50 Best Christian Books Ever

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Posts 192
Gary Osborne | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 14 2018 6:37 AM

Rosie Perera:

Gary Osborne:
Foxes Book of Martyrs (can't believe that one hasn't been mentioned)

I mentioned it by saying Martyrs' Mirror is better than it. But Foxe's is probably better known. So be it.

Sorry I missed this reply first time around, Rosie.  I agree with you 100% about Martyr's Mirror being better.  I so wish Logos would split that Anabaptist collection up so I could add that volume to my resources.

Still surprised at that initial list not including something from Tozer, or not including things like E.M. Bounds work on Prayer or The Kneeling Christian.  Those are absolute musts on any Top 50 list of Christian Classics, imho.

Posts 199
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 14 2018 2:05 PM

In my answer to MJ I posted a response to your concern. I did notice that the png does not load so I will type:

In the pdf "Outreach discipleship" by Rev. D Mulder a nice two column table is given which allows you to determine what kind of fruit you are producing with your ministry:

Church Members --------------------------------------- Outreach disciples

committed to the Church ------------------------------- committed to Christ

managing committees ---------------------------------- deploying missions

holding offices ------------------------------------------  doing hands-on ministry

making decisions ---------------------------------------  making disciples

trained for membership --------------------------------  on a life-long quest for quality

serving at the church ----------------------------------- serving in the world

preoccupied with raising money ---------------------- preoccupied with rescuing people

doing church work ------------------------------------- finding personal fulfillment

retiring from church work ----------------------------- pursuing constant personal growth

surveying internal needs ------------------------------ sensitized to community

eager to know everyone ------------------------------  eager for everyone to know God

loyal to each other ------------------------------------- drawn to the unchurched

building faith on information -------------------------- build faith on experience with Christ

perpetuating a heritage ------------------------------- envisioning a future

From my point of view, a very mature and discerning brother posted something in another thread:

"It is not by the gifts, nor the signs, nor the miracles, nor the encounters, that we are to know who is who,

but Christ was clear: it is by their fruit".

The above is what is in the png that does not show, and that helps explain why I refer to objective evidence, conductive

environment to high performance, etc.

Kind regards.

 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 15 2018 1:48 AM

Hamilton, your answer makes it clear that we do not have the same understanding of spiritual growth. Therefore, we would use very different methods to evaluate the presence of spiritual growth. If you have any interest in exploring the difference, I would suggest readings from the early to which Roberta Bondi has written two excellent introductions: To Love as God Loves and To Pray and to Love. She is a retired Protestant seminary professor of early church history.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 199
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 15 2018 9:45 AM

Hi MJ:

totally agree. To love God is more than a fussy feeling, He was clear that it is about obeying the weightier matters of the Law: Love of God in our hearts Romans 5:5, justice, mercy, charity, etc.

Eventually the good fruit has to show, otherwise the tree can be cut.

Saved for good works, not by them.

To empower the sheep so that the priesthood of all believers happens with the gifts of the Holy Spirit as bestowed, you need to get persons involved (in different roles and capacities) for the great commission.

I understand that many traditions differ from the above perspective, but none can deny that it is biblical.

People dropping out of church, new generations avoiding church altogether... there is nothing wrong with doing a systematic study to look for the possible causes, and if some of them happen to be the systems developed in traditions, well, change or else face extinction.

I appreciate you input on the Eastern thoughts about growth, maturity, theosis, etc. If you can mention some particular resources that you think are very clarifying please do, as many may want to explore and learn from our brothers and sisters in that tradition.

Biblical objective evidence:

"Check all, retain what is good"

When someone tries to limit the above, I have to refute the notion, because there is a clear command for us to prayfully, rationally and discerningly to explore things and compare to the thrusts of the Bible to see if things are so.

Blessings.

