RSS

Tag Archives: inclusivism

A New Civil War…Minus the Civility

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. – Lesslie Newbigin

What the hell is going on in the Christian community?!

I have friends, in real-life, (which these days seems so passé and out of touch)…so I’m going to start over and try again…how about…

I have friends I “follow on twitter and facebook” who are conservatives, liberals, moderates, progressives (not a fan of this word), fundamentalists, emergents, emergings, atheists, creationists, evolutionists, and many other political and religious categories from the whole spectrum of people-groups. It seems that recently I see so much bitching and bickering at each other within the christian community over theological differences. I’m not talking about normal disagreements – that happens when you are deciding what pizza to order. I’m talking about disparaging, nasty attacks on theologies that people hold so dear.  It seems as if when we hear somebody has a different viewpoint we go to our phones, laptops and social media outlets to say how wrong and how stupid they are, and sometimes if they’re really different and wear dark-rimmed glasses we’ll break out the heretic label and sit back and feel comfy in our piety. We seem so focused on proving how “my theology is right and your theology is wrong”.  I just don’t get it. I mean I understand (but don’t agree necessarily) about the machismo aspect in not wanting to back down from our own beliefs; and that if I said I believe it then I have to defend myself so as not to look weak, but why do we do so at the expense of embarrassing our christian brother?

 

 

If you don’t know what I’m talking about I’m referencing some of the relatively, recent comments from John Piper to Rob Bell, from creationists towards evolutionists (and vice versa), and from the litany of emergent thinkers who spit vile towards Mark Driscoll on a number of topics.

So everybody……….stop……….take a breath……….and freaking relax.  Cue Frankie.

 

 

I am very much aware that I am as guilty of these attacks, or at the very least a similar attitude, as anyone…although I try to be an equal opportunity offender and maybe someday I can get to a point where I’m much more gracious and less offensive…although that’s also a two-way street.

Maybe in time we all can learn to relax and engage in quality, respectful conversations with each other and not passive aggressively attack each other via twitter, facebook, or other electronic outlets. In other words, can we try to go out of our way not to piss each other off?

2 Timothy 1:12 – I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.”

~~~~~

“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 to the fullness of truth. I do not possess the truth, so that I do not need to be open to new truth; rather, I am confident that the one in whom I have placed my trust, the one to whom I am committed, is able to bring me to the full grasp of what I now only partly understand.” Lesslie Newbigin, “Proper Confidence”

~~~~~

Ecclesiastes 7:16 – Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?

~~~~~

“In our interpersonal relations, we would never make such a claim for our knowledge of another person. How absurd to make such a claim with respect to God!” Leslie Newbigin, “Proper Confidence”

~~~~~

Isaiah 55:8, 9 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

~~~~~

“Sometimes it (certainty) leads toe a refusal to reconsider long-held beliefs in the light of fresh reflection on the witness of Scripture.” Lesslie Newbigin “Proper Confidence”

~~~~~

Galatians 4:21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?

~~~~~

“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.” Lesslie Newbigin, “Proper Confidence”

