Wednesday, October 29, 2008

being fair to the Law

In ancient Israel, the categories clean and unclean maintained identity and established boundaries, and contact with outcasts, sinners, or lepers made one unclean. In conjunction with the holiness laws and food laws, the priest declared who was in and who was out. The sinners, the outcasts, the oppressed, the poor, and the hungry were despised and were definitely out.
Gibbs and Bolgar, Emerging Churches, p. 118

Ok, let's see...

Where did they get any of that???

I mean, really, where in the Law does God tell the people that being oppressed, or poor, or hungry made a person or a people 'unclean' and "definitely out"?

While I don't have a list of the things that the Law declared unclean or said made a person unclean for a time, I have no recall of something like social status being one of those things.

In fact, one can find places in the law where room is left for the caring of those kinds of people. For the hungry, there were the rules about gleaning the fields, which can seen illustrated in the book of Ruth. It wasn't a welfare or handout system, they still needed to do the work of gathering from the fields, but it is there. And there are places in the law where they are warned to not show favoritism to either the rich or the poor, but to judge justly. There were laws about, for example, not keeping a person's coat overnight, so that they could be warm.

If they want to comment on how the law may have been twisted, they may have a point. But to me I do not think they make that distinction. At least in the above, they make it seem almost arbitrary, that the priests made the decisions based solely on their own opinions, and not on the Law God gave the people.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Imagine an adult human with a double Ph.D. in engineering and ornithology trying to use grass, feathers, scraps of paper, and mud to build a common robin's nest. His fingers and thumbs form a muddy blob that would crumble in the first rainstorm. Then imagine a robin building the same next with nothing but her beak. The robin (as far as I can tell) doesn't know that she knows how to build a nest and doesn't know how she knows, but she knows; she has a feel for it, as we see every spring. She can do something the certified, lettered expert human can't. Her unknown knowledge illustrates the deepest level of human knowledge that is learned not just from a "teacher" but from a "master". If you ask, "How do you do that, how do you know that?"--the only answer can be, "I don't know; I just know!"

This is the kind of inwardly formed learning that Jesus, as master, teaches his apprentices; a knowledge about how to live that can't be reduced to information, words, rules, books, or instruction, but rather that must be seen in the words-plus-example of the Master.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 96

Ok, can anyone understand what the heck he's trying to say?

Is he trying to tell us that being a Christian is like being a bird? That God pours the knowledge of how to be a Christian into us, so that we know what to do like a bird knows how to build a nest? Because there does not seem to be a "master bird" that goes around teaching other birds how to build nests.

And isn't the whole "knowledge...that can't be reduced to information, words, etc..." just a cop-out? Isn't that just a way of saying "I'm right, just don't ask me to prove it"? Isn't that just his way of telling us to not ask him to expect him to give biblical support to his position, and even to not question when what he says goes against the Bible?

Friday, October 24, 2008

ooooo, heaven is a place on earth???

Because our questions about the afterlife have risen out of the Greek worldview, rather than the Hebrew culture of the early church, it's not surprising that we can find very little in the way of answers. But if we are willing to suspend the need for answers to those questions for a bit, I believe we find a whole other set of questions that are worth pursuing with equal passion.

The early Christians saw heaven not as a place we go to but as a reality that comes to us. They talked about redemption and healing coming through God's creation, not apart from it. They believed we would live as freed bodies in this healed place, not as freed spirits in some other place.
Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 228-229


Praise by to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a lving hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you,

who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
I Peter 1:3-5

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,

because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.

We live by faith, not by sight.

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may recieve what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
I Corinthians 5:1-10

Jesus replied. "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

At the resurrection people will neither marry nor by given in marriage; they will be like the angels of heaven.

But about the resurrection of the dead--have you not read what God said to you,

"I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"?

He is not the God of the dead but of the living.
Matthew 22:29-32

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
I Thessalonians 4:13-14

He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.
I Thessalonians 5:10

The Bible does say much about how things will be set right when Christ returns, among men and in all Creation; however, in regards to the earth, it also says that it is "reserved for fire", and that we look for "new heavens and a new earth", which seems to be something similar but different to what we have now.

