Thursday, January 31, 2008

Christian Anarchy, Baptist Identity, Fundamentalist Christianity














Many of you may have heard of Greg Boyd from his book, "Myth of A Christian Nation". In that book Boyd discusses the difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the sword (the kingdom of men). In the process of leading his congregation not to place their faith in political dogma shrouded in religious garb, Boyd lost over 1000 congregants.



He has a lot of good things to say on the relationship of people of faith and political power, but lately he has been expanding his thoughts to discuss what he calls Christian anarchy on his blog. Much of what he does in both the "Myth" book and in his recent post is closely tied with Baptist identity. As a fellow Baptist, I know at the core of historic Baptist principles is an advocacy of the separation of church and state. Part of this theology teaches us that Christianity is to be a countercultural kingdom, and not wed itself to government and world institutions. Whenever the church does this, the line of thinking goes, it tends to compromise both Christian witness and Christian ethics. Up to this point, I tend to agree with Boyd. There are many times we confuse being a patriotic, good, moral American with being a follower of Jesus. When we do this we can become irrational, ignorant, and arrogant. Our current presidential administration comes under attack for this kind of pseudo-Christian leadership quite often.

My struggle is that Boyd's Christian Anarchy tends to take things to far to the other extreme. This is an extreme where believers in Jesus have no investment in making the world a better place through the public sphere, because the powers in this world are the powers of the devil and must be avoided. This point of view strikes me as hubris that is as extreme as the Bush administration.

What happens when you label any governmental group as under the rule of Satan? Well then you can abandon them and write governments off. Boyd's theory of Christian Anarchy has a very limited view of the power of God and God's ability to redeem. God is always at work, and is seems not only unhealthy but also frightening that Christians and Christian communities can write off people and institutions as God-forsaken.



It was this kind of Christianity that I grew up in. Narrow-minded. Sectarian. Judgmental. This brand of fundamentalism writes off the world around them as hell-bound and unredeemable, and thus refuses to contibute and offer hope to the world around them. This labeling governments as the devil's lair and irredeemable is what brought us people like Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombings.


It seems to me the way of Jesus calls believers to be in the world for the benefit of the world. That is what Jesus talks about when he talks about them being like lights and like cities on a hill (Matthew 5). And it does not seem right that Christians abandon this responsibility when it comes to our governments. Maybe we should make our investments and choices in social issues and government affairs with wide eyes and more discerning hearts, but it does not mean that we should run away from certain realms of our society and label them God-forsaken either.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Expose Yourshelf


I have recently become acquainted with Sue Spengler via blogland. She is working on a project called "Expose Yourshelf" where she is attempting to have the largest collection of visual bookshelf space in the world, or something like that. She recently added my bookshelves to her collection.

She would love to have you help her build her collection, just read the rules and send her a story with some pictures.

She also has a regular blog. I was touched by a recent post that I think you all should read about her spiritual journey.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another quick link

There is another post that I loved about pursuing a spiritual quest. It is about a book called Snow.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Blogs


My friend Steve is blogging now. He is a youth sponsor in our church and a member of our CHOW small group. Most of his lengthy posts right now are political in nature, but he assures me that he will be writing on a range of subjects as his blog progresses. Steve is smart, witty, ornery, and moderately conservative.

My friend Michele is also blogging again. Michele was also a youth sponsor who worked with me a couple of years when I was at Belgrade Community Church in Montana. They are now reaffiliated with the Episcopal denomination (I think) in Bozeman. Michele is a mother and a saleswoman who is marketing products for people with food allergies. The company is called Reliv. Her blog is not just about her product, but if you are seeking help with food allergies you might want to talk with her.

Tabitha is a friend of someone I went to high school with in Alaska. She lives in Anchorage, and shares a lot about her struggles as a stay at home mother and her spiritual discoveries as she seeks to follow Jesus.

I went to high school with Heidi (Harrington in high school) in Homer, Alaska. We both made it to high school fairly early in the mornings, especially our freshman year. We did not hang out together too much outside of school when we were younger, but it has been fun for me to reconnect with her as an adult. It also makes me feel old that she has a teenager that could be in my youth group. Heidi actually has several blogs, but this is the one I can get into and comment on. Particularly interesting now is her link to a story on stupid eagles on Kodiak Island. Heidi still lives in Alaska.


