Saturday, May 19, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
I also argue that Evangelicals are open to changing “dogma,” but not if the arguments heard are just a repeat of old failed arguments. The mind of the Church has been persuaded of certain things, such as two natures of Christ, but who would not wish to hear a new metaphor or new approach?I'll never forget the time I was teaching an adult Sunday School class and someone very much my senior stood up and said "God said so, I believe it, and that's that." He had no wish to explore, intellectually or otherwise. Now that is hiding in the fort of dogma! He, and so many like him, are afraid. They see a world that is not good and they want to hide in God's bosom. Admirable, but...
The main benefit of dogmas, the laws revealed or discovered about the supernatural world, is that it allows us to discover new truths. We do not repeat discussions over and over, but can move forward to see deeper depths in the unlimited nature of God. High fantasy eventually fails us in the wonder of His Being, but each generation can stretch forward a bit more.
Augustine to Dante marked improvements in our vision! Of course, we must digest what Dante said and nobody agrees with all of it.
Dogma is not mostly a fort to hide inside, but a home base for intellectual adventure. Perhaps, we are not always good at demonstrating the liberating nature of dogma.
...We too often forget that no matter where we go, we are in God's bosom, He is just that big. Our fear is a lack of faith. Do bad things happen? Of course, but when they happen, they happen within God's bosom, and difficult as they are, they are part of God's plan. Christ's death, the ugliest point in history, was part of God's plan. Christ feared in Gethsemane but in the end....
We can do no less.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Christians Are Not Stupid
Rev. Al Mohler holds strong views on the Bible, what it means to read it correctly, and how taking the Bible seriously requires one to reject evolution.Prior to reading this, I knew that Mohler was pretty fundamental in his views, but I had not idea he was a young earth creationist. WOW! Said Enns:
Mohler’s rhetoric is spiritually harmful because it is intellectually untenable.I like Enns formulation here, there is "comfort" in such simplicity. Once the commitment to Christ is made, it is indeed easier not to think than to engage.
These are Christians who at some point have felt a comfort in the simplicity and crystal clarity Mohler claims to offer, but have begun to see that their insulation from other perspectives has become spiritually debilitating.
These are people who know they are not serving God by remaining intellectually insulated, and that refusing to look afresh at their own theological systems when the need arises does not please the God of truth.
These are people who do not want to choose between a life of intellectual integrity and Christian faith.
And they do not need to.
Those in that predicament need to hear that there are many—many—thoughtful, mature, knowledgeable, committed Christians in the world, who work and think deeply in these very areas of Bible and science, and would quickly part company with Mohler’s point of view, without shredding the gospel in the process.
But I keep returning to one undeniable fact. We are called to make people better. That is our ministry. Not just to salvation, but to be God's agents in improving people, not just out of poverty or want, but out of intellectual laziness.
The bottom line question is this - Does the church play to the lowest common denominator or does it attempt to move the definition of such higher?
A while back, I wrote this on my political blog:
“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now am found….”Mohler appears to have answered the "Now What?" question with a stern command to "Don't ask." So what ask in the first place?
But found for what? A man shipwrecked on a lifeless desert island can be “found” by the next guy to get shipwrecked. I guess it’s nice to have company while you die of starvation and thirst, but I cannot help but think there has to be more to this finding thing than just having company in our distress. Yet too often in Evangelical churches throughout America, the narrative they preach never extends beyond the simple salvation message. It never asks the question “Now what?”
Related Tags: Illuminated Scripture
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Extending Our Influence
Maybe I'm just calling the glass half full, or finding the silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud. But think with me for a second about the office of pastor. Unlike any other office or position that I can think of off the top of my bald head, the office of pastor requires a man to excel in two areas: doctrine and life.Would that such were true. But let's stop and list a few names; Jimmy Swaggert, Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard.... The list of celebrity pastors that were anything but exemplary is pretty long. In point of fact the more the celebrity, the higher the probability of a hidden moral failing. The narcissism required to go to the effort to attract that much attention to oneself is of itself a moral failing and almost demands that other issues are hidden beneath the surface.
We celebrate authors for how they write, academics for their brains, athletes for their athleticism, presidents for their ability to govern.
But the pastor is placed before a congregation because he is supposed to represent the ideal Christian: he thinks the right things and he lives a life that is "above reproach." I once heard D. A. Carson describe the lists of elder qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 like this: they don't require a man to exemplify extraordinary virtues, but to exemplify ordinary virtues extraordinarily well.
Jesus came at a time void of media and chose men who were extraordinary only in their ordinariness to change the world. Forget the fact that His humility ended in His crucifixion and focus on the fact that he concentrated on just 12 people. Where's the "celebrity" in that?
Humility and servitude are what I look for in a leader.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The church is both local and universal. The church is a body; the church is a community. The church has MANY functions. Summarizing the series as a series is impossible.
Which leads to my summary. The church is far more than what I want it to be. The key question is, does that mean it will not be what I want it to be. My response is that provided what we want from the church is legitimately within God's will it will be what we want it to be, but it will also be much more.
Problems arise when we want what we want exclusively, or when our desires for church are something better suited for a secular institution. This means the church is going to be a lot of things, the next key question is how?
My response, and this is the key question for me - is by turning the people loose. It's not about programs and staff, it is about developing disciples that want to do things to advance the kingdom. That means leadership has to do two very hard things. One they have to say "no" to that stuff better suited for elsewhere and two, they have to let go.
Mostly they have to build people, not programs.
Monday, May 14, 2012
A very interesting study has come out about powerful people and their decision making ability.Never have I read a more powerful argument for why leaders should be people of faith, genuine deep, humiliating faith.
Seems that their decisions making process could have one big flaw:
The decisions made by powerful people in business and other fields have far-reaching effects on their organizations and employees. But this study finds a link between having a sense of power and having a propensity to give short shrift to a crucial part of the decision-making process: listening to advice. Power increases confidence, the paper’s authors say, which can lead to an excessive belief in one’s own judgment and ultimately to flawed decisions.
The first lesson of faith, pretty much any faith, is that there is something greater than ourselves. That realization is a powerful check to the tendency just described. And it is a check we fight against - hard - even in the church.
How much talk is there about "my ministry?"
This is one of the things I really dislike about independent, entrepreneurial churches. There is nothing to remind the founder that there is more than himself at stake. Such requires far more maturity than most of us have. And most people I know, and they are few, that have obtained that level of maturity cannot maintain it without people and institutions to aid them in the practice.
Perhaps the most important question in Christian leadership is "What humbles you and how hard do you hold on to it?"
Sunday, May 13, 2012
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!