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Showing posts from 2003
Just a little reminder that the links on the side are politically-oriented blogs and sites. They do indeed somewhat reflect my politics, but those links are not relevant to this site, committed to nonpartisan Christian blather from myself. Nor do I always endorse what is written on pages to which I've linked. Just a reminder.
There's an awful lot of jabbering lately, in the form of Christian books on relationships. There are tons of them. I've even heard that some are good, and maybe they are. But why now? What is making relationships between men and women such a popular thing to talk about? Even the good books saying, "Let God handle your future" testify to young people perhaps unhealthily desiring relationships. If you don't believe me, what did you buy that book for? I'm not innocent of this, either. I think of relationships a lot. But I'm not reading any books on the subject. I'd rather think about God's goodness and mystery than be in a self-absorbed quest to discover why God hasn't given me a particular blessing yet. Easier said than done, but I'm trying. Imagine the outcry if mainstream evangelicals wrote books like, "Why Hasn't God Made Me Rich?" Think of the outcry, and rightly so. But noone tells all these romance advisors, "If you w
This post is slightly political, but cut me some slack; I'm going somewhere with this. On this subject, John Armstrong has been writing a lot in his Weekly Messenger for Reformation & Revival Ministries, so I'm giving him credit before I start. A lot of evangelicals are sold on the idea of smaller government, and free markets, and frankly so am I. But there are always holes, folks who fall through the cracks. The market is filled with sinful man too, as is the welfare state. The big question for all those who've entered the political fray is this: Are you willing to stand in the breach, when your politics isn't enough? When the free market leaves some behind, are you willing personally to right the wrongs of poverty? And you socialists, (and assorted other liberals) are you willing to stand in those same breaches when the welfare state fails, when your utopian dreams go down in flames? Christians, are we willing to speak "phophetically" to all sides of p
One of the defining characteristics of evangelical Protestant theology has been certainty, and at that a certainty that extends to the most specific, seemingly trivial of matters. I ask plainly, have we sacrificed mystery for certainty? Or I should say, mysticism. Have we doctrinally parsed every page of the Bible so that it doesn't scare us anymore? And I don't mean that fleeing in terror sort of scared. I mean worship-inducing, awe-inspiring sort of scared. What sort of doctrinal assumptions do you make as you approach the Bible that might suck all the mystery (or all the correction) right out of it? Is your theology too comfortable? Can it, and start over. Well, what do you think? I would turn the comments on, but I don't know how. Very well, if you wish to comment, send all of them to: No spam.
I had some thoughts about theology. Some people see theology as a barrier to Christians and their walk with the Lord. True, some discussion is pointless infighting, with the sins of anger and arrogance at the forefront. But far too many Christians mistake "simply Christian" for easy, and an abscence of conflict. We should learn as much about the mysteries of God as we can. Furthermore, we should learn to speak the language of theology so we can explore these mysteries together. Sure, it will be somewhat jargon-filled, but we already have a jargon as Christians. Even the most basic of Christian doctrine seems fresh to any mind willing to dive into the mystery. We must at all costs avoid sin if we feel the need to dispute each other in matters of doctrine. Even to see some weaknesses in our own beliefs, or that of our particular traditions, the theological journey has merit. In any case, theology is another good place to see God's love for us in Christ if we look for it.
This is my religious autobiography, intermingled with an analysis of Robert Wuthnow's After Heaven: Spirituality in America since the 1950s. Enjoy. A Spirituality of Dwelling in the Incarnation Spirituality in the United States has undergone profound change. The spirituality of dwelling that allegedly prevailed in the 1950s depended on unimpeded transmission and repetition of religious practices, and community orientation. Wuthnow rightly asserts that such spirituality is unlikely to survive the rapid change that this nation has seen. That shift from dwelling to seeking is quite apparent, yet the solution of a “practice-oriented spirituality” is little more than platitudes, speaking to a need that is not filled with generalities. God, ever-present as the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, reminds us in the Scriptures and by his very presence that this culture is not so much faster, more materialistic, or any more lost than the one to which he spoke in biblica
The construction of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church originates from many angles. Philip Jenkins’ work, Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis, attempts to distill all the pressures for reform into the most pertinent elements, organized around a central theme: All the pressure points for reform had the effect of pushing the Catholic Church from a “sect” to a “church”. The three most compelling aspects of Jenkins’ argument are litigation, the media, and internal division. Once placing these factors within the argument, we can then critically evaluate Jenkins’ overall argument. Litigation is potentially the most dangerous aspect of the scandal for the Roman Catholic Church. Damage awards have the ability to cripple the church, and at a speed not rivaled by bad media coverage. In addition, the possibility of high damages encourages false accusations, and true accusers who might have otherwise elected not to sue (125). Another interesting point deals with th
Well, I had to entirely rewrite the submission on Philip Jenkins' book, Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis . Therefore, I'll post the resumbmission for you here.
Too long not to post. Great Thanksgiving. We traversed all of Missouri, Kansas, and half of Colorado before arriving at our vacation destination in Colorado City. Thanks to Kevin Kettinger for driving 13 hours each way so I could celebrate. Seriously though, brother, there's only so much introspective acoustic guitar music I can take (John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews). Good times.
I had the worst cold ever, it seemed like. When the junk is in your lungs, that's bad news. Anyway, I went to a retreat with RUF-Mizzou and had a great time hanging out with RUF-Nebraska. Special thanks to John Stone, the Mosemans, Ross and Jenny Dixon, and "The Real Deal" Joe Choi.
