February 29, 2008

N.T. Wright

To be honest, I have read very little of N.T. Wright up until recently. I knew he was out there, heard much about him, but never made the leap to read and familiarize myself with his work.

N.T. "Tom" Wright is the Bishop of Durham; an Anglican parish. For more on him check out the wikipedia article.

Besides his many books, I found that he offers much of his writing and videos online for free. Simply go here to learn more, but be prepared for some in depth stuff!

I have found him challenging, insightful, and theology-changing in many areas. Having a Wesleyan/Arminian background his thoughts are not as earth-shattering as they may be for some. I do, however, find him to order things differently...it is still challenging.

February 26, 2008

The Hermeneutics Quiz

ChristianityToday just released their Hermeneutics Quiz for online consumption. Scot McKnight, the author of the JesusCreed blog, created the quiz.

I scored 65 and am considered a moderate. Scot McKnight says:
The moderate hermeneutic might be seen as the voice of reason and open-mindedness. Moderates generally score between 53 to 65. Many are conservative on some issues and progressive on others. It intrigues that conservatives tend to be progressive on the same issues, while progressives tend to be conservative on the same issues. Nonetheless, moderates have a flexible hermeneutic that gives them the freedom to pick and choose on which issues they will be progressive or conservative. For that reason, moderates are more open to the charge of inconsistency. What impresses me most about moderates are the struggles they endure to render judgments on hermeneutical issues.
After you take the quiz, return here and tell me where you ranked. Do you agree with your ranking? What do you think about the quiz?

Protestants are Nearly a Minority

The LA Times reported on the new Pew Forum report: The Religious Landscape of the United States.

The report says that only 51% of Americans consider themselves Protestant, and only 43% of adults ages 18-29 include themselves in that number.

At the same time 44% of adults have switched religious/faith traditions.

78.4% of Americans are Christians, about 5% belong to other faith traditions, and 16.1% are unaffiliated with any religion.

Secular unaffiliated Americans account for 6.3% of the population; religious unaffiliated, 5.8%; atheists, 1.6%; and agnostics, 2.4%.

At 1.7% of the population, Jews make up the next-largest religious group. Buddhists are 0.7% of the population; Muslims 0.6%; and Hindus and New Age followers, both 0.4%.

I found this quote interesting: Luis E. Lugo, director of Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said, "It is a very competitive marketplace and if you rest on your laurels, you're going to be history."

What does this mean for churches? What should it mean?

I am bothered by the general apathy of the church about reaching hurting, broken people. We are content to huddle up until we can get out of this place...when we should be bringing the Kingdom of God to earth. We should be transforming lives, healing marriages, and helping people break out of their poverty and self-destruction.

Church Relevance adds this:

Growth Rates
factors adults entering and leaving each group

+700%= Agnostic

+220% = Atheist

+75.0% = Buddhist

+33.3% = Muslim

+16.7% = Jehovah’s Witness

0.0% = Hindu

-4.8% = Protestant

-5.6% = Mormon

-10.5% = Jewish

-23.9% = Catholic

We are certainly living on the mission field!

February 22, 2008

The Flu

The flu is horrible! I have been down for a little over a week; barely able to function...much less blog. I have come to the conclusion that Advil does nothing for a fever, taking Dayquil works as well as taking the Dayquil packaging, and Nyquil is still king!

February 12, 2008

Christians Are Wrong About Heaven

Here is an interesting article: Christians Wrong about Heaven. It is a phone interview with N.T. Wright.

Here are a few quotes:

"Never at any point do the Gospels or Paul say Jesus has been raised, therefore we are we are all going to heaven. They all say, Jesus is raised, therefore the new creation has begun, and we have a job to do."

"In Revelation and Paul's letters we are told that God's people will actually be running the new world on God's behalf. The idea of our participation in the new creation goes back to Genesis, when humans are supposed to be running the Garden and looking after the animals. If you transpose that all the way through, it's a picture like the one that you get at the end of Revelation."

"What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell. And when he returns to fulfill the plan, you won't be going up there to him, he'll be coming down here."

I, personally, have always felt empty by the prospect of a rapture or future that doesn't include the world...that seeks to escape it. The escapee mentality leaves too many Christians trying to get out rather than change the world in which we live. I really like the statement, "What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell."

With this view morality matters. We don't just live to get out of this life. One day, Jesus will return to get us out of here, but to renew the world and bring the fullness of His Kingdom. That means He is invested in His creation; He loves us and the world He created.

February 11, 2008

What You Are For Not Against

In his book Story, Robert McKee says, "Difference for the sake of difference is as empty an achievement as slavishly following the commercial imperative." He goes on to say that many write a certain way not because they are passionate about that particular style, but because of what that style is not. "The young are taught that Hollywood and art are antithetical. The novice, therefore, wanting to be recognized as an artist, falls into the trap of writing a screenplay not for what it is, but for what it's not. He avoids closure, active characters, chronology, and causality to avoid the taint of commercialism. As a result, pretentiousness poisons his work."

This is a very tempting way not only to write, but also to live life; pursuing a path simply because it is not the other path.

When I planted my first church, I reacted against all that I had seen before. I didn't like traditional worship; so we did contemporary worship. I didn't like strict standards; so we took coffee into the sanctuary. I didn't think churches cared enough for the poor; so we did ministry to the poor. There was nothing wrong with doing those things. There was, however, something wrong with my pursuit of them simply because I didn't want to be something else.

Authentic ministry develops when you discover what you are passionate about, what God has called you to accomplish, and pursuing what you are for not what you are against. It means knowing who you are, and what you were created to do. Difference for difference sake is an empty path, and a cheap substitution for authenticity.

I learned that ministry to the poor had to come from a desire to serve and love the poor; not just because the "other" churches weren't doing it. I had to actually love those who were far from God. I had to want to present the Gospel in relevant ways and remove barriers to people coming to the church because it was my desire, and not because I wanted to "do church differently." My ministry style would probably be very similar to what it was before, but I have had to wrestle with doing it because I believe it is right and the direction God has called me to go, and not out of a reaction against another way of doing church.

"Doing church differently" implies a comparison mentality that is unpleasing to God. If I am following God and His path, then I don't need to compare what my church does to what "other" churches are doing. I am content and confident in the direction God is leading.

"Doing church differently" also implies a competition mentality. Why compare ourselves to other churches anyway? We need to be who God has called us to be regardless of how "other" churches are doing things.

Take a moment and think about what you are for...is this really what you are for or is it simply a reaction against something else.

What are you for? What is it that you are passionate about accomplishing for God's Kingdom?