Saturday, May 24, 2014

Keep Your Eye on the Prize
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The Rev. Peter J. Leithart, a Biblical expositor extraordinaire in the Presbyterian Church, explains why he’s not leaving that denomination despite its current upheavals (akin to those in ECUSA). In the process, he delivers a timely reminder to keep our eyes on the big picture, where God is in charge:
My main reason for staying put is theological. God is alive, and that means he surprises, and that means he frustrates the silly projections of creatures who can’t see past the horizon. Jesus will unite his church. He asked his Father to make his disciples one, and the Father won’t give his Son a stone when he asks for one loaf. But the united church won’t look like any of the products presently on the market. God is an entrepreneur who is in the business of creating new markets.
Creation itself is a process of tearing and reunion, but Day 2’s reunited cosmos wasn’t a repetition of Day 1. God divided Adam to make Eve and told them they would be one flesh, but Adam-and-Eve together doesn’t look like Adam. When Judah and Israel were divided, the future didn’t lie with one or the other but with a new Israel, as different from old, exilic Israel as fleshy bodies are from dry bones. The Jesus who rose was the same Jesus who was torn on the cross, yet he was so transformed that even his disciples didn’t immediately recognize him.
God hasn’t stopped frustrating expectations. Who in 1900 expected that there would be 150 million Pentecostals and Charismatics in Latin America? Sure, charismatic prophets predicted it, but everyone knew they were mad. In 1900, there were 9 million Christians in Africa. Now it’s pushing half a billion, and many are members of AICs—African Independent (or Initiated or Instituted) Churches—that have no counterpart in the North and West. Who saw that coming?
Present trends never continue. We’re never called to jump on the train we think is moving fastest. Why do we think we can spot the rising star and hitch ourselves to it? What makes us think the rising star is even visible? Whatever’s coming will be as different from what we imagine as a seed is from a tree, as surprising as global Pentecostalism, as fresh as a corpse brought to life.
There is more at the link—including why the Roman Catholic Church is not catholic, nor the Orthodox Church orthodox. Be sure to read it all.

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