As such, then, I think that Pagitt must do more then just claim that the early church didn't see Heaven as a place they would go to. Paul is pretty plain that "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". That doesn't negate the things said about Christ's rule when He returns, but those don't negate the other, either. Jesus said that in His day Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were living, and in the Transfiguration He converses with Moses and Elijah, who in body had been dead hundreds of years, and for Moses well over a thousand years.

And consider such biblical passages as are above, I think we can say that they did see Heaven as a place. A place where those who died before are, and where we go after we die.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

so, where did he get that idea?

Jesus made it clear that the afterlife isn't a place. It's a state of being...

While it might not seem like it at first glance, even Jesus' comments about "going to prepare a place for you" and "in my Father's house there are many rooms" come from the rabbinic tradition and are meant to create a picture of God's redemption on earth.
Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 222-223

Although not as footnotes-happy as Bell or Tony Jones, Pagitt does have several in this book; however, when he makes this contention about Jesus' statement about His Father's house having many rooms, there are no footnotes, and no support is given to his claims about the interpretation he claims.

Also, there is the disciple's own reactions, recorded in the passages in John, to Jesus' statement. They are troubled by His words, and ask where He was going, and are in sorrow that He would leave.

If they knew He was only using figurative language, then why did it bother them so much? Would they not have welcomed it if it had been "a picture of God's redemption on earth"?

You heard me say, "I am going away and I am coming back to you." If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.
John. 14:28-29

Perhaps Pagitt has some kind of supports for his claims. But if so, what are they? What rabbinic tradition is it that says what he claims? Why is his claim not supported? Could no specifics have been given, no specific resource cited?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

creative misplacing of priorities

Worship expressed both verbally and through a full range of artistic expression is a unique human activity on earth. Witness and mission are the outflow of that worship commitment. Consequently, it is given the highest priority.

Jonny Baker (Grace, London) highlights the central importance of creativity. "It's a core value for me and Grace. I would say that being made in the image of God, among other things, is about creativity. ...""The creativity of God is linked to the realization of the kingdom of God in our midst," says Doug Pagitt of Solomon's Porch (Minneapolis). "The phrase 'the kingdom of God as the creativity of God' I made up as tha way of explaining how God and humanity interact."

Art is our participation in God.
Gibbs and Bolger, Emerging Churches, p. 175-176, 177

One thing I've noticed in things I've read and listened to from various emergents, is how much they stress creativity, even to the point, as Pagitt does in the quotes above, of linking it to God's kingdom, making it almost synonamous with it.

While I do think that creativity is a good thing, I find a lot that keeps me from putting such emphasis on it, and making it such a great virtue or core value. Let me try to explain.

I am a single man, having never been married, but as it perhaps usual with some of my age in such a situation I have a bit of history of being 'in love' several times. Looking back on those instances and the women to whom I had feelings, I can say that in few if any cases were any of them very artistic women, and that I don't recall such creativity or lack thereof as being of much importance to me. Some of them may have been musician to a certain degree, or tried their hands at poetry, but those weren't the things that seemed to define them.

Rather, when I look back on them, it was other things about them and their character that were the things that drew me to them. Some of them I consider to be true saints in regards to the works they did, or things they overcame, or the sacrifices they made. Almost all were good and godly, who wanted to obey God and show Him to others. No doubt they were creative, but in what I would call a practice sense--using their creativity to help solve normal or even not-so-normal problems.

When I look at the New Testament, I see very little if anything said about creativity. None of the instances of the Great Commissions say anything about it; rather, they seem to presuppose that we already have the message, the Gospel, that we are to take to the world. We are told nothing about the Apostle's artisitc abilities, and since most were what would be considered 'common men', we may presume that they had very little. Nor do we have record of them ever encouraging their congregants to explore their artistic creativity.

In the list of spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit, artistry and creativity are notably lacking.

