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rescued from being saved

Below is my email response (edited and polished up a bit) to a friend of mine regarding a conversation we had about the word ‘saved’.  This snippet of the conversation pretty much stands on it’s own without much context but to give a little bit of context to the conversation, we were talking about how the term ‘saved’ is used in the Christian vernacular today.  I personally believe it would benefit Christians to drop the term altogether because when the word is used in the manner many Christians use it it sets a trajectory for attitudes that are not beneficial to how we live our lives and how we invest in our communities.  There is a much bigger background on this discussion which is a much longer conversation, but I wanted to share some of my brief opinions on this word ‘saved’.  If you want to hear the whole story you can buy me a beer.  I truly value quality conversations.  🙂

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A couple thoughts – my thoughts are not explicitly coming from the ‘emergent church’ – they’re the same thoughts that many of my ‘conservative’ friends share and at the same time they’re thoughts that some emerging friends hold, so I think it’s difficult to lump it into one camp or another.  But I also would push back a bit on your thought that one certain camp is straying from the Word of God.  I see quite the opposite – last week I spent almost an entire day with Brian McLaren; I heard his heart and saw how all of his ideas were explicitly tied to the Bible.  Every thought he posited was backed up by the Bible.  I am still chewing on his thoughts and don’t completely agree but also don’t necessarily disagree with everything he posited but it was most definitely tied to the Bible.

My thought is around how most people interpret and define the word ‘saved’.  The words/terms ‘being saved’, ‘personal savior’, ‘accept Christ as your personal savior” are not found in the Bible (nor is there a ‘sinner’s prayer’).  In the old testament we mis-translate the original Hebrew word into ‘salvation’ when it actually means ‘rescue’, which I would interpret as being able to continue on with your life after being ‘rescued’.  The way many Christians have used ‘saved’ connotes that after saying a magical prayer that you’ve reached a finish line and that you’re done – you’ve achieved what you set out to do and there’s nothing left to do except to wait to get into heaven, pass the popcorn.  When ‘rescue’ is used in the Old Testament it is talking about being rescued against the Egyptians, against King Saul, and against a multitude of other oppressors.  But when modern translations replaced ‘rescue’ with ‘salvation’ it took on a whole new meaning and morphed into being saved from hell (which then can spiral down into the ‘gospel of sin management’ as described by Willard).  Re-read Exodus 15:2, and 2 Samuel 22:3 (and a host of other verses) and replace ‘salvation’ with ‘rescue’, and ‘rescuer’ and see how it gives it a subtle but refreshing twist.

I don’t want to downplay a specific moment when someone might’ve been ‘saved/rescued’ (although paradigm shifts are seldom that easy of a transition to reduce to a specific second in someone’s life – we all know this from personal experience but you can also reference Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions for a great description of how we process paradigm shifts) but as sticky as semantics is and how words can take on a whole life of it’s own (such as this one has when it was blended in with the modern concept of formulaic thought patterns) I think we might be better served in replacing the term ‘saved’ with ‘a decision to follow Christ and being rescued from things that detract us from God’ – which is quite a mouthful  haha 😉  but maybe that will set a more accurate trajectory for us in our present life.

One of the things I appreciate about what you wrote was how you referenced them as YOUR thoughts and beliefs.  That’s the beauty of worldviews and theologies – we’re free to develop our own theologies and bounce them off each other and most importantly the Bible.

And at the same time we’ll always realize that no matter which words we choose it will always be a matter of the heart and intent.

And the true fruit shall follow on the flower.

–Paradiso, XXVII.148

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Posted by on May 25, 2009 in theology

 

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Your Blame is Seriously Misguided

 

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First, I’m partially to blame for the loss. I jinxed us. Let me explain…as the game entered the final minute of stoppage time I turned to Tracy (my wife) and said, “It only takes 5 seconds to score a goal”. ——— 30 seconds later I was cussing at the tv.

Like Tim Howard said after tonight’s game, “Soccer is a cruel game”. So true, Tim, so true.

