10 January 2008

The right balance (negatively put)

by Dan Phillips

Philippians 1:10-11

Neither to be a church that makes for full notebooks and empty hearts, correct opinions and barren lives;
Nor a church that's all about warmth and experience and wonderfulness with spines of goo and brains of congealed gravy.


Dan Phillips's signature


37 comments:

centuri0n said...

This is my friend Dan, with whom I am well pleased.

He knows exactly what I'm thinking.

pfg bloghostess said...

Spot on. :-)

CraigS said...

This is my friend Dan, with whom I am well pleased.

ROFL! You're a funny guy Frank!

Johnny Dialectic said...

Good reminder, Dan. I like it that we can walk in greater purity until the day of Christ. Not much of a gospel without that.

And yes, congealed gravy is for the fellowship meals only. I do have plenty of that church experience.

Eva said...

Yah. Funny how we each tend toward one extreme or the other while we look down on those on the other side of the fulcrum.

Jerry said...

As Miles Seaborn at Birchman Baptist Church in Ft. Worth (my seminary church) stated:

"If there was ever a need for an 11th commandment, it would be 'Thou shalt have balance in thy Christian life'."

dac said...

I don't think we need an 11th commandment. Just more interest in actually living out the 10 that are there. Or the two, as Jesus summarized it.

James Kubecki said...

Why "balance"?

To me, balance means that increase of one necessitates decrease of the other. Like, um, a balance (scale).

But methinks it is entirely possible to have full notebooks AND full hearts... Correct opinions and rich lives... Warmth and experience and wonderfulness and spines of adamantium and brains of pure energy.

I see the same thing when everyone talks about balancing "grace and truth." Everyone, that is, except the apostle John:

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."

It is possible to have your cake, and eat it, too...

(It's hard, though.)

dac said...

To quote Bob Deffinbaugh

"That is what the truth of God’s Word is for, it is to be rightly understood and then rightly lived. God does not want us to give Him a textbook definition of loving our neighbor; He wants us to demonstrate love for our neighbor in the real world, by showing compassion to one in need, as did the Good Samaritan. Let us beware of intellectualizing the truth. Let us beware of keeping the Word of God in the classroom. And let us live out the grace of God that we have experienced it, if indeed we have experienced it."

DJP said...

I think you've misunderestimated the force of my use of conjunction and preposition, James.

philness said...

Funny. I have been thinking of this passage in the back of my mind. In particularly and (negatively) on down in v.18 When it says, "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

The whole "pretense" thing bugs me. As if they (as cent puts it, the ones who are off the apple cart) have license. And I'm to rejoice of that? Arrrgggg....

donsands said...

Oh to be balanced in doctrine and compassion.

This is when a church is healthy.

Thanks for the negative words.

SolaMeanie said...

You left out being "nice." I'm shocked.

Tim said...

Amen.

On a similar note, a charismatic friend of mine has said that we need a balance between the Spirit and the Word. I think he meant something along the lines of what you said here, so I tentatively agreed...But I shared James' dislike for the word "balance", so I offered another way to say it (which my friend accepted).

I would prefer to say that you should never try to do one without the other--studying the Scriptures without seeking the Spirit is liable to be dry intellectualism, disbelieving scholarship, or rank heresy. And seeking the Spirit without the Scripture...Hooboy. Recipe for fluffy experience, or demonic counterfeit, or naive acceptance of practices that really have nothing to do with the work of the Holy Spirit.

Stated positively, you can't go forward in one without going forward in the other. You cannot mature as a student of the Word without walking more deeply in the Spirit, and you cannot be filled with the Spirit without going more deeply into the Word.

Sharon said...

. . . spines of goo and brains of congealed gravy

Love it! The quintessential description of the "touchy feely" congregation tends to be too heavy on the cream and too light on the fruit.

A Musician by Grace

Daryl said...

Dac,

I would suggest that without the "textbook definition" of loving God and one's neighbour, we are unable to do so.

dec said...

whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached

philness,
The problem today is that Christ often is not preached in pretense. That is to say, Christ is not preached.

Today, the pretense is a pretense of doing church or being missional, or preforming ministry.

Maybe in some fundamental bible church, Christ is preached in pretense. And in that we should rejoice.

bassicallymike said...

Tim said...
Stated positively, you can't go forward in one without going forward in the other. You cannot mature as a student of the Word without walking more deeply in the Spirit, and you cannot be filled with the Spirit without going more deeply into the Word.


Practically speaking you can't. Seems like orthopraxy follows orthodoxy in a believer only when powered or motivated by the Spirit.

Brian Roden said...

James wrote:
"To me, balance means that increase of one necessitates decrease of the other. Like, um, a balance (scale)."

