Monday, December 29, 2008

In his own words: Keller on the Gospel and humility

Since I'm using his framework so much, I'll let him speak in his own words from a recent Christianity Today article (he does his own argument much more justice that I do):

"Humility is a byproduct of belief in the gospel of Christ. In the gospel, we have a confidence not based in our performance but in the love of God in Christ (Rom. 3:22-24). This frees us from having to always be looking at ourselves. Our sin was so great, nothing less than the death of Jesus could save us. He had to die for us. But his love for us was so great, Jesus was glad to die for us."

Read the full article.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Gospel and Service

My current church emphasizes service as a primary way of being Christian. I'd like to try to apply my understanding of the Gospel to service.

1) We're commanded to serve each other as Christ served us. (John 13:14).

2) The bad news: we can't obey this command. Most of us probably fail multiple times every day to lay down our lives for our brothers; the cruciform life of perfect submission to others as far beyond us as infinity is beyond finitude.

In part, we simply lack the capacity to serve like Christ. We don't even have the wisdom to know how to serve perfectly. But even within our capacity, we generally choose not to serve. Why? One reason is because we think that if we pour ourselves out for others, we won't have enough left over for ourselves. If we take someone into our house, won't they take too much of our time and resources? If we give of ourselves into the oceanic need of the world, what will we have left? We fear really serving others because we believe we have to take care of ourselves.

In other instances, we're simply selfish. We don't want to serve someone else because it's unpleasant. We want to serve ourselves.

Other times we don't think people deserve our help.

3) The good new: in Christ, we have been utterly taken care of. "TheLord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want…" In Christ, our fears of not having enough are groundless as we find that we have been, are being, and will be taken care of by Him who does not sleep, slumber, or fail. In Christ, even if we give away all our treasure on earth, we have faith that we have stored up treasure for ourselves where itreally matters, in heaven with Him. In Christ, we are rich beyond measure, and therefore no service can impoverish us.

And the way Christ accomplished all of this was by giving over his whole life, to the point of being killed on a cross, for us. And then he took up his own life again and was exalted into heaven.

No deserved this kind of service; nevertheless we received it. How can this not change our hearts toward serving others?

4) Because Christ has served (saved) us in this way, we can serve others. We don't need to fear not having enough time or resources: Christ has promised to take care of that. And even our selfishnessis changed. If we're truly interested in our own well-being, we'll serve others and store up treasure in heaven. Our hearts are warmed in love by Christ's service of us, and we want to serve others. And further, in Christ, we have His nature, and , as we mature in Him beyond our fleshly selfishness, we find that it is our nature to want to serve others as did our Lord.

The crux of serving others is to have faith in the one God sent, Emmanuel. (John 6:29).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Gospel and the Beauty Myth

Keller offers another example of how the Gospel can apply to an issue in a fresh way by taking on our society's obsession with physical beauty.

Our society is obsessed with physical beauty, but most everyone knows we shouldn't be. But, even though we know we shouldn't care so much about how we look or other people look, we can't not care: it's just too overwhelmingly important in our culture. But the Gospel is that Christ has made us perfectly beautiful in Himself; in Christ, we are more beautiful than we could have ever hoped. By putting our faith in this, the power of our culture's obsession with beauty is broken.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Gospel and Struggles

The Gospel is the answer to our struggles, and not just by way of ultimate forgiveness of our failures. Tim Keller offers an example: He knows God requires truthfulness, but he struggles with lying and cannot make himself be honest. The reason he lies is because he is afraid of what people think of him. In Christ, however, he's been accepted and approved of by God; believing this, he can let go of his need for man's approval. He is now more able to tell the truth.

This lesson has a four-part structure: 1) the requirement of God; 2) the person's inability to meet the requirement; 3) the Gospel that Christ has met the requirement for us; 4) because of the Gospel, the improved ability to meet the requirement.

I really love several things about this. It magnifies God and the Gospel. Obedience is really primarily about faith in the accomplished work of Christ. It minimizes our "effort" in achieving righteousness while not letting us off the hook for living godly. It offers a route to sanctification for those of us who have, sadly, proved to ourselves that we are truly completely unable to live the way we aspire to as Christians.

I'm going to try to do a series of posts, applying this framework to many different areas of struggle in life. Feel free to suggest topics.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spontaneous good works

In Philemon 14, Paul sums up how I'm understanding the Christian life: "...let it be spontaneous and not forced from you..." The good life and obedience of the Christian should be a spontaneous result of his experience of God's salvation. Elsewhere, Paul describes this as Christian "freedom."

Yet, there remains a necessary role for deliberate (consider deliberate vs. spontaneous) Christian obedience. Jesus says "if you obey my commands, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32). Here, obedience seems to precede freedom. Of course, to obey in the first place, one must have initial faith. So, the Christian life fully flows from faith, but obedience is a sine qua non of that faith-propelled life. And perhaps it can even be said that there may be an intermediate stage where compelling faith and spontaneous obedience have hidden themselves and what the moment requires is deliberate obedience in order to move onto a renewal of spontaneous Christian life.

An important distinction is made by Watchman Nee, who says that in the process of waiting for spontaneous Christian life to occur in us, we need to continue to be spiritually disciplined. However, he says, we do not ultimately trust in our disciplines; we continue to trust (place our faith) in God to bring about our sanctification. In this way, our salvation continues to be "by faith" even though we do "works" as part of our salvation.

Bonhoeffer summarizes this quasi-paradox well when he says "we must believe to obey; we must obey to believe."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

"What we find abominable in man...the real man, the real world, this is for God the ground for unfathomable love, and it is with this that He unites Himself utterly...

"God loves the real man. God became a real man."

-- Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good works

The first and highest, the most precious of all good works is faith in Christ, as He says, John vi. When the Jews asked Him: "What shall we do that we may work the works of God?" He answered: "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent." When we hear or preach this word, we hasten over it and deem it a very little thing and easy to do, whereas we ought here to pause a long time and to ponder it well. For in this work all good works must be done and receive from it the inflow of their goodness, like a loan. This we must put bluntly, that men may understand it.

- 'A Treatise on Good Works' by Martin Luther

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Gospel

In repentance and rest is your salvation. In quietness and trust is your strength.

- Isaiah 30:15

Thursday, October 16, 2008

God will fix all your mistakes if you put your faith in Christ.

- The Gospel

Monday, September 29, 2008

Walking on Water; Walking by Spirit

Peter's attempt to walk on the water struck me today as a great metaphor for our own attempt to walk by the Spirit.

