“This research may help to explain how evangelicals are often targeted for claims of hypocrisy; the unique ‘sin’ of evangelicals tends to be doing the ‘right’ thing but with improper motives,” says Barna Group president David Kinnaman.
Do you remember the merry-go-round? I loved those when I was a kid. Round and round and round. Awesome. Apparently, they were unsafe, and today’s safety Nazi’s determined that we’d had enough broken arms. I think we were tougher back in the 80’s.
Anyway, you remember spinning around faster and faster? There was always that moment you wanted to get off the thing, but it was a risky move. You jump, and you might get hurt. Of course, if you quit playing the game, it slowed down the spin, and everyone else got mad at you for messing up the ride. I always thought the guy doing the pushing seemed to be having the most fun. Continue reading
(Now that I’m an out of the closet Ancient-Futurist, it’s time to explore this topic a little more. Let me say that I don’t claim to be an expert, but I have studied this stuff, and have worked as a full-time pastor for almost 9 years. So, I think I’m at least a little qualified to think and talk about these things. So, here we go…)
Ok kids, I want to introduce you to the neighborhood bully. His name is Zeitgeist, but we call him Big Z. Zeitgeist (spirit of the age or spirit of the time) is the intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies and influences the culture of a particular period in time (thanks Wikipedia). Why is Big Z important? Well, he’s all around us whether or not we are fully aware of him. We are influenced by him as was every generation before us. Big Z has an uncanny knack for making us think and act in certain ways without us realizing that we are in fact being controlled by the thoughts and feelings of someone else. Studying history allows us to see Big Z at work. His work is not always positive, though it certainly isn’t always bad. Today, we want to look at some of the negative aspects of his handiwork.
Big Z is a bully. He’ll push you around, and call you names. He’ll call you a traitor to the cause, unpatriotic, authoritarian, ignorant, naïve, uneducated, bigoted, close-minded, and irrelevant. Whatever it takes to make the Church submit. Sometimes, Big Z acts like a tsunami that swallows everything in its path. Sometimes he acts like a slow boil. You’re the frog that doesn’t know he’s being cooked until it’s too late. “Submit or die,” is the message, but what Big Z doesn’t tell you is that if you submit, you will inevitably die. Continue reading
I have a confession to make. In fact, I’ve needed to make this confession for some time, but the timing has never felt right. However, a few Sundays ago, the adult Sunday class that I teach (and of whom I am really fond) had an interesting conversation about worship, and about some of the adjustments we’ve made to our worship service over the last couple of years. Some of the adjustments have been subtle, and some have been obvious, but at this point they are all noticeable.
I have many thoughts on the subject, but I’ve resisted putting too many specifics of my changing views on this blog because, as a pastor, my perspective is not simply my perspective. My views and beliefs have consequences for a wider range of people other than myself and my family. Since the topic is now (relatively) out in the open within my church, I feel like now is a good time to lay some cards on the table. I’m glad to do so, because this is the stuff I’ve really wanted to talk about on this blog, but have felt the need to keep it largely to myself.
I have become what Robert Webber has called an Ancient-Future (AF) Christian. An AF is a generic evangelical like myself who has discovered the ancient worship and devotional practice and patterns of the Church, and has determined that the path to meeting the challenges of the future lies through the past. I have come to fully embrace the idea that if Evangelicalism is going to survive the combined onslaught of postmodernism, secularism, and consumerism, we must retrace our steps and figure out where our movement went off track.
I’ve alway been fascinated by conversion stories, particularly those stories from atheists who discover faith in Christ.
Yesterday, Laura, the blogger at Enough Light recounted the salvation story of a woman she met in a seminary class. This woman is a highly educated physicist from China. She was an atheist before coming to the United States.
Hers is a really interesting story about coming to America and meeting Christians for the first time. Her story reminds us too how some of the things we do in church are perfectly normal to us, and not really harmful, but are often interpreted in all sorts of ways given a person’s background.
Bible study sessions were difficult ones for me to go through. The format of the study and the personal application discussions reminded me so much about the political study sessions I had in China. These political study sessions were mandatory, and were held weekly for many years in China. The materials for study were prepared by local communist unit, and everybody had to state how he or she was going to apply what was studied to his or her daily life.
Take a few minutes to check it out.
I went to seminary with several Anglicans. It happens that about 30% of the students of my seminary identify themselves as Anglican. In recent months I’ve become acquainted with some Anglican priests who are part of the breakaway Anglican Church of North America (ACNA). I’ve been paying attention to the Episcopal Church (TEC) for several years, and lately there has been a lot of buzz about recent developments within the denomination. In my opinion, the TEC is dying, and the future of Anglicanism in America will be with the historically orthodox ACNA.
3 Lessons from Crisis and Decline in the Mainline – The Gospel Coalition Blog. from Timothy George.
Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved? from Ross Douthet.
I’m all for ministry to men, and teaching men to be Christian husbands, fathers, and leaders. However, the “masculine Christianity” movement uses culture bound stereotypes and tries to make these out to be Christian principles. This will come back to hurt Evangelicalism.
Chaplain Mike over at the Internet Monk has a good post discussing some of the issues.
As a follow up to my post about good reasons to leave a church, I wanted to talk about bad reasons to leave a church. Please note that none of the examples I mention here are reflective of any particular person in the church where I serve. I have been in churches all my life, and been working in churches since 1996. Only 7 of those years have been in my current location. I have anecdotes from lots of previous ministry experiences.
So here goes…
For a couple of weeks, I’ve been promising a post on civil religion, and its ramifications for Christianity in America. This is a big topic with several angles from which it can be examined. For this post, I want to give the term civil religion a definition, give a little history, and show some of the negative consequences of civil religion as it relates to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is the last in a series of longer posts concerning modern worship as spiritual Baalism. I’ve written my understanding that much of the problem can be traced to the revivalism and democratized Christianity that appeared at the founding of the United States. I could be wrong in my read on things, but I’ve been looking at this for a while, so I’m fairly confident in my assessment. With that said, I wanted to complete this series in a positive way with explanation of some of the elements of worship that can be used by Evangelicals even if they are of a more “contemporary” bent.