No, balance just means adding more to the side that is lacking, not taking away from the side that has an abundance.

Daryl said...

"No, balance just means adding more to the side that is lacking, not taking away from the side that has an abundance."

That bears repeating. If only we Christians could do one without jettisoning the other...

Thanks Brian.

dac said...

Daryl

thats what I wrote.

Daryl said...

Dac,

Not exactly. Your quote seemed to emphasize living it out over against knowing and understanding.

Brian brought both sides equally to bear.

SolaMeanie said...

It's too bad "balance" has become a bad word. Perhaps we should use "accuracy" instead? Of course, that would probably lead to other arguments.

On a funnier note, I can see why the Emergent Church might like Balance. What an anthem for them!

Tim said...

bassicallymike said,
"Practically speaking you can't. Seems like orthopraxy follows orthodoxy in a believer only when powered or motivated by the Spirit."

Amen.

brian said,
"No, balance just means adding more to the side that is lacking, not taking away from the side that has an abundance."

I'm sure that's what Dan meant, yeah.

I think the bad connotation comes in with the mental image of scales--if one side goes up, the other goes down.

dac said...

Daryl

What about

"That is what the truth of God’s Word is for, it is to be rightly understood and then rightly lived."

does not say exactly that?

S.J. Walker said...

Where's Drew when we need him?

stratagem said...

out getting his tires balanced

DJP said...

He agrees and disagrees.

Strong Tower said...

A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight...A just balance and scales are the Lord's; all the weights in the bag are his work.

Then there's is the line from Knight's Tale: "you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting".

The gravy bowl gets deeper: A merchant, in whose hands are false balances, he loves to oppress...

Its interesting to say the least that the Scripture calls imbalance a tool of the oppressor. Not quite the word to use of the EC, but adequate. Seems God likes the word balance and not only is the balance of his making so are the weights that judge the substance of the sacrifice on the other pan.

From a book on discernment to a balancing act, quite the tightwire act and safely making it to the other side, bravo. I am having a hard time discerning who is on whose shoulders. Is is CDP, DPC, surely not CPD. Maybe its C & P under each arm. Any way, nice team work and we're still on the War path!

To quote a quote: "The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore—on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him "meek and mild," and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. To those who knew him, however, he in no way suggests a milk-and-water person; they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand."

When it comes down to it, God has given us all the means to navigate this life, not only the scales, but the weights, and as the old line goes, life hangs in the balance.


Oh, meanie, yoube got tube much time on your hands, you're breaking away....

Daryl said...

Dac,

OK, I'm an idiot...I missed that line both times...I'm sorry man, we're saying, well, precisely the same thing only you said it first...

(Bangs forehead repeatedly against keyboard)

SolaMeanie said...

Strong Tower..

Chuckle. It's not so much that I have time on my hands. It is the curse of someone who spent much of his adult life in radio. Everything under the sun has a song that fits it.

And with the Emergent Church..there is just so much fodder for songs. Either with the lyrics as is, or re-written slightly.

Dan,

Are you (and some others) saying that Drew's new mascot is the Pushmi-Pullyu? So now we are comparing Emergents to Dr. Dolittle. No, we must stick with Alice-in-Wonderland. It's much more appropo, although the Pushmi-Pullyu is certainly a worthy add on to the hookah-smoking McLaren in Phil's graphic lexicon.

Love it.

Kenny Clark said...

Dan,

We're taking the high school group at our church through the commands of Jesus, using Piper's "What Jesus Demands from the World" as a template. This week we were at "Worship God in spirit AND in truth". This would have been a great quote to incorporate. Thanks!

stratagem said...

Then there's is the line from Knight's Tale: "you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting".

I thought God thought of those lyrics first, mene mene tekel upharsim or sumpin like that.

Stefan said...

Getting back on track, this post is a good corrective for those of us who affirm the Doctrines of Grace—since if rigorously correct doctrine is combined with spiritual pride, we end up with just a lot of bad fruit.

We may be assured of not falling into the "nor" camp, but risk swinging the other way, into the extreme of the "neither" camp. May God give us humble, serving, and loving hearts, to live out our faith in practice.

Strong Tower said...

I thought the bible quoted the Movie, my mistake.

Sewing- There is a good quote from Newton at Founders-

Stefan said...

Strong Tower:

Thanks for the tip!

Dan Paden said...

...a church that's all about warmth and experience and wonderfulness with spines of goo and brains of congealed gravy.

The worst variety of this is the one with which I'm most familiar, the once-mighty churches that got all wrapped up in how much they loved each other and quit reaching out to the community around them, and now, fifty years after their founding, are reaping the harvest as their congregation dwindles due to the deaths of the only remaining members, the aged.

Sadly, they still can't be bothered to reach out.

Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.