Saturday, July 21, 2007

Plantation Baptist Church

Church Field Trip #5
Plantation Baptist Church

This church is literally within walking distance, we walk past it every day with the dog. It is a pretty church building and, despite the fact that we knew it was a traditional (1950's) baptist church, we decided to drop in anyway. Besides, we heard that they had a new pastor in his 30's.

Upon arrival, we were immediately escorted to the information desk where they solicited us for contact information and gave us a visitor's packet. The visitor's packet contained two separate pamphlets delivering the Gospel message, as well as pamphlets concerning the various ministries of the church. We were also invited to attend their Sunday school groups, which met before the service. The congregation may have had about 200 people covering the full spectrum of race and age.

This was a traditional church service - we were the only ones wearing shorts, there was a full choir, we sang hymns accompanied by piano/organ, used the King James Version of the Bible, prelude/invitation/benediction etc. In other words, the church I grew up in - 20 years ago.

Now I think that I've made it clear, that what is most important to me is that the Gospel gets delivered clearly and completely. Well, this church passed with flying colors, despite the cultural disparity.

During the opening prayer, the Gospel was delivered. The sermon itself - "The Man: Christ Jesus" was wholly devoted to the Gospel, referencing I Timothy 2:1-6. Pastor Tom Hunter covered not only the whole Gospel, but several other doctrines including atonement, mediation, the virgin birth, the trinity, the Levitical sacrificial system, the false doctrine of Catholic Atonement as shared by Jesus and Mary, original sin, God's character, and Jesus' duel humanity/divinity. I really don't think he missed anything, pretty impressive. He is 34, married with four children, an original Michigander, and a graduate of Bob Jones University (which would explain a lot). His style was classic; I don't know how else to describe it. When you think of a classic preacher, this is what you picture. The slogan for his podcast on iTunes: "The Way Church Used To Be."

Here's the problem I have with hymns: The language is outdated and the music is outdated. BUT, the content is priceless. When was the last time you sang a song in church that dealt with blood, sacrifice, atonement, mediation, etc. Many contemporary worship songs have been stereotyped as being nothing more than "Prom Songs to Jesus". After singing those hymns, I might be inclined to agree. I am in agreeance with those who would promote "new" songs that carry the theological weight of the "old" hymns.

I fully admit to being culturally liberal and theologically conservative. This causes some problems for some, and it also makes it harder to find a place to fit in. But I'm not going to compromise my God-given values, and I'm not going to drastically alter my God-given personality. I am a real-world guy who loves Jesus.

Follow-up: Pastor Tom called us and left a message twice during the week, once on a Tuesday night, and once on Saturday morning. We also recieved a letter from Tom during the week.

2 comments:

unkle e said...

Lew,

I've been enjoying your blog for a month or two now, and have noted your strong opinions on the gospel being preached in church, including the detailed comments in this post. This raised a few questions in my mind:

1. What exactly do you mean by "the gospel"? Is it the "good news" that a person must believe to be saved, or is it more than that?

Mark 1:14-15 records Jesus as preaching the gospel which included the coming of the kingdom of God. And in his last command to his followers in Matthew 28:18-20, he required us to make disciples, baptise and teach people to obey everything he had taught them. So are those things included in the gospel?

2. If the gospel in the narrower sense is your meaning, what good does it do to have that gospel preached to the believers each week in church? Shouldn't it be communicated to those who don't believe outside the church, while those in the church are encouraged and equipped to carry on Jesus command?

Of course, if you include how to live in God's kingdom, making disciples and obeying Jesus' commands (such as caring for the poor and the outcast) in "the gospel", then of course it should be taught in church, but I'm guessing you may not mean to include these.

3. You distinguish between content and cultural relevance, but this seems to me to be academic. If we don't communicate in relevant terms (as Jesus did via parables, and Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 9:22), then is that really preaching good news to people, or just empty words (to them, if not to us)?

My aim in asking you these questions is not to be critical, but to engage with what you have blogged. Best wishes.

revolution said...

these questions are awesome. I couldn't have posed them better. They do, however require a posting of their own, which i am now working on.

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