~~~~~

Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.

~~~~~

“Hold to Christ, and for the rest be totally uncommitted.” Lesslie Newbigin “Proper Confidence”

Now, here’s the deal, over the next couple of months (I actually have no idea what the timeframe is) but I am re-dedicating myself to posting blogs on a more regular basis. I have about 10 posts that are in a final draft phase and just need a little touching up before I hit publish, and then I have about another 50 that are in the works so hopefully they’ll be up in a more consistent time-frame.

Disclaimer – I am probably going to post something that crosses the conservative or liberal limits of your theology and honestly, I quite possibly could cross both edges within the same blog-post as I often oscillate between diametrically-opposed camps on different topics. I will have some posts that will be humorous, insightful, dumb, profound, and maybe completely meaningless…to you.  I will have some posts that are in story form. Some of my posts will be solely about our culture (which is not divorced from being theological as some fundamentalists might think).  Some posts might be political. Some might be about sports. Some might just be about a new cigar I smoked, but what I ask is no matter if the topic is theological, political, cigar-ical or whatever, that you do not automatically discount what I say just because you think you disagree with me. Maybe somewhere in the post is a nugget that can help us progress forward to quality conversations, respectful discourse, and redeeming our Earth just as God has called us to do.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH, as it is in heaven. – Jesus

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 9, 2012 in cigars, culture, politics, sports, theology

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Hearsaywhat?

Amongst evangelical christians it seems we are manufacturing consent (amongst fundamentalists)/dissent (against paradigm-pushers).  This is my posting on it.  It is rather lengthy.

Wrongly or rightly I’m a contrarian – I’ve always been that way.  Maybe it’s nature that imbedded it within me, but in having two older sisters I’m thinking it’s more nurture – I was provoking reactions at it’s most enjoyable.  Fast forward to the present and I’m a protesting-Protestant who protests the old tried and not-completely-true ways of the Christianity I grew up learning and living.  The old way was founded in modernity and in the enlightenment, and it’s purpose was to classify every piece of information contained in the Bible so it was all nice and tidy and made perfect sense to the masses.  The ‘correct answers’ were contained in some file box that we could reference when someone had a question.  Ummm…not everything in the Bible makes perfect sense if you ask me.  I feel comfortable with the mystery in the Bible and not understanding every verse.  If we as Christians reclaim the mystery and accept the mystery of the Bible then we can live with more graciousness and humility and not arrogance and pride of know-it-alls. (That’s not the only benefit of reclaiming mystery, but I’ll save that for another blog)  Today I have more questions than answers about Christianity and I’m ok with that.

Labels.

Labels are sometimes frustrating. But they are what they are, so allow me to attempt to muse on: biases affecting information, some common misconceptions about a particular label, and finally what that particular label means to me.  This will not be an all-encompassing dissertation, but just some quick tidbit thoughts to point out.  Maybe it’ll help clear up some ignorance on the topic, maybe it won’t.

The particular label:

Emergent

What a fun, hopeful, controversial, threatening, divisive, and misunderstood word these days in the world of theology.

Nebulous.

As much as I might try to ‘explain’ emergent thoughts and tendencies it won’t be wholly accurate because emergent is a very nebulous label.  Imagine light shining through a prism. You can see countless reflections of beautiful colors shining on a wall that look different when looking at it from different viewpoints.  But there are certain key components which allow the reds, blues, yellows and greens to shine beautifully – the prism and the light.

Biases come into play.

I’ll be explaining why I appreciate emergent from my viewpoint – my bias.

I was in jury duty the other day and the defense attorney started his voir dire (jury selection) by saying, ‘we all have biases’.  This is an absolutely true statement.  As much as we may try to put our biases aside and be objective our biases still come up and cloud our interpretations.

The oh so cheesy statement of, ‘let go and let God’, is meant to say  that God acting is and doing as he pleases separate from our interaction, which is true, but the saying also includes us interpreting his actions of what he’s doing.  Let me try explaining it this way.  Sometimes people say, “Let’s just allow the scripture to speak for itself”. My response would be, “Ok, that’s cool…but we still have to interpret the scripture.” Our biases always come in to play.

All that to say that, our biases will cloud how we view a topic.  I think these biases have played a major part into some of the misconceptions of emergent.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

Say it ain’t so, Joe.

Misconceptions – we are lazily ignorant.

