Friday, May 04, 2007

Christus Victor, The Sense of Challenge

Mark Driscoll, pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, has hit the emerging church blogosphere this week, with a video clip he provided for the National New Church Conference Church Planting conference in Miami last week. Mark wasn’t able to get to the conference and so sent a videotape of him speaking.

Mark focuses on 2 Timothy 2, the passage in which church planter Timothy is encouraged to be focused, hardworking and able to endure hardship.

“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”

Mark delivers his rant from a military cemetery, with a video closeup to the firm-wristed gun-toting soldier statue. He paints the church planting scene in terms of battleground and body count. He believes that selecting the ‘right man’ is critical to the success of a church plant. He suggests that the core mission is to find men to serve, put them through boot camp, instruct them, and through God’s grace force them to be people who will live as God’s people....

Clearly the soldier image does it for some men. And some women. However the writer of 2 Timothy goes on to use the image of athlete and farmer as well. The early church would have had a healthy percentage of pacifists for whom the military connotations would have been repugnant.

I don’t agree with Mark’s commitment to use only men in church leadership roles. But I can sympathise with his efforts to develop a concept of church that will equip and inspire people with the Y chromosome. So are there models and metaphors that provide the sense of challenge and focus needed by men today?

Denny Weaver, in his book, Nonviolent Atonement, works with the Christus Victor concept in a way that clearly portrays Jesus as an alternative to the stereotypes of ‘macho marine’ and ‘gay hippie’.
[via Pacific Highlander]

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