Peter was able to do the miraculous simply by trusting and obeying Jesus' call to walk on the water. Peter was able to walk on the water not due to his own power, but due to God's supporting Peter as he crossed the sea. Peter's only role was expressing his faith (notice here too, how faith required an action as described by James). Unfortunately, of course we know that Peter only could maintain his walk for so long, and isn't it the same with us as we walk in the Spirit?

Nevertheless, the elements are striking and important. We can be partakers of the divine life, living out Christ in us, simply by trusting God to enable us to obey His commands. God calls us to love one another; but we all know that we don't have it in ourselves to really love each other as Christ loved us. To do so, we have to put our faith in "Christ in us" (Gal. 2:19-20) to accomplish what he asks.

Then we have to step out onto the water.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This question was posed to me twice today by unrelated sources: What is the Gospel?

It was asked once at Bible study, and the answer was given that 'it's that Christ paid for our sins.'

In another place, it was answered similarly, but in many, many more layers (scroll down one post to see 'What is the Gospel'?), and also in the process claimed there is a Gospel of the Cross and Gospel of the Kingdom.

For what it's worth, my current answer to the question is that the Gospel is that God takes care of everything. Yes, literally, everything.

Monday, September 22, 2008

As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

(Ps. 16.:3).

The preceding quote is a tribute to my family and friends in Lincoln, Nebraska, my former hometown. And that goes for ye North Carolina friends, too.

I've moved to Reno. My hope is that God shows me how to live the Gospel here, in the dusty, bright, stark town where I was born.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Here are two poems several of you helped me write and edit, which have been published here:

Entropy Warrior

The second law of thermodynamics states that life gets worse and worse and then we die.

I pummel the black-skinned back of the treadmill
with the pounding paces of my feet,
running away
from the flab and fat
that clings and jiggles and dimples and rolls,
etching into my skin clean lines
of muscle and tendon and bone,
like a monk flaying himself
for drinking too much beer.

When I can’t take it anymore,
I hit the red button ‘stop,’
red digits reading five miles.
I’ve fought the fight.
I’ve run the race.
I’ve beat back entropy one more day.
But having pumped only 450 calories
of heat into the cooling body of the universe,
I wonder at the legend of the Lord Jesus Christ
who once ran on this very treadmill
so hard that he broke it.


Late Night Agnostic

Are you awake,
aching to fill your heart
with the perfect tv show?

Are you so hungry
you eat all the cookies
to see if God is in the chocolate chips?

Do you pray
to the Internet,
each ‘click’ a little plea
for just a pittance of distraction?

Does your only relief from the pain
come when your vigil fails
and you fall asleep?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This is a wonderful and moving story about how God used an artist's painting to bring him to Christ.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

On judging other Christians

Will I judge another Christian for his particular church practices, or politics, or habits, or personality quirks, or theological quirks when he stands before God, holy, righteous, justified, loved and accepted in Christ? Will I judge her whom God has judged not? Will I criticize them whom God has given his own Son and blood to establish as perfect? Will I tear at that which Christ has called his own body, the Church?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Today was one of those days where I couldn't quite remember what the Gospel was, and this sermon, The Rest Quotient, reminded me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Love vs. Judgment

I struggle with the wrong kind of judgment, that condemning apprehension of someone else. I've been convicted that what I need to have toward others is not judgment but love. I'm certain God would be more pleased with me if I never judged again and replaced every opportunity for judgment with a warm fervent love for people.

It also occurred to me that love would be a better approach to error than judgment. When I feel judgment in my heart toward another, even assuming the other person is actually in error, I'm unable to effectively address that error. This is because either I am feeling unspiritual and just keep my mouth shut, knowing if I opened it I would only do harm, or because I do open my mouth, and approaching the person in a spirit of condemnation, I do, in fact, do harm.

But if I were to instead have a fervent love for people, this wouldn't mean some kind of blanket acceptance of every error. The Biblical writings of Saint John are good examples of this. John is clear that love is paramount, but he also makes some of the most challenging statements about how the Christian should live (if anyone is born of God, he does not sin, etc). If anything, I'd guess that fervent love would cause me to be more confrontational. Who is the most loving person in history? Jesus Christ our Lord - but how confrontational was he? Very.

There is such a big difference between approaching error in love instead of condemnation. First, most people can tell how you feel about them. If they feel love coming from your efforts, they will be more likely to respond. Second, if one approaches error in love, he will be more likely to see it objectively and be able to say something helpful about it, as opposed to when we approach error in condemnation, where we feel self-righteous and our perspective is skewed by our own investment in being right.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Are sins forgiven or held against us?

1. How would you reconcile these verses:

1 Thes. 4:3-6, which says of sexual immorality and improper conduct "The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you." There are also several places where Jesus return is described as a moment when each person will be repaid according to what he has done.

Versus any of the verses describing what seem to be complete forgiveness from God, 1 John 1:9 being an obvious example "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness," or the verse that says "as far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our sins from us."

The only verse I'm aware that seems to synthesize the notion that God both forgives sin yet also holds us accountable for sin is in 1 Corinthians 3, where it says that our work will be tested with fire, and if we've built with poor material we will suffer loss, though our souls will be saved.

Do you have any thoughts on this? It seems to be important how I approach this because it has a very different effect on me whether I think about my sins being completely off my record versus thinking that I will be punished for them. For me, each brings about a fairly distinct reaction. I've been focusing on the idea that all our sins were dealt with in Christ, with the corresponding idea that we joyfully follow him. But I'm aware of other approaches where people are encouraged the fear God and not sin (not that I'm saying we don't believe the perspectives are mutually exclusive, but it's a matter of emphasis, I suppose).

Saturday, July 19, 2008

City of God

I'm listening to City of God, by St. Augustine, as an audiobook.

In short, it's gold.

Augustine writes to address an idea in Rome that the reason it was recently sacked is because the Christians made the Romans stop worshiping their old Gods.

It's book full of wit and argumentation. For example, Augustine starts by saying, 'so, you think your Roman gods would have saved you. Well, then how come they got deposed by Christianity in the first place?'

Some bullet points:

-Augustine writes and thinks in a style surprisingly familiar to my Evangelical mind. This is reassuring because some would have us believe that time and location have made it hard or impossible to understand the writings of long ago. It's clear to me Augustine and I practice the same faith and understand it in the same way.

-Augustine unapologetically tells the non-Christians that they've just plain got it wrong. It's a style I appreciate, and all the more for its current unpopularity.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Waits For Us

My once and perhaps future worship leader, Jose Skinner, has a haunting, tragi-whimsical song posted on his blog, which I understand to be about the frustration and yearing of the already/not yet.

