Sunday, November 28, 2010

Colson, Boyd and Claiborne Video

The second video was from a “Speaking of Faith" radio program where three generations of evangelicals…Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd and Shane Claiborne expressed their opinions on a variety of topics.  The snippet I watched was about homosexuality. Greg Boyd said this,

It seems to me that there's two fundamental issues that Evangelicals do have to wrestle with. The one is simply the terrible, abysmal track record the church has towards gays. You know, the reputation out there is that Evangelicals are homophobic and I don't think that it’s liberal media that's spinning that. I think we've earned the right to have gotten that.

But what's happened is, we have a list and our sins, you know, like gossip and greed and gluttony and not caring about the poor, and all the stuff that's mentioned all the time in the Bible, we minimize.

You can be a church member and have that stuff, but the homosexuality issue is all of a sudden the deal-breaker. And who christened that the deal-breaker sin? I don't get that. I used to wonder why did Jesus attract prostitutes and other, you know, sinners that were judged by religion and the church doesn't? They tend to stay away from us as much as the Pharisees. And one of those reasons might be that Jesus never made a public policy trying to pass laws against them. And here's where politics can get in the way of our Gospel message. They don't want to hang out with us, because we made a platform out of, uh, you know, going after them instead of our sins….

Many conservative Christians feel entitled to speak out against homosexuality….and to make it a political issue…a litmus test issue… because of their interpretation of certain verses in scripture that appear, at least on the surface, to deem homosexuality an abomination to the Lord. I think those verses can be explained using the same principles that universalists use to denounce an eternal hell (reasoning, definition of certain words in the original language, context and the customs of the times)   But that is the subject of another series of posts…one that I wrote about, in part, HERE

As far as scripture…well, there are plenty of abominable things that touch the lives of all Christians. More than enough abomination to go around…. 

Proverbs 6 comes to mind….

There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.  ESV

Note the reference to abomination?  Just sayin'….


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Tony Campolo Video

I went “you tubing” yesterday morning. Two of the videos I happened upon are worthy of a blog post….so today video number one.  Tomorrow…video number two.

Video Number One...a snippet from an interview with Tony Campolo answering the question "what would happen if more Christian people, no matter what their theological perspectives, actually got to know the gay people in their neighborhoods" 

Tony replied that for someone who is very “unaccepting” of homosexuality, the turning point often comes when they find out someone they know is gay. A friend, a sibling....a child.  He said the plea of many homosexuals is: 

Would you please get to know us beyond the label. You may find the same Christ that you love, is waiting to be encountered in me.  When you get to know me, perhaps we will feel a spiritual connectedness in a way that transcends the categories.

Then he told a story about a “right before bed” phone call he 10:00 at night… when he was very tired and very ready to call it a day. The caller was a woman he didn't know with a deep theological question.  

Her question....?

Do people get judged immediately after death or does the Lord judge everyone the same time? 

Tony explained his beliefs....and long story short...his answer was that we all get judged together.  Then he said....

Friend, you called me at 10:00 at night.  I don't even know how you got my phone number.  But I have to ask you a question.  Why, at 10:00 at night, would you call up a tired guy like me and ask a heavy question like that?"

She replied,

"well, 3 weeks ago my homosexual son committed suicide...and when he stands before the judgment seat, I want to be next to him and try to tell Jesus what a good and loving boy he was."

That's brought tears to my eyes several times. There is so much pain condensed into that one paragraph.  It contains the pain her son must have endured....until he couldn't endure it anymore and he took his own life.  It conveys the pain she felt at the loss of her son....a son she obviously loved very much.  And most of all, the pain of believing she would have to plead her son’s case to Jesus and talk him into letting her beloved son "into heaven"...that she would have to somehow convince Jesus to forgive him.

And there is a lot of blame condensed into that short snippet.

The church's status quo teaching that homosexuality is the mother of all sins....and that suicide is even one up on that....has brought so much pain and heartache to so many people.  To so many hurting sons and daughters who have assimilated the teachings of the Christian community and translated the message as one of condemnation and rejection. To so many grieving mothers and fathers...mourning the loss of….or the sexual orientation of...their children.

Even more damaging is the church's status quo teaching about judgment...and that Jesus, who was partial to those who were ostracized....society's outcasts....would somehow change into a stern, rigid taskmaster. A judge...quick to condemn and hard to convince, deeming someone worthy of hell for failing to live up the stereotype of a "good Christian." 

Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  He is still seeking and saving the lost.  On both sides of death.  In this earthly realm and in the spiritual realm.

No mother's son will slip through his hands.

I hope that mother has come to believe Jesus already knows what a good and loving boy her son was.  Jesus knows every nuance of the pain and confusion that drove him to take his own life.  And now, without the confines of the flesh...his spirit freed of carnal a realm where there is no male or female or taking in marriage, he will be whole and healed. 

More “tubing” tomorrow….

Monday, November 22, 2010

No Clean Hands – about this world domination thing….

It is not Islam that is the problem.  It is not Christianity that is the problem.  The problem is the carnal mind/egoic mind or in Islam…the nafs… that perverts and selfishly tries to make itself the king of the universe. The egoic mind with its propensity to covet what the other guy has.  And “other” is the key word there.  The carnal mind is oh so ready to deem someone “other.”  Not one of us.  One of “them”…ewwwwww.  And once someone is so deemed it is infinitely easier to distance ourselves from their humanity.  Which is one short step away from declaring them not only “other” but also “enemy.”  Running late….more to come….

Saturday, November 20, 2010

No Clean Hands – the Rise of the Christian and Islamic “Empires”…

If you check out the following graph that depicts the breakdown of world religions, two clear winners emerge….eating up over half of the “pie.” Christianity and Islam.  Together they account for 55% of the world’s population.  That is a big chunk. 



An article in the Huffington Post (the namesake of this series) claims the reason is

....both Christianity and Islam owe their global success not so much to the magic words in their scriptures as to their effectiveness in practicing forced conversions. Oh, yes, we all know about the growth of the Islamic Empire, whose berobed foot-soldiers held a scimitar in one hand and the Quran in the other. But pull that beam out of your eye, dear Christian reader, and remember the Celts, the West Africans, the Indians of the Plains, the Hawaiians, and countless other peoples whose religions and languages were violently suppressed that they might know salvation through “our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In my journeys around the internet…while reading up on the controversy of the “mosque at ground zero”…. I came across many articles, comments and blog posts warning that the goal of Islam is to take over the US and institute Sharia Law. Many see this as a real threat.

Recently, I’ve been revisiting a topic I first ran across a while back (and wrote about here on this blog)…the Dominionists….the Christian Reconstructionists…the “take America back for God” folks. They  come in many flavors and degrees..but their goal is to make American a theocracy and institute Biblical Law.  Their interpretation of Biblical Law is very literal and very narrow.  Some advocate reinstituting Biblical punishments like the stoning of homosexuals, adulterers etc. (Sound similar to the oppression found in many middle eastern countries?  The Taliban by another name is still the Taliban.)

And the thing is…the history of both religions is tainted with forced conversions, tyranny, oppression, and theocratic rule. 

Pot…meet kettle. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Clean Hands – Apples with Apples

I'm having trouble getting this series organized in my head.  That's the reason it's been four...or more...days since my last post. It still hasn't "congealed" so I guess I'll just jump in and start typing...and see where I end up. In the post a few days ago I said:

Those who have never even leafed through the Quran, proclaim the holy book of Islam a book of hate that promotes…demands…violence against those of other faiths.  They’ve taken to heart short, snappy little excerpts repeated over and over like, “Kill the Infidel” without acknowledging that their own holy book…the Bible…also seems to promote violence, war, sacrifice, genocide and a whole host of other unsavory behaviors.

An example?

Deuteronomy 20:16-17 declares

But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:

Phillip Jenkins is a fairly well known author, Biblical scholar, and a Professor of Humanities at Penn State University....with other honors and titles (Distinguished Senior Fellow...Distinguished Professor...etc.)  Jenkins is a contributing editor for The American Conservative and writes a monthly column for The Christian Century. He has also written articles for Christianity Today, First Things, and The Atlantic so he probably can't be pigeonholed in that "he's a left wing liberal" column.  When he says his studies have led him to the conclusion that

"the Islamic scriptures in the Qur'an were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible"

perhaps folks who think of the Quran as nothing more than a book of hate should pay attention. He goes on to say:

“By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane,” he says. “Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide.”

The Hebrew word that describes this kind of warfare is "herem" and the children of Israel attempted to carry it out against the original inhabitants of the Promised Land....the "ites" listed above.  Talk about jihad...a "holy" war. 