An e-mail I sent to a pastor friend of mine: (Name witheld to protect the unwittingly famous) Hey Friend, Today in Religious Studies, we continued our discussion of Robert Wuthnow's book, After Heaven: Spirituality in America since the 1950s. Where we are right now, we were trying to contextualize the rise of evangelicalism in the 70s and 80s. You and other leaders know better than anybody how shallow segments of evangelicalism have become. Some people hijacked our way of speaking, of giving God His rightful place, and turned Christianity into an enormous self-help program, designed to provide people a "comfortable" place in culture. Personally, if I see a copy of Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People today, I'm gonna lose my mind. I don't want to be "effective," or fulfilled, or driven, I want to be a Christian. Please tell me that I'm not a statistic, that you and I are not just the products of a shallow cultural counterrevolu
Wow. Is it really true that the guy playing Jesus and the assistant director in Mel Gibson's The Passion got hit by lightning? I'd likely caution myself against interpreting that as a sign, but that's pretty weird. Let me say again if the movie is faithful to the Gospel accounts, there's no way it could be anti-Semitic. Even the one who died is Jewish. It matters not one whit the ethnicity of all the parties involved. In the beginning of the Christian church, everyone was Jewish ethnically. I seriously doubt that all those believers had a curious case of self-hatred. Does that make any sense?
I heard someone tell me once that I "wore my religion on my sleeve." Now, I have a great admiration for all those folks who can show the love of Christ without ever saying a word. But that's not me. Sorry if that bothers anyone. The gospel is foremost on my mind, and burned in my heart; thus, it is often the first thing out of my mouth. I don't pester people about it, but if I have someone's ear, (and trust) I'm going to talk about the most important events ever in the history of the cosmos. Jesus Christ is the God-man, who came to save sinners. And He showed us what "human" really means--what we will become.
Today, I inadvertently insulted my Religious Studies instructor, by stating that his post regarding a different number of commandments in Exodus 20 (Jews and some Christians say 9; the rest say 10) on our message board was "old news." I issue then a very public apology to him. My post may have reflected a disdain for his transmission of these facts, which I did not intend.
Imagine what King Herod must have thought when he heard of the child to be born in Bethlehem, the one some said would be King of the Jews: "How dare a child challenge my rule as King!" Remember that the Scripture says he killed all the male children in the town two years and younger in an attempt to kill Jesus. Matthew 2:18 speaks of Rachel weeping for her children, because they are no more. Today at Mizzou, I saw a huge wall with information about alternatives to abortion, as well as graphic pictures of dead children. As you might imagine, it's very provocative. I could only look once. The baby I saw reminded me of Herod's genocide. "A child just like this one, Herod killed that day," I thought. Today is no different. Thousands of people say in their hearts, "How dare a child be born to ruin my plans! I rule my own life!" Take one look at a picture of this death; there's no way the argument that a fetus is a mass of cells (and not a person) w
I read the first eight chapters of Ezekiel. Wow. You see a lot of idolatry today that goes unpunished, but not unnoticed. God's mercy in wrath is pretty evident as well, as he commands Ezekiel warn those he preaches to that they should repent. He really does want to show mercy, and it seems there God will stay his hand at the smallest obedience. That should not be lost as you read of the Lord's wrath. Also see Habakkuk 3:2.
Speaking of Glenn Reynolds, go to Instapundit. You'll find engaging commentary on all the issues of the day, replete with links to the actual articles. You'll find Instapundit among my links on the right of this page. If you find generally libertarian thought repulsive, (like you're a socialist liberal hippie) you won't like him. But everybody else likes him. And you should too!
Phil, your believer's bias is showing, but I love you for it. What great fun that was. We'll see if Miser Callahan likes this one better than the last. As Glenn Reynolds would say, read the whole thing.
Here's what I've been working on in its unabridged form: Philip Jenkins’ work is a compelling starting point for studying the crisis in the Catholic Church. The book does an excellent job showing the social construction of the problem, giving a sloppy and uncritical media a central role in that construction. However, Jenkins has failed to demonstrate the relevance of the “anti-Catholic” or anticlerical tradition. There two reasons why this is so: One’s classification of anti-Catholic is entirely dependent on perspective. One would have to hold the position of the conservative bishops consistently and unwaveringly to make the charge stick. Secondly, the generally positive portrayal of Catholic religious practices and clergy in the mid-20th century until the emergence of the scandal in the 70s and 80s makes the claim that anti-Catholicism is on the rise tenuous, as this gives powerful evidence of assimilation. Thus, revising Jenkins on this point leaves us with an even better
Just so everyone understands, we did not study God's Word this past Wednesday, in light of Cubs-Marlins Game 7. Wholehearted sympathies go out to our own Cubs fan Brian Miller, and millions of his compatriots worldwide. I do think the Marlins represent the National League's best chance to win. Also, I do not have questions for the first five verses of Colossians 2. I was on a vacation of sorts, and my compatriot Christopher Yee composed the questions for that week. I'll simply post his questions. Fear not, loyal Safe Haven reader, you are in capable hands. I know there's only one of you, and you're teetering on the edge of leaving anyway. I wouldn't read this blog. Jason Kettinger's not all that interesting. He's probably choking on a mix of Coke, (the Best Soda Ever) and belligerent comments. Yes, he owns a bit of a temper, but some people deserve it, he says. For example, why would you build any political philosophy trusting a two-bit OPEC kingpin over
Welcome to another week of Colossians. Here’s 2:6-23. How do we receive Christ? What does it mean for us to walk in him? (Christ) What kind of life will we lead? What is the meaning of verse 7? What is significant about the phrase, “just as you were taught”? Why might philosophy, or certain kinds of philosophy, be a threat to the gospel? What sort of human tradition is Paul criticizing here? What does verse 9 say about Jesus? (See 1:19) What does verse 10 say about Jesus’ position? Who takes care of all our needs? Why does Paul say we were circumcised by Christ? What was circumcision? (Gen. 17:1-8, 11) What is the sign of the New Covenant? Note: Testament and covenant mean the same thing. (Romans 6:3-6) What was our condition before we were believers? (Ephesians 2:5) What does it mean that we are buried with him, and raised with him? Why do we have a “record of debt”? What happens if you don’t pay the bills? Who “paid the bill” for us?
