Traditions of Spirituality - Lesson 5
The purpose, elements, and advantages of shared spirituality. The presence of God is usually and normally experienced in the context of Christian community which reflects and reenacts the life of Christ in the world.
The Apostolic Age, the Ancient Church, the Apologists, and the Great Tradition.
Monastic writers have had a significant influence on the development and transmission of theology in the Medieval and Reformation periods in church history.
The postmodern challenge is simply stated: every attempt to describe ‘what it meant’ is in fact only an assertion of what it means to me, or worse, what we will it to mean. Stated in these terms, the real issue comes to light: the question of authority and the locus of the word of God.
We should listen with respect to the voice of the past, but we are not bound by it. The teaching of the past must be tested: not by our prejudices; not by its applicability to our situation today (for which it was not written); but by the word of God, the Scriptures.
The purpose, elements, and advantages of shared spirituality. The presence of God is usually and normally experienced in the context of Christian community which reflects and reenacts the life of Christ in the world.
Dynamic church planting movements embody and defend both the canonical Scriptures and the Great Tradition.
Sowing good seed: First steps in recapturing the Great Tradition through shared spirituality.
Dr. Davis emphasizes the ways in which evangelical Protestants, especially those who are only loosely connected to a particular Church tradition, can be renewed and revived through a retrieval of the Great Tradition. Of great interest in this class are the elements, purposes, and ramifications of sharing a distinct spirituality grounded in that Tradition, and what the impact this sharing can have on our individual, family, and congregational lives.
In doing something like this, something so massive, you really don't know how to put it all together. And you have to constantly re think schedule. And what I'm going to do is essentially I'm going to make a few points or relate it to a session for in your book, which is a great tradition. And then I'm going to move directly in to what I believe is the application of the great tradition, which is our need to share a fundamental spirituality and tradition based on the great tradition. And I'm going to I'm going to you know, we'll talk about the the the you know, the elements and the advantages of that. And then we will actually look at where tradition is working with great power in church planning movements. This this is a session that I really think is very, very important for those of us who want to see the gospel spread the most robust movements on earth and I mean exponential movements, movements that are going from quite literally. And I see my colleague go hear movements like Samuel's movement that in eight years went from, you know, no churches to 20,000, and then in an additional eight went to over 40,000 churches. Literally, their goal is to plant another 100,000 churches, 100,000. Now we're talking about real assemblies, not fictional made up, you know, I mean, real churches over the next I think it was 15 years or something like that. Oh, the point is, is that every movement, every multiplying movement. Of church growth that is taking place on Earth, as far as I can tell, is a movement of identity. There are certain kind of folk, there are Assemblies of God or they are Southern Baptists, or it doesn't matter where you look.
This is what is really amazing. That's why you know that there's something to the great tradition when Christians of whatever background settle on what the core beliefs and practices that they represent. And determined to replicate that they can do it quickly, efficiently and rapidly. But you can't be unclear about who you are and what you represent. You can't be nothing. Nothing from nothing. Oh, that's a good bill. Theologian Nothing that dates me to Suse Jones ALS. Well, you know, those of us who are cool it dates. That's Billy Gray. Billy Preston. So if you have to be not only old, but a cool old in order to recognize old school. This free disco. Cool. I like that old pre disco cool. That's. Yeah. You know, I really at the banquet, you know, we're having a banquet soon and I some of these pictures that Al is brought out from us. Oh. Oh, sure. Jill said, I want to get this on tape. Joe said he should repent. He should repent because it's so ugly. I mean, may have some of them shots. Are just you thankful that you grow up, you know, but you don't look much better after you get older, too, You know what I'm saying? So you kind of you still sort of struggling with that. Oh, that ugliness ain't you haven't progressed beyond your. I'm I'm not as I'm not just as raw ugly as I was at like 30. But, you know, you're probably, you know, in an outline like this I bet I could scheme was ugliness over the real ugly. Photographic ugly. That's really photographic. Ugly that. You've dealt with a long day. A day. And let me have this. I want to I want to show you guys something.
This is essentially appendix the 17. Page 144. In your book, guys. The entirety the entirety of the outline of of Session four is a very clear expansion of the elements in this table. I've used the word great tradition many, many times. But this is what I want to sort of suggest to you as the tributaries of you, if you use if you in fact think about the ancient church as a river, you know, as a matter of fact, at the top of this is there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God some 46 four wonderful text. If you look at the stream of what God has been doing as a river, then I want to say that there are four main tributaries of the river of authentic, historic biblical faith. And if you interview this level, this role are the Nicene categories of the church. The church is one. The church is wholly. The church is Catholic. The church is apostolic. When when when I look at the bare minimum of what historic Christian faith is. It seems to affirm a biblical identity, share a very vital, spiritual, shared spirituality. If it is restored, it is Catholic. It is rooted Catholic, not in terms of Roman Catholic, but authentically universal. It is rooted in history. It didn't start with us. It certainly won't end with us. It is Catholic and then it is apostolic. It is it is called to proclaim in word and deed the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the earth. Now, in a real sense, what I tried to do in this outline, which is very, very thorough, really frankly, is to show how these various elements under these. That's how you read these. You know, the church is one.