After 9/11 a Viet Nam veteran went to a local Target store and asked if Target would like to support a local Viet Nam war memorial with a monetary donation.  The local store declined and then soon after an email was fired all over the place, by an un-named source, saying that Target is against the military. (you might remember receiving an email about this)  At the time emotions ran high for our military and it looked very bad for Target and was not a beneficial p.r. scenario. The actual situation was that to receive a donation an organization needs to go through their corporate office. Bureaucracy? Yes, but very similar to other corporations. Against the military? Not necessarily.  The point is, is that the email was fired all over the place without people checking the actual facts.  This is similar to what I hear from some of my friends (and from some I’ve been de-friended) about emergent.  Reading one book by one ‘emergent author’ does not give you enough information for what emergent might believe.  There are many different beliefs.

People now side with Martin Luther and even named a denomination after him, but when he was asking his questions and making his public declarations he was viewed as a heretic…so either we’ve figured God out completely (that’s some mighty powerful kool-aid) and have nothing further to add to the painting or we are now no longer allowed to ask questions and proffer statements about God and continue painting our beautiful faith.  I, myself, want to add to the painting.

Don’t dismiss an idea because it is new or unfamiliar to you.  One of my favorite books is, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, by Thomas Kuhn. Buy it, read it, appreciate it.  This speaks of how we react to paradigm pushers; I’ll just say we don’t react warmly, nor with open arms to people who challenge our worldviews.  We fight the new ideas because we don’t like change, we like to be comfy and be sure of what we know.  The Sun is the center of the universe.  You’re a heretic.  Say it ain’t so, Joe. The world is round. You’re a heretic. Say it ain’t so, Joe.

What concerns me is when people form finite, unchangeable opinions off of hearsay about emergent.  People are obviously free to form their own opinions about different topics.  But what aggravates me (not only about theology, but all areas of life) is when bad information and incorrect information is disseminated as fact. Sometimes people are too lazy to find out all the information.

Another common misconception is that emergent is unbiblical.  I can’t disagree with this more.  I’ve heard Brian McLaren speak in public – he was completely Biblical.  I’ve heard Doug Pagitt speak in public – he was very biblical.  I’ve read Rob Bell’s writings – they are very biblical.  I’ve read Tony Jones’s writings – they are very biblical.  I’ve read Tony Campolo’s writings – they are very biblical.  Part of this references back to our biases.  But just because someone has a different biblical worldview than yours because they interpret the Bible differently does not make it unbiblical.  They just might not completely share the same views on Biblical interpretation as you.

Emergent being beautifully inclusive – and why I want to be included.

With all the authors and innovators in emergent sometimes it’s hard to speak of emergent b/c there are many varying degrees of belief.  Take me for example; I’m a bit of a paradox – I’m a conservative GOP’er but would also label myself as emergent because of the complimentary nature of beliefs within emergent.  For more specific information on why I value complimentary beliefs see my posts titled, “calcio and an open mind”, “playing frogger with a nebulous endline”, and “harmoniously dissident orthodoxy”.

Politically, I have a friend who is as liberal as I am conservative.  I have another friend who is in-between us.  So we’re all on different levels politically and a bit theologically but we’ll sit at Creegan’s enjoying beer and cigars and still revel in the powerful, merciful God we serve.

Verse to ponder on Romans 2: 14, 15

I believe in hell, some within emergent do not, but I’ll be damned if I’m so narrow-focused on my beliefs to not allow C.S. Lewis (if he were alive) to teach at the church I’m attending solely because he’s an inclusivist. (which I think I am an inclusvist if it were not for it being a label)  We need to learn that while we might not particularly agree with someone that we can learn from them and they can help us grow in our faith.

Instead of expounding further since this has been a very long post, (but it was asked for by some people) I will sum things up by saying that I appreciate emergent thoughts because it allows me to say, “I believe in hell and here’s why. I know you don’t believe in hell and you’ve told me why.  We’ve never traveled to hell so we don’t know everything that goes on after death.  We worship God. God loves both of us.  I am an inclusivist (even though I’m not a fan of that label) and here’s why. I know you’re an exclusivist and you’ve told me why.  We’ve never died so we don’t know everything that goes on after death.  We worship God. God loves both of us. Emergent values context in biblical interpretation instead of willy-nilly picking verses out to make us feel good. I value context in biblical interpretation instead of willy-nilly picking verses out to make me feel good.  Emergent values learning from others – including Catholics, Lutherans, Buddhists, etc.  I value learning from others – including Catholics, Lutherans, Buddhists, etc.  Emergent revels in the mystery of God.  I revel in the mystery of God. Emergent recognizes and appreciates grey areas.  I recognize and appreciate grey areas.  Emergent compliments me and I believe I compliment Emergent.

I still don’t like labels, but I love God.

Even though I will probably always be a contrarian I still value the genius of Calvin from ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ when he said, “Provoking a reaction isn’t the same thing as saying something significant”.

Cigar recommendation – I have a Rocky Patel Olde World Reserve staring me in the face that I think I’ll have later tonight.  I’ll check back in and let you know how it is.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