OK, OK: Bulger is pretty stinkin' good. We're not a Super Bowl team yet, but there is hope. Bulger rebounded from two early interceptions to throw 3 touchdown passes with over 200 yards. He's really mobile; even as the pass protection breaks down, he can get away to make plays. That's what makes the Rams dangerous. Their most glaring weakness isn't really hurting them (or most importantly, Bulger). If they block well in the running game, they could have Faulk, or Lamar Gordon, or my Uncle Steve taking handoffs, and it won't matter.
OK, I need anger management classes after that last post. Seriously, though, let's look at something. It is positively scandalous to give actual meanings to words, and hold people accountable for their "poetic license" when they stretch those meanings. In the realm of the spiritual, I have heard it called the "scandal of particularity." How dare anyone suggest a Transcendant Other that actually has a name? How dare He be exclusionary! Thus, my claim is simply this: that the Bible forms a baseline of interpretation that limits what is acceptable. Yes, this means we should be able to critically evaluate spiritual claims based on what is a given for that person or group. For example, if someone says, "I'm a Christian, (or, I believe the Bible) but I don't believe Jesus is God" there should AUTOMATICALLY be alarm-bells going off in everyone's head (even if you're not a Christian, and you have no vested interest). Why? Because the Christian
I received my first paper back in Religious Studies. I expected an A, or something close. I got a C+. You have got to be kidding. I loved that paper. So much did I cherish it! Part of the problem stems from my use of the word "orthodoxy." No, I did not try to shove my beliefs down anyone's throat. I merely was trying to say that the new religious pluralism threatened traditional notions of Christian orthodoxy. I shouldn't have to tell my instructor the contours of what that might look like. I wasn't trying to put forward my view of orthodoxy, just to say that those who define what it is feel threatened. Duh. Also, I defined sacred space as any place where the presence of God is, or was. Which, in my view, seems self-evident from Exodus 3:5 and the rest of what I would call the Old Testament. To refute my basic definition, my instructor referred me to Jonathan 2 (which doesn't exist). I hope you're reading this, Chip. Because I expect better from you as wel
I think I should make something clear today. Today, I want to talk about fundamentalism. You hear the term thrown around a lot in Religious Studies departments, but no one seems to be able to define what it means. Among these folks and religiously committed types, it seems to mean, "A religion with a bunch of zealots that scares me." After much refinement in the field, they came up with something similar to, "A religious movement characterized by stringent committment to certain doctrines." Positively stunning. You could call any Christian a fundamentalist by that definition! Right now, I have dozens of old lectures and conversations with my Religious Studies professors floating back to me saying, "You're only saying that because you have a personal narrow view of what a Christian is." Well, it's not a personal view, but you're darn skippy I have a narrow definition. I ask you, "In whom do you trust?" and you'll probably give me
Please don't click on the ad banner above this site if it says, "A New Christianity for A New World" by John Shelby Spong. He's a heretic, and a liar. Just trust me on that. (Going into rant mode) We don't need a new Christianity, we need the old one. Things got all messed up when we started changing things, and adding things. Like I don't know who said Mary didn't have sex after the Lord was born, but that's just silly. Seriously, who did that? Scripture teaches us this. Just what do you think a "marital duty" is anyway? Ever-virgin, my foot. Joseph is liable to be the unhappiest married man ever, if that were so. (And if you're Catholic, and that last remark really bugs you, well, too bad.) And don't let anyone get away with saying, "Christians think sex is wrong," because that's easily the second-dumbest thing I've ever heard. And third, Christians think drinking is wrong. Where do people get this stuff? If you
I'm going to blog about a controversial topic now. Abortion is back in the news. Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 281-142 in favor of banning partial-birth abortion, or late-term abortion. Critics of the bill say it is an attack on Roe v. Wade. Or, an attack on the right to an abortion itself. The critics are absolutely right. Roe v. Wade is most likely the most unconstitutional piece of garbage ever to become the law of the land. Rather than secure "health care" for millions of people, it has caused the death of fifty million people, and ruined the lives of millions of others. Why won't pro-lifers permit a heath exception? Because prominent abortion doctors have admitted that they would classify the most blatantly elective abortion as a health-related one. "Life" or "rape" is clear enough; health is not. And an overturn of Roe would not mean automatic illegality, as most perceive. Rather, individual state laws would be reinstituted.
That last post is a great transition, because the next section of Colossians tells us some important things about Jesus. Without further delay, let's read Colossians 1:15-29. What does this passage say about Jesus and the Father? What does this say about Jesus and creation? What was the purpose of creation? What does it mean that "he is before all things"? What function does a head have for a body? What must happen before the resurrection on the last day? What does verse 19 mean? (This is HUGE) How does Jesus make peace, and with whom? Who is "you" in verse 21? What then is true about all people, whether they are Christians or not? Why is Christ's death important? How are we holy and blameless? How will we be made holy and blameless? Are these two truths contradictory? How can we be stable and steadfast? Why does the gospel help us do that? Are the afflictions of Christ not complete enough for the church? (Must a
What is Christology? Good question. Christology is the study of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Or, "Who is Jesus, and what did He come to do?" That, I think, is the most important question that anyone could ask. Your answer determines your destiny. Christians take the rock-solid foundational answer to this question for granted. It's not obvious to everyone that Jesus is the Lord, the Son of God, the author and perfecter of our faith. If you believe Jesus in this way, it is a miracle. We are then vessels for His glory, and nothing else. Most heresies that have ever appeared undermine Jesus and his work. They have to do that very thing, because He is the center of it all.