Listent to it here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Here’s a musical, rhythmic poem by a Jesuit writer, Gerard Manley Hopkins. His poems are particularly delightful to read aloud so that you can feel the brilliance of his metrics on your tongue. And it even ends with a soul stirring Christological point.

"As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame"

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring;
like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves--goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is--
Chríst--for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Choose Your Own Adventure

My current worship leader is writing a story on her blog somewhat in the format of a choose your own adventure story. The writing is really tasty.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Christians live not under compulsion, but from a cheerful heart

"Each man should give what he has decided to give in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9:7)

I think this applies to more than just our money (which is the context of this verse), but rather our whole Christian life and service. Since God has already taken care of our eternal redemption, doing good isn't a matter of compulsion (do this or else burn!). And that creates the possibility of our freely and cheerfully giving ourselves to God, in whatever aspect of our life.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A really wonderful essay on what makes for a truly good story and why I hated the movie 'Crash':

"And that’s the secret, isn’t it? Bad writers and directors of the kind I’ve alluded to always want to offer us the easy way out—the lie that we’re superior to the characters on the stage or the screen; put another way, they create false, two-dimensional characters we can only feel superior to. It’s the genuine artists who bind us to great sinners ..."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Interesting Blog on art and faith.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Senator Expedience

Sen. X had promised to use public financing, but now he has opted to go back on his word. This upsets me in so many ways.

One, lying is bad enough.

Two, although we’ve come to expect promise-breaking from pols, it’s particularly egregious coming from Sen. New Kind of Politics.

Three, promise-breaking on this particular issue is so symbolic, because everyone knows campaign finance is at or near the heart of the worst problems in politics.

Four, the rationale for this promise-breaking is utterly clear: Sen. Expedience realized he could raise way more private money than Sen. McCain, and public financing would have taken away this advantage.

I'm utterly and bitterly disappointed in Sen. Obama, which probably means he'll win.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I can tell people are scrapping for this discussion:

What should a Christian do when confronted with an apparently homeless person asking for money?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Man of Little Faith

Here's a bit of writing about my failed attempts to perform miracles:

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Centrality of the Gospel and Abortion

I think I have an idea about what the Gospel means for the political question of abortion. First, let me describe my understanding of Gospel logic. Simply, the Gospel tells me that in all things necessary, God is primarily and ultimately responsible for getting them done. The corollary is that in all things necessary, I am not primarily and ultimately responsible for getting them done.

Some of the corresponding results of this logic is that all glory goes to God, because he is responsible for everything necessary that gets done; all things necessary actually get done, because God is willing and able to do so and also defines what is necessary; I have joy and peace knowing that all necessary things will get done, and knowing that they will get done by someone (God) competent to do so and knowing that the most important things do not primarily and ultimately rest on me.

So, onto abortion. I assume that opposition to abortion is a necessary thing. However, it is clear that on my own, successfully opposing abortion will not get done. I think you can see where I’m going. The Gospel for the issue of abortion is that ultimately, God will successfully oppose abortion.

Since God will take care of the abortion issue, does that mean I should do nothing about it? Of course not. Consider that we know that God has and will completely accomplish and finish our salvation. This doesn’t mean we do nothing about our salvation; instead, what we do is place faith in God and ask Him to accomplish it, and then He empowers us to do whatever He asks, and in this power we 'walk by the Spirit', and to the extent we fail to do so, He gives us more grace.

So it is, I think, with our approach to abortion. First we recognize that Jesus is King, and he will ultimately assert and exert total dominion over every corner of creation, including all aspects of abortion. In this we can rest and trust. But that doesn’t mean we do nothing; in fact, God may very well use us to accomplish His will for abortion. We seek Him and His power on this issue, and see what He has for us to do. Then, by His power, we do His will. To some extent we will fail, but He gives us more grace, and we have peace and joy knowing that ultimately He will win the day.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Obama vs. McCain

I’m really not sure what’s right in this election, and I tend to be anxious about what to do with my vote. But I realized that the thing I can do, more important than voting, is to pray.

We can pray that God give us a righteous, just, good President; we can pray that God’s will be done. And, amazingly, we actually have more influence with the Sovereign of the universe than we do at our ballot boxes.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Plagued by grace and faith

A recent discussion of Romans on an Emergent Church blog essentially described the doctrine that we are justified by grace through faith as a 'plague.' (See comment 1).

If you read the rest of the ten comments, no one seems to think this description is remarkable or unfair or at the very least needs to be seriously discussed and explained. This is why I'm worried about postmodern philosophy and its influence in the Emergent Church.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Postmodern philosophy

Postmodern philosophy claims that we never see reality as it actually is. The reason for this is because in order to see something we have to think about it. Supposedly, we think in “language.” Language is arbitrarily constructed by society, and contains all the biases of that society. And so anything we think about is molded by the biases of our culture, and thus we never see reality as it actually is.

Just to be clear, I think there’s a small kernel of truth to this, but mostly a lot of hooey.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Marilynne Robinson is among my very favorite writers. She combines great intellect with great literary skill, and here she takes on Richard Dawkins, atheist-in-residence at Oxford. This is almost a must read it is both so good and so fun. It's not too long and would probably take 20 minutes to read. Let me give you a sample:

"It is amazing, when the movers and shakers of the so-called postwar have devoted so much effort and rhetoric to policies with names like Mutual Assured Destruction, that anyone could be surprised to find some significant part of the populace reading up on End Times. But here is Richard Dawkins to dispel the clouds of fear and gloom — that is, religion."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another story was published. This one 'The Sermon on the Sermon' might be of interest, as it's short and about trying and failing to obey the Sermon on the Mount.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More on abortion...and the centrality of the Gospel
This article sums up well where I am on the abortion issue in which the bottom line is that now is not the time for Christians to lose focus on this cause:
I'm also wondering what the Centrality of the Gospel means for abortion...

Friday, May 16, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto

Some prominent Evangelicals, including a favority of mine, Dallas Willard, have put out an Evangelical Manifesto, trying to clarify what it means to be Evangelical.

On the whole, it's a very well-done document, and I would subscribe to it without reservation.

One highlight for me is its affirmation of Scripture: "...we believe that Jesus own teach and his attitude toward the total truthfulness and supreme authority of the Bible, God's inspired Word, make the Scriputures our final rule for faith and practice." (page 6)

I'm really glad they made this a big enough tent for those who don't believe in inerrancy.

The document also takes a very fair and even-handed tone with faith vs. science (which it denies is a conflict), social justice (which it affirms is an Evangelical obligation), and politics (which it affirms as a human activity, but insists is not a defining trait of Evangelicalism).