Even in what may be thought of as the more expressive spiritual gifts, like prophecy and tongues and interpretation, there is little room, if any, for personal creativity. A prophet was to share what had been given to him, a person speaking in tongues likely did not understand what he was saying and so had to rely on the interpretor to translate.

Finally, I'm not unfamiliar with the lives of some very creative people, and frankly while I may admire thier works, other parts of their lives would give me pause. Berlioz, Wagner, Lord Byron, Whitman, van Gogh, to some degree or another were not people who showed godly character traits. As a chess player, I can think of Alekhine and Fischer as examples of great players who were of very questionable character. And to play the extreme card, I could point out that Nero was a poet and Hitler an artist.

As someone who could maybe be labelled a 'creative', though in a very low-grade sense, I can appreciate creativity and the arts to some degree. But that also means I can appreciate the limits of artistic creativity, and I want to say quite clearly that I see no call to artistic creativity in the New Testament, that a person can be a Christian without ever picking up a paint brush or writing a line of verse.

So be at peace, you who have no desire to paint pictures or write poetry or who have little to no musical abilities, you are not second-class Christians in any sense. There is no biblical command for you to be any such thing; rather, consider well the things the Bible does command of us--to live pure and holy lives, to be Christ's witness to the world, to take the Gospel to the world, among other things--and see that one does not need special artistic abilities or special creativity in order to do those things.

And for those who are artists and musicians and such, beware if you think yourself somehow special and above those who are not. You may have your places, but those places are no higher or holier then anyone elses. And don't think that painting or writing puts you above the need to communicate the truth, or that you are above accountability because you are 'creative'. Be grateful to God for the gifts He's given to you, and use them for His glory.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

using fakes to dismiss the real

Ironically, though, when many modern Christians use the word sovereign (another form of "kingship" or "lordship"), they make matters worse, much worse, because for them, sovereignty means absolute control, and control is a very tricky word. Again, if you're living in danger and chaos, to say, "A good king will soon be in control," would be good news.

But it's not good news at all if you live, as we do, at the end of modernity, a period that told us in a hundred different ways how we're already controlled: by our genes (genetic determinism), by class struggle (Marxism), by primitive psychological aggressions (Freudianism), be operant conditioning (Skinnerism), by evolutionary competition (social Darwinism), by laws of physics and chemistry (naturalism, reductionism), by linguistic and social constructions (some forms of extreme postmodernism), by Euro-American military and economy (colonialism), by technique and machinery (industrialism), and by advertising (consumerism).
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 89

So, because a bunch of pretenders are claiming the throne of sovereignty, we must kick God off of that throne?

Or, should we recognize that God is sovereign despite (maybe even because of) the presence of all of those pretenders.

And if I may say, some of those pretenders are themselves simply pretenders in McLaren's mind. I mean, really, can advertising really make people do things? It may be manipulative at times, but manipulation can only go so far.

And, as well, this supposed distaste of people today to the idea of a good king cannot explain, for example, why people today are so fond of Tolkien. One of the main points of the "Lord of the Rings" is that a good and sovereign king (insofar as a human king can be sovereign) is coming and has come to take his rightful throne, taking over for a great but insane man and having a part in defeating a demonic power. Or how many people like Lewis' Narnia stories, which again often revolve around the establishing of good kings and queens. Or the continued interest in King Arthur.

Perhaps in the supposed progressive circles Mclaren runs in, the idea of a soverign king either isn't viewed positively (unless one of themselves should hold that throne), or is denied. But out here in the real world, it's still powerful and very meaningful.

But in the end our human reactions to such things are meaningless. If the Bible says that God is sovereign, then He is so, and any distaste in the idea is wrong.

Monday, October 20, 2008

the emergent shift?

"Preach the gospel to all creation," Christ said. Are we only now beginning to understand what he meant? I believe the unwritten melody that haunts this book ever so faintly, the new song waiting to be sung in place of the hymn of salvation, is simply the song of creation. To move away from the theology of salvation to the theology of creation may be the task of our time.
Vincent Donovan, Christianity Rediscovered, quoted in McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, pp. 100-101

One of those 'in a nutshell' statements--Heaven is traded for earth, salvation is discarded in exchange for saving the world, love of the world pursued.

