#224-Apostolics who preach to themselves about what we want to tell ourselves about history
Okay Okay...I know what you are thinking...Because I am thinking it too...With my recent posts about Apostolic Identity, Heritage, and now history, I am trying to once again tear down the UPC and am trying to destroy something because it does not fit my desires for the denomination i grew up in. In short, the accusations that I would be accusing me of right now is that I am back to my old Apostolic Diva ways that does what he wants when he wants and says what he wants to say whenever he pleases because this is his blog and the Lord is on his side...
In short i am kinda like the guy that shows up towards the end of this clip, and every other Apostolic is the guy saying "Don't!"
Naturally, I'm going to say it's a little more complicated than that..
Simply because, if I wanted this movement to fail, I would not have this blog whatsoever. I would remain silent. I am fully convinced the best plan of action for those who have a righteous gripe with any movement or church and want to see the organization fail...they should do nothing or at least vacate the premises quietly. For without an enemy to project the problems of the movement/church (which we all have since no organization is perfect) against, the organization/church would go into itself and realize it's own inconsistencies and fall apart within. This is not a problem unique to the UPC, but is true regarding every organization or party within the world (if there is no bad guy from the "outside" to preach as the source of the problems, then the only answer would be to look in the mirror and see that the source of the problems was not "the world," "culture," "Satan," or "emergents" but rather from within itself). But since I am not for such destruction, I am speaking up. I do have hope for us yet and even hope for myself....It's a bright and shiny day....So I do not mind being thought of as "the problem" or "the enemy" in my critiques...and perhaps in the process, help renovate the inner-piping of our movement if you will...
Going with the same current of the last two posts (and a slight reminder of what i am arguing):
Paul (whose name literally means "small") claims that he will only boast in the Cross alone and not in religious distinction, etc...If being Apostolic means to not be defined by history or culture, then it is not to be defined apart from Christ himself. And this is precisely the Apostolic Identity I will boast in.
This is why I find our pioneers entirely Apostolic in their nature. They aren't concerned with legitimizing their beliefs before the judges of history via prooftexting. Andrew Urshan did not try to justify the Oneness position (which he called the this position a "TriUnity") against history via rhetorical games, but counted it as revelation from God alone. Of course I think the Oneness position is found within the Bible, but when all of Christian history has proclaimed the trinity, what grounds did Urshan and his peers have to base their claims when they saw the revelation of Jesus Name? They were simply without a home to which they could base their claim in the first quarter of the twentieth century. And this became all the more pertinent when the Assemblies of God cast out all Oneness ministers from their organization in 1916 (or 1917, i can't recall). How can one defend themselves when their own brothers in the Assemblies of God fellowship (the only fellowship most of the Oneness ministers had known) have expelled them from their midst?
Was not the position (which was positionless) of our first Oneness Apostolic Pioneers such as Howard Goss, G.t. Haywood, and Andrew Urshan the same kind of position of the Biblical Apostles continually prosecuted against by the first century Jews (without the violence of course)? This is Apostolic Identity. And it was entirely sad, but also entirely revolutionary. Because when one is not focused on reaffirming creeds, reestablishing dogma, and taking pride in a sub-culture, then it is HERE that the Holy Ghost Can work freely because the believer has cast all premonitions aside and said "Thy will be done."
This is why I argue that if we are to recapture the Apostolic Identity of our Apostolic Pioneers, we need not be focused on maintaining the exact doctrine of those in the early 20th century century whose own beliefs were cultivated for their own culture in their own time not cognizant of history (because that would be unApostolic) to which we unfairly pick and choose that which we want to keep and want to throw away, but rather, shaking off Christian history's centuries "progressed" ritualized history (e.g. baptism at 8 days old, the trinity, etc...), an Apostolic Identity recaptures the urgency of now.
Not only is it wrong to reference the authority of the Apostolic pioneers by definition of what being Apostolic means ("to not listen to the haunting whispers of history"), but the proper question of honoring our Apostolic pioneers then is not "what of their Apostolic faith still works today and what can be thrown out?" But rather, the proper question is "what would our Apostolic Pioneers be saying to us if they lived with us today?"
This is why I am appalled at a few instances I have observed where people become disappointed in the "liberal compromising" of some of the sons of past UPC heavyweights who have passed away. Typically what goes on is some fundementalist Apostolic speaks of the "rebellious son" as disappointing their father who was firm on their holiness standards, etc....
I am not kidding, i have seen this or heard of such rhetoric several times! I seriously want to take such fundamentalist Apostolics by their ear like I am a 50 year old mother hearing her teenage son swear and walk them right into the bathroom and wash their mouth out with soap....
