Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hoax or the Real Thing?

In a previous post, I referenced an mp3 file I discovered off another blog. It turned out to be a radio ad for a church in the motif of a "monster-truck ad" for sunday worship.

It was truly horrid.

A friend challenged the authenticity of the mp3--perhaps someone's idea of a joke.
(Yet, given the state of the American church, such an ad is not inconceivable.)

So, I emailed the church last week. I still have not heard an answer.

Meanwhile, I tried to google the question. I did discover a church, with a big red door, that fit the ad description to a tee:

St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Alabama

But I was not satisfied.

I googled the ad and came up with another blog posting the issue. In fact, the blogger claims that her sister lives in the same town, attends another Episcopal church there and enjoyed the ad.

That blogger linked to an Episcopalian blogger commenting on the usefulness of such an ad.

While reading that posting, a quote was referenced:

"Second, well, I'm appalled. Phrases like "see sin crushed beneath monster loaves of bread" or whatever that phrase was, and "giant vats of wine" just strikes me as over the top in some way that I can't quite put my finger on. I do, however, have a fairly negative gut reaction to it. I'm not so sure that caricaturing the Holy Mysteries is the best way to get people to take them more seriously. In fact, it may do just the opposite by simply strengthening the idea that going to church is not so different from going to a monster truck rally..."

This is quite amazing: typically Christians (at least laymen) who deny any conservative approach to evangelism still have scruples about approaches not forbidden in their general approach. Thus, although this ad in general is a good example of "contextualization" (or so the bloggers contend), it still hits the wrong nerve for some.

But why? If pragmatism is the driving force for churches to evangelize the world, then one man's scrupples are another man's opportunities.

On the other hand, if evangelism is strongly regulated by the Bible and not the fancies of men, then an objective standard exists to determine right from wrong. And that is a comforting thought in the midst of a world drowned in subjectivity.

We should avoid hoaxes masquerading the mission of the Church as an institution bringing fun into the life of those that hate God; rather we should desire the real thing in presenting the truth of Christ's Law which condemns the world and lovingly proclaim His Gospel which truely "crushes" sin.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Embarrassing Christianity

A few months back I was amazed to discover professing Christians cursing in worship.

Well, this is a close second: ecclesiastical barf.

(Hey, I just calls it like I sees it!).

Thanks to the Riddleblog for pointing this out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Monday, February 13, 2006

What's Worth Reading

Recently a friend called me to chat. In the midst of the conversation, he asked about the various books I read--then, knowing me so well, he changed his question:

"What do you read for recreation?--for fiction?"

Yes, it's true: I don't always read theology, philosophy and other such mundane materials.
I read, and recommend, Sci-Fi/Fantasy--especially fantasy.

I greatly enjoy Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. He is the Tolkien of this century. And I'm only on volume 11!

Saberhagen's stories about death-loving machines--Berzerkers--destroying every life-form in the universe are the quintessential short-story plot-twists I learned to love in junior high literature class.

Robert Asprin's fantasy spoof series, Another Fine Myth and the like, is quiet entertaining, giving me a laugh even after fifteen years.

There are other worthy books (for another blog!) and there are other genres (maybe my wife can list a few later), but these are worthwhile--if you like that genre.



Sunday, February 05, 2006

Best Posts of 2005

Mr. Snitch finished his list.

Here are some of my favorites (or at least interesting...):

A possible poem by micheal moore.

Media lies.

Interesting social theories.

Social breakdown by drivers.

Thoughts on how to model the socio-political spectrum.



Friday, February 03, 2006

Politics & Religion 1: Doctrine Matters

What are the conditions in which one may write bold affirmations about political figures?

My last posting was percieved as harsh by some. It was not the tone (I don't believe) of the posting that was offensive, rather is was the content: that president Bush desires a form of political salvation.

Now, unfortunately one cannot write every argument defending such a proposition in any given paper, let alone in a blog. Blogs are supposed to be pithy and, hopefully, profound (at times).

In answer to the question: one writes bold affirmations when the truth needs to be told.

As for defending my assertion, it is best to know from whence I come socio-politically and above all philosophically and theologically. Let it be known that I am not a modern Republican in principle and especially not a neocon. I am more closer to a traditional Conservative or, perhaps, a Christian Libertarian of the J. G. Machen type or the Progressive Calvinists of yesteryear.