Posts 199
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 15 2018 7:00 PM

The following post did not show up in the thread:

By MJ:

Hamilton, avoidance of sins such as you list are to me a part of most peoples' every day life under the rubric "examination of conscience" to use Catholic terminology. From a random online source:

"You can make an examination of conscience in different ways:

● Consider your life in the light of the teaching of Jesus: to love God with your whole heart and soul, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself; 

● Remember the commitment of your baptism: to give witness to the love of God revealed in Christ -- in your thoughts, words and actions;

● Look at your life from the viewpoint of the Ten Commandments."

See the Book of Concord for a typical Lutheran example or the Book of Common Prayer for an Anglican example. Even in people with only secular beliefs, I see experience and maturity resulting in growth in this sort of personal morality - the exceptions are notable. Corporate morality, as indicated in your footnotes, is a much slower process with individual witnesses to Truth leading the way.

When I use the term "spiritual growth", I mean something far beyond this - growth in wisdom and understanding, growth in depth of prayer life, growth in service to others, growth in relationship to God ... What have you read of early church history to understand its view of spiritual growth? I always recommend:

  1. To Love as God Loves by Roberta C. Bondi of Chandler School of Theology
  2. To Pray and to Love also by Roberta Bondi
  3. An Invitation to Spiritual Growth by John P. Gorsuch (not church history)

============================================================================================================

Excellent input, agree with most of it, but sooner or later we get to the topic of bearing fruit. You need to grow as Christian so you are ripe for reproduction.  Never do you see in God's created order a tree that grows and does not reach maturity for reproduction (unless some environmental issue that hinders growth).

It is the same with Christians, they are to grow to maturity so they can bear fruit (among other) replicating the wisdom and grace of Christlikeness to those newbies that have the same gifts of the Spirit, that you are supposed to teach them how to put to best use, since you must have honed it through use for the: (the following categorisation is of a gifted author, not mine, but hit it right in the nail).

exaltation of Jesus Christ

the preparation of sheep for ministry (edification of the body of Christ)

or the actual go look for the lost mission.

No way around it, if you are not ripe, and not reproducing, you are playing church, and not doing God's mission.  

The sad part is to note that the tradition stifles the growth by telling them to be bench warmers, and do not prepare them for service according to gift by the Holy Spirit (there could be intercessory prayer, acts of charity, civic action, mercy ministry, etc a myriad things, but if you do not give them the opportunity to serve the Lord in a more direct and responsible way, then you are taking away from them an opportunity for christian development.

Take a close look at the NT, that was the way then, it must be the way now. Girls dying clothes were also discipling new hired, and other workers, Paul as tentmaker was a teacher of trade and a discipler of men and women, a fully bivocational minister.

I have talked about community chaplaincy. You can teach people to do Aquaponics and help the elderly, the children, the single parent, the dispossessed how to take care of food security to have an existence with dignity, and at the same time strengthen them in the gospel.

The Agape love God wants of us, takes care of all facets of life to have a dignified existence to reach eventually the dignified destiny of being accepted in God's royal family.

Hope you catch my drift MJ.

Even if we are so far tradition wise, we are very close for the concern over the Kingdom of God and the implications of it in our real life.

Blessings.

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 15 2018 11:06 PM

MJ. Smith:
, I would suggest readings from the early to which Roberta Bondi has written two excellent introductions: To Love as God Loves and To Pray and to Love.

It's too bad neither of these is available in Logos. Both are in Kindle editions, though, and at a great price right now ($5 each). I picked them both up.

Hamilton Ramos:
People dropping out of church, new generations avoiding church altogether... there is nothing wrong with doing a systematic study to look for the possible causes, and if some of them happen to be the systems developed in traditions, well, change or else face extinction.

That is indeed a concern. It may be that the church in North America is ripe for some clearing out of false Christians and that this shrinkage we are seeing in the church these days is actually a good thing, a precursor to a true new growth. There is a lot of idolatry in the American church (and Canadian to some extent, too; not the same sort of patriotic equating of nation with kingdom of God, but other sorts: idolatry of wealth and power, for example).

