Monday, April 26, 2010

a little shy of a full deck

What else can you say, when a supposed news channel has this as a caption.

Law Makes it a Crime to be Illegal Immigrant By definition, being in the country illegally was already a crime, before Arizona passed its recent bill.

Yep, deep thoughts from MSNBC. No, please, you don't need to thank me.

dilbert is my hero

The last line of this comic had me in stitches, which also explains why it's now in the header. Rather apropo, some may say.

Friday, April 23, 2010

not holding my breath

A few days ago, I linked to a Sojo post by none other than Wallis himself, where he wrote this.

It’s time we make it clear that different views of the role of government are legitimate and essential to a robust democratic discourse; but the hateful and even violent rhetoric that has been employed in the past, and is now having a resurgence again, is dangerous and destructive and should be renounced and rejected by people of faith and good will across the political spectrum.

One may wonder, then, what he thinks of rhetoric like this.

Today, I think Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh want today to be declared, uh, a national holiday. I suggest it be called Beck Memorial Day. This is the kind of day 15 years ago when Beck was still working, uh, in a bath house as a towel boy. This is the kind of day that, 15 years ago that Beck, when he woke up and heard about the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building he applauded. He clapped. He danced. He jumped around like a drop of water on a hot pancake griddle! He was just as happy as could be! This is what Beck and Limbaugh and the rest of these right wing freaks want to see happen again. And again. And again. Endlessly.

After the bluegrass hillbillies/commercial break, Malloy repeated, "You just know Beck was just hoping for something bloody and murderous would occur. He's been directing his minions to do this."

This place is rather small, so whatever I say may not amount to much, but if Wallis is serious about not liking "hateful and even violent rhetoric", then I call on him to condemn this statement, made by the left-wing radio personality Michael Malloy.

But I'll not hold my breath, waiting for him to do so.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

religion of story

Jonathan Merritt...wrote, "According to Public Religion Research, 37% of evangelicals ages 18-34 have a close friend or relative who is gay. Only 16% of evangelicals 35 and older can say the same"...The difference goes far in explaining why younger Evangelicals are changing their opinion on sexuality. Knowing a gay person is like observing the retrograde motion of the planets
Brian Mclaren, A New Kind of Christianity, p 281

First, he ignores rather completely the other aspects of society that influence the young--pressure, for example, especially the one called 'political correctness', where things have become such that it is simply verboten to question homosexual behavior. One can also recall how homosexuals and the left reacted to the Mormons in California, in regards to the defeat of the gay marriage amendment, to see that this pressure can border if not outright go into violence against those who dare to disagree.

But mostly, I want to point out that this is simply the emergent practice, the postmodern practice. Objective truth is trivialized, even discarded, and 'story' is brought in to take its place. If you're one they consider 'oppressed', be it for race or religion or sexual choices, then your story is credible (even if not factual or true). Story is the new truth.

Strangely, in my years, I've known many people who have done many things.

For example, one of my best friends in college lived with his then-girlfriend for a while. Funny, but I don't consider premarital sex ok, even with having known people who have engaged in it. I knew other people who may have participated in recreational drug use, probably marijuana, and I can't say that I approved then or approve now. I knew some who would drink too much, and I can say I ever considered drunkenness a good thing. I've known people who have done hard drugs, usually in their past, and it has done nothing to make me think that doing those kinds of drugs is good.

I've known people who cheated on spouses, and can't say that I consider marital unfaithfulness a good thing. I've known people who have had children before they were married, and was never tempted to consider that maybe abstinence was a faulty ideal.

Heck, I've even known some gay people, and they've been nice enough people. But that doesn't mean their sexual practices are good. Being nice doesn't mean all you do is ok.

HIs argument that simply knowing gay people will make one approve of their sexual practices is simply specious, and tying it into a faulty theory of the solar system is ridiculous.

Monday, April 19, 2010

never let the truth interfere with propoganda

Such is the Left's motto. Such is what Jim Wallis tries to do today.

The Oklahoma City Bombing Anniversary and Home-Grown Terrorism

On this terrible day, I have to ask: Are we concerned about the clear history and threat of domestic terrorism, or just foreign-based terrorist attacks?

Very likely, both. But the other question is, is Wallis concerned about either type of terrorism, or the propoganda value he can squeeze from this anniversary.