It is united in its commitment to to the to the fidelity of scripture, to the messianic kingdom and to the apostolic faith. There is a oneness in the church in that unity. The church is holy from the very beginning of the writings of the fathers and the apologists. They saw themselves as being detached, disconnected from the Roman situation. They didn't see themselves as really a part of Rome at all. They were really, in fact, different. As a matter of fact, they used the metaphors and the images of of of the liberation of God's people in the exodus as a major motif of what they did. They didn't see themselves. You can understand that, too. While they were just they were killed and maimed and all their leaders were hunted down and they were butchered. They didn't have time to vote a Christian onto the school board and this and that. You hear what I'm saying? They had nothing to do with society. They were lucky if they lived. They met in secret. That kind of faith produces this sense of of of we're aliens in the world. We don't belong here. And in a real keen sense of the power of the Holy Spirit, virtually all of the apologists and fathers talk about that. And all of them had a a sort of a commitment to liturgical sacramental and catechetical vitality. Let me explain that. Most people, when they hear that, they say, Oh, man, this brothers are like a neo Catholic, so liturgical. I had a person actually argue with me about the word What are you doing using the word liturgy? I said, Man, look, you get a deal, bro. What are you talking about? Are you? This is what our people I'm trying to do.
Just so you know, our people to world impact people. They were afraid of the word. I said, man, if you afraid of the word liturgy. How can you be? Who let you in here? How did you get past Susie and Andy? Who let you in here? Summers. Summers. We're here. How can you be a Christian and be frightened that the word in the Greek? Well, anyway, I make the point. Little liturgical means that from the very earliest the Christians, we know what Christians did when they gather in year nine. We know what we know what a service was like. As a footnote to Mr.. What we do every week here is very, very close to what they were doing 20 centuries ago. It's really powerful. They got together, they ripped the taxi, had prayer, they had the Lord's Supper. There was a little bit of ceremony. They confessed to each other. You know, Justin Martyr wrote it out. He says what they did. And so there's no there is no one who who denies that the sacrament of the Eucharist was the most central act in Christian worship. I mean, this is clear. I mean, there there can be no no doubt about that. Oh, and all of the other sacraments. That's why the great tradition is so important. Many of the other sacraments came much later in church history, and they came through. The Roman church, had nothing to do. Luther's sort of Luther's intent on coming back to to to restore this sort of fundamental cleanness makes total sense to me. But it was a restoration. It wasn't a replacement. This is where many of our our own understandings are not very effective in the in catechism, which is the way the easiest way to really describe really the pre baptismal sort of situation to baptize a new believer in early church was a big thing because you could betray us and we don't know anything about you.
They put you through paces. It was a three year process. Do you know, guys, that at the end of the baptismal catacomb and it is what they call it. There was a rite of exorcism for new converts. I mean, if you all would agree to a rite of exorcism, they didn't want nothing in your past to be with us. And we don't trust nothing about you. Do you hear what we sing? You ain't gonna come to us unless you are like us or get your. You know, I think the get your theology was their get yo because they were hard. I'm telling you, you know, that there was a on it all the new converts were were baptized on Easter. There was a vigil on fasting on Saturday and then everyone gathered and the new converts are baptized at Lighthouse. I heard that there was a baptism on Easter that is right in sync with with the with the ancient church. Easter was the day that we brought in new, new converts. And, you know, you know how Lent started. Some of you may not live is quite literally as early as 200 years after our Lord rose again and in heaven. Lent was started because everyone else in the churches wanted to do what the new converts were doing, didn't want them to feel left out. So they were preparing all these new converts. And, you know, you know, people say, what can we do what they do? And can we do all the hard things that they don't want to go without food and be butchered on? I mean, they did it, guys. Honestly, they have to recite the creed to be a baptismal kind of catacomb in that in the early church meant that you could defend the faith, your life could depend on it, and our life could depend on it.
We don't want you here viewing, doing so three years seems like a long time done. That's that's a that's an old tradition. And quite honestly, this was all done. This was all wrapped up by the fifth century. I'm just saying that there's a great the great tradition offers us unusual insight in what it means to to baptize and to train illiterate, poor city, broken people. Come on, now. Now how many in our cities? There are some world impact cities, Iraq and France. Thank you. From Dallas, the Dallas contingent, Rob's friends. I see y'all all got. I got to get. Where's my shirt, Rob? Ah, okay, look at that. And get my shirt. See, I was talking to Rob about the even the name restored. It's just just totally exciting to me what they're thinking of doing. Actually thinking about starting a church that is relevant and focused and hungry and passionate. It is really, really important. I truly do believe that we could plant thousands of new churches that are informed by the good wisdom of a great tradition. This is not. There is no competition here. We're not trying to and I'm not advocating that anyone become anything. I'm saying whatever your specific tradition is, whoever founded your denomination or order, there should there can be room where you can trace your habits and your sense of liturgy and your sense of baptism and your doctrine and your training through the principles in the great tradition. There's no reason why we can't do that. It's elegant, it's simple, it's clean, and it's biblical. It is old. It is old. It is the proverbial tradition behind all traditions. It is Christians were known in this, the communion of saints. I love the early church. The early church really believed that we were one.
