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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Master Mentor #1

I have begun a new semester at Lincoln... as most of you know.

I have two classes this semester and honestly had I known how much easier my classes would be this semester than what they have been in the past, I would have tried to pick up a 3rd. But one of my classes is a class called "Ministering to Muslim" and is a 4 times a semester class (meaning we only meet 4 times throughout the semester). My other class is "Modern Church History" covering everything from the end of the Reformation Period (Martin Luther until 1648) until present.
One of our assignments that we can choose from is called the "Master Mentor Journal." We can choose someone who wrote Christian spirituality writings during this time and we read a little bit of his or her works every day and then journal on our thoughts, impressions or arguments.
I have done this assignment several times in the past. But I always find myself a slacker. Rather than spending a little time each day, I find myself spending larger chunks over several days. So in an effort of general discussion and accountability, I'm going to try posting my journal entries here on my blog.

I am reading "Mere Christianity" by CS Lewis. And if I complete that, I will begin "Screwtape Letters."

I have no idea where this will take me. I thought, as you will see below, that I had read this book before. It would seem that I haven't. But it should be fun.

But please note... these journal entries are raw and unedited. So, if you should find some inconsistency, be kind. But feel free to comment away...
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Wednesday – January 23, 2008
Today I am beginning my Master Mentor Journal for Modern Church History. The scene was pretty open as to who I could pick. I was hoping to do something in the Restoration Movement… probably something with Alexander Campbell… but there didn’t seem to be too much there that was usable for this project. So I decided to hit a biggie and work through some CS Lewis stuff.
I am beginning with “Mere Christianity.” If I get finished with this during this project, which I’m thinking that I will as it’s only 30 some chapters long, then I will move onto “Screwtape Letters.” Today, I’m starting with the “preface.”

I was thinking as I began this book that I had read it before. And possibly, I have. As I opened the copy that was sitting on my shelf this morning I found a bookmark. But it was sitting in the table of contents and I have found no writing on any of the pages. So perhaps this book has made it past my reading shelf (that small shelf in my office where new books land in preparation for their day/days of reading) and onto my general shelves (noting that they have been read in some fashion). But no matter, it is getting read today.
CS said something near the end of the preface that was interesting to me and spawned some thoughts. He is commenting that his book is more like a hall than a room. It is a general area where some gather and then enter the different rooms of their choice. The analogy being one that his book is one that all in Christianity would agree upon and could discuss together. And that each of the rooms in the house are different denominations or groups of denominations that agree on some issues and disagree with others from other denominations. But then he said this:
“When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house” (page 12).
That is one thing that is often not so much paid attention to. Often, I would say, most of those in the house are used to shouting through the walls to others in different rooms about how they should switch rooms or at least about how they are wrong in their present room designs and functions. The church itself, the whole house, would do well if this were placed on a plaque and hung in the “hall” for “all” to see. It would see to be somewhat more Christian of us.
Earlier in the preface, CS states that those of us who have differences with others should wait and discuss those differences when there are others around who already believe that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is his only Son (pg. 6) rather than sharing our thoughts with those who do not believe in God. He is making a valid point. I wonder how many nonbelievers have been turned away from a relationship with God because they got tired of the arguing between different “rooms” and decided to find a different house. When all the arguing amounted to was nothing… in the grand scheme of the Great Commission. I’m not saying that discussions over the mode of baptism, the style of serving communion, whether women should be elders or preachers, or how we should structure our leadership aren’t important. Certainly on some level they are important. But are they important enough that we should include those who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior in the discussion and add to their confusion? What do they have to gain from conversation other than confusion? They instead need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ who came to save us and died on the cross for our sins.
Right now there is a massive discussion/argument going on in the church that I previously served over baptism. Some are trying to assert that the founders of this “Christian Church” movement (Stone, Campbell, others) believed one way about baptism (and from what I have “heard” about the conversation, they are wrong about their details) and are attempting to exclude some from the conversation based on their belief. I wonder what good that does other than confuse our mission? Why pick a fight when you don’t have to? CS states it right when he states “one of the things Christians are disagreed about it the importance of their disagreements.” (pg 7).

Jim

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