Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
This Oughta Work!
Rather than trying to ape the world’s system, God points us in another direction. It’s a way of life that stays out of step with the world and yet is not aloof from those in the world.I love this - it's a way of saying Christians are supposed to be a little weird, but not so weird that people leave them in the corner like barking madpersons.
The early church didn’t ask God to bless their gimmicks. So, the church today doesn’t need gimmicks to attract people—it needs pastors who lead prayerfully, biblical truth preached passionately, and Christianity lived out authentically. [emphasis added]
I keep being stuck on the fact that when done properly, Christianity is going to produce people that are demonstrably different. But it is more than belief for belief without works is void. It's more than ethics, I know a lot of ethical atheists. It's more than miracles, they can be faked. It must be some combination of those things, and yet more....
Much of it lies in a willingness to be different, to both standout, and to joyfully withstand the consequences of standing out.
Are you willing to be weird?
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Ever since the "new perspective" issued a challenge to Reformed theology, Paul's dikaiosune language has been at the center of a stormy debate. Though I am not naïve enough to think that I can solve the debate in this essay, I do hope to demonstrate the truth of one simple conclusion: when Paul speaks of righteousness in 2 Corinthians, ethical behavior is never far from his mind.Read the whole thing.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
By this I mean the multifaceted institutional experiment, beginning but not ending with the Anglican Communion, of attempting to preserve Christianity while simultaneously jettisoning certain of its traditional teachings—specifically, those regarding sexual morality. Surveying the record to date of what has happened to the churches dedicated to this long-running modern religious experiment, a large historical question now appears: whether the various exercises in this specific kind of dissent from traditional teaching turn out to contain the seeds of their own destruction. The evidence—preliminary but already abundant—suggests that the answer is yes.She makes a heck of a case here, one I essentially agree with, but the legalistic nature of her tone does not sit well with my Protestant heart. Morality, void of the true conviction of the Holy Spirit, is as vacant and "lite," as intellectual ascent absent behavioral consequence. Were lies the language of balance between the two.
And then I wondered - We Protestants are big in talking about "spiritual disciplines." Why don't we talk about simple obedience when we have such discussions? A Google search on the matter reveals nothing about morality. Not that there is anything wrong with reading scripture or prayer, but it seems to me that abstaining from extra-marital sex falls into the same category of preparing my heart for Christ that prayer does. The Holy Spirit has a hard time showing up when I am engaged in fornication just as much as when I am engaged in less that uplifting television programming.
Seems like even when we get to the "hard stuff" we are copping out."
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Science and Mission
My evangelical heart was first exposed to the issue when I sat down for coffee with the only biology graduate student attending our church at the time. I asked Theresa an innocent question: “We have grad students in English, social work, and engineering—why aren’t there more science and biology students in our church?”Wilson goes on to expand this into a political "red/blue" thing which makes the important point, I think.
Theresa’s laughter alerted me to a lurking brutal fact, which she then blurted out: “Ken, what did you think? It’s evolution!”
I resisted her point with a counterpoint: “But I’ve never taught against evolution! I’m a C. S. Lewis Christian. I have no problem with the Creator working through evolutionary process.”1
“Yes,” she replied in earnest, “but have you ever taught that from the pulpit? Ken, you co-authored a book called Empowered Evangelicals. Vineyard is an evangelical church, even though it’s not in your face on these hot button issues. Scientists, especially biologists, expect American evangelicals to attack evolutionary science, not support it. Scientists don’t view evolution as some marginal scientific issue. It’s the primary narrative of modern science. That’s why they don’t bother to darken the door of an evangelical church. Would you, if you were in their shoes?”
Religion and science rarely collide really. Politics collide, and there is a lot of politics forced onto science and religion, but as a deep student of both rarely, if ever, is the problem actually science or religion.
Wilson's real point is about culture - not science or religion, which is a point that needs to be made over and over again. As he points out - cultural impingement on the church harms evangelism. Now, of course, religion has cultural consequences, but much of the culture imprinted on religion has nothing, really, to do with those consequences. Likewise for science. Wilson then goes on how to view these cultures as mission fields.
Fair enough, but I would be happy if the average scientist and Evangelical just understood the difference between culture, science, and religion.
Monday, May 24, 2010
The Power of Faith
"Selling people a vision of climate hell simply doesn't work," says Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of the firm Futerra, a firm that specialises in green public relations.WOW! does that sound like the modern mega-church or what?! And later there is this:
"A lot of environmentalists think they need to convince people that the way they live their lives is wrong," she adds. "They want us to stop sinning so they try to scare us into conversion with predictions of high-carbon hell. But it's not an effective message.
"We need to start selling people a vision of low-carbon heaven," Ms Townsend argues. "If we did everything necessary to prevent climate change, what would the world look like? When you start talking about that, most people decide it would be a nicer place to live. So we need to concentrate on getting people excited about creating that low-carbon heaven."
For Palmer, who is a United Nations adviser on climate change and religion, the green movement's appropriation of religious language and imagery has backfired.And I am sure that reminds us all of any number of churches we have encountered.
"Environmentalists have stolen fear, guilt and sin from religion, but they have left behind celebration, hope and redemption," he says.
"They read science in the way that fundamentalists read religious texts: they cherry-pick the bits that support their argument and use them to scare people," he adds. "Then they offer no solutions other than letting greens take over the running of the world."
I think there is a simple lesson to learn from all this - if environmentalists who do not actually have the full power of the gospel of truth at their disposal are having the same problems and discussion we are, can we say that we have truly accessed that power?
All they have is some incomplete data - we have access to the Creator and Sustainer of all there is, and yet there is little detectable difference. The difference between our religion and their is not the language we use, its the God we worship.
Let's top asking about heaven or hell and start asking how we can more let God shine through us. Then the world should clearly be able to see the difference.