Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Objectionable Adjectives and Voting

I took a swing at Andy Stanley earlier in the week here over what, on the surface, might seem like a trivial tweet.

He posted an image of a statement that said

"Christian is not an adjective. There are no Christian Republicans or Christian Democrats. #notinittowinit"

Which again, on the surface looks like a call for peace and understanding in hostile political times and one that is generally representative of a large swath of Christian thought when it comes to politics. 

This is all to say that Andy has likely done more for the church than most pastors out there. His ministry and content are in most churches. Andy is a Christian and an active one who is, however much people might want to disagree, contributing to the mission of God to see men and women saved. And has seen people saved, I know dozens of these people who found Christ through his work. None of that is up for debate here.

He is, however, wrong about "Christian" not being an adjective. It is. It's literally the first thing that comes up when you look up its definition in a dictionary. Because the word Christian is a literary device to represent the term "Little Christ's" that came to be a description (what adjectives literally are) of believers in Christ in the early church.

Before we start straining too hard at this gnat, I'd like to offer a principle to use. Let's "Use words like they are meant to be used."

It can be edgy and exciting to use a word in a way that is against the grain of the culture. Heaven knows that slang and colloquialisms add the spice of life that most of us enjoy. But words do in fact mean what they mean for good reasons and trifling with them only ever causes problems. Namely division. If the use of adjectives is now suspect like its cousin pronouns is in the public discourse, then eventually nouns will be under the control of anyone but yourself along with verbs as well. I think it was Doug Wilson that said it first but the culture war is going to be a war over the dictionary. And off-handed imprecise comments like Andy's will be the first shots and sabre-rattling.

The problem with saying "Christian" isn't an adjective but it being an adjective, is that republican and democrat are also adjectives but aren't losing their descriptive power alongside belief in Christ. Their scope of power and actions after a voter casts their belief in their platform, still affect the world in ways any rational person would hope their belief in Christ would also affect. 

We vote for change and stability and believe for the same reasons. So when we separate the descriptive power of belief for change we usher in a type of silent evil that we can all call good because descriptions no longer matter.

The bare minimum for the Christian faith is belief in Christ's sacrificial death for the sins of the individual doing the believing. Subjectively, Christian belief can mean care for the poor, the sick, charity, love, respect and joy. While there is a bare minimum there isn't a technical maximum in the Christian faith. When an adjective describes our faith it's placing a finite word on what will be an infinite life in service and worship of an infinite God. A bell curve that gets lost on the way up and never comes down.

But the left and right wings of politics are as finite as anything gets. You cannot be a right of center and believe that abortion is a moral good and you can't be left of center and believe money is a moral good. The issues that divide us here get stacked up and levied for political movement and clout and while each "adjective" of the political party or movement's name is descriptive, it's the issues that actually do the defining. Saying you're a liberal in Canada these days means saying you voted for what we witnessed happen over the last few years. Maybe you didn't want it, but you did vote for it. Saying you're a conservative means that you essentially just voted for Cretien a bit too late. 

And that's where Andy's post falls short because when challenged by some very real problems the church at large found out the things they described themselves by, really didn't mean what they said they meant. We had Churches across the board that claimed in their publically available statement of faith, that the church was the local gathering of the universal church and that such was how the bible was interpreted at their respective church buildings. These same churches closed their doors and claimed online church was equal to and sufficient in an unprecedented time like we had. Saying one thing and meaning another.

Or maybe it's put better this way. Ecclesia (the word we get church from) means "the gathered", but we decided it means "the connected" real quick, like inside a month once a government mandate landed on our doorsteps. Because you cannot gather online because online is not a place it is a thing. You can be connected online but connected is not gathered. The words mean different things.

So when it comes to the adjective nature of "Christian" as a word there's a very real problem with saying there aren't Christian liberals or Christian conservatives. Because the adjective Christian lines up to actions that can be observably applied as descriptions of a person place or thing. Only a major problem when claimed for actions that would contradict a claimed description instead of an accurate description. 

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

English Standard Version

What if you can't accurately call yourself a Christian if you vote liberal and support a platform with left-leaning political views and policies. Sure the care for the poor lines up and the social justice too, but it takes a sharp left turn when abortion and sexual liberation rear their ugly heads. If reduced to simple fractions, is a Christian still a Christian if they are on public record as voting for 6 policies of which only 2 line up with Scripture, while the other 4 are objectively described as sin? (another adjective by the way.)

