...thoughts expressed here are not necessarily
May 18, 2004 Have you seen this?
John Kerry have in common with a Cicada? The ad is being talked about
on the newswires but here is the link to it. The campaign turns to the
Internet for advertising.
May 17, 2004 Weekend notes posted 4 your blogging
A suicide bomber kills the head of Iraq's Governing Council with a massive
blast, but the U.S. vows the assassination won't delay the June 30 transfer
of power. Here's
Your Kingdom Come in our Creativity or What was Art
is Now Wallpaper
Water'sEdge has another
good entry on Creativity and Christ. Check out the May 12 entry which
is worth reading. This writer ( I assume Pastor Joel?) verbalizes some
of my own thoughts on a consistent basis.
"No more thinking. No more creating. No more self-expression.
Only consuming and advertising for more consumption. Humanity is suffocating
itself here in USAmerica."
Nigerian Believers Slaughtered by Islamic Radicals
Eric Tiansay, Charisma News
Compare the two stories at CBN
The latter one seems to blame the Christians.
Muslim fundamentalists recently killed eight pastors and 1,500 believers,
while destroying 173 churches in the northern states of Plateau and Nasarawa
. The Muslim-Christian violence last month also displaced 25,000 people.
Christian leaders condemned the attacks, warning that the government's
inability to address the violence could turn the country into "a theater
for religious war." The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) asked,
"How can anyone explain the reason for invading a church where women,
children and men were worshiping, asking them to surrender and lie face
down and then proceed to machete and axe them to death in their house
CAN officials noted that Christians in the
African nation have never initiated violence against Muslims, and
Nigerian officials have lukewarm attitudes toward the plight of
believers, Compass reported.
There's a serious disconnect between the two reports
cited above. So how do you think each of the reports are biased?
Can we trust "Christian" news services to give it to us
straight? Can we trust CNN at all?
Religious Movies Are the Coming Trend
Wolfgang Polzer, ASSIST News Service Link
Movies with religious content are the coming trend according to the officer
for radio, television and films of the Mainline Protestant Churches in
Germany, Rev. Bernd Merz. After the success of movies like The Passion
of the Christ and Luther, Hollywood producers are looking for more similar
material, said Merz in an interview. The trend is not just an American
one. "People are seeking their religious roots and open for the Christian
message", commented Merz. The secret of Luther's success in Germany with
three million viewers lies in the combination of good entertainment and
faith education. Merz also commented on the fact that The Passion had
a comparatively weak response in Germany with 1.3 million viewers. Rather
than being the result of warnings of potential anti-Semitism in Mel Gibson's
movie, Merz believes that the film's brutal scenes caught the German audience
off guard. Another factor could be the different religious climate in
secularized Europe from the United States "with millions of pious Americans."
||Religious climate? Pious Americans? That statement
made me go looking for some kind of map to quantify this. Schaeffer
once said American Christianity is three thousand miles wide and one
Whaddyathink? Is America a Christian
nation because we watch more religious films and sing God Bless
America? Or are we a mission field ripe unto harvest? Check out the
Number of Unchurched American Adults Has Nearly Doubled
the full story at www.barna.org
The number of Americans who don't go to church has mushroomed from 39
million to 75 million since 1991 - representing more than one third of
the U.S. adult population and a 92 percent increase. According to the
"startling statistics" discovered by the Barna Research Group's (BRG)
latest study, the percentage of adults who haven't attended a worship
service - other than a wedding or funeral, Christmas or Easter - during
the past six months has risen from 21 percent 13 years ago to 34 percent
today. Released Tuesday, the survey looked at 18 different religious factors,
nine behaviors and nine beliefs, of the unchurched. The poll found that
non-churchgoers are more likely to be young, male and single than born-again
adults. BRG president George Barna noted that to unchurched people, embracing
church life is "both counter-cultural and counter-intuitive." "The rapidly
swelling numbers of unchurched people may be forcing existing churches
to reinvent their core spiritual practices while holding tightly to their
core spiritual beliefs," he added. "It will take radically new settings
and experiences to effectively introduce unchurched individuals to biblical
principles and practices."
AF:Belated Responses to a
OK speaking of reinventing our core spiritual practices
while holding tightly to our core spiritual beliefs, here is the next
installment of my take on McLaren's "experiences"
in A New Kind of Christian. Let's foray into form versus function....
I will tell you up front that what I reject of the book so far has more
to do with the pursuit of biblical, transmodal truth than with being modern.
The thing about sycretism that makes it dangerous is that once you resonate
to the True parts of it, the False parts get a hearing they would not
I can agree only hesitantly with a statement like "What
a relief to have a third alternative - to read the Bible as a pre-modern
text, emerging from a people who believed that truth is best embodied
in story and art and human flesh, rather than abstraction or outline or
moralism. Humans shall not live by systems and abstractions and principles
alone, but also by stories and poetry and proverbs of mystery."
|But then I must add a caveat- it was written to
all peoples of all times. Systems and abstractions and principles
are no less valid way of deriving meaning and avail much if the text
is not taken out of context so as to become a pretext. The Bible is
not some monolithic mantra that is easily categorized.
Sure there is story and art and human flesh. There are
also lists and statistics and precepts and abstract, symbolic apocalyptic
and even the first century equivalent of emails. And it is not just from
one people or written to one people. The audience is diverse and so are
the writers- a testimony to the coherence with which the Holy Spirit infused
the text. Crass overgeneralizations really kick the props from under the
writer's philosophical ramblings time and again.
