Saturday, March 19, 2011
You know, every group of bad guys has got to have a theme - they cannot be some mere band of super-powered evil - no, they have marketing and trademark concerns! And if you want a bad image theme, what could be worse that snakes? Hence, the Serpent Society was born.
Actually, it would be nice if this group were born of such mundane concerns, but the concerns are far more mundane than that. The Serpent Society was born of a lack of humility on the part of many comic creators.
As comics were written over the years, writers have to break to chain of always fighting the same baddie, so after a good story arc, there are one or two issues of random badness. Often the villains are created just to fill the slot and keep the hero busy while the next great plot is hatched. One day, Marvel looked back and found they had created waaaaay too many snake based random villains - they had to do something with them. The Serpent Society was born.
Ostensibly they were pulled together by the organization called Hydra, the ultimate snake people, but come on - it's just a place to park a bunch of villains that would otherwise disappear into the dustbin of comic history.
Besides, when I guy has had himself surgically altered so he has a snake body instead of legs, well, how can you let go of that image. And more importantly, how does he go to the bathroom?
Friday, March 18, 2011
I am convinced that there are many things in religion and the Scriptures that are made difficult on purpose to try men, and to exercise their faith and scrutiny, and to hinder the proud and self-sufficient.Simply put - we are not SUPPOSED to understand everything. If you think about it - that is original sin - trying to understand. Remember, "the apple" is the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
It's all about humility.
If you think about it, the only real understanding a Christian can have, is that we will never full understand.
Friday Humor - Historic Cartoon Edition
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Babel or Blessing?
Just two brief comments.
I find the fall to be a good time to pick up a book on the Reformation. This year my book is Alister McGrath’s “Christianity’s Dangerous Idea”. This is the second book I’ve read by McGrath and am finding him to be a new favorite author.
“The dangerous new idea, firmly embodied at the heart of the Protestant revolution, was that all Christians have the right to interpret the Bible for themselves. However, it ultimately proved uncontrollable, spawning developments that few at the time could have envisaged or predicted.”
I used to think that the heart of the reformation was “justification by faith alone” but now I have my doubts. When I was a missionary in the Dominican Republic a fun exercise was asking the Haitian pastors whether we were saved by faith or by works. Despite a dozen years of missionaries pounding “the correct answer” to this catechism question in every conceivable way the near universal response given by the national pastors was either “works” or “both”, never “faith alone”.
Mcgrath goes on to make this observation: “’the Reformation’ introduced into the history of Christianity a dangerous new idea that gave rise to an unparalleled degree of creativity and growth, on the one hand, while on the other causing new tensions and debates that, by their very nature, probably lie beyond resolution. The development of Protestantism as a major religious force in the world has been shaped decisively by the creative tensions emerging from this principle.” He’s right. The versions of Christianity sweeping Asia and Africa today are direct heirs to this dangerous idea. It’s difficult to imagine where Christianity would be today without it.
My question for you on Luther’s Wittenburg posting is whether in your opinion the dangerous idea is worth the mess?
America's unique role. We debate endlessly about whether the United States is a Christian nation, but if we accept this as the central tenant of the Reformation there can be little question that the US is the ultimate nationalistic expression of Protestantism. Back to this in a minute.
It's not theology - it's Jesus. Note Vander Klay's choice of a theological example and how it does not work - it is not theology we spread, And I think this consistent with scripture. How better describe the expressions of Judaism Christ so condemned than as a strict, heartless, theological structure? Christ sought to change the church into something very different than anything previously considered.
Which brings us back to America. If the US is the ultimate political expression of Protestantism and the Gospel is not theological in nature, then what should we fight for in the US? - Freedom...Freedom....Freedom.
The job of the nation is not to enforce a theological understanding, but to give people the ability to discover. Think about it the next time you look for a "real Christian" candidate.
