Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Are we going anywhere?

Throughout scripture there is an over-arching theme of "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Rom. 8:18-25). Something has happened to God's creation that requires "re-creation". So, throughout the story of God's people we see attempts at progress; attempts to recreate the world into the place that He wants it to be. Because of this I am fairly passionate about progressive theology... because a static (unmoving) theology cannot recreate.

In a book I read recently, John G. Stackhouse says this: "The quest is not for the perfect theory, the perfect interpretation of Scripture, the perfect theology but for the best available. The main thing in life is not to figure everything out but to rely on God to provide what we need to accomplish his Will in every circumstance -- including the best theology for the job -- and then to get on with that work."

In theory it sounds like we should be searching for the perfect theology, the perfect interpretation of scripture. However, when you look at the tradition of hermeneutics (interpretation of scripture) you witness the evidence of the impossibility of the ultimate hermeneutic. Slavery is an ideal example. Throughout the whole Bible (Old Testaments and New) slavery is either condoned or permitted if you hold to a literal, static interpretation. Because of this, theologians throughout history have endorsed slavery. Some notable pro-slavery Christians: Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Hodge.

I don't think that any Spirit guided Christian today would knowingly permit or endorse any kind of slavery. In other words... we believe that we have made progress in our theology. We now understand things differently than all of these well respected Spirit guided theologians who endorsed slavery in the past. Somehow we know better. Our interpretation is "more correct".

Now, don't get me wrong... I am not promoting liberal theology in any way. I am completely bound to God's infallible Word. However, I believe that in order for us to aid God in His recreation of our world we need to embrace a progressive theology. How this works itself out with scripture I'll talk about next week...

But until then:

Am I on crack?
Have we as Christians really been making any progress?
Can you think of any theologies in which future Christians might make more progress/change our theology?
What areas of our world need to be recreated the most (ie. environment/human rights/theology/philosophy/etc...)?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Palate Cleanser

**What follows is in no way intended to promote anti He-Man sentiment. Nor is it designed to reflect badly on anyone with positive nostalgic memories involving He-Man or any of the so-called "Masters of the Universe".**

So Mike and I have been having this very deep, profound discussion revolving our childhood heroes. Tim's Hero: Astro Boy; Mike's Hero: He-Man.

Ah, the nostalgia.

I'd like you to weigh in:
I propose that Astro Boy could kick He-Man's butt. Here is Astro's intro segment (you can view He-Man's intro on Mike's very cool new blog, "whatthefitz.blogspot.com".)

PS- Please feel free to continue the discussion on "Armor and Sword" or any other previous post.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Armor and Sword

Neil Peart has had a big influence on my life. Most of this influence has been restricted to music, drumming specifically. Neil Peart is the drummer for the Canadian progressive rock band "Rush" (he is also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the most influential drummers in history).

Neil Peart is also the writer of the vast majority of Rush's lyrics. He is an very intelligent and philosophical writer who has been through some tough times (his wife dying of cancer and his only child dying in a car accident within a year of each other).

Rush has just come out with a new album, "Snakes and Arrows". Throughout the album Peart expresses his struggles with religion specifically around the issue of faith. In an interview Peart had this to say: "... [faith] ought to be your armor, something to protect you and something to console you in dark times. But it's more often being turned into a sword, and that's one big theme I'm messing with."

This can be seen in his lyrics to the song "Armor and Sword":
Sometimes the damage is too great
Or the will is too weak
What should have been our armor
Becomes a sharp and burning sword.

This is an obvious reference to the "Armor of God" in Ephesians 6:13-17. He may have a point here. In Ephesians, faith is our "shield"; part of our armor which is defensive not offensive. The only offensive part of the Ephesians 6 passage is the "sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God" (vs. 17b). So, our offense does not depend on anything coming from us... our faith, our opinion, our convictions. Instead, our offense is dependent on God through His word.

Have we as Christians done damage by using our personal faith as a weapon instead of letting God's word (through His Spirit) be the weapon?

How can we live out our faith in the public arena without having it become a "sharp and burning sword"? (Peart's reference to the crusades... probably)

Is our faith becoming a "sword" really a bad thing?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Embarrassing Christianity

The Atheist's Nightmare..?

I seriously hope that this video is a joke... unfortunately I don't think it is.

I'm just embarrassed to be associated with this kind of "Christianity"; I'm ashamed that Christians would behave in such ridiculous ways and say such incredible things.

The fact is that as Christians we are representatives of Christ; His "ambassadors" (2 Cor. 5:20). So what happens when Christ's ambassadors foolishly represent Christ? What happens when one ambassador is ashamed by another? In Luke 9:26 Jesus says, "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory..." (NIV).

All throughout history Christ's "embassy", the Church, has made unfortunate decisions and misrepresented Christ. I think specifically of the medieval Church insisting that the earth was flat ("ends of the earth" Mk 13:27) or that the sun orbits the earth (Ps 19:6) when ultimately they were completely wrong. I can't blame them too much for being wrong (I've been wrong about a lot of stuff too) but why be so insistently arrogant about it? Is it really necessary to condemn people as heretics because of their understanding of the solar system?

So I wonder...
Are there ways in which our Churches are currently behaving that misrepresent Christ?
Will future generations look back at us now and think of us with embarrassment?
Was this guy on "crack" or does a banana actually, finally, and conclusively prove God's existence?