Regardless of one’s personal political beliefs, it’s hard to deny that this particular election season is one of the most brutal in decades. On both sides of the aisle, a harsher edge has accompanied our political discourse. This has been exacerbated by people retreating further and further to the safety of their own “sides” in these uncertain times, leading to pockets of like-minded people who rarely interact with those with whom they disagree.
And yet, the good news is that there is still one institution in society whose very nature draws people together from a diversity of views, classes, opinions, and income brackets: the Christian Church. Christians do this imperfectly, for sure, and many of our churches are marked by sharp divisions and high uniformity on issues secondary to the essentials of our faith; yet the Christian Church, throughout history, has been able to contain within itself a huge diversity of views, opinions, cultures, and societal structures, all while maintaining its essential integrity.
This puts Christians in a bind, though, when studying Scripture in a diverse community and in a tense political time. As Christians, we want the Bible to inform our political beliefs, but we also want to be in unity with other believers around us. As the Bible shapes us and we come to our own beliefs on political issues, how do we do so in a way that leads to charity and a deeper knowledge of God through the Scriptures?
I think we can chart a way forward by looking at the diversity of ways the Scriptures interact with the politics of God’s people, the politics at the time the Bible was actually written, and by focusing on the central point of Christian teaching: Jesus. Continue reading
Okay, this one is a tough one to write.
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?
Lent has historically been a time where we look at things that we don’t like to look at, and dwell on things that are broken and painful. And when we do, we see that this darkness is to be found both in our hearts and in the wider world around us.
It’s not hard to see pain and injustice woven into the very fabric of our neighborhoods and the nations around the world.
What is hard, though, is figuring out how to respond to this pain and injustice in ways that are proper and truly loving.
I believe that the most transformative efforts to address pain and injustice have several things in common: Continue reading
As I said the other day while introducing Lent this year, the Lenten season has historically been marked by three practices of those that participate in it. Prayer and fasting tend to get most of the attention, but almsgiving is another component of a Lent-historically-done-well. Almsgiving is the ancient term for giving materially of your resources for the purpose of charity, love, and grace.
I have never been good at giving my money away. Tithing has always been difficult for me to practice; giving to the homeless has been hard; and I always have a good excuse why I’m not able to give to some cause greater than myself. Sure, I’ll talk about the organization or even write a blog post in support of it, but it’s hard for me to part ways with my money.
This season, however, I wanted to try an experiment to fight against this and hope and pray that God meets me in it and grows me in deep, lasting ways.
This Lent, I want to give away some of my money everyday. For Monday through Saturday (the Church considers Sundays Lent “mini-breaks”), I want to give some amount of money to a non-profit or charity that can use it to help others.
But I need help.
If you have a non-profit or charity or social justice organization that you particularly like, could you leave a comment below telling me what it is?