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Awesome Post. I especially like what you said, "Without such a theological center, these practices become hollow legalistic rituals." How true that is.

I also like point 3 about the Pharisees and how they've put certain things at their center that don't belong there.

Wade Tannehill


Thanks for your encouraging comments. You may notice that I have added you to my "Interesting People" list.


You're right, that does sound like what we talked about!!!


Wade, thanks for the add! Feel free to subscribe to Gabbatha by entering your email address in the space below my VIP List (of which you are a member!)

Royce Ogle

Josh, you have hit the proverbial nail right square on the head! I couldn't agree more!

Bobby Valentine

I agree about the center. All must relate to and flow out of that core. What you call "external rites" are also of unequal value would that be the case? Your target for example has various "rings" around the center. Various rites would fall in circles some closer and some further away from the center.

Baptism and the Lord's Supper for example, I would argue, belong at least in the ring around the center because they connect the disciple to the Story of God revealed in the center. Would you agree. Likewise some technical issues like instrumental music and cups would be much further out because they do not directly relate to the core.

Am I going in the right direction here?

Bobby Valentine

Wade Tannehill


I do this blog as much to learn as to teach. I think you are absolutely "on target!" Like others who read this blog, you help me not only to learn but also to better articulate what I believe.

You make a good point that even the "external rites" have degrees of importance. Not all are equal. Good insight!

And perhaps some of our practices are based more on tradition or inference than the express statements of scripture. While there may be nothing wrong with such practices, do they even belong on the target?

Jim Martin

This is a good post. The theology is good but I especially want to compliment you on your writing. These short but informative paragraphs say a great deal. It can be difficult to do both...Thanks

ben overby

Wade, thanks for your thought provoking post! Here's a handful of my thoughts. What flows from the center? Grace burning white hot. In the beginning, grace was the creative energy as God, through Christ, called everything into being. Creation itself is good and flows right out of the center. Why have we allowed the environmentalists to take up what should otherwise be Christianity's responsibility? And humans were the apex of the good creation, therefore, humans (starting with ourselves) are our ultimate responsibility. Scripture is about being authentically human, living in God's good grace; it's not about being religious. As I've noted before, we aren't a religion, we're reality flowing right out of the Trinitarian community. The problem with externalism is that it tends to be dim light beams flowing out of mutiny. Mutiny (such as Eve's and mine) isn't content with God at center; it's not content to reflect the light of One far greater; it demands center stage. But it lacks the density to naturally pull others into its orbit; therefore, it attempts to manage by magic, manipulation, religious showmanship, word wizardry, and fear. After the fall, God had to create life, not from nothing, but from deadness. The apex of that creation is the cross . . . quite ironically. If we'll let the cross shape the sacraments of baptism, Eucharist, and reconciliation (mt. 18), grace will flow from the center, and our light will shine to His glory. God's creation, and especially humans (He became one of us--there's no humanism superior to Christianity!) feed off His light, or grace. Grace. If we'd learn to be content with God at the center living off the abundance of His grace we'd reflect His glory. As it is many are contending for the center, grabbing gift rather than receiving. An empty external is that which does not get its energy from God's grace; it doesn't flow from the center, but attempts life on its own terms. In the words of Peter, for instance, "whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." A tomato that's grown in a greenhouse glorifies the greenhouse; one that grows in the field glorifies the sun. We like the greenhouse because we supply the strength, we are in control, we get the glory, and reduce risks. A greenhouse might be a splendid environment for raising tomatoes, but humans raised on the dim, artificial light of a greenhouse never ripen.

Lee Hodges


An Excellent post. I found my way here via Ben Overby's Blog. He and his family are long time friends and fellow Christians.

Wade Tannehill


Thanks for your encouraging words. It's good to know that I am connecting--especially with those, like yourself, whose lives and theology I deeply repect. People like you keep me writing.

Wade Tannehill


I could not agree more. I say "Amen" to every line you have written here. What especially stands out are your comments regarding environmentalism, humanism, and the problem of contending for center, grabbing gift rather than receiving. Yes, yes, yes! What a great summary of how to evaluate what is truly at center.

Wade Tannehill


Thanks so much for stopping by. I've enjoyed Ben's visits to this blog and visiting his blog. Looking forward to getting to know you better.


Keep going Wade. Oh, and it was/is a youth ministry/college ministry and was from the beginning but no one told me or made it clear at all.

Sorry about that.

Dave Faulkner

Wonderfully put message, Wade! It is good to hear ideas that to some may seem on the edge but which actually steer us back toward the center. I'm glad to have found your blog and to know that you and your family are well. God bless.

Royce Ogle

A dear fellow in our fellowship, who has undergone much adversity, is none the less a treasure of wisdom. He said once, in a way that only he could say it, "The biggest difference between me and God is, He doesn't try to be me".

Thanks Wade for your original post and to you Ben Overby for reminding me of Charlie Knox who reflects the Center well.

Grace and Peace,
Royce Ogle

Wade Tannehill


As always, thanks for stopping by. You are such an encourager.


Great to hear from you! Glad you found my blog. Blogging is such a great way to reconnect with people I've known through the years. Thanks for you're encouraging words.


I always appreciate your insightful thoughts, both here and on your blog.



Don't forget to check out this week's Battle of the Bands at Gabbatha! This week features a new band Dropping Daylight to take on The Fray.


Met some people who know you today. We took them to lunch. Anyone who knows Wade and ends up at our church must be okay.

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