Here's where you can find and even sign the statement:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Centrality of the Gospel in Ethics and Morality

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Sometimes we’re convicted that we’re not doing a good enough job carrying out the greatest commandment: love. One response to this conviction is to try harder to love the way we should. But I suggest that when we fail in our love, the better method is to saturate ourselves in the fact of God’s love for us. Once we’ve done so, increasingly loving God and our neighbors will be the natural response.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Centrality of the Gospel as applied to ministry:

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant…

2 Cor. 3:4-6


Sometimes I think maybe I shouldn't be doing any ministry because I'm not ready or I'm not good enough. Paul in Corinthians says it's not up to us to make ourselves ready or good enough. Our adequacy to be servants of the new covenant is from God.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Centrality of the Gospel

I’ve been blessed to go to a few churches during the past five years that I felt operated on the notion of the Centrality of the Gospel, but I’ve had a hard time explaining how this differed from my previous churches because I’ve never gone some place that didn’t consider Christ’s work on the cross central.

But, I think I’ve figured it out a bit better. The book of Romans makes for a nice illustration. Romans is 16 chapters, the first 11 of which are basically Paul explaining the Gospel, 12-15 are more practical instructions, and 16 is basically an extended good-bye (‘mention me to so-and-so’). So Paul basically spends 60-70 percent of the letter talking about the Gospel before he really starts giving moral instruction, and this to me is a very concrete format for how I’d like my own articulation of the Christian message to sound: the large majority of what I want to say is simply about God’s redemption of us.

However, what sometimes happens is that the Christian message starts with moral instruction and commands: for example, do not covet or lust or be an idolater or whatever, and the whole message ends up being about what to do or not do, and the meaning of Christ’s work on the cross is a footnote. When this happens, what is essentially being preached is Law: do this; don’t do that.

Law isn’t wrong; it’s just not the Gospel, and, further, the Law apart from the Gospel tends to produce guilt and condemnation, but not righteousness. And it turns Christianity into moralism.

So, I’m gravitating more and more to focusing on the message that the Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not be in want. That’s the Gospel, that God has taken care of everything and it’s not on me. It’s on Jesus, and he has done it and he will do it.

Good conduct should more or less simply flow from full acknowledgment of this fact. I’m not against moral instruction. But making the Gospel central perhaps means that it’s the primary thing we talk about, and we don’t talk about anything else, even morality, without shedding the light of the Gospel on that topic.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The groaning of the Church

I haven’t read N.T. Wright, but I came across a short interview with him in Newsweek ( which offers a nice explanation for all the disagreement among Christians (and people in general).

He cites the notion that ‘the creation is groaning, having been subjected to slavery’ from Romans, and says that the Church is also ‘groaning’ in this sense. There’s a subjection to fallen-ness that affects us all and leads to these internal and external squabbles.

I guess this is just a way of saying our problems are because of sin, but in all this ‘groaning,’ it’s helpful to me to be able to locate it in the story of redemption.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Here’s another quiz we might enjoy:

This quiz has the nuance of going beyond left vs. right, and adds a dimension of libertarian vs. authoritarian. Post your scores and we’ll see whose politics we’re most scared of.

My scores:

Economic Left/Right: -2.00
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -0.67

So, I'm slightly economically liberal, and slightly socially libertarian; which is disappointing because I'd rather have come out slightly conservative, slightly authoritarian. I guess I can always go back and change my answers...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Chess, News

Anyone like chess? I’ve been playing at this site, and what’s cool about it is you can play games very slowly, like one move per three days (or whatever). This makes it so you can be involved in a chess game without committing an hour at a time to playing it:

If anyone signs up, let me know.


I’ve stopped listening to and reading the news. I don’t feel as if I’m missing much, and my mind definitely feels more peaceful, not because the news is upsetting, but just because the data overload had been getting to me.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Everybody loves quizzes, especially if they’re about your Bible hermeneutic:

By the way, for any of you who may think otherwise based on my various posts, the quiz says I'm still a conservative!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

From my non-favorite quasi-creedal statement:

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

Article XII.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to
spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in
the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific
hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the
teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Article XIII.

WE DENY that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to
standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose.
We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such
as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or


How is it coherent to distinguish "irregularities" in spelling and grammar from errors in history and science? In other words, the Chicago Statement will allow for a Bible writer to misspell a word, but not to misquote a fact of history. Are these categorically different types of error? I don’t see how.

(Someone I know is studying Greek and Hebrew in seminary and vaguely claimed there may be a good answer for this because of something to do with ancient grammar, but he did not sound very confident when he said it.)


(Sigh), the postmodernists on the left, the inerrantists on the right…

Also, you might wonder why I go on and on about these relatively obscure things. The reason is because I believe Prov. 23:7.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Emergent Church and the Impossibility of Objectivity

It seems to me that the Emergent Church has embraced a serious philosophical mistake. That mistake is the post-modern notion that there is no such thing as objectivity.

Here are some links that, at length, will connect these dots:

Here, an Emergent pastor I know is Durham argues that objectivity is impossible (you have to scroll down a ways):

Here, a relatively famous professor discusses the same issue:

And, here, Dallas Willard, refutes the idea that objectivity is impossible:

To read all this would probably take at least an hour, but you can skim and get the gist. Or just take my word for it.

I think many Emergent Christians have, in good faith, bought the argument that objectivity is impossible, and their ministries are good-faith attempts to be Christian having accepted that argument. Nevertheless, if the underlying argument is erroneous, it's important not to build anything around it.

Monday, April 07, 2008

"The Bush regime has been divisive — but not in Africa. I read it has been incompetent — but not in Africa. It has created bitterness — but not here in Africa. Here, his administration has saved millions of lives.",8599,1717934,00.html

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Faith and Science

It’s commonplace among intellectual Christians to assert that there’s no contradiction between faith and science; however, I’m not sure they actually believe this because there are still statements like the following from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy:

“We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.”

To make a statement like this, you have to be worried that there are incompatibilities between faith and science, namely between science and the flood and creation accounts.

Because it appears to me that many Evangelicals actually do believe there is a conflict between faith and science, I want to take a fresh stab at why there is not.

The reason is that science by definition cannot address the central occurrences of Christianity. Science only addresses those things that are readily demonstrable. So let’s start with the sine qua non of Christianity: the resurrection of Christ.

Science cannot address the Resurrection because the Resurrection is a miracle. Miracles are not falsifiable in labs; by definition, a miracle is something that happens outside the natural order of things. Science only deals with the natural order of things. It’s a classic case of apples and oranges.

