Wednesday, August 09, 2006

membership

Much talk on several of the blogs I participate have mentioned tradition lately.

Denominational church tradition.

All have mentioned their likes and dislikes, pride and prejudices of their denominational heritage and/or background.

Is is wrong or sinful of me to not want a tradition?

Am I incorrect or foolish if I do not spend much time looking back at heritage?

These are sincere questions I ask. Not cynical trivial ones in passing.

I've never liked clubs much. Any kind of club.

In college I avoided joining any kind of social club, even the good ones that actually served the community and got made fun of by the rest of the clubs on campus.

Somehow or another I just didn't want to be pigeon-holed as something. I guess.

I read a lot of obituaries. It's the only way I can tell if old friends of mine from the old izzy ministry days have passed. Those folks usually had short life spans.

Obituaries always list every organization the dead person was ever a member of. Church, civic, political, military, patriotic, etc.

I don't want to be a member of anything.

If I had any say so, I'd hope my obit would read:

Agent B
He was a member of nothing.
He was just a guy. He loved Jesus.
He leaves behind a beloved wife________ and children_______and_______.

So it goes.

What do I care how it reads. I'll be dead.

I can only hope and pray that the identifying marks of jesus will be on me.

20 comments:

Matthew said...

I'm not sure that tradition automatically assumes membership in a club, although it does assume membership in something.

Your anti-tradition views are really right in line with those old-guard Church of Christers, who supposed that they could forge an identity for themselves that entirely excluded any dependence on or obligation to the traditions that formed them.

As you can probably tell, I think this is a little unreasonable and mildly egoistic. =)

Agent B said...

Funny...coc (especially "old-guard") is one of the traditions I desire to be disassociated with. Or, at least I have been for over 10 years.

Guess by trying to not be tied to a heritage, in your eyes I have inadvertantly strapped myself to one.

...we all come full circle ;)

Mike said...

the thing with joining a community and embracing that community's tradition is that it isn't about joining some exclusive club. what it is about is extending the concept of being members of one another (pauls words) out into the world where we live as opposed to leaving it in the abstract.

it is like when you get married and you become, ideally, part of your partners family. you now participate in that new families tradtions, and their invitation to you to participate in these traditions is a sign of their acceptance of you.

i think one of the identifying marks of jesus is that we are known for our communities.

but that is just me.

Agent B said...

Good explanation mike. Especially the marriage illustration.

Honestly...I'm not a fan of extreme idealism. This post probably comes across as unrealistic, thus very idealistic.

I do have community. Several of them. And I have taken on their histories and possibly heritages. So it goes.

But back to my original questions:

Is is wrong or sinful of me to not want a tradition?

Am I incorrect or foolish if I do not spend much time looking back at heritage?


In a church vein, I've seen it become idolatrous to place emphasis on ones heritage rather than ones god.

Therefore, I'd rather not have a heritage.

If that's possible.

Or perhaps it's egotistic like matthew suggests...;)

miller said...

b,

i don't think its wrong to strive for the purity of "heritagelessness"...

but it ain't possible

what we have to do, it seems to me, is acknowledge that we are who we are because of who we have been and with whom we have been, try to leave the bad stuff behind and let the rest inform us as we pursue God...

because it will whether we want it to or not.

what i hear you saying is in consonance with my heart, can i just not be identified with the structure or the doctrine or the name...

can't i just be identified with Jesus?

well i hope someday we can be

i know someday we will be

in the meantime there's this thing called fallenness

peace

MommyHAM said...

I'm trying my stab at it (bear in mind I'm a young'un with a lot to learn!)

Is is wrong or sinful of me to not want a tradition?

Depends on how you look at it, imho. If we embrace the traditions of love, peach and kindness - traditions that set us apart from the world at large, I dunno why we wouldn't want that (not saying you do/don't). On the other hand, traditions that become divisive (one cup, many cups? Instrumental music, a capella?) are to me, not something I want to be associated with - and as such, I s'pose I'd say (since it's in my favor!) it's not sin. LOL

Am I incorrect or foolish if I do not spend much time looking back at heritage?

Again, depends on how you look at that. One could read that question to mean that you just live each day as you think, without letting Jesus (the true author of our heritage) guide you or be an object of study.

Now, I don't think that's what you meant, but trying to provide perspective.

Enjoyable post :)

priest said...

i agree with your thoughts of not being a member of anything--I find the same desires in my own heart.

for me, part of it is that keeping distance from the organizations and institutions gives us distance to be prophetic voices and loyal members of a distinct Body.

