Saturday, November 29, 2008

Craig Blomberg on Wealth

One of my favorite NT commentators is Craig Blomberg. He recently wrote about James 5 and the dangers of storing up wealth. He asks himself some very hard questions about how close he comes to identifying with the rich people of the passage (5.1-6). Then this quote:
But then if we are honest, we have to say that, by global standards, we are the ones who have lived in luxury and self-indulgence, especially in what we spend on our homes and on our churches, in how much we eat and how much we throw away on recreation and entertainment. At some point presumably this disqualifies any profession of faith in Jesus we might otherwise make. I wish I knew where that line was.

But that would only tempt me to get as close to the line as possible. Since I don't know, I have to consistently ask myself how I can do more and more to move away from the danger of being anywhere close to such a line. After all, the earnings on the investments I didn't give away in the last ten years have all disappeared in the last few months due to the financial crisis. Will I ever learn the lesson?

Read the full post here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Agree with Darrell Bock...

About Bible translations. Here is a snippet of a recent blog post:
So my point is to be a little skeptical when someone hails one translation as far superior than another, or especially when they hype it as THE one. Relax, more than one version might be good for your Bible study now and again. Often the best rendering will depend on the verse or unit in question and will shift from version to version. Most do a pretty good job as a rule. Where translations differ on a verse, you can know that there is an interpretive or textual wording issue present, if the difference is not merely the choice between different synonyms.

Find it here

Blue Parakeet - What did women do in the New Testament?

Scot looks next at some prominent women mentioned in the NT and examines what they did.

Mary (the mother of Jesus)
Mary has made many protestants nervous because the Catholic over emphasis on her, but she is still an integral figure in the NT. Scot believes that her level of influence had to be at the level of teaching. If early tradition is correct, Mary was a widow. Thus, she had influence in the NT in three ways. Mary’s influence emerges in her training of Jesus and of his brother James and she was critical in the formation of our Gospels. He states that Mary taught and was involved in the spiritual formation of Jesus and James.
Scot examines Mary’s song in Luke 1.46-55. He sees these of justice for the poor and marginalized, judgment on the oppressors, holiness and God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises. James carries these same themes in his letter.
Scot also asks a very pertinent question: Where do you think Luke acquired the stories he tells us in Luke 1-2? These two chapters are the birth narrative from Mary’s perspective. It is not hard to believe since Luke does discuss gathering information from eyewitnesses. There is no reason to doubt that Luke would have interviewed Mary as Luke may have visited Jerusalem with Paul. (See Luke 1.1-4 for his statement on gathering details).
I agree with Scot about Mary’s importance as an eyewitness and the song put into her mouth in Luke’s gospel was impactful not only on James but in the way Luke fashions his gospel. But also, Scot overstates his case almost putting Mary up as THE teacher of Jesus and James. He gives lip service to Joseph’s potential, but it was Mary who was the primary teacher. We do not know when she was widowed, but Joseph was a righteous man and the primary duties of teaching in the household would have been the father’s. So, while Scot provides some good points, he overstates his case for his purposes.

Junia is mentioned along with her husband Andronicus in Romans 16.7 as “outstanding among the apostles.” Thus, the inference is that a woman was mentioned as an apostle. Her being a woman was not important, but Scot feels what is important are her intelligence, her giftedness and her calling. (Once again, how do we know anything solid about her intelligence, giftedness and her calling? Not a word about these characteristics are mentioned. Overstating again).
Junia was noted as coming to faith before Paul and they were imprisoned with Paul (no doubt because they were believers and leaders among the Christians). Junia was a woman and an apostle. Scot surmises that since she was an apostle (not one of the twelve, there is a distinction that I will write about someday) she and her husband were recognized as having gifts from God. Those gifts involved such things as evangelizing, teaching, preaching, establishing and leading churches. I think this mention is very important in Scot’s case, and I agree, but once again not only does he overemphasize some things, but here he under emphasizes something important. Junia is mentioned along with her husband. At the very least she is a partner with him in his ministry and is not this lone, female apostle, but this is important that she is mentioned as an apostle.

It is important to note that Priscilla’s name is almost always mentioned first when she is listed with her husband Aquila. That was unusual in the ancient world (not impossible, but unusual). She may have had more of a prominent role in the ministry, but she may have has a more prominent social standing in the Roman world. She, along with her husband, is called Paul’s “co-worker” in Romans 16.3. Once again like Junia, she is mentioned along with her husband. But I do think it is important that Paul feels both women deserve a mention. So, we have a woman who was an apostle and another who was a fellow worker and teacher (see Acts 18.28).