I’m mentally and physically exhausted from that game…and I’m also completely jacked up…but I want to clear something up.

I keep seeing people saying that if Cameron would’ve had a better clearance then Portugal wouldn’t have scored the first goal; or if Bradley scores on the open netter that was saved by a knee then we would’ve won. Well, that’s not actually factual. Soccer is a game that a simple touch, flick, or whatever that changes how the ball rolls then changes the sequence of the game from that point on. So this means the sequece of events is ever evolving. Does that make sense?

I guess some people just don’t understand alternate dimensions.

For example, in tonight’s game if Cameron gets a better clearance on the ball then the play continues on and doesn’t stop with a goal being scored – so the sequence of events would have been different than how the game actually played out.

If Cameron clears the ball we don’t know 100% how many other goals might have been scored…or whether or not a goal is even scored during the game at all. Those results are somewhere in an alternate dimension.

Consider this explanation from Michael Caine in the movie, “Mr. Destiny”. But when he says “destiny” just pretend he is saying, “the end result of the game”.

 

Soccer is not a systematic game…actually most sports are the same as well…the sequence of events are ever-changing. Every touch on the ball, tackle made or missed, fumble won or lost, 3 pointer made or missed – they all change the trajectory and sequence of events of a game.

I’m not 100% blaming Bradley…but factually, Bradley holding & losing the ball at midfield, or the defenders who were initially in position but were being lazy while watching Ronaldo cross the ball, are the only plays you can factually say that if that doesn’t happen, or something occurs differently in that sequence of events then we would win the game. This is “factual” because it happened with 10 seconds remaining in the game.

I’m sure there is an easier, better, or more articulate way of explaining all of this but like I said before I’m mentally and physically exhausted.

That is all for now.

My next post is a big middle finger and also laughing at the people who “hate on” soccer. Their narrow-minded, needle-brained, vitriol makes me laugh. And frankly, I don’t give a damn what they think about one of my favorite sports. I’ll explain soon…

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2014 in culture, sports

 

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Legalistically Content

“If Stanley Hauerwas is correct to assert that most Christians in America today are ‘functional atheists;’ that is, most Christians live in such a way that it makes no difference that God raised Jesus from the dead, then surely even more Christians today are inadvertent heretics, trodding paths of belief the ancient Church long ago labeled dangerous detours.” – Tamed Cynic

Grace. Such a boring, overused, misunderstood, and cliched word. But also a powerful, meaningful and “awefully” refreshing reassurance of how we can have contentment in our lives. Grace can counteract the subversive power of legalism. Normally, when I see a blog-post on “grace”, or “mercy”, or “hope” or any other christian-ese terms I won’t read the post, but hear me out on this one.

Unfortunately legalism is rampant across the evangelical church’s landscape but I see it quite a bit more now that I live in the south and it’s something that needs to be corrected before a person tips too far to the side of a Pelagianistic theology.

Maybe legalism in some way stems from the Enlightenment era that taught us knowledge (or at least the attempt at the accrual of knowledge which to the church meant bible studies, time alone with god, Sunday school, read the Bible in __ days plans etc) is power. Or maybe legalism stems from the Protestant work ethic which has been taken hostage and also misconstrued as an individualistic, American work ethic to pull yourself up by your boot-straps; but no matter where it originated from the legalistic mindset can sink in so perversely within a person that it can trick a person into relying on themselves for rescuing them from a life of sin (“salvation“) instead of recognizing what Christ has already done for them on the cross. Grace. We need to embrace and rest in this word.

Admittedly, I’m a results driven person, I like results; plus I’m in sales and it’s my job to produce results.

