  “So often I am focused on my own spiritual formation; on building my own relationship with Christ. However, while this has its place, to miss out on the essence of the current kingdom is to have a faith that is fundamentally lacking a core aspect. In a society that has moved to the very extremes of individualism, it is important to reaffirm our membership in the greater body of believers. However, how can we claim citizenship in a kingdom whose law we do not abide by?”

We need to be concerned about more than ourselves.  Jesus told us that we must come and die before him.  Jesus commanded us to be servants in all things.  But in cannot stop at a theological level.  That is why I have choosen to end this blog with a quote from a person who is actulaly trying be this kind of Christ folower.  Over at “kingdom grace” a missional order is in the works, and one of their cornerstones is this:

[We want to] Stand against the pervasive consumerism and individualism of contemporary culture by providing a new ideal way for living. This is living out the gospel, the good news. This is our task.”

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2 thoughts on “Individualism and Authority

  1. Thanks for your interest.
    Yes, I think you represented that view accurately. However, even more so what I wanted to express was the implication of being a part of the Kingdom of God. All Kingdoms have their laws or rules (as is alluded in the last sentence of what you quoted), and I was claiming that the Kingdom’s role right now is proclamation of the good news.
    However, I think you hit the nail on the head that a collective “kingdom” view is vital. It is the foundation from which my thoughts spring.
    Thanks for your interest,
    Matt Timms

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