Saturday, June 14, 2014
Friday, June 13, 2014
The Value of Satire
Satire done well is a beautiful, beautiful thing, and Lark News plays it straight. The great thing about satire is that being quick to get the point makes readers look silly. I am used to The Onion, which is a satirical treatment of general news, and I sometimes figure that others will catch satire when they see it. However, Lark News is good enough that I have seen people get taken in by what they do, much like foreign newspapers mistake The Onion for real news. Satire does not call the reader to be quick enough to jump on a bandwagon but rather to be slow enough to watch where it is going. There might be a fine point to a bit of satire: “You’re right, but you’re doing it wrong!” There might be a grand and sweeping attack: “This whole thing is wrong! Get rid of it!” It is regularly shocking, demonstrating how the abuse of a good idea or the use of a bad idea becomes horrible and absurd. It shows rather than tells.I think he is right. It was the "Wittenberg Door" for my generation and I know I laughed my self silly, but there are two cauthionary notes to be sounded here.
Lark News forces Christians to reexamine issues that they might not otherwise consider. The articles that I have seen so far attack self-righteousness and legalism, the adoption of business methods into church practices, and unrealistic expectations put upon pastors.
Firstly, the satirist often talks on an air of superiority, like he/she is just a little bit smarter and better than anyone else in the room. That has an effect on both the satirist and the audience. The satirist may come to believe they actually are better. I think this pretty much defines a lot of left leaning people, where mocking substitutes for argument. Such an attitude is often born in good satire. This is not a tool to employ nor consume frequently lest it rot ones soul.
Secondly, satire tends to "form a club" of those who get it and those who do not. If we are called to invite all to Christ, consigning people to in or out of the club is not a really effective way to do so.
I like satire as much as the next guy. But we need to exercise care.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
No longer can religion be said to derive from the virtue of pietas, that is, what man owes to God. Faith now centers on “who I am” rather than what is. If a traditional or orthodox practice or belief has any value, it is only in how much emotional comfort and stability it can offer. As soon as one feels that such practice or dogma no longer suits him, he is encouraged to dispense with it so as to explore new, self-created “faith-identities.” At no point does religion require one to submit to a reality that is not created but received (cf. 1 Cor 15:3). As such, instead of being drawn out of himself toward a transcendent reality, one becomes trapped within the self-created illusions of his own sentimentality.He is so right here! But I am less concerned that this is a description of theological liberalism than I am that this applies to a lesser extent to how even political conservative churches do outreach and evangelism. We do programs to fill the community needs. We change music and other aspects of the Sunday morning service to suit the desire of the community. We avoid discussing "sin" too much because it turns people off. In so many ways, while we never stray in what we preach, we say to those coming that their "emotional comfort" is paramount in how we operate the church. Practically, if not in our "message," do indeed lower the sights to "this-worldly concerns."
It is this neglect of man’s transcendent end – his salvation – that is perhaps the most dangerous feature of modern collegiate theological liberalism. The religious sights have been lowered to this-worldly concerns.
The concept of message goes so far beyond reading preaching and media. Anybody can do those things. What makes them "authentic?" It is the lives of those who produce and distribute such messaging. When we give the right message, but how we conduct church sends a competing message, which message is going to "win?" What's more, how many people are going to write us off as liars?
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Tongues and Tongues
As believers we look forward to the day when people from every nation cry out with a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" Until then, let us be reminded that God is passionate about tongues. Because God Himself created tongues and desires praise from all languages, missional and linguistic contextualization becomes even more important.Talk about dodging the question - he even admits to it. Look, I get the idea here, give the good news before you give them the bad. What I don't get is why we insist on playing with language this way. Yes at Pentecost "tongues" meant other languages. Yes, that's a great thing. But come on - everybody in modern America, when they hear the word "tongues" has a different association. Why try to redeem a word that has basically lost its meaning already?
I know that many will say, "But, but, but, what about...?" That's fine. And more needs to be discussed-- but this aspect must not be missed.