Plus, I suppose we could ask, where did Jesus say to preach the gospel to all creation (as if either Donovan or McLaren were Creationists, we may wonder). Preach it to every nation, all peoples, yes. All of creation? Book, chapter, and verse, please.

Friday, October 17, 2008

getting it all backwards

He (Vincent Donovan) explains, "I was to learn that any thoelogy or theory that makes no reference to previous missionary experience, which does not take that experience into account, is a dead and useless thing...praxis must be prior to theology...In my work [theology would have to proceed] from practice to theory. If a theology did emerge from my work, it would have to be a theology growing out of the life and experience of the pagan peoples of the savannahs of East Africa". Similarly, I have become convinced that a generous orthodoxy appropriate for our postmodern world will have to grow out of the experience of the post-Christian, post-secular people of the cities of the twenty-first century.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 100

If the whole postmodern virus as it concerns religion could be summed up in one small phrase, a good one would be "praxis must be prior to theology".

Or to sum up in other words, "we have to do everything backwards".

We have to change the message of the Gospel to fit, so we think, the heathen peoples to whom we are suppose taking to Gospel to. We have to know what the people want so we can give it to them, rather then giving them what they need.

(and if you live in the country, tough bananas, pal, because they're only concerned about "the post-Christian, post-secular people of the cities of the twenty-first century"/.)

Instead of going to the Bible to see what message we should give to the heathen, we go to the heathen to see what message we should give to them.

Because Jesus said "Go into all the world, and get from them the gospel". Didn't he???

As someone who spent a few years in missions himself, I can only say that these men's ideas are hogwash.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

friends in low places

No. The Christian faith, I am proposing, should become (in the name of Jesus Christ) a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat. We should be seen as a protector of their heritages, a defender against common enemies, not one of the enemies. Just as Jesus came originally not to destroy the law but to fulfill it, not to condemn people but to save them, I believe he comes today not to destroy or condemn anything (anything but evil) but to redeem and save everything that can be redeemed and saved.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 287

What is evil but religions that teach people to worship and serve other beings but the true God? What is evil but religions that teach people to seek their own salvations in their own works--acts of 'righteousness', pursuit of nothingness, an unending cycle of reincarnation?

There is the definition of evil. True Christianity cannot but be the enemy of such things, as even Jesus and the Apostles knew.

Other religions are the enemies of God, and as such the enemies of the people in those religions. Those religions are misleading the people, giving them false hopes and false assureances, and as the Truth Christianity cannot be anything else but the enemy of those things.

Christianity must love the people in other religions enough to tell them the truth, that they are worshiping what is not true, worshiping devils and demons, thinking they are saved when in reality they are lost, and telling them to repent and leave those things and come to the living God.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

two important facts about every one of us

It's one thing to recite these confessions and statements in a Sunday school class. It's a very different thing to live out a theology of inherent depravity (that humans start out lacking anything good). We can say we believe that humanity is evil and depraved and that we enter the world this way. But I don't think this fits the Christian story, nor do many of us truly hold to it.
Pagitt, A Christianity Worth Believing, p. 124


...The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They begain with the fact of sin--a fact as practical as potatoes. whether or not man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not merely materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proven...The strongest saints and the strongest skeptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all athiests do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.
Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. 11

And further...

...I mean, I've never heard of someone walking the halls of a maternity ward and saying, "Oh, what a collection we have here of dirty, rotten, little sinners who are separate from God and only capable of evil!" Rather, the impulse is to say, "What wondrous, beautiful miracles." Or to borrow a phrase from the creation story, "It is very good." New life just doesn't seem to fit with this notion of inherent depravity.
Pagitt, p. 124

In the Bible, we are told two very important facts about ourselves. One, which Pagitt seems to have no problem accepting, is that "we are fearfully and wonderfully made". He is right that babies are "wondrous, beautiful miracles", though if he thinks that is such a prevalent attitude, he should check the numbers on abortion.

