Trying To Avoid That Rob Bell Thing.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the evangelical theological constructs that surround me.  I’ve had some really great conversations lately with a number of deep-thinking people, so I end up floating around these things.  Without going into many details, I have begun to recognize more and more the differences between what I believe and experience, and the conceptual models that attempt to explain what it is I believe and experience.

For example, what do I really believe about me, in contrast to what do I see as the conceptual models that attempt to explain me?

The “Four Spiritual Laws” tries to explain me this way: God loves me, but because of my sin, I had separated myself from that love.  I am fundamentally a sinner, separating me from Him with an unfathomable gulf which cannot be bridged by my own efforts.

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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).

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What Urban Outfitters Reveals About Their Customers

In the same way you can learn about what someone values by what they buy, you can learn about a group by looking at what a store sells them.

URBN

Urban Outfitters has 130 stores in the US, Canada, and Europe. On January 31st, Urban Outfitters Inc. reported $1.94 Billion in annual revenue (nearly doubled in the last 4 years). Their website claims that their "established ability to understand our customers and connect with them on an emotional level is the reason for our success." They also claim to offer a "lifestyle-specific shopping experience for the educated, urban-minded individual in the 18 to 30 year-old range".

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The Pendulum of the Kingdom

I've been living overseas for a year and two months now.  One of the unique aspects of being abroad is being outside of the din of American life.  This perspective, in a way, is like one of those Wordle maps.  You start to hear how often and in how many places a concept or word is being used.  If I could say that there was one concept that I've noticed being constantly pounded upon in Christian podcasts, blogs, books, and articles, the largest phrase in the 2008-2009 Christian vocabulary Wordle would be "The Kingdom of God".  Somewhere in the midrange frequency font size would be some form of "cultural renewal" or "redeeming culture".

Organized Religion--A Dirty Word?

Recently, I’ve felt bursts of panic. The safe, mainstream Christianity of my childhood is starting to look more culturally dangerous than I ever believed. I think Jesus would be pleased.

First of all, somewhere during my lifetime, organized religion became a dirty word. It just sneaked up on me. I’m trying to figure out when it happened. Was it when Jim Bakker, the PT Barnum of Christian television, landed in jail? Did John Lennon get things rolling with his infinitely cool exploration of generic spirituality? Can I blame the academics for their relentless, decades-long attack on absolute truth?

And just like that—I realize that the guy who started dismantling organized religion in the first place was Jesus Christ.

I’m just as surprised as you are. And yet the way that Jesus overturned his uptight religious contemporaries is a world away from how self-proclaimed tolerant Americans are now dismissing the institutional church. We had better figure out the difference.

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