Now, I know this has been explained away with concepts such as old covenant/new covenant....and dispensationalism....and progressive revelation....and types and shadows....and how most of the Old Testament points to Christ. And countless essays and books and Biblical commentaries have been written to try to minimize or justify the absolute wickedness of slaughtering whole groups of people...but they fall short.  Genocide is genocide. 

I don't read the Old Testament history.  I don't have it all figured out by any means... but I think perhaps some of the stories are parables....or analogies...or word pictures...or fables.  Or perhaps some....maybe even most....of the events actually happened but I think the retelling is from the perspective of the authors.  I don’t believe that God actually whispered in Joshua's ear about mass slaughter.  Joshua may have believed he heard God clearly but his interpretation was colored by his prejudices, his carnality and his lust to possess the Promised Land.  Damn inconvenient that it was already inhabited....

But that is the subject of a whole other series of posts.  My point is that if we compare apples with apples....a literal reading of the Bible compared with a literal reading of the Quran…choosing the most violent, bloody holy book is, at best, a draw.

More to follow….

Friday, November 12, 2010

There are no clean hands in this quarrel…

I came upon a series of articles on Huffington Post…

I know many consider Huffington Post a very left wing website…with the likes of Brian Mclaren, Shane Claiborne, Tony and Bart Campolo, Jim Wallis etc. posting there.  But they make some very good points about important, divisive issues…and upon further pondering…and research…and surfing the internet…and more pondering…..a series has been birthed. 

There are no clean hands in this Christian / Muslim dialogue. Many Christians cry out against terrorism (and well we should all condemn acts of terrorism) but as my cyber bud annie is fond of saying….pot…meet kettle. That is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Atrocities have also been committed by followers of the Hebrew God down through the ages…a fact many Christians ignore in their condemnation of Islam.

Those who have never even leafed through the Quran, proclaim the holy book of Islam a book of hate that promotes…demands…violence against those of other faiths.  They’ve taken to heart short, snappy little excerpts repeated over and over like, “Kill the Infidel” without acknowledging that their own holy book…the Bible…also seems to promote violence, war, sacrifice, genocide and a whole host of other unsavory behaviors. When taken at face value, of course. 

I found a quote in an article on the Grove Report Website written by Theresa McCune.  I love the following…short and snappy excerpt from her post….

If you honestly seek the truth about Islam and Muslims, just pick up and read the books written by Muslims, not the ones written about Muslims.  Get your information from the horse’s mouth, not the other end.

Touche’ Theresa!!!!  And I couldn’t agree more….

Most Christians have at least cursory knowledge of the “basics” of Bible interpretation. 

Something along the lines of

* OBSERVATION: What does it say?

* INTERPRETATION: What does it mean?

* APPLICATION: How does the meaning apply to me?

Or in more detail….

  1. WHO: Who are the people? Who did it? Who can do it? Who is it talking about?
  2. WHAT: What is it saying? What is it talking about? What is happening? What did they do?
  3. WHERE: Where are they going? Where did it happen? Where will it take place?
  4. WHEN: When did it happen? When will it happen? When can it happen?
  5. HOW: How did it happen? How can it happen? How was something done?
  6. WHY: Why did he say that? Why did he do that? Why did they go there?

But how many Christians realize there are also principles of Quranic hermeneutics?  Type the phrase into google and 196,000 websites come up in the results. Something to ponder before dismissing the Quran as a holy book of hate. Perhaps the texts, taken out of context and at face value, are the problem….and are not what the message of the Quran is over all. 

This series will meander along…as most of my series do…morphing as I explore and ponder.  I invite you to expand your horizons right along with me…as I expand mine.   

Monday, November 8, 2010

Very much like us…

Well, I thought I had laid it to rest for a while…this stuff about Islam and the Mosque and the belief that there ARE moderate Muslims who do abhor terrorism…and that it is only the perversion of Islam that transforms it into a religion of hate.  But stuff keeps coming to my attention…

In the Sunday paper a few weeks ago…in The Parade Magazine… there was an article about a Muslim family who immigrated to Lincoln, Nebraska. Naef and Suad and their seven children fled to the US from Baghdad, leaving behind a construction and restoration business, after a kidnapping and death threats. The article does not reveal their last name because of concerns about the safety of family still in Iraq. (Something to keep in mind when leveling the criticism that moderate Muslims in the US do not speak out vehemently enough against terrorism.  Perhaps some are reluctant because of the threat to family still in Iraq)

Weekdays, the four older children are on the school bus at 6:30 a.m. Naef and Suad spend their days studying English and doing volunteer work (a requirement for some government benefits). On weekends, the family goes to Pioneers Park and barbecues. The kids have even sampled the delights of Chuck E. Cheese on a few special occasions.

