No Ammo?

October 30, 2009 2 comments

This is follow-up of sorts to a post I wrote a couple months ago entitled “Proof.”  I want to ask a couple questions and just see where my mind takes us.

Disclaimer.  Please keep an open mind, assume the best and engage in some honest, self reflection.  And as always, remember, this is a blog, of some of the stuff going through my head, and it’s not fact or set in stone.  I simply want to be true to myself and engage in the process of challenging myself to something higher on more than surface levels.

So, remember a couple weeks ago when I was talking about the idea of proof and how the typical behavior of a Christian is often defensive, trying to “prove their point?”  I will say, that’s true for the Christian and non-Christian.  We are all really good at proving our point, which I would argue is a waste of time.

Continuing on.  I want to speak to those of us who call ourselves Christians.  And I hope that this question penetrates to the core of the whole idea of “proving someone into belief” as well as cutting into our most common defense that, “the Bible says…”

What if we didn’t have the Bible? What if we could not longer use the argument, “because the Bible says so?”  And if we don’t have scripture as our proof text, what is it that we ground our arguments on, if in fact we were going to break my rule?  What I’m trying to say is, if we take away the Bible, if we remove it from the picture, there are way too many people who would crumble without scripture.  And my challenge here is, we’ve got to be people that have a foundation of a more sturdy stature than sola scriptura (scripture alone).

Now, please don’t hear me say I don’t think the Bible is important, that’s not what I’m arguing.  I believe as Brian McClaren that scripture is a piece of the foundation, not the foundation itself.  So, what I am arguing is that when it comes to “defending our faith,” honestly, we’ve got nothing when we enter into the secular arena and for several reasons.  One, we hold a certain truth so closely that we will not allow it to stand on it’s own in public debate.  If truth is truth, it should be able to stand without us building walls around it and guarding it with machine guns an verbal grenades (John Spong).  Also, there’s really not anyone who buys the authority of scripture apart from church folks.  And we can’t tell our unchurched friends that the Bible is true simply because it says so.  That’s like saying a circle is a circle because it’s a circle.

So we, as people of faith have to begin building a foundation of girth.  If our entire structure of faith is built on scripture, one small object, what happens when that one thing fails?  Instead, as Brian McClaren would argue, we’ve got to build a foundation that has a plethora of anchor points so that if one fails, our structures don’t crumble.

Anyone picking up what I’m putting down?  It seems to me that the ammo we thought we had, or the ammo we thought we should be using, is full of blanks.  Time to regroup.  Who’s in?

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Wind

October 22, 2009 2 comments

This could possibly be the shortest post I’ve penned in quite a while.  But, there was something I recently read in a book that I thought was worth at least flushing out a few thoughts.

I was reading about some of the ancient Jewish traditions, specifically some of those that addressed their understanding of God.  As I scanned through the passage, I found it very interesting that, number one, the ancients would not pronounce the name of God, because in doing so it “somehow made God an object rather than a subject, an embraceable entity rather than an ultimate mystery.”  It’s also interesting to note that one of the ancient Jewish words for God was ruach. The literal meaning of that word is wind.  “And that wind or ruach was observed not as a being, but as a vitalizing force.”

The more I read about some of those ancient Jewish traditions and concepts of God, the more intrigued I become.  What would our world be like today if the function of God was transformed from a being to a concept that more closely resembled wind?  And interestingly enough, it was understood that wind and breathe were intimately connected.  How cool is that?  Our understanding then is shifted to embrace a concept of God that is living and moving, entering and exiting all life, all the time.  Not apart from life, rather an essential element to life itself…

Chew on that one for a while…

Categories: Life Tags: , , , ,

Truth and Anger

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m currently reading a thoughtfully provocative book.  There is so much in the book I find so interesting that I’m finding it difficult narrowing down any coherent thoughts.  Having said that, I found this quote to be particularly interesting.

Anger has always marked the religious establishment.  This is why so many Christian leaders historically have justified such things as the stifling of debate with ex cathedra pronouncements, the persecutions of dissenters, the excommunication of nonconformists, the execution of heretics, and the engagement in religious wars.  This is also why anger is just beneath the surface of organized religion in almost every one of its Western manifestations… Anger lies underneath the glee expressed by the preachers of Christian history when they assign unbelievers to hell.  Anger is the reason why many religious people act as if they will not enjoy the bliss of heaven if they are not simultaneously allowed to view those not so fortunate writhing before their eyes in the fires of hell.  Anger is the reason why the Church throughout its history kept writing creed after creed to clarify just who is in and who is out of this religious enterprise so that religious people who know who their enemies were and could act appropriately against them.

