Friday, August 10, 2007

[THO] Otherworldly Antics

I heard about this Heaven's Rehearsal event and couldn't believe it. I've heard of some pretty arrogant Christian ideas but this just takes the cake. Although the idea of worshipping with a massive number of people has a great appeal to me. There are some real issues that need to be addressed with the way this event is being billed.

First it is based on a flawed eschatology. This escapist notion misses completely that the Kingdom of God is Heaven. Heaven is not some far off spatial reality to which we are all Hoovered away. Heaven is the presence of the fullness of the Kingdom of God. So instead of playing out some otherworldly drama in a fit of narcissism, worship is meant to orient us towards the world that God so loved. It turns our heart to God to get ahold of what God loves. God came here and sent us here. Why do we somehow think our lot is to simply hold the fort until we go off to some literalized hyper-Eden. Meanwhile, leaving the real object of God's love to suffer the grossness of our sin. It doesn't add up.

They opening page says that the purpose is to pollinate the Kingdom. What it pollinates is this narcissistic notion that God loves those who bury themselves in the ground until God's return. Have we even listened to Jesus at all? If you really want to see the Kingdom of God, get your arse out of the Church and go where God is. Visit those in prison, offer help to the poor, embrace those with aids, heal the sick, love the lost and do something worthy of the Kingdom of God.

The idea that this is a rehearsal is so deeply offensive. We are living the real deal folks. Life is not just some practice session that doesn't matter. God returns to destroy those who destroy the earth! For the love God stop living in a fantasy world and realize that what God created is very good, and God longs to restore that goodness. You want to practice for heaven - then learn to love justice. Worship and justice are meant to kiss - this event sounds like worship is kissing off justice.

I hope they have a good time at this one. In fact I hope God shows up and blows the whole thing onto the street where it might actually do some good. Me, I'm going to invest my talent in the world and see what returns I might get. I know my God is a tough task master who will not look favourably on those who simply buried their talents in fear. I urge you to do the same.


wilsonian said...

I love how clearly you express thought here. I'm bookmarking this post :)

Chris Tilling said...

Now that is a rant.
You grumpy sod. ;-)

byron smith said...

I agree - great rant and something to be grumpy about! I've linked to it.

One of Freedom said...

I saw that Byron and I was tickled pink. When I wrote it I wasn't trying to rant, but after I read it I realized what I had done. It makes me think that it is about time for my series on the Kingdom of God.

DMofKor said...

Excellent Frank... Very blunt..But very well said. I'm passing this one around.

Hank said...

So I get to be a (slightly) dissenting voice.

I agree. The Kingdom is in the here and now, but we also have to remember that time does not limit God as it does us. And while there is a here and now reality, there is a future reality as well. Paul reminds us that now, we see things imperfectly, but one day we will see it all clearly and know as we are known.

We must live as if the Kingdom is a present reality, but also be aware that God has so much more to offer us, knowing that this world is not fully redeemed (yet).

I'm not sure if that made sense. I'm not fully engaged yet...

One of Freedom said...

You are quite right Hank, the KoG is both a present and a future reality. Where I get upset is when it is completely relegated to an escapist vision of "heaven" and used to excuse self-indulgence or worse, as in this case, to call that self-indulgence holy. Stuff like that makes me angry and makes me want to cry at the same time.

I think you might enjoy my series on the Kingdom when I get around to it. I am thinking I'll start in a week or two.

david said...

I wound up here somehow through Dan Wilt's blog..

Great post. I find myself hollering to my friends about the same thing quite often.

I'm looking forward to reading your upcoming series :)

One of Freedom said...

Nice to have you drop by David. Dan has a great blog.

phillip said...

While I can appreciate what irritates there lurks in your words that tyranny that easily accompanies conviction, because you are insisting that others' practice must be in accord with your own notions all of which subverts the true nature of Grace, which says to all 'tarry ye at Jerusalem until your beards be grown' we grow into Christ as we know him more and each person's practice and boldness evolves from the deepening strength of that realtionship. The good works that you desire as evidence of the presence of the kingdom need to flow from that liberality that is grounded in the understanding of Christ as Lord and not be imposed by doctrines which however well intended produce that guilt and neurotic self-judgement that is the source of sin.
Finally criticise the leadership if you must but allow for the stultifying force of modern democracy and its entire politics of fear and impotency which is a bit like the episode where Gandalf and Saruman are having their own conversation and all the others are mere bystanders entirely dependent on their wisdom and judgement. Is not this sense of impotency and its consequent dependency a very real factor in 2007 which has witnessed the failure of any other optimistic politics?

One of Freedom said...

Hey Phillip, glad to have your comments. I beg to differ though, I'm not imposing a doctrine of good works, if you followed my blog for a while you would see that. But I can see how you might jump there. The thing is I am not providing an outsiders critique - this is very much a part of my experience as a Christian. In fact I've engaged in much of this stuff and the overwhelming realization it leaves me with is that it very rarely leads to real fruit. Rather it encourages escapism and turns Christianity into a narcotic of choice while out shouting the moral voice of reason re-awakened by the Spirit of God.

We did tarry in Jerusalem - but when the Spirit comes we are always sent out. The problem with movements like this is that the vast majority stay in looking for the next, best event and "Holy Ghost" high.

I'm no sure how you construed that I directly critiqued the leadership, but let me do that now. Leaders like this, because they have a captive audience that feeds their egos. Cult of personality runs rampant in these churches, when what is needed is someone to kick them out the door to actually do something with the gifts God imparts to them.

There are rare cases where this leads individuals to great movements of justice and salvation. But my experience is that there is much grasping at straws internally, trying to justify continuing something which has long left the heart of God.

I agree that we need to grow in the maturity of relationship with Christ. However, that relationship will lead us to a life on behalf of the world - just like Christ's life. If it doesn't then let us call the kettle black. If we can somehow construe that Christ lived and ordained a self-indulgent life then we have indeed strayed dangerously from orthodoxy.

Finally, this is not a closed dialogue. I linked their site. I know full well that will draw hits from searches for this event. I welcome the dialogue. If I'm in error convince me, man I'd love to worship with a huge crowd of people. But I cannot, in good conscience, feed something that I see is leading so many great people astray. I can't settle for less than God's best here - and God's best is not manufacturing "highs" while ignoring the world's cry for the manifestation of the daughters and sons of God. I'd rather be found working when Christ returns to the earth.