Monthly Archives: February 2015

An Excerpt From ‘Ordinary’

This Sunday I wanted to share an extended quote from Michael Horton’s current book, Ordinary, that speaks so much to the circus that is too commonly accepted for church in America today:

Many of the reasons we offer for needing revival (lethargy in evangelism and missions, lack of heartfelt experience of God’s grace, coldness in prayer, rising vice and infidelity, social evils, etc.) are problems that the ordinary ministry is supposed to address each week. Not only may the longing for revival lead us to treat this ministry as humdrum; it can subtly justify an unacceptable state of affairs in the meantime. Another question is the extent to which a longing for revival has been woven into civil religion. The antidote to a sagging moral nerve and patriotic fervor is a revival. Among other problems, this turns the gospel into a means to an end. No longer is the church’s mission to deliver Christ with all of his saving benefits to sinners; it is chiefly to act as the “soul of the nation,” to lead it onward and upward toward its exceptional destiny.

This has been the vicious cycle of evangelical revivalism ever since: a pendulum swinging between enthusiasm and disillusionment rather than steady maturity in Christ through participation in the ordinary life of the covenant community. The regular preaching of Christ from all of the Scriptures, baptism, the Supper, the prayers of confession and praise, and all of the other aspects of ordinary Christian fellowship are seen as too ordinary. Whether one agrees with that will depend largely on whether one believes that God saves sinners or we save ourselves with God’s help.

Driven to and fro with every wind of doctrine and often no doctrine at all, those reared in evangelicalism become accustomed to hype and cataclysmic events of intense spiritual experience that nevertheless wear off. When they do wear off, there is often little to keep them from trying a different form of spiritual therapy or dropping out of the religion rat race all together.


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Too Far Gone?

(Caution! Ahead there be The Walking Dead spoilers!)

As a fan of AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead, I have noticed that one of the major recurring thematic questions of the show is “Have they gone too far down the road of doing whatever is necessary for survival to have any hope of retaining their humanity?” The show’s creative team has addressed this question both blatantly and subtly. Blatantly when characters such as Clara, the lady Rick finds wandering the forest in the season 4 premier episode ’30 Days Without an Accident’, talks about things she and her husband have had to do to survive. She asks Rick if he’d done those sort of things and then asks, “Do you think you get to come back from them?” Several episodes later, the entire episode was named ‘Too Far Gone’. For The Governor, the answer was ‘Yes!’ The question has been more subtle but still present in the entire Rick/Shane conflict (including what to do with Randall), the aftermath of the initial attack on the prison by The Governor, and Rick’s internal conflict after losing Lori.

Last week’s episode left us hanging on that question. Our band of survivors have just lost two special members and miraculously survived a walker herd attack on the barn in which they were taking shelter from the storm. The morning’s sunrise is a welcome relief from the latest ordeals and grief. And then a new person appears…a person just too clean and apparently well-adjusted to be true.

This presents our group with a dilemma. It seems that most of the time in the past when giving newcomers the benefit of the doubt, it turns out badly for our group. Woodbury. Terminus. The hospital in Atlanta. I found myself saying, “There’s no way they can trust this guy! If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!”

Last week I was watching DVR recordings of this season’s past episodes. The pilot episode had our band of heroes breaking out of Terminus. Carol came across the weird candle filled room that turned out to be a shrine to people that Terminus had lost. We find out that the people of Terminus had been good, and that they had provided sanctuary for those in need. However, evil people happened upon Terminus and repaid the people’s hospitality with death and misery. The people of Terminus were able to defeat the evil people, but they were scarred. Instead of welcoming people with open arms, they had a new motto, which we see painted on the walls of the shrine to their fallen.

Never again. Never trust. We first, always.

The good people of Terminus suffered evil and became evil people.

I have a feeling that Rick and company are at a crossroads. Will they follow the same path as the good people of Terminus?

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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in The Walking Dead, TV


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