They are unemployed at this point…but are seeking work…learning English and adapting to a culture very different from their native homeland.

When you think of diversity, Lincoln, Nebraska is probably not the first city that comes to mind but….

Because of the city’s size, relatively stable economy, and educational opportunities (it’s home to the main campus of the University of Nebraska), the U.S. State Department designated Lincoln—current population 250,000—as “refugee friendly” in the 1970s. Thousands of Vietnamese refugees were resettled there, and waves of immigrants from other countries followed. Lincoln’s public schools now include children speaking 52 languages.

That is so cool.  For the most part the city has welcomed the estimated 5000 to 7000 Iraqis who’ve chosen the Lincoln area as their home in the last 15 years.

The article also tells about a few other Iraqi families who live in Lincoln…and the blending process that has taken place there.  It is a real life example and puts an “a lot like us” face on the Iraqi immigrants who have come to our country. 



Sunday, November 7, 2010

C.S. Lewis Quote on Truth….

I was reading through a long list of CS Lewis quotes this morning....long after I should have been in the shower.  I came upon the list somewhere...somehow this weekend... in my internet escapades.  Only a handful of the hundred or so short, snappy quotes really resonated...which is odd because I really like CS Lewis.  I have a book...a devotional....that consists of excerpts from his writings. The quotes on the list I read this morning were one liners mostly.  Perhaps honed too close to the bone to convey the deep thoughts of CS Lewis.  But there were a few that caught my attention....and one caught it enough to be given a chance at a blog post.

"And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies' plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger."
--The Last Battle

So many times this charge is leveled against those who believe differently.  You know....those "new agers"...heretics....universalists.....unitarians... etc...etc....etc.  This accusation can easily be turned around on those who level it against any of the groups that I just rattled off.  And there are many more.  Ask the Catholics about the Charismatics.  Ask the Seventh Day Adventists about the Lutherans.  Ask the Southern Baptists about the Universalists.  Everyone thinks they have a handle on THE Truth....when in actuality we all see through that murky glass.  

Good to know that Jesus promises us that Comforter is going to lead us to the truth.  And not to  just a little piece of the truth (like we possess now) but he will lead us into ALL truth!  All. Truth.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spirit of Truth, Take From Us What You Will

About a week or so ago, I posted excerpts from a sermon by Gary Sigler.  In that post I mentioned an interesting sermon by D.E. Paulk of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit .  This sermon also, no doubt, raised a few kingdom eyebrows. He began the sermon by urging everyone to "come empty" and set their preconceived notions aside for a bit...and he prayed

Spirit of Truth carry us where you will.  Bring to us what you will and take from us what you will.  We are surrendered to you the name of the Christ.

Take from us what you will...hmmmmm....sometimes we don't want to let go..sometimes we hold on for dear life. 

In the post about Gary Sigler, I mentioned the tendency of some kingdom folk to be very set in their a "B MUST come BEFORE C but ALWAYS AFTER A" kind of way. Paulk talked about that as one of the stages of spiritual consciousness. The steps he listed are below...paraphrased....not word for word....

Absolute...the absolute level of thought progression, everything is concrete. Everything is literal.

Abstract....when you begin to accept that in the same Bible there are opposing, contrasting from glory to glory ideas.  You are willing to walk in the gray...

Mystic Receptivity - totally bow down and say God you are unknowable longer see God and truth and other people as separate from yourself.

He went on to talk about how you can find so many contrasting (sometimes seemingly opposite) ideas in the Bible. There is meat, milk and mystery in the same Bible

You can find dispensation and kingdom

You can find rapture a physical second coming and the idea of kingdom now

You can find exclusion and the finished work

In the Epistles you can find Paul speaking evangelically and universally.

Paul teaches against circumcision (you are trampling the blood of Jesus underfoot) then he circumcises Timothy

So which is accurate?  Good question....

He claims you can usually find truth in the middle.  Truth is found not in polar opposites, not in black and white, not in extremes but truth is found in the gray areas.  Take two opposites and the truth is usually in the middle of them...the middle way...moderation...the balance.

And the Bible is often used as a weapon of exclusion based on the scriptures....

More on that in an upcoming post.....Oh...and the WE in the title is an acronym for the weekly devotional he writes.....the WE....short for The Weekly Eureka.

And the emblem from the Church’s home page says it all….