I would encourage everyone to buy (or just read) The Many Faces of Christology by Tyron L. Inbody. There's a great chapter on evangelical Christology (think: Christian Christology) so that's worth it all by itself. According to the author, "evangelical" does not simply mean Protestant, either. It was simply the Reformation that demanded the real Church stand up and identify itself. The book's also useful to look at unorthodox hermaneutical approaches (like Marxist Christology) for comparison.
Well, I have a paper topic for my Religious Studies class. Since we are studying 9-11 as a religious event, I thought of something like, "9-11 Memorialization as a Function of Sacramental Awareness." "Sacramental Awareness" is defined as the extent to which ordinary things are seen as divine, or reflections of the divine Presence. The book that I lifted the concept from is called Living from the Center. The author is not a Christian, in my estimation (Orthodox confessional Christianity, see Apostles' Creed) but he's trained in theology, so his knowledge is useful for thinking theologically and sacramentally.
Today begins our study in the letter of Paul to the Colossians. I'm using the English Standard Version, or ESV. I'll simply post whatever questions I have about the text right here. I'm wanting to avoid quotation as much as possible, as not to run afoul of those publishing rules. So, here we go, Colossians 1:1-14. What is an apostle? Does it have anything to do with "by the will of God" in verse 1? What is a saint? And if it is any believer, how come it says, "saints and faithful brothers" in verse 2? What is grace? Why is Paul thanking God for their faith? Why doesn't he thank the Colossians? I know the "right" answer, but isn't that thought-provoking? What does in mean to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? What is the gospel? Why can we trust in Jesus? Why do we love one another? Why does Paul describe the gospel like a plant with fruit? How are grace and truth related? What did Epaphras do? And why is
And I do not think the evangelical denominations are just interest groups for the GOP. Rather, I feel that the mainlines are interest groups for whatever social cause is in fashion. Without the Gospel, they are just civil groups that make religious noises every now and then. Christians in posession of the true Gospel can stand outside the political fray and make valuable contributions to both parties. Yet as long as one party (the Democratic Party) remains committed to defending "abortion rights," they will not gain the allegiance of Christians who might generally agree with other policies.
I was reading about mainline church opposition to U.S. invasion of Iraq. My instructor was lamenting (or observing, to allow a claim of objectivity) the lack of impact those leaders' opinions had on Bush's policy. The list of denominations was less than impressive. ELCA, PCUSA, United Methodist? C'mon. Most real Christians are either considering leaving these denominations, or have already done so. If Christians perceive that the Gospel itself has been forsaken, why would leaders' opinions on "just war" theory mean anything? You can't assume that the more "conservative" elements are all Southern Baptists and independent evangelicals, either. Religion scholars have failed to account for the creation of new "mainline" denominations to replace the others, where doctrine and practice has remained strong and traditional, better explaining the huge groundswell of support for the war policies of our President. This is a much better explanation
So, today is the day for talking about whether Christians can lose their salvation. Can we? Depends on what a "Christian" is. Someone who walks, talks, and even acts like a Christian might not really be one. (1 John 2:18-19) "False sons in her pale," indeed. But we are assured over and over in Scripture that we will not fall away on account of God failing us. (John 6:37-40, Ephesians 1:13-14, John 10:27-30) Nor can we commit any sin so great that we cannot be forgiven if we truly repent (1 John 1:8-9). The real theme of Romans 8-9 is not election, but rather assurance. The same could be said for the first two chapters of Ephesians. How did we get where we are, and where are we going? Will God lead us out of the slavery of sin to perish in the desert of our own efforts? Surely not! The same grace that called us out of sin and death will sustain us. If we were dead in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and we were made alive with Christ (Eph. 2:5) surely He i
Crumpets. Tea and crumpets. I can't think of anything to say. It has been my experience that no one ever reads 2 Peter. That is, unless they're quoting something about losing your salvation, or other such foolishness. I'll do what can only be described as a column on this. Anyway, I've read Paul's letters a billion times, but has anyone ever quoted from the book of Amos? I've had people ask me if that book is in the Apocrypha. No, it's in the Old Testament, and it's not disputed. Don't ask me about Joel, either. You should know this stuff.
Today, class was supremely interesting. It's my Congress and Legislative Policy course. My instructor said that parties are getting stronger, and becoming more ideologically pure (less overlap). Let's hope so.
Much was made of the fact that George W. Bush did not meet with a single bishop (including his own) from the United Methodist Church before deciding to move against Iraq. On the other hand, I saw his bishop on a program discussing religion and salvation. If one is a Christian, or even knows a lot about it, one expects to hear a certain answer to the question, "How must I be saved?" Regardless of denomination, the answer, with little variation always is: "Repent and believe in the name of Jesus, God's only Son, our Lord." Never changes. Never should. Well, this guy said some ridiculously pluralistic drivel about how all religions are the same. Yours truly had to conclude that perhaps this man was no disciple of Jesus at all. I myself am not the Judge, but were I the President, I'd ignore this man's "religious opposition" to my policy in the same manner.
