I am in the midst of taking a break from Philip Pullman and His Dark Materials and instead reading my newly-arrived-from-Amazon.com book entitled “Confessions of a Reformissionary Rev.” by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. For those of you who read Blue Like Jazz, this is the pastor whom Donald Miller affectionately refers to as Cussing Pastor Mark.
Although I am only halfway through, I’ve realized that this is the book I have been waiting to read this first year of my post-college life. I have been caught in the tension of wanting to return to my theologically conservative background but also wanting to embrace the more culturally engaging–and therefore liberal–perspective that seems to flourish among the postmodern generation–the young and passionate twentysomethings who care about issues in Africa, the education system in America, changing public policy, feeding the homeless, and also like to download music off of iTunes and read Ayn Rand.
This book stands in a sharp contrast from Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell, which I read earlier this year. I often felt like Rob would often bring up points and you have absolutely no context for what he seems to be communicating. Don’t get me wrong–Velvet Elvis–the 2/3 of it anyway definitely resonated with me.
But Mark seems to be giving me a clearer perspective of where he’s coming from–it’s obvious that he has read and studied a lot, he affirms the authority of Scripture, he is up front and brutally honest about the day-to-day in ministry–both its exhilarations and frustrations and the mundaneness in between. In the opening chapters, he absolutely nailed a tension that I had been feeling but did not know quite how to verbalize.
The word “Reformission” he describes is starts by “a simple return to Jesus, who by grace saves us…” Reformission “seeks to determine how Christians and their churches can most effectively be missionaries to their own cultures.” Jesus called us to 1) the gospel 2) the culture (loving our neighbor ) and 3) loving our Christian brothers and sisters.
The problem is that more often than not one of these mandates is neglected within local churches, so one of three streams of thought emerge: parachurch, liberalism and fundamentalism.
Gospel + Culture – Church = Parachurch
Mark Driscoll actually names Campus Crusade for Christ within his description of parachurch organizations–organizations that love the gospel and want to share it with the world, but often neglect building up the church. This is a tension I have often felt working for CCC–bringing the gospel into a culture without the means to effectively create a community of believers, namely the church–CCC has obviously taken measures in recent years to amend that, but the mindset is definitely still there. But that might just be another post…;)
Then there is:
Culture + Church – Gospel = Liberalism.
This is a kind of thinking I noticed a lot in college and often a lot among people my own age. These are people that are so concerned with being culturally relevant and engaging the real, hard issues in the world but they negelct the gospel and the person of Christ.
Lastly, we have:
Church + Gospel – Culture = Fundamentalism.
As Mark says, this is “classic fundamental Christianity, which flourishes widely in more independent-minded, Bible-believing churches.” These are people who love the Lord and their brothers and sisters, but not their neighbors. This is definitely what I grew up in, and I always sensed that there was something incomplete… which I am ever-awakening to as God ever-widens my perspective…
A complete picture of a life of reformission would be
Gospel + Culture + Church = Reformission.
Mark does not offer any simple solutions to the problems facing Christ-followers today. But it’s clear to me that things like repentance, prayer, study of the Word, authentic community, spiritual awareness have all carried enormous weight on his life experiences and faith. Over the past year, I’ve had plenty of time to seriously reflect on these issues and engage more personally with them by allowing the truth and God-created framework behind them to be internalized and translated into action. I guess that’s a fancy way of saying I’ve actually tried putting them into practice;) And I am continually humbled at the breaking and building that takes place… But anyway this book causes me to further reflect on these things and be re-awakened to their importance in a life bent on following Christ…
I appreciate Mark’s book because it paints a picture of one who has not let cynicism dampen his belief in the church as God’s bride. He fiercely believes Christ is who He said He was. And many things proceed from that…
Still thinking through things and still not finished with the book.
Oh, and I watched Transformers last night. The action was great, but Michael Bay’s direction and camera angles often just give me headaches when I watch in the movie theater. As soon as the action sequences started, I actually thought to myself, “this must be a Michael Bay film because I know by the end of this movie I will have a headache.” And it’s not because it was a bad film. It’s just that I should know by now that I should rent Michael Bay movies and not watch them on the bigscreen. For instance, I saw The Island (also a Michael Bay film) on a regular homescreen and I thought it was great. But I definitely would have gotten sick had I seen it in a theater.
Also, I was slightly offended by how sexed up the women in the movie were, and how the script treated women in general. I just kind of kicked myself and thought about how I once again succumbed to Hollywood’s debased scheme/conspiracy of reeling in moviegoers into theaters during the summer by offering big-special-effects spectacles that are completely devoid of characters with warmth, relatability and honesty. I’m pretty sure that whoever wrote the dialogue figured throwing in a scene or two of the loving wife with the baby somehow canceled out the disrespect to and degradation of women that the film seemed to insinuate.
Oh, why do I do this to myself?
I also have nothing against these beautiful actresses themselves, I was simply offended at how blatant the sex appeal was portrayed. When the female characters were introduced, I kind of rolled my eyes the same way I did when Denise Richards was in a Bond movie… Of COURSE the brilliant analyst who tapped into the alien signal code just happened to be a twentysomething hot blonde girl with an Australian accent. Although I do admit that the Australian accent definitely made her sound cooler. But that’s BESIDE the issue….
It was also just too obvious that the producers/directors/TBTB behind the film were trying to market the film to as many people as possible. That was my main gripe. Unapologetic capitalism in fine form…
But other than that, it was a good movie.
Seriously, I used to watch the cartoon AND play with Optimus Prime as a kid, so it definitely was spectacular to see him duke it out with Megatron.
Or actually, I would “borrow” it from my cousin because I didn’t really have any of my own Transformers…
OKay well this post was definitely too long and I am too hungry so I need to end this. RIGHT NOW.