And in radical hospitality, the first the first funeral parlors, the first hospitals. We are the ones who took care of the sick, the broken. From the earliest records, Christians can help ourselves. Wherever we are, we go help somebody. It's just the way it is. So the great tradition is rich in unbelievable hospitality and generosity, yet not a great vision for poor folk. Let's say you only got $5. You can't give some of your fire. Yes, you can. Why can't we train people in our churches to be generous with $5? There was a sense I was I was planning the hardest church in the very history of a human church to plant Northside Christian Fellowship. I've never had a church with more knuckleheads and bizarre folk. There was a sister in that church. And since I don't won't say enough that y'all say, You know who he's talking about. I think he saw there was a sister in the church who who said that she she phoned up and was complaining to me the pass. I think I'm going to lead the church. I said, okay, well, where are you going to lead the church? What's what's the matter? What are we doing? She said, Well, nobody is really care for me. And they don't, they don't love me. And I interrupted her. I said, When did we or anybody teach you that Christianity was about what you got? Are you still on the phone system? Christianity ain't about what you get. Christianity is about what you give. It is better to give. Frankly, you can't tell me that we can't have the greatest hospitality. Generous. We can have the greatest serving community on the history of the earth among the urban poor because they ain't got nothing.
You see what I mean? They ain't got. They got very little to hold on to. We should have constant ways that they give. And frankly, if you're training somebody and asking them to give you not training and nothing. You're creating patronized, weak, sickly people. I'm just saying that the great tradition is an unbelievable tradition that is rich in this outline. Quite literally from pages. 73 through 84 is going into great, great detail on each one of these things, quoting the fathers and trying to make points about that. Okay, let's go back to the outline. There's just one point I want to make before we go on to our next session. There is. I said there were three levels of authority. There's the canonical scriptures which all Protestants like us really embrace, that we give a finality to the to the Holy Scripture of the Holy Scriptures different from any tradition or anyone. The Scriptures are the foundation of everything we think and believe and all our practice and worship, all our ethics and everything are rooted in that. That is the first level. The second level is the great tradition that we were talking about. I would like us to look at this. The third level is the specific church traditions. It's a slide number 13, the specific church traditions, the founders of denominations and orders. Now, on your page 75, I think this is important. Guys, I want to I want to if you bear with me just for a moment, I want to read something that that Terry and I actually wrote in an article that is in your of the traditions is in your appendix here. If we sort of wanted to lay out for those who had no sort of orientation to tradition, we needed to say something.
And this is important for us to get in our minds because in a moment we're going to start discussing these things together. On page 75, follow along with me. Christians have expressed their faith in Jesus Christ in various ways through specific movements and traditions which embrace and express the authoritative tradition. Which of the scriptures and the great tradition, the first five century in unique way. For instance, Catholic movements have arisen around people like Benedict Francis or Dominic or in among Protestants, people like Martin Luther, John Calvin over Zwingli and John Wesley in the history of the church. Guys, you need to know that women have form very vital movements. As a matter of fact, the head of movements, the head of one of the most evangelical solid Protestant denominations in the world, the one that Jack is president of, was founded by a woman, Amy Simple MacPherson, a formidable will sister of the Foursquare Church, as well as minorities. I grew up an African Methodist Episcopal. You know why Richard Allen started his church in St Georges? Because he was because as a black man in a church in the 1700s, he was a prayer and the white deacons wanted him to shut up. And he said, no, he is really technically yes. Can I finish my prayers? They threw him out on his ear. That is how the largest black denomination in the world started, White people throwing a black dude out on his ear. That is not a good testament is we can't sort of run that through our brothers and St Louis, can we? Andrew I don't know. How about that? Jason Do you think you could say, you know, why don't you join? You know, or Charles C H Mason Guys, do you know that C h Mason of the Church of God in Christ was the, was the formative leader of the Azouz Azouz a street revival in the early 20th century, in the 1900s.
You know, y y the Assemblies of God are not under the Church of God in Christ. You all the all the first elders and key leaders of the Assembly of God were all under H. Mason. They refused to submit to him because he was a black man. You'll notice the assemblies was under the Church of God in Christ. If you look at most of our denominational history in America, it really is riddled with race. The Southern Baptists wanted to own slaves, so they split from from the American Baptists, the others. And just recently, the Southern Baptists said, We're sorry. You know, we we were wrong about that. Yeah, you were wrong. Well, there's something about that phrase that communicated better than words in a way. Well, all of these attempts to express all of these movements, one started by women, by Catholics, by Wesley, by Luther, by Calvin. They all attempt to express the authoritative tradition and the great tradition in a specific way consistent with their time and expression. I don't know if I need for you guys to get this, that God raised up a leader at a particular time whose life and whose vision was used by God to start a movement that expressed both the the canonical scripture and the great tradition. I mean, that really is the way you can understand, frankly, most of the movements that have taken place, the emergence of vital dynamic movements of the faith at different times and among different peoples are reveal the fresh working of the Holy Spirit. That's what we believe. I want you all to know that I really, truly do believe this is important. Rob, for you to hear. I do believe that the Holy Spirit raises up men and women for particular times to actually span movements.
No one can talk to Samuel Stephens and not believe that Sam Stephens is as important a leader as any one of the reformers. Maybe more so. They've set a goal to plant a church in every one of the 600,000 villages in India. And the boys got enough gumption to do it to get it done. No one can tell me that Samuel Stephens little quiet cell couldn't be one of the great. Think of who's our brother in Honduras. McGill, McGill. McGill is planting churches in Honduras. He wants to plant them. Who knows what God may do? That's the Holy Spirit. Who knows what? It would. It would be. It would be fine with me if the greatest single movement that we know in the country would start in either St Louis or throughout in the rest of the restored ministry or some something that we do in any one of our places. There's nothing preventing the Holy Spirit from doing that. This is very important. So we are open to the Holy Spirit. No one can say he's just a neo Catholic weirdo. No, I believe the Holy Spirit at any moment to anyone who is open and any one he elects can raise up people in that even from Catholicism. Keep reading with me. That's inside Catholicism. New communities have arisen such as the Benedictines, Franciscans and Dominicans outside Catholicism. New dominant denominations have emerged Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodist, Church of God in Christ. Each of these specific traditions have founders, key leaders whose energy and vision help to establish a unique expression of the Christian faith and practice. Of course, to be legitimate, these movements must adhere to the faith and to and faithfully express both the authoritarian of authoritative tradition, the canonical Bible, the Scriptures, and the great tradition.
