Monday, December 1, 2008
It seems that your patient has become heavily involved with our Great Enemies organization. This is most disappointing, but it is not the end of the road for you. While we cannot take him away from the Good One, we can sidetrack him. One of the easiest areas to get the new convert distracted with is the “inevitable end”. I know you are trained not to think about this, but young Wormwood, desperate times call for desperate measures.
If you are to successfully derail the patient, there are two thankful options for this maneuver. One the one hand, you can make sure the patient steers completely clear of talking about the apocalypse. Convince him that John’s detestable metaphor is too difficult to understand. This apathy could easily spread to other areas. If the Revelation of John is too difficult, so is that detestable account by the tax collector. The publican often quotes Jesus and his sermons on the end and from there the apathy may be a foothold for doubt in general. Though we cannot completely take him from our enemy, we can render him useless with this tactic.
The other option, I have found, is even more powerful. Fanaticism can actually be an incredibly powerful tool in our hands. Mind yourself if you decide to pursue this course. It is terribly risky, but can be terribly rewarding. We in upper management have been working on this track for many years. We have planted seeds that have distracted His followers from many of the main points of His teaching. These seeds primarily result in endless searches of that evil book. The beauty of this is that the patients are not looking to experience that detestable Spirit, rather they are looking for proverbial bread crumbs to bolster a view that we have planted amongst the ranks of the so called faithful. Encourage you patient to read and be involved in endless speculation regarding the end of days. In doing so, he will become so engrossed in this study that he will never come out. We have promulgated much literature to this end in their bookstores. This endless (excuse my pun, nephew) study of the end times can actually cripple his development and be a great victory for you.
Above all, dear Wormwood, make this a cerebral exercise. Your patient must never begin to see that any of this information can affect his daily life. If you allow him to live out these nefarious truths the last state will be worse than the first. You must keep this on the level of unbridled, unthinking fanaticism, not on action. If you must allow for action, make sure is simply arguing with others on this topic. In fact, it may wise to consult our mutual friend, Absinthe. I believe he is working with a patient along this track. If they were to meet and strongly disagree, we may have a real plot! This could be the beginning of years of distraction for your subject, if you play your cards right.
Smirking in anticipation of Demise,
Your Uncle, Newtape
Friday, November 21, 2008
My friend Phil encouraged a few friends to make a list of songs that have impacted our spiritual formation. I thought that this was a really interesting exercise.
Here's my list:
Just because You can't see... - Anathallo
Declared, Bannered - Anathallo
Intervention - Arcade Fire
(Antichrist Television Blues) - Arcade Fire
Jimmy Eat World - Goodbye Sky Harbor (for its meaning tied to Owen
Priest and Paramedics - Pedro the Lion
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Pedro the Lion
Vito's Ordination Song - Sufjan Stevens
Come Thou Fount - Sufjan Stevens
Guerrilla Radio - Rage Against the Machine
All that You Can't Leave Behind - U2
Miracle Drug - U2
Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead
God of Wine - Third Eye Blind
What songs would make your list?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
If you like it, check out Ben's website for more info.
Monday, October 20, 2008
An Open Plea to Evangelicals for the discontinuation of the use of 2 Chronicles 7:14 in reference to America.
As the election nears, it has become an important issue for the church. Folks on both sides of the aisle, both politically and religiously, have marshaled evidence on why their candidate is the Godly choice. This essay seeks to poignantly ignore all questions about the election and about any issues surrounding it. Rather, the intention of this essay is to carefully exegete a commonly (mis?)used passage with respect to America.
We have all seen pins, flags, banners, and other memorabilia emblazed with the following words: if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. These words come from 2 Chronicles 7:14 and in this case, the English Standard version. This verse is one of the most popular verses with regard to politics, it is even on the crest of the Presidential Prayer Team. Is this a proper use of this verse, or is it an example of eisogesis (reading our own views into a text)?
In the smallest of context, the verse comes as part of the Lord’s response to Solomon in a dream after he dedicates the Temple. The language of the passage is full of allusions to the Covenant nature of God’s relationship to His people. He has chosen to dwell in the Temple and has chosen to hear the prayers offered there. The passage requires a fundamental knowledge of two themes of the Old Testament that bear heavily on the interpretation of historical books.