The same is true of the Virgin Birth.

But what about the Flood and Creation? Science seems to speak to those matters, even contradicting Scripture. However, the way in which there is a supposed contradiction between science and the creation and flood accounts depends on an interpretation of the Scripture which is probably false, namely an overly literal interpretation.

To me, whatever the case may be with the literalness of the flood and creation, if the Resurrection happened, then my faith is on like Donkey Kong, and I’m a born-again, hymn singing, tongue speaking, Bible beating Christian.

And that is why faith and science don’t contradict.
Too much input

I’ve decided to stop listening to news on my iPod. There’s just too much information out there, and I feel like it’s frying my brain to try to keep abreast of it all. So, what this means practically is that I’m traveling to and from work in relative quiet, and sometimes when I run I don’t listen to anything. Or, I listen to Scripture readings during those times. It adds up to probably 20 minutes a day difference, but my brain feels a little better already. I am still looking for a way to cut my computer usage.

It seems like all the media we have available is just making it possible to get wider and wider info and no deeper, if not shallower.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I’m really excited (you’ll probably think it’s funny what excites me) because I’ve found an evangelical statement on the nature of the Bible that I actually like:

"Scripture is an essential part and trustworthy record of divine self-disclosure. All the books of the Old and New Testaments, given by divine inspiration, are the written Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. They are to be interpreted according to their context and purpose and in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks through them in living power."

Were we to distinguish our position from that of some of our brothers and sisters who perceive their view of Scriptures as more orthodox than ours, several points could be made: 1) we would stress the need to be aware of the historical and literary process by which God brought the Word to us; 2) we would emphasize the careful attention that must be given to the historical and cultural contexts in which the various authors lived and wrote, as well as to the purposes which each had in mind -convinced as we are that the Spirit of God used the human abilities and circumstances of the writers in such a way that the Word which results is truly divine; 3) we are convinced that this investigation of the context, purpose and literary genre is essential to a correct understanding of any portion of God's Word; 4) we would urge that the emphasis be placed where the Bible itself places it -on its message of salvation and its instruction for living, not on its details of geography or science, though we acknowledge the wonderful reliability of the Bible as a historical source book; 5) we would strive to develop our doctrine of Scripture by hearing all that the Bible says, rather than by imposing on the Bible a philosophical judgment of our own as to how God ought to have inspired the Word...

...(Inerrancy's) dangers, when improperly defined, are: 1) that it implies a precision alien to the minds of the Bible writers and their own use of the Scriptures; 2) that it diverts attention from the message of salvation and the instruction in righteousness which are the Bible's key themes; 3) that it may encourage glib and artificial harmonizations rather than serious wrestling with the implication of biblical statements which may seem to disagree; 4) that it leads those who think that there is one proven error in the Bible (however minor), to regard its whole teaching as subject to doubt; 5) that too often it has undermined our confidence in the Bible by a retreat for refuge to the original manuscripts (which we do not posses) whenever problems cannot otherwise be resolved; 6) that it prompts us to an inordinate defensiveness of Scripture which seems out of keeping with the bold confidence with which the prophets, the apostles and our Lord proclaimed it."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Humphrey Bogart

My mom and Atlanta Ben (as he’ll now be referred to in order to distinguish him from Lincoln Ben) have very rightly turned me onto Humphrey Bogart movies. Casablanca is probably the best movie I’ve ever seen. Everything you should want from a movie is there. The Big Sleep, which I watched last night, was grittier and wittier than 99% of movies that come out nowadays.

There’s this vague notion of progress which suggests that contemporary people know better than the people who came before them. I’m pretty sure it’s the opposite, and these movies are strong evidence.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

As much as I like the guy, I don't think I can vote for Obama.

Two primary reasons: 1) it's wrong to abandon our efforts in Iraq at this point; 2) abortion is a categorical evil, and Obama supports it.

I even donated $30 to his campaign, but as I go along, I just don't see how I can punch the ticket for him.

I guess one other thing is that his billing as a truth teller is starting to seem to me somewhat overstated.


On Abortion

Evangelicals no longer report that abortion is their number one political issue; instead that spot is reserved for poverty. Paying attention to poverty must be a good thing.

But it’s a bad thing to forget about abortion:

“In 2005, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million in 2000. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions occurred.”

This is speculation, and I may be wrong. But I have a somewhat half-cynical view about the shift in Christian’s political priorities. The non-cynical half is represented by what I said at first.

Concern for the poor is absolutely good.


I also suspect there is a spirit of acquiescence, accommodation, and appeasement to this shift. Or in other words, cowardice. Christians, like everyone, want to be widely accepted. We all love to be popular; we all hate to be unpopular. Christians know that their popularity will not suffer, and will probably be improved, by paying attention solely to the poor (unless they get extremely zealous about it to a point not yet reached or even approached; I'm talking universal housing or something nutty). And they also know their popularity will suffer if they are vocal about opposing abortion—it puts them back in that 90s, Jerry Falwell camp that they’ve tried so hard to get away from.

We have feet of clay, and everything we do is a mixed effort of both good and bad. Our current shifting political priorities will be not be unique in this regard. I’m not unsympathetic to the conversations we had in the 1990s and early 2000s along the lines of ‘aren’t we supposed to care for the poor, and don’t the Democrats do that better?’ But, for all of the progressive thinking that may be good for the Church, and for all the rightly acknowledged nuance there is to the issues, here’s all I’m saying:

45 million abortions since 1973 is an outrageous categorical evil. Low taxes on the rich are not.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The unique loneliness of Christ on the Cross

Jesus isn’t the only person to have ever been martyred, but unlike other martyrs, as he faced his persecutors, He could not inwardly turn to God for strength because God had turned away from Him.
“In 2005, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million in 2000. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions occurred.”

Monday, March 17, 2008

But he answered, ‘It is written, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ (Matt. 4:4)

In what way does man live by the word of God?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Prayer to become an Evangelist

You might remember that a few weeks ago I was soliciting prayer to become an Evangelist. An interesting thing has happened: as I’ve prayed for the gift of evangelism, my desire for it has decreased. I wonder if this is one of two things. Either it’s me losing focus and just going with the inertia of a non-evangelistic life or it’s God saying ‘no that’s not for you right now.’

I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Job in Reno

For those of you in the Reno area, I’ve been offered a job which I plan to take. I’ll be starting on October 1 of this year. So, I’ll see you then!

I’m really excited about this, as it’s been a long-term desire on my part to get back to Reno. It’s taken quite a bit longer than I’d envisioned, and I haven’t lived in Reno full-time for six years. So, I’m really happy to be heading home.

