Follower of The Way


Josh Harris on “Gospel Unity Among Educational “Camps””

Posted in Christ and Culture by sosipater on May 3, 2008

Here is a link to Josh Harris’ blog where he speaks to his church, Covenant Life Church, pastorally, on heart issues when it comes to each others choice of educational options for our children.

Josh Harris on “Gospel Unity Among Educational “Camps”

Which Kingdom Are You Advancing?

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Government & Politics by sosipater on May 3, 2008

Conservative religious people involved in kingdom-of-the-world thinking often believe that their enemies are the liberals, the gay activists, the ACLU, the pro-choice advocates, the evolutionists, and so on. On the opposite side, liberal religious people often thing that their enemies are the fundamentalists, the gay bashers, the Christian Coalition, the antiabortionists, and so on. Demonizing one’s enemies is part of the tit-for-tat game of Babylon, for only by doing so can we justify our animosity, if not violence, toward them. What we have here are two different religious versions of the kingdom of the world going at each other. If we were thinking along the lines of the kingdom of God, however, we would realize that none of the people mentioned in the above lists are people whom kingdom-of-God citizens are called to fight for.

Our battle is “not against flesh and blood”, whether they are right wing or left wing, gay or straight, pro-choice or pro-life, liberal or conservative, democratic or communist, American or Iraqi. Our battle is against the “cosmic powers” that hold these people, and all people, in bondage. Whatever our opinions about how the kingdom of the world should run, whatever political or ethical views we may happen to embrace, our one task of kingdom-of-God disciples is to fight for people, and the way we do it is by doing exactly what Jesus did. He defeated the cosmic powers of darkness by living a countercultural life characterized by outrageous love and by laying down his life for his enemies. So too, we contribute to the demise of the “power over” principalities that hold people in bondage when we refrain from judgment of others and rather extend grace to them, when we let go of anger toward others and instead “come under” them in loving service.

A person may win by kingdom-of-the-world standards but lose by the standards that eternally count-the standards of the kingdom of God. We can posses all the right kingdom-of-the-world opinions on the planet and stand for all the right kingdom-of-the-world causes, but if we don’t look like Jesus Christ carrying his cross to Golgotha-sacrificing our time, energy, and resources for others-our rightness is merely religious noise. Jesus taught that there will be many who seem to believe the right things and do religious deeds in his name whom He will renounce, for they didn’t love him by loving the homeless, the hungry, the poor, and the prisoner (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:41-46; cf. Luck 6:46-49). However right we may be, without love we are simply displaying a religious version of the world, not the Kingdom of God. – Author Anonymous (for now).

I am going to let the author of the above quote from a book I am reading remain anonymous for now. If you know the answer, feel free to guess. I may give you a prize, or a copy of the book if you want it. The author up to this point has decribed what he sees as the differences between the Kingdom of God, which Jesus initiated at his first coming, and the kingdom of the world, which is ruled primarily by the forces of evil and is characterized by the exact opposite traits as God’s kingdom. It has been an interesting read and I am looking forward to finishing.

More to come.

How to engage in politics without losing your soul

Posted in Christ and Culture,Government & Politics by sosipater on April 7, 2008

Let me be honest.  Most things I see and read by Christians on politics I find to be tragically bad, especially these days.  I have strong interests in both so this is rather depressing for me, but I just read a great list and want to pass it on.

How to engage in politics without losing your soul. I think each point would be worth a complete post but I probably won’t get around to it.  Hope you enjoy it.

7 Characteristics of an Ingrown Church

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on March 28, 2008

7 Characteristics of an Ingrown Church.

Via Joe Thorn.net

FYI – Being ingrown is neither good nor healthy.

Kim Riddlebarger on Presidential Politics

Posted in Christ and Culture,Government & Politics by sosipater on January 8, 2008

Riddleblog has a good post about Governor Mike Huckabee and Presidential Politics.  The more I think and get involved with politics the more I am drawn to the two Kingdom approach, though that is not an endorsement by me.  But it does seem to protect the integrity of The Gospel and The Church better than the other Reformed view, whatever you want to call it.  Check out the post and as always if interested comment away.

Rebuilding Lakeshore: ARBCA Style

Posted in Christ and Culture,Miscellaneous by sosipater on January 7, 2008

Hey everybody. Things have been very slow here at Follower of The Way and for that I apologize. Other things have been taking up my time but I hope to be offering some major changes to this blog over the next year. Keep checking in to find out what will be going on.