…until that day…

The following thoughts  and links are some of the things that have been on my facebook page recently about inclusivism and exclusivism and hell. They are not cogent thoughts; just snippets.

Leslie Newbigin quotes that bear repeating while considering new paradigms: (for a great book on paradigm shifts read Thomas Kuhn’s, “Structure of Scientific Revolutions”

“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.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070806231227/http://www.understandthetimes.org/mclarentrans.shtml

(paste the whole link into a new browser)

An interesting quote and article about Billy Graham and his thoughts on exclusivism and inclusivism (which seems to be topic of the year with me)  It is a singular quote and article and not his full encompassing view on the subject.

I have often wondered if Hell is a terrible burning within our hearts for God, to fellowship with God, a fire that we can never quench.

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51461

beer recommendation – Anchor Steam Pale Ale.  A quality, hoppy pale ale.

Anchor Steam Pale Ale - try it!

Anchor Steam Pale Ale - try it!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 14, 2009 in theology

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

harmoniously dissident orthodoxy

Just one quick thought I’m wrestling with until I post more.

People stand on different sides of the aisle with multiple theological issues.  One thought, of many that bounce around in my crazy head, is that it puzzles me how in the Christian Community we can be so divided on some sticky issues and believe that there is no merit or plausibility contained on the opposite side of a particular belief.  Sometimes we are divided so much as to disqualify people with differing opinions from leadership positions – which at times can be justified if an institution desires their leaders to all be of the same mindset without dissonance.  This has recently occurred at the church I’m going to, but I’m also speaking about this in big picture terms of other incidents in the church at large.  I spoke with a good friend about this on Thursday and what follows is basically what I shared with him.

To give a topical example:  currently I’m considering the merits of exclusivism and inclusivism.  I know of compelling ‘arguments’ on both sides for and against exclusivism and inclusivism.  What strikes me as confoundingly intriguing is how stalwarts of the faith are found on both sides of this aisle but mainstream denominations (‘denominations’ is a topic for another day, or maybe ‘denominations’ isn’t even worth belaboring) have decided that to belong to their denomination or church you can not hold an opposing view without repercussions.  C.S. Lewis denotes his support of inclusivism in, “The Last Battle” (Chronicles of Narnia) when Tash, a servant of a false God, stood before Aslan (Christ) and was shown mercy and thus given salvation.  I have belonged to churches where Lewis would not be allowed to teach or preach because of his endorsement of inclusivism.  Again, C.S. Lewis, a stalwart of the protestant faith, who has brought infinite, well, probably finite, but at least not easily calculated, glory to God, would not be allowed to teach.   That’s hard to understand.  While I might understand a church’s reason in that it’s reasoning is according to certain bylaws and such I still cringe at the thought of disqualifying someone’s eligibility because of such standards; especially someone such as C.S. Lewis!

To me, it seems as if some in the opposing camps are saying that their ideology is right and the other ideology is wrong (and vice versa) and that the two ideologies can never be harmonious (logically such stream of thought could be consistent).  It also seems that some people are saying that if you hold the opposing ideology as part of your theology we might not see you in Heaven partaking in some quality Schlafly pale ale alongside us.   Taking a holistic view of mine, theologically, such a hardline thought does not jive with me.  If I were to hold to such a thought it grieves me to think C.S. Lewis will not be in Heaven with me partaking in a pint or two; or if I’m in the other camp it grieves me as well to think that Ronald Nash will not be in Heaven.

I’m not sure if all that make sense in writing, but it makes sense to me.  If it doesn’t make sense feel free to comment and we can discuss this.  Or we can discuss this over a pint or two – which is my preferred method.

So as I sit here and wrestle with this thought I will leave you with a couple quotes which help me in my search to find a harmoniously dissident orthodoxy.

“I am the man who with utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before…I did, like all other solemn little boys, try to be in advance of the age…Like them I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth.  And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it…When I fancied that I stood alone I was really in the ridiculous position of being backed up by all Christendom…I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered it was orthodoxy.”

– G. K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy”

“Sometimes, honestly, I’ve felt like giving up and walking away in search of fresher healthier air.  But there’s something here that I love and can’t stop loving, and that something is actually Someone.”

– Brian McLaren, “A Generous Orthodoxy”.

Last night I enjoyed a Davidoff ‘bullet’ cigar. I forget the specific name of it, but it was a nice smooth 30 minute smoke.  Perfect for having while grilling without having to dedicate 1 hour of smoke time.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 28, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,