Are we as concerned about potential terrorists who are home-grown Americans with white skin as we are sometimes obsessed with darker-skinned suspects of Middle Eastern descent? And are we willing to focus our attention on the white right-wing violence of so-called American or even “Christian” militias, like we are now seemingly ready to unleash the forces of law enforcement against the mostly harmless but very vulnerable people who crossed the border illegally? Those are some of the questions we should ask as we watch the MSNBC documentary tonight.

Yes, because it is only "white right-wing violence" that is the problem, or so he wants us to think. How right-wing the OKC bomber was is up for debate, though it fits Wallis' agenda to try to make him so.

Oh, and we are concerned with "white...violence", but if you bring up Bill Ayers and his connection to the current president, Wallis would likely have a fit.

It should also be noted that the special Wallis touts is by Rachel Maddow, hardly a paragon of unbiasness. It would be no surprise if her 'special' leans more than a little left, while trying to make the right look bad.

Because that is what this is all about--setting up the Tea Party people for when something bad happens.

It’s time we make it clear that different views of the role of government are legitimate and essential to a robust democratic discourse; but the hateful and even violent rhetoric that has been employed in the past, and is now having a resurgence again, is dangerous and destructive and should be renounced and rejected by people of faith and good will across the political spectrum.

Yes, he's right, in a way. Unfortunately, it's his side that is using "hateful and even violent rhetoric", and he is not prepared to "renounce and reject" them. If he even recognized it when he hears it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

a sojo-er hears only what he wants

I suppose I should give small props to this guy for actually attending a Tea Party and making a modicum of attempt to be fair, but in the end, all he comes away with is a nonsense interpretation of what happened, and I can't give any props for that.

Wearing My Jesus Goggles to the Boston Tea Party

First, have to cringe that at "I'm more spiritual than them" aspect of the title. Yeah, you go 'Jesus goggles', whatever those are.

Palin walked right into the debate over American exceptionalism, stating that as the greatest nation on the planet, America is, in fact, exceptional. (Implying that we can do what we please, thank you.)

Really? Apparently, this person has no idea what is meant by "American exceptionalism". It has nothing to with a "do what we please" attitude, but with the idea that the US, when founded, was a very diffirent kind of place than had mostly come before. That we allow people to succeed and fail as they are able. That we give people freedom, not try to control them. That the government is of, by, and for the people, not the people mere vassals of the state.

Do we erase all national affiliation when we follow Jesus? No, but we affiliate ourselves first with the kingdom of God, which changes everything. Militarism — even in the name of “freedom” — is wrong for the Christian, in all cases, at all times.

I assume, from that last statement, that this person is a confirmed pacifists. It's just a shame that people had to sacrifice and die to support his freedom to denigrate them.

Which brings me to the concept of “freedom.” This really is the operative concept within the Tea Party movement: freedom from excessive taxes and government intrusion of all kinds. This freedom, signs and speakers proudly announce, came at a price — the price of brave American soldiers in 250 years’ worth of foreign and domestic wars. But they opportunistically omit that our freedom also came at the cost of Native Americans, foreign and domestic soldiers and civilians, and our natural resources. I would argue that a Christian cannot blindly accept freedom that sacrifices lives and our Earth, not when the very core principles of our faith were violated to achieve it.

Yeah, don't exercise your freedoms, you ingrates!

I'll buy this guy's arguments when he gives up his freedom of speech, freedom to assembly, and the other freedoms he thinks the Tea Partiers are so bad to want to protect.

This person is likely supportive of the movement on ideological grounds rather than economic grounds, which, as I mentioned earlier, was the platform for the group’s beginnings. Most likely to be rich, white, and older than 45, Tea Party supporters largely oppose what they perceive to be policies that disproportionately favor the poor over the rich. In other words, most point to differences in class as the reason why they support the Tea Party.

Here it is--Tea Partiers don't like helping the poor! Bad people!

But you have to understand, this is lib-speak. Not liking policies that "disproportionately favor the poor over the rich" is lib-speak for not liking socialistic redistribute-the-wealth policies.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

with friends like this...

On Sojo's God's Politics blog, Shane Claiborne, an (maybe former) emergent in good standing, has thrown the emergent church under the bus. It's quite a mess, as he employs all the 'bad language' against it that they like to hurl against everyone else. Emphases mine.

A decade or so ago, a bunch of young, mostly white evangelicals started seeing similar conversations beginning to spark all over the place about the reshaping of evangelicalism, the rethinking of missions, and reimagining what it really means to be the church...