I have already written at length about Phoebe (here). It is interesting that Phoebe is not mentioned along with her husband. She was both mentioned as a “deacon” and a “benefactor/patron.” She was the courier for Paul’s letter to the Romans. It was customary for couriers to explain their letters to their recipients. Phoebe may have been reading and explaining (expounding) Paul’s letter to the various house churches in Rome.

Scot closes with the statement that to tie these four women into the story of the bible, each of these women exhibits the oneness theme that begins in creation, is threatened by the fall and begins to become more and more a reality in Christ. Now, if women did all of this, why does Paul speak of silencing women in public assemblies? How does such silencing fit within the theme of oneness – of God’s work of redemption, restoring men and women into unity in Christ? Scot believes it is time to read the Bible with tradition (not through tradition) and perhaps challenge not the Scriptures but the tradition. He will look at the problem passages that seem to silence women in Paul’s writings next.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Blue Parakeet - What did women do in the Old Testament?

What did women do in the Bible? If we want to be biblical, this question needs to be asked and answered. Scot appeals first to the creation story and states that God created male and female as mutuals. The fall distorted mutuality and oneness became otherness and rivalry for power (Gen. 3.16). The good news is that the fall eventually gives way to new creation, but the church has far too often perpetuated the fall as a permanent condition. If there is any place in the world where this mutuality should be restored, it should be in the church. Ironically, it can be the least redemptive place of the week.

Miriam, Deborah and Huldah
Miriam was one third of Israel’s triumvirate of leadership according to McKnight. He talks about her role as a prophetess who led the Israelites into worship with inspired words (Ex. 15.21). She is referred to by the prophet Micah as one of the leaders who brought the people out of Egypt (Micah 6.4). Scot sees in Miriam’s defiance strength, power and authority because she could call Moses into question.
I think Scot way over plays his hand here. Do I think Miriam is an important figure in OT history? Sure. Is she a part of a triumvirate (which implies co-leaders)? Hardly. God definitely places Moses ahead of Aaron and Miriam in this narrative and her selfishness and envy should not be seen as strength and authority.
Deborah was called by God to lead his people in the period of the Judges. The judges were both political and spiritual leaders rolled into one person. If we ask what did women do, when we look at Deborah we see a woman speak for God as a prophet, render decisions in a law court as a judge, exercise leadership over the entire spiritual-social Israel, and be a military commander who brought Israel to victory. Deborah is definitely the star of song of Deborah and Barak. I think she is an important figure in the history of Israel. I think she makes a strong case for what Scot is trying to accomplish here, in a patriarchal society, a woman led the people into deliverance. However, opponents will point out (complementarians) that this period of the Judges is hardly any time in Israel’s story to follow as example. The judges throughout this period were flawed (see Samson and Jephthah). Plus, when the writer of the letter to the Hebrews mentions the great judges who exemplified faith, he does not mention Deborah, but mentions Barak.
Scot calls Huldah a “Prophet above the Prophets.” In the days of Josiah, the Torah is discovered in the temple. When discerning who they should consult to see what they should do, they turn to Huldah, the female prophet. He could have consulted Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Nahum, or Habakkuk, but he chose the woman. She was chosen not because there were not men available; she is chosen because she is truly exceptional among the prophets. Once again, I think Scot is right, Huldah is a prime example of a woman who is important in the history of Israel. He is making his point, but I think he oversteps his bounds by calling her the Prophet above the Prophets. As far as we know, she has no school (disciples) and leaves no writings behind. She is important in this story and in The Story, but Scot overstates things.

From this brief sketch, we can repeat the question: What did women do? They spoke for God; they led the nation in every department; they sanctioned Scripture and they guided nations back to the path of righteousness.
I think Scot is right in pointing these things out, I just think he overstated things and made them appear greater than they actually were.
But, that was then, and this is now. What about in the New Testament? Did women’s roles decrease or increase? That is the next chapter.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blue Parakeet - Test Case: Women in Ministry Intro

Scot begins part four by discussing his movement from a fundamentalist background, where there were few visible women in ministry, to his openness and acceptance to full acceptance of women in ministry in any role. He states that his view changed not by a world-view shift but in his actual study of the NT. He stated that we have to remember that the NT emerged from and therefore was shaped by first century Jewish and Greco-Roman culture, including what it said about women. As he was writing commentaries, he continually sketch how he thought we should read the Bible – as a culturally conditioned revelation of God’s Word that needs to be worked out in a modern context. Thus, we have to understand that Paul’s directions to his churches were culturally shaped.

