Saturday, January 17, 2015


Comic Art


Friday, January 16, 2015


What Is Church?

Ed Stetzer @ CT:
Come on—it's 2014.

Every church should have an online presence.

Your church people and your community are there, so you should be as well. But that is different than referring to something that happens via your website as a "church."

Can an online gathering of Christians be classified as a church? Let's think through this by asking five questions.

If a church is not online, then it is not actually engaging the culture. A church needs to be where the people gather and they are online and on social media sites.
He goes on and concludes:
As we continue down the path forged by the digital revolution, New Testament churches are going to function within community that includes online aspects. They'll do it primarily in person, but they'll also have online opportunities and an online outreach. Currently, some churches have an Internet pastor to serve those participating online. This role will only become more prominent.

Ideally, churches will have an online presence, but will strongly encourage life-on-life interaction where social media enhances rather than excuses community. This can be one more tool that we have to introduce people to Jesus Christ and His church. It is not going away anytime soon, so we cannot just ignore it. Instead, we need to learn how to use it for God's glory. If not, we will become increasingly irrelevant in a world shaped by the Internet.
Stetzer is ussually smarter than this. This illustrates the greatest problem with Evangelicalism - it confuses one thing the church is supposed to do (evangelism) with "the church." He is absolutely correct in saying Christians HAVE to be online to engage the online culture - but that is not the church - it is a necessity to do evangelism in that culture.

The church not only does evangelism (making new Christians) - it helps old Christians mature - it feed the poor and otherwise helps the needy - it is a place for scholarship - it delivers sacrament (IMPOSSIBLE ONLINE!) - it educates - it is culturally and politically active. The church is God's presence in the world - that's a pretty tall order.

Church cannot possibly be on line - evangelism can begin on line, but church - never.


Friday Humor

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Winning and Losing

Rachel Held Evans:
As a longtime supporter of World Vision, I encouraged readers of my blog to pick up some of the dropped sponsorships after the initial decision. I then felt betrayed when World Vision backtracked, though I urged my readers not to play the same game but to keep supporting their sponsored children, who are of course at no fault in any of this.

But most of all, the situation put into stark, unsettling relief just how misaligned evangelical priorities have become.

When Christians declare that they would rather withhold aid from people who need it than serve alongside gays and lesbians helping to provide that aid, something is wrong.

There is a disproportionate focus on homosexuality that consistently dehumanizes, stigmatizes and marginalizes gay and lesbian people and, at least in this case, prioritizes the culture war against them over and against the important work of caring for the poor.

Evangelicals insist that they are simply fighting to preserve “biblical marriage,” but if this were actually about “biblical marriage,” then we would also be discussing the charity’s policy around divorce.

But we’re not.

Furthermore, Scripture itself teaches that when we clothe and feed those in need, we clothe and feed Christ himself, and when we withhold care from those in need, we withhold it from Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-46).

Why are the few passages about homosexuality accepted uncritically, without regard to context or culture, but the many about poverty so easily discarded?

As I grieved with my (mostly 20- and 30-something) readers over this ugly and embarrassing situation, I heard a similar refrain over and over again: “I don’t think I’m an evangelical anymore. I want to follow Jesus, but I can’t be a part of this.”
This argument is wrong on so many levels. It ioversimplies the incredibly complex.

A) this is not an either/or situation. There are plenty of charities out there that take care of "the least of these." Ceasing to support one such agency does not mean when cease to offer such care.

B) She is right, we ought to be talking about divorce.

C) There is a distinction between the sinner struggling with their sin and the sinner that does not admit their sin is sin. All sinners are welcome to church, but there are qualifications for participation in leadership. Every leader is a sinner, but it does not dehumanize, stigmatize and marginalize a sinner to tell them they are not yet ready for leadership. I do not expect my leadership to be without sin - but I do expect them to struggle mightily with it.

D) This may not be a "fair" line, but at least it is a line. Without it we would collapse totally on sexual sin.

