Electronic Christianity Six

A couple of days ago I suggested to a friend he might go to my blog to see some of the posts I have put up. A day later I thought “Wait a minute, he’s going to first see my posts on eChristianity. What am I going to tell him about it.”

This turns out to be a good time to consider what I should tell you and him about eChristianity.

What started me off in thinking along the lines that led to the concept of eChristianity was my finding that are many serious, devout and thinking Christians on the Internet who are exploring their relationships with one or more Persons of the Holy Trinity without any acknowledgement, except from their followers, that they were doing so. Thus, it struck me that there was something important going on that was without identity or recognition.

When I thought about a name for this, I thought “how about eChristianity.” My next thought was that eChristianity seemed possibly trite and probably already used by someone. However, when I Googled it I got no results so I decided I would use the term in writing about what I had in mind.

And what did I have in mind? I think it was triggered by something I heard or read about the unity of Christians. This is not surprising since it is in the New Testament a lot. However, when unity is mentioned now, it is sometimes institutional unity and sometimes unity within a local church. It never seems about the spiritual unity of the body of Christ.

Paul wrote about the body of Christ having many different members each with a different function but all necessary if the body is going to function as it should. I think that is what eChristianity is about. We are people of Christ’s body with electronic as well as spiritual connections and we are as important to the work of God as the other Christian institutions, organizations, parachurch ministries and all the rest. We have just not had an identity or a name. Now we do.

 

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Electronic Christianity Five

This is a good time to consider the relationship of politics to eChristianity. I am in no place to tell you what your politics should be but I think I can give you some things to consider in regard to our relationship with the government.

First, we need to remember that we are subject to at least one government. When we read both the Old and the New Testament we see that believers are affected both by the form and the quality of their governance. This could lead us to think we are responsible for both these aspects of government and create a desire in us to rectify what is wrong. However, history shows us, in both biblical and secular accounts, that Christians either embracing a government or resisting one generally leads to adverse consequences for Christianity or Christians or both.

As we eChristians are also citizens of the nation of God, we need to be careful not to grab at the “tar baby” of political influence or the idea that we know perfectly God’s will for how we should be governed and by whom. Holding power leads to an attachment to the events taking place and, as Menno Simons thought, creating actions that it is not proper for Christians to instigate. Resisting a government is as foolish as thinking we know what the weather should be since a government is something that is too large for our understanding and subject to God’s purposes.

However, Jesus in Matthew 16:2-3 told the Pharisees and Sadducees that they had a proverbial saying that went like this: If the sky is red in the morning it means a stormy day, if it is red in the evening it means good weather is coming. So he asked them since they could interpret the signs in the sky why they could not see the signs of the times. This is a second aspect of our relationship to government and politics. Just because we have little influence does not mean we should not be very aware of what is going on and be prepared to adjust ourselves to what may occur. We are in a time of changes, and it is certain that what has happened, what is going on, and what will happen in the political realm will affect our lives.

When Jesus commissioned the Twelve Disciples before sending them out to proclaim the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 10), he told them to be wary as serpents and innocent as doves. This is good advice for us as we evaluate and participate in a turbulent time of political change and unrest.

Electronic Christianity Four

With the Olympics coming in August it brought to my mind that we eChristians are citizens of the nation of God. (I prefer using nation rather than kingdom to enhance the present reality of our spiritual affiliation.) This status will not get us into the Olympics regardless of our athletic abilities; still I think a duality is something we should remember as we live out our Christian lives. Various athletes hold dual citizenship just as we do but their nations are worldly. Some of them may have difficulty at times deciding where to place their higher loyalty. We should not have that problem. Still we will need to decide how much allegiance and respect we should show to our earthly nation. To put the question in somewhat biblical terms: Each of us will have to decide how much we will give to Caesar and how much to the Lord. However, since we love most the nation of God and its ruler, we can be sure of having a way to arrive at the right overall allegiance and this will be demonstrated by our love for other Christians.

One outworking of our love in eChristianity will be to provide support with “likes,” and comments, and also in other ways encourage each other. And, thus we can help each other to a better understanding and expression of what we are thinking and writing. We should also be aware that God did not intend for us to all think alike. If he had we would not have anything to say to each other. Instead he made us each to have our own way of thinking while making it possible for us to be united in the nation of God.

There is another area in which we are all different. This is in how much we focus on the outward expression of our Christianity—whether in small acts of kindness or seeking to perfect the world—compared to the time and effort we put into our inward experience of the persons of the Trinity. Each of us should seek to find the balance of our commitments that God expects of us. And none of us will be exactly in the same place in regard to these things.