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
It Takes A Foundation
At the same time, one of the difficulties of Hauerwas’s framing of the issue is what appears to be his lack of appreciation for lay Christianity and what some sociologists now define as “lived religion.” While I find Stanley Hauerwas to be unfailingly provocative as a thinker, I go away from the experience of reading his books with the firm impression that the Christian in the pew is just not to be trusted as really believing much of anything. I share his concern to reject civil religion as true Christianity, but I cannot share his dismissive approach to the faith of millions in the pews, who may not be theologians, but who are faithful believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.In the second her looks at the consequences when Christians play by the world's rules:
This is a disastrous strategy. Are Christians so insecure that we fear a weakly-worded advertisement on a public bus? These bus ads represent just how weak the atheists arguments really are, but the response from agitated Christians represents a far more dangerous weakness. Instead of responding to the ads with a firm and gracious defense of the Gospel, these activists just surrendered the space altogether, rather than to bear the offense of the cross.These are both valid conclusions, well stated - the issues tend to be how we act upon them. For example - there are two ways to look at the "vague" faith Hauerwas notes, one is to excoriate it as weak, the other is to see it as a foundation upon which genuine faith can be guilt. So many deride "civil religion" and yet it has served as a foundation that has allowed America to flourish religiously.
Christianity has enemies, and the greatest victory of these enemies is to prevent the proclamation of the Gospel. The strategy so celebrated in Fort Worth is a route to evangelistic disaster. Religious liberty is the friend of the Gospel, and constraints on religious speech serve the cause of the secularists.
Being a Christian does not mean never having to be offended. Like the Apostle Paul, we are called to bear the offense of the cross gladly. If Paul had followed the Fort Worth strategy, Acts 17 would never have happened.
Frankly, I think you take these posts together and you see that the real problem is we have yet to focus on the genuine competition. You worry about civil religion if you think it the competition, but the second post shows where the real competition lies - secularism.
In a nation with a "vague faith" the Hp;y Spirit can work boldly. In a nation without mention of faith, the Holy Spirit must squeeze into seams. We need to be working to maintain a nation where the Holy Spirit is moving boldly.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Adrian quotes a book on "Christian Pharisaism":
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees have, says Jesus, a God-given teaching authority: they sit in Moses’ seat (1), and are to be respected for their teaching role in the synagogue. The same applies to Christian ministers, in Matthew’s day or our own, but there is a great danger that the spirit that infected the Pharisees may creep into subsequent leadership. We are to beware.What an interesting comment on the nature of sin. The very problems Jesus addressed have crept into His church. The mainline protestant churches are dying in some cases becasue of the same sins that infected Catholicism at the time of the Reformation.
Here are five characteristics for which the Pharisees were rebuked. They are ever-present dangers for Christian leaders. First, they may not practise what they preach (3).5 Secondly, they may be unwilling to undertake themselves what they prescribe for others (4). Thirdly, they may love to show off (5). Fourthly, they may revel in honorific titles and in being paid respect (6–10)7 Finally, they may misunderstand ministry (11–12). They may see it less as an opportunity for service than as a sphere of management or a chance to gain recognition. Are these weaknesses confined to Jewish leaders in the first century AD? Are they not always contemporary? If Christian leaders fail in these five ways, their failure is comprehensive indeed.
What better indication is there that it is not about theology or organization - it's about us and who we allow God to shape us into.
Ought to drive you to your knees.
Monday, March 14, 2011
What am I getting at? I am concerned that evangelicals, by and large, approach the OT with an unbiblical dependency on the NT. Since the NT is newer revelation and offers a more developed view of God's redeeming purposes, it becomes the key by which we "unlock" the meaning of what has come before it. There is no overt discrimination against the OT, just a lack of deep engagement with it as meaningful, relevant revelation in its own right.I agree with Kenney as far as he goes, but I do not think he goes far enoguh. Consider this:
Again, don’t make the prophets punt to the apostles. Read them for their own strong messianic and gospel hope, and let that set the stage in revelation history and in your heart for Jesus to come and prove the Father right and gloriously fulfill all of his great and precious promises.
But we want more from Scripture than just a systematic theology, don't we? There's a reason we don't settle for catechisms and dissertations in our devotional lives. We want faith and hope and encouragement and love, not merely a catalogue of things we ought to believe. And how do we get those things?This seems to day that while useful, the OT is not a theological document. I disagree entirely. After all, dod not Christ come to "complete the Law?" I do not think the New Testament can be understood theologically without the Old.
We neglect the theology of the Old Testament at our peril. The God we worship today is the same God - of the same character - that destroyed all life on the planet save what He set aside in the ark. He is the same God - of the same character - that decimated Sodom and Gomorrah. He is the same God - of the same character - that led the Israelites into battle and commanded them to completely destroy their opponents.
The New Testament, without the Old gives us a very incomplete understanding of the God we worship. He is a God of love, but one whose love also can demand harsh action. He does not desire to take such action, but He can and He has, and we would do well to be very cognizant of that fact.