Thursday, July 31, 2008

They like Jesus but not the Church

Dan Kimball argues that the people he meets like Jesus but not the church. That is, they have one of a number of objections to the church while Jesus is regarded with respect. The objections are:

  1. The church is an organised religion with a political agenda.
  2. The church is judgmental and negative
  3. The church is dominated by males and oppresses females.
  4. The church is homophobic.
  5. The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong.
  6. The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.

I am not so interested in Dan’s solutions what I am interested in is, has he got his analysis right? What do you think?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama is inspiring - but he promises to much

I have been thinking about our great desire for unity in diversity, it’s a theme I hear often expressed in church life and general conversation. The need for more tolerance, acceptance –there is a yearning to be at peace with one another.

Obama is inspiring and he knows this desire is powerful –listen to his speech
"People of Berlin -- and people of the world -- the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long...Let us build on our common history, and seize our common destiny, and once again engage in that noble struggle to bring justice and peace to our world."
While this is a wonderful vision, it is flawed. It fails to recognise the depth of the problem. Sure we can do things which assist but in the end it is not our within our grasp:

As Tim Keller suggests the problem is, when:
“you build your identity mainly on your class, or race, or culture, or performance you will necessarily vilify and disdain anyone who lacks what you consider the cornerstone of your own significance.”
The Obama vision is dependent on performance and I think in the end it will vilify those without his vision- despite his best intentions.

For the Christian there is another approach. Speaking of Christ Jesus, Paul says in Colossians 1
8And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Christ Jesus is the hope of reconciliation for this world. God will reconcile all things to himself through Christ -that's all things!

What’s more those who have been reconciled to God become ambassadors of reconciliation
2 Corinthians 5
7Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God,who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Note: Its Christ's performance not ours that counts and that performance involved dying for enemies at great cost -it is not just warm and wishful thinking or even a genuine striving on our part. I am going to place my yearning for peace and for unity in diversity in the reconciler and just enjoy the oratory of Obama.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bonhoeffer -Quote

God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill all His
promises, i.e. He remains the Lord of the earth...constantly renewing our
faith and not laying on us more than we can bear, gladdening us with His
nearness and help, hearing our prayers, and leading us along the best and
straightest paths to Himself. By His faithfulness in doing this, God creates
in us praise.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Food for the soul:)

Friday, July 18, 2008

I wonder..

“ Most citizens in a democratic society like Australia long only to be left alone and for their leaders to protect them from the evils of the world. They seek to flee the bad, but expect that the democratic state will play a role in enabling them to do so.” John Howard and the Art of Democratic Leadership, Gregory Melleuish-Quadrant July-August 2006, pg 11

My paraphrase:

Most church members long only to be left alone and for their ministers/pastors to protect them from the evils of the world. They seek to flee the bad, but expect that the church will play a role in enabling them to do so.

To harsh I think...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thinking about Ministry

This morning I was reminded again of what the task is in ministry:

2 peter 1:15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

The "these things" are listed in the verses prior and the list is stunning-what a privilage.

P.S I have no plans for departing :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lambeth and GAFCON

Having read, Don’t think like an Elephantduring our brief break I began reading The Political Mind by George Lakoff. Arguing from the American context, Lakoff in both books identifies two general approaches -Progressive and Conservative.
"The progressive has a basic moral value-empathy, together with responsibility and strength to act on that empathy (Pg 47)". Ideas like empowerment, protection of the environment and the marginalised.
"The conservative begins with the notion that morality is obedience to an authority-assumed to be a legitimate authority (Pg 60)". Loyalty and freedom in the context of obedience follow. Conservatives "need to follow rules and obey laws.. it rewards those who acquire such discipline and punishes those who don’t. Pg 61" In particular radical conservatives like originalism- what was the original meaning-we need to get back to it as our authority.
As I was reading this I was also trying to get my head around Lambeth and GAFCON.

If we use Lakoff’s categories Lambeth is about listening and discerning the truth (progressive) and GAFCON is about how to be obedient to the truth (conservative).
What is interesting about this is that Lakoff argues that if you come from either world view you will find it incredibly hard to understand the other world view, your basic moral categories are vastly different. Food for thought...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Critrical Tolerance

I love the tenor of this article and would love to be able to write like this.
I think it is a great example of what Andrew Cameron calls critrical tolerance.

There are those who wish to accept homosexual people without agreeing with them on everything. They may be good at it, or very clumsy. They may be adept at it, or awkward. But the point is that they see themselves as having no reason to fear or despise homosexual people. They simply disagree with some of what they think and do; yet they want to find ways to accept and relate across that difference. Such a position has been called ‘critical tolerance’ (a stance that can apply to ‘disagreement within acceptance’ on any matter at all).

Although I don't like the term
critical tolerance
as it sounds too critical :) any ideas for a new term?

Monday, July 14, 2008

A prayer for Macquarie -Ephesians 3

Father I bow before you, from whom your family in heaven and on earth is named. I ask that out of your glorious riches you would strengthen us with power through your spirit in our inner being so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. I ask that being rooted and grounded in love we may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, length, height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge, that we may be filled with the fullness of God. Father I ask you knowing that you are able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. Father I ask that you would show your glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.