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season and my prayer is that everyone reading this blog will have a great year in 2008.

Some of my brothers and sisters in Christ have started this year out with a bang! Yesterday almost 30 members of my church left to go to Gulfport, Mississippi for a trip that will hopefully change lives. They have teamed up with several churches from our association, ARBCA, and are serving the needs there of people who lost homes in hurricane Katrina.

My friend Nick, our Pastor to Students, will be compiling reports from this trip and you can read all about it at the official web site of this trip at ARBCA in Lakeshore.

I hope you can check in and offer up prayers for all of the team members and residents who will be working together for the Glory of God to serve their neighbors in Mississippi.

War

Posted in Christ and Culture,Government & Politics,History by sosipater on December 12, 2007

battle-dead.jpg

War. Are there always wars and rumors of wars? Hasn’t war been in our nature since Adam and Eve sinned those many, many years ago. Think back to your history classes. What seems to be a common thread in them all? War.

Now in 2007 war is just as prevalent as always. The U.S.A. is engaged in a “war”. So how are Christians to think about war in general, and this specific war in Iraq?

Well, to help us think about this, I want to pass along a 15+ year old interview that based on the content could have been recorded yesterday. My friend BJ brought to my attention this interview with the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen conducted back during the first Iraq War. Dr. Bahnsen is known for his grasp of philosophy and apologetics, but to me he hits the ball out of the park in this interview. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Peacefully yours.

Redemption as Drama

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on November 24, 2007

Drama. The word brings a few meanings to mind. To the youth culture a person or relationship that is defined by emotional instability or overreaction can generally be referred to as drama. We are all familiar with the term drama queen for someone who reflects this behavior. My wife and I on occasion have referred to our 1 year old daughter as a “drama queen” for her inconsolable outbursts when one of us takes the incorrect spot on her bed to lay down with her. And finally for the purpose of this endeavor, drama is the word we use for stories that touch us on deep levels and have mature and thoughtful themes and plotlines, sometimes even of epic proportions. Movies that have these characteristics are referred to as dramas.

Dramas can be found in all genres. I remember my first taste of drama as a 7 year old. It started when Darth Vader’s Super Destroyer was relentlessly pursuing Princess Leia’s starship over the desert planet Tatooine. Yes, it was Star Wars the epic science fiction fantasy story that tells the tale of heroes, heroines, and really bad guys a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

But was that really my first taste of a grand story that grabbed my imagination and my attention and uplifted my soul in a way that left me longing for more? No, on second thought I remember a much grander, much more robust, much more meaningful, and much truer story than the one I saw on the big screen that day.

I remember reading and hearing this long before I saw Star Wars. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:1, 31). This story didn’t end there though. “The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15) This story didn’t waste a lot of time setting the stage for the bad thing that happens in the beginning! Talk about drama, what in the world would the human race do? How could Adam and Eve do that? What were they thinking? And who is this one who will bruise the head of the evil serpent? These are cliffhanger questions if I ever saw one.

Now over the course of the next couple of thousand years God, through the writers of the Bible, spun a most excellent tale of towers, floods, kings, armies, battles, love stories, and love letters. All the while, building up to one great moment in storytelling history.

But is the Bible a drama? “When we look a bit more closely at the Bible, we find that the majority of its content is narrative in character. It is a storied revelation. This fact suggests that the unifying, insight-producing feature that gives the Bible its coherence as revelation is the story it tells. Indeed, the Bible as a whole is best understood as a story or drama. To be sure the Bible does more than tell a story. Scripture includes psalms and proverbs, songs and prayers, moral instruction and doctrinal reflection. But what holds all of it together, what makes it a unified revelation is the storyline, what theologians often call the drama of redemption. The nonnarrative pieces fit into and make sense only within their appropriate contexts in the biblical storyline” (“Far as the Curse is Found” by Michael D. Williams, Pg x).