Theologically I am a conservative Calvinist Presbyterian. Philosophically I am a Van Tillian.

Why is this relevant? It means that I am not "heresy hunting". I am merely expressing my analysis of the political scene in accordance with the above reference points. Furthermore, my assertions arose from several facts and quotes. One simple fact is the president's lauding of the Iraqi constitution because it was Democratic--regardless of its explicit socialistic nature. The remainder of the post will focus on the theological issues and the next will cover more explicit quotes and facts.

I voted third-party because Bush was not conservative enough: too much governmental expansion, too much debt, health care, etc. Many already know the rest.

In the case of my previous posting, the analysis was based upon the premise that salvation is the fundamental issue with man (and was stated as such). Another premise is that culture is religion externalized: it expresses, although not in a one-to-one manner, basic religious beliefs.

I also believe that every area of life (sometimes called sphere sovereignty--personal, familial, ecclesiastical and political) is rooted in the Word of God. Obviously, this would entail critiquing those "ministers" of the state (Roms. 13) with that Word. This necessarily means that salvation is not merely individualistic (you and me) but also familial, ecclesiastical, political, etc. All of creation, especially the human moral relationships in said spheres (and more besides), will be transformed at the Eschaton. In the here and now, they are being transformed, especially through the sanctification of the Christian individual and the Body of Christ. Thus, Christ will save the "world"--that entire system of inter-related moral relationships among men.

So, when president Bush states:

"In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead.
These are not the failures of a culture or a religion. These are the failures of political and economic doctrines. " (2003 speech).

--I naturally must reply. Granted this statement was spoken in 2003, but it was never retracted. Recently he stated, "Yet liberty is the future of every nation in the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity." (sciencedaily). More quotes could be multiplied (and will be in the next posting).

This statement alone (read the entire speech if you are unsure) proves the statement of my last posting: that the government is the savior. These problems listed (and presumably more) are from sin: the fall of Adam brought about the total ruin of all creation and all relations, social institutions, governments, etc (Rom. 5; 8; etc.). (That is why Paul applies the Law of God to those in child-parent, slave-master, and citizen-ruler relations.)

If salvation in Christ includes his sanctification of politics, then only Christ has the answer to solve that problem area: and it is not government. It is religion. Or the sanctification of culture. Specifically, Christianity is needed to leaven such cultures. In this case, the problem of poverty, etc. is related to the culture and the fatalistic ends-justifies-means religion known as Islam. Poverty does not simply arise because of wrong "political and economic" doctrines but, fundamentally, because of theological doctrine.

Granted, in God's common grace, societies can impliment certain policies that may temporarily aliviate the problems (for instance European socialism is "working" enough--for now--but that does not justify its existence). But that is not the issue: the issue is "what says the Lord".

My intent is not to besmirk president Bush, but whether he realizes it or not, his is not a Christian conservatism worth emulating. President Washington's farewell address (to name but one religious-political speech of that era) did not withdraw religous convictions from the limelight; he was not "talking politics", but integrated his religion and his politics. He knew that doctrine matters.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16).

And that means politics.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bush: Salvation by Politics

Watching the presidential was not high on my to-do list last night.

Why? Because, even as the political pundits on PBS recognize, this yearly speech does not boost the presidents image as much as it prevents it from sliding down. Besides, in this case, the president is regurgitating typical neo-con politics.

My wife braved the event. Twice she rushed into my room exclaiming: "yougottahearthis!"

1) The president claimed that the true Islam faith is "noble".
2) The president extolled the virtues of Democracy as the path for a terror-free world (and its up to America to save the world, of course).

(This was too much excitement for my wife, so she changed channels.)

From a Christian perspective, when one realizes that man's basic need is redemption, it follows that unregenerate man will seek everything but God to bring salvation.

In this case it is politics. Otherwise known as the government.
Specifically, president Bush argued that the true way to eradicate terrorism was through revolutionizing the political process with Democracy.

There was no mention of culture. There was no reference to religion. Obviously, this silence follows when politics is the reference point of modern Humanism.

Besides the philosophical and theological arguments against such an approach, the simple fact that the Palestinian Democracy voted overwhelmingly for a hard-core terrorist organization flies in the face of such American utopias.

Democracy only manifested the wickedness of evil hearts.

Salvation is not through the change in environment, whether cultural, political or ecological; it is only through regeneration of man's heart by the power of Christ's Spirit.