But the Bible also gives us another fact, which Pagitt unwisely seeks to discard. It tells us that we have been "shaped in iniquity, and conceived sin", and that we "come out of the womb speaking lies". We are told that "all of the works we think are righteous are only putrid rags". In that since, the man calling children in maternity wards "dirty, rotten, little sinners" is speaking as much truth as the one calling them "wondrous, beautiful miracles". Both things are true, and unless one accepts that both are true, nothing the Bible teaches about us makes sense, and one must mutilate and truncate the Bible, as Pagitt does, to disregard the one so as to wholely cling to the other.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

deconstructing Jesus???

I think Jesus is right because I believe God was in Jesus in an unprecedented way.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 77

God was in Jesus???

So, what is Jesus in this?

Is the divinity of Jesus being dismissed here??? God was only in Jesus, not Jesus being God???

Even his explanations over the next few pages leave me unsatisfied in regards to what he thinks here. Rather, after some kind of lengthy politically correct apology about the use of masculine terms in regard to God and Jesus, we get this...

...the experience of God in Jesus was so powerful that it forever transformed what followers of Jesus meant when they said the word God. What was God like? What was God about? When they thought about what they had learned, seen, and experienced in Jesus, their understanding was revolutionized. Eventually, after a few centuries of reflecting on God as revealed and experienced through Jesus (in the context of some major controversies with varied forms of Greek philosophy), the church began to describe God as Father-Son-Spirit in Tri-unity or the Trinity.
p. 84

Is he really trying to say that the Church had no idea of the divinity of Jesus until a few centuries after the Scriptures were completed? Is he trying to say that the early church was unitarian, or thought that Jesus was just some kind of good man, a great ethical teacher, or some kind of ascended master?

Seriously, as I'm writing this, I'm feeling sickened. Why would anyone who names themselves Christian listen to this man? Doesn't this absolutely disqualify him from being any kind of Christian teacher? His ramblings about Marxism and liberation theology and pacifism could maybe be relegated to non-essentials (though I stress the 'maybe'), but this cannot be, and for him to say what he's saying and to infer what he's inferring is heretical to the core.

Look it up. The page numbers are up there. Look at things in context, and confirm or not that what I'm saying is real.

Monday, October 13, 2008

seeing what's really there

...Recently I received an e-mail from an intelligent, young, "religiously right" Christian (intelligent enough to use e-mail) who told me he expects to die as a martyr at the hands of "liberals." How many hours of religious broadcasting does it take to produce this much fear.
McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 278

Leaving the snide remark about how a "religiously right" Christian could dare to be intelligent enough to use e-mail...

(especially as he likely doesn't dare to acknowledge the discovery by McLaren of Jesus' supposed 'secret message', which somehow the Church for 2000 years had missed)

Likely it doesn't take many hours of such broadcasting. Likely it doesn't require any at all.

Maybe this young Christian merely has his eyes open.

Maybe he's noticed how any biblical opinion he holds is being labelled "hate speech" or "not progressive" or something else in order to be dismissed.

Maybe he's noticed how his education system is set deliberately to minimize his views. Maybe he's seen how nothing but evolution is allowed in his school, and that not by force of evidence but force of law. Maybe he's seen how other religions are being welcomed into his schools, except his own. Maybe he's seen how his country's history is distorted and his country defamed by teachers and professors with their own liberal agendas.

Maybe he's noticed how people like McLaren will bend over backwards to accept and acknowledge almost every other viewpoint as being worthy of being in 'the conversations'. Except his own.

Maybe he's noticed how the liberals are actively trying to silence people like himself. Maybe he's seen how his churches can't speak out about who should lead his nation without the liberal bulldogs of the ACLU threatening to silence them. Maybe he's seen how "hate speech" laws are going to be used to silence him from speaking of the biblical views of things like homosexuality. Maybe he's heard of the misnamed 'fairness act', meant to shut down conservative talk radio, and notices that liberals aren't a concerned about how their own liberal television bastions aren't a part of that so-called 'fairness'.