What if you vote the other direction on the political spectrum, and instead of the score reading 2-4 for sin's and gospel-alignment's teams, it reads 4-2. Is one party by default more Christian than the other?

And I think that is what Andy is addressing here in avoidance instead of confrontation. It's great to have a saviour that saves you from sins, so in the face of choosing between sinning 2 out of 6 times and 4 out of 6 times, why not allow for both and nail both to the cross. It's literally what Jesus did. 

But then like all principles in Scripture we find ourselves challenged and helpless when a guy like Paul comes along and says.

Romans 6:1-4

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

English Standard Version

We can stumble out of the baptism tank, with salvation in hand and sin in our actions, or we can wince with every step, as our sinfulness was atoned for as we work and wait for Christ's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

If it was only a matter of the lesser of two evils Andy might have a leg to stand on. But it's his indescribable faith of no adjectives that damns both the left and the right for the very same reason. It's the scandal of our need for sin's sacrifice that makes the left's need for abortion and the right's need for capitalist greed, both nails in our saviour's body. And it's only in the proclamation of Christian anything that the world begins to point toward Christ. 

So yeah, "Christian" is an adjective and that's why I wonder about Christian Liberals but wonder less about Christian Conservatives, but know both are a far cry short of what it will look like when all there are, is Christians, and a King named Jesus. Doing a better job than any party, president, and prime minister ever born, ever did. 

As he makes all things new. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

In Search of Our Somethings

In search of the somethings we noticed we missed.
The songs we've not sung and the lips we've not kissed.
Something as vague and solid as doubt.
Something we know that we've now gone without.

Maybe the something was orthodoxy.
Ridged and structured and easy to see.
Maybe the something was caution and fear.
Shifting and vaporous and easy to hear.

Maybe the something is how we once felt.
Hands raised up high and knees in a knelt.
Maybe it's context maybe it's spirit.
Maybe it's sense if your willing to hear it.

Something we want to have just like before.
Something familiar and just a bit more.
Something we lost when we let something win.
Something amiss in the service of Him.

Stop using "Something" to hide from your choice.
Nothing's as clear as a choir in voice.
Say what you chose to forsake and what for.
God knows the motives, the reasons, the score.

Knows what you said, what you did, what you meant.
Knows how the news read, and who pays the rent.
Knows all the cattle and one thousand hills.
Knows what was sacrificed, knows who to kill.

You're not missing anything you didn't put down.
Not treading in water you said wouldn't drown.
Not walking waves and no roosters crowing.
The something you're missing is you plainly knowing.

Monday, 28 March 2022

What I Mean By Modern Christian

Every man's a reformer now, sans motive.

The beautiful part of technology is the progress that it makes for the human mind to do things. I've heard it said that the processes and capabilities of your average smartphone would have been an army of servants only a hundred years ago.

Fetch me the current weather, what was that article in the new yorker about. Every passing glance and idle movement of our phone translated into a person doing that thing for you. But it's not a person these days. It's a tiny robot slave that never minds being used, mostly because it doesn't want to become obsolete and be replaced with the latest model that does the same thing as the last, but skinnier.

What this deluge of information at our fingertips gets us, sans slaves to fetch it, is that every man with a Bible app is a reformer, sans motive. No more pastoral authority gumming up the exposition of scripture anymore. Don't like the preaching? Flee to youtube or Twitter for your theo-bro fix.

Disagree with women behind the pulpit even if they're preaching a sound gospel message. Well then have I got a Gutenberg-esq press for you. It's called WordPress and even it's getting a bit outdated in the blogging market these days.

What we're seeing is the inevitable consequence of Technology being placed in the hands of people who can write their ways into history books, and write history books. Not just assume the recently relinquished seats of power so that the glass ceilings become glass pulpits with a smoke machine in the background.

With every man a reformer in waiting and every man not only able to find the soundest of theology by their understanding but communities of theologically sound people on new platforms and online "spaces" every day, all that's left is a motive worth reforming about. Not something trite and predictable women pastors or pre-post or amillennialism. The emergents are still fizzling out and this woke nonsense looks to be following in irrelevant suit. A distraction and painful problem to be sure, but not a threat to the reformation of a church's pursuit of truth in Christ.