Members of these specific traditions embrace their own unique practices and patterns of spirituality. But these unique features are not necessarily binding on the church at large. They represent the unique expression of that community's understanding of and faithfulness to the authoritative and great traditions. Specific traditions seek to express and live out this faithfulness through their worship, teaching and service. They seek to make the Gospel clear within new cultures or subcultures. Speaking in modeling the hope of Christ and the new situation shaped by their own questions posed in light of their own unique circumstances. These movements, therefore, seek to contextualize the authoritative tradition in a way that faithfully and effectively leads new groups of people to faith in Jesus Christ and incorporates those who believe into the community of faith that obeys His teaching and gives witness to him to others. I think that some of the best writing that Tyrion has ever done on this subject, I think it is clear that Keith Phillips fits that definition. Those of you who are world impact, there's a lot of world impact people. I apologize for referring to them, but they are key has been used to start a movement. I there's no reason why our movement can't grow. Matt I believe. Jason We could be the first to hand the baton off to you and you guys could see more fruit in a in a, in a, in a generation than all of the years of urban ministry put together. I have no question in my mind that the future belongs to you and we're trying to pass you a strong baton, a good one, one you can hold on to. Rob, I believe this. I believe young brothers like you are precisely how the Holy Spirit is raised up.
Men and women work for the church. So we should be open to that. There are two appendices that you should look to and you should read if you have time on this appendix 15 and 16. Starting at page 137. And this is unfortunately. About all I'm going to say on this particular session. Appendix 15 is a little document that that I have written about what I hope to really among the satellites of the Urban Ministry Institute and a number of different people who really believe that the great tradition has some real meaning for the urban church. We are going we are right now loosely trying to encourage each other to to reassert a rediscovery of the great tradition for the urban poor. And there are some things that we are going to more and more be showing on our website and other things that we're going to provide on page 1/33 39 is a call by Bob Weber, which is essentially to the church at large, to the evangelical church in particular, to really rediscover the six critical things of an ancient evangelicalism that can build for the future. And that's what he means by ancient evangelical future. It's built on rediscovering the great tradition among evangelicals so we can build a future that is worth imitating. We can't just keep rehashing the same shallow things. And you'll see on the pages of 139 to 141 the six elements of what he calls the call to an ancient evangelical future. The first one is what all Christians should do. The primacy of the biblical narrative. We are committed to the Scriptures and their testimony about Christ on page 140. The Church is the ongoing continuation of God's story. It's a continuation of that narrative. Number three, what what we as a church has believed through the centuries have been have come to the fore, quite literally in in a true unity.
We know what Christians believe. It's anchored in the scriptures. It's defensible through the creeds and the counsels of the church. Number four on page 141, the worship and telling really what I love about the great tradition is every time Christians gathered, they saw that the worship around the word and the Lord's Supper was actually, in fact the very center of what it means to be a Christian. And I'm going to advocate that we start that back up in a great tradition. I think that's a very practical, easy way that we can make the Greek tradition real. You're going to see on number six spiritual formation in the church. The early church dealt with a lot of people were illiterate. And so from the very beginning, the church really refused to sort of define spirituality as what you did at home by yourself. It's what we do together in assembly. Many other people couldn't read. I mean, you just think of people couldn't read. And, you know, the the scattered spiritual formation was you cannot let me put it this way, You cannot be. It's impossible to be a Catholic alone. You cannot you can be a Protestant at home. You can't be a Catholic at home. You can't be an Orthodox person at home. Can't be an Anglican at home. Why? Why? Yeah. It takes what takes place. The liturgy, the Eucharist. You came out the Lord's Supper by yourself. They know what you're doing. Luke You know, do you think that Catholics speak in tones like us? Do you speak in tongues, by the way? Would you put that down? If it weren't for tunnels, I couldn't raise my kids. If you don't get your lazy. You know, I know that there are people who are looking at me.
I have no ovaries. Children. Fine. And that's why you were looking out of range over some beautiful girls I've never used home. I don't know what Donna's talking about. Again. Y'all are no better than after dinner. I ain't like, no. And then the sixth point on page 141 is that the church has always had a responsibility to embody its life in the world. So that is all I am going to say quite literally about this. Fine. These three levels, what are they again? What are the three levels of Christian authority that we can recognize in the history of the church? The canonical scriptures in the great tradition in specific traditions. Let's talk now. Dan, our clock is not working. It's been it's been 39 minutes for like 100 minutes. So I don't know exactly how long a black man and timers don't tend to go real good, at least when I'm preaching. I don't know. Maybe vowels. Vowel is a timing man, I think. But I don't do it. I don't. I don't do very good. I know that if I. If I have Sam or or about a preacher especially, and I told them that they had a 39 minutes, I would assume that they will go like 64 minutes. And not be disappointed if they went 73 minutes. That's the way to that's where they're at, man. Were ya on page on page 87. The next two sessions are the are worth the whole point. Everything else has been you know, it's been preparation up to this point. We now want to talk about the purpose, the elements and the advantages of sharing a spirituality and what that means. Everything that I've done up to this point is to try to articulate that Christians from the beginning swore by a tradition that was rooted in the scriptures and that in that was pretty much done by the middle of the fifth century.
