Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What Happened to Christian Stewardship

The last year or so, I have been thinking about what caused the church in America to lose sight of basic stewardship values considering creation. I mentioned this was on my mind in my last post post, which got this response from the Missouri Rev....


I look forward to the discussions as to why “the church as a whole has abandoned
the concept of covenantal stewardship and why they have a negative view of
creation in general.” Covenant means boundaries and sacred obligation, for which
our autonomy worshipping culture despises and mocks. I believe the Lord’s people
have, to a greater extent then they would admit, bought into the false
neutrality of “American freedom” where they can pretty much do as they please
when it comes to earning a living, using earth’s resources, planning for the
future, investing, and all the other things common to daily living. After all,
“the Bible really doesn’t address these things in detail and, besides, we live
in the age of grace where such archaic “Old Testament” practices as covenantal
faithfulness and obedience to commandments are no longer required.” There is an
arrogant ambivalence that permeates American Christendom that assumes, because
of short-term, live for now thinking, that the economic system that runs our
nation today is biblically based and, thus, condoned of God. “Just look at all
of the prosperity and opportunity we have compared to other nations.” This
carnal worldview is based upon subjective comparisons and not the Word of God
which emphatically states that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every
word that proceeds from the mouth of God. This carnal “Christian” worldview also
involves ungodly compartmentalizing where no associations are made between
covenantal faithfulness and God’s blessing and covenantal unfaithfulness and His
curses. This form of secular tunnel vision leads to a blindness which refuses to
see that the brazen, overt paganism that has taken our nation captive is
directly related to the ungodly economics that we embrace, in covenantal
unfaithfulness, for the mother’s milk of a pagan culture is pagan economics. The
same is said for the ungodly agrarianism that is destroying our nation’s created
lands and resources. Oh well, there is my two-cents worth of musings; perhaps it
will spark some discussion.

Needless to say, I agree with the good pastor's thoughts. I was thinking some more about it during milking. What follows are some random thoughts I have....

In a sense, one thing that happened was a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. When the godless, pagen leftism of the 60's made creation itself a golden calf, the church responded in the ussuall reactionary way she has done before. She threw the baby out with the bathwater and proceeded to smash the bathtub with a 9 pound sledge. In my younger days I had this half witted to enviromental issues. I took the stance, "Anyone remotely censerned with the enviroment was a closet commie."

Bad Theology...... America is largely comprised of a theological system that is only a couple hundred years old not very biblically sound. Dispensationalism and premillenialism have created a "why polish brass on a sinking ship" mentality that may take generations to reverse. Why bother conserving or improving "the late great planet earth"?

Quasi-Gnostic Amillenialism. I'm sorry to have to say this but, a good portion of the reformed world is plagued with some strange kind of "christian gnosticism". They will deny it if confronted but they hate all matter and anything remotely "earthy". Only the invisible and spirtual have any value. Sorry folks, God made it all and proclaimed it was Good!

There you have it. Chew it over and tell me what you think.

14 Comments:

At 1/17/2006 7:34 PM, Blogger JFC said...

You will find someone else very ably taking a blow at gnosticism here.

I've been on the road to recovery from gnosticism for quite some time myself, and have made some remarkable progress in the past three years. My tastebuds still haven't converted yet. I still have baptist 'buds. But give my Reformed brothers long enough, and they'll convert the ol' 'buds!

Good post!

 
At 1/18/2006 6:04 AM, Blogger ctroutma said...

Scott,
In regards to your Quasi-Gnostic Amillenialism...

My wife and I have been talking a lot about this the past few days. One of our elders is teaching a course on Genesis, and in the course of his lecture he brought up the Greek thinking that so pervades the church and leads people to want to spiritualize everything. He pointed out that we are embodied souls and that when God made man and the earth he proclaimed them good. This elder is an Amil guy, so maybe we should be careful about pigeon-holeing them. He seemed to think it was more of the influence of Greek philosophy, where we try to attain to this spiritual state and escape the corrupted flesh.