Scot understands the injunctions from Scripture against women serving in leadership roles. In the world in which the NT was written, generally women were perceived as inferior. But, as we read the Bible, there were plenty of exceptions, exceptions that reveal an undercurrent that would eventually alter the current itself. We do find female heroes in the hard patriarchal world of the OT. We find mentions of women in “leadership” roles in the NT. Scot encourages us to understand that the biblical context is cultural and that even the biblical teachings reflect that culture. Scot then states instead of seeking to impose that culture and those culturally shaped teachings on women in a completely different world and culture, the mutuality view summons Christians to the Bible one more time. It knows the story of the Bible is one in which Jesus Christ makes men and women one again.

In the next post, Scot will begin to examine, What did women do in the Old Testament?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Airborne Deer?

This was a headline in yesterday's Columbia Tribune:
Airborne deer hits Hallsville man’s car
There’s more to this story. (see here)
But does it remind you that the Christmas season is coming up and that flying (rein)deer pose a driving hazard?

Obama's Faith

The following excerpts are from Cathleen Falsani’s 2004 interview with Barack Obama who was then running for a state senate seat in Illinois. It can be found in its fullness on the beliefnet website.

After discussing the influences that he has been around (eastern, Muslim, Judaism) Mr. Obama discussed his own faith,
“So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.”

While working with churches on community issues in Chicago, he discussed his movement from an intellectual approach to Christianity to a more “spiritual” faith:
“And the power of that culture to give people strength in very difficult circumstances, and the power of that church to give people courage against great odds. And it moved me deeply. So that, one of the churches I met, or one of the churches that I became involved in was Trinity United Church of Christ. And the pastor there, Jeremiah Wright, became a good friend. So I joined that church and committed myself to Christ in that church.”

He was asked if he responded to an altar call, he affirmed that he did. He was asked if he became born again:
Yeah, although I don't, I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I'm not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I've got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others. I'm a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at its best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding…there's an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.

He responsed to the question, who is Jesus:
“Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher. And he's also a wonderful teacher. I think it's important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.”

His response to whether he had a “personal” relationship or connection to Jesus:
“Yeah. Yes. I think some of the things I talked about earlier are addressed through, are channeled through my Christian faith and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Obama discusses his reticence about the Christian call to evangelize:
This is something that I'm sure I'd have serious debates with my fellow Christians about. I think that the difficult thing about any religion, including Christianity, is that at some level there is a call to evangelize and prostelytize. There's the belief, certainly in some quarters, that people haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal savior that they're going to hell.

When the interview tried to confirm that he does not believe in a “hell” for those who do not believe in Christ, he replied,
“I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell. I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity. That's just not part of my religious makeup.”

When asked if he believes in an afterlife (heaven), he replies,
“What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.”

He defined sin as being out of alignment with his values. When asked what happens when one has sin in one’s life,
“I think it's the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I'm true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward, when I'm not true to it, it's its own punishment.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blue Parakeet - Chapter 10: Finding the Pattern of Discernment

This chapter moves to some practical examples of discernment. Scot asks: Why do we not follow the Bible sometimes?

Now that we’ve established that we do pick and choose from the Bible what we are going to apply to our lives, we have to ask, why do we choose what we choose? Why do I not do what this passage in the Bible teaches?
Scot identifies a pattern of discernment: as we read the Bible and locate each item in its place in the Story, we discern – through God’s Spirit and in the context of our community of faith – a pattern of how to live in our world.
Scot acknowledges the context and community impacts how we discern

Specific Examples
Divorce and Remarriage – Jesus was against divorce (Mark 10.11-12). Second, Jesus “discerned” there is an exception – sexual immorality (Matt. 5.32). Now we have clarity: divorce is wrong except in the case of sexual immorality. Third, Paul had to discern how the teachings of Jesus could be lived out when a non-Christian spouse deserted a Christian spouse (1 Cor. 7.15). Paul is not looking for exceptions, but situations arose in the early church that Jesus did not address (“I, not the Lord” [say this]). Fourth, churches are called to enact similar discernments today whether abuse and desertion and immaturities are permissible grounds for divorce even among Christians. This is the messy part. Here are the confidences we have: the guidance of the Spirit is promised us as we pray, as we study Scripture, and as we join in the conversation with church tradition. It would be much easier for God to have given rules and regulations for everything. But God, in his wisdom, has chosen not to do that. Discernment is an element of what it means to walk by faith.
Fifth, Scot believes our discernments should never become rules or laws. The moment we turn our discernments into rules or the moment we elevate them to the level of official positions, they are headed in the direction of fossilization, inflexibility, and the near impossibility of rethinking, renewing, and reforming.