I find this particularly interesting because we can deny and justify anger all day long, but if we are to be people who honestly look in the mirror and see an accurate reflection of ourselves, we’ve got to realize this is so very true for many of us.  And not just the issue of anger that is boiling beneath the surface, but the deeper rooted problems it brings to the surface.

One of those issues being that anger seems more often than not to be the engine for our pride in which we claim to be right, holding onto absolute truth, yet refusing to allow that truth to hold it’s own in the public arena.  Yet when questions are raised concerning those things we have barricaded in as untouchables, we get defensive and often hostile.  And as much as I really dislike Freud, I agree with him when he said, “Real truth, does not need to be surrounded by such impenetrable barriers.  Truth in its objective form can win in debate in the public arena.”

Now, I’m not going to identify any of those truths, I’ll leave that up to you to decide.  But, I will offer this clue.  The truths most in need of discussion in the public debate are probably those that we religious folks hold onto most tightly.  Hold that thought up against the previous arguments about anger, and we start to see the relationship between the two.

My concluding thought then continues as follows: why do we insist on reacting to the changes and challenges of our world via an angry, hostile defensive posture?   Why must we claim absolute knowledge in certain subjects yet refuse to allow them to be brought into public discussion.  Why has the history of organized religion been based primarily on anger, fear and hostility to “get people to think like us?”

I’m not sure if I’m okay with that.  There seems to be a rather large chasm between our lifestyle and Jesus’.  Just something to think about.

Categories: Life Tags: , , , , , ,

Proof

October 6, 2009 1 comment

One of the websites my wife and I keep up with is called the Jesus Manifesto.  Overall, most of the discussions we’ve read have been pretty good.  There was however, a letter posted yesterday, I believe that hits close to home for us.  The title of the note was called “A Letter to a Common Sense Atheist.”  Though this was a thought provoking letter, I don’t want to get tangled in superfluous details nor initiate another “argument.”  That being said, there is something I’d like to address.

My wife and I are actually fairly close friends with an atheist family.  We have shared many wonderful discussions together and our conversations have shed light on many of my assumptions, not just about the Christian faith tradition, but on life as a whole.

However, I must say that there is still something that disturbs me about this whole Atheist vs. Christian discussion.  And I feel like I can speak fairly honestly about the subject because I’ve been apart of conversations in both camps.  Here’s the deal.  No matter which way we flip the coin, each faction has their artillery of “proof” intended to blank-out the arguments of the other side, proving them wrong.

Here’s my real issue.  I’m sure that there are many facts that are true on both sides.  But, I think we’ve still missed the point.  I’ll argue from the Christian perspective because that’s what I know and it would be pretty arrogant of me to assume I know the mind of someone else.  I think it is a horrible waste of time for Christian people to try to prove people to heaven.  First of all, that’s not really a biblical concept.  And it’s awfully silly for us to use the Bible as a scientific text since at the time it was written, the concept of science was a mere 1,000 years in the future.  Anyone else see the disconnect there?

So, what then, does that mean?  I believe it to be our responsibility as followers of Christ to translate his LIFE into the language of the world we live in today.  It’s really kind of a waste of time to “prove” someone into believing in God, and I am not really concerned about all the “facts” that we claim to have.  Our job is to BE a different kind of people.  The world doesn’t see anything different in Christians because we can argue with the best of them.

I had the opportunity to preach this past Sunday and I spend some time in the 5th chapter of Matthew, in what we have traditionally labeled, the Beattitudes.  One of the glaring disconnects hidden within that passage is the fact that none of charges Jesus issues has anything to do with “believing” the right things.  I argue that it’s overwhelmingly a description of Kingdom life. LIFE.  It’s not a list of lofty ideals that are good to hope to attain, rather they are a description of the life of someone who is participating in the realm of God here on this earth.  To dive ever deeper into what Jesus is talking about, I even argue that if we are not showing mercy, making peace and being persecuted for doing those things, we are really just warming a seat on the sidelines of life.

So, I then argue that arguing is a waste of time… HA.  Isn’t it sad how quickly we can get wrapped up in our own words?  Interesting thought.  That alone could be flushed out into a few more posts.  Yet I end with the model of Christ.  What kind of life are we going to live?  Will we be participants in the realm of God, or are we going to be content to argue with everyone we come in contact with?  And I will break my own rule for this reason: I believe the essence of Christ is fully realized when we lose churchy language, step outside of the building, file away all our “proof points,” hold our tongues, love people wastefully and bring the Kingdom life here.