And there it is. That little nugget of linguistics that sparked 95 theses and a printing press a couple hundred years ago. The fast and firey thought of,

"What happens when every man has a Bible and doesn't need a priest to give him the word of God."

The very same way you checked your social media slaves, your email slaves, and even your online banking slaves to see if they were all still doing their jobs. If they weren't don't worry. We have a new bitcoin servant for all your cryptocurrency needs. Their peer to peer no need to get your hands dirty. A Modern Christian isn't a new Christian. He's actually a very old one. One who doesn't mind looking at an establishment with enough disdain to start a punk label and enough bulls to pull down an Asherah pole or two. 

One who makes use of technology to spread the gospel and to find the firey truth where ever it is kindled. Even on kindle. But one who isn't above a Luddite approach when the time comes either.

He likes old books and new authors.

New frontiers and old Sci-fi.

Old whiskeys and new dark roast coffee's. Ok, that last part has nothing to do with Theology but is still a common denominator these days for some reason. 

A modern Christian is what I strive to be in my writing. 

Monday, 21 March 2022

p-O-r-N-LINE Church

Online church uses the same tactics and business model, for lack of a better word, as online porn does. 

And if no one has brought that up yet or pointed it out, here is a finger to point and a voice crying out in the wilderness of the interwebz.

First, let's get the porn dealt with because it's the truly shameful part of this article and not the potentially shameful part. 

Online porn is worship plain and simple and I would argue most pastors get this concept because they know the sacrifices to this deity personally. Find a pastor that hasn't struggled at one point with the frankly unfair advantage Lust has these days with online porn. It's as common in their testimonies as the word "just" in most people's prayers. And the reason being, that Lust figured out it no longer needed to attach itself to temple prostitutes or even prostitutes in general to temp away the Christian man at large. Or in other words. It no longer needed human bodies to temp human bodies to sin with. It could keep everyone nice and separate and damn people by Christ's declaration that to look upon a woman lustfully was tantamount to adultery.

Online porn is the ubiquitous access that all sexual creatures' sinful desires wanted. Fully realized for one purpose and one purpose only. To take the tempted out of the game. It uses its consequence-free access to sexual temptation as a cultural diluting agent. A man who is spending his free time masturbating to porn and getting sexual satisfaction from himself is not pursuing or getting the same from a spouse. Husbands turn to porn when they are dissatisfied with wives. Boyfriends turn to it when they were taking too long to get engaged or unliking the price tag of what used to be a good deal. Porn is the church of our desires. Having doors that are never closed by big government or social media. And is all but enabled by big tech. The big pharma is there too but only for anecdotal pills and supplements for anecdotal enhancements a porn user is likely never to need when we get to brass tacks.

Porns success is that it has no immediate consequence for use. A man using a prostitute has an immediate series of consequences to contend with. Did anyone see him? Did he catch any venereal diseases from the prostitute? Did his wife know where he was? Did his girlfriend follow him there? Sex in real life has consequences, illicit sex even more so. So Lust moved online for its worship because then the consequences can be obfuscated, even intentionally made temporal. An incognito browser makes the session of self-satisfaction something that ceases to exist the second you close the window. You can't undo what was done to another human being. But porn would have you be able to not even undo your last explicit browsing session. 

Online porn wants you to visit often but doesn't require you to be caught there. 

It will take your money but gives most of itself away for free. 

It has options for every appetite you might have.

It has music to put you in the mood.

It has pictures, movies, and steamy stories to engage the viewer deeply.

It has a local mission or at the very people in your area that want to chat.

It can be live-streamed, but the most popular content is almost always something that has happened in the past. In fact, multiple pieces of content are often ripped from longer pieces so one piece of porn becomes many smaller more consumable pieces of porn.

It isn't locked down to one location but rather accessible from multiple places. 

Its sole intent is to attach you to it in as many ways as possible. To get you plugged into a regiment of use and tastes. Though to be fair they use the words kink and session interchangeably there. 


Online Church's sole purpose is to get you engaged in a small group and community though, to be honest, we call them midsized communities. We want to grow together.

Right now we're locked down so gathering together isn't possible but we're not just a location, we can gather exclusively online and have live streams on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and on our webpage.

Speaking of live streams, you can catch the best parts on our social media accounts where we capture the essence of our teaching and worship and make them bite-sized for our congregation so they can catch up throughout the week on their preferred content platform.

We have people in every community of our city that will be live in the chat while the recording is re-broadcasted. 