Scot then goes through several case studies to find some patterns at work in our discernment. He discusses circumcision (Abraham was given this ritual to symbolize the covenant forever. Yet Paul discerned that true circumcision was circumcision of the heart); the styles of Christian women (praying with head covered); the death penalty and others. He accepts the reality that churches already disagree over discernments. He accepts that this process is difficult. Scot brings it back to divorce. What the NT trajectory teaches us about divorce and remarriage is the need to remain firmly committed to marriage while permitting divorce in cases where the marital covenant has been destroyed. The pattern is to discern the underlying reason for the fractured relationship and then to judge if that reason is acceptable.

McKnight shows us that from beginning to end there is a pattern of adopting and adapting within the Bible itself as well as in the churches through the centuries. It is the attempt to foist one person’s days and ways on everyone’s days and ways that quenches the Holy Spirit. Just as they were in the “Bible days” we need to be adaptable. Did things get messy (see the Jerusalem Council, Acts 15), yes. Do they still get messy? Absolutely. But all genuine biblical faith takes the gospel message and “incarnates” it in a context. Living out the Bible means living out the Bible in our day in our way by discerning together how God would have us live.
Scot says that this is not new. Most Christians and churches do operate with a pattern of discernment, but it is rarely openly admitted and even more rarely clarified. Discernment is how we have always read the Bible; it is even the way the biblical authors read the Bible themselves.

Scot will next move on to a five chapter test case: Women in Church Ministries Today. I even wonder if he wrote the first ten chapters to get to the test case.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Where Could Someone Find That?

Lifeway Research looked at attributes of community that non-regular church attenders between 18 and 34 deemed important. They found that:
• 47% felt it important to build relationships with other young adults.
• 47% looked for hands-on service in local community.
• 46% wanted to explore a religious environment without pressure.
• 45% sought advice from people with similar life experience.
• 43% wanted to utilize talents and abilities.

Where in the world do you think non-regular church attenders could find these things that they find important? When you are thinking about reaching the next generation, think on such things.

Return to the Blue Parakeet (Chapter 9)

I've taken a few weeks off from my review of The Blue Parakeet. It is time to return.

To recap, Scot has divided this book into four parts. The first two parts were: Story: What is the Bible? Listening: What Do I Do with the Bible? This post is the first for the third section: Discerning: How Do I Benefit from the Bible?

The first chapter of section three (chapter 9) is The Year of Living Jesus-ly: What do we do and what do we not do in the Bible.

He begins with the question, “How do we apply the Bible to our lives?” It seems that we pick and choose what to believe (especially when it comes to the Old Testament and passages like the “Holiness Code” in Leviticus 19). For all of us who say we strive to apply the whole Bible to our lives, we have to admit that we do pick and choose what to follow and what not to follow. While looking at Leviticus 19, we have to admit that we don’t worry about wearing garments made of more than one substance. We don’t have moral issues in cutting our earlocks. We don’t stand up when older folks walk into the room. Before we dismiss this passage as from a bygone era, this chapter also has the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Either we are completely wrong in our dismissal of these commands or we have some categories in our Christian minds to help us know what to apply to our lives and what not to.
Essentially the church has always taught that the times have changed and we have learned from the NT patterns of discernment what to do and what not to do. Sometimes this is easy, at other times it is difficult.
The next section gets a little frustrating for me. He begins with a valid discussion on the prohibition of premarital sex. Someone asked him how do we deal with this now in our time. When this prohibition was given, people were married off not too long after puberty. There was not an idea of adolescence. There was no delay in marriage. Haven’t the times changed? Wasn’t the prohibition of premarital intercourse shaped exclusively for a culture in which young adults got married at the onset of puberty? These are valid questions and this is a valid debate. But McKnight drops it here. This is not the time for a test case. He will reserve that for a more hot button issue (women in ministry). I wish he would have dealt with it at least a little, but he dropped it immediately after he acknowledges that these questions are valid.
Let’s Stick to the Teachings of Jesus
Most of us would be willing to admit that we do what to follow Jesus. We even claim that we do apply Jesus’ teachings to everything we do (or at least strive to apply them). If we are honest, though, we acknowledge that we pick and choose even with Jesus and the NT. Scot wants to get behind the reasons we have for our adopting and adapting of the message of the NT.
This is the pattern of discernment. Another valid question “Once you acknowledge that we pick and choose from the Bible, doesn’t that destroy its credibility? Doesn’t’ that knock the legs out from under it? Why should we put stock in any of the Bible?” (These questions come from AJ Jacobs’ book, The Year of Living Biblically.)
Scot provides several instances where we may not live out Jesus’ words as literally as we think. One is the Lord’s Prayer. Scot believes that the best way to translate Jesus’ words, “When you pray, say…” is “Whenever you pray, recite this…” That is, Jesus is actually telling us to use those words that follow in the Lord’s Prayer. Many of us balk at that because that sounds like liturgy and we don’t believe in scripted prayers, so we apply the general principle of what Jesus said, not the literal words. He also does this with requirements to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. One of which is to abandon riches. We usually look to a greater principle of not loving wealth over God or being generous with our money, very few of us actually abandon riches.
What he hopes to accomplish here, before he moves on, is to get us to think harder about how we are reading the Bible, not necessarily resolve all of these issues. What we must discover for ourselves (and our community) is: What principles do we use to adopt and adapt the Bible? When we do, we will discover that we use various patterns of discernment.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Four Campuses Two Days