Agent B said...

keeping distance from the organizations and institutions gives us distance to be prophetic voices

Priest (and all) - I would definately love to keep this conversation going, especially if we could explore this prophetic vein. Or any other new vein for that matter.

Agent X (aka book store guy) seems to have said this over me once...something about being a prophetic voice in the wilderness that keeps the church in check. I don't say that about myself, but if another does, so be it.

Plus...I still think that if a person gets a little defensive over a post like this and/or shows any pride over a heritage...well, I think that's just an exposing of ones idols and thus speaks for itself.

Not that I'm right and everyone else is wrong...but I'd love to keep exploring this before this post gets too buried...

To all...thanks for the comments.

Jason & Nicole said...

It seems like when the New Testament refers to "tradition" it never refers to an institution or club membership of any sort, but to the authentic story of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I haven't decided if it also includes the things that stream from the fact that he is Lord and Savior . . . I guess that might include a looser definition of tradition. I agree with Agent B about not desiring tradition. I've said this several times but only in "safe zones". I'm devoted to people I've known who have loved me and shown me Christ.
jason

Mike Exum said...

You seem to have lumped "tradition" and "membership" together in this post in a way I am unsure how to deal with. I am sure that the two go together often, but they are not necessarily the same thing.

That said, I'll take my shot at addressing your questions:

I think you can have a traditionless tradition, or a tradition of avoiding, criticizing or blaming traditions for certain ills - and that becomes a tradition. I think also that some traditions are good, some bad, some old, some relatively new etc with such a wide spectrum that it might be "tradition" is a hugely broad term in the end. And I think you really don't live life outside of cycles and traditions, be they large or small.

We have Christmas traditions, and laundry routines in my house. Neither makes a big register on the tradition scale. But with recurring cycles in life as they are, mess with either and you could easily upset the equilibrium of our marriage, our family, our applecart. At the other end of the spectrum is Passover Meal. A national religious tradition celebrated by Jesus in a new way, a not so traditional way - the way that all the millennia of tradition before Him had pointed to and yet was missed by so many.

I did not join a social club in college either. I did not want to be pigeon holed either. I also did not want to endure a lot of stupid traditions, or mean ones. And those traditions are designed primarily to make one fit for membership in the group. But that is selfishness on a group scale. It does not, typically - for there are exceptions to be sure, serve more altruistic purposes really. Not really... And in the end, it is often really about "networking" your self into a successful career. And this is true for churches often too.

However, church membership is about being "in Christ" as St Paul terms it. It is about being part of the body. The body is the human being. The human being is the image bearer. Only Jesus truly bears the image of God. Only He is truly human. But He gives the church His Spirit, wind, breath to become His body. And that is passed on to new generations much the way Passover was.

The denominational traditions come to us from the fragmenting of His body. They historically promoted "us and them" groupings of people in His body. That is a terrible use of tradition.

However, I am not inclined to believe that further fragmentation is the answer to the original fragmentation. I think we need new traditions, or rather old traditions, older than the tradtions that fragmented.

At the same time, I operate on a "trans-denominational" mentality that seeks to bring our little traditions and allegiances under a larger one. Traditionally, pardon the use of the word, CoC disrespected other people's traditions and tried to say we had none. That was wrong on both counts. But it is right to assume that we need to hold to Jesus rather than our own traditions, or at least hold loosely to them in light of Him.

On another point, but related to some degree. I want to say that I think your ministry is deeply inspirational. I frequently speak to the other side of the coin when it comes to church on this blog. And I have tried to show my admiration despite our differences. But I think I would be wrong not to say that your daring ministry has been a powerful influence on me. And I think you are prophetic, though I do not mean to puff you up with that term. One of the reasons I say that about you in specific is because you are willing to except a prophets wage. So many ministers like to take the name prophet and start a career in fortune telling under the Jesus banner. And then pass around the hat, often driving fancy cars, wearing fancy clothes etc before they are done. Not you. You wear a leather belt, eat bugs and shout on the fringe the word of God to those who come out to the dessert to hear. You live it to the core.

But I have more to say on that on your other post. Here, I want to express my gratitude for your work and the inspiration it is to me. I really feel pushed, nudged, compelled -whatever- to buck up my own ministry when reading about yours. You have been a guiding force in my life. Thanks.

Many blessings....

agent wife said...

