Archive for April, 2008

Jesus for President, part 2

On page 233, Shane and Chris talk about “the issues.”

They write,

I can remember ripping liberals up in debates on homosexuality. But I didn’t know anyone who was gay or who felt like talking to me about it (which is understandable). Years later I met a fellow in college who shared with me that he was attracted to other men and that he had grown to feel that God had made a mistake when God created him.

Notice that they do not deny the claim of the homosexual that God created him that way. They continue,

Far from finding any sense of community or intimacy in the church, he was alone and confessed that he wanted to kill himself. I thought that if this brother cannot find a home in the church, who have we become? I marveled at the complexity of the struggle to understand our sexuality, a complexity I couldn’t understand until the issue took on a face and had a story and cried tears. We would do much better to create communities in the church in which people can find intimacy and love than to split congregations over issues.

Over issues? Is that we call sin now – just “issues?” Why would we cause division in a church over little issues like sexuality? What was Paul thinking in the 1st century when he told the Corinthians that those committing incest should be put out of the church? Ah, the audacity to cause division at Corinth by saying that a man shouldn’t have his father’s wife! And not only that, did you hear what Paul told the church at Rome? He told them that homosexuality is contrary to nature and that homosexual sex was indecent and even shameful. The church must move beyond this hatred and bigotry; we must come to a place where we can just accept everybody, regardless of behavior. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rob Bell at the Seeds of Compassion Event

Thanks to Chris at A Little Leaven for making these videos available for viewing. Ken Silva also has the transcripts available on his page via Rick Freuh. Thanks guys for both your perspectives and for doing some leg-work here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jesus for President, part 1

I’m roughly 260 pages through and so far not impressed. Positvely, however, it is refreshing to hear someone admit that being American and being a Christian are not necessarily part and parcel. That is, as Christians, when there is a conflict between what God says and what the state requires of us, we have a higher responsibility to God than we do to our nation (Acts 5:29). After all, we are first and foremost citizens of a heavenly kingdom which awaits physical establishment in the age to come (Philippians 3:20, John 18:36).

So, while being a Christian and being American are not identical, they are not mutually exclusive either. Actually, when we submit to our government (even when they bear the sword), we are submitting to God. This is where Claiborne frustrates me. When speaking of the famous episode where Jesus says, “Render to Caeser that which be Caesar’s and to God the things which are God’s,” Claiborne says,

It’s hard to know what Jesus would do about paying taxes if he were a citizen of the ole US of A, where nearly half of every tax dollar (the same dollars that say “In God We Trust”) goes to the war machine. And yet the more you look at the similarities between the Roman Empire and the American Empire, the more you get some idea of what he might do. Like the Roman Empire, the American Empire is loved by some and hated by others, but feared by everyone. And scholars estimate that Rome’s military expenditures, like the US’s, were also around 50 percent of the budget. So if the IRS came to Jesus, what would he do? Pull the money out of a fish’s mouth? What if we can’t pull that one off (or don’t have a lake nearby)?…the idea of war tax resistance has emerged in fresh ways in this era of military building. One of our favorite approaches to taxes, which is employed by many Christians in the US, is to send a letter to the IRS along with a check for a portion of of the taxes owed and a receipt showing that the sender has donated the amount that would have gone toward weapons to a nonprofit doing the work of the kingdom of God. Usually such letters applaud the use of tax money to benefit the poor and the common good (which is about half of all tax receipts) but lets the government know that as people of the gospel, we are peacemakers and cannot contribute to the destruction of life.

This troubles me for a number of reasons.

1. Why would Shane go to pains to paint the parallel between our government and the Roman empire at the time of Christ, if in the next few sentences, he applauds Christians taking a completely different stand than Christ did? Even if Jesus placed the coin in the mouth of the fish and didn’t spend his own money (that’s an ironic thought as everything is his anyway), He still ended up giving the Roman government the funds they demanded.

2. His endorsement of Christians only giving the IRS a portion of their tax dollars seems to directly contradict the teaching of Paul. He claims the money is going to a “war machine.” He even admits the parallel between the US and the Roman government. The question arises: what about Romans 13:1-7? Do we ignore it? 

 1Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Shane endorses resisting the government. Paul says that we ought not to resist the government; when we resist the government, we resist God and bring damnation upon ourselves. Our role is to submit…and in this context it means paying our full taxes.

Honestly, the book has been pretty boring so far…

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Solid Sources on Matthew 19 and Divorce

Graduation is in sight, just one more looming obstacle in my path. My assignment: write an exegetical paper on Matthew 19:1-12 with emphasis on verse 9. 

Initially I was inclined to take the majority position among commentators, namely, that divorce is allowed in the case of marital infidelity and that remarriage is also allowed after a legitimate divorce. 

However, after conversations with three of my godly mentors, and after reading two excellent pieces by Jones and Piper, I don’t feel inclined to take the majority position any longer.

I don’t want this post to turn into a divorce debate; however, I do want to point out the sources that have been beneficial to me in this endeavor.

1. John Piper’s What God Demands From the World (click here and then click the “three chapters” link in the second paragraph). Also see his position paper on the topic.

2. On the academic level, David W. Jones wrote a January 2008 BibSac article entitled, “The Betrothal View of Divorce and Remarriage.” Online subscription can be purchased here.

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Headlines from my week (updated with powerpoint slides).

1. Today I had the privilege of addressing some of our student body in a workshop entitled, “Discerning What You Read: Velvet Elvis as a test case.”

I taught that discernment was empowered by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2), and learned through practice in the Word (Hebrews 5).

As a fundamentalist, I also argued for “The Point of No Return” — that is, when a book violates the fundamentals of the faith or causes me to sin, it fails to be a helpful source in my life.

Then we walked through Velvet Elvis and took a look at several “Red Flags.” Our time of interaction was great; the response from students indicated that today was a day of victory for Christ and his gospel!  Click the following link to view the powerpoint slides: discerning-what-you-read2.

2. This summer, Emiley and I are travelling much of the country to represent our school in various schools and churches. Click here to see our itinerary and team pictures. I hate paisley ties, but these are growing on me.

3. I just wrote a paper on canonicity as it relates to the book of Hebrews. Fascinating. One more paper and I will have completed my last big project before graduation!

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This is the best blog post I have ever read…

Tim Challies writes the best paragraph on Emerging/Emergent that I have ever read.

Kudos, Tim.

Allow me to add to Tim’s “you may be emergent if” list.

1. You love Jesus but hate what Paul has done with his teachings.

2. You pray the rosary even if you aren’t a Catholic.

3. You listen to Bruce Springsteen to receive sacramental grace.

4. You have a coexist bumper sticker on your fuel efficient, foreign vehicle.

5. You use phrases like “platonic dualism” with your church members. Actually, you don’t believe in church membership; you just choose to live in covenant community.

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