Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It all began when a friend asked me to look at a book (nice phrase, 'look at a book') for his class--what Mizzou was calling Religious Studies 104 at the time--"The Many Faces of Christology" (the study of interpreting Christ and His work). The introduction struck me, because the author said that he had wrestled through doubt in his twenties, proclaiming himself a Marxist. Yet, he continued to receive Holy Communion, saying that it eventually became a confirmation of his identity. The discovery was union with Christ, and it had never been broken truly. (Marxism in truest form is openly hostile to the gospel; incidentally, so is the humanistic basis of some forms of libertarianism, e.g. Objectivism) As I realize that the plain offer of the gospel is manifest in the bread and cup, it is also apparent that the eucharistic celebration is the confirmation of my identity, of my place in the body of Christ, and the heart of our mission. We cannot make disciples if we do not know whether we are disciples. Fellowship, indeed! But the Protestant caveats regarding the Supper are wise; shortcutting the obligation of faith by way of the sacrament is arguably a more damaging error than bare memorialism. Zwingli (and others) should acknowledge their errors, and join us at the card table. Exhibits 1 and 2 in the Church Museum of Destructive Errors should be memorialism, and the Council of Trent. You Catholics out there know very well that the earliest Protestant Reformers weren't heretics! Bother dogma. A certain German friar may have been impetuous, uncharitable, and downright ornery, but he had a point, in doctrine and in practice. (Did you type 'obligation of faith' up there? What sort of Calvinist are you?--ed.) The Arminian kind! Just kidding, Missouri Presbytery! (God-willing, my future colleagues.) Should I start submitting this website to my elders? Crap, I hope not.
The dumbest rap song I've heard in the last hour: "I'm in Love with a Stripper," by some guy.

The best one: "When I'm Gone," by Eminem. If Christians stop moralizing for five seconds and actually listen to what people say, we'd love them like Jesus does. There's real life and real pain in this guy's songs. I want to preach to him and hug him every time I hear one of them. My advice is to listen past the bad words, and remember that a real person wrote this whole thing. (And in this case, they tend to be very autobiographical.)

Monday, March 06, 2006

What is inerrancy? What do people mean when they say the word? Does it mean the Bible is an instruction manual? What can we say about a specific text’s application to our lives? Does submitting to the Bible as the only authority lead to an unreasonable doctrinal subjectivism? Do we all become our own popes? Is it good to have one authority (a pope)? Why do we trust the Scripture? Why should we? Is it possible to believe in a Great Tradition of Christian Orthodoxy while holding Scripture paramount? Is there healthy, responsible non-Catholicism out there, or should we all just submit to the Vicar of Christ, and repent for following the man who ‘trampled the Lord’s vineyard’? Am I scaring anyone yet? Am I scaring myself? Yes. Why do “restorationist” (or New Testament) churches scare me more than the Roman Catholic? Why do I feel as though I will never preach or teach anything good that hasn’t already been said? Am I OK with that? Absolutely. Why do I love authority, legitimately constituted? Why do I love creeds? Why do I love history? Why is the history of bold confessions for the sake of Christ also the history of vain, destructive division? Why do I feel like a member of every Christian communion on Earth, yet I’m part of only one? Am I happy in that place? Yes. Why? Why am I a mystic, and a passionate defender of orthodoxy at the same time? Why does the phrase ‘Bible-believing’ fill me with dread? Why does setting Scripture aside or explaining it away fill me with equal dread? Why didn’t anyone tell me that purity and peace were so hard to fight for? Why were some of the great theologians of the past two centuries socialists? Why doesn’t that make me mad? Why does that make me curious, yet dismissive at the same time? Is it OK to love President Bush, even knowing I’d do things differently? Is it possible to be a Christian and a Republican (or a libertarian) at the same time without confusing the two? Should I vote in the next election? On what basis should I vote? Why am I impressed with Barack Obama? Is it because he’s good-looking? Is it because he’s black? Is it because he’s a living, breathing episode of The Cosby Show? Is he for real? Do I love my country too much?
Why do I love the Eucharist? Why does it seem cooler to call it that? How do I worship Christ in the sacrament? What was Ulrich Zwingli thinking? Why am I feeling Lutheran right about now? Why is Psalm 45 even in the Bible? Have you read that before? Did it bother you?
Am I supposed to preach? How do I know? If I’m not a pastor, why do I think like one? Why do I feel like one? Why do I teach things without even trying, like it’s a part of me? Why am I happy when I do that? Is that a calling, or simple vanity? Why are my heroes preachers, or Brett Favre? Does Brett Favre love Jesus? Does he want to? Will he play again? Why does that make me sad if he doesn’t? Why did I write this? Was it a waste? No.