I'm glad this discussion is still going because I've wanted to add my thoughts or observations. I am realizing more and more that we are "members" or maybe a better word is that we are linked with others, but the linking is no longer under a name, or building, a time or denominational vein. I saw through the outpouring of love after we had AO2 that we are part of a community linked to us by the Holy Spirit. Some of the people in our Spirit led community are from our old "church" days, some are off our block, some are from the blog world, some live in other cities or accross the globe. They will never all be in a room together, and yet they have functioned as our pastors, teachers, elders, preachers and prophets... through encouragement, words, love and walking this walk together, yes and even reprimanding us.

We also have to remember that Jesus WANTED to leave so that something/someone better could come. The disciples were to huddle together in Jerusalem as they awaited the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When this happened, they were all transformed and a new dynamic was forged. People started calling this radical group of preaching, healing, loving folks "Christians" and the "Church". Jesus said they will know who we are by our love (not by the Bibles we carry, by the building we go to or where our car is parked Sundays at 10am). The group was defined by the mark of Christ on them.

Jesus also said he has sheep in other folds. I always wondered what He meant, but I am seeing more and more that this Body is more vast than I have ever known and that He was true in saying He would never leave us alone or as orphans, He sent His Holy Spirit to live IN us and sends other believers as family to walk ALONGSIDE us. There is power in the togetherness because where I am deficient another can help, and only together do we fill out the body of Jesus.

Agent B said...

X -

However, church membership is about being "in Christ" as St Paul terms it. It is about being part of the body.

1) Can one be part of the body without having membership in the church networking social club?

I am not inclined to believe that further fragmentation is the answer to the original fragmentation.

2) So...by not being of member of the "church", I am thus further fragmenting?

3) Is it beter to stay with the original fragment than to further fragment?

Just asking.

And thanks for the very kind words. I'll try not to get puffed ;)

Mike Exum said...

B,

My response to your response:

1) -Not as I see it. But it is not a social club, though it is deeply social to be sure. It is really the human body. The body of Christ. Look at AW's comment where she speaks of the disciples in Jerusalem waiting for the HS. I think that is a direct illusion to Gen 2:7. God has formed a body from the dust and now blows his Spirit into it bringing it to life.

The church is the human in the new creation. It is not you, not me, but us together as a group. And the purpose for this body is to bear God's image, see Gen 1:26, and thus rule creation. However, we are Christ's body. We are not our own, but His. His body is together, not fragmented. We eat together, Lords Supper being the pinnacle of that eating. Love feasts. As Brueggemann points out, eating together is a world changing event; it is no wonder that the American Civil Rights Movement of the 50's found one of its greatest fights at the lunch counter. Do we eat together or not? We must.

This is vital to being church in my estimation. There are other points of interest, but this is close to the primal position of image bearing as I see it. Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one! So to must we be.

Coming together means that we have to put up with each other. Staying apart means we can ignore aspects of each other we do not like. But coming together means dealing with each other, serving each other, and holding each other's interests as more important than our own. The self dies in that.

Also, He created them male and female. There is a spiritual element to sex, and a sexual element to spirit. I am not confusing the two, but there is overlap. And just as you share intimacy with your wife in each others presence, so it is with church. We need each other's self-sacrificial touch. It is vital to community, to being a body, and to bearing God's image.

2) -Yes. I believe so. However, I am formulating remarks for a comment on another of you posts that will explore prophecy a bit. And I think a more fleshed out answer here will be seen in that when I get to it.

3) - I think this is where the debate is, at least in my mind. I say yes. But perhaps my reasons are not as solid here.

I operate from a more experiential ground on this one. I believe that further fragmenting has been tried and found lacking. That is really what lies behind "denominationalism" (term not used derogatorially by me as by so many of my CoC friends).

I actually think that the reason divorce is so prevalent is because the church split 500 years ago. If the church splits, then it has no ground to point the finger at broken marriages. Yet it has. and then it looks stupid and then no one listens to judgment upon it.

But I digress...

Let's turn the tables on these questions and approach them from the other direction...

Church is supposed to be counter-cultural. That is a defining aspect of the church. The world hates, the church loves. The world seeks to please #1, the church seeks to serve others. The world tries to dodge suffering, the church embraces it. Counter-cultural.