Key to understanding the Old and New Testaments is the concept of Covenant. It is the overarching structure by which we see God operating toward mankind. Space does not allow a full exposition of Covenant theology here, but it is of note that it is the backdrop of all scripture. God made a series of Covenants in early Genesis leading toward the Abrahamic Covenant. In this covenant, God promised Abram a land, a seed (both singular and plural), and a blessing. Each of these became the backdrop for Israel’s concept of itself. They were the seed who was blessed by the gift of the land. Though each of these pointed the Christ – he was the seed of Abraham, the blessing to the nations and the inheritance of the elect – they also had near fulfillment in Israel. Israel, upon exiting Egypt marched (sometimes stumbled) towards the land where they would be blessed and have children.
As they move along this march again and again the theme of the “Land” is repeated. The generation who is charged with unbelief after the failure to have faith in the report of the 2 spies in Kadesh-Barnea are cursed how? By not being able to enter the land. When Moses sins, what is his punishment? He cannot enter the land. Once the people of God enter the land of milk and honey, God uses the land –which is to say the physical ground- to chastise his people. Again and again Israel’s disobedience is tied to the success of their crops. When Israel turned from Yahweh and went after the Baal’s and Astheroth, what were they doing? They were seeking better crops from the Canaanite god’s of rain and fertility, vital elements in an agrarian culture. God uses the land to bring them to repentance. The Hebrew word for this ground was c'(r>a; . This word was used for the dirt, not for the nation as a collective body.
Back to the verse at hand. When God responds to Solomon’s ritual dedication of the Temple, He renews the covenantal lease on the land of Israel. He says that when natural disaster strikes the physical land of Israel, if His people (the Jews) will rightly relate to Him, He will forgive them of their idolatry and restore the crops He has caused to cease.
So then how does this relate to us as Christians in America in 2008? First we must remember the way in which Old Testament promises come to us as believers.
God’s Covenant People (OT Israel) --------------> God’s Covenant People (NT Church)
he Elect of God (OT Circumcised of Heart) --------------> The Elect of God (NT Baptized in the Spirit)
We often times mistakenly draw the lines like this:
God’s Covenant People (OT Israel) --------------> God’s Covenant People (America)
he Elect of God (OT Circumcised of Heart) --------------> The Elect of God (NT Church)
If we properly bring this verse into the post-Cross era and listen to its words, it should sound more like this, “If my elect in the Church will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and repent of their sins, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal the church.” This verse is so important to us as the shattered kingdom of God. We need God to heal the wounds of heresy, idolatry, and unbelief that riddle our churches. We need God to hear from heaven and put the gospel back at the center of churches.
2 Chronicles 7:14 has been misused by every political party and by the church at large. May we engage in careful exegesis of the Old Testament.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Well, the first of my two drafts is over and here is how it shook out:
The 2008 Sabbath Breakers
QB: Matt Schaub, Aaron Rogers, and Jason Cambell
RB: Adrian Peterson (left), Marshawn Lynch, Laurence Maroney, Matt Forte, and Ray Rice
WR: Marques Colston, Chad Johnson, Calvin Johnson, and Lee Evans
TE: Antonio Gates, and Owen Daniels
IDP: Lofa Totupu
I am really exited about this team. This is for our churches 10 man ESPN league.
My other league drafts on Sunday night.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
One parishioner in rural Tennessee was overheard by a local pastor saying, "Good, all these kids going off to seminary wantin' to be changin' things won't be able to now".
A middle age pastor in Jackson, MS said to the local paper, "We have began implementing a policy that will make it next to impossible for anyone to get ordained. The only real chance you have is if you are transferring in from a sister denomination or have a rich father paying your way through seminary."
When an Atlanta official was asked about seminary, he said, "We will continue to operate our denominational seminary [Covenant] and encourage our churches to support local seminaries like RTS and CIU. The difference will be that these institutions will exist solely to make money and tease young men with the idea that they will be able to move towards ordination. They will be so heinously expensive, that we will really only cater to the rich."
It seems oligarchy was all the rage as established pastors throughout the denomination tipped back over-priced glasses of champagne with their wives; smiling and knowing they were on the inside.
