Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blogging at a new site

To any readers of my blog, I am shifting to a new location:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

On good news-ing: John Stott is always good for a quote

John Stott observes:
When we contrast much contemporary evangelism with Paul's, its shallowness is immediately shown up. Our evangelism tends to be too ecclesiastical (inviting people to church) whereas Paul also took the gospel out into the secular world; too emotional (appeals for decision without an adequate base of understanding), whereas Paul taught, reasoned and tried to persuade; and too superficial (making brief encounters and expecting quick results), whereas Paul stayed in Corinth and Ephesus for five years, faithfully sowing gospel seed and in due time reaping a harvest. (Stott, 314)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Salvation means more

Regarding Ephesians 2, New Testament scholar, Ernest Best, remarks:
Salvation is more than believers receiving forgiveness of their sins, deliverance from the grip of the powers, adoption as children of God, and union with Christ in resurrection and exaltation.  Salvation means union with one another. (Best, Ephesians: A Shorter Commentary, 88-89)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Not to be served, but to serve: American Christianity

A good post related to the plight of American Christianity by Mike Stroope is here.

Here is a quote from the post:
History shows that the people of God usually do not voluntarily move
toward service.  Rather, service is forced on us via humiliation, loss,
and exile.  Quite possibly the American church is at the brink of such
loss.  The Christendom arrangement within the American context
(particularly in the South) has run its course, and Christianity
is being disestablished in school, by government, in polite society,
and within the wider popular culture.  Many Christian leaders act as
though it is still 1950 and that society still cares about what they
have to say or is looking for them to determine what is right or
wrong.  However, the year is 2009 and society is not listening, nor
does it care what we think.  At best, the wider culture only wants
to manipulate and corrupt Christianity for its ends.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Reflections on the church/state issue

On facebook recently i was asked to join two groups.  One was to "remind President Obama that we are a Christian nation".  The other one was to put Christ back in our schools.  This mentality is frustrating and disturbing for me.  It is rooted in a mindset of the majority.  We only think this is an appropriate move because we consider Christians to be in the majority and any kind of suppression of Christian activity or knock against Judeo-Christian ethics feels like an attack. 

But my perspective is different, in part, because i have lived as a follower of Jesus in place where Christianity is in a minority.  Everything in society operates in connection to the majority faith.  There is prayer in schools, but i would not want my kids to go to those schools.  In fact, Christian families have little choice but to send their kids to private Christian schools so that their kids aren't subjected to prayer and religious teaching (even kids aren't forced to participate, the peer pressure from other kids is difficult for children).  Is this what we want for children of families that adhere to a different faith?  What is more, what about townships and counties where Christians are not in the majority?  The prayers in those schools would naturally be different. 

Unfortunately, the issue is larger than prayer in schools.  There is a tendency for the majority to presume privilege and power, and this is something evidenced throughout history and throughout the world, regardless of the majority faith or ideology.  It is a subtle transition that the majority faith presumes their practices and ethics as normal.

Just today someone alerted me to an article about a Bible study in a private home in San Diego, California.  Reportedly, they have been told that it is illegal for them to continue to meet in their home for religious purposes.  If you are like me, your first reaction is incensed anger.  A private gathering of a few people practicing their spirituality quietly in their private home should not be illegal.  As you can expect, there were a lot comments, most of which expressed their displeasure over this event.  But the reasoning often cited was disturbing to me.  There were comments about our "Christian" founding fathers and the United States being a Christian nation.  These comments betray a mindset that a Christian majority deserves privileges that others may not deserve.  I would have much preferred the reasoning to be applicable to all citizens of the United States, that people have the right to practice their spirituality as long as it doesn't infringe on other people's rights.  While some argued their point in this way, I was discouraged to see so many appealing to a Christendom that still controls the nation.

Another reaction to the event as reported in the article is that the minority faiths and ideologies are not so minor anymore and are somewhat bitter about how Christendom behaved as the majority.  This is to be expected.  We must admit that we, as Christians, have not always treated those unlike ourselves with the love and perpetual forgiveness modeled by Christ.  Too many examples come to mind to even begin listing the offenses we have caused to others in our nation.

The bottom line in this is that we need to reevaluate what it means to be both a citizen of God's kingdom and a citizen of the United States.  Which one takes precedence?  Are these two citizenships compatible?  What are our obligations as citizens of each? 

But what we need to be absolutely clear about is they are not the same thing and our language needs to reflect that distinction. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Change in Thinking

I wonder if this isn't true today, particularly in the Christian community:

"Scholasticism, with which the theology of the Church had been closely associated, was decaying. It still dominated the universities and the monastic orders, including the Franciscans and Dominicans, but the main new currents of intellectual life were flowing in other channels. This seemed to augur ill of Christianity and the Church." (Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of Christianity: Volume I, 604)

What are the channels of intellectual life today?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Free citation and bibliographic program

I have been looking at different software to help me manage all of my bibliographic references and sort them by topic when needed.  Most of the programs out there are kinda pricey.  Then I found Zotero.  Zotero is connected with Mozilla Firefox web browser does this service for absolutely free!  It is a pretty cool program that will automatically pull down bibliographic information from a website, coded PDF file or most published books.  It does not seem to be able to do all that some of those expensive programs can do.  But it is free!  If you are connected to the academic world, check it out.