A little over a year ago, I unequivocally stated that Kurt Warner should be the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. Today, I am changing my decision. It pains me to write this; I love Kurt Warner. He's my favorite football player. In case you're wondering, yes, it is because he's a Christian. Warner plays for my hometown team, and he's my brother in Christ. (Aside from the fact that he's also really good) Yet, Marc Bulger is better. I won't say that I'll have a Marc Bulger card or jersey. I won't follow his career when he leaves the Rams. But he deserves to start for my team. I will never have the intense loyalty to Bulger as I do to Warner, and Marc will have to understand that is true for many St. Louis fans. If they trade Warner, there's going to be an uproar. But what else will you do? 47 million dollars was paid to Warner after the Super Bowl victory. You can't have a backup with that much money! A seven-year contract. This is only
On the eve of the two-year anniversary of the attacks on our country, I should say something. First, we're going to hear a lot of blather about how President Bush uses overtly religious language to cast his foreign policy in favorable terms. Supposedly how he really believes in the American Civil Religion, that we have a special place in the world, how Americans think we are a "chosen people" like we are God's very own...yadda yadda yadda, blah blah. Look, people: We happen to live in the modern day equivalent of the Roman Empire. Nations rise and fall in this time based on what the United States does, and does not do. If that makes you squirmy, it should. It doesn't change the fact. Now, with all that power comes obligation. You want some religious language, here's some. To whom much is given, much is expected. You had better believe we're going to make sure people understand the gravity of the choices we make. And if you were in posession of this power,
I'm nursing a Coke, dreaming up belligerent comments to spew at Captain Hall when he reads the last post, and e-mails me to say that Maddux is overrated. Bring it then, untutored wretch! (I stole that insult from John Calvin)
Greg Maddux won his 14th game of the season the other day. If you don't watch baseball, Maddux may be the best pitcher of his era. He wins without throwing hard, or striking out many. He is noted for having the fewest pitches per start of any pitcher in baseball, yet his total innings reflect an ability to go deep into games. In short, he's efficient. Greg has won at least 15 games for 15 consecutive seasons, a record only matched by Cy Young (the greatest pitcher ever). Maddux has won 287 games. 300 wins means automatic Hall of Fame entry. Furthermore, modern pitchers pitch every fifth day. It was thought that none from this era would approach 300, so special exceptions for wins would be made. But Roger Clemens accomplished this, and Maddux will do so next season. These facts show the utter, complete dominance of Maddux (and Clemens) over his peers.
I put "I'm not even sure I understand what I just said" as comic relief. It's pretty heavy stuff. Folks don't like it when you sound too sure of yourself. There is an intuition among Christians (and teaching to back it up) that knowledge is not owned. Nothing I say is truly mine, even as people might say, "What you said made sense." Have you ever been amazed at the words from your own mouth? Truly, God is at work to speak His love to us, and through us.
Let me clarify creeds, and what they are. If Christianity is the true religion (big IF, I know) then there will be A) clearly indentifiable, consistent teachings, and B) clear irrefutable evidence of those beliefs in practice. Core teachings are those that survive, and transcend the various disagreements between those who claim Christianity as their faith. The Reformation (whether viewed in a positive or negative light) shows how this works. If you are a member of a Bible church in the backwoods of Kentucky, your Scriptural exegesis will never go beyond, or violate, the basic creedal confessions of the early church. Because they represent the battle for the most crucial aspects of Christianity. (Apostles' Creed, Nicene Creed, Chalcedon) You can't be on the wrong side of these, and still be a Christian. Even among those who reject creeds, the core doctrines are safely within those bounds. The reason is that the Protestant impulse is to reaffirm the core doctrines with Scripture
It's good shorthand, that's why have creeds! If somebody asked you, "What do you believe?" what will you do, drag them through an exegesis of the whole New Testament? Right. Sure you will.
We were talking about memorials in my Religious Studies class today. I think a key feature of memorials is hope and joy. Death must have meaning. And not by itself. There's two ways this goes: First, you can have a notion of "salvation by death." That is, if someone dies, they're automatically in a better place. This is really popular these days. No one likes to hear that their loved ones either stopped existing, or they are in Hell. Your second choice is earthly existence only. This one is dumb. Our hearts cry out how unfair that is. Read the aforementioned Psalm 73. "The wicked better get theirs!," we cry. You may be wondering, "Jason, why can't people just believe anything they want? Aren't all religions the same?" If you can seriously look at the testimony of history, and current events, telling me they're all the same, you're bold indeed. Now, I know how they love to focus on witch hunts, and Inquisitions to avoid the plainly o
Let's talk about the Anglican Church. Having a gay bishop is the least of their problems. I hope Episcopalians here in America, going off the deep end in doctrine, poisoned by political correctness, get separated from the larger faithful community around the world. Those who advocate such lawlessness cause a once proud communion to be no church of Christ.
A lot of noise about Justice Moore lately. The ACLU crowd is probably right, but I also think they can deal with it. God rules and reigns over this country, and every other one. And no, I don't mean that generically. The God of Israel wrote those laws. He is the only true God. Tolerance is an idol, and like every other one, it will burn. I'm not going to apologize for the Christian past of many American leaders. There's been preference, and rightly so. We're right, that's why.
Psalm 73 is a great one. It speaks of how we notice the wicked, the selfish, the arrogant, getting ahead, while we have chosen a harder road of following God. And it doesn't really seem worth it. God says it will be worth it when He comes again and makes a new heavens and new earth, but be honest. Can you imagine that? Can you wrap your mind around such a far-off promise? Sometimes, we've got to grab onto smaller things first. Like Him getting us through this day.