We're also just coming to the end of a generation that tried to make the church grow artificially through methods and techniques and stuff borrowed from the business world. The whole "church growth" movement is a colossal failure. Sure, it looked "successful" by some measures (if you count bodies in pews and enthusiasm in worship), but it absolutely was not bringing about mature Christians who bore fruit.

The younger generation whose parents were part of mega-churches are fed up with the insincerity, the copying of popular culture, the judgmentalism, the lack of concern for the poor, the hypocrisy, and the way "evangelical" changed from being a faith commitment and a way of life to a voting bloc that got manipulated and co-opted by Republican party politics. They want nothing to do with the church. And some of the people who were in the generation that created the church growth movement are realizing the shallowness and barrenness of that model and are seeking something more substantial, life-giving, challenging (not cheap grace), and deep. That's why we're seeing so many people moving towards Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Anabaptism. The liberal Mainline denominations with their downplaying of the miraculous and the call to holy living in the Bible, and the Evangelical Protestant churches with their shallow triumphalism ("rah rah Jesus, and rah rah guns and money and power") have let them down. So we're at the cusp of a sea change.

Outside of North America, particularly in South America, Asia, and Africa, the church is growing by leaps and bounds. Charismatic churches are particularly popular in those regions. It remains to be seen whether this is going to be a truly transforming faith. (We can question the changed nature of Christian believers in Rwanda because the nation was mostly "Christian" and yet engaged in the horrific genocide of 1994.)

In China, the underground church has been growing through (in spite of) persecution, but is largely unreported.

Perhaps the church in American needs a time of persecution (and I mean real persecution not "people are saying Happy Holidays to me at the mall instead of Merry Christmas" or "they're not letting us broadcast prayers over the loudspeakers in school anymore") in order to see some real spiritual growth.

I suspect that all human attempts to manipulate growth in the church as a whole will fall flat. Leaders in local congregations can look at how they can help their people to mature in Christ and bear fruit. But I truly doubt that some project to have an impact on the church at large is a good use of anyone's time. The Church is the Lord's, and he founded it upon a rock, and he said the gates of hell would not prevail against it. We may get battered in storms of our own making, but God will pull us through and reshape us as necessary. All we can be responsible for is our own obedience to his call (and for those who are shepherds over flocks, for the protection and spiritual growth of their flock).

Posts 113
JohnB | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 15 2018 11:51 PM

Rosie Perera:
Outside of North America, particularly in South America, Asia, and Africa, the church is growing by leaps and bounds.    .......  (We can question the changed nature of Christian believers in Rwanda because the nation was mostly "Christian" and yet engaged in the horrific genocide of 1994.)


I would question the first statement. 

From my knowledge of Peru and a friend's knowledge of Brazil, they are growing in the poor working classes but in the educated classes the young people are going out in droves. I suggest that this applies to the whole continent. I would also question the growth of the Christian heart in others on the list as well.  I distrust those with the mentality of "The Devil made me do it". It did not fool God in Eden and does not fool Him now. It is a way of avoiding personal responsibility for sin. Regarding sexual sin the man's excuse is that the "The woman led me astray". The second statement of Rwanda is true but there are plenty of other less spectacular attitudes and actions within the rest of the continent to make that statement apply generally. 

I better not say more or I will be accused of racism!!

My conclusion
If we dig deep enough, the problem identified by the author is globe wide and the need the author identified is also globe wide. Just because people seem religious and use religious language means little if anything.  

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 16 2018 12:21 AM

JohnB:
From my knowledge of Peru and a friend's knowledge of Brazil, they are growing in the poor working classes but in the educated classes the young people are going out in droves.

That might be another sign of the upside-down kingdom. If the Gospel is more good news to the poor than to the rich, then it would be no wonder the poor are coming to faith while the rich are leaving. If you were an educated wealthy person and you were introduced to a Jesus who told you to go and sell all you have and give to the poor, and you didn't want to do that, you'd leave the church too. Jesus didn't have much good to say to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law (the "educated classes" of his day). He called them hypocrites and cast down woes upon them. (I recognize my own self as being in this educated wealthy class, and I know I am not doing enough for the poor.)