The beliefs and the practices of the church regarding what our worship was in our mission. Most of everything that is important to Christians was settled at that point. Guys, I want to give you an example of why every single one of you need to belong to and be informed by the great tradition. And I want to use Middle Simon's. He made a critical mistake that was directly related to his ignoring tradition. If you know anything about Middle Simon's middle, Simon's was a biblical person of just unusual commitment. He was absolutely a solo scripture reform are in the the radical Anabaptists didn't see anything in among the fathers or the apologists or tradition to keep very little. And it led to some terrible mistakes on their part. Let me give you an example of one of them. Mental health to the evangelical Anabaptist position is set out in the slide Heim confession. He opposed the Revolutionary Baptist holding to a firmly pacifist position. There were a revolutionary and a Baptist that actually took up arms, and I mentioned them. He he was a pacifist position, as do most Mennonites today. He also opposed the Spiritualists Anabaptists, who relied on the inner light for special private revelations. That's where George Fox and Quakers and a lot of spiritualism went. So he was he was not revolutionary. He was not a spiritualist. He was. He was. He was a biblical fellow. He was he sought the basis teaching on the Bible alone. Like the reformers, he held that the Scripture alone is the supreme and final norm for all doctrine, the way most of us do in this room. But he did not follow the reformers in the deep respect that they retained for the writings of the early church fathers and all of the reformers.
Luther's wing, Lee and Calvin insisted that the fathers be tested by Scripture. But but the anabaptists really, they just they pretty much did not give a lot of attention to the traditional mento illustrates. This is what Tony Lane says. Illustrates the danger of neglecting tradition. When one interprets the Bible. He held that Jesus Christ did not become flesh of Mary. That's his exact words. But in Mary. Now think about that. Now that you've got to go. Jesus didn't become the flesh of Mary. But in Mary. In her. Not of her. In other words, while affirming that Jesus was truly human, he did not believe that his humanity was taken from Mary. Who was who was only his host mother. That's the way he used to talk about it. Very powerful. This position was a heresy. It had already been rejected in the middle of the second century. And candidly, I want to say that if Simons had known a little bit about the fathers or the apologists, he wouldn't have made that error. But because he knew he wasn't informed at all. You know, it illustrates the adage, according to Lay, that those who neglect history are condemned to repeat it. I like what Lane said, and this is really must be understood. To be fair, it must be remembered that the early Anabaptist leaders were down to A person wanted men. They were hunted down and killed. There is no greater tradition in the history of the church. More persecuted than Anabaptists. They were hated by everybody. I don't know you Mennonites who were in the room. You really need to understand what your tradition here. It is one of the most valiant, courageous, amazing traditions on earth. But it is weak in that.
One thing is that they did not pay attention to tradition. Mental silence is a little different because he was able to you know, there was not much easily study for an Anabaptist leader if you and Anabaptist, you going to get killed. I'm just telling you that's what they would know. And they and they they would start. I love them. Let me say, those of those of you who are Mennonites or from that tradition and really from that tradition, not just say and you are associated with it, but are true Mennonites, Mennonites and true. That is a tradition worthy of being replicated in in urban America. Now? Every minute, I should say. Yes, that's right. You should say that it's it's a no play thing. They didn't they didn't talk to nobody. And they got they got murdered. Everyone. Only in this part of the Reformation. Do you get every former Protestant in the Catholic Church besieging Mennonites? They wrote them down together. I mean, Mennonites are key to church unity in that sense. We all hate them. Yes. Yes. Yeah. I'm just saying that there is. There is. And Tony Lane makes plain that the Mennonite churches have not followed men on this point. As a matter of fact, there were some points of it. But you can see guys on these sort of issues, tradition can really make a difference. Guys, let me very quickly give you three purposes, some elements and several advantages of sharing a spirituality. Let me say this. If you are not a part of a tradition or you are thinking that God is leading you to start one, this is very important for us. Very, very important. What are the purposes of a shared spirituality that is informed by the great tradition? Look at this quote from Tertullian there.
Tertullian is talking about these heretics who pretended to be a part of something and had no contact with the great tradition of the apostles. He said, Show me your authority. If you are an ordinary Christian, not an apostle, believe what has been handed down to us. Christianity is essentially what is handed down. That what has been handed down was true for it has been transmitted by those whose duty it was to hand it down. Therefore, when you reject that, that was what had been handed down. You rejected that, which was true. You had no authority for what you did. This is the standard by which they understood Christian Christianity. Did it come from an apostle? And who handed it down to you? How do you know it was handed down? There's where your authority is. Guys, again, on page, I'm going very quickly on page 192. It's appendix 31. I am giving you on this a wonderfully designed diagram by our genius. I just love Carol Carroll, and I dream with her charts in my mind. But isn't this. This is this is as best as I can tell. I tried in a chart form to give you what a shared spirituality would look like, a spirituality that we share that we could reproduce beginning at the top. Right. I really do believe that the early with the earliest Christians, even with the Jewish sacred year, we should share a calendar. I'll explain that in a moment. I think that's very important. We gather for the word and for the Lord's Supper. We read from the Word of God of the revised common lectionary is used by hundreds of thousands of Christian congregations around the Earth. We we categorize people into the church. To be converted is to be incorporated into our church.