However, I also want to recognize that my wife is making a huge sacrifice by accompanying me. She’s not from Reno, and for the past year we’ve been living in her hometown, where she’s been able to be with her family and also at her ideal job. So, I’m deeply thankful to her for sacrificing all of this.

It’s kind of a bitter-sweet thing because of this.

Nevertheless, I can’t wait to get back to seeing all you Reno-ites soon.
Sixth Week of Lent - March 9 – March 15

It is finished (John 19:30).

Our salvation is finished on the cross. Our actions can’t add to or subtract from what Jesus did there. Because of this, we have peace with God. And we can experience this peace by really believing that our salvation is a finished work.

There is a beautiful double meaning to these words because they could have been words of defeat, with Jesus at the end of his ministry, on the brink of death. “He’s finished,” is often a term used to describe a person vanquished. But this is the way of Christ, that apparent defeat is actually victory, that weakness is actually strength. At the moment when Jesus was “finished” here on earth, a crucified criminal, an apparently failed revolutionary, in fact, He was overthrowing the kingdom of darkness in an action of unspeakable power.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"Mr. Bush’s greatest single accomplishment is that his AIDS program in Africa is saving millions of lives."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blogging Lent:

I thirst (John 19:28).

The context of this is interesting, because the passage notes that once Jesus knew that everything was accomplished, he said “I thirst.” It’s the cruciform equivalent of a cold drink after a hard day’s work, and in this it reminds me of the Creation account: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2).

In the creation account, God worked to create the heavens and the earth. In the Gospels, Jesus worked to redeem human beings.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

30 Hour Famine

I just completed doing the 30 Hour Famine with the church youth group. At the outset, I scoffed at something the youth director said, and I knew God was going to convict me about it. The guy said ‘as we fast, we let God be our strength and sustenance because we know we can’t fast for 30 hours alone.’ I laughed in my head, thinking ‘of course I can fast on my own for 30 hours.’ I really didn’t mean to have that thought, but there it was, and I just knew somehow God wasn’t going to let me slide on that one.

Well, about 13 hours later, I’m asleep, and it’s about 1 or 2 a.m., and suddenly I was just seized with unbelievable hunger pain, to the point I was just going to sneak to the refrigerator and eat because I didn’t even care about the fast. But then, half-asleep, I remembered the youth director’s admonition to turn to God and ask Him to satisfy me when I got hungry, and so I did, confessing to God that, in fact, I couldn’t do this fast on my own and that I needed his strength to do it. And then the hunger pains went away, and I made it through the rest of my fast, knowing once again that God’s main message to me at this point is that “apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Monkey on my back; devil on my shoulder

In The Great Divorce, one character is portrayed as being kept from heaven by his own bitterness. A woman sent to him almost convinces him to release his petty pride, to forget the slights and arrows of life, so that he can embrace peace and redemption. But every time he almost allows himself to be won over by this woman, this begrudging, resentful voice always calls him back to the darkness.

Unfortunately, I find that I identify too much with this angry character. A spirit of criticism and pride linger around me like a cloud of pollution. God’s grace beckons me to be graceful, and sometimes my better angels win the day (and I trust that ultimately they will fully have the victory); but so often I find this darker, angry voice persuades me and coaxes me instead. I’m drawn into criticizing and attacking, biting and cutting. My life brings me face-to-face with this regularly. My job is practically to be critical and argumentative. My vanity suggests to me that this is an important part of who I am. Even blogging presents a constant temptation to air my grievances.

Encountering God is my only hope. Often in prayer, I have this imagery of my heart being like a tomb, full of darkness and the stench of death, and then God opens the door and lets the fresh wind of his Spirit and the cleansing light of His holiness purify the crypt. Meeting God also humbles me, because in His presence, I can see my critical nature is damnable filth at best, both compared to God’s immeasurably superior judgment as well as the grace by which He has made my own failures null and void, replacing them with his own tender righteousness.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

I’ve heard this verse described two ways: 1) Jesus’ feeling of abandonment at his lowest point in perhaps his entire existence; 2) God had in fact “turned his back” on Jesus, because at that moment Jesus had “become sin” (2 Cor. 5:21) and was suffering the punishment for human beings’ sin---separation from God---which many Christians consider to be the defining aspect of Hell.

It seems that both of these are right, the first dealing more with Jesus’ human experience, the second dealing with the sotereological (theological study of salvation) nature of Jesus’ being on the cross, which, in fact, probably caused Jesus far more profound suffering than the already cruel, physical being nailed to a cross.

As for the first, Jesus’ example constantly dignifies humanity. In response to the atrocity of His being nailed to the cross, Jesus is not a stoic, trying to distance himself from suffering. He cries out in anguish at what is happening to Him. In this, God dignifies human suffering and outcry as an appropriate response to evil in the world.

As for the second aspect, Jesus’ separation from God, it makes me think of the hymn’s chorus “Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus.” It’s an unsearchable horror to consider separation from God, and when this happened to Jesus, the closest analogy I can think of is that it must have been to Him like losing his mind or soul. I’m speaking loosely, of course, but can you imagine that, God losing his soul? For anyone who has ever felt their soul in peril, there is nothing more terrifying. To consider that the Son of God underwent this is beyond comprehension, except to know it must have been the ultimate pain, terror, and horror. But, He did it, endured it, and He did so because of His love for us. He volunteered for this superlative pain so that we wouldn’t have to experience the same, because He knew that in his divinity, He could pay the penalty, endure God’s wrath, and that we could not. He did this for love for you and for me.

Friday, February 22, 2008


I just noticed that the Lord’s prayer has only two commands. Implicitly, we’re commanded to pray it. Explicitly, it tells us to forgive our “debtors” or “those who have trespassed against us.” The rest of the prayer mostly asks God to do things.

It seems to me more and more that the Christian faith is by-and-large about what God does and only minimally about what we do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blogging Lent

Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27).

This saying of Jesus from the cross seems to emphasize his humanity, which also has the effect of validating our own.

On the brink of death, Jesus’ thought turn to who will care for his mother. He shows Himself to be a good son, and for a good son this is a natural concern. It’s interesting to compare this statement with another thing He said: "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his … mother … he cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:26. Hopefully the juxtaposition of these two verses shows conclusively that Jesus was prone to using hyperbolic figures of speech and didn’t hate his mother, and doesn’t expect others to hate theirs either.

