Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Apocalyptic

I was in a meeting with my Pastor, and he pointed out that some of the posts on the site did not line up with the purpose of the blog: "to remember to laugh at ourselves." In other words, some posts weren't laughing. And I agree. Most of the criticism about this blog describes us bloggers at nothing more than bitter and cynical. I can completely understand where this mentality comes from, and I know that if I were on their side of the fence I would come to much of the same conclusions. But that is not who we are. So it was with these questions in mind, I sought to describe a kind of theology for this blog that shows we are not just against some things, but rather do stand for things as well. In other words, I set out to find a theology for what is going on here (especially in regards to the more serious posts)....

The description is kind of lengthy, and I apologize. I also worry about its "accessibility" to the average reader. With that concern in mind, I am very interested in your critiques, insults, and comments regarding this...

So without further adieu, I give you "the apocalyptic" (this description will now be found at the top of the page next to the "about this blog" and "comment Policy" sections):

Much of the below was literally heisted from David Dark's book Everyday Apocalypse. In one brief swoop, the man put into words a working theology for what I have been trying to do on this blog, but really struggled with whether or not there was such a place in the Kingdom for what is going on here.

A lot of people will be confused about the term "Apocalyptic." But its usage originated from David Dark and likeminded people and it's derived from the Greek word which the word "apocalypse" also derived from. In short the term apocalyptic means a "disclosure" or a "revelation." But I don't mean this word in an "end times" sense.

In this disclosure, is the purpose of this blog. In short, apocalyptic aims to remind ourselves that we aren't what we make ourselves to be. It aims to create discomfort in our minds. It aims to destroy an egocentric Christianity. By egocentric Christianity, I mean this: A Christianity that advocates or allows for a pride within the human being in anything other than Jesus Christ (this means being proud of our denominational identity).

The apocalyptic doesn't like "cupcake endings" to movies where after a stormy conflict, the movie concludes with a perfect harmony and praise of the heroes of the film. Rather, it disdains such neatness, and instead seeks to "maximize the reality of human suffering and folly before daring a word of hope (Lest too light winning make the prize light). The hope has nowhere else to happen but the valley of the shadow of death." In other words, we see the world as complicated, complete with much suffering and confusion and imperfection. To simplify these observations into a "If God is for us, then who can be against us" mentality forces our focus yet again on ourselves (which can encourage pride) and away from the brokenness of the world and its hunger for salvation."

In other words, the apocalyptic is opposed to a Hallmark Christianity which is summarized by simple catch phrases, mental ascents of truth, and repeats of the same few verses over and over again, which are usually taken out of context. The apocalyptic does not enjoy the status quo and the complacency the status quo entails. To define "status quo" in our denomination, I would say is any viewpoint that says Acts 2:38 is a satisfactory explanation of Christianity, and thus once one receives the Holy Ghost, they are "good enough."

The apocalyptic opposes the tendency within Christianity to view the world as a place only fit for burning and argues against the idea that our time on earth is merely a waiting room to the sweet eternity after. Rather, the apocalyptic encourages a holy separation but also necessitates constant interaction with the world so as to imitate the incarnation wherein the King became a mere man amongst prostitutes and tax collectors so as to show just how much He Loved His Creation, and just how low he would go to have it back.

The apocalyptic seeks to destroy the notion that the revelation of Christ is simply synonymous with simply trying your best to not do certain sins, and should the opportunity arise, mention to a stranger that you would like them to go to church with you.

The apocalyptic wars against the view of Jesus as a phantom friend who absolves us of our guilt feelings, loves Americans the most, and promises to take our souls to a faraway place when we die, just so long as we follow Acts 2:38. Rather the apocalyptic sees the incarnation (God manifested as man) transcending formulas and guilt and rather sees a bigger redemption process at work. A process that goes far beyond the understanding of the limited human mind. For the moment a mind claims to see all, they have reached the Holy Mountain of God and claimed to have the same eyes of God. This is blasphemy.

The opinions of one who claims to "know" and seems to have the market on how things should happen can now claim their thoughts are equivalent to the thoughts of God. The Sadduceess and Pharisees each thought they knew God through their knowledge of His Word. But in this knowledge, they were blinded and could not even recognize God when He came down for a visit, and further because of this blinding knowledge and their religion constructed out of human hands (which they thought was God's Truth), they murdered God when He was right there in front of them.