I was a panelist at Doubt Day at Longview Community College in Lee Summit, MO on Wednesday (with Jason Allen, pastor of Life Connection Church in Independence). I always start off these days with a tremendous amount of anxiety, trying to imagine all of the questions that might come up as well as the fear of angry, hostile students disrupting things. Disruptions haven't happened yet. Good questions and I hope that we genuinely did some good. We answered questions from some Christian students as well as questions from seekers and at least one agnostic who was angry at conservative Christians (from what I hear, I gave a good humble answer to his question about Christian opposition to gay marriage).
Spent some time at the worship gathering of Impact at UMKC. Great time with some neat guys and heard a good message (that reminded me of my impact on campus) from a campus missionary there as well as a seminary student.
Moved on to University of Central MO and spent time with some of the staff at their BSU. Wonderful time of conversation about mission, engaging culture and being able to discuss the mission of God and how we can invite nonbelievers on the journey even if they have not assented to the truth of the gospel.
Ended up at Mizzou where I gathered to pray and study the book of Acts with a couple of students and alumni and discussed how we could serve the campus and invite student to be on the mission with us.
Great time - community college, urban (mostly commuter) 4 year school, smaller residential college and the largest college in the state.

Question for a future post - can a person be a Christian while believing that Christianity is only one way to a pleasant afterlife? I recently read the thoughts of a soon to be world leader that made me raise my eyebrows.

Monday, November 10, 2008

City versus Suburbs

I have been thinking about the difference between living in the suburbs versus living in the city. I have done both in my life. I do agree with Tim Keller and others that the major urban centers not only of the US but of the world are important places to be planting churches. But is there a fascination with urban centers at the expense of the suburbs? There seems to be a stigma attached to suburbanites by the urbanites. My question, what comprises an urban center and what is a suburb?
I have lived in city limits (STL and Fort Worth, TX) and in a suburb (Garland, TX). I don’t really know how to qualify the town I live in presently. I live in Columbia, MO in an area that some in this community would consider a suburb of Columbia. I live 8 miles from downtown. When I lived in the city in STL, I lived 6 miles from downtown. Not that much of a difference, but I definitely lived in the city in STL, but may live in the suburbs here in Columbia.
Another question, is Columbia an urban center? The District definitely has that feel, but Columbia only has about 100,000 residents. I lived in the suburbs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in a town that had almost 2.5 times more people there than Columbia. In fact, in the DFW metroplex, there are more than 10 cities of equal or greater population than Columbia.

I think that the same issues that plague suburbanites, plagues many urban dwellers and that is consumerism. I don’t think that it is the location that makes a place inherently good or bad, but it is the attitude of the dwellers. I see urbanites afflicted with consumerism just as I see suburbanites (that is the need to acquire things to make one satisfied). It may be easier to connect with your community due to the proximity of your neighbors, but it is possible just as well to live missionally in the suburbs. It all depends on your heart and your outlook.
I want to recommend a book that explains the rise and importance of the suburbs and gives believers practical advice on how to live missionally in the suburbs: The Suburban Christian by Albert Hsu. Check it out and learn how to live missionally in communities where we are isolated, selfish and unconnected, be it the suburbs or the city.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Unintentional Comedy

Tell me the two elements of unintentional comedy in this clip. You only have to watch about 30 seconds. It wasn't funny in 1976, but probably pretty funny now.

