Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
In Tom Lyberg's excellent last podcast he muses over “Why post moderns don’t seem to be coming to church anymore. He suggests that the classic evangelism formula is based on the question “if you were to die tonight do you know where you would spend eternity?” and that concern for eternity made sense to modern people but post moderns really just don’t care or would say “that’s a really stupid question”. Which is perhaps why the Bill Hybels summary of the Xn message as substitutional atonement (SA) got to me so badly. At it's core substitutional atonement is all about making sure you're going to the right place when you die.
Lyberg suggests a more pressing question for post moderns is “If God is real does he (she) give a crap about me?” Where as SA is about making sure we're ok Lyberg suggests post moderns would think “none of us are ok, we’re all screwed up” or “we do know we’re not ok and that’s the way it is”. So why is it that some Xns get this and others don't. I'm wondering if we can make the distinction as simple as this: Those who get this way of thinking liked the band Nirvana those who don't didn't.
Whilst many Xns are wetting themselves with excitement that U2 are touring Australia I am reminded that while I still like U2. It'd seemed that most of the Xns I knew were still raving about U2's Joshua Tree while me and a select few thought we had found a new kind of art in Nirvana. But too my U2 worhsiping friends Nirvana were just noise.
To me Nirvana was about knowing that you're not ok and not trying to fix it but to understand it. To me U2 were about polished perfection but Nirvana was about brokeness. Rather than wanting a God to rescue them I ssuspect post moderns are looking for a God to join with them, even in the brokness.
Rather than banging on about SA Tom suggests that “There is a God who really cares about living among broken people and giving them hope right now heaven and hell business, not on the radar. This world that’s busted up that’s where God lives”.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Name: Join a parachurch organisation
Description: Join a Xn group that's not a church.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
- Spiritual Forces of evil can be an excuse for human evil.
- The existence of evil doesn't necessarily equate to the existence of demons or a devil. (NG suggested other wise)
- Inner battles and temptations can exist without a devil. (NG suggested other wise)
- A couple of times (John 10:10 being one example) Nicky to quotes about evil and read the devil into them making it sound like the devil is mentioned way more in the NT than it actually is.
- I'm not sure if I've heard an adequate explanation for how Satan came into being.
For me, to say Jesus is human means I believe that he was not a walking encyclopedia, knowing everything from his birth onwards. He was a human being of his time, living under usual human limitations of knowledge and education. He doubtless believed in a world populated by demons like his contemporaries and probably believed the world was more or less flat, with the sky as a dome in which the stars and moon shone by night and the sun by day, the common Old Testament picture. His expectations about history were those of his time. He lived in a community which thought history was soon coming to an end. His healing practices reflect the methods of his world.
I don't think that Satan really exists in the OT certainly not the kind of Satan most Xns think of. I think most of the OT is about worshiping the one God Yahweh rather than chasing after other gods like Baal for example. Like Bill Loader, I don't have a problem with devil's and demons being mentioned in the NT. Some of them take up the OT motif of other gods like Beelzebub (or Baalzebub) from the god Baal, others are not. Often when when Paul talks about powers and principalities or when Jesus talks about "the thief" in John 10:10 we tend to read devils and demons into this when it is not necessarily there in the first place. This is not to say that the world is all sweetness and light. To the contrary the world is full of evil and I think it is humans and not some supernatural force that is the cause of that. To me (at the moment) Satan I think is a personification of that evil, rather than a character.
Friday, November 10, 2006
A few alpha advocates had said to me things like "I don't know why this works, it just does". I think I might have started to work out why this alppha thing works. For many of the people in my group I would guess that really they had made some kind of in principal decision to become a Xn. What the Alpha course has done has acted as an introduction to Xy to make sure they're happy with what, in principal, they've already decided. Rather than like what Mark had suggested in my last alpha post.
So am I an alpha convert? Not quite, but I'm certainly starting refine what I don't like about it.
Firstly, I don't think Alpha is a very good as an evangelistic tool (so to speak). Although Nicky Gumbell often talks about people who seem to be invited almost off the cuff to an Alpha course, I doubt that really happens too often. I certainly wouldn't sign up to ten weeks of anything unless I really trusted the person I was going with. Most people are going because of someone they know so in a sense the evangelism has already been done, what alpha really is is an overview for people who are thinking about joining up.
Secondly, since it's really an introduction to Xy rather than evangelism I wonder if there are better ways to introduce people to a faith other than 8 hrs of watching a video of some guy talking.
Thirdly, I feel like Alpha often oversimplifies Xy. I understand that any kind of summary of the Xn faith will involve some kind of simplification, but I think Alpha goes further than this by not really opening the door to the depth and variety found in the Xn faith.
I'll post a fuller review at the end of the course.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Brad Jersak's "Can you hear me?" was one example and I blogged about that here.
In Oswald Guinness's "Unspeakable Evil" I didn't find what I considered a very satisfactory answer for the question "why does undeserved suffering happen?" With an impending sermon on the way I had no choice but to work it out for myself. But with the arguments presented by Guinness I really started to get some clarity on the issue. I was able to say you cover X but not Y which then fairly quickly morphed into my first Sunday Sermon for a long time.
John Spong's "the Sins of Scripture" was a Xmas present I was looking forward to reading. But, with what I considered some really unsatisfactory dealings with some pretty tough passages I worked out that whilst I had rejected much of my evangelical upbringing I was still not a liberal. Although I usually avoid classifications, for the sake of simplicity, I decided that if I was to have a category then I was definitely more of a Liberal Evangelical than an Evangelical Liberal. Which is why I'm now happy as the liberal winger in a more evangelical leaning church rather than the evangelical whinger in a more liberal church. Furthermore, since also I'm very much a postmodern kind of Xn that would make me a "post liberal evangelical" and since anyone who calls themselves a "post liberal evangelical" looks like a wanker I refrain always from doing so.
Name: Read a Xn Book
Description: Read the book. Work out what you agree with and why and what you disagree with and why. What counter position(s) would you take and why. Reflect on how this might change or reaffirm your faith. This is not an easy activity, it takes a while and can be quite an academic and theological wrestle but in my experience it has been worth it.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
In the last couple of weeks, The New York Times ran a very interesting article, in which it claimed that evangelical leaders in the united States were warning each other that their teenagers are abandoning the Protestant faith in droves. And I'll give you some figures that compared with 35% of their baby boomer parents, and 65% of their grandparents, only four percent of this current American teenage generation will be Bible believers.