Maybe he's noticed how the media will opening plug anyone and anything liberal, playing the 'victim' card ad nauseum, while being openly and actively hostile to all things conservative.

Maybe this young man has his eyes more open then McLaren does.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

spinning lewis

We've said it again and again in these pages: the secret message of Jesus isn't primarily about "heaven after you die". It doesn't give us an exit ramp or escape hatch from this world; rather, it thrusts us back into the here and now so we can be part of God's dream for planet Earth coming true.
McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 183

It rather honks me off that in the chapter in which he writes that sentence, he quotes C.S. Lewis rather a lot, as if Lewis was on his side in this, as if Lewis is some kind of 'posthumous Friend of Emergent' (dare I say, an 'emergent zombie'? Ht the movie "An American Carol" and ACLU zombies). Read these, please, and see if you think that Lewis thought that ideas of Heaven (notice I capitalize that name, and notice that McLaren doesn't) was some kind of 'escape hatch'.

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither.
Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 134

'...If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for the other world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing...I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.'
Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 136-137

The doctrine of the Second Coming teaches us that we do not and cannot know when the world drama will end. The curtain may be rung down at any moment: say, before you have finished reading this paragraph...

The doctrine of the Second Coming, then, is not to be rejected because it conflicts with our favorite modern mythology. It is, for that very reason, to be the more valued and made more frequently the subject of meditation. It is the medicine our condition especially needs.
Lewis, The World's Last Night, pp. 105, 106

Lewis does not seem to at all denigrate the hope of the 'other world' as McLaren seems to do. Lewis even equates those who have a healthy hope for life after death with those who do the most good here on earth, as opposed to emergents who seem at best embarrassed by the afterlife and either cite some kind of 'Platonic dualism' or try to shift focus away from it as quickly as they can.

But emergents can't get away with it. They have aimed for earth instead of Heaven, and so shall have neither. They shall, no doubt with the best on intentions (such as the ones that pave the way to hell), redefine and deconstruct the Bible to fit their own presuppositions (all while condemning the presuppositionalism of others), embrace other religions as being other ways to God (all while condemning those in their own religion who know the Bible teaches otherwise), and support politics that legislate for their favorite pet ideas, like global warming and the redistribution of wealth (all while ridiculing those who focus on real moral issues, like the murder of the unborn and the legalizing of sexual immoralities).

And so, they will pollute earth, because they will not have people think of Heaven.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

...find nothing but faith in nothing

IN ASKING ABOUT THE REALITY OF FAITH in the 21st century, the following questions arise: What is the meaning of faith? And what makes faith a reality? More importantly, however, to the question of the reality of faith is the reality of God, and it is this question of God that is under discussion in the present essay. For instance, if the Father-God of Christian tradition belongs to history, that, of course, has far-reaching implications for one's thinking about the reality of faith. In this essay I want to examine the work of H. M. Kuitert and Alain Badiou to show that a choice has to be made about this. It will be my argument that true faith can better be imagined without than with God.
Neven, Gerrit. ‚Doing Theology without God? About The Reality of Faith in the 21st century
Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory vol. 6 no. 3 (Fall 2005): 30-42.

So, let's see, if that's how postmoderns are thinking, lets see where this trend in thinking will take us, with some remixing of the last phrase of that paragraph.

It will be my argument that true parenthood can better be imagined without than with children.

It will be my argument that true eating can better be imagined without than with food.

It will be my argument that true marriage can better be imagined without than with having a husband or wife.

It will be my argument that true reading can better be imagined without than with the written word.

It will be my argument that true swimming can better be imagined without than with water.

It will be my argument that true golf can better be imagined without than with golf clubs and golf balls.

It will be my argument that true driving can better be imagined without than with vehicles.

It will be my argument that true art can better be imagined without than with paintings or sculptures or any other art form.