RT @BestSalesTips: By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals. #selling #sales

The results-oriented mindset obviously works great for my job (my managers smile upon good results) but when the results-oriented mindset carries over into my theology sometimes my spiritual activity (busyness) can be misconstrued by myself as “spiritual results” that I personally have accomplished. This is not a good thing. About ten years ago I came out of the heavily-bunkered-in legalistic camp (mindset) that I was entrenched in for most of my Christian life prior to that point. I was trying to do so many things in my life to please God that I left no room for grace. I used to believe that if I can control my activities then I can drive results and again, results (in my mind) were good so therefore I was reinforcing this behavior on my own by simply being involved in an activity. Do this, do that, pray now, pray like this, serve now, serve here, put your right hand in, put your right hand out, put your right hand in, and shake it all about etc, etc, etc. Well, the evangelical church, to drive involvement into their own Christian ghetto (churches place high emphasis on driving numbers – results) they constructed church programs and activities which unfortunately helped propagate this system in my life which pushed me towards thinking that spiritual activity pleases God and therefore if God is pleased he will “save” me. If you extrapolate that line of thinking out logically, in essence my activities would help me in attaining my own “salvation” so it is up to me to save myself. The “works/legalistic” mindset pushed me further away from the understanding and realization of grace – what Christ had already done for me on the cross.

Not long after trying to be involved in as many church-related activities and individual activities as possible my mind and life had a blowout by ultimately not being able to control everything in my life and I swung the pendulum the other way into a laissez fair, anything goes lifestyle. Bad move too. What happened in that time period is a post for another time.

RT @darrinpatrick: Anyone who tries to control everything in his world ends up with a very, very small world. via @RickWarren

In summation, legalism is man’s attempt at attaining something that the grace of God has already provided. I’ve rambled on a bit but I feel Darrin Patrick (pastor at The Journey Church in St. Louis) has hit the nail on the head with his teaching on legalism and grace. I can wholly identify with what Darrin is talking about in this teaching. If you have 35 minutes to spare (in actuality we all do) you can listen to Darrin’s teaching here, or watch it here.

Like I said before…grace. We need to drop the need for “doing/knowledge” and instead embrace and rest in the contentment and wholeness of this word – grace. Robin Williams epitomizes and illustrates what happens when instead of spitting out what we know, we are able to step back and breathe it all in. (Good Will Hunting)

Contentment via grace because of what Christ did for us.

 

Cheers! Vaya con Dios.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in theology

 

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calcio, and an open mind

I have had no time to blog recently because of the crazy-busyness of coaching soccer that is ramping up, and slightly down, the past couple weeks and still continues for the next two weeks.  Today my girls (girls I coach, I have no children of my own) played great in the President’s Cup, but unfortunately were not able to advance out of group play.  In two weeks I’ll take my boys team (again, boys I coach, I still have no children of my own) up to Bentonville for State Cup and we have a great chance at winning state which would then send us to North Carolina (I think that’s where it is this year) for regionals. We’ll see what happens in two weeks.

In the meantime if you’re looking for thoughts from this ‘heretic’ I’ll let you chew on this…it’s regarding how I view my theology in deconstructing my past theology and allowing it morph into new ideas for my current theology. It’s not saying that any one thought I have is right or wrong, but it allows me to come to a more full understanding of how I view my God…who is probably your God too…in a roundabout way.

This passage is from Leslie Newbigin’s “Proper Confidence” – the first part of the passage is from Polanyi’s “Personal Knowledge” the second is from “Proper Confidence”.

“But this does not make our understanding subjective. Comprehension is neither an arbitrary act nor a passive experience, but a responsible act claiming universal validity.  Such knowledge is indeed objective in the sense of establishing contact with a hidden reality, contact that is defined as the condition for anticipating an indeterminate range of as yet unknown (and perhaps yet inconceivable) true implications.  It seems reasonable to describe this fusion of the personal and the objective as personal knowledge. (Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, pp. vii-viii)

Polanyi’s concern was to alert the scientific community to a danger which, if not faced, would destroy it.  But his thinking has obvious relevance to the subject of this essay.  In the debate which goes on among religious people about the respective roles of faith and doubt in the search for certainty, Polanyi invites us to consider whether we are not operating with an entirely false and deceptive idea of certainty.  It is the dominance in the public mind of this false and illusory ideal of certainty which hopelessly confuses the debate among Christians about the certainty of their faith.”