Further, Jesus chose a specific person to care for her. This shows that Jesus and John possessed a unique relationship, as all humans possess unique relationships. In other words, it’s okay that you get along with one person particularly well, or select one person for a special job over another. Sometimes I think we take more abstract sayings of Jesus and think we need to overcome our humanity to become godly. In some cases this is obviously true, but Jesus’ caring for his mother on the cross and asking John to take care of her also shows God dignifying much of basic human experience.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blogging Lent:

“Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Right now I’m struck by how resistant I am to thinking much about paradise. It seems so uncouth and fundamentalist.

But, it occurs to me I should start thinking more about paradise and being happy about it. Really happy about it. I realize I maintain a measured tone and aloof attitude about paradise because I don’t want to seem nutty over this pie in the sky (I mean, if you think what Obama is promising sounds unrealistic, let me tell you about Jesus promises), and I don’t want to scare off the skeptics. Maybe I’m not even that concerned about scaring off the skeptics as I am having them think I’m a nutty fundamentalist.

But, in reality, I don’t think I’m going to win them to the truth by acting like I don’t believe in paradise. Mostly, this won’t win them; but even if it did, it wouldn’t be to the truth. Because Jesus’ truth involves being with him in paradise.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blogging Lent

Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).

1. I’ve always asked “too many” questions. This verse was the source of my earliest question I can remember. I was six years old, attending a Presbyterian church with my mom. Presbyterians say that Christ “descended into hell for three days,” so I asked the pastor “then, how could Jesus tell the thief that he would see him that day in paradise.” The pastor’s answer was something like “kids ask the best questions!”

I still don’t know the answer to this question, but I’m not committed to the notion of Jesus going to Hades.

2. This word “paradise” makes me feel both joyful and foolish. Joyful because this world hurts, and I'd like to go somewhere that doesn't. Foolish because it must be this kind of talk that led Karl Marx to declare that religion was the opiate of the masses. And yet it does speak to one of the greatest human longings, to be free from this world and its cruel constraints. I guess I ask, “so what’s the evidence that this paradise exists?” For me, the primary evidence is Jesus, both in the plausibility (particularly versus any other explanation of His life) of the Gospel accounts of his life, death, and resurrection being true, as well as my personal experience with Him in my life. He’s with me; I interact with Him; I would be lying if I said otherwise.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Soliciting prayers...

If you'd be willing to offer up a prayer for me, I'm asking God to make me an evangelist. Not a stadium tour type, just someone who consistently goes to people and makes the plea of the Gospel. I've never done this well, and I feel a deep internal blockage to speaking up.

The catalyst for this prayer was last night at the youth group I volunteer at, we were informed one of the girl's father has an untreatable form of cancer. Further, none of the girl's family, apparently, knows Christ. We all prayed ... but I've prayed for the sick before, which is fine ... but I wondered, 'why doesn't someone stand up and say, let's go visit this guy and tell him about the Gospel?' No one did, and I'm praying that God would make me into someone who would do that.

I don't believe people are primarily responsible--at all-- for bringing about in others faith in Christ. But, I do know that Paul said "How will they hear the Gospel if no one tells them?" Currently, my conscience rests very uneasily on my record of having not been someone who makes a real effort to tell people the Gospel.

So, your prayers are appreciated. And discussion of this topic is welcome too.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Father forgive them...

Sometimes we wonder if we've finally sinned in such a way that God is just done with us, won't love us the same, won't bless us the same, won't be in relationship with us the same way ever again.

But it's hard to imagine that you could do anything worse than nailing Jesus to the Cross. And yet when that happened to Him, His heart was set on forgiveness of those committing the sin.

His lovingkindness endures forever; praise Him.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Blogging Lent

I’m going to be joining some friends in a blogging project for Lent. (see and The goal is to reflect on the words Jesus said from the Cross. This week’s saying is “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

1. This saying is so right…until I try it myself. When someone wrongs me, my first thought is usually to curse them. I’ve noticed that virtue always looks great on others, but for some reason we don’t like to wear it ourselves. I think, here, about the beauty of Jesus praying this prayer for his persecutors.

2. I always wonder whether this prayer actually worked. Does praying for God to forgive someone have any power to bring God’s forgiveness about?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Amazing to see a NY Times columnist praising Evangelicals:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I have three political principals, which I think are arguably “Christian” but can also be translated into secular speak:

I believe in Natural Law, that is, that people have intuitive access to the true nature of right and wrong, and our laws and policies should be shaped by this intuition about this Law.

I believe the positive law (the laws actually written down by our legislatures and judges) is a teacher and shapes the souls of people, leading them toward what is good and bad, right and wrong, and so the law should be made with it's teaching role in mind.

I believe coercive force should be used in the restraining evil and protecting the innocent.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Lord’s role and ours

This set of verses confused me a bit, although it appears to revolve around the typical scriptural paradox of our role vs. God's:

Proverb 10:4: “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.”

Psalm 127:1-2: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”

One seems to emphasize the role of human effort; the other seems to minimize it.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on reconciling these verses.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Gospel about Sin and Death

We have escaped like a bird
out of the fowler's snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.

(Psalm 124:7)

This verse captures what I believe the Gospel says about sin, death, and us. Not only have we escaped, but the “snare” is broken, so we can’t get back into it again.

Also, I love that the Gospel can be found in the Hebrew scriptures.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Emerging" versus "Emergent"

Although some emergent thinkers such as Brian McLaren and many Evangelical scholars such as D. A. Carson use "emerging" and "emergent" as synonyms, a large number of participants in the emerging church movement maintain a distinction between them. "Emergent" is sometimes more closely associated with Emergent Village. Those participants in the movement who assert this distinction believe "emergents" and "emergent village" to be a part of the emerging church movement but prefer to use the term "emerging church" to refer to the movement as a whole while using the term "emergent" in a more limited way, referring to Brian McLaren and emergent village. Many of those within the emerging church movement who do not closely identify with emergent village tend to avoid that organization's interest in radical theological reformulation and focus more on new ways of "doing church" and expressing their spirituality. Mark Driscoll, an early leader associated with the emerging church conversation, now distances himself from the "emergent thread." In a short video clip, he summarizes some of his concerns. Some observers consider the "emergent stream" to be one major part within the larger emerging church movement. This may be attributed to the stronger voice of the 'emergent' stream found in the US which contrasts the more subtle and diverse development of the movement in the UK, Australia and New Zealand over a longer period of time. As a result of the above factors, the use of correct vocabulary to describe a given participant in this movement can occasionally be awkward, confusing, or controversial.