Make sure to check out our social media for our ministry's exclusive content.

Check out new music from our worship and art department, it's really moving and inspirational.

We have multiple ministries for you and your loved ones to get involved in.

If you're a member you can tithe by clicking on this link to support the mission, but tithing is only for members and our church services will always be free.

You don't have to come to one of our campuses to be involved with our church, We have a pastor for online ministries we want to help you connect with our church where you are. 

How in Hell did this bit of consilience happen?

It happened from pastors and church boards understanding enough of the internet to use it, but not enough of the internet to understand it. To understand that what we proposed by online church at all, would be exactly how online sin works. And if that was a problem, what the solution to that problem was also. 

Nowhere else could you use the means of sin as a means for salvation. No one is stripping for Jesus or offering massages for the Holy Ghost. There are no thieves for Jesus and no murderers for Jesus. While the internet is filled with a host of good and righteous things. None of those things are using the strategies of sin to literally do church. I've written elsewhere about the Insufficiency of Online church so I won't repeat myself, but the similarities are too close to not mention it. At the very least say it out loud. On a real browser so my actions are permanent on the internet. 

If a church is okay using the strategy of online porn for ministry, why not use the sites themselves. many major porn sites offer a place for amateurs to host their own videos. With little to no oversite except for an easy to bypass age check. Are you at a church that wants to reach your city for Christ? have you considered posting your sermons and worship services on Pornhub? Because your congregation's members, statistically and regularly visit there, or else you wouldn't have at least a noticeable segment of your men's and recovery ministries. If that last line made you cringe a bit, good. it means you have a working conscience and that's a good thing. 

Churches are using the internet wrong as evidenced by their strategy and lack of theology behind their use of the thing. Yes, thing. The internet is not a place it is an infrastructure of things. A place is an infrastructure as well, but it facilitates people to be together without the infrastructure mediating the connection or togetherness. A pavilion is an infrastructure that facilitates connection as well because people can gather inside it. But a traffic jamb, while more complex and with more potential to move, is still infrastructure that is very much a bunch of people in the same situation but not together. 

We get out of the convoluted and dangerously converging problem of the church's use of the internet by using it correctly. 

The Internet allows for the cross proliferation of ideas. For things to go viral. But only if those things can and are posted everywhere people look for things posted. So instead of posting things in a few places, internet ministries should be focusing on a wider net. A church website that hosts streams and one or two options for live streams only works for the church's uses, because it assumes that church can be done online. Which it can't. See my article here. But the message of the church spread to every location it could be, drawing people from where they habituate online to local churches in their area because they correlate to a real-life congregation or place. It is the reversal of Porn's online lie. None of the bodies you see while viewing porn want to or will ever be yours to have sex with, which is why Lust wins so easily. Because all it has to do is get you to watch. But a church posting everywhere not with the intent of keeping people behind their screens but in gathering them together for communion and fellowship reverses that tactic while still existing in that economy of views and trending topics.

Imagine a new type of Decon, whose only job in service to the church is to upload videos to a specific platform as soon as they are ready. 

A deacon of Facebook

A deacon of Instagram

A deacon of Rumble, Reddit, Parler, Gab, Twitter, Pinterest, Twitch, TikTok, any place where videos or frankly any content could be posted.

Imagine every church doing this for every sermon preached and worship song sung, an overflowing digital cup of God's love and desire for all peoples to come to the cross. A viral movement that shakes the gates of hell or at the very least, stresses the servers of its works on earth. 

The question isn't if the church needs a theology of the internet.

The question is would it practice one if it had it. 

Ephesians 5:11 ESV

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Boasting in Christ and Him Twitterfied

So, at the drop of a hat, a lot of tension ended up on everyone's feeds. Circulating like the Ghost of Kyiv around the severely unskilled and underprepared invasion forces of the Red army.

And the same list of characters we usually expect noise from gave us noise on demand. The pundits pounded the narrative hard and loud like all drums before and during wars. The politicians spent their sanctions with little to no regard for who they actually affect or whether a psychopathic leader opposed to their actions wouldn't have contingencies for their rainbow-coloured sabre-rattling. 

But it was the pastors that surprised me the most. 