These passages talk about the whole of religious ideas in regards to the Christian faith but for me it helps with the deconstruction of different ideas (ideas mentioned in previous posts in my blog) which in the past I held as an absolute necessity in my faith to believe otherwise my faith might unravel.  Looking at how I no longer hold some of these ideas as absolute necessities I relish the fact that my faith is still in tact and not unraveled and I would also like to believe it is stronger than ever. It’s not complete, but it’s better.

“If we allow the Bible to be that which we attend to above all else, we will be saved from two dangers: The first is the danger of the closed mind.  The Bible leaves an enormous space for exploration. … The second is the danger of the mind open at both ends, the mind which is prepared to entertain anything but has a firm hold of nothing.”  How are you reading the Bible? I would hope with an ability to read a fresh version that moves us beyond unquestioned traditions.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

time keeps on slipping into the future…when it’s not supposed to

Ok, so I’m a bit upset that I can’t figure out the whole time thing on my blog.  My ‘draft saved’ says the correct time, but on my dashboard  it says it’s already April 16th and that I’ve had two views…so how do I correct that…or is blogging so stinking cool that it can predict the future.

Also, it’s cool to see the traffic on my blog pick up quite a bit.  I’ll start to post some more provocative musings to satisfy the traffic…although I must admit I’m not a big fan of the word ‘provoke’.  As the great theologian Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes once said, ‘Provoking a reaction isn’t the same thing as saying something significant.”  Although with my contrarian nature, and in growing up with two sisters I must say I’ve mastered the fine art of provoking reactions.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Lesslie Newbigin

These are some of my favorite quotes from “Proper Confidence”, written by Lesslie Newbigin – one of my favorite authors.  The quotes are referring to paradigm changes from modernity to postmodernity and how Christ and evangelism permeate both paradigms. What we think we know, and hold so dear to, is not necessarily always what should be known.  I wholeheartedly recommend this book for all and especially those who might be struggling with a fundamentalist mindset of, “I do therefore I am accepted.” versus a more appropriate, “I am accepted therefore I do.”  My own four half-pennies.

“But we are now entering a postmodern period, a time in which the seemingly assured assumptions we have inherited from the Enlightenment are being deconstructed.”

“Secondly, the phrase “until that day” reminds us that this is not a claim to possess final truth but to be on the way that leads us to the fullness of truth.”

“It will mean that my understanding of the truth must be constantly open to revision and correction, but — and this is the crucial point — only and always within the irreversible commitment to Jesus Christ.

“Hold to Christ, and for the rest be totally uncommitted.”

“If we are to make contact with reality, we must have the courage to make statements that can be doubted.  There can be no knowing of reality without the courage to affirm what can be doubted and to act on that affirmation.”

“”Your kingdom come,” What are we, as Christians, asking for when we so pray?”

“I am referring to a kind of fundamentalism which seeks to affirm the factual, objective truth of every statement in the Bible and which thinks that if any single factual error were to be admitted, biblical authority would collapse.”

“It is less important to ask a Christian what he or she believes about the Bible than it is to inquire what he or she does with it.”

“The church has defined the boundaries of Scripture as canonical and thus as having a position of decisive authority within the entire ongoing tradition, but that does not mean that the conditions governing all human knowing of God do not apply within the biblical canon.”

“If we allow the Bible to be that which we attend to above all else, we will be saved from two dangers: The first is the danger of the closed mind. The Bible leaves an enormous space open for exploration. …The second is the danger of the mind open at both ends, the mind which is prepared to entertain anything but has a firm hold of nothing.”

“The reasonableness of Christianity will be demonstrated (insofar as it can be) not by adjusting its claims to the requirements of a preexisting structure of thought but by showing how it can provide an alternative foundation for a different structure.”

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2009 in theology

 

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