Oh and by the way, at the heart of the church are any number of people that are chaste until marriage and consider their marriage vows sacred. The idea that everyone is doing it, why can't I, is a canard in the church. More people than I am comfortable with are, but the old standards are still very active amongst a huge portion of believers.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Creating Change

Jim Tonkowich:
Stories, not arguments, shape imaginations and imaginations shape feelings and feelings shape the way we hear the arguments. If stories convince us that certain positions are absurd or foolish, reason, logic, and data will look foolish, mean-spirited, and absurd.

Which means that the battle today is not for better arguments (important as they are), but for better stories.

Let me quickly add that I do not mean better stories alone as though narrative preaching or the next Narnia movie or some combination of images will turn the culture on their own. They won’t. Jesus is the divine Logos, not the divine narrative. We are still obligated to give a reason for the hope that is in us (1Peter 3:15). Narrative will never supplant apologetics.

Nonetheless having said that, as C. S. Lewis knew, as G. K. Chesterton knew, as Alan Jacobs knows, and as every good preacher knows, good stories capture imaginations so that the reasons for our hope, our faith, and our way of life can be heard, heeded, and received.

A good story can change people’s hearts so let’s get writing.
The empirical evidence around me suggests this is so, and yet I wonder if the best response is to capitalize on this observation or to attempt to change it. Regardless of government, changing culture is a democratic process - you have to convince enough people that something is so for it to be so culturally.

Tonkowich argues, though Jacobs using Chesterton and Lewis that it is story that lead to the fall. Fair enough, but I wonder if story can lead is to redemption? As powerful as the narrative of Christ is I have seen too many people pervert it into something it is not. Unless we apply reason our feeling will always tell us that our sin is something other than sin and without sin,t he narrative will be transmogrified into something it is not.

It seems to me that the road to reality is a road in which our reason controls our feelings. Therefore is an appeal to feeling the right way to go?

Another way to look at this is does story shape culture or does it reflect it? I lean towards the latter.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Sin and Worship

Christian Post:
Worship services in evangelical churches do not mention sin, a major part of the Gospel message, Dr. Cornelius Plantinga, senior research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, said Monday at the Ethics and Public Policy Center's Faith Angle Forum.

"In very many evangelical and confessionally Reformed churches these days, sin is a rare topic," he said.

He came to this conclusion from his experience of speaking in different churches most Sundays for the past 30 years, talking to evangelical friends, observing the content of worship music used by evangelical churches, and reading the books and articles of Dr. David Wells, distinguished senior research professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Plantinga explained to the conference of journalists.

Anglicans, Catholics and Lutherans continue to include confession or a rite of penitence as a regular part of their worship services, he noted. But in evangelical and Reformed churches, he sees "less and less" sin-related material every year.
Why does this matter? Because sin is fundamental to our understanding of just what it means to be Christian. We are first sinners and the Christian life is an effort to move away from that.

That is quite different from a view that says we are more or less OK - but need God to clean us up around the edges a bit - especially that whole self-image thing.

There is a big difference between being a sinner that seeks to overcome sin in order to feel good about yourself and simply seeking to feel good about yourself. Make that a huge difference. The latter will justify our sin in order the feel good about ourselves. That is very dangerous stuff.

The piece goes on to say, "One of the reasons Plantinga believes evangelical worship leaves out sin is a desire to be "seeker friendly" and avoid topics that may turn off non-Christians or new Christians." I cannot help but wonder if they would be turned on to learn that the reason they feel bad about themselves is becasue of attributes about themselves that can be fixed - by Christ. Rather than put a new coat of pain on this miserable existence, if we are but willing to acknowledge the miserableness of our existence, a new one awaits us.

The good news is not that we are good, but that god makes us good.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Hard To Do

Mark Daniels discusses loving in the church:
When the Church is united in its commitment to Christ, to the authority of God’s Word over its life, and its love for God, the world, and one another, it is a powerful magnet for people who don’t yet know Jesus Christ or the freedom from sin and death only Christ can give.
If you agree with that statement the answer to the question of why the church seems to be dying should be obvious - those things are not happening.

There is a corollary question here. If the church is not doing the things it needs to do to survive and all the changes that are being made are not helping, then do we need more changes, or do we need to return to what we were doing when we were healthier?

It's hard work to be the church, but isn't that kind of the point?

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