Because when people are telling "liberal Apostolics" that they're dad would be disappointed in them, they are not only being UnApostolic by trying to use history as a means of persuasion, but they are also admitting how stupid they were to confuse the rhetoric of the dead Preacher that was shaped by their own unique culture and time as who the Preacher was in his essence. When a Liberal Apostolic says they are working in honor of their father, and do so with some doctrinal alterations, they may not be lying. Because they may have understood something about their father and his personality that other people had missed. The son saw daddy at home. The Fundamentalist Christian saw a man doing a professional job over the pulpit so that he could put food on the table for his son.
Now go back and read that last paragraph and where I refer to "Liberal Apostolic/ son" replace that with "CHristian" and where I mentioned Father, replace that with God. And where i mentioned "fundementalist apostolic," think "first century Sadducee/Pharisseee" and you will see what i am getting at.
And no i am not doing the typical "all apostolics are legalists and pharissees" rhetoric.
A true Apostolic Identity doesn't tell itself stories about itself to itself. Nor is it concerned with preservation and a few church invites along the way. Most importantly, it is not concerned with history. Because, if Paul became so caught up in showing that Jews that Christianity was entirely Jewish and the proper fulfillment of Jewish history, he would never have forgotten about witnessing to the Gentiles. Rather an Apostolic Identity is concerned only with the present since the history of man has been turned on it's head at the cross where God died.
Perhaps a better idea of what I think an Apostolic Identity should be thought of (and it's Identity without an Identity), look to a quote from Rosenzweig about his description of the identity of a Jew today, "In Judaism, man is always somehow a survivor, an inner something, whose exterior was seized by the current of the world and carried off while he himself, what is left of him, remains standing on the shore. Something
within him is waiting."
In this regard, the Apostolic separation from the world is two-fold: 1) Separation From one's world (e.g. being a foreigner without a home here on earth), but also a 2) Separation from one's self ("the exterior was seized by the current of the world and carried off while he himself, what is left of him remains standing on the shore").
This is where an Apostolic Identity is identityless: Since we have been buried in Christ with baptism, the pride in one's "Christianity" or "Apostolicness" is completely unwelcome within our midst, since Christianity is no longer about us in who we are or tell ourselves we are, and the "Full Truth" we possess, but rather we have no claim to such nonsense since all the redemption is not in and of ourselves but it is God's business....
Don't take my words out of context. I am not saying that we need to get rid of the various doctrines within our movement from an antinomian stance. Rather our doctrines MUST be biblically based and also mindful that even the Biblical writers wrote within their own culture and thus had some of their own adaptations that were not meant to be universal (e.g. Paul twice mentioning that women are to be silent in church and they cannot teach). Whether or not our past ministers of our movement wore tutus or suits to church should have no bearing on our Apostolic Identity today, since of course to argue otherwise would be to argue for tradition instead of the Bible.
Many will point to the time in history when facial hair was considered rebellious and thus the movement rightfully added the "no facial hair" clause in the 1960's (similar to Paul adding "women shouldn't talk in church" clause because it would have offended non-believers if they ever visited church)...and then within the same breadth the same people who talk of the time when facial hair was rightfully banned will say they don't think it's a sin today.
So here an Apostolic Identity should instinctively say that since it implies that we are not bound by history, facial hair should be freely allowed, and if people get offended then it is because they have misidentified a temporal cultural ethic (no facial hair) as being dogmatic law.....
WE CANNOT EVEN BE IN CONVERSATION WITH THIS MINDSET...WE CANNOT TOLERATE IT. IF ANYONE REFERS TO ROMANS 14, show them a picture of bearded Jesus. And then mention Bearded Jesus died for that person's sins so they be free from the Law of Sin and in return we are to love our brother as ourselves and such love shouldn't have anything against Jesus' beard or a brother who wants to play the drums and also maintain his gender distinction as a male by having facial hair....
Again, the common response to facial hair is "it may not be wrong in itself, but it will offend the congregation so we shouldn't..."
In other words: "well this is a man-made law that really doesn't matter, but it still matters..and after all Paul said not to offend your brother...so we're sorry, but we're going to have to impose this law which we all know really isn't a law."
And thus loving your neighbor really means "sacrifice yourself young ones and lay down your will to have beards (or to wear shorts, etc...) so you can demonstrate that you love your neighbor and your brothers in church is greater than yourself. But as for those who would get offended by facial hair...well they have been in church a really long time and...you haven't...*cough*...well for the love of God please don't find out that General Conference approved of facial hair on the platform two years ago..."
(I would have tried ending this on a happy, lest angry note, but it would have been a deceit on my part and thus disloyal to you the reader....)
Coming Friday- Apostolic Nostalgia complete with a clip from the Old Twilight Zone