From My Perspective - - -
The idea of existentialism surfaces from time to time in the philosophical surmising of men who seek to determine a reason for existence and how an individual can find meaning in an otherwise meaningless universe. A simplistic definition is: “It is a modern philosophical movement stressing the importance of personal experience and responsibility and the demands they make on the individual, who is seen as a free agent in a deterministic and seemingly meaningless universe. It is a philosophical attitude…opposed to rationalism and empiricism.” A sad conclusion was stated by one who was acclaimed as a leading theologian of the 20th Century who allowed: Life is lived in a type of vacuum, at the end of which one stands on a threshold of nothingness and leaps out into an abyss of darkness. As one does so, there must be a conscious determination to maintain the courage to be. Existentialism is too technical for coverage in a Blog Post.
The focus is on the non-existential jump, namely, how and why the “Christian community” allows itself the luxury of jumping to a conclusion. When doing so, facts have little bearing on the conclusions drawn and a determination reached. After many years of pastoral ministry, one thing that has often been observed is a definition attached to the existentialists: “…stressing the importance of personal experience and responsibility and the demands they make on the individual…” In nearly all fields of human endeavor, there is the possibility and propensity of the “blame game” being unfairly utilized. In politics, if there is a problem – blame your predecessor or opposition party – but never accept personal responsibility. It is seen in the family structure where Sibling A will respond with an accusation that Sibling B did it, or “she” took it, etc.
Where the “blame game” is painful is when it occurs in the “Christian community” (or the church, so called). The routine has become a type of ritual – 1) a person is unhappy – it must be the Preacher’s fault; 2) church attendance is down – it must be the Preacher’s fault; 3) the giving has slacked off – it must be the Preacher’s fault; 4) People are leaving the church and going elsewhere – well – you guessed it – it must be the Preacher’s fault. The bottom line to all of this is that the Preacher must go. It is based on the inner-thought that a new “Preacher” will attract people back and bring about church growth and enthusiastic participation in programs and support. There are times when this can be an appropriate decision and action especially if a Preacher’s behavior has been misguided and/or inappropriate. Percentage-wise, that is small number of cases.
It is both a frustration and point of interest how rarely those reaching the determination regarding a Pastor’s (Preacher’s) status ever pause to reflect that the above things mentioned (and more) may be due to “US” rather than to “HIM”! Most decision-makers miss an important Biblical use of the Hortatory Subjunctive. This is a statement urging others to join in some action (commanding oneself and one’s associates. It is roughly the same as first person imperative, which does not exist in Greek.) Part of the idea of this is given in Hebrews 10:22-25, “LET US draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…LET US hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering…LET US consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… (LET US) not neglect to meet together… (LET US be) encouraging one another…” Nowhere does it place emphasis on the “him” (Preacher) but always on the “them” (LET US). It seems as though the guidelines for church success given in the Book of Acts is frequently and conveniently ignored. Obviously, the church experienced both power and growth when it went forward on its knees, namely – Prayer. Prison doors were opened – Acts 4, 12, 16 and Church Growth was occurring Acts 2, 4, 5, 10. The more the Church prayed and the more personal responsibility grasped and acted upon – the more people were being saved and added to The Church. Can the body politic and nation get turned around? Only if and when II Chronicles 7:14 is a reality. What does it require? “If My people will humble themselves and Pray…” I long to see the “Christian community” avoid the non-existential jump and begin to Take A Serious God Seriously and do the work of the kingdom His way rather than our way. Consider these things with me.