JohnB:
Just because people seem religious and use religious language means little if anything.

Absolutely true. 1 Cor 13:1-3.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 16 2018 12:38 AM

Hamilton Ramos:
The following post did not show up in the thread:

Right, because I deleted it as moving too far into theology in an inappropriate way.

Hamilton Ramos:
that the tradition stifles the growth by telling them to be bench warmers

Most liturgical traditions end with some manner of blessing and sending out into the world to be the light of the world - i.e.living one's faith. Note: I have conflated several traditions in this description. This is scarcely telling them to be bench warmers.

Hamilton Ramos:
and not reproducing, you are playing church

I believe that individual Christians have individual talents that God wishes to have them use. I also believe that if a parish needs a particular skill, God will provide for it in a member of the congregation. I do not believe that God's task for everyone is the same or is reproduction. That would leave too many people with developmental differences out of Christian maturity.

Hamilton Ramos:
topic of bearing fruit

So much so that there are entire institutes built upon identifying one's gifts of the spirit ... one originally founded in my former parish  (https://siena.org/). However, I do make a distinction between the overlapping concepts of living one's faith and spiritual formation/growth.  Because of this, I think we are talking past each other or I misunderstand you

From an Orthodox site that reflects what I am trying to get at:.


"The goals of Christian spiritual formation are firstly, to become like Christ or Christ-likeness(Gal.4:19;Rom.8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). The process of spiritual formation is so that we can become more like Christ. Jesus Christ is the ideal man. The goal of spiritual formation is to make us like Him. In the Orthodox tradition, they call spiritual formation, theosis, the process of divinisation.

Secondly, Christian spiritual formation is to restore the Image of God (Gen.1:26-27; 2 Cor. 4:4). Man was initially created in the image of God. With the Fall, the image of God was distorted. One of the goals of the new creation in Christ is to restore the image of God.

Thirdly, Christian spiritual formation is to develop a People of God. (Rom.8:29). The redemption plan of God is to create a people of God, laos, so that He can dwell amongst them. Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God and Paul taught about the people of God, both emphasising a people called out so that God can dwell among them."

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 199
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 16 2018 8:37 AM

Rosie wrote:

"That is indeed a concern. It may be that the church in North America is ripe for some clearing out of false Christians and that this shrinkage we are seeing in the church these days is actually a good thing, a precursor to a true new growth. There is a lot of idolatry in the American church (and Canadian to some extent, too; not the same sort of patriotic equating of nation with kingdom of God, but other sorts: idolatry of wealth and power, for example)."

Agree with most of this, and precisely the point I try to make: Are religious institutions part guilty of producing shallow / false Christians?

If we look at the Bible, it seems that Gods gives gifts to certain people to help edify the body, I do not see "Christians (especially new ones) have to edify themselves to maturity and genuine Christlikeness" hope you see my point in this.

Rosie wrote:

"I suspect that all human attempts to manipulate growth in the church as a whole will fall flat. Leaders in local congregations can look at how they can help their people to mature in Christ and bear fruit. But I truly doubt that some project to have an impact on the church at large is a good use of anyone's time. The Church is the Lord's, and he founded it upon a rock, and he said the gates of hell would not prevail against it. We may get battered in storms of our own making, but God will pull us through and reshape us as necessary. All we can be responsible for is our own obedience to his call (and for those who are shepherds over flocks, for the protection and spiritual growth of their flock)."

Agree, but think of the following story:

some lay leaders, and ok mature believers were brought to a workshop. There were tables with experienced ministers in different areas: intercessory prayer, praise and adoration, evangelism, teaching, outreach youth ministry, etc. 

The participants were given time to sit and talk with the ministers, and hear stories, roles, responsibilities, cost in time, effort, etc.

they went around the tables doing the same dynamic.

