The Privilege of Church-lessness: a Donald Miller post-script


donaldmiller-bw-2Donald Miller put up another post sort of talking more about his church attendance thoughts, this time talking about how the doctrine of the “priesthood of believers” means he does sacraments on his own and whenever he wants because God has given us all “agency” in this world to do that kind of stuff. He longs that pastors would empower their people to feel free to do these sort of things as well.

I made my thoughts clear last week about how wrong I think he is on this stuff (especially so with the sacraments. He even says he does baptisms for other people even though he himself has never been baptized). I won’t rehash that here. I did want to bring up one thing I noticed in his other posts that was more explicit in this last post. He writes:

To be fair, I’m wired a bit differently. I’m creative and I’m a risk taker. I realize a mistake I often make in my writing is assuming people are wired the way I’m wired. They aren’t. Most people are looking to “do it right” and play by the rules. This saves them from the trouble I often find myself in.

I can’t get past the the feeling here that Miller is saying that “most people” (read: “those that go to church”) at least primarily go to church because they want to “do it right” and “play by the rules”; that not going to church is an act of freedom, while those that still go are bound by something Miller thinks he has freed himself from. It’s not that he necessarily thinks he’s “better” than others, but I fear he makes a dangerous division within the Body of Christ between himself and “most people”.
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Discernment: Making Decisions Christianly & Why It Matters


paul-city-bwMore so than other practices, Discernment is not something we try to do to enrich our lives or draw closer to God. Rather, it is a basic function of our storied existence, driven by our own internal narratives. Because of this, we necessarily find ourselves in positions where decisions great and small need to be made.

Unlike most other practices of the Christian faith, the question here is not whether or not we will practice Discernment, but rather how well we will do it, and how intentionally we will cultivate it. The challenge is not so much to articulate a vision for Discernment so much as to find out what truly Christian Discernment looks like.

series intro

That is why I chose Discernment for a research paper I wrote for my seminary program this semester. It’s essential to human life and being. This is also why I want to share many of the lessons I learned along the way of writing this paper and putting into practice. And so today I’m starting a new blog series exploring this Christian practice of decision-making, also called Discernment.
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Thoughts on Recent Voter ID Laws (including Pennsylvania)


Update: the ACLU of Pennsylvania has joined with some other groups in filing a lawsuit against the Commonwealth for the Pennsylvania Voter ID law

Yesterday, Conservative activist James O’Keefe pulled a clever prank on Attorney General Eric Holder.

There has been a wave of voter ID laws passing across the country. These laws create the requirement that residents must show a state-issued photo ID before they can cast a ballot in an election.

Attorney General Holder (not my favorite guy, I might add) has said in the past that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S., and so these laws are unnecessary. Yesterday, O’Keefe made a video of a man clearly not Eric Holder, going into Holder’s own voting precinct, asking for Holder’s ballot, and being offered it with no ID needed. The point? Voter fraud can happen!

Conservative blogs went nuts yesterday; it seemed like the ultimate “gotcha” moment against the Department of Justice. But was it?
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My First Sermon Ever


For my first homiletics class at Westminster, called “Gospel Communication,” we were all put in different groups, each dealing with a certain type of text.  Everyone was to write up a sermon on their text and one person from each group actually preached their sermon to the class.

Well, I preached my first real sermon ever this past Thursday.  It was recorded, so I’ve decided to share it along with the manuscript.  It’s on “The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant” in Matthew 18 and deals with forgiveness.  It’s about 30 minutes long.  Personally, being my own worst critic, I see many flaws in it (the structure was somewhat muddled, I talked too fast, and I somewhat went against the traditional interpretation of the text), but overall I was pretty happy with it.  It seemed like the class was as well.

If you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, just listen to the last 8 minutes or so.  I think that’s the point I hit my most significant “flow.”

Two more personal notes: first, I know I haven’t blogging much recently.  Things have been nuts and Seminary’s been kicking the trash out of me.  As the semester gets closer and closer to finishing, you’ll see more posts again.  Secondly, I have no idea how the pictures below will look on facebook.  They will either not show up, be really big, or be fine.  I don’t know, so I apologize for any formatting issues.

Here’s the audio and manuscript:

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Click for Audio: Faithful Forgiveness.mp3

Faithful Forgiveness.pdf

Click for Manuscript: Faithful Forgiveness.pdf