I went to a concert last night. A really cool Norwegian guy opened up. Then Liz Phair. Then Jason Mraz. You've got to listen to this guy; he was amazing. There were no throwaway songs. It was a great show. He's got this great jazz-pop sound that I like. Wonderful voice.
Yes, Captain Hall, I am aware of Lidle's post-All Star break performance. But this year, I don't think it will happen. I'm Cory's biggest fan in Missouri at least, and he's just not getting it done. I traded him in my fantasy league. (Lidle and Manny Ramirez for Andruw Jones and Pedro Martinez) I'm still going to root for him.
Let me clarify some thoughts on marriage, and the words I used. Marriage is seen in Genesis 2, and God shares a bit of His design for it there, as well as other places. When I say "Christian" I'm applying it retroactively, shortening Judeo-Christian. It belongs to God's people. When other people (non-Christians) do it, they are participating in something spiritual, and in a particular way, whether they know it or not. Why do people get married in churches? Why does every guy qualified to marry someone say, "We are garthered here today in the sight of God..." Many people aren't religious in any sort of way, yet they often desire these things. If the United States of America wants to give other unions the same kind of monetary benefits, legal status, etc. as marriages, it may do so. It is true that Christianity has preferential treatment within our law. Christians and others heavily influenced by the gospel founded our nation. We shouldn't apologize fo
And another thing: Bush knows he'd better not mess with the Kingdom of God, which is infinitely more powerful than the United States. The church isn't going anywhere.
Tomorrow doesn't mean tomorrow, I guess. Sorry. Let's get real for a minute. President Bush has indicated his support for current law defending marriage as that between a man and a woman, and seems to be supporting a Constitutional Amendment to that effect. I happen to think it's quite necessary. Marriage belongs to the Christian church. It is a testament to the power and influence of Christianity that everyone else gets married, and calls it that. But I can think of no way that the rights of people can be enhanced by calling every kind of union a marriage. A lot of folks aren't even satisfied with granting legal standing to civil unions. The only result of changing the definition of a marriage (and that is what it is, make no mistake) is to undermine the right of free association of Christians. Basically, this is a free speech right of citizens to believe whatever they wish, and to hang out with those who believe similarly. Even if the end result of that belief, if put
I heard the St. Louis Cardinals were interested in Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Cory Lidle. The Jays asked for J.D. Drew in return. If Lidle's ERA wasn't 5.00, I'd do it. I also think Drew is worth a Greg Maddux or Russ Ortiz. Let me digress: If Maddux wants to sign with the Cardinals prior to next season, they'd find the money. Fernando Vina, peace. Stephenson, pack your bags. Tino would take a pay cut. But I love Tino Martinez, so they'd have to keep him. Greg Maddux is the man.
And another thing: I hope they don't find any WMD in Iraq. I want to hear Bush say, "Oops! I really thought he had them!" That roughly translates to, "I needed some selfish reason to do it, since simple humanity isn't a good reason for some of my political foes." Ha Ha.
Right now, my beautiful internet radio station is playing "You Were Mine" by the Dixie Chicks. You're saying, "Why are you listening to those commies?" Don't lie. Because I adore the Dixie Chicks. Yes, I'm an arch-conservative who doesn't give a rat's appendix about Natalie Maines' opinion of Bush. If I got rid of all the music I owned made by liberals, all I'd listen to is audio transcripts of Neal Boortz. Geez. Anyway, I was flipping through the channels last night, and this Joe Scarborough guy was on. Ed Asner was blathering about McCarthyism and unpopular opinion. That guy wouldn't know censorship if it smacked him in the head. I think folks have been extraordinarily patient with all those anti-Bush predictions that turned out wrong. It's not antiwar, the war had nothing to do with it. Yeah, the media classified what Natalie Maines said as antiwar. She said she was ashamed our President was from Texas. Does that have anything
Journey is playing on my internet radio station. I love Journey, and I love the idea of all my favorite songs for free. There are some I don't like, but it listens to me, so if I really hate a song, I can tell it never to play again. My favorite song right now is "Bus Driver" by Caedmon's Call. I find Christian music annoying, but those guys are great.
Lance Armstong took the kiddies to the woodshed yesterday at the Tour de France by winning the fifteenth stage. He leads overall by 1:17. No one cares, you say. Perhaps. But I care, for three reasons: 1. I watch all sports; 2. I enjoy watching Americans being the best at everything; 3. I enjoy watching the French be humbled by an arrogant Texan (again).
June 11, Wow! I really stink at this! Finished Frank Herbert's Dune. I also read "The Lord's Supper" by Robert Letham. It's nonfiction theology, in case you didn't pick up on it. It's a great overview of all the different views on the Supper, the strengths and weaknesses, and the like. He puts forth the Reformed view of a spiritual presence of Christ in the sacrament, but not a physical one. The Westminster Confession mentions what they saw as idolatries and errors resulting from transubstantiation. (The bread and wine physically becomes the body and blood of Christ) A more moderate position is the Lutheran, consubstantiation, yet Christ is still physically present. To their credit, the men at Westminster were much less harsh toward the Lutheran position. The questions that a Christian has to ask himself is, "Are the problems of a physical presence valid?" Also, does the Bible require a physical presence? Or, if one tends toward the Supper as si
All 3 of you who long for me to post more than once a week are blessed, for I will be more faithful from this day forward. In addition, I've no plans tomorrow, so BLOGGING ALL DAY!