In the first analysis, it sounds
to me like he is saying that being "a new kind of " Christian
means accepting the conclusion that the Bible has no objective meaning
and that theological ideas based on objective truth need updating. But
most of what we know of the substance of systematic theology predates
modernism! Maybe my opinion will change as I interact with the text. But
some of the things Neo and Dan refer to as being their experience are
NOT my experience.
||I have been in good churches that have had
a high view of scripture and for the most part I never had pastors
who tried to oversimplify and offer panacea pills in the form of sermons.
I, and they, would have reacted negatively to such disingenuity. Sure,
I have encountered the codification and comodification of churchianity
in the culture as well, but that's another story.
McLaren seeks to define what it means to be a Christian
apart from clear biblical authority. This dangerously elevates the place
of man. Sin too easily distorts man's thinking. We need God's Word to
shine the light of truth into the murkiness of all these voices and ideas
that clamor for the allegiance of hearts and minds.
|I'll be posting thoughts and responses as
I often do when reading something that makes me think. Feel free to
interact and let's talk when we meet. I am becoming convinced that
McLaren is writing about the same experience so many before him have
had- that of the struggle to become authentic in a world informed
and defined by image.
That's not a modern problem but it is indemic
of the false reality we find all around us everyday. So you will find
me disagreeing not so much with all of the contentions of Neo and Dan
but rather mostly the analysis and premises they frame the discussion
1. Re.:In the intro, Confusion caused by Christian radio is addressed:
Christian radio is NOT much of the time. My advice: don't listen to it
uncritically. Listen to your heart beat with God's. Listen to the Word
of God. Over and Over, prayerfully, discerningly, until you get the big
picture and all the corrollaries and veins and grit of it. That is what
||2-3.Re.: Preaching from formulae and accepted
vocabularies. Pastors are not spiritual masseuses. They are prophets
with fire in their bones expressing this by feeding His sheep.
4. McLaren contends (p. xiii.) that Christians
have the same problems and failures as nonchristians. That is not exactly
true. Part of the answer is that without Christ a lot of Christians would
be dead, having come to the end of themselves and despaired.
|But that still begs the question McLaren
asks "Shouldn't the gospel be making a bigger difference?"
The answer is that the sanctifying spirit WILL transform the believer
and if it doesn't maybe the problem is that the believer believes
the wrong things. So maybe a lot of people who name Christ as Savior
have never biblically believed and received the life transforming
|Romans 10:9 says we must agree with God that
Jesus is Lord and that, in my mind, and I think biblically, confession
demands much more than verbal assent. this is the old lordship-salvation
debate attaining again. Righteousness based on right thinking yields
the bigger difference. The path is still straight and the way is still
5. The author contends that Christians and non
Christians alike need their own peculuiar conversions. I think we all
need to be conformed to the likeness of Christ , not converted. That is
the ONE thing that is needful.
6. The author realizes that the Bible is not a systematic theology. OK,
amen. That does not mean that systematic theologies cannot be helpful
in organizing and understanding what we DO know from scripture. McLaren
seems to me to be opposed to systematic theologies since they are not
exhaustive. I know of no one who claims we can know all of god. We can
know all he has revealed of himself however.
||A systematic theology cannot bear the weight
of glory. Only a life lived worthy in Christ by grace can. Labelling
an indescribable deity? No way. Worship Him? Yes, way.
Old systems are just that. A systems approach
to anything in life is not life. Art is not life. Science is not life.
Technique is not life. So why wonder that systems cannot unscrew the inscrutable
as Prof. Hendricks says? Only Christ is life.
7. McLaren sees things in categories- like "writing outside the religious
context" Just exactly what is that anyway? Sure, the laws of thermodynamics
apply everywhere this side of the fall. Things fall apart as Chinua Achebe
said. It's a Koyaanisqatsi -Powaqqatsi -Naqoyqatsi-world out there in
8. The author asks "Doesn't the religious community have anything
fresh and incisive to say?" No, I hope not, at least not in the way
he asks for. If we cannot get the basics of the faith once delivered to
the saints right why press for the shock of the new? But the Living Word
does reamin fresh- every morning it is fresh, everything old is new again
in Christ. That's yet another reason we make our boast in Him. If that
is not relevant so be it. Since when does cultural relevance trump abundant
|9. The old show was over when Christ uttered
"it is finished", not when the Pruitt Igoe was destroyed
thirty two years ago.
If people along the way are modelling for the
author what a new kind of christian might look like, perhaps we should
ask- is this new- or is this the struggle thoughtful Christians throughout
the ages struggled wiith- and that being part of the peculiar processes
of sanctification in their particular life? I think the biblical Christian
will always be at odds with Babylon and when the chuch is full of the
world, if it fits YOU are the wrong size.
Can it be possible to say that Christianity really has "versions"?
Or is there one faith once delivered to the saints that wends its way
and finds manifestations in a litany of traditions and cultures but is
nonetheless true? If the latter is true it would serve us well to identify
that which Lewis qualified as mere Christianity. Followers of the true
Christ are sometimes found in unlikely places. Versifying the faith will
always make it less of an expression of truth. The holy catholic church,
the communion of the saints, is not bound by denominational ties, ethnicity,
or even creeds per se. It is bound to the truth of Christ and live in
conformation to it. Truth as expressed in the Word of God (which by the
way , he has exalted above His name) serves not to make us bibliolators
but to communicate to us in lucid, real terms the eternal verities of
who this God we have to do with actually IS. He chose the means and we
must conform to it. You can't bend the Bible.