That's quite literally hard seeing mission and service is done in community and personal piety is that which we do alone together. Have you ever thought about Passover? Passover was a meal of that that the entire nation did together, but they did it alone together. Do you know what I mean? Everyone have to take a lamb. If you were too poor, I could go with. With Gil and Linda, and I could go Vidal's house. God said, you know, and y'all would be generous. Bev, do you want to go to Gil and Linda's? We'll go over to Gill and Linda's for Passover because we ain't got enough. And we would eat it together. All of us as a family, but all of the nation would be in it at the same time, in the same way. We're doing devotions. Devotions. Would what we do alone together. Do you understand how that works? I believe we should have the disciplines or done corporately. It's not just me praying and me studying and me. It is what we do together, the corporate disciplines and then credo affinity. I've spent a lot of time trying to make plain what shared spirituality was and a great tradition. But here's a good snapshot of what I think that is. If you go back to page 87, I'm sorry for the time, but we have to hustle. Guys, there are three purposes for a shared spirituality. There is a if I was making the case why it is important for us to share a fundamental identity spiritually. There are three reasons. One, to reconnect our spiritual journeys to the story of God. We reconnect with the Jew, with the Judeo-Christian story. We're biblical. It's important that my story relate to Abraham's story. I want to reconnect to the historic Christian faith, and I need to reconnect to the tradition behind the traditions.
I am I am absolutely confident that Tertullian was right. I don't think that I have a right to define my Christian commitment on my own. I don't. The second purpose is to reaffirm our sacred roots to the historical orthodox faith. Now, I give you just a little blurb from the word tradition in the International standard Bible Encyclopedia there. It means a giving over. I love that vision of it. It's what we receive. We give over. It's just like this. This is an interesting idea. I don't know if you guys know, but the Pharisees set world records for memorization feats. They are some of the great memorizes in history. The Pharisees. The Pharisees memorized the Hebrew Bible. The Pentateuch letter by letter. Yeah. Without chapter and verse divisions. Have you ever seen a Hebrew Bible? It's stunning what they could do with their memory and the way they conceive. Tradition is a ball that was just perfect and every drop was put in it. And then you received it. And then you gave it drop by drop to the to the next person. That's quite literally what the giving over is. When Tertullian says that we invent nothing. We got something from the apostles and we give it out. Guys, that is really what I am talking about. What are you giving out? Those of you who are in ministry, what are you giving out? What is it that you can say? This is what I believe. This is what we do. This is what? This is what we want to reproduce. Can you put it down for me? Can you pass out papers to. And we all see it. We're friends. If we don't have that, this should be our top priority in men's. Now, if you really are a mennonite or a Lutheran or a Baptist or whatever, you have an answer for that, right? You know what J.
Hudson Taylor did? J. Hudson Taylor. In dividing up the Chinese missionaries, said All of the Baptists go here. All of the Anglicans go there. And everyone planted churches of a kind. Do you hear what I'm saying, guys? That is really what is taking place all over the earth. One of the greatest movements of church planning on Earth is Southern Baptists. If the Southern Baptists were to stop planning churches. Nearly a third or more of all church planning on earth would stop. They are the most prolific, most dedicated, and they're all Southern Baptists. You know what I'm saying? They got that Southern Baptist kind of, you know. Now, those of us who are missionaries, do we care? Would we care if the only churches that were planted in urban America, tens of thousands of them were all Southern Baptists, happy singing Southern Baptist songs, going on Southern Baptist retreats, eating Southern Baptist food and having Southern Baptist babies. Running around driving Southern Baptist cars in Southern. But who cares, right? We don't care. Or maybe some of y'all do care how many care if the Southern Baptist were were to take over the earth. If all this wiggle room was spoken like a real urban missionary, it. Guys. The point of it is, is I would like you. We're going to we're going to take a break in a moment. I would like any of you to find a single church planning movement on the earth. That is not a movement of a kind. Find one. It's either a it's a movement of a kind. So if you are of no kind, what does that say about your ability to plant something? If you if you if you want to plant something, be clear enough that people can look at and say, how about what you doing right there? That's really important.
Can I become one of y'all? How do I how do I join y'all? I've got to get it restored. To be restored is going to have a ministry right there. Begin with the t shirt. Okay, guys, this is really important. This sounds a lot to us. If we are missionaries and have no identity. The chances of you replicating something that you ain't got are nil to none. So you really need to determine who you are in order to reproduce what you got and turn it over to somebody. If you ain't nothing. You ain't got nothing to give them. Okay. Is that clear? Y'all still looking at me like I'm crazy. I'll finish. I just. You know what I think? I think y'all need more breaks. Not. Yes, you do. Don't tell me what you don't know. Okay, here we go. This was rushed through this. My mind is from inside. Y'all, we do need to reaffirm these sacred roots in this historic Orthodox. If we cannot reaffirm our affinity with the creeds. And. And you know it in the councils, it doesn't mean that we. It's the four councils. The first four, the last three are very, very controversial, especially the last one on the iconoclastic controversy. None of us really are aware of what was going on with the controversy over icons. So the whole church just doesn't feel the same way about the first four things. But we need to be absolutely clear that we're not saying that all religions are equally valid. That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying the tradition is valid if it represents scripture and it in every way defends the great tradition and the final purpose that we have to really take shared spirituality serious is we need to return to our core beliefs, practices and commitments.