The apocalyptic at its core looks to Jesus as suffering servant as an invitation for the entire world to take part no matter how much scum or sin appears in their life, wherein a "world-denying religion" is an escapist routine that limits the possibility of God's grace reaching the lowest of the world (since we are the vehicles of His grace). In other words, the apocalyptic worries that we as Apostolics are so obsessed with a separation from God's creation, that we have segregated ourselves from the world at-large so much so that we have no frame of reference with the world, and thus God's redeeming grace can not be given through us to the world since the world cannot understand our language and culture which can at times be out of touch with reality. In other words, let us be careful to not lose touch with reality in our strivings to separation from the world.

At the same time the apocalyptic is always looking to the world and its art for messages of grace and redemption. Man's God-given creativity is not bound by his Chosen ones alone. We are all dying humans and nothing more without Christ. We look everywhere for God's grace, even in the most obscure parts of society and culture. Perhaps we might even learn something in the process.

In short as Jean Bethke Elshtain says, "we are not perched on top of the earth as sovereigns; rather, we are invited into companionship with the earth as the torn and paradoxical creatures that we are."

With this simple fact in mind, we need to constantly take a breath and remember to not take ourselves as Apostolic too seriously.We are not above humanity, rather we are just like the next guy/girl seeped in the tragic comedy that defines the human being.

I suggest if there is any place to go as followers of Christ here on earth, it is to try and become more human, and not less.

Thusly, we need to allow and even promote a place for comedy within our denomination so as to remember to not only look at the world through a withdrawn window of seclusion but also to look at ourselves in the mirror right in front of us. The purpose of such comedy is to provide momentary relief from the seriousness of the status quo and the official.

If we do not allow for the crack of introspective humor into our movement at this moment then we shall soon ascend to the seat of the easily offended religions of the past whose reputation in the world is "simply counting the bad words on television, the sexual innuendos in worldly songs, and walking away in a loud well-publicized huff...For once we are in the seat of offendedness, we are in a real tricky spot. Before we know it, it can become a twenty four hour a day job. It becomes all we're known for and when we're all caught up in all the things we're against, we forget the beauty of the things we are supposed to be for. We forget what the kingdom of God looks like and all the wonderfully odd characters taking up residence there. We forget to revel in dappled things. We forget we're dappled."

Before a summary, I think a Flannery O'Connor quote serves us well here, but revised slightly by me... "There was a kind of sociological bubble created in which Apostolics live when we cannot bear to be a part of what was going on around us. From this bubble we can see out and judge, but in it we are safe from any kind of penetration from the world. It is the only place where we feel free from the general idiocy of our fellows." The apocalyptic will not tolerate such a function in light of Christ's lowering unto death on the cross.

In short, the apocalyptic doesn't do well with the Christ that could fit in a Disney movie. It much prefers the kind of Christ that if put in a movie, sees himself killed by the bad guys at the end of the movie, but as even He's getting killed he is pleading for their forgiveness because "they know not what they do." (Note once again that the persecuting Jews "thought" they knew and thus had the grounds to crucify).


  1. Wow that's quite a deep post. I think I understand it but I might need to read it a few more times to get it all.

  2. Amen, amen, amen!! Awesome post, so incredibly true!

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  4. Good post. This blog is like the innocent child who had the audacity to point out that the emperor was not wearing clothes. I find it very refreshing when people have the courage to put into words what others only think in their minds, but refuse to talk about. It is not good for us to take ourselves too seriously.

  5. I love this one. I've got to pick up that David Dark book.

  6. Read this one a while back and have been digesting. Once again, you've given, in more refined simplicity, a summary of my own thoughts. Perhaps I'm in the choir where you preach.
    This is such an important thought.
    My wife is often involuntary audience to my rantings about how the "separatists" have missed it, how our whole idea of "revival" is flawed thinking - spoken of as a group-level phenomenon rather than the result of individuals connecting to the living God, how everything in church culture should point us to Him and prepare us for them (those that need to be pointed to Him), not for us that they can join if they follow the rules.
    A close friend named Jacques shared with me a study he was doing of what happened to every person that encountered God (think Moses in Exodus 34:5-7 or Peter in Luke 5:8) became humbled and aware of their inadequacies. Your statement about becoming more human is on point. Where's the First Love? Enough of the "we're big, we're bad, we're Christian" garbage. Who are we trying to impress?
    When Jesus was asked what was most important by the religious people, he said 2 things (Matt 22:37-40). Are those the two most important things to us? Can we really say that’s what we’re following? Asking these question should be each of our constant evaluation.
    Thanks for holding up the mirror Joel (et al.)