I'm reading Dune, by Frank Herbert. It's easily one of the best stories ever told, in my view. I love the Fremen. Their image in the story as passionate warriors reminds me of Christians. That is what we are. Herbert uses religion as the backdrop in his tale. The themes and mindset of the faithful in Dune will be a comfortable chair for Christians reading the story. Still, the "messiah" is far from perfect, and you may reject the idea that religion is simply a tool for political ends. It's a wonderful story.
Blast! Not enough runs for the Braves last night. Maddux was average, giving up three runs in 7 innings. Cory Lidle gave up 6 runs in six innings, and got a win for Toronto against Pittsburgh. That's sick, if you ask me.
In response to an e-mail from a friend about gay rights, I wrote this: Actually, I could give a rip about what the government does in the area of civil unions. Go for it. The state and its affairs are different from God's Kingdom and laws. I have several conditions, however: 1. Do not call it a "marriage." 2. Should I be a minister of the Gospel, the state shall not compel me to join two people of the same sex. (Unless the Republic is collapsing, this won't happen) 3. Find some way to insulate the healthcare system and the taxpayers from the higher cost of care. As for what you said, God's Word speaks for itself, so I need not waste time blathering about the subject. But I think your feelings on this will lead you into more opportunities to share the Gospel, and that cannot be bad. You will have a comfort level that many Christians don't have. Too many Christians find homosexuality to be the worst sin in the world, and folks can sense this. I worke
As you may have noticed from this blather-riffic content lately, I believe we're living in some crucial times. But all moments and all times are crucial. As the Scripture says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." May it be that we can show His glory in peace.
I have great hope for this Middle East peace process, and its developments. If indeed great people can indeed have an impact, if they can change the course of history, then I place a great deal of hope and trust in the President of the United States. In these moments, he has great opportunity to use his great power (and will) for the benefit of all. Peace through strength, he says. Well, Mr. President, the strength you need now is not from bombs or cruise missiles, but the strength of character, and of resolve. As others in the blogosphere have noted, the US is the prime mover. Short of the Israelis and Palestinians, no other party will act so decisively one way or another, as will the United States, and its leader.
I just watched an Andre Agassi tennis match at the French Open. He was facing this Argentine named Guillermo Coria. They say Coria's good, but it has really got me thinking. I saw Agassi try every shot in the book, and this kid had the answer every time. Have you ever watched the great tennis players finish a point? They will hit a shot and know that there's no way the ball's coming back. It's that arrogance, the arrogance of high skill. Yet Coria took the biggest punches, and hit back. I waited for the kid to crack; I waited for The Great Player to show this upstart why he was Andre Agassi. But it never came. When the match hung in the balance, there was no fire in the eyes of Agassi. I've seen it with Sampras, and Greg Maddux, like I've never seen: Oldness. I know you're saying, "All the greats get old," but it's deeper. It's not physical, it's mental. If Randy Johnson pitches until he's 45 and his arm falls off, tough. But if he
If you don't have any commentaries by James Montgomery Boice, you're missing out. Boice died recently, so there will be no more. He's amazing. I own The Parables of Jesus , and Acts: An Expositional Commentary.
I just wanted to type "skippy" on my blog. I saw that somewhere...but what a funny word! Hi, Kate Germain.
I read 1 John today, too. I read 2 Peter because I don't know it too well. Maybe once before, really closely. But 1 John is such a familiar comfort to me. It's the greatest circular argument ever! Would you expect any less from the Spirit of God? I didn't think so. A wise man told me that if you read 1 John and you still think you're a Christian, then you are. You're darn skippy you are.
It's perseverance time again! This time, it's all about 2 Peter. He reminds us in this second letter that any notion we have of "eternal security" should be based on the grace of God. His grace, as opposed to a fatalistic attachment to the biblical doctrine of election. There are real battles to be won in our lives by God's grace. Because of election, we take hold of grace, taking the warnings seriously. We do not sit idly by, waiting for a glorification we have no part in. No one should ever quote Philippians 2:12 or 2:13 separately. They go together. That's a bold thing to say, but I'm serious. I can tell if someone is a zealot Calvinist, or a fearful Arminian by which one of those verses they quote. It's a pet peeve. Confessions of a Calvinist annoyed by Calvinists (some of them).
What did I learn this week? That no person should spend too much time dwelling on failure and sin. We are far worse than we think, and yet I have been taught that for every look we take at our sin, we should take ten looks at Christ. Indeed, that notion is founded solidly on Scripture: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV)
I mean no disrespect to all the other instruments on Earth, but sometimes you've got to break it down with an acoustic guitar. Just do it. It will be cathartic for you. Write a song, for pete's sake! It's fun! Guys, girls love it when you write songs. Provided, of course, that you have other good qualities. If you're just a jerk, too bad. A man of honor and integrity is the ideal. Be like Jesus and write songs. And don't say your uncle Jason never gave you any advice.
If you don't have have any Dutch friends, you need to get some. Just to hear Christopher T' hoen say "Dockers" is priceless. Seriously, I'm so glad to have met him over this past year. A wealth of humor, sensitivity and wisdom, Chris is a great blessing to me. Thanks, Dutchman.
The semester didn't go well. I failed my English class. Why can't I read what I'm told? Blast! Thanks be to God, who gives us all things, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Remember that there are blessings (spiritual and material) in Christ right now . I'm looking forward to RUF Mini-Summer Conference on Monday, starring Hugh Barlett and "The Real Deal" Joe Choi leading worship.