It's very clear in Second Thessalonians that Paul said stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either either by our spoken word or by letter. So I think I think that's to mean shared spirituality. I think we need to renew our commitment to Christian spirituality. We can be revived as we join our lives together in common disciplines and then sort of rediscover simplicity in our devotion, in how we worship, how we observe the sacraments and how we disciple. Now, this is something I've wanted to do for a long time. I'll tell you, God, I've always believed that we could we could plant thousands more churches if we were just clear in who we were and how we worship and how we do the sacraments and how we disciple believers. It would clean up 10,000 lesser issues and give immediate focus and energy and meaning to what we are doing. Well, so what are the elements? God's the great tradition is wonderful because it's completely simple. Look at this quote from Iranians about Polycarp. This great bishop of Smyrna. He said Polycarp was instructed by the apostles and he spoke with many who had seen Christ Polycarp. You can you can you can really, truly understand how they how they love tradition. Not only that, but by apostles. In the age of he was appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna. I also saw him in my early youth erroneous new Polycarp for for he lived a very long time and which was very old man. He gloriously and most nobly suffered martyrdom and departed this life. He had always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles and which the church has handed down and which alone are true.
Look at that. It's a clean, elegant thing. Now, what were those things? It was the fact that every form of the church, first of all, is Christ sinner. Everything. Everything they did was focus on Christ. All of it. The truth. Be a judge. Look what Tertullian said in 197. The truth may be a judge to belong to us, for we are the many quote who walk according to the rule. The church has handed this down from the Apostles, the Apostles from Christ and Christ from God. It's just a stunning understanding of the early church. They were focused on Christ, rooted in the scriptures of the canonical story. It summarize the Nicene Confession. There was a consensus in the ancient church that the creed represented, and they demonstrated this in the liturgy and in the table. So the elements, if a shared spirituality, must be Christ. It must be church oriented. It must be church oriented. It cannot be oriented around the individual individual. Of this one source of of of the early church martyrdom of Polycarp, a letter that is supposedly outlining his death says, Our Lord Jesus Christ is the savior of our souls, the governor of our bodies and the shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world. That's one thing I love about reading the early Fathers in The Apologist is that they really took seriously Ephesians four. There is one body and one spirit, one just as you are called, or the one hope that belongs to your call. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. What God and father of all who is overall and through all and in all. So the Church represents God's ongoing story. When the church worships and proclaims in the next gods, it actually the church to the great tradition guys, where every time they meet in worship, it wouldn't have mattered.
It was to believers. Every time they gather, they are setting forth the eternal cosmic drama of God in the Scripture. It's powerful to read them. I kid you not. They really have the highest view of the church you can possibly have. And in the final thing about the church, about the final element, you know, shared spirituality in addition to being Christ centered and church oriented, is that the great tradition is kingdom focused. The Christ of God shows his superiority to all rulers by entering into their various provinces and summoning men out of them to be subject to himself. That is the that is the core of their understanding of their relationship to the world. To be a Christian is to be called out of the world. It means that we have our own life. We're unashamedly evangelical. We have been called to bear witness of Christ in his kingdom, in the world, and we do that through what we share in the gospel, in the way we do good works. Now, there is nothing in these three elements as broad as they are, that any tradition I can imagine finds objectionable. Focused on Christ, rooted in the church, focused on the kingdom. It's a reproducible, solid, excellent sense of what a church is. I'm going to I'm going to in a few moments that remain. I want to give you guys the advantages of this. I think that there are unbelievable things, and I want to speak to our missionaries, especially who are gathered. The advantage of us sharing a spirituality informed by the great tradition could completely transform, I believe, everything that we do. I love Tertullian boldness less what he said he was. He was a part of a persecuted rundown church when he wrote this.
We are of but yesterday, but of yesterday. And we have filled every place among you cities, islands, fortresses, towns, marketplaces, the very camps, tribes, companies, palace, senate form. We have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods. See, they were clear about who they were. They were very clear. I'm saying that this can strengthen our ID guys. The reason why there is an arc on your book is that the arc was quite literally one of the favorite images of the early church. The ark. Just think of the ark. It was a place where those who were who were afraid of the dangers on the outside could come and be rescued. I like what this one person said about Noah's Ark. He said if it wasn't for the storm outside, nobody could stand a stank inside. That's true. Right. Have you ever found a church that is, like, sharp and good and you love churches are, by definition, irritation palaces. Right. They are. You find Christians in community, you find headaches. And, you know, we don't. We don't do it. All right? That's just who we are. But there is no other ARG except the Church of Jesus Christ. The point is, is that if you are going to do ministry, it behooves you to make an assertion about who you are. If you are a Pentecostal, an evangelical, be Pentecostal or an evangelical, if you are a Baptist, an evangelical Baptist, an evangelical, if you are non-denominational and be an evangelical, then with all the power of tradition being nondenominational. Which is sort of a. I like picking on non-denominational types because that's what I worshiped for for many years in nondenominational churches. Beth And I did it when we were not, you know, when we were going to various places or we were part of churches that had a tradition but were ashamed of it.