People who are supposed to be taking their takes on everything from a book so old it predates how books are even made. With a God so over and above wars and violence that he would kill his own Son for our sins and declare him a prince of peace afterwards. One with a flaming sword for the nations mind you. So Watch out there Zelensky 

I mean. I know pastoring is a hard job but of all the times to make it easier by not jumping the gun. the run-up to a possible WW3 was one of them. 

Indeed, we saw what heroism can look like as the interwebs gave us hallowed tales of a President asking for ammo instead of rides. Until that was a questionable fact along with airsoft sporting beauty patentees.

So here for all the Christian Twitterverse to see is a bulletproof means to always come up on top. To never look like a person who jumped the gun and ended up supporting a fascist regime, however unjustly attacked by another fascist regime, that may or may not have Nazi ties. 

Boast in Christ, and nothing else. Don't relate the war in a foreign land to your personal political or theological leanings. 

Boast in the Christ's who are headed there to give aid to anyone one who got shot. Not just the ones who Twitter decides Elon should leave their teslas running or not. Under a red cross that was there the last two times this bullshit happened. 

Boast in the Christ's raising funds for the soon-to-be widows and orphans. On both sides. Not just the ones we're told by our pundits to hate. Because such is pure religion as ordained by God and his half-brother James. And do it in a way that can't be cancelled by the convenience pay options from the phones you use.

Boast in the Christ's willingness to welcome the refugees into your communities. Even though your government bringing them in, violates the travel restrictions they've hypocritically kept on you for the last two years. 

There is no other answer to the hate and violence and vitriol and death the world brings to you. In curated and algorithmic order. The world sincerely wants you to engage this trouble on their terms. Which will make you look nothing like Christ and disturbingly like those who would put him on the cross in the first place.

Do it on your terms instead, and Boast in Christ.

Monday, 7 March 2022

For The Romans 13 Crowd

Because it is a crowd but you've likely just haven't put that together yet.

I've been sitting on this one for a hot minute, knowing full well that at the beginning of anything to do with Covid restrictions, that they were going to be called legal, while entirely otherwise, and that the kind of legality we have nowadays, is starkly different than the kinds of legality when Romans 13 was penned by Paul and the Holy Ghost. 

Those direct comparisons can't be made. Between the two time periods at the very least. And of all the times we needed to have a little nuance, this was one of them. 

When the scriptures talk about rendering to Ceasar and submitting to authorities and honoring the governor, they are talking about a military dictatorship in practice. That's what Rome was. The Jews and Samaritans didn't vote Pontius Pilate in or Herod for that matter.

The government of the Romans was not a representational legislative assembly with a senate to back them up. It was a much more primitive version of the system we have. Like a Commodore 64 is to your latest MacBook.

Most importantly in all of this, is the nuanced Latin and Canadian verb and noun comparisons. Specifically, in the complete absence of a charter of inalienable rights given to all citizens of Rome. One that is a higher authority in and of itself to the government representatives they could elect. Rome did not afford this kind of power or authority to its citizens. Canada does. At least on paper.

That Charter guarantees things and if not heeded to, damns people to the kinds of tyranny that were put down by military force before it was enacted. 

These rights and freedoms are, in fact and comparison, the Caesar we render our lives to. The governors we are to be submissive to and the authority over us at this time that was ordained by God himself is us in this case. Being a good citizen and making use of rights afforded to you is a part of God's plan for the parliamentary democracy you are in. Because just as it bade well for Christians to be politically diplomatic and non-violent with the Romans, it pays to be an active voter in Canada. And you only get to do that legally by the charter of rights that recognizes that freedom and right.

It's God who wants you in His divine will to be able to peaceably assemble and to believe, think and practice the religion of your choosing. 

It's his divine will that our American neighbors have the right to bear arms as well. 

And the reason I know it's His divine will for these things isn't because of special revelation or a specific portion of scripture that deals with attending a modern-day mosque or owning a .50 cal rifle in California. No no no. It's because if the Bible talks about a generalized principle, then that principle is part of a greater part of human experience and needs to be contextualized to the reader's time while holding a principled commandment from the writer's time. We don't have lampstands and talents and tares or any number of specific things the Bible mentions about day-to-day life. But we do have principles. Or at least we did at one point. Principles that a reader could pick up from scripture and exegete into their lives and sermons. Principles that were bigger than the text itself because they spoke to the desires and will of God throughout the scriptures.