At the end the persons were asked to go to the table that had the ministry that called more their attention, and that they identified more with.

Lo and behold, the gifts that the persons had, matched very much the ministry they chose.

They then entered mentor and apprentice program, etc.

Could a dynamic like that be adequate to try to do more in getting sheep involved in Kingdom work? maybe. Surely there are other ways just as effective.

Rosie wrote:

"We're also just coming to the end of a generation that tried to make the church grow artificially through methods and techniques and stuff borrowed from the business world. The whole "church growth" movement is a colossal failure. Sure, it looked "successful" by some measures (if you count bodies in pews and enthusiasm in worship), but it absolutely was not bringing about mature Christians who bore fruit."

Your logic here is very similar to that of believers in other traditions. I' ll take each for a different angle:

Surprise surprise: all good gift, all good knowledge, all perfect comes from God, not from the devil. Quality, productivity, organization, metrics, planning, and the like is all in the Bible. From the creation of the World, to building something (ark, etc), if you think that business invented any of that, then you really do not know about the creator of all.

The point is not the technique, but the obeying God on the method to be used. Are statistics good? definitively, they allow you to see trends, etc. but if you do them to rob God's glory, of course it will fail (ask David about it).

So I will extend this continuum to other tradition criticism:

Someone posted on faithlife that any ministry dealing with money, power and / or glory was of the devil (sort of), I was shocked when I read that.

1. All the universe, including riches are of God. The devil has no power to create anything, all he and his minions have got is through lying, cheating, stealing and killing. The natural inheritors of all riches created by God are His children (including us gentile adopted ones), and is prophecized that  the wealth eventually will transfer from the wicked to the righteous.

2. Glory? we are the temple of God's glory: the Holy Spirit, there is no more important or glorious ministry. And He bestows that as the guarantor of our inheritance, our entering in God's royal family.

3. Power? If by the finger of God Jesus did all kinds of miracles, and He said that we would too (and even greater), we then know that the Kingdom of God has come because we see His presence who by being supernatural, manifests supernatural things wherever believers gather to celebrate Him.

God is naturally supernatural, so in HIs presence supernatural things are bound to happen.

I have not studied anabaptists theology in deep, I know they are pacifists, which could be a problem if they do not discern the nuances in OT law.

Killing with malicious intent was forbidden, at no time envy, anger, hatred was a valid motive to maim or kill.

But, killing in a self defense situation was not forbidden, on the contrary it was expected. Such situation was considered different.

Other than pacifism is there any main thrusts focused on? do they like MJ says just bless people and send them to be light without training and edifying?

So Christian development is every believer's responsibility, but specially those with greater gifts, calling, appointments. They ought to check very well their theology, and orthopraxis, because they will be emulated. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Good post by the way Rosie. I just have a different theological construct for certain issues.

Posts 199
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 16 2018 9:00 AM

Very interesting MJ.

bench warmer is a misnomer now that I think of it, because at least in a sport team they are trained but not used.

And that is my point if you just bless persons, and expect from what has been heard they can go out and develop their gifts and know what to do, is a bit naive.

High impact actions are very important, and many times the institutions not only do not train, but stifle growth.

There was a seminary student who had a God given gift for healing. When the students in the class went to a hospital, he was so shocked by what he saw that he kneeled and started to pray to God for mercy with tears in his eyes. 

Yes, miracles started to happen, persons started to remiss spontaneously (were healed by God). 

The reaction from fellow students?  Hey, what are you doing?, you are not supposed to do that, you are not ordained yet. 

Shame, shame, you see how a wrong ecclesial structure can produce wrong kind of believers. Most of the time church ecclesiology gets in the work of God instead of aiding.

Are leaders taking a hard look at that, and making necessary corrections, or are they more into indoctrinating incoming candidates to cease thinking, and not question objectable systems, procedures, structures, and the authorities that set them?

Just for further research, reflexion and comment.