Just for fun I threw in a high school picture from my younger and (sadly I did not realize it) skinnier days.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Greg Boyd takes things a step further

Greg Boyd goes from being apolitical in Myth of a Christian Nation to espousing Christian anarchy today. Tell me what you think. Something seems a little off to me here, but I can not put a finger on why it strikes me that way.

Memory

Memories are fickle things.

Normally I have a good memory. I remember things people say well. I remember important moments and events. I remember things I read. Once I have driven somewhere once, I can usually remember how to get there again. I could drive you right to my grandma's house from when I was in grade school, or any house I ever lived in. I have about everything in Jennifer and I's first four dates memorized.

Yet there are times where my memory is awful. For instance, if anyone schedules something with me on a Sunday morning or evening, or a Wednesday night with work, I will probably forget that appointment.

Also, I have a hard time remembering where I put things.

Memories are fickle things. What do you remember well? What do you find hard to remember?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nourishment








I found a good book that is really challenging me to slow down and focus my thoughts and my life a little bit. It is called "Deep-Rooted in Christ"



My favorite quote so far, "Life's problems begin with our root system. Before we notice them, we may be very sick indeed." (32).


And Chapter 5 is an excellent devotion on the difference between spiritual disciplines and spiritual experiences, and why spiritual discipline is preferable to spiritual experiences, if you must choose one over the other.


The book is written by a Korean-American immigrant pastoring the Oriental Mission Church in Los Angeles, CA.
Good stuff.



Buy it through the sidebar on Amazon and I get a kickback!

Link of the Week

An aquaintence of mine here in Colorado Springs known as Non-Prophet has an excellent link to a site that abbreviates great works into readable chunks. My fave is the Squashed Philosophers. Check out the link to the blog on my sidebar. Non-Prophet is ornery, liberal, smart, and curious. All which make for excellent blogging.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ownership (Newsletter Article)

The day before I married Jennifer, I facilitated Youth Sunday School. Since I have spent the last semester trying to broaden my relationships with the rest of the congregation through visiting and teaching Adult Sunday School classes, most of my teaching with the youth this fall has been filling in for other teachers. Since I needed a stand alone lesson (I prefer to teach in teaching units), I decided to teach a little bit on what the Bible says about marriage.

We looked at several Bible passages, one of which was I Corinthians 7. As I asked the students what the passage was about, several shared very accurate answers. One student shared something especially observant. David Orr shared, “Really, in a lot of ways, this passage is a lot about ownership.”

Some students scolded David a little bit, I think because a few of the girls thought he was being chauvinistic. David was correct though, there is a sense of ownership in the biblical theology of marriage. Although, in a radical thought for 2,000 years ago, the ownership was mutual. The passage said this:

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife (I Corinthians 7:4-5).

There is an obvious sense of ownership in marriage. That is one reason why we wear wedding rings. We want show that we are taken by someone else and belong to another, and we want others to know that our beloved is not available for them. This ownership, when abused or misunderstood, can be unhealthy. A sense of being “owned” by our spouse in a loving, compassionate, affirming marriage can be affirming and a true blessing.

Strangely, as I have thought about this, there is a sense of ownership in almost any relationship. We call children we parent “my children”, and we claim our close friends as “my best friend”. As a pastor who works with youth, there are times when our teens and young adults claim me with an honoring sense of ownership. Having a stake and a sense of ownership in one another’s lives is a part of loving one another enough to be “invested”.

When I was younger, my mother’s boyfriend lived with off and on a little over 10 years. He was actually involved with my mother for longer than my father was, who my mother was married to. When Sylvan, my mother’s boyfriend, died during my junior year of high school, they were still unmarried. I felt like I had lost a second father, but my grief was complicated by the sense that I had no “ownership” of him. I couldn’t call him my stepfather, even though he had that role in many ways. One of my most important relationships in my life I had no stake in, and that person had no official ownership of any relationship with me.

God’s word call us to the same kind of ownership and investment in his church. Romans 12:5 says “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others”. That is part of the reason we encourage a commitment of membership to the local church as well as a believer’s baptism. Church is about more than activities. It is about investing enough in one another, and caring about that we have a stake in one another’s lives. Enough so, that even though we are not related by blood or marriage, we can honestly call one another brothers and sisters in Christ.