Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Segregated Worship--a Gospel Issue?

I continue my Quixotic quest against dividing a church into a contemporary and traditional worship service. I just can't help but believe this is a GOSPEL issue and not just one of preference. This time I turn to David Wells and his book Above All Earthly Powers:

"The church is not only to declare the gospel, but to model its truth, and if it does not model the truth it will undermine what it declares as truth. . . . The gospel declares that there is no natural merit, no human standing, which advances a person toward God and his salvation, or makes one person more acceptable to God than another. All of the ways in life in which people seek importance and seek preeminence over one another are irrelevant to their standing before God. This is true of ethnicity, wealth, class, power, privileged birth, connections, profession, generation and religion. If this is the truth upon which the gospel rests, then it is the truth which the Church is obliged to model. So it is that Paul declares that there 'is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus' (Gal. 3:28). And by extension, should we not also say that because we are all one in Jesus Christ, there is neither Builder nor Boomer, neither Xer nor child of the Millennium, city dweller or suburbanite, Westerner or Third Worlder? Exploiting generational distinctions in the pursuit of success, which is what is at the heart of the seeker church movement, should be as offensive as exploiting racial differences for personal advantage . . . .

The gospel calls for the Church to exhibit in itself the fact that what typically divides people has been overcome in Christ; marketing frequently leads the Church to capitalize on what divides people in order to exploit the niches of class and generation.

What is at stake here, as Paul argued, is nothing less than the gospel. What is at stake is also nothing less than the work of the Trinity. To the Ephesians, Paul argued that there "is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all who is above all and through all and in all' (Eph. 4:4-6).

Paul's argument is compelling for its simplicity. There is only one body because there is only one Spirit; there is only one faith because there is only one Lord; there is only one family because there is only one Father. The unity of the people of God is as secure as the unity of the trinity. The Church's responsibility, therefore, is not to create unity, as the ecumenical movement proposed, but to preserve the unity that God himself has already created in Christ..." (pg. 294-295).

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