-- In the mid-1990s I was part of what is now known as the Emerging Church and spent some time traveling the country to speak on the emerging church in the emerging culture on a team put together by Leadership Network called the Young Leader Network. But, I eventually had to distance myself from the Emergent stream of the network because friends like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt began pushing a theological agenda that greatly troubled me. Examples include referring to God as a chick, questioning God's sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, denial of the substitutionary atonement at the cross, a low view of Scripture, and denial of hell which is one hell of a mistake. -- Mark Driscoll[8]

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sen. Obama, for U.S. Poet Laureate

I’m concerned Obama has ceded too much ground in his recent description of his idea of being president as “one who has vision, not one who manages the bureaucracy.” Last night, Sen. Clinton saw this opening and said, ‘no, you need someone to run the gov’t, and that’s me.’ Obama then talked about how he’s not that organized, and can’t find all his papers, but he has good people who do that for him. But this just made him sound like the absent minded professor – brilliant, sure, but competent to run the country – he’s not competent to find his check book! It concerns me for his campaign, and it even concerns me a little bit as to whether he’s actually “ready,” in Clinton’s terms.

He needs to reassert his competence to run the show, not just “inspire people.” If I’d been him, I’d have said, “Hillary would make a great manager, and when I’m President, I’ll certainly appoint her to my cabinet.”

If I were Hillary, I would have promised that when I’m president, I’ll make Barack the U.S. Poet Laureate.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

News Flash: Libertarians sane, interesting, ZC says

It occurs to me, assisted by the e-mail of a friend, that calling Libertarians insane or boring was unnecessary and unedifying. I could have more graciously and accurately said, ‘I disagree with some of the premises held by Libertarians,’ which would have conveyed everything I wanted without needlessly insulting people.

So, for that failing, forgive me.

It also occurs to me that social and political debate has a tendency to turn a bit nasty in a way that makes me wonder if it’s right and meet for one trying to practice the Golden Rule to engage in the sport.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is God cursing you for something bad you did?

In Genesis 42, Jacob’s sons have traveled to Egypt to purchase grain. They encounter Joseph who is now Pharaoh’s chief administrator, though they don’t know it’s him. Joseph sends them back with grain, but also returns their money to their sacks that they had given him as a purchase price. When the brothers discover this they’re aghast:

“What is this God has done to us?” (v. 28)

This is funny because Joseph did it, not God. But the brothers assume God is punishing them for having sold Joseph into slavery. Joseph later clarifies that God’s purpose in the whole affair was to save Egypt from starvation during the famine.

Isn’t this how we often react? Something negative happens, and we think ‘God is cursing us … probably for that bad thing we did,’ when in reality God is actually working for salvation.

It doesn’t appear that Joseph’s brothers are every punished by God for what they did to Joseph.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Libertarianism is either boring or insane

A decent synopsis of the Libertarian position is that you should be free to do whatever you want, so long as your freedom doesn’t impinge on the freedom of others.

This notion is used to explain why as many laws as possible should be abolished, drug laws are a typical example. Libs contrast themselves against people who want government to do more regulating of our lives.

Libertarians are okay with minimal government basically to maintain some basic infrastructure, military, and boundaries between your freedom impinging upon mine – but this is exactly why their position is non-sense.

They claim that the difference between themselves and other parties is that they want to free people from the strictures of unnecessary laws. But no one believes in implementing superfluous laws. The question among reasonable people is how much regulation is necessary, and most Libs agree some regulation is necessary. So most of them are not saying anything very interesting, theoretically. They're just Republicans; they're not a Revolution.

The only actual position a Libertarian could hold that would be theoretically interesting or meaningfully different than a Republican or Democrat would be if he proposed we abolish all laws, that is, we implement anarchy. And, that would be crazy.

Libertarianism has the speciousness of conspiracy theory. And like conspiracy theory, it’s ultimately either crazy for what it actually thinks or tedious for thinking it’s saying something interesting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Emergent Church:

I have yet to see anything compelling from it.

At best, I've just seen youthful evangelicalism.

At worst, I've seen it revel in post-modernism to the point of heresy.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Obama vs. McCain

To me these are the two candidates I’d most like to see become president, but I’m torn over who I’d prefer if it came down to the two of them in the general.

I’ve liked Obama for a long time, and I’ve even given him money, which is something I’ve never done for any pol before. Basically, I just like his personality, and I honestly could imagine him making a huge difference to the U.S. political scene and to the world. But, I don’t really love any of his policy positions—and I hate one of them, namely ‘pro-choice.’ This may sound lofty, but I could actually imagine him creating a political scene where it was more possible for our nation to become pro-life just by putting an end to the hard-core partisanship that we’ve currently got.

Meanwhile, you can’t help but respect John McCain for his history of service and independence. If there’s one thing you could do to fix U.S. politics, it would be campaign finance reform, and he’s been a leader on this front for a long time. Further, he’s anti-Roe v. Wade. Conservatives made a major and costly investment in the Bush Administration, and the only really good thing to come out of it was getting a few judges on the Supreme Court who might overrule Roe. But if we stop short now, it won’t happen—and we’re actually pretty close. A McCain presidency just might do it. And another issue is Iraq: I’m in the Colin Powell camp here, “you break it, you buy it.” And we definitely broke it, but now we’re actually making progress fixing it because of the Surge. McCain is a candidate, despite tremendous popular opposition (which speaks to his courage and character), who has committed to seeing through what we started in Iraq. I didn’t agree with going into Iraq, but since we did I think it’s our responsibility to stick it out.

So, I have a lot more concrete reasons to vote for McCain – but I really, really want to see an Obama presidency.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Questions that science cannot answer:

What is the meaning of life?

What is my purpose as a human being?

What is the difference between right and wrong?

Are genocide, slavery, and adultery wrong?
Interview with Sen. Obama

This morning I caught a bit of an interview with Sen. Obama. He briefly discussed what he prays each night and said that he asks ‘for the safety of his family, the forgiveness for his screw-ups, and that he be an instrument of God’s will.’

Good prayers, I think.

He elaborated a bit about praying to be used by God saying 'you've got to have a bit of megalomania to think you should be the president of the United States. But, still, it's got to be about more than you ... a bigger purpose.'

I really like this level of self-awareness and vision that he has.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I’m continuing to focus on God’s role in bringing about my spiritual development, as opposed to my own effort. I used to say “God has done his part, so I need to do mine.” I don’t think this was exactly wrong, but I think it may have caused me to miss how much it’s really about God’s actions primarily.

Here’s a portion of Psalm 119 that really emphasizes God as the effecient cause of our spiritual advancement:

33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.
35Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
36Incline my heart to Your testimonies
And not to dishonest gain.
37Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.
38Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.
39Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.
40Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.