All the fuss boils down to two policies: High seminary costs, and low support for seminarians.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Eternal God, creator and preserver of all life, author of salvation, and giver of all grace: Look with favor upon the world you have made, and for which your Son gave his life, and especially upon Nathan and Julie whom you have now made into one flesh in Holy Matrimony
Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and one another all the days of their life.
Make their life together a sign of Christ's love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair
As we celebrate this beautiful union and mystical picture of your love for the church, may we, Nathan and Julie’s friends and family enjoy this good food and good drink which you have graciously provided for us.
We ask all this in the holy name of Jesus Christ.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
The latest edition of the GravesEnd Podcast is up and you can listen to it by clicking here. In this episode Tim and I discuss the place of fun in the Christian mission and the way that the church has neutered the Kingdom's call to enjoying life.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
"Montaña de Luz" trailer from matthew leahy on Vimeo.
Matthew and Elisa do incredible work and you should check out more of their films here.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Get in a group of 3 or 4 people, but at least one of them has to be someone who you wouldn’t normally be in a group with. Each of the following areas ask you to think outside the box. The idea is that you are going to do something radical, crazy even. The more outlandish and unexpected the idea is, the better. Remember, the jihad of love is all about surprise.
What are some of the ways that you, in this group, could uniquely and explosively love your school, neighborhood, or church? List 3 or 4 cool ideas for loving others...
What are some of the ways you could promote peace and reconciliation between cliques and groups at your school and church?
How can you be outrageously kind to those in your school and church? Who could you include that no one else will?
Who is your Arch-nemesis? That one person who in every way possible drives you insane. Who do you hate more than anyone else?
Read Matthew 5:43-47
The Kingdom of Heaven is here and now, and we have been called to rip windows open between this world and the next. We are invited to tear the fabric between our world and the world that is to come. We do this in a fascinating way.
We do this through love.
We detonate charges of hope when we love others. In what ways have you shown love today?
Those acts of love are windows into the Kingdom. But when we only love those who love us, we aren’t even scratching the surface of what Christ is calling us to.
Jesus Kingdom is best shown in the extremely difficult act of loving our enemies. Think about your arch-nemesis. In what ways can you plot a random act of kindness towards your enemies?
How can you make moves that will create peace between you and your enemies?
How can you scheme to do something that shows that you love, not hate, your enemy?
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Read Matthew 5:38-42
What is your typical response to someone who wrongs you? When some mocks you, what do you do?
Do you respond by firing back? I know I do. But what does Jesus say in this passage?
This is one of the most difficult things that Jesus ever taught. EVER. Turn the other cheek. If someone asks for your lunch, give them your drink too. If someone wants to borrow your new CD, give them your iPod too.
Wait a minute. My iPod? Jesus doesn’t seriously want us to give away our iPods does he?
What would your school be like if you willingly gave away what people asked of you? The reason the idea of giving away your iPod (or whatever it is that is valuable to you) is so bothersome is because you are more concerned with that, than with living the way Jesus calls us too...
What things do you love more than your enemies?
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
So the answer is Alexander the Great, if you didn’t know. He became the “great” by, well, killing a ton of people. He was a military beast. He marched from Greece to India and hit up Egypt on the way, conquering as he went.
The greatest Roman, Persian, or Viking was always measured by the military dominance you showed. Kingdoms were all about great military victories.
Jesus teaches us that His Kingdom is at hand, and His disciples take Him seriously. They take Him so seriously that they want to know who is going to be the Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Read Matthew 18:1-4
At this point Jesus does something interesting, He calls a child into the gathering. The disciples are expecting Jesus to march to Jerusalem and kick some Roman hinny. They are expecting Him to violently overthrow Rome. Jesus does something totally radical, he calls a child up in front of the disciples. “You want to be great in the Kingdom of God? Be like this child.”
If Jesus is the King of a real Kingdom, and His Kingdom calls for our allegiance, what does he mean to have child like faith?
How do we, as Christians, place more value on the “Alexander” type of greatness and not the “Jesus” kind of greatness?
How would we as Christians act if we followed Christ in the way of weakness (the child), and not the way of strength (the soldier)?