The church needs to set the pace, the agenda for the world not the other way round. But it seems that the church is almost always the last to catch on. Look at issues like whether the earth is flat or round, or our treatment of minorities etc. Now the culture is fragmenting into the illusive self, and traditions are being chopped down right and left as people question what they mean, who they serve etc. Questioning is good, but I think our culture is too quick to settle for self-serving answers rather than self-sacrificing ones. And as more and more people stay home, or go the lake rather than the gatherings of Christ's body to glorify God together as a witness to the world of our love and commitment to Him and each other, now more and more people of faith are doing the same. We are almost imperceptibly the same as our non-christian neighbors.

So, the real revolution is in attending the gatherings, in my estimation.

However, I think you are on to something by questioning just what that gathering must look like. I think it needs to be challenged to be more than it has been in generations. It needs to be a place where street people are really valued as humans and friends. Meals should be shared with them, and The Meal should be shared with them. Lives should be intermingled from across deep dividing lines, both visible and invisible. And we need to get over our petty ideals about music or not, what time to meet, whether a group leads a song or one. That crap has got to go! Love must be shared instead! Counter the culture, and get it out of the church!

And about a million other things need to be said at this juncture, but I will quit there...

But that is my two bits in a $20 bill.

Many blessings...

agent wife said...

Exum- I appreciate your comments and we probably agree but to various degrees. I wonder if the "meetings" are what God meant when He brought us together as a body and if there is real love or sharing there. I mean, most meetings are about attending, hype, listening to some person's views (as opposed to sharing and discussing both the scriptures and more importantly our lives in light of the scriptures), giving money and excluding others often unintentionally because the church has become so foreign and not because it is Christlike different (the lost flocked to Him), but because it is religious weird different (from dress code, to language, to behaviors and manerisms).

Is the meeting facilitating real relationships? Does anyone say they are not fine when asked how they are doing? I am seeing where the Sunday meeting is more weirdness than Spirit and where body life, the meal and true sharing and communication can happen better at the lake (where people talk and share and meet others) and that yes, even staying home can be a God thing when we need rest, to rest and not go just because we always have. Case in point: Obi-wan's neice could not stay longer than a day because she HAD to get back for Sunday to play organ at her church. Obi-wan desperately wanted her to stay and really visit (not that he said that to her) instead he told her "you can be a too busy christian". Another neighbor told us how glad she was that we were on the block to reach out to Terry's kids, 'cause she was too busy with church. (ie. can't hang out with the lost or poor because of meetings).

We thought a lot of members were our friends, but when we stopped attending we realized we never saw them (our fault and their's). When we do run into old church members from our past their comments are not, let's get together, but you should come some Sunday. Will I get to know that person more at a meeting or connect with them, speak into their life or them into mine? Not likely, but it will make the group feel better to be one person bigger that day.

I am experiencing more and deeper community in my neighborhood than I ever did in church. People share their pains, their woes, their deepest sins and we talk about Jesus. There aren't denominational or church/non-church lines. They know I'm a Christian because they see it in how I live, day in and out, not because I go to a building once a week.

I also know that some are connecting in trad. church. Some are walking the walk and loving and communal. But I think you can live the body as a non-Sunday member, because the Lord is bringing us in community that is anyday, lifelong and real.

Mike Exum said...

AW,

I feel ya. And I been thinking more about my last comment. You are right to suggest that church is as much a daily thing as a Sunday thing. But it is at least as much a Sunday thing.

Sunday is the first day of New Creation. Communal worship is a celebration of that first day of New Creation, or it should be. It is also a witness to the world that Christ is in charge through the self-sacrifice of sharing that happens there as in my earlier comment.

I see your point about the lake v. a building. However, I did not mean to suggest that the building is where the meeting must take place. I hold church meetings out on the street every Sunday here in Lubbock. The lake is fine with me, and probably preferable to a lot of folks. Go there and hold worship! Sounds good to me. Can I come too?

I am not sure I am ready to say that "most meetings are about hype..." but I will grant that plenty of them are close enough to concede the point in general. But, I might say most food is fattening too, yet I do not stop eating in protest. If I care enough to act in a more healthy way regarding diet, I eat less and/or choose good foods. I would suggest revolutionizing the meetings, rather than quiting them. They need revolution.

As for religion. I am sorry the word gets treated so poorly these days. I am very religious, myself. Actually, I think You and B are as well -see James 1:27 for a definition of pure religion. We need way more religion in our world, not less.

As for finding our that your friends from past church experiences are too stuck in some rigid and cold idea of what it means to be church rather than really being friends, I am sorry. That is always a hazard, but one that can be confronted and overcome -I think.