Nonetheless it has always been evident that this is not the whole conversation or renewal happening in the church — and the fact that the dozens of books and cover stories done on the “emerging church” hailed mostly faces of white men shows the many forces of colonialism, privilege, and all the other principalities and powers that still threaten to hold our faith captive...

...In my opinion, “the movement” became a bit narcissistic, and often became little more than theological masturbation:...

Some “emerging church” folks have repeated some of the mistakes of fundamentalism (only with more tattoos), and others have repeated the mistakes of liberalism (only with more wit).

So all that to say, I find the “emerging church” language, at least the Emergent™ brand, utterly unhelpful. So I will not spend much energy, beyond this note, to try and defend, or for that matter destroy, what seems to me little more than a brand name for a product no one can identify.

And, of couse, Claiborne engages in a bit of, shall we say, covering his own backside.

In fact, much of the time I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with critics who thought they were critiquing me but really were only critiquing “the emerging church.” I was merely guilty by association, and an association with something I could not even identify, much less align with.

With FoEs like that, emergent almost doesn't need people like me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A New Kind of Christianity: The Jesus Question

The two chapters which McLaren devotes to this question are based on a couple of quotes from sources he doesn't identify, though in the footnotes he does give a YouTube web address for one of them.

The first one is from someone he only calls "one of my most loyal and dedicated critics". This person said...

In Revelation, Jesus is a prize-fight with a tattoo down His leag, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.

McLaren, of course, finds this appalling. He tries to compare this to how the character Ricky Bobby sees Jesus in "Talladega Nights", p 121. He then brings out one of his favorite weapons--the Scare Tactic. "So, in successfully rejecting an insipt "hippie, diaper, halo Christ," we may unintentionally protect and uphold the white supremacist Jesus, the colonial Jesus, the Euorcentric Jesus, the Republican or Democrat Jesus, the capitalist or communist Jesus..." p 122. The paragraph and his various Jesus' goes on longer, I really don't want to give them all, I hope that's enough.

McLaren does reference the place in Revelation 19:11-16 where the other person gets the idea of Jesus, but he says this like sci-fi stories. "For example, when we read or watch Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, The Matrix, or Wall-E, we don't think the writers and filmmakers are trying to predict the future. No we understand they are really talking aobut the present, and they are doing so in hopes of changing the future." p 123

Which means that how McLaren interprets this passage is to say that the correct interpretation is rather the opposite of how it looks. "Rather, this image fo Jesus as a conqueror reassures believers that the peaceable Jesus who entered Jerusalem on a donkey that day wasn't actually weak and defeated; he was in fact every bit as powerful as a Caesar on a steed..." p 124

"Revelation celebrates not the love of power, but the power of love. It denies, with all due audacity, that God's anointed liberator is the Divine Terminator, threatening revenge for all who refuse to honor him, growling "I'll be back". It asserts, instead, that God's anointed liberator is the one we beat up, who promises mercy to those who strike him...The suffering, serving one who bled on a cross--not the one with a commitment to make others suffer and bleed--is the King of kings and Lord of lords." p 126

Here's the second quote that McLaren responds to.

The only reason Jesus came was to save people from hell...Jesus had no social agenda...[He didn't come to eliminate poverty or slavery or]...fix something in somebody's life for the little moment they live on this earth.

"For him, Jesus is not the one who saves from poverty, captivity, blindness, and oppression, even though these are Jesus' very words (borrowed from Isaiah) to describe his mission. I think you'll agree, my faithful critic's statement can only make sense, first, if we interepre Jesus within the confines of the Greco-Roman six-line narrative; second, if we predetermine to read the Bible as a constitution; and third, if we construct and solidify our understanding of God before seeking to understand Jesus, rather then letting Jesus serve as the Word-made-flesh revelation of God's character" p 128.

Over the next several pages, McLaren does an interesting exercise, comparing Jesus in John to events and people in the OT books of Moses, doing so in order to support his view Jesus as an earthly liberator.

"But even these few examples, selected from so many more, make it clear that Jesus, contrary to my loyal critic's assertion, did not come merely to "save souls from hell." No, he came to launch a new Genesis, to lead a new Exodus, and to announce, embody, and inaugurate a new kingdom as the Prince of Peace(Isa. 9:6). Seen in this light, Jesus and his message have everything to do with poverty, slavery, and a "social agenda"." p 135

My thoughts on this.

