Friday, May 22, 2015
Why We Need To Keep Talking About it
So what is Jesus’ point in Mark 9:42-48? He is saying that sin matters, and in the worst way. When we say “No” to God and his ways, this is a big deal. It has major implications for our personal lives and for our life in community. Some Christians have taken this truth about sin and made it the virtual center of their discipleship, almost forgetting the Gospel. These folk need to refocus on God’s grace in Christ without minimizing the wrongness of sin. Other Christians, in reaction to the excesses of sin-centered discipleship, have neglected or minimized sin altogether. This is “cheap grace,” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes it in The Cost of Discipleship. Our challenge as followers of Jesus is to take sin very seriously, to turn from it and even to hate it, but always in response to the love and grace of God.AMEN!discussion sin
Thursday, May 21, 2015
The Perfect and The Real
So both perfectionist schools of thought are prevailing throughout Evangelicalism, which being a modern movement and not a deep tradition, is susceptible to American fads, especially an ambitious, soaring perfectionism that offers a seductive alternative to the much harder path of Christian orthodoxy, with its focus on sin and redemption.That may be the most cogent theological analysis of what is happening to Christianity in America I have read to date. But he raises an important question - Where is the institutional home of Calvinism these days?
So absent mass conversion by Protestants and Evangelicals to Catholicism, traditional Calvinists, with their own venerable traditions of social engagement in the sin-soaked kingdom of man, will have to point the way forward. Troublingly, many Calvinists are instead succumbing to their own funk, partly based on their own unconscious perfectionism, disowning social engagement, especially statecraft, because society they think has become too depraved for reformation.
The Presbyterian Church is the traditional upholder of Calvinist thought, but not so much anymore. The largest version of it, PC(USA), has left its Calvinist moorings, some would argue its Christian moorings, altogether. The EPC is more typical Evangelical than Presbyterian. The PCA is too, to borrow Tooley's phrase, "perfectionist." The new kid in town ECo made hold the answer but it is far from well organized just yet, currently too reactionary in its formation, and may end up being to small to matter. Where is the home of Calvinism?
I cannot, off the top of my head, think of a Calvinist seminary. I can think of some noted Calvinist professors at many seminaries, but I can also think of a number of very influential seminaries that shun their Calvinist members. Where is the home of Calvinism?
Like any good idea, it has to take root in people to matter and they have to organize. Who talks about theology outside of seminaries anymore anyway? Where is the home of Calvinism?
We are cursed to live in interesting times.
Calvinism institutionalization theological thought
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Why Is This Not Preached More?
This scene, [ed: The Tranfiguration] shrouded in mystery, reveals something of the divine nature of Jesus. He was certainly much more than a human messiah, that’s for sure. But the presence of Moses and Elijah also reminds us of something that is crucially important about Jesus, and sometimes overlooked or even denied by Christians. Here it is. We will only rightly understand Jesus in light of the Old Testament. The Old Testament law, represented by Moses, and the Old Testament prophecies, represented by Elijah, point to and are fulfilled in Jesus. They help us to understand him, to honor him, to receive his salvation, and to live as his disciples.I wonder - is it really that mysterious and hard to understand or are we just to pig-headed to listen? I means seriously - Robers explains things pretty well here in a few short paragraphs and yet pastors everywhere will not preach from the Old Testament and I have not heard a sermon on the Transfiguration in decades. I was actually chastised once for attempting to talk about it. They claim it is over the audiences head or turns them of or....
And yet, I cannot help but wonder if it were well preached, thoughtfully explained, and people were lead instead of pandered to we might not get somewhere on this front. It is absolutely necessary to understand the full nature of Christ if one is to be a complete and thoughtful Christian, and yet we steadfastly refuse to discuss a large aspect of His nature. It's a failure, pure and simple.
I am tired of the church failing. I do not say this from a position of lacking failure, I'm real good at it. It's not our failures that define us, it is how we handle them. I think the church needs to work on that.
Christ His full nature failure
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
So what conclusions do I draw from all this change? Some of it may be for the better. We 1950s evangelicals had obsessions that were probably unhealthy. However, on the other hand, taking it all together, I suspect we American evangelicals have become “comfortable in Zion”—a phrase that we used about mainline Christians (who weren’t really Christians at all) to describe how their religion was non-threatening to themselves or anyone else. And by “threatening” I don’t mean we thought Christianity ought to be physically threatening, but we did think authentic Christianity should shake people’s comfort in this world and focus their attention on sacrifice and separation.I think this guy leans to the fundamental side of Evangelicalism, but I think his conclusion is right on. We work so hard to draw people in that we have conformed to them rather than challenge them. We have done away with the concept of sin altogether for the sake of accepting. We have confused love and acceptance to the point where there is only acceptance - and no real love. We have worried about our survival more than our mission.
Something is deeply broken in the church, deeply. And only deep change can fix it. I pray for the patience to let God do that.
Evangelicalism change maturity
Monday, May 18, 2015
If You Shoot For This - You Are Gonna Miss
humility maturity silliness
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Friday, May 15, 2015
The Tyranny of You
I’m struck, right off, by the simplicity of this prayer. In a consumer age, when we are assaulted by ceaseless advertisements designed to create desire, this prayer is lean and spare, focused on essential needs. These intercessions, recommended by Jesus, make me want to be sure my prayers are focused on what really matters – what I need – and not on what the consumer culture tells me I want.It's not that Sabbath Keeping and fasting are bad, but how do you get there from the text? She seems to impose her agenda onto something barely related. Then there is this:
Two spiritual practices that have helped me detach from the consumer culture the most are Sabbath keeping and fasting.* Keeping a Sabbath gives me a day off every week from striving, from pushing hard, from believing I am essential and necessary
What are the spiritual practices in your life that help you acknowledge and express your need for God? Which spiritual practices help you take steps to forgive others? In what setting do you pray most readily for forgiveness?Wait?! Isn't prayer itself a spiritual practice? Why does prayer lead to a discussion of spiritual practices, why not focus on prayer itself?
Look, I don't want to ride to hard on this post for it also has one of the most necessary and greatest statements about prayer I have read in a while:
The Lord’s Prayer also indicates the high priority Jesus puts on forgiveness. In an age when many church worship services no longer include a confession of sin, we need to make time in our personal prayer life to acknowledge our sin to God.Amen and Amen.
But let me get back to the point I was trying to make. So many tech devices these days are considered bad because people have a hard time figuring out how to use them. The functionality is not the problem, either the interface is hard to understand or the material explaining how to use the interface is not well written, or in many cases people are just unwilling to try becasue they feel intimidated. There is a hubris to that that amazes me. An engineer put in countless hours trying to figure out how to make something that does something useful and labor saving. So why are we unwilling to put in a little effort to learn how to use it and avoid years of effort not using it?
So often we approach our life with God this way. Jesus said, "This is how to prayer." That's pretty doggone important. Why can we not focus on learning to pray rather than crowding up the topic with our own agendas? The Lord of all is teaching us how to talk to Him, is that not important enough in its own right? My perspective on the matter just should not be important in light of such a thing; His perspective is all that matters.
Maybe we should JUST pray.
hubris perspectives prayer