As for Obi-wan's daughter's mentality, I will tell a brief story in response. My favorite Bible prof at ACU was an old guy. He described himself as a mechanic who accidentally got a PhD. He still tinkers on old cars all the time, it is his pass time.

When he was a teenager, one day at church an old widow lady asked one of the elders if he would come fix her car. The elder took my then young Bible prof with him one Sunday afternoon to fix it with him. When 5 o'clock rolled around and they were no where near done, the young man asked the old man if they should go clean up for church services and come back the next day. The elder told him, "This is church for us tonight."

My prof tells that story to all his Freshman Bible majors to this day. It is not always appropriate to skip the meetings, but sometimes it is. Especially when taking care of folks on the margin.

I don't do church the way of the modern mold where I go. I was asked a while back to lead prayer over the collection during Sunday morning services. You know the sleepy catch phrases about "give back a portion..." that every old cowboy from the 1920's forward has used? Well, I did not raid the old arsenal of catch phrases. Rather, I praised the almighty God who watches empires rise and empires fall, and how those empires tax their subjects with burdensome taxes as they go out and order the world to suit themselves. However, we give cheerfully to a new world order that does not bow to the emperor, whether he be Republican or not. And I asked God to multiply our small givings the way he does loaves and fishes.

Not a standard prayer, but one I am deeply convicted by and compelled to offer on behalf of the people of God, as we pay tribute to our king. So afterward, one of the old elders of the church comes to me and says that I need to not pray that way. It is not right. I told him I would consider his criticism, which I did, and then concluded was bunk! Let him sue me. I have been asked to lead the same prayer a dozen times now and the old man is mysteriously missing for several weeks now.

I do not mean to be a renegade with the old man or to disrespect him. But he's gonna have to do some fancy exegesis to convince me that I did something wrong. And if he can, I will listen, if not, he should lead the prayer or be persuaded, or leave.

I have become a deeply valued, if not considered dangerous member where I church. I am a vital player. They cannot fire me, I am not on the payroll. They cannot kick me out, I am scriptural, and where proven otherwise, repentent.

So I am there to stay, and am a member to be reconed with. I am not the only one of my kind. There are others. We believe we are commissioned to bring some changes. Vandelia is blessed, as I see it.

Those are my remarks at this late hour. Thanks for the exchange. And many blessings...

Mike Exum said...

Allow me to ammend my last comment a bit. I think I was crass to say that the old guy has 3 simple choices as if that is just it. He can leave, as he seems to have done, but I can seek to restore him and pray for him as well. He does rub me wrong, to put it mildly. But he is my brother, and that means family -in the full sense of the word. The problem is that he has not taken that seriously, and now I am at risk of that too.

I cannot make him come back. But I must invite. I must pray. I must seek. If he still persists, I will let him go. But I value his part of our community, even though he tends to rub me wrong. And God, our Father, values him and our brotherhood. I dishonor Him, if I don't.

I was bickering with my wife as I commented earlier, and feeling a bit crass as I told of the brother who disliked my prayer. My comment was a bit short with him. I repent.

Mike Exum said...

I hate to keep commenting to the point of being pesky, but I just thought of an interesting observation made to me tonight, tht seems to have bearing on AW's comment to me.

I took my Crack Hoe friend, Elizabeth, to meet and pray with my poor friend Stella, and her fugitive from the law friend. (Ministry with me (and secret agent types) tends to be so clandestine!) Anyway, Elizabeth was telling us about a black church that used to come down to 65th Drive to clean the empty lot across the street from the crackhouse and hold worship and baseball games on Sunday afternoons sometimes. I was impressed and asked what church it was, I want to visit them.

However, she went on to explain that the dealers think us Vandelia ministers are undercover cops because we go down there to worship and evangelize at night, midnight on weekends etc when the riff raff is in full swing. My theology behind it had been to go to the place of shame and pain in our community and bear the image of God there, also to eat at the table prepared for me in the presence of my enemies.

It was always intended to be a spiritual warefare type thing. However, it is completely out of the box with worship place, style and time. It is also worship intended to be confrontational. Not the sleepy tradition to be sure. It is risky to life and limb. It is scary worship sometimes.

But it is putting crack dealers in jail. It is cleaning up crack hoes. It is capturing the imaginations of men, women, children, cops, victims, witnesses, bloggers, pew warmers, and not least me and David... and we functioned as God's catalysts in the thing. Go figure.