This has lead to many new discussions: division of body/soul, state of soul after death, nature of resurrection, how to NOT be gnostic, etc. Good thoughts.
Christo

 
At 1/18/2006 6:39 AM, Blogger reformed farmer said...

Jon

Thanks for the thoughts and links. Last tuesday after bible study my friend Matt and I cracked open the cider vat for some tasting. If your "buds" don't take to beer, give hard cider a try :)

Christo

I admit including the Amill tag with the Gnosticism comments was a broad brush generalization. I really wasn't saying that amillenialism was the cause of gnostic thinking, your very correct to point to greek philosify as the cause. In my circles, it is ussually the amill types who are gnostic thinkers though.

It is worth mentioning that Augustine was a convert from Manechianism---someone please correct my spelling---which also split matter and spirit and thought all material things were evil. It has always been my thought that this carried over a little in the classic Augustonian Amill position.

 
At 1/18/2006 10:54 AM, Blogger Emily said...

I think part of the blame of what is happening in the church may be laid at the door of conservative politics and the reaction to rabid environmentalism. The world keeps invading the church in one form or another. I'm glad you brought this subject up, Scott, because I'd never thought it through until recently when God blessed us with this home and land and endless possibilities. It almost frightens me to think of my responsiblity as a steward of His resources. We belonged to a dispensationalist church for several years. The more we studied God's Word, the more the preaching left a bad taste in our mouths, and it's a relief to be out from under that kind of false teaching. I won't pretend to be any kind of theological scholar - that is my husband's gift - so though I can't contribute much, I'm looking forward to this more of this discussion. It's good to have something new to chew on! God bless....Emily

 
At 1/18/2006 5:13 PM, Blogger reformed farmer said...

Emily

Your observation about "conservative politics" is good one. The problem is this, American Christians don't understand that godless conservatism will be squashed by God the same way he will squash godless liberalism. Christains have no business pledging allegaince with the Stupid Party (GOP). Christians need to take the Lordship of Christ serously, and if they did they wouldn't vote on party lines for a party that in its preamble praises the "goodness of man" and fails to recognize Christ the King.

 
At 1/18/2006 7:05 PM, Blogger JFC said...

If your "buds" don't take to beer, give hard cider a try :)

Indeed, that's the only thing I've found so far that I "take to" -- Hornsby's, the kind made of Granny Smith apples.

But I still hope for an adult conversion to other tastes that are acquired.

 
At 1/19/2006 6:20 AM, Blogger HomesteadHerbs said...

I just posted an article by Gene Edward Veith which to some extent gives his view on how the US has gotten to the state it is and partly relates to issues addressed here! I'll do greater service to the article by having you read it than any words I could put to paper! :-)

 
At 1/19/2006 1:23 PM, Blogger Ann said...

I agree Scott. I use cloth diapers because I'm postmil ;)

 
At 1/19/2006 5:36 PM, Blogger reformed farmer said...

Jon

Boy, I haven't had any Hornsby's in years. I used to drink some when I lived in the west side of the state, they don't sell it out this way. Woodchuck is pretty good too.

Christine

Thanks, all be sure to check it out.

Ann

Postmillenialism and long term stewardship go hand in hand. Thats why its such a shame that the reconstruction movement attached itself to the Austrian schooll....I'll never understand that one. 3 cheers for cloth diapers!

 
At 1/20/2006 9:47 AM, Blogger Randall Gerard said...

Scott,

Once upon a time I was one of those conservative champions of 'free markets'. The problem, I discovered, is that such an allegiance makes miniature gods of us all; and God's creation is abused and squandered as a result.

