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.