Anyway, it is really late now, and I am getting tired.

Many blessings...

KentF said...

I think "the church" needs to hear from alot more folks who lovingly express what is wrong with the church. Not all, but MOST traditions stand in the way of us being Jesus to the world. We'd rather hang on them than Him.

ANd, you bring up a good point that makes me go arrrghhh!! ....Mr. Smith was born in Muleshue, and was of the baptist faith. He loved puppies....

Agent B said...

the old man is mysteriously missing for several weeks now.

So...you guys at Vandelia have mofia ties??

Mike Exum said...

Okay, I see that the “prophet post” I thought I saw on this blog was really a comment between Priest and B on this post. It is the “distance” thing that has me thinking. But I am also thinking about my own “puff up” point from elsewhere as well.

I am inclined to go with the “distance” point, initially. John the Baptist was a major prophet in Israel who was characterized by his being out in the wilderness by the Jordan. I figure Elijah running to the river for rest also reinforces the picture. But prophets in ancient Israel were often employed by the king’s court. It was risky to speak for God if it meant going against the king. Nathan did it though. Also, Jesus, as we Christians believe, was Israel’s biggest prophet. And while he spent time on the fringe, His greatest 3 prophetic acts, or, as I have termed them elsewhere, Proph-O-Dramas occurred in or near Jerusalem (His Temple action, His Last Supper and His Crucifixion). Thus “distance” is really neither necessary nor sufficient to produce prophetic voice. And some key prophets prove otherwise.

One thing all the prophets had in common with their criticism of God’s people was that they offered critique from within. None of them saw or characterized themselves as outside of Israel (the people not the land). They were Israel telling Israel to shape up and be Israel. Only Balaam, to my off-the-cuff recollection, prophecied on Israel’s behalf as a Gentile, and that was against his will, and he too blessed the people of God rather than cursing them.

I think the critique from within is an important aspect to Jesus’ revolution. There were Jews who went out to the desert and anathematized the Temple and all Jews who worshiped there as false Jews. They were the Essenes. They do not even warrant mention in the Bible. Pharisees get a better deal than them. But these “Jews” broke with the Temple worship traditions and hid out in the desert waiting for God to come in judgment on the Temple and blast Jerusalem like Sodom and Gomorrah. Meanwhile, all the other competing factions of Jews (Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and Zealots) wrangled for influence over, or overthrow of, the Temple system. Meanwhile the Essenes go unnoticed by the New Testament.

I think John the Baptist was at the Jordan baptizing Jews as a prophetic sign of coming home at last from exile, a way of commemorating Joshua’s crossing of the Jordan. When Jesus comes and is baptized (remember his Hebrew name is Joshua), He fulfills that commemoration prophetically. It’s as if Joshua has come back to lead the people home. It is a way of preparing the people to be inside their promise land. So though it happens outside the center stage of usual Jewish events, it is an inside prophecy nonetheless.

Now, as for the “puff up” thing… I really do not worry that B is puffed up by being called a prophet. I figure he sits loose with it more than he should actually. However, to further round out my thoughts on prophecy, which has been an off and on going dialog for several months, I borrow some thoughts from Ed Fudge in saying that it is the church’s job to determine if what B says is really from God, not his. It is not fully prophecy until the church hears it and discerns it.

Fudge exegetes a passage in I Cor. 14:29 where the hearers of the prophecy pass judgment on it. When I, as a church member, hear what B says and discern it to be a special prophetic word from God (and especially when others in the church join me in that discernment), then we can trust that B has prophecied. It is not a puff up thing, it is actually a very risky thing, with personal risk of reputation and trustworthiness heavily on the line each time he speaks. And if the church discerns that it is not from God, the church’s judgment stands. It could put B, if Fudge’s observations are on target, in an embarrassing position rather than a powerful one. However, as v. 39 of the same chapter points out, and as the chapter as a whole makes clear, offering prophecy is to be desired in the church – even more so than speaking in tongues.

I desire prophecy. When was the last time you did? Really? Desire? Prophecy?

I encourage B, to embrace prophecy. It is not all about telling the future, though that might happen at some points. And as we see in Amos, it is not necessarily a life-long gift/calling. But it needs to be taken seriously. And it is for the church; the church needs to hear it. And I suspect that the church is both more likely to hear it and receive him as a prophetic voice, if the church witnesses his love for her in the process (for that see I Cor 13:1).

Hope my thoughts are engaging.

Many blessings…