The popular thinking goes something like this: 'It's my land/pond/money and I'll do as I please with it'. Biblically, this is of course untrue. It is God's land/pond/money, and He expects us to use it wisely, while preserving it's beauty, utility and health for future generations. How do I know? Well, for one thing, there are many regulations in the O.T. regulating how Israel could and couldn't use 'private property'. There were laws that regulated the taking of game; ie. you may take the eggs or chicks but not the breeding stock. You must let your land lay fallow every 7th year. You must not reap the corners of your fields, so the un-landed poor and the alien may gleen. You must not harvest fruit from fruit trees till the 3rd year, and so on. God regulates the use of His property; therefore our 'private property' rights are not absolute, but are conditional and covenantal.

There were constraints placed upon borrowing and lending as well, with no loans made for a term longer then 7 years. There was a jubilee, a release of all debts and all hebrew slaves, every 50 years. There were laws prohibiting the taking of any interest, except when loaning to foriegners. These laws functioned as restraints on human greed and helped make sure that no one derived his whole livlihood merely through compound interest or rents. If you don't work (ie. steward your land under God), you don't eat. Modern banking is not work, in the biblical sense; it is rape and abuse to benefit a few.

The conservative evangelical churches are complicit in that they support and have a vested interest in the practices of usury and unrestricted, global markets. Taking a biblical stand on these issues radically effects the bottom line. In their cases, it effects the building program, the Pastor's salary and retirement plans. I'm just beginning to grasp this myself, and believe me, I have whole weeks when I want to just forget the implications and fall into line with the rest of the free market slaves. It's a never-ending struggle to conform your thinking and ways to God's Word.

I agree with your comments on ammillenialism. There's no flesh, blood, bones, earth, water, trees, cows, sheep, poultry and bees in this eschatology - only wispy spiritual pie in the sky, by and by. But Jesus died and rose again to restore creation, and the creation groans along with us, looking for the fulfillment and restoration of all things. That's why I'm postmill.

 
At 1/26/2006 11:22 AM, Blogger Dean McConnell said...

Dear Scott,

You may be called to dairy farming, but have you ever considered attending a Christian law school?

Please check out the site for the school where I serve as dean - tls.edu. Also, you might like my blog at Trinitarian Don.

 
At 1/27/2006 6:14 PM, Blogger reformed farmer said...

Randy,

I agree with your assesment! Your comments on Amillenialism are right on the money!

Dean McConnell

Thanks for stopping by. I can't say that I've ever considered law school, I'm very happy being a plain ole cow farmer :) Thanks for the links, I'll be sure to check them out.

 
At 1/29/2006 1:50 PM, Anonymous Rene said...

I am searching...

One of you mentioned the following:

The popular thinking goes something like this: 'It's my land/pond/money and I'll do as I please with it'. Biblically, this is of course untrue. It is God's land/pond/money, and He expects us to use it wisely, while preserving it's beauty, utility and health for future generations. How do I know? Well, for one thing, there are many regulations in the O.T. regulating how Israel could and couldn't use 'private property'. There were laws that regulated the taking of game; ie. you may take the eggs or chicks but not the breeding stock. You must let your land lay fallow every 7th year. You must not reap the corners of your fields, so the un-landed poor and the alien may gleen. You must not harvest fruit from fruit trees till the 3rd year, and so on. God regulates the use of His property; therefore our 'private property' rights are not absolute, but are conditional and covenantal.


My question is this. Is there anyone in the "agrarian" "covenental community" (all new terms to me) that adheres to these directive now, today, as they work the land God has given them stewardship of? Why or why not?

Rene

 
At 1/31/2006 10:30 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

Rene

Excellent Question. I don't know how many people follow OT laws regarding farming to the letter. We try our best to obey the spirit of the regulations. What I mean is, we might not leave the corners of a crop for the poor but we always try to make sure that we give some of that same crop to the poor around us. We regulate ourselves in the taking of game and foraging for wild foods in the woods, so that we will have some next year and so my great grandkids will have it as well. I have been thinking about how one could implement a sabbath rest for the land for a while now. I mean how to do it without going broke :) You should keep in mind that most in the Christian Agrarain community are the first generation to even think about such things. We did not inherit any such wisdom or customs from our fathers generation. We are tring to answer the question...How then shall we live.

 

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