There were there were discussions about whether or not we should take that name off the marquee, because nobody really knows what Mennonite or Baptist means anymore. And we. Yeah, I'm saying that that is the worst thing we can do. If we want to see the Lord multiply our efforts, we need to not only know who we are, but represented with integrity in light of Scripture and the great tradition. Because every movement that is explosive is grounded in identity. Every one that I've seen. And if you can find any other even even the the the. And will I only have 3 minutes. I just forget that I was going to do an aside. Guys, once you are clear with your identity, then you know what your doctrines are. Your worship is your missional distinctness. You know what your story is. You can define it. You can script out what it means to be of us and not of us. Isn't this wonderful text And first, John, they went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out that it might become plain that they are not all of us. Yeah, I think that that is precisely how churches grow and are strong. The churches that have a keen sense of their own identity and commitment to it are churches that are going. It will enrich our participation in tradition. Guys on page 136 in the back, you've been so patient. I just point this out, especially for those who are planning churches. It's a little schema that you can you can that may trigger some some ideas on how we could form associations where people could affiliate with us or be members with us, or simply be observers with us.
What if somebody likes us but they don't want to be one of us? You know what I'm saying? We have to find out a way to be in association while at the same time, you know, there are some people if we. If I really believe that God wanted me to be a part of a tradition and he was calling me to it, there would be some people who might just want to watch what we're doing. There would be some people want to affiliate and there are others who would want to be members. And that is exactly what is happening with to me. There are people who are just interested in us and send us a newsletter. There are others who affiliate in the NRA, others who pay dues and come to our meetings and eat our food. It's just like kids. How many times have you beat your neighbor's child running through yo yo? Now you won't get in trouble, and I'll turn off the tape. How many of y'all beat your little innocents at home? Because they so managed. And while. And don't listen to what you say, y'all. Any one of us could have children who could live a pretty decent life if God Almighty gave them grace and eat out of trash cans of the restaurant on on. On Rock Road. Right. A kid, a 12 year old, savvy. He could eat out of the garbage can. He could survive. But that is not the way we raise kids, is it? We bring them in a home with an address with Mama and Daddy, and they eat our food, do our things when we say so. Yeah. I'm telling you that if we had the little bit of gumption to take on the extreme, the extreme form of individual conscience that is going on among evangelicals, we could plant tens of thousands of churches.
Let me say that again. If we were not afraid of our selves and believed that identity was okay, we could in fact recruit people to become one of us because we are worthy to be reproduced. That's the way I feel. The person who doesn't want to become a part of the Urban Ministry Institute is crazy, idiotic or a fool. Is there a fourth option? Really? I'm saying that what we are has meaning. I believe in what I'm doing. I'm representing the authoritative tradition. I defend the great tradition. I know who I am. Come join us and let us be a part of the greatest single movement maybe in the world at this Evansville church. You need to know this area at the Evansville Church. I was so unashamed about them joining us. Because I believe that the urban poor is the greatest unreached field in the history of humankind. There are no more people who have ever live who are both urban and poor. We represent the greatest field in the history of humanity. There's no one like us more urbanites than any. And we've grown four times in less than 100 years. If the lottery. Every two out of every three people on earth will be urban and poor. How can we not be proud of what we do? This is the field. Come join us. That's my word. I'm not begging you nothing. You don't want to come. You need to get out of there. You will. Let me take that back. There are some people who don't, but there are some. There are some traditions here that understand violence as a means of evangelism. Okay, y'all, let's let's let's finish this off. Let's finish this up very, very clearly on on pages 134 and following.
We will get you out in time, guys. We will not burden you. On page 134 and following, you have one of the great advantages of really having an identity is that you can intensify reproduction and multiplication. I give you some some charts and we have had we've had a course on church plant movements and so we've done a ton of studying of those in the world are infinitely wiser. Do you guys know that there are tens of thousands of Starbucks? That there are There are. There are thousands and thousands of of of McDonald's. You know how they can replicate 25,000 McDonald's? They have a they have an identity. The world does that and make billions of dollars. We can agree on the color of the carpet and not think. It's a jacked up situation. The only way we can really get out of this impasse is to frankly say that look and what you have heard from me, the same interests to fight for me, the same what we got, we entrust in the sun and trust. That just seems to be playing on. Go to number 40. Let me end with this and then we'll take a break. Sharing a spirituality, no neuroses, efficiency gains everything on God's green earth reproduces after time. It's just the way God made everything. Everything bears fruit according to its kind, and you reap the same action is what you sow. Galatians six, seven and eight is clear on that. This page 93. We reproduce who we are, not just what we say. Jesus said one of the disciples is not above his teacher, and when he's fully trained, he'll be like his teacher at the top of page 94 missions. Guys, I want you to get this because our whole next session and right before we have this open discussion missions is replicating the same faith, devotion and hope that we experience and treasure ourselves.
That's what I'm talking about. It means that ministry is an artificial, you know, guys that for years and years I struggle with Paul making himself the standard of spirituality. It's only in the last few years that I understand what that means. Now, you know how most Apostle Paul made himself the standard of all mature Christians? I said, How can anybody do that? It makes sense now to me. We reproduce after time and we cannot go any further than what we are. So whatever your spirituality is, I'm telling you, according to Scripture, it is the implicit model and blueprint for everything that you're going to reproduce. If you're shallow and foolish and in and unclear, quite honestly, all your friends are going to either reinforce that dirt tends to rub off clean. Never does, right. It does. So, guys, let's close the session with a very simple statement. The summary the indispensability of common near gas. I just think we we need to share things in common. Now we're going to in the next. In the in what remains of this workshop, we're going to have some pretty open discussions, I hope, about what it means to actually be a part of something. And I hope that you guys will join me in a conversation about what it is that you actually represent or what tradition or whatever. I will in our next session. I'm going to end it a quick a little more quick to give the vast majority of our time to an open discussion on these issues as we've discussed them up to this point and then will be will be will be done, I think by that that will lead us all the way up to the to the end.