Now, lets make this a bit tougher. Why was Jesus killed?
Do you see the difference in the questions. The first has to do with the reasons Jesus died, what those things mean to us. The second has to do with Jesus trial and the people who accused Jesus and sentenced him to die.
Read Luke 22:66-23:17
After reading that passage, look at your answer for the second question. Do they match? Probably not right? So why is this?
We often think of Jesus dieing for our sins. We think of His crucifixion as simply a means to get us in to heaven. Both of these things are true, but they only tell half of the story. Pilate and the crowds were not crying out, “This man needs to die for our sins, Crucify Him, CRUCIFY Him!” They were claiming Jesus committed an actual crime. A real crime that deserved the death penalty.
What was the crime? They said Jesus was making Himself out to be a King and opposing taxes. They claimed He was a revolutionary.
We have often thought of the charges brought against Jesus as fake, but these aren’t. Jesus did claim to be the Messiah. What does the Word Messiah make you think of?
When Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, people knew He was claiming to be a real king who was about to set up a real kingdom. He was starting a revolution unlike anything the world had ever seen. If Jesus did set up a real kingdom on this earth what would that mean for us?
Monday, June 2, 2008
This summer I have been asked to speak at a camp for High School students from the PCA in Florida. Part of what I have been asked to do is write the morning devotionals to accompany my morning messages. I will be speaking 3 times and writing 5 devotionals.
I was looking for some help in tweaking these devotions and making them better.
My general theme is going to be "Living in the Radical Kingdom of Christ". I plan to emphasize the way Jesus calls us to follow Him and His kingdom that exist on this planet, but is completely "other-worldly". I want the kids to walk away seeing the Kingdom as a place to "Plot Kindness, Wage Peace, and Scheme Love". Then show them what that means in high school.
If you could do me the favor of reading these devotionals as I write them and giving me some feedback, I would really appreciate it.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The GravesEnd Podcast has again. In this episode, find out how to get free money! Ok, no free money, but Dire Straits will make an appearance.
Click Here to listen online
Click Here to subscribe via iTunes (click the purple "subscribe" button on the linked page)
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own
I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"
One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand
I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
I know St. Peter will call my name
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
He was the foremost scientist of his generation. No one knew the seas like Ward. He had even gained notoriety with the publication of his cleverly alliterated book Ward's Wonderful World of Water.
The awkward piece of his life came not in his studies, but rather in the strange way in which he treated the ocean. Ward lived every day of his life teaching from the ocean itself; never more than knee deep. He would lecture to groups of marine biology students with a whiteboard anchored from the constant ebb of the waves. Shin-soaked he taught oceanographers of nuance in water temperature and its affect on the global climate. Yet, he never swam.
On particularly sunny days he had been know to pontificate from his aquatic pulpit on the long term health benefits of swimming. When a group returned from a study of the Marianas Trench, they went to Ward to speak of the beauty of the deep ocean. Ward was more than obliged to compare notes and nod sternly at the research. With furrowed brow he could be found starring at scuba equipment as divers used his makeshift classroom as a launch site for expedition.
Grimacing, James Ward stood ankle deep in the cool, relentless waves of the Atlantic.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Oh, to fan the flames of overwrought controversy.
Here is the definitive list of the 5 best Rock Albums recorded in the 1990's. If you don't like it, comment and correct.
1. Weezer - Weezer (the Blue Album): Unbelievable hooks, catchy lyrics, and every song is amazing.
2. Counting Crows - August and Everything After: Beautiful from start to finish. The lyrics are cryptic and sometimes haunting.
3. Jimmy Eat World - Clarity: Though the album has a few songs that are not gems, the 14 song masterpiece is incredible. It also ends with a 14 minute tribute to A Prayer for Owen Meany (the greatest novel of the late 20th century)
4. Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind: Known mostly for the commercial success of Semi-Charmed life, this record is amazing from the word go. The album has the best final 5 songs of any album of the decade.