About Christlikeness, it does not mean to accept dogmas without critically analyzing them to see if they are in agreement with the Bible, the nature and character of God, and plain common sense.

If you ask a Jew how they discern what a person is about, they unlike protestants, do not ask the person what their beliefs are, but as one said: they follow the person around for three days to see what that person does.

Christianity originally referred to action oriented lifestyle empowered by the Holy Spirit, not a blind unanalyzed assent to dogma, and a sit and wait for orders, and when you get them do not question them attitude.

When pharisees asked Jesus on what authority He did things, what they were actually saying is: how dare you not be under our authority, and our systems, and our dogma, and our processes, and our structures.

Note that when a man asked Jesus about what to do to be saved,

Jesus asked him about what he read and understood from the Scriptures, notice He did not ask the man: What did Gamaliel say?, nor what does the Pharisees' doctrine stipulates, nor what does the Saducees' dogma prescribe.

You do need to take into consideration the doctrine of the Apostles, and also the teaching of Jesus, and that should take precedence over systems that cannot be shown compatible with the thrusts of the Bible, the nature and Character of God, and sometimes just plain common sense.

I know MJ that you do not want to get into theology, but I do not think this conversation is theological at all, it is about the classics of Christianity and their possible use to check closely our beliefs, practices, processes, structures, etc. regardless of the theology anyone has.

The question stands: what are the fruits of our ministry, are they aligned with the thrusts of Jesus Christ (objective evidence from the Bible).

Good fruit is distinguishable, and one can do much to allow God to produce it in us. Is not a matter of tradition nor theology.

Blessings.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 16 2018 4:11 PM

Hamilton Ramos:
I have not studied anabaptists theology in deep, I know they are pacifists, which could be a problem if they do not discern the nuances in OT law.

Please learn a bit more about them before guessing what might be a problem. This summary of a Mennonite Confession of Faith could serve as a starting point. Note that my paternal grandfather was of "illustrious, old" anabaptist family. So much so, that on a cooking forum a Mennonite woman asked if I was of the family that came with her family to Lancaster County circa 1683-1710. Remember, the forums are to exchange hints and resources and to resolve software issues - not to discuss personal theology, a line I am trying not to cross.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, May 16 2018 4:17 PM

Hamilton Ramos:
I know MJ that you do not want to get into theology, but I do not think this conversation is theological at all, it is about the classics of Christianity and their possible use to check closely our beliefs, practices, processes, structures, etc. regardless of the theology anyone has.


Sorry, but I'm going to withdraw from this conversation. We are too far apart in even our understanding of what theology is to have a useful dialogue in this space. If, at some point, you wish to read broadly in inter- or intra-faith matters, history of Christian practices, etc., I'll be glad to explore readings with you in a personal space.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, May 18 2018 9:13 PM

Hamilton Ramos:

I have not studied anabaptists theology in deep, I know they are pacifists, which could be a problem if they do not discern the nuances in OT law.

Killing with malicious intent was forbidden, at no time envy, anger, hatred was a valid motive to maim or kill.

But, killing in a self defense situation was not forbidden, on the contrary it was expected. Such situation was considered different.

I won't address your concerns with theological pacifism other than to direct you to Gary Staats's excellent book Biblical Non-Resistance from the Historic Anabaptist Perspective. Unfortunately, it's only available as part of an expensive collection, but it is also available in its entirety for free on Google Books: https://books.google.ca/books?id=gtAWfgSW1ocC&printsec=frontcover

Hamilton Ramos:
Other than pacifism is there any main thrusts focused on? do they like MJ says just bless people and send them to be light without training and edifying?

