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Friday, May 20, 2011

Like Shooting A Few Sacred Cows

The Sacred-Secular Divide is a mental problem that affects us more than we realize. Mark Greene calls it, “SSD.” Sounds like a disease, doesn’t it? Dr. David Scott, a professor of theology at Southern Evangelical Seminary, calls it a “mental virus.” See his essay, A Church Without A View.

It doesn’t sound very nice to say it, but we really do have a mental problem. The “virus” is so deeply embedded in our brains that we assume the Sacred-Secular Divide is a normal, natural, and even necessary way of thinking.

This is a huge part of the problem. We think this way of thinking is normal! Some may even like the Sacred-Secular Divide. It might feel good to be known as a person who is “in full-time Christian ministry.” It has a nice ring to it. Many have done a lot, given up a lot, or paid a lot to earn that distinction. Others dream about it. “Someday,” they think, “I will quit my job (or retire) and go into the ministry.” 

Go into the ministry? What does that mean? Aren't we "in the ministry" wherever we go?

Was Jesus "in the ministry" during the eighteen years He spent as a carpenter? Was He doing what His Father showed Him to do during those years as much as the last three? Actually, Jesus was in the ministry of carpentry. And this is no joke.

Nearly 500 years ago, Martin Luther tried to rid the church of the notion that some people have “special” calls: “Monastic vows rest on the false assumption that there is a special calling, a vocation, to which superior Christians are invited to observe the counsels of perfection while ordinary Christians fulfill only the commands; but there is simply no special religious vocation since the call of God comes to each at the common tasks.”

For Luther, such common tasks included milking cows and changing babies’ diapers. These things, too, are “the Lord’s work.” But if you or I were to ask one hundred Christians to give six examples of “the Lord’s work,” I doubt if milking cows would be mentioned.

Speaking of cows, I’m convinced that ridding ourselves of SSD requires some hard decisions, like shooting a few sacred cows. While the thought of shooting cows may be unpleasant, I think it's necessary.

To be continued.

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