5. Ben Folds Five - Whatever and Ever Amen: The lyrics and the music on this quirky, sometimes sad jam are unbelievable.
All Apologies List: Nirvana - Nevermind, The Juliana Theory - Understand this is a Dream, Radiohead - OK Computer, Clueless - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Blink 182 - Enema of the State.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
So a few weeks ago Angie and I went out on a Friday night. A nice dinner, a decent movie. We saw 21, the new Kevin Spacey flick. It couldn't go wrong with Spacey in it since he is the greatest actor. Ever. If you live in a cave and don't know what the movie is about, it is the story of a poor Harvard student who learns to count cards and becomes a Vegas legend. Predictable plot. Simple dialogue. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable.
The real problem I have with the movie is the effect it has on me.
So I was reading my friend's blog last week. He was talking about how we act like Batman as men. It was great. Check it out here. And it got me thinking...what mythical/comic book/fantasy hero am I? I tucked this away and thought about it for a while.
Here's where 21 comes in. I see movies about Havard or any other snooty Ivy league school and I think that is where I belong.
I have delusions of grandeur.
Just like Han Solo.
Han Solo thinks that he is the king of all Space Pirates. He has (supposedly) the fastest ship in the galaxy...in reality it is a thrown together, makeshift, pile of bolts in need of constant repair.
Han Solo portrays himself as the man, yet he deeply struggles with his own insecurities.
His actions often betray his self perception. He acts like he is leaving, then stays. He talks a big game, because he thinks he is big game.
But he isn't. He is just a dude. By in large he is simply above average. Maybe.
I am Han Solo. I think I'm a pretty big deal. But I'm not. I 'm just a dude.
I cover my insecurities with pride.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am." Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king." So Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no basis for a charge against this man." But they insisted, "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here."
He was so vehemently flying in the face of the established Judaisms that they had to kill him. He was a radical. I was resolute. Upon returning home after my Easter vacation, I would be more subversive. More radical. More Christlike.
As soon as I got home, I went to my friend Shawn's blog and found this: The Pentecost Project.
I was struck. My wife and I had already decided to pay down some debt with the entirety of the money. But I think that we should do something more. What if we decided to give a percent as a community to one unified goal. What if everyone at my church gave 10% of their "Bush Bucks" to a single purpose. We would be easily giving nearly $10,000. What could this do for our community? Not just our church but Myrtle Beach as a whole.
I need to be involved in this.
We Need to be involved in this.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
That being said, I was a bit harsh in my critique of some of the groups in the emergent church in my last post. I was particularly unkind to Brian Mclaren's A Generous Orthodoxy. Though I am quite sure Brian will never read my blog, I offer a heartfelt apology for my unkind words. They were not the language of constructive conversation. I am sorry, I really am.
My intent in many areas of the blog was to be a bit more playful, but that did not come across affectively enough. I would probably be lumped in with many in the emerging church. I have dark rim glasses and strong opinions on church. in the minds of most, that puts me square in their ranks. I don't agree with many of the strands of emergent thought, but they are brothers.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Type 1: Emergentus - Destructicus
This first genus-species of the emerging church is one of the earliest forms. This category includes the early emergent thinkers who first began to see the need for change. Many, if not most, of these thinkers have a decent knowledge of philosophy and began to apply the postmodern rubric to the then modern church. They looked around and said, "everything must change". Their early work was met with considerable hostility as they sought to take their congregations on a spiritual journey. Brian Mclaren is probably the prototype for this group. The previously reviewed ANKOC is their banner. On the positive side Emergentus Destructicae tend to emphasize the discontinuity between the American evangelical church and the church of the first and second century. The problem is that their solution is less than satisfying. The closest they have come to putting forth a theology is A Generous Orthodoxy which is in the end, gobbly-gook. It says nothing constructive and does not affectively push towards a solution. These are the nay-sayers, the doomsday prophets of the evangelical movement. This group sells unrest and mistrust in the system.
