Monday, June 09, 2008

What is the Object of Your Worship?

From time to time I level some harsh criticism against Churches of Christ on this blog. I can do this because I am the ultimate insider - I "grew up in the church," I never missed Sunday School, we went every Wednesday night and Sunday night, I was part of the youth group, I worked VBS every year, I was baptized as a teenager, I have been educated in Church of Christ schools, and I have preached for 10 years in 3 congregations. The Church of Christ is in my DNA. There are things I love dearly about Churches of Christ, and there are also flaws and inconsistencies that I cannot ignore. To do so would be evidence of brainwashing. I want all my readers who have been critical of me recently to remember that this blog is a protest against brainwashing and blind acceptance of things that ought to be smashed to pieces with a rhetorical sledgehammer! So, if you care to stick with me, I want to take a sledgehammer to your most basic assumptions with a simple question: WHAT IS THE OBJECT OF YOUR WORSHIP? And yes, there is only ONE correct answer!

The Church (any church)?
The Church of Christ?
The Bible?
A political party?
The United States?
The military of the United States?
Certain cultural values and expressions (eg: "southern hospitality")?

The answer is GOD. Only God is to be worshipped. Anything other than God is idolatry. The reason why I am so harsh in my criticism of traditional and inflexible churches and Christians is because I see people WORSHIPPING the institution of the church, the Bible, traditions, and even the U.S. The extreme defensiveness and sometimes harsh reactions of people who feel threatened by my criticisms is evidence of this. So, please, worship God, but have the maturity of thought and attitude to CHILL OUT about everything else!

PS: "Chill out" is the best theological phrase I've learned in over 10 years of graduate school! Feel free to quote me liberally on this.


Kerrie said...

I also grew up with an “attitude” about being a member of the Church of Christ.

I will never forget the last lesson delivered by Jim Woodruff on his final Sunday at the A&M Church of Christ. We were all so sad to see him leaving. We had learned so much from him while students at A&M. We were a part of one of the finest churches in the whole area with an impressive membership in the "Aggies for Christ". Not only were we proud Aggies we were very proud members of this church. As we waited expectantly to hear Jim’s final words of love and encouragement, I remember as if it was yesterday the unexpected sobering message he delivered.

His message was about pride, false pride in anything other than Christ. You could have heard a pin drop in that massive audience that Sunday morning as he quietly, firmly and with much love cautioned us against what I think you are speaking of Charles. He very honestly told us all, that he saw pride surrounding him, pride in who we were as members of that church rather than Christ. I remember my stomach dropping and feeling tears because the truth hurt. But I’m grateful that he had the vision and strength to speak the truth no matter how hard to swallow it might have been.

Wayne G said...

Pride and ego has ruined so much in the Church of Christ.
Looking back at some of the politics I’ve seen in the church around the world it has made me question who are people are following.

Charles I’ve enjoyed reading your Blog it’s good to see how you have grown.

Shane Alexander said...

Do you have anything we can quote you conservatively on?

Charles North said...

Wayne - Thank you for finding this blog and reading! I wish we could get caught up. I remember all the good times we shared in PE, and at the PE North CofC. Those were good days my friend!

Shane - you have plenty quotes from me, but you know that none of them are fit to be published ANYWHERE!

David said...

Charles believes that Scripture is from God, Christ is divine, the resurrection, the exodus, hmm. . . . sounds pretty conservative to me.

Charles North said...

David - are you sure I believe all that???

David said...

Lol. I thouht you would say that. I was trying to help out your conservative image but oh well. I guess I believe all those, yes Charles even the Exodus. I think the, for example, the Song of the Sea is too old not to record some vestige of history. As far as Scripture being from God I do not mean by that the typical Inspiration, Inerrant stuff that gets throne around but just that they are a means of grace that helps one access the divine and in that God somehow had some hand in it. I would hope you would assent to this and as far as Christ being divine and the resurrection well if you don't assent to those I will have to place you under the interdict!!!! Just joking about that and I know you were just joking as well.

On a more serious note, I was trying to make the point that what we call liberal and conservative is not what those words originally referred to and still refer to outside of COC circles. If you go to church, believe in Scripture, and love the Lord you are a conservative in the eyes of most of the world. If you believe the Bible and religion is just a bunch of mumbo jumbo you are liberal.

But in regard to you post, I do agree that we tend to lose the focus on the object of worship. I wonder if there is a way to relate your focus on God as the object with Barth's insistence that God is the subject and we are the object. What do you think?

David said...

Man I misspell alot! There goes a level a heaven for me!

Charles North said...

The post was a way of reclaiming the best of our CofC heritage - removing all the distractions that take God away from the center. Over time, however, we have added our own "distractions" to remove other distractions. I really don't think people who are offended by my "Church of Christ bashing" understand that I am trying to reclaim what is best about our heritage, and take a sledgehammer to what is bad.

On the conservative/liberal spectrum, I am conservative, which I see as halfway between liberal and fundamentalist.

BTW - I accept everything in the NT, but most of the OT? mmm, I don't know so much! What say you???

David said...

I think you have to look at the OT as a compilation of various traditions for theological purposes all of which again have their vestiges in some historical reality but are also overly reworked theologically. I take this especially to be true with regard to the Patriarchs to the Conquest. My good friend who is also an MA and OT and I were discussing this yesterday. It could be the case that the tribes are a latter addition, but then why are they in the song of Deborah and why include Reuben first instead of Judah. Along with most archaeologist, it is easier to judge things beginning with kingship. What do you think?

P.S. Darn you Charles. You made me post my opinion on line!

Charles North said...

Ha! I smoked you out. I tend to agree with what you said. However, along a much broader continuum, we are still theologically conservative.