Freaked Out By Bio Technology

I’ve been a part of the Lausanne movement since I attended a Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in 2006. Coming out of that congress, some of my new friends and I started a conversation about what it means to be an evangelical and did we want to be one. Some of that conversation has taken the form of a book called Routes & Radishes And Other Things To Talk About At The Evangelical Crossroads.

One of the things that prompted the conversation and frustrated me with evangelicals were the somewhat narrow views regarding social engagement. From what I experienced social engagement was either defined as simply telling everyone to get saved or promoting 2-3 “values” that coincidentally aligned with the political platform of a particular party.

continue reading

What is World Evangelization?

Travel is one of my favorite activities and experiencing other cultures is one my greatest passions. But with kids and a wife I actually enjoy, long haul flights to Africa and beyond have become something of a burden. After taking six such trips in 2009, I decided it was time to slow down, well actually just quit.

When the opportunity to participate in the third congress of Lausanne, what Christianity Today called the most diverse gathering ever in Cape Town, South Africa, I wasn’t sure if I should go. Normally, I would be ecstatic to go a place I’ve long heard about and experience a multitude of cultures at one time, but the sixty hours on airplanes and 12 days away from home, gave me some pause.

continue reading

Lover or Fighter or Both?

A recent post of mine on whether we should love God or fight for him, got some push back from a friend on my facebook page.

His primary arguments are that:

1) the biblical warfare worldview is basic to all biblical revelation and prescription.

2) I created a false dichotomy between loving God and fighting for Him i.e. surely we can do both.

3) I was "fighting" against the "fighters" as I tried to promote love

Here are a few quick thoughts:

First, the Bible makes quite clear that we battle not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6), therefore any biblical battle motif cannot be construed to apply to human interactions.

This is further seen in Christ's refusal to fight, his rebuking of Peter when he cut the ear off the Roman soldier and embodied by the early church who did not fight eye for eye or tooth for tooth and instead followed Christ's example and command and turned the other cheek.

Second, agreed that two apparently contradictory things may not be in contradiction i.e. fighting and loving. For example, I love my children but I discipline them. However, that is a "paternalisitc" relationship and it not necessarily appropriate to extend that to all relationships. However, as a society we still need judges, courts, etc.. and in church we need boundary enforcers to root out evil doers (abusers of children, powermongers, gossips, etc..) and protect innocents even though our call to love the evil doers is not lessened.

Nevertheless, saying that disciplining, boundary enforcement or even fighting is consistent with love takes a lot of nuancing as they are not clearly always consistent with love. In fact, I do not think it is too audacion to say that they are rarely consistent with love and are generally consistent with humanity's desire to control one another.

continue reading

To Love God or Fight For Him? or What is Evangelicalism?

What is evangelicalism? It's a term that eludes clear definition and is something that some of my friends and I have tackled in our forthcoming book, Routes & Radishes and Other Things to Talk About at the Evangelical Crossroads.

The question is raised once again with the recent Christianity Today cover story on Al Mohler that unabashedly refers to him as a reformer, invoking thoughts of Luther and Zwingli. Mohler is the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He has been a chief architect of the conservative revolution of the Southern Baptist Convention and the primary promoter of the new Calvinism (note: a SBC church ordained me and my wife and i were SBC employees for 6 years).

continue reading

Should Christians Practice Yoga?

Recently, my wife, Laurie, started taking yoga classes and has gotten a lot out of it. (you can see some of her comments here).

Years ago, I heard Christians murmur against yoga as an “eastern” or “spiritual” practice that ran against fundamental Christian teaching. I never concerned myself with it since I didn’t really care much about yoga.

But now, my wife is a fledgling yoga darling and I am increasingly seeing my need for it. All of this got me remembering the good ol’ days of warnings against yoga and got me reflecting again.

Mohler’s argument is essentially that yoga is a New Age practice and you can’t really divide the exercise from the spiritual purpose. He cites postmodern spiritual confusion for the reason many Christians (like my wife!) ignorantly practice it resulting in a form of syncretism meaning the mixing of religions.

continue reading

Does the Earth Care What We Do To It?