It will be my argument that true internet surfing can better be imagined without than with the computer.

It will be my argument that true seeing can better be imagined without than with eyes.

It will be my argument that true hearing can better be imagined without than with ears.

It will be my argument that true living can better be imagined without than with life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

spinning the everyday and common

From McLaren's Everything Must Change, p. 190

Seen in the light of theocapitalism, MTV and Fox become powerful forms of religious broadcasting, evoking fear and hope, love and hate, obedience and rebellion.

Considering that McLaren is now publically on the side of Obama, one can wonder if the use of Fox in that paragraph is accidental, or meant to evoke Fox News. Why not mention one of the former big three? Not that Fox is all that admirable, but if he wants creators of "fear and hope, love and hate, obedience and rebellion", he couldn't do worse then ABC, NBC, or CBS.

Malls become cathedrals; amusement parks, shrines of holy pilgrimage; celebrities and stars, saints, priests, idols.

Some of this is rather amusing. Maybe not completely without point, but also rather rhetorically overblown, too.

It's rhetoric designed to enforce his point. What needs to be asked, though, and with sobriety, is whether his point is valid, or not.

Are malls the modern cathedrals? No. They are now what the markets were. I lived for a while in a city in Russia that had open-air markets, many small neighborhood ones, but there was a very large central one, too. Big box stores and malls are merely developments of such places.

Is Disneyland a shrine of holy pilgrimage? Well, considering some things they espouse, one may make a case for unholy pilgrimage, but it's a stretch either way. I suppose one could make a case for them being like the older fairs and circuses and traveling shows.

Are celebrities and stars now saints, priests, and idols? It's an interesting comparison, but I'm not sure it completely holds up. In many ways, in the current presidential election, the statements of celebrities have done more harm to the candidate they have supported then good. It is a common thing that celebrities should be lifted up and torn down. We are realizing that even the most supposedly squeaky-clean celebrity may not be the ideal role model we may have once hoped. If they were true idols, would we take such pleasure in learning of their failings and misbehaviors? That is maybe a problem in itself, but it does raise questions about how much they are like 'idols' in the old sense.

TV becomes an altar before which we don't kneel, but rather recline--entranced, enraptured, open-eyed and open-mouthed in speechless wonder, on pews called couches, eating our communion bread of potato chips and ice cream and sipping our holy wine of beer and Pepsi.

What a maroon!!!

Come on, really. Who amongst us really sits 'enraptured' while watching TV? How many of us watch TV in 'speechless wonder'?

Well, ok, some may watch Oprah in that way, I'll grant that, but outside of her...

But his rhetoric fits his point. Doesn't make it right, though.

Multinational corporations become denominations, world religions, and they know no separation of church and state.

And the obligatory shot at globalization.

Want the truth? Want to know why McDonalds has restaurants all over the world?

Here it is--it's because the people who are native to those places buy food at McDonalds restaurants!!

No more, no less. Sure, if you go to a McDonalds in, say, Moscow or Beijing, you'll likely find tourists. Very well, but not enough to keep such a place in business. No, what you'll find is that the Moscow restaurants are filled with Russians, and the Beijing ones are overflowing with Chinese people.

All there because they chose to go there. They could have chose another restaurant, or chose to fix their own food at home, or maybe picked up something at the markets already fixed, but they didn't, they chose McDonalds. And so McDonalds stays, because McDonalds is chosen.

The good or bad of many things may be worth discussing, but to blithely accept McLaren's obviously biased rhetoric is not wise. He is rather obviously trying to stick things to capitalism that are either not problems, or problems with people in general no matter what economic system they are in. Greed isn't a problem with capitalism, but a sin common with all people. Idolatry is far older then the free market system, and while there may be forms of it that we should be wary of, there would be other forms that would crop up no matter how people earn their living.

In short, McLaren is not saying anything overly new or offering new insights. And simply putting the tag 'theocapitalism', an name obviously meant to be provocative, on it does not make his claims accurate.