Type 2: Emergentus - Savvae
This second group is by far the savviest of the crowds. Included in this classification are the ermergent folks with good hair-cuts and decent theologies. This crowd tends to be at least a decade younger than Emergentus Destructicus and are far better looking. Rob Bell is the archetypical Savvae. The leaders of this crowd have a degree of education much like the Destructicae, but tend to spurn their degrees. Many of these pastors are seminary grads who were disenchanted by the process. They are the strongest theologians of the Emergentus genus. Their theology, though, tends to be deeply influenced by late 20th century post-liberal and post-conservative writers. There is a touch of N.T. Wright, Hauerwas, and even Jurgen Moltmann. They have a bit of the ideas of corporate justification and liberation theology. This causes them to be some of the most socially conscience of the Emergenticae. They combine style (of which they have a ton) with a skewed sense of substance. This substance is very fluid and can quickly devolve into relativism. It is difficult pin these leaders down. What would they die for? What would they change their haircut for? They tend to sell cool as well as an intellectualism that has difficulties at the core of their beliefs.
Type 3 Emergentus - Megas
This third group is an odd development. This group has taken all the trappings, theologies, and methodology of the mega church movement and given it cooler clothes. They have moved their service from Saturday night back to Sunday night. They still have the goal of getting as many people as possible into the doors of the meeting place. (They wouldn't like the word Sanctuary or even Worship Center). Dan Kimball is the clearest example of Megas. This group has style but is completely devoid of substance. They like to think of themselves as Savvae but are in fact poor parodies of the others. The focus is completely on the weekly worship service and nothing more. They sell cool and just cool.
Type 4 Emergentus - Shruggus
Next we have before us the least vocal and active of the Emergentae. This groups is part of non-emergent churches and is simply sympathetic to the plight of the rest of the genus. They read emergent books and still go to traditional or seeker churches. They would change churches, but don't really fell like. It as if they say, "But I'm le tired..." Donald Miller fits tis category nicely. They are taking the "We'll outlive the rest of our church, so lets just wait until then to do anything" approach. This group looks at the plight of evangelicism and shrugs. They sell a nonchalance and low level cool.
Type 5 Emergentus - Paedius
This last group is the scariest of the Emergentae. They are the children of the revolution. Many of the leaders of this crowd have no theological training or very little. They simply didn't like the church of their youth and wanted a cool church. These church are youth groups who have never grown up. They attempt to recreate the buzz of a youth group with all the feelings of a "big people" church. They completely lack depth but love the idea of depth. They are socially active, because they see their Savvae cousins are socially active. Everything they do is mimicking one of the other Emergentae. They are the little brothers trying dearly to fit in. Unfortunately for all involved this church causes the most danger. They lack theological training and accountability. They are a law unto themselves and are in danger of trampling the sacraments under foot. (I know I show a bit of my bias with that statement) They sell style above all, yet the lack the depth of Savvae and the thought-out shallowness of the Megas. I have purposefully omitted a picture here to avoid overly vilifying any one person or church.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I found a computer and so I decided to give everyone who cares a quick update.
The first thing that struck me about Belize is that it is not Costa Rica. The airport is extremely small, dwarfing even the Myrtle Beach airport. There are a total of 4 incoming customs lines and the airport does not have A/C. Along side the stark poverty of teh country, there does not seem to be a culture of begging and panhandling as in other central american countries.
Today we have spent time with an American missionary who runs a seminary for nationals as well as a national pastor, both here in Belize City. I am most struck by the fact that this city reminds me more of Africa for some reason than it does
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
So this blog began as a defense of my characterization of a Tampa Church. It will not be that. To the proponents of that church, please, bear with me as I present the whole of my thoughts on the Emergent movement.
As mentioned before A New Kind of Christian has been an influential book on the Emergent culture as well as my own life. In fact, I was the lone defender of the book in a graduate school class filled with opponents of McLaren.
On the positive side ANKOC presents its case in a narrative form. This is incredibly appealing. It is engaging and easy to read. The other strength of the book is that it is more than skin deep. Its critique is not simply "Jesus is OK with Beer, so in your face Fundies!" It goes down to the root of why we think what we think. It rightfully roots out our dependence as Christians on enlightenment presuppositions. This is superb and a needed critique. As Neo (a character) dismantles Dan's (another character)world, I felt my own beliefs coming apart in a good way. I followed Dan on his journey as it mirrored my own. Many of the constructions that we have called church in the past 100 years don't reflect the biblical model very well. I am so with McLaren here.
