Most all of us know by now about the Great Debate that happened a couple of weeks ago between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on whether or not Creationism is a viable model for human origins. If you’ve followed this blog for an real period of time, you know it’s no secret that I do not think it’s a viable model, and I’ve been quite vocal about that in this space.
So I felt the frustration when Ken Ham was treated like the stand-in for every Christian that wants to take the Bible seriously. I felt better when smart Christians responded well. I chuckled at those that poked fun of him and other Creationists, debunked their logic, or discredited the historical stream in which he finds himself. I gave into the private mocking.
I was then really encouraged when I read this report in Christianity Today that shows that Americans are not as divided on this issue as some polls make it seem. I was overjoyed with knowing that more Christians than ever were leaving the Ken Hams of the world in the dust of irrelevance, their budgets and voices shrinking in the distance.
As the discourse went on, I began to thinking to myself: I think we’re winning! But then yesterday, I felt like I woke from a fog and thought: Wait. Who are we fighting? Continue reading →
Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, started a little kerfuffle last week when he wrote about how he doesn’t really go to church any more. He doesn’t learn much about God through sermons, and he doesn’t connect with God through songs. Church just doesn’t connect with him in any way and doesn’t fit within his own learning style, which is far more participatory. He says the Church is all around us and in believers so he feels free to “have church” in the way(s) that most connect him to God and others.
Well, this caused quite the backlash. Hewrote again a couple of days ago in response, but it seems that most people still really disagree with him.
But here’s the problem: Donald Miller is absolutely right in everything he says if he still insists on calling himself an “Evangelical”, or at least using that as his frame of reference.
If you consider yourself an Evangelical in any traditional sense, and you’re looking at Donald Miller’s church practices with dismay, well then welcome to your future–the logical conclusion of your theology and how you’ve practiced church for a few generations now. Continue reading →
For my worship and liturgy class, we had to write up a little thing explaining how we would explain the Sacraments to an everyday person. We were also supposed to throw up some questions that we might still have about them. Here are is mine.
In the beginning of the Bible, we see God create what amounts to a “temple-world”. He wants to dwell in this temple, with his people, and make it his home. He ordains priests to care for it but they fail. So God puts in motion a plan and story to rebuild this world and re-prepare it for his dwelling.
The focal point of this story and our entire faith is Jesus Christ. He is God among us having come dressed in humanity. The Gospel of John says he literally “templed” among us, using our created humanity as something he was pleased to dwell in.
Yesterday I started a brief little series going through some lessons I have learned from my first semester back in seminary. I first talked about how (at least in my mind) cities had to be taken off their pedestal. There are desires and needs of the human soul that can’t be met in cities. We need other types of livable environments as well.
And yet, through this semester I was re-grounded in my belief in the essential importance and centrality of urban settings. Above, you’ll find a video reflection I had to make in which I give my perspective on this question: Why should Christians engage in cities? In it, I speak about some of these dynamics that are in greater detail below. (Sorry for the poor video quality.) Continue reading →
All Saint’s Day has taken on different meanings for different groups of Christians. What seems to stay consistent, though, is that it is a celebration of the victory attained by those faithful Christians who have died. They are no longer pilgrims, as we are, but are the triumphant ones, having finished their race well and been brought into their peace with God. We celebrate Christ’s effectual victory over sin and death and that this has been granted to those that have gone before us.
The hope and encouragement in this holiday is not simply that we “remember” these saints, or meditate on their example. Instead (and this is important), there has been a long-held belief in the Christian Church that we still have a mystical communion and relationship with those saints that have already died. When Christians throughout Church history (and the Bible) have referred to “The Church”, they don’t simply mean those still around today, but all the saints who have ever lived (even in the Old Testament!). We are all the Church.
So we can truly celebrate those that have gone before us because we are truly still connected to them in a very real and vibrant way. Continue reading →
The past week of my life was filled pretty heavily with church stuff. First, my church hosted our denominational meeting for those churches in our church family that are in cities. They talked about new developments in my seminary program, gave updates on the health of current church plants, adopted the 2014 budget, and ordained and commissioned new pastors to serve in churches across the country. It was a day and half filled with theology jokes, family talks, overdue introductions, and post-meeting sessions of cocktails and cigars on the front steps of the church.
Second, as I mentioned last week, my church spent yesterday celebrating it’s maturation from a “church plant” (a church that still relies on other churches for most of its support and leadership) to a full-blown self-sustaining, self-leading church. My parents came in town, the music was loud, the sermon was great, and we had a large block party after the service with a moon bounce, chili cook-off, and homebrew contest (the bourbon barrel stout won, by the way. It was called “The Nord’s Wrath”).
It was great, and it will be a block of days I will not soon forget.
I noticed that I could see the slowly turning fan blades above us in the reflection of his freshly shaven head. His blue eyes and silver goatee turned up to me quickly, recovering from almost choking on his salad.
“What did you say?”
I had just told him that I felt I had a sense of where God wanted my spiritual life to go next. I was a 20 year-old college student, the president of my campus ministry, and I hung out with my pastors all the time. More importantly, though, was the fact that I was crushing really hard on this girl that wouldn’t date me. Only later would I realize that this was a bigger factor in what I said than anything God had said.