Yes, the main other thrusts are:

an emphasis on following in the footsteps of Christ (Nachfolge Christi), which means learning discipleship from him and doing as he did, taking the Sermon on the Mount seriously as instructions for living in this day and age and not mere a picture of what the eschatological kingdom will look like, as some Christians do.

community living; taking care of one another and the needs of others, both financially/materially and through other practical acts of service; a large percentage of the members of my church have spent hours of volunteer time at a refugee food bank, rebuilding houses after forest fires, doing missionary service abroad in Asia or Africa or South America, and yes...peacemaking and conflict resolution (e.g., in the Middle East with Christian Peacemaker Teams).

adult (or mature teen) baptism; expecting people to make a conscious decision to become a Christ-follower once they've reached an age of understanding the commitment that entails, not pressured by their parents, or in a ritual as an infant (my particular congregation honors the child baptisms of others seeking to transfer membership to our church if they show that they have a living faith, in other words that the baptism of their childhood -- and the faith community that performed and brought them up in instruction in the Lord -- did result in them coming to an adult faith; not all baptisms in infancy are guaranteed to result in that, which is why the "Anabaptists" [which literally means "rebaptizers"] put such an emphasis on adult baptism)

Hamilton Ramos:

some lay leaders, and ok mature believers were brought to a workshop. There were tables with experienced ministers in different areas: intercessory prayer, praise and adoration, evangelism, teaching, outreach youth ministry, etc. 

The participants were given time to sit and talk with the ministers, and hear stories, roles, responsibilities, cost in time, effort, etc.

they went around the tables doing the same dynamic.

At the end the persons were asked to go to the table that had the ministry that called more their attention, and that they identified more with.

Lo and behold, the gifts that the persons had, matched very much the ministry they chose.

They then entered mentor and apprentice program, etc.

Could a dynamic like that be adequate to try to do more in getting sheep involved in Kingdom work? maybe. Surely there are other ways just as effective.

That is a wonderful story, and could indeed be a great way of helping people find a ministry that they can get involved in.

I'm finding that in my church, because it is quite small in numbers (only about 40 people) and is lay run (perhaps more like the early congregations in the 1st century), it's necessary for nearly all in the congregation to be involved in ministry. For some, it's only a small role that helps our particular church function (e.g., recording the services, maintaining the website, doing the bulletins, playing the piano, etc.), for others it's a larger role that reaches out (via our internet ministry) beyond our walls (e.g., preaching, worship leading), and for others it's local work in the city (refugees), and still others do service further afield. We're too small to offer much in the way of training for ministry but we do try to recognize and call out gifts of our members and help them get put to use, whether it be in pastoral care for our congregation, or music, or hospitality, or ecumenical dialogue, or whatever.

That model can't necessarily work everywhere, but I think when a church gets to be larger than 200 or so congregants, it's really easy for people to just come to church to get their fix of spiritual nourishment, or intellectual stimulation, but never to give anything back except perhaps a $20 in the offering plate.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 19 2018 2:31 AM

Sorry I missed this until I saw it in Rosie's reply. What I actually said was:

MJ. Smith:
Most liturgical traditions end with some manner of blessing and sending out into the world to be the light of the world - i.e.living one's faith. Note: I have conflated several traditions in this description. This is scarcely telling them to be bench warmers.

Highlighting the part of your paraphrase that is false:

Hamilton Ramos:
do they like MJ says just bless people and send them to be light without training and edifying?

I am not amused whether intentional or accidental. Don't ever attribute such misrepresentations to me.

BTW the final blessing and sending forth follows feeding the congregation at two tables - Word and Eucharist - and the breaking open of the Word for edification. Formal training usually, but not always, occurs in other settings as does additional edification; these are often in groups formed around particular ministries but may also be part of the adult formation department. The majority of the congregation is involved in such ministries and as Rosie notes, especially in small congregations.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Susan Tan | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 19 2018 6:35 AM

I recently came across the Associates for Scriptual Knowledge site's article about the pagan origins of the Catholic Church which claims Simon Magus got into the Roman church and forced Babylonian concepts onto  Christianity.  This has caused a lot of doctrinal corruption inside Catholicism that Protestantism has had difficulties recovering from.  It is one of the reasons why Christianity now entertains a false eternal torment doctrine.  John Wesley Hanson in an excellent online essay explains how key words like hell and eternal are mistranslation from the Greek and Hebrew His essay is named Aion-Aionios.

