June 2010

Thanks to all who keep the Middle East in your thoughts and prayers. Let’s keep praying for an outcome that is pro-peace, pro-justice, pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian…

The ancient Jews believed that justice itself was judgment, that rather than pointing the finger or commercializing someone else’s sins all over the tabloids, we should promote justice. Let me explain. If we don’t like war then our role isn’t to be anti-war, rather it’s to be pro-peace. If we want to change the minds of others then we intentionally live out the very things we believe in rather than judging the things we don’t.
George Elerick

first we humbly seek for God. Then we humbly speak with God. Soon, though, we may proudly speak for God … and then we arrogantly speak as if we were God!
Friend of Brian’s

I’m sorry to burst your bubble here, but every major heresy that has inflicted God’s people for the last 2,000 years has come from organized groups with “leaders” who thought they knew God’s mind better than anyone around them. Conversely, virtually every move of God among people hungering for Him was rejected by the “church” of that day, and the people that were part of that move were excluded, excommunicated or executed for following God.
Why I Don’t Go To Church Anymore

An authority structure such as the church is the perfect culture for codependence. I see how complicit I was in its vivacity. I know people depended on me to make decisions for them in every sphere of their lives, from financial, to relational, to spiritual and everything else. And even though I resented it, I did allow it to some extent
the naked pastor

These quotes go hand in hand. The danger of heresy comes not from whether someone is a part of a local congregation or not, but from pride and arrogance. This pride and arrogance can be seen in an attitude that I/we [a congregation, denomination or religion] know God fully enough; that we have God’s authority or are operating under God’s authority – so of course we have the responsibility to impose our beliefs on another.

On the other hand, I have come to believe that Christianity is NOT God’s approved religion! Christianity is man’s attempt at compiling doctrines and practices into a neat and organized box. That God does not move exclusively or even primarily within this christian religion box, rather, God’s spirit hovers over the whole of the sea of humanity and is at work within all nations, people groups and religions. I am NOT saying that ALL religious roads lead to God; like a statement found in The Shack, I believe that God is on all roads and will meet humanity on whatever road its on. Do we, in the Christian Box, have something to offer others? Of course we do. But so might Buddhists, Muslims and atheists!

Finally, our beliefs, practices and actions ARE important. These things help to model us and the society we are apart of. As such, values judgments can be made on different worldviews and religious doctrines and dogmas. These affect how we  react to:

  • violence (9/11, the war on terror, …)
  • economics (our recession, the poverty of the majority of humanity, …)
  • power struggles (the struggle of protesters against political policies and actions, …)
  • ecology(global warming, oil spills, …)

So, for instance, I’ll reject and make value judgments on worldview boxes which  believes that:

  • the world will come a violent end as a means to a peaceful reign of their God
  • God will bless or curse certain people or groups of people based on their relationship to said God
  • believes that we need to make our culture adhere to our beliefs and practices
  • believes that the earth is destined to be renewed by their God so global warming is either not important or is not factual.

Rather I believe, base on my faith and the understanding of Jesus’ life and teachings that:

  • Peace is the means and the end. The reign of Christ, the era of the Messiah, has already been inaugurated in the life and death of Jesus.  (If there  is a second coming, it will follow this model of peace being the means and the end.)
  • Blessings and Curses from a deity is archaic. We who are living in the Kingdom of God must realize that any blessings we have, should be used to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, release those in captivity …
  • Citizenship is not to any nation. As such, the policies of the  nation in which I live are not up to me to change.
  • The earth is God’s and it is our responsibility to care for her.

Two guys talking on “Sundays Coming” and Accountability.

Here is a great interview. Great because it is between two Christians that have VERY different opinions and theology. Phil Shepherd – the Whiskey Preacher –  is interviewed by Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio.

A little background is needed.

  • Stage 1: Criminal/ Self centered.
    Best served by two institutions – jail and the boardroom.
  • Stage 2: Rules-based/ Black and White/ Certainty
    Two institutions might best serve stage 2 – the military and the church – conservatism.
  • Stage 3: Rebellious/Questioning
    The institution that seems best to support stage 3 is the university – liberalism.
  • Stage 4: Mystery-based/ Doubt and Uncertainty
    They seem to be saying the same stuff as those in stage 2, but every word out of their mouths is slippery.

(Read the background article to get a fuller understanding of these stages.)

As I read this article on the four stages, I asked myself, “self, where are you in relation to these stages?”

Like the author, I did not come into faith from a solid stage one position, I started from a mixture of stages one and three. Likewise, when I came to faith I did not go into any single stage. Although I was solidly birthed into stage two faith, there was always a bit of stages three and four there. (Just ask my wife and mother-in-law who had to live with me shaking up their faiths with my questioning.)

Recently, though, I made a departure from this mixture. I entered into a stage three faith that was shaken to the core. As I went through this phase of my faith walk, I kept the questioning mostly to myself. A year or so ago, I walked out of the wilderness of stage three and entered a phase that combined stages three and four. Today I think I am solidly in stage four but I do have some stage three left in me.

So where are you in relation to these stages?

The American political powers that be have to support the Israeli political powers that be, whatever those folks might do, because the Bible says that God blesses those who bless Israel.  Unless we want cursing, we have our marching orders.  Now that that’s settled, what’s on TV tonight?

Here my only small comment is that I’m not sure the American church ever gets a particularly thoughtful theological discussion of the issues at hand, because the popular dialogue is incredibly loudly dominated by one proof-texted point.  I’ve done a little work on how that came to be.  But it still seems bracing to me when I run across it; it always catches me off-guard.
Not the religious type. – also read.

David Schmelzer quotes from his book Not The Religious Type, Confessions of a Turncoat Atheist. Very interesting.

For something a little different, here is a Sunday Morning Videocast

See part II.

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