Archive for April, 2008

This podcast breaks from our new format. Its just me on it, and I take some quotes from the character Angela from the television show The Office and apply what we see there to the American evangelical church. I think this is instructive because this character is the only evangelical Christian on the show and though, like all the characters, she’s over the top, it does give us a little peek at how those outside the church view us.

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icon for podpress  Justice and Mercy #34 - The Angela Project: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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The myth of the American church of the 50’s blown up:
A taste:

It was what more sober church people might have expected. The church of the fifties had generally identified itself with civic purposes such as patriotism and moral respectability, along with national recuperation and prosperity. As those purposes began to wear thin, like a good-luck coin fingered too long in the pants pocket, could one doubt that a broad search for new purposes would commence? And not merely at the national or hierarchical level?

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Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all).

 

And

 

Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement.

 

I am convinced that the ODM’s can be likened to the Political Correctness movement that has become so popular (and abused) in liberal circles and on college campuses.  Political correctness on its good side brings awareness to the things we say and how they may affect others.  On the greater down side, or the manner in which it has been abused is the manner in which it is a form of censorship.  We’ve all heard the stories.

 

Above are two statements from Lighthouse Trails Research – an ODM site.  Both of which serve as an example of ODM’s abusive tactics of PC.  In the former quote, a definition of Contemplative Spirituality is offered with the stated goal of inducing an altered state of consciousness.  The case seems closed – except for that fact that none on the list that I saw encourage an altered state of consciousness in the same manner as Eastern Mysticism.  “Silence” is not tantamount to an altered state.  It is a classical example of inserting all manner of meanings into words that were never intended thus.  Are there those who employ contemplation as a way to induce an altered state? – Yes.  Is it therefore axiomatic that any who encourage contemplation or contemplative methods do the same – of course not.  Contrary to their definitive statement:  Contemplative Spirituality MAY be pantheistic/panentheistic… to say it IS, is incorrect, sloppy, and probably misleads many who think the site inquestion site employs accurate definitions.

 

This leads to the second quote, which builds on the false definitions of the first – the result is to outlaw spiritual formation in the church.  ODM Correctness in action.

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he actually has a sense of humor!

(dun-dun-dun!)

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Since we seem to be on a musical theme, I thought I’d post this real quickly, before leaving to a conference for the week.

So, last year it was Paul Potts, who I thought was amazing (picking up the ref in a MHBC sermon):

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This year, it seems to be a 13-year old kid that even has Simon Cowell being a nice guy! Quite an accomplishment!

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HT:FARK

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I’ve been blogging through The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard for the past year. Ok, it’s taken me a long time to get through it. I have a stack of books that are sitting by my bedside and I’m working my way through them. Some books have taken a greater priority, like Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, since I got engaged this past October and so, as a result, I haven’t been able to finish Willard’s book. I am currently on Chapter 8 and intend to finish within the month.

With that being said, I noticed that Ken Silva has decided to review The Spirit of the Disciplines. When I say review, I mean write a review of a review. Silva shows no evidence that he actually read the book. Instead, he bases his thoughts on a review by Bob DeWaay.

Silva (or is it DeWaay) takes issue with Willard’s view of “yoke”. Ken suggests that Willard says that the yoke is as the practice of spiritual disciplines like solitude, silence, and simple living and that:

First of all this view does not take into account the need for regeneration. It also fails because if it was possible for a mere human to live the perfect life Christ Jesus did as the God-Man then it is conceivable for someone else to have been the Savior.

Willard, in fact, is addressing a Christian audience, one who is already “regenerated”. And Willard never suggests that we can become perfect, like Christ. These disciplines simply are ways of us to prepare to live a life like Christ did.

Silva (or DeeWay) then gets confused with Willard’s statement about “theories of atonement” (p 33), saying that:

rather than concerning ourselves with the blood atonement, averting God’s wrath against sin, salvation by faith through grace, we should be practicing spiritual disciplines with our bodies so that we could then be more like Jesus.

Willard is not dismissing the atonement at all. He is simply saying that just talking about the theology of the atonement does not equal living the Christian life. If we just stop at the theology and don’t actually follow Christ, then we’ve missed the point of what Christ wants us to do, which is to follow Him.

Finally, Silva quotes DeeWay here:

Ironically, Willard admits that the Bible does not command us to practice the spiritual disciplines he prescribes. To hear evangelicals like Dallas Willard and Richard Foster tell us that we need practices that were never spelled out in the Bible to become more like Christ or to get closer to God is astonishing.

Which leaves me confused. Willard constantly refers to Scripture to show how Jesus practiced the spiritual disciplines. And what spiritual disciplines are Silva and DeeWay opposed to? Fasting? Reading Scripture? Praying? Frugality? Chastity? Service? Worship? Fellowship? Confession? Scripture Memorization? These are all practices with Willard suggests will help us live a proper Christian life.

