Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New Community

Todd and Teresa Thomas started "being" a new church - Disciple's Song - and you need to check out their website.

Awesome guys! Who gave you permission to do that??

Monday, September 26, 2005

More on Good News

continuing . . .

Given the fact that the first century was a target rich environment for anyone wanting to blast away at false religions, we should be amazed to realize that none of those gods and deities are named and criticized in the letters of the New Testament. Criticism of wrong belief and behavior and false religion was leveled at those within the Christian community rather than at those without. The consistent proclamation from John the Baptist, to Jesus, to the apostles was God's reign. That was the Good News. They didn't start with "Zeus is false."

Could it be that all human pursuits of the divine, however misguided and fundamentally flawed, are a pursuit of God? Could this be why Paul, in his pluralistic environment, criticized flawed ideas of God instead of disparaging anyone's pursuit of God no matter how incorrectly conceived, parsed, and executed. Surely there was graciousness and generosity involved in not taking easy shots at the piety of those who aren't following Jesus.

The other side to this discussion goes beyond the way the believers we read about in scripture didn't go around tearing down other religions and shows that what they did proclaim didn't require proving other religions wrong. When the Gospel is seen as a set of propositions to be accepted, of course there must be a competition with every other set of propositions. When Christianity is reduced from a way of life to a religion of beliefs, then it has to fight with other religious ideas.

However, when the Good News is that God is near, and that He reigns, the proclamation isn't about the clash of propositions. In fact, everything doesn't hinge on those - and the Gospel can be communicated through a cup of cold water. Of course, the story of how atonement was accomplished in Jesus is part of the nearness of God's reign, but not the only part. It is not even the first part for the person whose throat is parched.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Exclusive Good News

With the on-going collapse of modernity and Christendom, there is a mix of those who will readily engage in discussion, and others who won't. If one engages in discussion, not like we see Paul and Jesus, but from a Christendominal (can I make up words?) mindset there will be resistence among those typically willing to share in metaphysical dialogue. In other words, there is a willingness today for many to talk about spiritual matters, but often the way Christians try and have that discussion results in closing down the dialogue.

It is amazing to me that in Christianity where the foundation of our identity is in grace we often can't seem to speak about our faith without coming across as intolerant. We are so certain that the Good News means asserting our exclusive claims on truth we are perplexed when others don't hear any Good News in what we have to say. We attribute the problem to their relativistic leanings, rather than asking ourselves whether we know what the Gospel is. Maybe the Good News isn't "you're wrong and I've got the only real answers . . . want to hear them?" Maybe if we learn the Good News of the nearness of God's Reign then we will be able to speak readily without always coming off as intolerant of others.

When we consider the posture of Paul in conversation with Greeks in Athens (Acts 17) he doesn't say that he's got the truth and that they don't. He doesn't condemn the Greek gods, tell those philosophers that they are lost, or try and accuse them of being guilty of sin. Instead he compliments their spiritual orientation and devotion while seeking to expand their thinking about God. He proclaims the nearness of God and the grace of God in history. He manages to talk about Jesus without maligning their gods. I think if he'd been able to keep going, the grace of God through the resurrected Christ would have been where he would have gone - calling people to accept this outrageous gift.

Is this a aberrant behavior on Paul's part, or did he go around sharing Good News without trashing the beliefs of others? What about the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19)? Surely the artisans who started that were upset because Paul had denounced their religion - right?

Read carefully: even those who were angry with Paul had only this accusation - "He says that man-made gods are no gods at all." They didn't say "Paul has denounced Artemis as a false god." Why didn't Paul preach clearly that their god was false?

I can't believe that these artisans were missing an opportunity to accuse Paul. Seems that he wasn't denouncing their faith in Artemis, but only pointing out that graven images could never represent that which was truely divine. It seems from what he's accused of that Paul was doing in Ephesus what he'd done in Athens. He is talking about God's nature being beyond the conceptions of idolatry - that God needs our service or that he can be represented physically - in other words, that he's just a bigger version of us. But vilifying the beliefs and faith of pagan people, Paul doesn't do that.

Of course, to people of faith, he can speak bluntly that the there is no communing at the tables of demons and of Christ. But sometimes I think we have missed the difference between how we are able to speak to one another and to those who are unaware of the Good News.

I'm not done - but gotta go . . .

Thursday, September 15, 2005

In Celebration of Chaos

For those wanting to keep up with the insanity of how our dysfunctional fellowship continues to make bad choices which keep us from ever becoming a respectable church . . . you can read a recent article from our website on how we are An Unorganized Church.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Supposed Prophets

The usual chorus of some who believe they are following a biblical prophetic model can be heard pronouncing that Katrina was God's judgment on New Orleans.

Some facts they miss:

1) Biblical prophecy of doom almost always preceded the event of destruction in order to bring about repentance - rather than following it as a way of heaping abuse on those who have suffered.

2) This was the position of Job's friends who insinuated that his calamity was due to his sinfulness. They were wrong, God was angry with them for misrepresenting him, and ultimately Job was the intecessor for them.

3) When Jesus encountered those who were suggesting that the Galileans were slaughtered by the Romans because of their sinfulness, he turned the conversation back on those making such suggestions. He denied that these after-the-fact claims were right in asserting that the Galileans were greater sinners. Seems those making such accusation ought to heed Jesus' warning.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Todd's Blog

A good friend (and fellow mal-content with the status quo - why can't it be better?) recently started a blog. More accurately . . . I recently discovered the blog he started several months ago!

Anyway, Todd is a good friend from way back. He and his family followed us to Tanzania - coming in as we were leaving.

Maybe it is the being missionaries thing - but we share a spiritually adventurous bent which pursues God without tremendous regard for sacred cows.

So I encourage you to visit his blog and read his confessional post about being tired of the idea of strategy.