And who is the Luke Skywalker, or Indiana Jones, or Optimus Prime of this grand story? The central figure of the Bible who holds the whole thing together and who every verse speaks about is none other than our own high priest and savior Jesus Christ. “Biblical religion holds that the central event in all human history was the execution of a wandering first-century Palestinian preacher and his rising from the dead two days later in fulfillment of God’s covenant promises. This is the Gospel…What was promised to Adam and Eve in the midst of their guilt and shame, what was prefigured over and over again throughout the Old Testament story of Israel…came to pass in a Judean backwater town where God “became flesh and made his dwelling with us””. (“Ibid, Pg. xiii)

So the next time you read your Bible, remember that the story is true and that it finds its fulfillment in Christ. This is why you are drawn to stories, because the very God who made you is the most excellent storyteller in existence. And the next time you are entranced by a drama or story, you don’t have to wonder why. It is because you are already part of the greatest story ever told. If you know and follow Jesus and have turned to him for salvation, then you are a central character in this great redemption story. You have been “grafted” into this never ending, eternal story of redemption and not as a mere extra, but a co-heir with Christ, the lead character, and will benefit from His gracious extension of his mercy. And if you don’t know Him and have refused his call, then you still have the opportunity to enter His story, but time is indeed running out. Your very love for the drama in life bears out this very fact.

Continuing Toward a Biblical Theology of Political Engagement

Posted in Christ and Culture,Government & Politics by sosipater on November 13, 2007

Unless you have been under a rock you know that the Presidential Campaign here in the U.S. is in premature full swing. For the Christian who wants to honor Christ, this may bring about the unsavory idea of delving into a media induced coma in order to gain some sort of understanding of the issues and the candidates.

And for some of us, it makes us once again start thinking about the proper role that politics should play in a full orbed, 21st century, Americanized, Christian concept of faith and politics. And that my friends, isn’t always easy.

Some of you may know where my political bent is. I have definitely seen a shift politically over the last few months, from a card carrying neoconservative to what I guess could be called a paleoconservative, or perhaps a classical liberal (not to be confused with modern day leftest liberalism-see link for definition.)

But above political ideology, for the Christian, our faith and our worldview must must reign philosophically supreme. We should not necessarily do politics like everyone else, though common grace sometimes goes a long way in providing capable and just administrations of government. I have brought up the subject before of the politicization of sinful behavior and the detriment I think it can have on not only our Christian witness, but on our very souls. I see this in the bigoted and hateful way we as Christian can speak about those who are our neighbors that we are commanded to love, but we find that difficult when trying to force them to bend to our political wills. I see the inconsistencies of the pro-life movement that doesn’t seem to care about life that has already been born and living in the middle east. And fundamentally, at least in this country, I see Christians politically equate the United States with, well take your pick, either Old Testament Israel, New Testament Israel, or the New Jerusalem (that shining city on a hill).

It is with those thoughts going through my head that I commend an excellent article to you. “Add, don’t Subtract” by Marvin Olasky of World Magazine is a great read. It is a little long by internet standards, but well worth it in my opinion. I don’t agree with everything in it or his somewhat narrow focus (that being “what Christian conservatives should do”), but overall I think it is a great primer on thinking through U.S. politics and little more Biblically balanced.

I’m opening myself up here, but I would REALLY like to know what you think of the article. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite.

The future of American conservatism depends on the ability of libertarians to understand that liberty without virtue cannot last, and the ability of Christian conservatives to understand that being strong and courageous does not mean demanding ideological purity. Both parts of the coalition need to follow the Reagan practice of reasoning politely and patiently with those who disagree, giving in on secondary matters, and searching for common ground. Both parts of the coalition may need to sacrifice a little.

My oversimplified advice to American Christian conservatives: Be New Testament, not Old Testament. By this I don’t mean that the two parts of revelation are theologically distinct, for as the couplet sums it up, “The New is in the Old contained, the Old is by the New explained.” I am suggesting that the emphasis is different: to generalize enormously, the Old concentrates on subtracting, the New on adding, and the success of the American experiment has hinged on our willingness to add.

The first concerns our culture wars. Year after year Christians have called for boycotts of this or that art exhibition, movie, or television show. For example, in 1999 Christian groups wanted government funding removed from a profane show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art that featured a dung-displaying portrait of the Virgin Mary. The protest led to front-page stories about Christians trying to keep people from viewing art, and to record attendance at the exhibit. It would have been far better to push for a parallel show displaying the work of Christian artists. In 2004 and 2005 we had such parallel shows in the movie theaters: Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (which reaped a rich bonanza in evangelism and ticket sales) and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Both Christian conservatives and libertarians could salute these examples of adding.

