Blog

Feb 04
From Moral Majority to Prophetic Minority by Pastor David Tigchelaar

I came across a title to a talk that jumped out at me because it seemed to address some of the angst we face in the church.  The title was, "From Moral Majority to Prophetic Minority."  Maybe that seems too cryptic a phrase and some explanation might help.

If we view the history of the church from a thousand miles away (not concerning ourselves so much with the exact dates of councils or which church leaders came when) there are a few events that stand out. 

 

The Early Church

The first movement you might look at is the early church.  That was a time when the church and those converts that made up the church were a "prophetic minority."  This church brought the message of God's saving love revealed in Christ through his death and resurrection and called people into a relationship with the God of creation.  If you called yourself a Christian during the early part of the Church's history you must have been very brave.  There were times when, to call yourself a Christian, persecution and even death would have been your fate.  These Christians were called treasonous because they called Christ (and not the emperor) their king.  It was a time when to be a Christian was to be very counter-cultural. 

Amazingly, the church didn't die because of this persecution.  In fact, it was these Christian's profound displays of love that wooed others into the fold.  These Christians were known to rescue babies destined for death.  They were known for a sexual ethic that made them strange to the world around them.  These early Christians had a bond of fellowship that was a testimony to those who didn't know about this God who showed up in the form of a man named Jesus and whose love was so abundant that he was willing to die for the sins of the world.  They were a prophetic minority.

 

The Revolution of Constantine

Historians mark a clear break where the church went from being the prophetic minority to being the moral majority.  The revolution of Constantine is the point that historians will highlight as marking this transition.  In clear contrast to that period of the church where to be a Christian placed you in the minority, there were times and places where Christianity was not just the dominant religion in terms of numbers it was the religion of the state.  To have a dissenting voice from the voice of the church would have made you very brave. 

What a reversal of positions!  As the major movers and shapers of culture, the church had a privileged position to propel its agenda forward.  Sabbath keeping laws are one example of the church being in that privileged position to have its agenda implemented by the broader culture.  Looking back over history we see some amazing things being done in the name of Christ by Christ's church.  But admittedly we also see some terrible abuses.  The church doesn't do very well when it tries to shape the world from a position of power.  We do much better when we serve and love freely.

 

Back to the Beginning

Where are we at today?  The title seems to suggest that the church has moved from that position of moral majority back to its old position as the prophetic minority.  Some lament this change while others see this change as a great opportunity for the voice of the church to be very clearly heard as one that is counter-cultural. 

This church, which is a part of the reformed tradition, seeks to be faithful to the call of God to be a church that seeks both the righteousness and justice of God.  We long for God's grace and truth to be evident in our lives as individuals and our life together as the community of God's people.  We pray that we would allow the grace and truth of God to continue to shape us as we take the ancient text of the Bible and apply to modern life.  Just like the ancient prophets called the people of Israel to be different than the nations around them, we long to be people who live in the world as a people that are not worldly.  We seek to be different in a way that reflects that God is at work in our hearts and lives.

 

Let me close off with a question that you can either ponder or respond to.  What would a counter-cultural church that speaks as a prophetic minority look like?  How can we be a prophetic minority that calls people into relationship with the King of creation?  I don't have a great deal of space in this article but I would love to have your input into how you see the churches new place within culture as either a good thing or a bad thing.  Please write me and your ideas will help spur the next article.  Please send your responses to pastor@guelphcrc.ca

Apr 29
Placing Ourselves Within The Story

My grandfather’s lap was a comfortable place even when he used his sharp beard to tickle my soft childish face and send me jumping off his lap, squealing with delight.  It was on that lap that the warmth of his embrace and the smell of his pipe would surround me and fill me with a sense that I was a part of him; that his strength could be my strength even though I was just a child.  From that lap he would tell me the stories of his life; stories of his immigration from the Netherlands and of his own childhood. Those stories shaped me.  Stories can do that for that is their power.

As a church we have a story to tell!  We Have a Story to Tell is the theme for our church as we celebrate our 60th anniversary.   All of us have stories; stories that place our lives within a larger framework that help us make sense of things.  We have a story to tell!

As we plan for this celebration we want to place our church’s story within the much larger story of God. It is as we hear these stories of God’s work in the world that they become a part of the ethos of our lives; the framework through which we begin to make sense of all of life.  We seek to place our lives within the grand narrative of God who is making all things new.   We place ourselves within the grand story of a God revealed in scripture and through his son Jesus Christ who is beckoning us to be a part of His story; a story that is summarized within the Heidelberg Catechism.

This year is not only our church’s 60th birthday it is also the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism.  The Heidelberg catechism is a biblically rooted document from the mid-sixteenth century that tells the story of God, which has helped shape us as a people of the Reformed heritage.  This series will be done in six parts, which follow the broader outlines of the Catechism.  We will look at:

  • The Only Comfort (Q.A. #1)
  • Our Misery and Our Mediator (Q.A. 2-25)
  • Our Thorough Salvation (Q.A. 26-52)
  • The Spirit of the Sacraments (Q.A. 53-85)
  • The Grateful Life (Q.A. 86-115)
  • Teach Us to Pray (Q.A. 116-129)

For supporting documents you are welcome to read the Heidelberg Catechism.  The document itself can be found at the back of our Psalter Hymnal (Our church’s hymn book).  You can also look it up on the internet.

I will be using the Bible, the Catechism as well as a book entitled Body and Soul: Reclaiming the Heidelberg Catechism by M. Craig Barnes as the primary source materials for this series.  I look forward to telling this story.  I look forward to placing our church’s story within the broader context of this confessional material as well as within the much larger story of scripture, which shows us God’s story and activity from creation till now; a story that will continue to the re-creation of all things.

- Pastor David Tigchelaar