So, let’s please stop trying to “convert” people and just recklessly love them, and allow the Christ life to be realized in the decisions I make each day.

Preparation

September 29, 2009 1 comment

Here I sit, under a blanket on this crisp fall morning in northern Oklahoma.  It’s Tuesday morning, one day closer to the delivery of a sermon that I’ve not even begun.  Often, topics or content present themselves without camouflage and I can simply sit down and begin composition.  But, there are also times like the one in which I now find myself where there seems to be a mental block or a log jammed in the bottle-neck keeping the river from flowing freely.

Needless to say, that won’t stop me.  Sermon prep has almost become a week long meditation.  The act has graduated from writing yet another paper the be orally presented to something that more closely resembles a meal that I eat or clothes that I put on.  It has begun to paint a picture of who I am.  It nourishes me.  And so, what do we do with a great meal?  We share it.  What’s the first thing you want to do after you’ve invested a day in picking out the perfect new outfit?  We lose sleep at night anticipating the excitement of  showing the world my new threads.  At least that’s true for me since I buy clothes about once every four or five years…

So, I’ll spend my day shopping through the pages of a piece of ancient literature to find a few gems that invoke a challenge, that clad us in a new way of life.  There is something new, even mysterious, waiting for discovery.  Hopefully I’ll be one of the lucky ones to stumble across a breakthrough worth sharing with the masses.

Categories: Life

Something New

September 24, 2009 2 comments

Quite often, many of us need some change. A simple change for me is changing the look of my oh-so-popular blog…

So, as of right now, I’ve gone about as minimalist as possible since some of the really cool, artsy themes that are available for download on blogger blogs aren’t available here. I’m holding out for a little while to see if wordpress jumps on the bandwagon, but I’m so cheap I don’t want to pay for the “vip” software just so I can have a cool looking blog. If that’s the case, I’ll just go back over to blogger so I can let someone else express my artsy side, since I really have no idea how to write html or css. Shoot, I barely got through greek…

Categories: Life

Delusion

September 16, 2009 2 comments

I posted a thought on facebook this morning that in all honesty, seems to be haunting my wife and I.  The thought I posted is in response to the attitude of our nation.  Now, until lately, I really wasn’t much for getting too involved in politics and I’m not saying I will ever be heavily involved, at least in the law-making, picketing, boycotting, whatever we want to call it, of this nation.  However, I will say that my awareness has at least been heightened a bit as of late.

And when it comes down to it, I’m concerned not about the direction of our nation.  It is what it is, though I wholly disagree with the idea that Obama=Hitler, no matter how you swing it.  That seems almost as silly as comparing a piece of glass to a cut of sheet metal.  Anyway, I’m not interested in arguing over this issue.  What I will mention is the response of the so-called Christian population of our nation.

For some reason, it seems we are living in a delusion.  I really can’t remember where hostility was ever part of the equation.  I guess I also missed the memo where we draw the line of following a peaceful, wastefully loving (everyone) revolutionary when my rights and securities are infringed upon.  It seems we can be as Christ-like as possible when we are confined in our buildings but the minute we enter again into the world where we spend the majority of our lives we turn into salivating, blood-thirsty animals bent on mauling anyone who tries to tear down our walls of security and luxury.  “I’m not paying taxes for someone else to have insurance.  They should suck it up and get a job.  That’s my money that I worked hard for” seems to be the battle call.  We want the government totally out of our lives, but we’ve forgotten to use our brains in the process.  So, I guess we like the idea of paying a premium for fire fighters to put out the fire in my house.  I’m also tired of free public schooling, so I think we should start paying premiums for that too.  That way, at least my child won’t be exposed to people who are different than he is, because not everyone can afford to pay for school…

Does anyone else think there is something radically wrong happening?  And I’m not suggesting that America needs to “return” to it’s alleged Christian heritage, but I am saying that those people who claim to be followers of the peaceful, non-violent Jesus need to realize the lifestyle we are called to live.  If there is any chance in hell for us to infect people with the love of Christ, we’d better take some time to reassess the impact of our behavior on our church communities, the communities we live in and finally the greater community of creation.  It’s time to make a better place here and now.  I would argue it starts with how we engage in relationships and how we behave when we aren’t comfortable.

The kingdom is near…

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