Few of my recommended actions would be sufficient for those who demand an Old Testament defense of America as the new holy land, but they’re consistent with the New Testament approach practiced by Paul and others in mixed cultures from Rome to the present: Instead of working fruitlessly to subtract evil from the land, add the good. American conservatism can have a bright future, with God’s grace, if we are strong and courageous in developing positive alternatives to the cultural negativities around us. But if we merely praise our own Christian circles and curse the darkness outside them, we will soon be surrounded by it.

Coram Deo.

UPDATE:  I forgot to give a Tar Heel Finger Point to Justin Taylor’s blog for the assist in bringing this article to my attention.  You can read his post here and for the record, I agree with the 1st comment on his blog.  More government is not the answer to our political problems in this country.  Good comment.

Doug Wilson on Pat Robertson’s Presidential Endorsement

Posted in Christ and Culture,Government & Politics by sosipater on November 7, 2007

Go Doug. I don’t think I could have said it ANY better myself. Though I disagree with Giuliani on not only his pro-choice but on practically every other issue also.

You know what evangelical acumen on cultural and political issues is like? It’s like a cold cup of coffee with a cigarette butt in it. It’s like drinking muddy water. It is like a watercolor left out in the rain. It is demented and twaddlesome. It’s things like this that leave me with that wet horse blanket taste in my mouth.

Truer words have rarely been spoken, though in my opinion this problem is far more rampant than just Pat Robertson.

Engaging Culture

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Imago Dei by sosipater on November 3, 2007

Pastor Joe Thorn has a great article over at his blog on cultural engagement.  Go check it out.  Here’s the intro.

What do people mean when they say “cultural engagement?” That phrase is often spurned as if it means thoughtless syncretism between the church and culture. In my reading it rarely means that. It is certainly not what I mean. I am a fan of that three-fold approach to engaging culture: reject what is evil, receive what is good, and redeem what is broken/lost. I think this is a healthy way of thinking about how we should respond to our culture, because our culture(s) is not one thing. It is made up of hundreds of things, bad and good, that demand our attention. I recently spent some time going over this three-fold approach with the folks at Redeemer, but wanted to emphasize that agreeing that we will need to respond by rejecting, receiving, and redeeming actually requires a lot of us.

Yep, Halloween is a Comin’

Posted in Christ and Culture by sosipater on October 25, 2007

acclaim_images_0041-0709-0607-0603.jpgI think I have had a Halloween post every year I have had this blog, so why stop now. My opinion of this “holiday” has changed somewhat over the last few years. Mainly only that I don’t see this as a clear cut issue. I think there are things about Halloween that must be rejected and some that can be embraced.

This is such a complicated issue though. Things like does anybody really know exactly how it started? Each person seems to have their own well researched opinion. And even if we nail down the origins from eons ago, does anybody do it for that reason now? Does that matter or not? I think it should, at least a little. Even though some of you may disagree, I just don’t think this is such a completely clear cut issue.

What got me to thinking was Tim Challies’ post on Halloween, found here. Tim is likewise referencing an article from Grace to You, John MacArthur’s main clearinghouse ministry. I think both are good articles and I agree with Tim for the most part.

My daughter is not of the trick-or-treating age so this isn’t a huge problem yet. My wife and I chose to let her attend a Church “fall festival” last year and will do that again this year. What I really like about Tim’s article is his focus on using this time as a way to build relationships with his neighbors. I think that is a great idea. I have done the dark house on Halloween night before, but what does that really say to my neighbors? They have no idea why I’m doing that, for all they know I’m out at a Halloween party or something. I’m pretty ashamed that I am not as creative as Tim in reaching out to my neighbors. This is something I need to endeavor, with God’s grace, to be more intentional and less apathetic about.

If anybody has any ideas to build community and get to know neighbors at future Halloweens or other traditional community oriented events and holidays (obviously without compromise), feel free to share them here.

Trick or Treat!