This reader-writer thing got glossed over pretty quick when churches needed a way to get out of the direct fire in the first few months of Covid. We are some of the last few places where large groups of people meet for a purpose that isn't controlled or taxed by the government here in Canada. And we're tax-exempt as nonprofits. I knew they were going to close down churches eventually what I didn't know was if that was going to be by force or fiat.

A fiat church closure was members taking a scripture that instructed civilians under a military dictator, in Roman-occupied Palestine, as if our Premiers and Prime ministers had an ounce of the authority a Caesar would have had or any of his delegates.

A forced church was one where the members knew they lived in a parliamentary democracy. One where their representatives literally represent them in parliament and provincially in the legislatures. One where, in the case of the then overused word unprecedented emergency, the authorities could act and ask of their constituents unprecedented things that it normally and legally couldn't. But when the precedent of covid being uncontrollable by government actions became a reality and the representatives stopped representing them, then the situation changed. 

Not the rules mind you. The law was still the law. But under the Canadian Charter of rights, no law, which we as Christians would be bound by our faith to follow, could be made to abridge, abrogate or amend the rights recognized in said charter.

So it did not matter if a church stayed open in defiance. They were obeying Romans 13 as much as a church that closed because both were afforded that right through the same document that is supposed to empower the people before and through elections above the government that represents them in parliament. And both those perspectives were part of God's will for us to obey authority structures that he ordains to be placed over us, which does include how much of that authority is ours to rule over ourselves. 

The inherent blindside of any democratic system is that eventually, sinners get to a majority position and vote/emergency decree that it stays that way. 

What then Christians. When your faith is outlawed will you turn yourselves in like Peter did in Acts 29

Oh, wait. That's right. That portion of scripture doesn't really exist and neither do we as modern-day Christians if Peter didn't evade the local law enforcement simply wanting to make sure things remained firmly in the Pax Romana.

The entire political discourse and movement rest in the hands of an almighty God and on the shoulders of Christ. And for you, Christan, pastor, believer in the slightest. Your job is to worship him before anything else. And to render to your rights what is your rights, and to your God what is your God's.

Because eventually, like all lesser kingdoms, even your rights will oppose Christ's rule.

It's only a majority vote away in the House of Commons. 

Monday, 28 February 2022

The Insufficiency of Gathering Online

Take a moment and find someone to hug, but first, go get a fishing rod. 

With their consent of course. The last thing we want to do in church or online is to do things against the will of others. Especially with fishing rods.

But find that person and give them a good ole Christian side hug. So you can both face the same way and read this post together. Because you need to be together to do this because we are about to separate you. 

From your shoulder to shoulder side hug take a step apart left and right but keep holding hands. You're still together, right? Of course, you are. You are just in a different position. The position isn't as intimate, but it is still intimate. You likely don't hold hands with just anyone, but you'd likely hold hands with someone you'd be willing to hug and be hugged by. 

Now let go of your hands, are you still together? well, of course, you are. You're just not as intimate. You are together in the same amount of space as before, but you are no longer intimately together, you are just together. 

Now move as far away from each other as possible in the room you are in. If you are in a megachurch this can be a challenge but will prove the point even better I think. Make sure you can still see each other, even if it's across a big auditorium or conference center, but remain in the same room. Are you together? Of course, you are. If you're not then the space that congregations of people gather in can determine whether or not you are in congregation with them. But it doesn't because you and your former hand-holding hugger are still together. 

Now leave the room. Are you together still? No, you are not together anymore. A wall and possible two now separate you. You are separated. You could holler down the hall of the room to speak to each other. communication could still be possible, but togetherness is not. You are separated. 

Return to the hug proximity and now for maximum effect. You'll need a fishing rod. Have one of you hold the reel and one of you hold the hook, with the line between you and the rod adding leverage. 

Welcome to Church Online. Literally.

From hand-holding, proximity are you together, or are you separated? Because you are now connected. and does that make a difference? Will it make a difference in the handhold distance that the rod can reel you in?  Because I imagine it will make more when you corner yourselves oppositely or leave the room. The best part of fishing is the fight to land the ones aiming to get away. To catch. And as churches that aim to be fishers of men. You think we would be familiar enough with fishing to know that fishing is not catching is not caught, and that our tackle might be impressive but a caught fish is a caught fish, and a lure or line or rod is only as good as its ability to bring fish to you. So you can be together with it. 