McLaren may well be right that sci-fi is most often not interested in trying to predict the future (though I suppose Jules Verne could complicate things a bit, like writing about submarines before there were such things). But equating biblical prophecy to sci-fi just won't work, and is a rather childish attempt to negate the importance of prophecy. They are two different things.

Also, McLaren shows an amazing lack of historical context, in his dismissing of the return of Jesu in judgment. Here are some excerpts from very early church leaders, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, and what they wrote about Christ's return.

“So that you ought rather to desist from the love of strife, and repent before the great day of judgment come, wherein all those of your tribes who have pierced this Christ shall mourn as I have shown has been declared by the Scriptures. And I have explained that the Lord swore, ‘after the order of Melchizedek,’ and what this prediction means; and the prophecy of Isaiah which says, ‘His burial is taken away from the midst,’ I have already said, referred to the future burying and rising again of Christ; and I have frequently remarked that this very Christ is the Judge of all the living and the dead. And Nathan likewise, speaking to David about Him, thus continued: ‘I will be His Father, and He shall be my Son; and my mercy shall I not take away from Him, as I did from them that went before Him; and I will establish Him in my house, and in His kingdom for ever.’ And Ezekiel says, ‘There shall be no other prince in the house but He.’ For He is the chosen Priest and eternal King, the Christ, inasmuch as He is the Son of God;
Justin Martyr, dialogue with Trypho, ch 118

For the prophets have proclaimed two advents of His: the one, that which is already past, when He came as a dishonored and suffering Man; but the second, when, according to prophecy, He shall come from heaven with glory, accompanied by His angelic host, when also He shall raise the bodies of all men who have lived, and shall clothe those of the worthy with immortality, and shall send those of the wicked, endued with eternal sensibility, into everlasting fire with the wicked devils.
Justin Martyr, First Apology of Justin, ch 52

If the Father, then, does not exercise judgment, [it follows] that judgment does not belong to Him, or that He consents to all those actions which take place; and if He does not judge, all persons will be equal, and accounted in the same condition. The advent of Christ will therefore be without an object, yea, absurd, inasmuch as [in that case] He exercises no judicial power. For “He came to divide a man against his father, and the daughter against the mother, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law;” and when two are in one bed, to take the one, and to leave the other; and of two women grinding at the mill, to take one and leave the other: [also] at the time of the end, to order the reapers to collect first the tares together, and bind them in bundles, and burn them with unquenchable fire, but to gather up the wheat into the barn; and to call the lambs into the kingdom prepared for them, but to send the goats into everlasting fire, which has been prepared by His Father for the devil and his angels. And why is this? Has the Word come for the ruin and for the resurrection of many? For the ruin, certainly, of those who do not believe Him, to whom also He has threatened a greater damnation in the judgment-day than that of Sodom and Gomorrah; but for the resurrection of believers, and those who do the will of His Father in heaven. If then the advent of the Son comes indeed alike to all, but is for the purpose of judging, and separating the believing from the unbelieving, since, as those who believe do His will agreeably to their own choice, and as, [also] agreeably to their own choice, the disobedient do not consent to His doctrine; it is manifest that His Father has made all in a like condition, each person having a choice of his own, and a free understanding; and that He has regard to all things, and exercises a providence over all, “making His sun to rise upon the evil and on the good, and sending rain upon the just and unjust.”
Irenaeus, Against Heretics, Book 5 Chapter 27

McLaren essentially says that if we believe in this coming of Christ in judgment, then we negate all the things He taught about forgiveness. The truth is, no, we don't; rather, he is the one who has to make what Jesus and others say about His second coming mean something else.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall the gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.
Matt. 25:31-32

Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Rev 1:7

And to these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophecied, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgement upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which theyhave ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Jude 14-15
these scriptures found in the book "What the Bible Teaches" by R. A. Torrey

McLaren seems to have almost no concept of justice, outside of what he considers "social justice". He can only seem to see Christ return in judgment as revenge, not as justice, just as he can only see hell as torture, not justice.

I can't help but find it off-putting that McLaren doesn't say who said the quotes he gives, or really when and where. I'm pretty sure that the first quote is from Mark Driscoll, I think I've heard him say that or similar. The second I'm not sure of, and when I looked up the YouTube address he gives in the end notes, it wasn't there. As such, looking up those quotes and checking the contexts is much more difficult. I would especially like to see the context for the latter.