Wednesday Web

Posted in Books,Christ and Culture by sosipater on October 10, 2007
  • Walking Together Blog reviews Carl F. Henry’s “The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism”.
  •  Steve McCoy links to Will Sampson’s post on living in the Suburbs intentionally.  Here is the run down: 
    • 1) Live with others from your church community. 
    • Whether you share your home with another person or family, or whether you have several families that have homes in close proximity or both, sharing life together is perhaps the most powerful (i.e., going against the grain of suburban culture) way to be the body of Christ in suburbia. If you can’t live together, at least find a way to share resources (power tools, lawn mowers, children’s clothes/toys, etc).
    •  2) Work Less!
    •  One of the major powers that enslaves suburbia is the idolization of the career. There are many ways to pay the bills that do not involve a 9-5 job, and even within a 9-5 job, there are ways to work less (turning down promotions, taking unpaid leave, etc.) Working less will free you to serve your church community, your family, your neighbors, etc. It will also spur creativity: finding a solution for working less, finding a way to “make ends meet” financially, etc.
    • 3) Throw out the television.
    • Another (and perhaps larger power) that enslaves suburbia is consumerism. You’ll be amazed at how your desire for things ebbs as you take the TV out of the picture. If you can’t bring yourself to kill the television, at least take steps to lessen its influence (get rid of cable, only use it for movies, put it on a cart that can be wheeled in and out of a closet, etc.) Throwing out the television will also stimulate your creativity.
    • 4) Drive less.
    •   Suburban culture is also enslaved to the automobile. Find ways to loosen those bonds (much more difficult in suburbia than in urban areas). Share a vehicle with others in your church community (much easier if you are doing #1 above). Invest in a good bicycle. Walk. There was a segment on “60 minutes” a few weeks ago about how much we miss when we zip around in automobiles. Walking and/or biking will help you be more attentive to your surroundings
    • 5) Have a garden / grow food. 
    •  Suburban life is often very shut off from the food cycle (Food comes from the grocery store, of course!). Homegrown food is more healthy, it gives you a good excuse to be outside (see #7 below), and it provides you with a resource to share generously with your church community and your neighbors. Phil Kenneson outlines a number of horticultural lessons for the people of God in his intro to LIFE ON THE VINE that are additional benefits of this practice.
    • 6) Get to know your neighbors / listen for their needs. 
    •  To be human is to be poor. Or in other words, everyone has needs. The challenge of suburbia is that there are many more ways to conceal that poverty, and similarly that it will take more effort to get into a position where a neighbor can reveal their needs. Be intentional about building relationships. Share meals, play poker, have block parties, whatever it takes.
    • 7) Be outside as much as possible. 
    •  Another temptation of suburbia – fueled by individualism – is that of the house as an impenetrable fortress. Dissolve this temptation by eating, playing, relaxing outside. This practice is also one avenue to interact with your neighbors.
    • 8) Do not fence in your yard. 
    • All apologies to Robert Frost, but fences do not make good neighbors, and in fact they often keep us from making good human neighbors. This is a corollary to #7, the fence is a major component of the impenetrable fortress syndrome; it protects our privacy and keeps out our “evil” neighbors. It often is a statement of distrust. If you must have a fence (to corral a dog for instance) make it as low and as permeable (i.e., not blocking off the view) as you can get away with.
    • 9) Take a stand against the greed of mega-corporations. 
    • Whenever possible, resist buying from domineering mega-corporations (e.g., Wal-mart, McDonalds, Starbucks, and others). These corporations destroy local economies and have little or no concern for the environment. Buy as much as you can from businesses that are as local as possible (family-owned businesses are preferable to local chains, local chains are preferable to regional chains, and regional chains are preferable to global corporations.)
    • 10) Utilize and support non-commercial public spaces (parks, libraries, colleges, etc.). 
    •  This point is another corollary of #7 above. We must utilize and show our support for these public spaces, lest they be conquered by the powers of individualism (by becoming private property) or by consumerism (by becoming commercial or industrial property). This is also a wonderful way to foster relationships with our neighbors.

Interesting stuff.  I would take some disagreement with number 9, but I understand his point and do think we should support the enterprises of our neighbors, not forgetting a lot of our neighbors work at Wal-Mart and Lowe’s.  And as far as the environment goes, I doubt many companies want to destroy their own property through pollution.  Anyway, I’m degressing big time.  Thoughts?

Latest CT Article on Mark Driscoll

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on September 22, 2007

Collin Hansen of Christianity Today has a new article out about Mark Driscoll titled “Pastor Provocateur”.  I’ve read both of Driscoll’s books but this article has some new things that are interesting.  Among the negative stuff is John MacArthur’s criticism of Driscoll’s cultural sensitivity which Pastor Mac calls his “infatuation with the vulgar aspects of contemporary society”.  Although this is not surprising coming from what I would consider a mild fundatmentalist mindset,  I would still like to know exactly what MacArthur is referencing.  Also MacArthur likes to throw around a lot of guarantees and certaintees these days about things that don’t seem that clear cut.  (re: this and his lecture on eschatology earlier this year)  I think Driscoll makes a good point in that he would gladly sit down and take advice from MacArthur, but the offer was never extended.  That is unfortunate.  Here is the conclusion of the article.