One of my most favorite social commentators is George Will. Recently I read an article from him that said that the earth doesn't care what is done to it or for it. His main point is that over "geologic" time (i.e. extended time millenniums, millions of years, etc..) what we do to the earth is so minimal as to barely register. He notes the amount of rain that falls on the earth to illustrate that we should all be flooded out yet we are not drowning on a global scale.

The article raises some good points when one thinks about the big picture and that is necessary from time to time. Comparing our present few generations to geologic time, George Will is right (i believe) that whatever happens will just be a blip and the earth will survive. After all the earth survived ice ages. We can be so short-term near future focused that we forget to look at history or  into the future 20,30 even 1000 years. 

continue reading

Why Christians shouldn’t burn the Quran or the NIV Bible

News is rippling around the Internet regarding the Quran burning plans of Rev. Terry Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. Reverend Jones (who will henceforth be referred to as TCMUO for The Completely Messed Up One) has announced that they plan to symbolically burn the Quran on September 11, in order to demonstrate their displeasure with our accommodating foreign policies and to confirm their conviction that Islam is of the Devil. The plan has generated such a response that their church website has crashed. Unfortunately, it appears that their plans have not.

Now burning books out of protest is nothing new. In fact, the Nazis did it regularly during the Gestapo. So for anyone interested in burning books, the Nazis can serve as a good role model for you.

In fact, Christians have typically burned more of their own books than those of other religions. Check out this one church, aptly named Amazing Grace! They burn the NIV and other “satanic” versions of the Bible.

Ninety-nine percent of Christians with a heart beat and a half functioning mind know that this is completely ridiculous stuff. (Although, I must admit I am attracted to the idea of using the KJV version more often as I’ve really been looking for a new way to say ass more often in church.) Nevertheless, the impact of a few, including TCMUO, can have an enormous effect on others.

Here are just a few reasons why Christians should do everything they can to encourage, TCMUO and his wacko amigos to stop. And if they don’t stop, we need to use all means necessary to let everyone know that we are completely opposed to this stuff.

1)  Loving God and loving our neighbor sums up the commandments.

Because of these words, Christians are called to a higher standard than anyone else. Loving our neighbor means many things, but most poignantly it means we don’t trash his/her religious faith and burn his/her holy books. That’s sort of love your neighbor 101. But I kinda think TCMUO missed that class. (oops was that not loving?)

2)  Christ said to love our enemies.

Muslims are not our enemies. In fact, I think they are our neighbors. According to Jesus there really are no “enemies.” However, he invokes that terminology (Mt 5:44) because he knows there are some people who cannot eradicate it from their vocabulary. For those people I include this point. The end result is the same: Love is our calling which means (note the repetition) we should not seek to offend by burning holy books.

3)  The Golden Rule

The golden rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s a practical way of articulating what it means to love others. So, if we don’t want anyone burning our holy books then maybe (just maybe) we shouldn’t do it to them.

Those are my top three reasons which are more theologically based reasons. Here are three more “practical” reasons why.

1)  It deepens the "us" versus "them" divide.

After 9-11 I remember a TV shot of some Muslims in Palestine dancing that the thousands of Americans had died. I remember it because our TV networks showed it over and over and over again. They did this, of course, because viewership (and advertizing rates) skyrocket around such controversial themes. However, at the end of the day, it was really just a few folks (side note: as a traveler to over 70 countries I have become completely convinced that idiocy is everywhere!).

At the time, I had many friends and colleagues living and working in predominantly Muslim countries. Ironically, every single one of them told me that their Muslim friends expressed sorrow and pain for them. I even talked to some tourists in Pakistan who said everywhere they went, people came up to them saying how sorry they were.

But it only takes a few of “them” to act like fools and for “us” to be fooled by our own media. The same thing is happening and will continue to happen in the other direction. Right now, Muslim Imams and others are justifying anger and hatred toward Americans and Christians because of TCMUO. That’s downright painful.