The difficulty lies in what comes next for Dan (who receives no real resolution even in the series finale)and for us. Are we to chuck the entire denominational (or non-denominational) model? Where do we start new? If our presuppositions are flawed (and both Neo and I believe they are) who gets to call the shots? Is it everyman for themselves? If not, is it every church for itself? Who becomes the authority for doctrine and practice? Is anything out of bounds?
At the end of the day, my question for McLaren is this:
What constitutes Christianity?
And if I disagree with your answer, how do we know who is right?
It seems to me that ANKOC takes deconstruction to a point of no return.
But I could be wrong, I'll be the first to admit it.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Perhaps a bit of autobiography is in line at this point. I had just spent two years at a Fundy bible school. I was a bit of a theological malcontent and a I had a bit of disdain for the rules and structure (especially in my second year); but I wasn't a "bad" kid per se. Nevertheless, I was asked never to set foot on the campus again due to "theological differences". In their minds, you could not separate theology from morality, and so my "bad" theology was the result of my poor morality.
This false idea of tying morality and theology together was a prime example of the things McLaren was writing against. Like a ugly kid who finally found a date, I embraced McLaren's way of thinking whole heartedly. The problem however was that the lifestyle that McLaren spoke of was by-in-large radically different than the way I was living. He really was advocating what seemed to me to be a new kind of Christianity.
I can vividly remember sitting in my green La-Z-Boy chair weeping and thinking, "O No, I am going to have to change my life. What if Ange doesn't like the changes I feel so false".
Well, luckily for me, ANKOC didn't cause a divorce, but it did cause me to begin to think in different directions. I immediately signed up for a budding new publication called Relevant Magazine. In fact, the first one I got looked like this.
I began to visit Mars Hill Church on vacation to Michigan. I started reading every piece of literature that the fledgling movement could produce. I began to explore the ideas of totally scrapping Christianity as I had come to know it. I questioned my ability to continue my job at a denominational church. I was on a mission. I had plans. I would work for Starbucks in management, and plant a church on the side.
The problem was, no matter how much I resonated with the movement, I was frustrated by its tone. It was all critique and no construction. I didn't know how to deal with this. And so, turned off by the strong negativity I kept searching, still holding on to the Emergent...
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The "Emergent" church movement has grown out of the two major movements in late twentieth century evangelicism. The emergent church is self-conscientiously critical of both fundamentalism and seeker-sensitivism. The movement has reacted to both the moral legalism of fundamentalism and the showy/falseness of the seeker-sensitive movement. At first glance these critiques are valid and attractive. We will explore these deeper in the following posts, but for now, it will suffice to say that the movement reacts strongly to the church of the twentieth century. The movement also has some relationship to postmodernism, sometimes billing itself as postmodern Christianity.
The movement began in the late 90's with the founding of a number of churches. Churches like Mars Hill (Michigan), Vintage Faith, Watermark, Solomon's Porch, Imagio Dei, and Mars Hill (Washington)began to pop-up in major cities. These churches were a haven for disenfranchised 20-somethings who were largely ignored by mainstream Christianity. The churches often had no denominational ties and no authority structure beyond the Pastor/founder/planter/leader/whatever.
The movement began to gain a great deal of popularity with the publication of A New Kind of Christian by Brian Mclaren. The book picked up steam as the new century began. The fictional account of a Pastor struggling with his faith resonated with a large section of the population. This book lead to the success of Blue like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. After this the floodgates opened and everyone who was anyone in the budding movement was published.
As the movement grew, there was a natural fracturing and factioning of the congregations. There was a continuum of how much of the past we are to hold onto.
At the present time, the key players in the movement are Brian Mclaren a pastor turned lecturer and author. Rob Bell (pictured to the right), a pastor of a large church in west Michigan and the teacher in the Nooma films. Mark Driscoll, an interesting charcater since he is often lumped into the movement, but against his will.
The movement has birthed a magazine - Relevant, an imprint - Zondervan/Emergent YS, and a huge following among the internet generation.
Monday, January 21, 2008
So I find myself thinking thoughts, then flipping on VH1 to watch 5 straight hours of the best songs of the 90's. Lots of ideas, but not a lot of follow thru. So here you will find a running tally of those thoughts and my lack of action.