“Fundamentalism is really losing the war, and I think it is in part responsible for the rise of what we know as the more liberal end of the emerging church,” Driscoll says. “Because a lot of what is fueling the left end of the emerging church is fatigue with hardcore fundamentalism that throws rocks at culture. But culture is the house that people live in, and it just seems really mean to keep throwing rocks at somebody’s house.”

Few but Driscoll’s friends come to his defense, because no one else can peg him. That’s fine with Driscoll, so long as his band of acculturated missionaries sticks to their tasks. Hundreds of young ministers planting churches around the world, they understand him. They cut him slack as he searches for the balance between provocative and sensitive.

“You can’t escape your upbringing,” says Darrin Patrick, vice president of Acts 29. “Mark is a street fighter.”

And even the Good Shepherd had to fight off wolves.

Forgotten Henry

Posted in Books,Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Government & Politics,History by sosipater on September 6, 2007

Check out Timmy Brister’s post on Carl Henry here.

Francis Schaeffer and the Pro-Life Movement

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,History by sosipater on September 6, 2007

Reforming Students

Posted in Christ and Culture by sosipater on September 2, 2007

My experience tells me that there is a profound lack of good, solid, theologically reformed, biblically informed, information out there on youth ministry, unless they are saying just get rid of it.  I am sure there are several reasons for that.  I’m also sure I am just missing some things too. 

Because of this situation, I am excited to point you to a new blog by my friend Nick called Reforming Students:  God Centered Student Ministry.  Some are probably thinking, is that even possible?  Well, join the conversation and try and figure it out!

Jason Bourne and the Gospel

Posted in Art,Christ and Culture by sosipater on September 1, 2007

200px-bourneposter.jpgI haven’t written much on the movies I’ve seen lately.  Not because they don’t make me think about life and man’s nature and the Gospel, but because I just haven’t had much time.  Fortunately there are plenty of folks out there who do have the time.  One of those is Mike Metzger of the Clapham Institute.  He offers some good insights on the Jason Bourne trilogy, of which the third installment, The Bourne Ulitimatum, is as excellent as the first two.  Enjoy reading it and bringing the arts under the reflection of the Gospel.

Dangers of being a “Warrior”

Posted in Christ and Culture by sosipater on August 24, 2007

In my GLAAD post a few posts back I unintentionally open a couple of cans when I was initially focused on one.  What I was trying to emphasize was how easy it is to fall in an “us vs. them” mentality when we take on a “culture war” mentality, and that the politicization of certain sins over others does not help in that regard.

In that vain, I wanted to point you to this post over at Between Two Worlds.  It is a good statement and basically the one I was trying to make.  I’m going to quote the whole thing just for ease of reading.

Jack Collins, Science and Faith, pp. 331-332:

It’s pretty common to hear that we’re in a culture war—the traditionalists and the secularists are fighting over who will control the culture. There is a sense in which the image is right: as we will see in the next chapter, there are worldviews that are at odds with each other, and therefore it’s no surprise that we find conflict. The image is a dangerous one, though, because it can lead us to look at everything in combatant terms: people who disagree with us become our enemies, and we have to defeat them. If you are my enemy, and I am a Christian, then—even if you’re a Christian too—you must be morally defective.

Three further dangers follow from this warfare imagery. The first is that we can forget that worldviews involve not just philosophical positions but also moral commitments; and that back behind unbelief there lies a demonic enslaver. As Paul put it in Ephesians 6,

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. . . . 18 [Pray] at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints . . .

There is a spiritual component to this battle; and therefore, all our intellectual efforts must express our faithfulness to Christ and must be bathed in prayer. We must never use the weapons of unbelief—dishonesty, slander, name-calling, and so on. The second danger, related to the first, is that we can forget that the unbeliever is not the person we’re fighting against; rather, he is the person we are fighting for: that is, the purpose of all this is to free people from their slavery to the Devil. The third danger that arises is that we can forget that any Christian—and any Christian church—always has only a partial grasp of a fully Christian worldview; and even those parts that we grasp rightly, we practice only partly. So some of our “warfare” ought to be against our own imperfections!

The warfare image is a biblical one, to be sure; but we will do well to be careful how we use it.