Since he goes on for several pages concerning how Jesus is like Moses, going into it in detail is probably beyond what I'd care to do right now. There may be some points of interest, but as with most things with McLaren, I doubt either his claim, or his interpretation of it. Some of the parallels are rather weak, I think. "Just as Moses was initially rejected by his brothers (Exod 2:14), so Jesus was initially rejected", p 131. But such rejection was and is hardly uncommon. One could find rejection with almost any prophet. "In Exodus, God's presence was associated with the tabernacle, a sacred tent, and John says, "The Word became flesh and lived [made his dwelling, tented or tabernacled] among us" (1:14)" Unless there is some relation between the word John uses that is interpreted "dwelt", then this parallel isn't really saying much.

One thing I want to bring up is his attempt to re-interpret the concept of a Promised Land. "As we considered earlier, the narrative beings with the longing for a literal homeland...Gradually, the idea of a promised land morphs from a geographic reality into a social one: "a land flowing with milk and honey" becomes a society in which justice flows like water." pp 132-133.

One must be careful of saying too much here, but the practical outcome of such thinking should be clear--if there is now no geographical Promised Land, it does away with any divine right the Jews may have to the land of Israel, which plays into the Left's ideas about Israel and Palestine. I don't want to go so far as to charge anti-Semitism against McLaren, but just as he likes to play scare tactics about the ideas of others, so I think we can think of all-too-really-horrible outcomes that could come from his ideas.

Earlier, I pointed out where McLaren seems to show a streak of anti-supernaturalism when he wrote about the Nile turning to blood in Exodus, saying instead it was a red tide. He does it again, in regards to the prophecy in Isaiah 40:1-5, which speaks of "the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills;".

"Obviously, the prophet isn't predicting a literal tectonic shift in which Jerusalem rises further above sea level and Mt. Everest sinks, but rather a time when God's wisdom draws nations up to the higher level of relating, so disputes are settled nonviolently, wisely, peacefully..." p 134., it's not "obvious" that this is only metaphorical language. The God I know and love and serve is the One who made the world, the One who made the waters into literal blood, the One who parted the waters of the Red Sea so that Israel could flee, and it is not beyond His power to literally fulfill this prophecy. Unlike McLaren's new-agey view of mankind going to a higher level, I think this prophecy will be literally fulfilled, that the Lord will Himself judge and arbitrate, and not the UN or any other man-made organization or institution. Certainly not anything McLaren is associated with.

This 'new-agey'-ness shows through a time or two more.

"Jesus evokes Moses directly in his conversation with Nicodemus, saying that the Son of Man (a complex term drawn from Daniel 7:13-14, which I believe suggests a new generation or genesis of humanity) will be lifted up as Moses lifted up a bronze serpent in the wilderness (Num 21:9)." p 132.

Jesus claiming to be the Son of Man "suggests a new generation or genesis of humanity"? What??? Is McLaren claiming that "a new generation or genesis of humanity" must be lifted up, as Moses lifted up the serpent? And how new-agey does "a new generation or genesis of humanity" sound?

He makes much of how the world 'hell' doesn't appear in John, "(John, it should be noted, never mentions hell, a highly significant fact)" p 130. But this quote has a footnote, which shows the shenanigans. "Since we aren't assuming the six-line narrative, it would be an unwarranted conclusion to equate words found in John like "condemnation," "death," and "perish" with the word "hell," which is never found in John." p 275.

Claiming there is no hell because John doesn't mention the word is like claiming there is no love because Ruth doesn't use the word, or there is no God because Esther doesn't mention God. It's a weak argument, emblematic of desperation, a thin straw a drowning man will grasp at with unthinking hope that it will keep him afloat.

Finally, you'll find very little about the crucifixion in this part of the book. I've found one mention it it of that event, "If you don't want to worship a guy you can beat up, then I might humbly suggest you reconsider Caesar and the Greco-Roman narrative. It sounds like "Christ and him crucified" is not for you. At least not yet". The one real mention of the crucified Christ in these chapters is little more than a cheap shot.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

sad news

Michael Spencer, 1956-2010

For a couple of years, I worked at the private school where Michael Spencer was minister. I cannot claim to have known him well, but we got along well. On one committee that was for creating materials for the school's big yearly offering, he offered some good suggestions to one of my poster concepts, and the results were very good. He also started up a chess club, and I helped a bit with it, until my time there ended not long after it was started. And I remember a time or two of being invited to their house, to watch some episodes of MST3K.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

reading into it

How would I answer if someone asked me to describe the story line of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"?