In addition to all of this, Willard repeatedly explains that we have salvation by grace alone through faith and that we aren’t saved by our good works nor do we earn God’s favor by our good works (p 119, 136, 138, 139, 142, 143 are a few examples). He evens spends all of Chapter 8 talking about excessive asceticism in the context of history.

There are three more chapters for me to finish. But I find that Willard has definitely challenged me to consider what practices I should be incorporating into my life in order that I might follow Christ more.

“People have a body for one reason — that we might have at our disposal the resources that would allow us to be persons in fellowship and cooperation with a personal God” – Dallas Willard

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Not sure but I think John Elefante (Kansas fame and then christian recording) has been officially contextualized based on this video.

This 10 year old Japanese girl, as we say in Detroit, handles her business.

HT to Marko

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Ingrid engages in guilt by association tactics again by trying to link Jeff Foxworthy’s belief’s with Ravi Zacharias because they appeared at the same event together.

The event in question occurred on September 13th, 2007 and was entitled, “Is America Really Christian?” After looking around the blogosphere for a bit I found two blog entries that contain first hand accounts of the event in question. The first has disappeared from the web, but Technorati saved a snapshot of it for us to enjoy:

Challenge to the soul September 14th, 2007 Yesterday we trekked through rain, wind, and traffic while heading to Atlanta to hear Ravi Zacharias and Michael Ramsden speak on the topic of “Is America Really Christian?” Such a strong, powerful, and passionate message of Jesus Christ who crosses all cultural boundaries

The other comes from a myspace blog:

they covered everything from various world-view philosophies – and the flaws in them to explaining in the most beautiful of terms Salvation — and what comes next!

Her account of the message delivered by Ravi and others continues:

in order for America to be “Christian”, the people that belong to America must be Christians.. not just in name, or because their grandmother and granddaddy were.. but because they were called, and they consciously made the decision to cast aside who they were — and become born again in Christ. <---- that really shot me straight in the heart, i mean -- how many people have i made the mistake of asking if they were Christians -- when i really should have been asking if they were a follower of Christ? do they know Him? have they known Him, but He's become one of those friends that they put away when they "grew up" and became a mature adult?
and, for us Christians -- have we become so "mature" in our lives that we no longer feel the "need" for God, unless something breaks down, or the money is getting tight..or a loved one is sick? in our minds, does God become a vending machine that we drop in a few good deeds for someone we may not like, or pray an eloquent prayer at Bible study, or even put a little extra in the offering basket -- and we expect to have our wants answered in a timely manner..and wonder why if the answer was "no"?

Doesn’t sound like Jesus is disappearing to me.

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As we’ve mentioned its been a rough week for Ingrid’s powers of discernment. Proving that perhaps her spiritual gifts lie elsewhere Ingrid has managed to bungle the reporting on a story, even when using a “a very credible source”.

Ingrid’s take on the matter:

Ingrid Newkirk from PETA is being outdone by some progressive Europeans. Newkirk may not want to eat anything that has a face, but some rights enthusiasts are suggesting that plants have feelings, too. While plant rights may be a little hard to sell at a time when world food prices are causing hunger on a frightening scale, it isn’t stopping these activists from trying. I’m visualizing sit-ins and pickets at cereal plants and corn roasting events and placards with slogans like, “Grains Are People, Too” or “Civil Rights for Corn” or even “Geranium Rights Now!”.

As you can see Ingrid has made a directly analogous comparison between animal rights which asserts that any eating of meat is wrong and this story about the “dignity of plants”.

However if you go to the actual story what you’ll find is something very different. What this all begins with is a rather nebulously worded Swiss law that mandates that the “dignity of creatures” be respected with respect to all government funded research. Because of the fuzziness of the law no one is all that sure what it all means. In fact, the only thing sure thing in all this is:

Keller sees the issue as providing another tool for opponents to argue against any form of plant biotechnology, which is already very difficult to conduct in Switzerland.

In other words, no one is making a moral argument that plants shouldn’t be eaten, as Ingrid asserts, rather what is going on is that those opposed to genetic tinkering are using this law to further their views. This is not anything new, and its not confined to Europe. And ultimately the argument isn’t just about what can be ethically done to plants but the worry that genetically altered plants will be harmful to humanity and/or the environment in general.

So why bring all this up, after all I don’t care about plant dignity one bit (and honestly I’m kind of looking forward to tomatos the size of pumpkins that only need to be watered once a decade). But what I do care about is the legitimacy of Christian reporting/blogging. At some point even those who agree with Ingrid on many issues need to be aware that one of the leading ODMs and Christian radio commentator has absolutely no legitimacy. At some point when ideology and bias become so overwhelming that the simple task of summarizing the basic facts of an already reported on story its time to find a new job, and a new hobby, and its time to start ignoring her, even if you happen to have your ears tickled by the misreporting she brings to you.

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