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 19 2018 7:55 AM

Susan Tan:

... Simon Magus got into the Roman church and forced Babylonian concepts onto  Christianity. ...

Well, OK! Simon never seems to die. He's like the Eveready Bunny. 

Though returning to seriousness, I suspect Babylon, as a center of jewish learning, competed with Jerusalem for a long time.


Posts 199
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 19 2018 10:54 AM

Thank you for the links MJ:

I misunderstood you about the sending, there was no evidence to me until you explained that you do have training and education tied to ministries.

Likewise, lack of that evidence at the time you posted originally should not let me assume that such activities were lacking. 

My wrong, sorry for that.

I respect your opinions and your rights to withdraw or participate. I will express my disagreement with what you may say that seems to contradict Biblical thrust.

Some of the topics that came out can be perfectly used to explore the classics to gain insights into the interpretation and message spiritual giants got out of studying Scriptures, and other godly disciplines.

And that very process of analyzing and studying classics, and more modern resources is what my main thrust is. Logos is  a wonderful tool for that, and the input gained by bouncing off ideas with believers of other traditions seem to me invaluable.

Like I have expressed in other sites, my objective is further research, reflection and comment. I believe that strong dialogue, gets us all closer to the truth.

When I posted criteria for determining if the fruit of ministry was church membership vs. outreach discipleship, all you needed to do MJ was to point that your tradition leans on the outreach and then share with us some of the practices that you feel are more applicable in our times and more bound to have success for everybody's edification.

Now if you think that doing such is stepping into a theological line then I respect that.

Blessings.

Posts 199
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 19 2018 11:09 AM

Thank you Rosie for the links, and the information provided.

I do have the collection. The reason why I like to have robust dialogue with members of other traditions, is because then I can really pin point sources of important information that allow me to explore the particular angle on the Christian worldview that group has.

Glad to hear a lot of congregation members are involved in ministry within their capacities, If you remember that I asked about thrusts from the Bible cherished by traditions, and more on the collections containing what is considered valuable input, was precisely to be able to explore more about other perspectives, experiences, angles, and directed by knowledgeable persons in that particular group.

Lots of areas to explore, angles to research, classics to search in, thanks for the input.

With respect to small groups for more christian development of members, I agree. What I hear and read is that for some groups the structural component makes the having many churches an unbearable financial load.

There are resources that are exploring more flexible and inexpensive alternatives (e.g. house churches), that can allow more personalised attention to the sheep, while not being too costly.

One very interesting book that analyses the Spirit vs Structure split in Christian churches is:

https://www.amazon.com/Paradigm-Shift-Church-Development-Theological/dp/1889638056/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Not sure why faithlife e books has not picked it up, I consider it very good at making tacit key variables in paradigmatic definition related to ecclesiology, and why most churches could have got it wrong in light of Biblical truths.

Thanks again for the good information shared.

Posts 199
Hamilton Ramos | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, May 19 2018 11:19 AM

Hi Susan:

Thanks for sharing. 

I have even read articles that suggest that the symbol of the Harlot used in the Bible represents the Catholic church, and the daughters of that symbol the Protestant churches.

Truth of the matter is, the only fully orthodox Being in the Universe is God Himself. Everyone else has but a poor contextual understanding of what is really going on from God's perspective in His reality.

Due to our limited creature status, I am ok with understanding that we do not have the real ultimate understanding of all mysteries, my problem is when I meet persons that think they have it all figured out, and that conveniently leave out contradicting information to their theological constructs revealed in the Bible.

Some traditions seem to ignore rules for good critical thinking, and seem to be indoctrinating members into accepting theology and doctrine in an unquestioned way, which to my view runs contrary to what Jesus Christ exhorted to do.

I believe that if sheep got more serious into analyzing the beliefs and constructs being suggested in light of the Bible, a lot of false teachers and doctrines would cease to exist.

Kind regards.

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