When you read Jesus he played to the “us” versus “them” scenario a lot. However, he always made “us” the bad guys and “them” the good guys. It was a powerful rhetorical tool that eventually got him killed. After all if he had talked about how bad the Romans were (like everyone wanted him to) then he probably would have achieved the “king” status others were expecting.

Interestingly, the parable of the Good Samaritan which symbolizes what it means to love one’s neighbor plays extensively on the “us” “them” categorization tendencies that we still have today.

2)  It confuses nationality and religious boundaries.

In what can only be considered unfortunate, there is a lot of confusion over who “us” and “them” really are. Us is sometimes Americans and other times Christians (side note: these are not the same things!). Them is sometimes Muslims and other times Arabs (side note: these are not the same things!).

As news of the Quran burnings spreads around the world like a wildfire (stupid pun intended), there is increased confusion over this. We, Americans, become a bunch of fundamentalist Quran burners in the minds of many. I’m not sure our non-Christian fellow citizens will like that either.

Apparently, a lot of the reason TCMUO is burning the Quran is to protest weak foreign policy (I suppose two wars totaling 16 years of combat is not enough?). That just starts the religious-political fusion and confusion.

Christians need to proclaim that we are not the same as Americans and vice versa.

3)  An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Apparently Ghandi said, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” I know this because I’ve read it on some bumper stickers. Regardless of whether or not he said this it is a true statement and is consistent with the teachings of Jesus to turn the other cheek.

Frankly, the cycle of violence continues and gets faster because both sides feel completely justified in their actions. Watching the Quran get burned will justify acts of violence against Christians who had nothing to do with it. The cycle continues with Quran burnings justified because some wacky Muslims killed some innocent people. Round and round we go on a not so merry go round.

Before we move on, it should be noted that there is a biblical verse that speaks positively about burning books, namely Acts 19:19:

continue reading

Entrepreneurialism and God's Mission

There comes a day when we sit back and ask ourselves what we are going to do with our lives. In a sense, I’m still asking myself that question. But many years ago, while studying Spanish as a university student in Paraguay, I felt a nudge, a call if you will, to spend time in cross-cultural contexts advancing the gospel.

At the time, I had no idea what that entailed. The only role models I had to look to were the missionaries I had met and gotten to know in Paraguay. They were either medical doctors or preachers. As a business student, it seemed I would have to leave behind my business interests and develop a new set of skills.

Thankfully, I’ve always been good with language and have enjoyed speaking and teaching so over the years, that became the primary focus of my ministry. But a few years into my overseas ministry, I began to ask myself some new questions about why couldn’t one be a businessperson and a kingdom builder at the same time?

continue reading

Jesus in the Workplace

There seems to be a serious conflict with our current lives and strongly held concepts about church and ministry.

So many churches that I know of, which are actually great churches, hold to a local church-centric view of ministry. This means that the goal of the staff is to get the lay people involved in ministry, which is defined as either volunteering at the physical church location or through church organized service projects in the community.

Undoubtedly both of those are valuable and needed avenues. However, this is really what I call "faith addition", living your faith means 'adding' certain activities to your already busy life.

The contrast to this is "faith integration', living your faith means integrating your faith into whatever you are doing.

continue reading

Preach the Gospel Always. When Necessary, Use Words: Part 2

A while back I wrote a blog post on the often cited quote, “Preach the Gospel always, when necessary use words,” which is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

The blog addressed a difficult and challenging relationship of Christian proclamation aka word vs demonstration aka deed.

One inquisitive reader raised the following questions:

1) Jesus seems to prioritize his teaching ministry over his “deed” ministry at various points (e.g. Mark 1:35-39, 3:7-19, 4:1-2 and the parallels in the other synoptic gospels).

2) Jesus seems to describe the ‘self-sacrificial’ life of following him to ‘adhering to his words,’ and doing so is for his sake (which is equated to the gospel’s sake) in Mark 8:31-38.

continue reading
Syndicate content
»  Become a Fan or Friend of this Blogger
About
Founder of Russell Media, author/speaker focusing on marketplace, economy and faith. On a journey to live the entrepreneurial life.


Media
Link Roll