Probably something like this: Four human children are drawn to a fantasy world called Narnia when they walk into a wardrobe. One of them meets up with bad company, the White Witch, and tries to betray the other three. Those three are helped to reach Aslan, and with his help they rescue the betraying brother, who has learned the error of his ways. But the Witch claims the life of the betrayer, so to settle that just account with her, Aslan lets himself be killed by her. But he returns to life, destroys the White Witch, ends her perpetually winter, and appoints the four children as kings and queens of Narnia.

Now, suppose the person who asks me to do that then starts shaking his head in a superior fashion, and tells me that I have it all wrong. He says that his explanation is the correct one, and then goes on to give it. He talks about how the four children, who are English and white, merely show the author's Euro-centric, or even Anglo-centirc, superiority, and the fact that all of the Narnians they encounter are non-human merely show how the English, and whites as a whole, held and still hold a view of non-whites as being essentially non-human. He gets particular agitated when it comes to the Father Christmas in the story, who gives the children weapons, and says that this is a polluted view of the friendly and harmless Santa Claus, and shows how religion has compromised with the military-industrial complex. He laughs with a proud tinge when it comes to Aslan's death, saying that it wasn't really a substition for the traitor, becaus that would be barbaric, but was meant to show how awful the reign of the White Witch had been, even though (you think) the people of Narnia already knew how bad her reign had been and was why they were against her and for Aslan in the first place. Aslan setting up the children to reign over Narnia comes back, this interpreter says, to Anglo-centric superiority, saying that even the children of whites are more capable of ruling than the adults of the not-human conquered natives, and that God approved and himself set up the Anglos to reign.

If you've read Lewis' story, you'd probably think that this person's take on the story would be nonsense. I would agree. Keeping that in mind, read these remarks about a much greater book.

To be a Christian--in the West at least, since the fifth or sixth century or so--has required one to believe that the Bible presents one very specific story line, a story line by which we assess all history, all of human experience, all of our own experience. Most of us know the story line implicitly, subconsciously, even though it has never been made explicit for us. We begin our quest for a new kind of Christian faith by questioning this story line.

This unspoken story line of the Bible that we were explicitly taught--or that we implicitly caught--can be diagrammed with six simple, elegent lines

(I can't put the diagram here, so I'll sum it up best I can here)

heaven or hell/damnation

...That's why this quest begins not by tweaking details of the conventional six-line narrative, but by calling the entire narrative scheme into question. We do not for a second say "These six lines present the true shape of the biblical narrative, but we reject it". Rather, we stare at this narrative, scratch our heads, and with a bewildered look ask, "How in the world, how in God's name, could anyone ever think this is the narrative of the Bible?"
Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christianity, excerpts from pp 33-35

How in the world could anyone think that is the narrative of the Bible? A more important question would be, how in the world could anyone think that such a question is one worth asking?

Consider the elements of the narrative he wishes to denigrate.

Is there an Eden? Yes.

Is there a fall? Yes.

Are there seemingly endless pages of people falling into sin and suffering the consequences, even mention of the consequence of hell and eternal judgment? Yes.

Is there a Jesus who comes to offer salvation? Yes.

Is there a choice, Christ or the world, blessing or damnation, eternal life or eternal death, Heaven and a place in God's house or hell and the lake of fire? Yes.

Just as someone rereading a Narnia book to fit his politics is likely to sound ridiculous, so does McLaren start sounding ridiculous as he attempts to deconstruct/spin the Bible to do away with the obvious elements of the biblical account. Eden and the Fall and Cain and Abel becomes a coming-of-age drama and was actually a mythical story of mankind's rise from hunter-gathers to early farmers and city-dwellers; much of the Bible is fictional tales of people wrestling to understand god, and getting it less-or-more right depending on if the ancients agreed with McLaren or not; Jesus and the Apostles were actually anti-Roman Empire even though they never explicitly said so, and Jesus Himself seems to have disappointed those who were looking for an anti-Roman Empire Messiah.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

seasonal message

Cross-Centered Not Cause Centered Ministry by Mark Driscoll

The sermon itself is actually on an episode of "Fighting for the Faith", a radio program. The link above goes to a page on the radio program's site where the audio file can be downloaded.

Though the sermon is from a couple of months ago, it is quite appropriate for Good Friday and Easter.