Are Modern Epics Christian?

Posted in Christ and Culture by sosipater on August 23, 2007

In “The Christian Resonances of Moder Epic” at The American Spectator, Hal G.P. Colebatch compares modern movie “epics” such as The Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, and the Harry Potter series with some classic literary works, mainly, Dante’s Divine Comedy and C.S. Lewis’ Preface to Paradise Lost.  He has some interesting things to say about common themes that run throughout each of these works and where these themes may come from.  Here is a snippett:

In each case a crucial reason for the Enemy’s defeat is the hero’s willingness to sacrifice his own life. But another crucial reason is the fact (set out by Boethius in The Consolations of Philosophy just after the end of the Roman Empire in the West) that evil cannot understand good as good can understand evil. Evil cannot understand love and self-sacrifice.

Are You GLAAD?

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology,Government & Politics by sosipater on August 9, 2007

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Are U.S. television networks gay enough? Not yet, but ABC is getting close, according to a gay-rights group.The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has given the Walt Disney Co.-owned network the highest marks of any of the five major broadcast networks in the group’s first-ever report rating depictions of gay, lesbian and transgender characters and issues on prime-time TV.

Move over Neilson ratings, make room for the GLADD rating system.  You can read the whole article here.  This isn’t such a crazy idea, at least from the homosexual person’s point of view.  We Christians do the same thing with TV stations.  The question is, how do we as Christians communicate our disagreement with homosexuality without seeming like hatemongers who want to stone every gay person in sight?

I have been thinking about this and wonder if the politicization of personal sins like homosexuality has really hurt our witness and hurt our ability to love and be salt and light to those who have given into to the sin of homosexuality.  It is so hard to minister to this group of people when we spend all day getting so worked up over banning gay this and banning gay that.  I mean think about it.  Doesn’t that mindset and goal just make you really mad and angry all the time?

Now, I am not necessarily saying it is wrong to want to see sinful actions illegal, but considering the type of government we have, should we allow the government to make this decision for people?  Isn’t it the Churchs’ job to pronounce what is right and wrong for individuals to do in their bedrooms, not the government?  I’m just thinking out loud here.  This is really two major questions.  Number one, how do we hate the sin but love the sinner enough to be salt and light, and two, what are the spheres of responsibility for the church and the government in this issue.  I’m open to hear your ideas on this.

Young Adults Leaving the Church

Posted in Christ and Culture by sosipater on August 9, 2007

Seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 — both evangelical and mainline — who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23, according to the survey by LifeWay Research. And 34% of those said they had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30. That means about one in four Protestant young people have left the church.

 This is a very interesting article on young adults leaving evangelical churches.  Not a new topic, but one we need to continue to think about.  The article can be found at USA Today or here.

Mark Driscoll on “The Good Soldier”

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on July 21, 2007

Anybody out there want to plant a church?  Grab your gun and watch this video first.

Hitchens book a hit

Posted in Books,Christ and Culture by sosipater on June 22, 2007

Hitchens Book Debunking the Deity a Surprise Hit by Jeffery Trachtenberg in the WSJ online.

Any idea why?  Bunch of athiest out there?  Bunch of curious people out there?  Bunch of Christians wanting to know what Hitchens is saying?  Bunch of apologists wanting to debate him?  Mix of all the above?

I found this quote interesting,

“I’m weary of people cramming religion at me,” agrees Duane Kelly, a self-described liberal and retired teacher who lives in Independence, Mo. He says he is reading the book and finds it interesting. “Maybe others feel the same way, and the success of this book is a backlash,” he says.

Wonder why Duane feels this way?  I don’t think Christians should just blow this off as the rantings of a liberal athiest.  Have we done something that makes people react this way?  Sure, the Gospel is offensive, but do we add to it by talking to people in an offensive way.  Do you think Duane knows any Christians who have tried to get to know him in order to show the love of Christ?  Would it have mattered or changed his opinion?  Would he still have picked up Hitchen’s book?  Have Christians, ourselves, fueled the demand for books like this?

Whew…lots of questions. 

Pastors and their family

Posted in Christ and Culture,Christian Theology by sosipater on June 22, 2007

Scott Thomas over at Acts29 has a great post about the value of the Pastor’s family life.  I hope all Christians, regardless of their status within Christ’s church, endeavors for a family life that is upright, honorable, and faithful.

Qualifications for Overseers

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.  Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,  for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

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