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Helpful Tidbits for the Disciple's Life                                                                                   July 5, 2010

The Enlightenment and the Ecclesia
My Reflections
The Banqueting Table
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cross in shadows 
Whether we know it or not, our understanding of church has a lot to do with philosophy. For example, the "emerging church" is largely a response to the effects of modernity which glorifies rationality. In plain language, a lot of how we want the church to be has more to do with what's comfortable given our Greek-shaped minds (like comfort food), than what's biblical.

QUESTION/TOPIC IN FOCUS: What's Thomas Jefferson have to do with my understanding of church?
The Enlightenment and the Ecclesia
Excerpted from The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy edited by Robert Audi
Thomas Jefferson BustEnlightenment: a late eighteenth-century international movement in thought, with important social and political ramifications. The Enlightenment is at once a style, an attitude, a temper-critical, secular, skeptical, empirical, and practical. It is also characterized by core beliefs in human rationality, in what it took to be "nature," and in the "natural feelings" of mankind. Four of its most prominent exemplars are Hume, Thomas Jefferson, Kant, and Voltaire (1995:266).
My Reflections 
Let me first clear up any confusion about my patriotism. Yes, I am patriotic. At one level I appreciate nations, freedom, comradery, checks and balances, and so forth. At the same time, I must not be naive concerning the ideologies that have shaped governments and how those same ideas have shaped my worldview. The idea of separation of church and state, for example, is grounded in the philosophical ideas of John Locke.
Commandments in Ancient Hebrew 
Not long ago I was listening to Bill Cloud, an insightful Bible teacher I like listening to. He said something that's stuck with me. "In actuality, I don't think there's a dime's worth of difference between a democrat and republican." In context, Cloud wasn't slandering conservative values; instead, he was merely pointing out that both ideologies fall painfully short of God's ideal. Frankly, I think he's right.
Here's a good question. Do you think there are people in the world who are so smart they've not only figured out ways to shape entire societies, but they've shaped those societies in such a way that the people part of them think in predetermined ways? The answer is yes on both counts.
Believe it or not, God set out to do this, too. At Sinai, God prescribed an entire political system: one that would shape people's thought processes. But, because those thought processes were immediately at odds with the Israelites' sin nature, they rejected God's government and set out on their own.
Here's my point - be aware. Although I know my writing is ethereal at times, it pains me when people blindly go through life unaware of the cause-and-effect relationships that exist in how we do things. None of it is benign. John Locke knew it. Thomas Jefferson knew it. God knows it. I know it. Although allegiance to a nation is commendable, let us continually scrutinize our understanding of a Kingdom politic (i.e., church life) in light of God's directives, making adjustments even if it's a bit uncomfortable.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty (bio)
The Banqueting Table