Christians must be concerned with reaching all ethno-linguistic people groups with the Gospel that Jesus' mission can be fulfilled: God's praises in many languages. Speaking in tongues illuminates a piece of Heaven here on Earth.
You cannot possibly argue that the word is "Biblical." The Bible is not in English. If you want to preserve Biblical language, then I guess we all ought to learn Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew.
This is the kind of thing a preacher does when confronted with a difficult passage and he does not want to tackle it. This is a diversion. That does not mean I disagree with what he is saying, I don't Stetzer is right, it just means he is playing games and avoiding the issue. A preacher may need to do this sometime. He may know that his congregation is simply unprepared for a specific lesson and when presented by the calendar with a passage that seeks to teach that lesson, he needs to find a way to divert. But know blogger knows their audience that well, so why waste a blog post on it? (Unless, of course, you are just recycling material.)
Why am I so upset about this? It's simple. The common association with the terms "tongues" (a private prayer or heavenly language) is real. It can and has been a blessing to many. But Satan has also used it to produce more mischief in the modern church than anything else I can think of. I have attended funeral because someone "got a word."
This is no issue to dance around.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
"Wierd" Is Putting It Mildly
But the spirit of Cizik’s Vogue hagiographic Vanity Fair photo shoot was revived when the priest of Cizik’s Anglican church in Virginia recently compared his parishioner to Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch heroine who hid Jews from the Nazis during World War II. He also cites Oskar Schindler of “Schindler’s List.” The priest explains:The piece is titles "The Weird Rhetoric of Environmental 'Holocaust'" I don't think it is weird, I think it is dangerous. Really, seriously dangerous.
Another kind of holocaust is going on today, one that touches not just Jews and other people groups. It is environmental and it is global. If you do not think so just take a deep breath while meandering through a Beijing hutong, or grab an unfiltered drink from our capital’s Potomac River.
It is dangerous on scientific terms. It deals in hyperbole and imagery when the situation calls for facts, data and thought.
It is dangerous on a human level. It conflates deep, purposeful evil with something that is at its worst a bad priority choice.
It is dangerous on a theological level. It assumes a God's eye view, something we are never to have.
We are indeed called to be good stewards of the environment, but when can only do so when we are good stewards of ourselves and our language.
Monday, June 09, 2014
Shoving Jesus Away
The crowd observed the results of an astounding miracle. A man who had been horribly tortured by demons was now whole and free. Yet the townsfolk begged Jesus to go away. Perhaps they were afraid that he would do something to upset their livelihood, as he had done to the owner of the pigs. More probably, they simply didn’t want Jesus to mess up their lives. He was too powerful, too unpredictable, too scary. So they cried, “Leave us alone!”I am guilty of this just like everybody else and I often ponder why. I always return to the same reason - it is because I do not have a clear vision of how wonderful life with Christ really is. There are really two reason why I lack such vision. The first can never be changed - in our fallen state we are simply not capable of of truly comprehending something so sublime.
I expect that most of us aren’t quite so honest with Jesus. We wouldn’t ever say to him, “Leave me alone!” Yet I wonder how often we do, in effect, tell Jesus to let us be, at least in part. If we were to put into words our secret thoughts, might they sound something like this: “You can have me when it comes to my family life, but leave me alone at work.” Or, “You are welcome to touch my public actions, but don’t mess with my daydreams.” Or, “I’m willing to give you a tithe of my income, but leave the rest of my money alone.” Or, “I’m happy to have you in my life, Jesus, but don’t ask me to forgive my parents.” Or . . . you can fill in the blank with whatever fits for you.
The second reason is the one that really bothers me though. And that is that those that claim Christ as Savior don't show me much. The Christian life is a communal life and part of the reason for that community is to encourage and provide example for each other. And yet so often I look at the other and I do not see a life improved by Christ, but a life burdened. I am quite sure others can say the same when they look at me.
We provide the necessary vision - at least we should.
life with Christ vision