Perhaps, we should, like Mary, ponder these things in our hearts and hope to come to a fuller understanding of all that is involved in our choices of what we emphasize in our lives.

Electronic Christianity Three

My most humble apologies to any who may have read my post “Electronic Christianity Two” and thought I was trying to base eChristianity on the Nicene Creed. That was not my purpose at all. What I was trying to accomplish was to show there was something solid at the core of Christianity. What I wanted to point out was that just as there is a reality underlying mathematics, physics, and all other kinds of science so there is a reality to Christianity that cannot be ignored. Please forgive me if I was unclear.

Perhaps I should have used the concept of “mere Christianity” that was used by C.S. Lewis to describe his idea of the root reality of Christianity. In any case, at the heart of our belief is the actual reality of a new life that will endure forever. This is the sure promise and the ultimate certainty yet it is not all there is for us in Christianity. Although most of us have probably had our lives greatly changed through the work of the Godhead in us, what also matters is that we are a part of the body of Christ and the body needs all of us parts to be truly whole. This is why I thought up eChristianity. It is conceived as a way to bring together the many of us who are one-person churches; people who have never found their “fit” in conventional churches and provide us a unity with each other.

I am not sure how eChristianity will work but I think it can use what the Internet has made possible. It is meant to enable the coming together of many parts of the body of Christ so Christianity can better withstand the forces operating to reduce its influence in the world and in people’s lives.

Please let me know what you think.

Electronic Christianity Two

I think that eChristianity needs a solid foundation to build on. After all, Jesus told us we were to build on rock and not sand. The Nicene Creed is possibly the rock we should build on. It has stood as a basic statement of Christian belief for about fifteen centuries and during that time has withstood the assaults of many, many alternative opinions. A version from a contemporary prayer book follows.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

 

It is appropriate that the majority of the creed focuses on the person of Jesus Christ since he should be the center of all Christian expressions. In addition to giving due respect to the person of the Son of God, there are other things about the creed that we should note. It is meant to be a creed for all of Christianity. This, I think, includes eChristianity. It is sufficient. It is all we need to believe to count ourselves Christians.

We should also think some about what is not there. It speaks of one baptism for the forgiveness of sins but says nothing about how, when or for whom. The Lord’s Supper/Communion/Holy Eucharist (for this sacrament we do not have a common name and yet we all, presumably, participate) is not mentioned.

The creed also says nothing about our human attributes. What counts in the creed is our “We believe” so we can be part of the eternal world to come. It is good it is this way because just as none of us are in the same place physically, none of us are in the same place spiritually. Each of us has our own spiritual “About” yet we can be united in a common faith as presented in the creed.

Electronic Christianity

The secular dreams of those who thought the Internet might bring about a better world might be partially fulfilled if it is used by Christians to bring our religion into the electronic age in a way that unites us in a common purpose and hope.

I think the future of American Christianity should lie in what I would call electronic Christianity. What I would give as a name for this new form of Christianity is the term eChristianity. I was surprised when my Google search came up empty for the label. I would have thought someone would have already used it. Perhaps eChristianity is simply too obvious or, perhaps, rather too broad for people’s implementations of Christianity on the Internet. Of course, all of you who read this post are participating in some form of electronic Christianity.

What I hope eChristianity will do is provide a form of Christianity without the current limits of geography, institutions or traditions. This does not mean that it would be without a common core of belief centered on the person of Jesus Christ. The various beliefs of eChristians would be tested in the electronic community by standards of conformity to the Bible, objective truth, rationality, common sense, and reality. I would hope that the form eChristianity takes allows us freedom of faith and understanding in the areas where there is some latitude while restricting the spread of unhelpful concepts of Christianity.

An eChristianity community can bring into being a tangible presence of a people set apart from the rest of the Internet while at the same time providing an actual unity of Christ’s people. Our relationship to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will have an actualization in the oneness of a Christian community joined in electronic communication.

There is further benefit to a form of Christianity imbedded in an electronic community. In our present culture it is far easier to interact with people electronically than it is face-to-face or in other physical ways. Also, almost anybody, Christian or not, is accessible to electronic communication. This fact allows for both a great enhancement of the activities currently conducted in churches and a far more widespread proclamation of the gospel (good news) of Jesus to unbelievers.

This new form of Christian community would not keep groups of Christians from coming together to participate in various activities helpful in their localities, and to join together in celebrations of what Christ has done for us.

The success of eChristianity will require a sacrifice of some part of our status quo from all us who participate. Though this is a small thing compared to the sacrifice of their lives required of some Christians, it is still no small thing. We like our freedom and independence, and our present situation. Unfortunately, unless we do something positive about the state of American Christianity what we like may not matter. Please let me know what you think about eChristianity.