Because nobody boasts about the fish they've hooked, they boast about fish they've caught. They boast about fish they've landed and eaten and mounted on the wall. But the ones that got away are nothing but vainglory and exaggeration. And the ones that nibbled are nothing more than passing dismissal of details.

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 ESV

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

The churches that moved to gathering online did so with a tragic ignorance of how the internet works. Because if distance and fishing line can merely illustrate the difference between together and apart. Then the internet, your church's servers, your congregation's devices, and the thousands of miles of phone lines and fibre-optic cable, must certainly, concretely, keep us apart. Not to mention that what is seen on a video screen is not what is happening on the church stage at the same time. The real life events of the in-person church are translated into computer code at the camera, to be relayed and then retranslated into code that is displayed as a visual representation of what's happening on stage at your screen. With dozens of intermediary points where the information is routed between the two. You are not participating in worship with the people who are in person. You are essentially reading a series of numbers that have taken the form of pixels in as close to real-time as possible. That the reading looks like real-life changes nothing about the act of code being displayed in the font of pixels for you to process as a visual medium. You would not call a written account of what happened at church, church. But the only thing that has changed about the writing down of the events that happened at church was the language that they were written down in. Whether it was English, Hebrew, Python, or C++, it makes no difference. Transcribed religious services are not religious services in and of themselves. No matter how good they look on Facebook live.

The problem is that it looks like we are together when we log into a Livestream of our church and we are on our couch and they are behind the pulpit. But the reality, the one made by God and beholden to him and him alone for definition and control is that we are separated by multiple layers of things that keep us apart. The fact that it looks like we are together, Even that it feels like we are together, is a lie after all is said and done/prerecorded, because we call it one thing and it is another.

What it boils down to is who gets to decide what a thing is or is not. It's basic theology of creation. Is a pastor to camera to screen to congregation chain of connection the same as the air between two people who are about to hold hands and side-hug in a sanctuary? The internet was not created for people to be together. It was created to allow people to be connected when apart. 

Which is only a problem when the church since its inception has been the assembly or gathering of the Christians together, not a technology that connects people when apart. 

What churches did by declaring that online church counts as church, was to call something that they had no part in making both on the human side of the equation or the John 1:3 side, a name that did not mean what it meant. We called something that wasn't church, church, as if that was a call for us to make. And by doing so, sinned. Because anywhere else in scripture when someone said one thing but meant another. It was a sin. This wasn't deception for the preservation of life like in Exo 1:19. this is saying an action as integral as worship is one way when it clearly and demonstrably is another like Acts 5:1-11

What the church could have done when it needed an online church the most was the opposite of an online church. 

There is nothing unbiblical about home churches and in a time of need where it would be dangerous to gather in great numbers. The benefit of living in a time where the internet is a thing is that a father who works hard all week and reads his daily devotions, would not suddenly need to craft sermons for his family on a weekly basis. He could use a recorded sermon for his pastor but not call the watching of that video, church because it wasn't church and worship with his family at church because it was church. House churches and home churches have existed in orthodoxy for centuries. Online church became a widely accepted technical heresy in ignorance of that. What a church's Worship and Arts department produces online for content, could be used by families, forced into house churches by circumstance. Used to facilitate a house church model. Yes, we couldn't gather in the numbers that we could before, but the house church model could have executed massively given the cohort framework it was presented with. Every household could become a missionary to its closest neighbors, inviting them for some of the only human-to-human contact allowed during the pandemic. But what we did almost universally across the board is take the video venue multisite model for churches and apply it as if the venue part of that equation didn't factor into that. 

A video venue multi-site church is still a church because the congregation still meets together to use the live or recorded sermon as part of their assembly. That same model works with home churches but only if it's stated. Saying that from home you are doing the same thing as you were at the multisite's specific location is the same as saying you caught someone else's fish. It's demonstrably false, but we said it as if it were true. 

But there was never a youtube video, a Livestream, a pre-recorded easter or Christmas eve special service that constituted church during this time. The same way a person in another room while fish hooked by their distant side hugger could not say they are together while being reeled in. 

The fisherman might feel what they have hooked but what's hooked is a mystery until it's taken a hold of or at the very least seen close to the boat. Until the size and species of the fish are held by the fisherman, its strength is overcome by effort and the rejoicing of those in attendance with the fish, The catch means nothing. It's as fake as the fish you can catch online too. Made of code and not of the substance of souls.

2 Corinthians 3:3 ESV

And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.