Not Pretty, but Pretty Great

This is a clip from one of my favorite shows of the 70s, The Midnight Special, every Friday night on NBC.

I don't know how to quantify this, but this band has to be the ugliest band who made the best music. Check out this great classic rock song by Steely Dan (some really torn up dudes).

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Last Political Note

I heard a political commentator this morning say something that I thought was right on. He said that no matter what political persuasion you are, don't you have to root for Obama to be a good president? Don't we need that right now? I agree. I hope that will be the case but I don't hold out much hope. It wasn't the case the last 8 years and it wasn't the case the previous 8 year prior to that. I remember talking to a Democrat before the 2004 election. She was secretly hoping things go wrong in Iraq so that it would prompt people to vote Bush out.
Now, will Obama keep his promise to reach across party lines and seek agreement and work together? I can't imagine that he will. Why would he? He has a super majority in Congress and he does not have to work across party lines. Bush said the same thing in 2000, he was a "uniter not a divider." How'd that work out for him? Clinton said the same thing. What was great, was in the first mid-term election, the Dems lost the House and Senate and he HAD to work across party lines. (And might I add, his middle four years went pretty well because of this).

Anyway, we do need Obama to be a good president, so we need to pray for him and support him as our president (don't we?)

Two Visions of the Future

I watched the Obama victory speech and I was struck by the images. I do not want to ignore the obvious historical implications of this nation electing an African-American as president. As I looked at the people, they watched him with such hope in their eyes. I was watching their faces as he spoke and they nodded in agreement at his points and that is when it hit me. It looked like a church gathering when you are listening to a good preacher proclaiming the gospel. The nodded yeses were the "amens" of a congregation of faith. And that is what that crowd was last night: a congregation of faith. Their leader (our leader now) is proclaiming a vision of hope for the future the same way a gospel preacher proclaims a vision of hope for the faithful who are seeking to be about bringing the kingdom of God. Here is where the two images diverge. The people last night were putting their hopes in a human being who is seeking to bring about a prosperous nation with political ideologies. Hopefully the Christians rely on a greater power to allow them to accomplish the agenda of our heavenly king, Jesus.
As I watched, I was reminded of how futile trusting in humans and their agendas are. Every four (or two) years, the party that is not in power claims that they have all of the answers for real change. This year, there will be change yes (the mere election results alone are change), but until politicians can teach us how to deal with evil in the hearts of human beings, there will never be any real lasting change. It inspired me, more than ever, to prompt my church, my family, my tribe to be about affecting the only real change that can come about by proclaiming the gospel message of Jesus and praying (and working toward) God's kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.

Please hear me, this post is not anti-Obama, but it does contain my realistic view that the agendas of humans will never affect the real change that the agenda of Christ can accomplish, and that can't be done without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Check out Mark Driscoll's blog post yesterday that also contains some words of wisdom during this era of "change."

See also my post on the futility of "evolutionary optimism" with a quote from NT Wright.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


In honor of our election day, I saw something that made me giggle today. You have undoubtedly have seen the Obama posters/t-shirts "Hope" (see below). I have to admit they are pretty cool.

But have you seen this:

What about this one:

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Intolerance and a Weird (Christian) Artist

It’s interesting to me how Christians are not the only intolerant people in the world. I saw a documentary about a man named Daniel Smith. He is the leader of the band The Danielson Famile and tours also as Brother Danielson. As Brother Danielson he sings in a 9 foot tall “fruit tree” that represents the fruit of the Spirit. In this documentary, Smith is interviewed, does not hide his Christian faith, and discusses the spirituality of his music. The funny thing is, many young people are connecting with his music even though they are not believers. Reviewers begin critiques of his works by stating that “although I don’t agree with his faith…” and give genrally good reviews. A point is made in the documentary that no one begins a reggae review by stating, “I don’t agree with the artist’s Rastafarian views, but…” Anyway, a few people are interviewed in the movie and they discuss that some of them change their opinion of the artist when they find out he is a serious Christian. Below is an excerpt of some comments on a youtube clip of one of his videos:

danielson's music is so gooooooodddddd, im still upset about the christian thing though. oh well.
me too. he sounds smarter than that

Once again, it points out to me that we are all hypocrites and intolerant and it is not just conservative evangelicals.

Below here is a clip from one of his songs. They are definitely odd, but for some reason he is connecting with young people who care nothing about his Christian world-view but like his art.

Or you can check out this promo of the documentary which contains some people reacting to the "art."