The duck addage doesn't work for Christianity (see last post). Jesus taught us this when He said, "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:22-24)
All right, I've got to comment on Rick Santorum and sodomy laws. First, in Rick's defense. It is a fallacious argument (or problematic) to say, "The government has no place in the bedroom." If that indeed was the assertion, then what Rick said is quite true. How could we regulate more obvious (generally agreed upon) inappropriate behavior? We do that on behalf of minors all the time. But the best argument is that government should not regulate sex between consenting adults. It's a breathless waste of time for anyone to pass laws against homosexual sex, or enforce them. I wish America was a Godly nation. I wish we ALL believed in our Lord Jesus Christ. I wish sin wasn't here. But we cannot as Christians conscript others into our morals. We try this all the time. Christians are so eager to have others at least act like them that Christian political organizations don't even quibble about doctrine. That's garbage. That's a false religiosity. ONLY the
There's something I need to say. I know what it's like to get some theologically inclined fellows in a room who like to get provincial about doctrine. I really don't know who started the game of exegetical "Can You Top This?" but someone decided that Jesus was not going to return. I know how it starts: you want to take the time texts seriously, and you don't want to be premillenial. And then all of a sudden, you're embracing a stance that may place you outside the faith. I would encourage anyone who's embraced "realized eschatology" to give it up.
Hey! Hold on! If you were a hot dog, would ya eat yourself? I know I would. I’d be delicious…Oh, sorry. I forget sometimes that I’m not Harry or Will. Regardless, I love hot dogs. I’ll probably get 100 e-mails about how unhealthy, bad for the environment, and un-American they are. They’re the next target after some people succeed in convincing us that SUVs are from Satan. Or at least they know Jesus wouldn’t drive one. I forgot that there’s no Satan in that worldview, because there’s no Hell. “Too many bad vibes, man.”
Hello to the three people who read this blog. I can't figure out what I'll write for my second Religious Studies paper. Those smart-alecs out there who said, "Jesus?" are positively brilliant. We know that part. But which aspects of Him shall I write about? I was thinking of sheep. Sheep are mean, and gross. Not to mention stupid. And that context sheds a different light on John 10. People have this mental image maybe of these cute, happy, well-mannered sheep. Oh, no friends. You'd have to say it's an apt discription of Jesus' followers, if A) you know anything about the apostles, and B) If you're a Christian, and you know yourself.
John Kerry's comments were ill-founded. In a time of war, the President should expect some measure of support from other political leaders simply as the Commander-In-Chief. As the article says, there is plenty of time for election shenangans after the war is over.
JK is dead. I regret to inform all his loyal and loving readers that he has accidentally choked on a combination of coke and belligerent comments. The two evidently do not mix well. Unfortunately, he still hasn't learned his lesson. As I write this, he sits here trying to dissuade me from making this post, nursing coke all the while. He even contends that I can't figure out what to say next. "Blathering randomly" as he puts it. He should know.
Good grief, I stink at this! Sorry, Nate. Let's talk about some of the problems one encounters if one says that "your truth is not my truth." Subjectifying religious experience in this way excludes the person who says, "Eureka! I have found it! I found the Truth!" We don't struggle with this quite so much in other areas of life, like science. But hellfire and brimstone will be poured on the one who dares suggest that there's one way to God. And that is amusingly ironic, don't you think?
I find my studies amazingly relevant to the task of ministry, meeting people, and communicating the gospel of Christ. In my literature class, I meet the postmodern storytelling of Borges. In Spirituality, we confront the mystical as intensely personal, and therefore ineffable, presented by William James. We also wrestle with the postmodern feminist critique of James by Grace Jantzen called "Power, Gender, and Christian Mysticism." This should be good. Let me express myself concerning postmodernism: It is absolutely foolish, and naturally counter-intuitive to seek truth or openness by casting everything into doubt. Silly Borges.
Scripture of the day: 1 Corinthians 11. Yes, the whole chapter. C'mon, it won't hurt! This is why we get throttled all day long: we don't know the Scripture like we should. I'm just as guilty.
Annie Dillard: I can't figure her out. She has so much natural imagery. She so self-reflective, it's almost vain. Will I shred the Christian mystics the same way? I hope not. But really. WHAT IS HER DEAL?
My inherent tension: I find myself a member of a really self-reflective, open-ended, open-minded spirituality class. As one discusses the purpose of human existence as a Christian, one is confronted with the boldness (some might say arrogance) of claiming One and Only Truth. I should say that I do so with not a little compassion for those who seek and have not yet found. Yet, I find myself guilty of that very thing, and joyously so. Praise be to the LORD Almighty, the true and only God!
Anybody like hockey? Let's go Blues! Is it just me, or is Al Macinnis making a bid for Greatest Defenseman Ever? I like him, anyway.
Oh, and Institutes of the Christian Religion is good, but very difficult. And quite frankly, I don't think I would invite John Calvin over for dinner if he were still here. Seems like a jerk to me.
We'll be permalinking to some really sweet theological documents like the Westminster Confession of Faith and 39 Articles of Faith (Anglican). Both of these in particular articulate the core theological positions of the Reformation. That whole "second wave" thing, not quite as good. As for those people who say, "I don't read anything except the Bible," "No Creed but the Christ, yadda yadda blah blah", etc, it has been my experience that these documents show us how good some of our brothers are at interpreting Scripture (no small talent, to be sure) but also serve to highlight that we as individuals don't read Scripture that closely. There's more than meets the eye. In any case, Scripture, as always, remains the only infallible rule of faith and life.
Wow. A long time away! Sorry. But noone reads this anyway. Hi, Nate. Hi, other Nate. Welcome back. I've been trying to keep this blog relatively apolitical, but it's really difficult. In that spirit then, I may start another.