October 23, 2017

Open Forum — June 26, 2012

Given the following facts…

  • It is after midnight.
  • I have been working on ideas for posts for several hours but am coming up empty.
  • I just came off a week in my ministry in which I worked over 62 hours, including leading five funerals and attending at least a half dozen deaths, as well as dealing with a number of unusual and demanding patient/family situations. The wall fast approacheth once more…
  • We just concluded a long series of discussions on the subject of charismatic faith and I don’t have any more to say about that at the moment.
  • I couldn’t find anything in the archives that jumped out at me as “must reading” for today.
  • I haven’t yet gotten back to some of the reading I was doing and posting about recently (posting which I hoped to resume this week).

…I think it would be prudent for me to open the floor to you and have another Open Forum today. Here are a few suggestions to prime the pump:

  • What has been on your mind lately?
  • What questions would you like to ask your fellow IM readers?
  • What’s happening in the world (or your world in particular) that you would like to discuss?
  • How has God been leading, teaching, and helping you lately?
  • How can we pray for you or those you know? (please be discreet about details)
  • What have you seen in the world of Christian faith, churches, missions, etc., that has gotten your attention lately?

Or…whatever.

I humbly and with much exhaustion of mind and body yield the floor to my friends today.

Have a good, safe, civil, and productive discussion.

Comments

  1. I’d like to ask the good folks here if they have real assurance of their salvation. And if they do, from where does that assurance derive?

    Thanks.

    • I have no such assurance. As I understand the matter, hope lies between extremes of despair and presumption.

      • I think that the Lord wants you to have assurance. I think He wants you to be free of wondering. Not that we should ever take it for granted. I think that’s why Baptism was commanded. So that you could be liberated from not knowing and falling back into yourself for any assurance. By what you do, say, think, or feel.

        Thanks, Gerald.

      • Adrienne says:

        First to Chaplain Mike. Please take this from one who now lives with a chronic illness from too much stress for too many years without a break. Please, please take care of your body, mind, emotions etc. In my zeal to “serve” the Lord I ignored my husband’s wise physician/friend when he said I could not continue to live with the stress (my husband was dying at the time.) I refused his offer of medical help and lived to regret it. I had to be HUMBLED in every way. Taken care of in my helplessness by church family. I have come to deeply respect the fact that the laws of nature ARE God’s laws. I am not and never was super-human. So please take care of yourself. If you must take a break from this blog site. We need you and would miss you but would rather you give yourself rest where you can than be forced to.

        Now to Gerald and Steve. I had full assurance from the moment I “came to Christ”. It deeply distresses me when I meet folks, and there are many, who do not have it. I base my assurance of the fact that there is nothing so terrible nor anything so wonderful that I can do that can change the fact of Christ’s saving work on Calvary. When he said those magnificent words, “It is finished” (paid IN FULL) that is where my assurance comes from. He paid for all my sins and, obviously I hadn’t even sinned yet. I did not exist then. His word is my basis. “Saved to the uttermost” Hebrews 7:25. I could share many other Scriptures with you. But the “word picture” I tell people is to imagine yourself at Calvary witnessing Christ’s sacrifice. Would you stand there and say, “Thank you so much – but this isn’t quite enough.” He knew and took all all mankind’s sin for all time. It is unfathomable. But I rest there. The curtain in the temple was torn FROM TOP TO BOTTOM thereby given access to the Holy of Holy for all people of all time.

        I could go on and on and I know that there are folks who would totally disagree with my “theology” but I would ask them what pride is keeping them from receiving this magnificent gift. What can you do? We are to be joyful people, living freely (and believe me I understand and live with depression now. I am not saying happy-clappy. I am saying a profound joy.) Freedom is the gift I cherish. It is my birthright. And it is yours. There is only one thing to glory in and that is the cross of Christ. Blessings to you my brothers.

        • Adrienne,

          Thanks for your thoughtful answer. It is wonderful to be fully liberated and have the assurance that Christ wants us to have.

          I think that because we are inveterate doers of the law, that He gave us the gift of the visable, external Word (one that comes to us from totally outside of ourselves in the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion).

          • The theology surrounding this differs from denomination to denomination. Evangelicals come from a revivalist tradition which valorizes making a “decision” for Christ, and thereafter being “assured” of salvation. If one of you then murders someone…well, I leave it to you to parse that one.

            The liturgicals, on the other hand (including Catholicism and EO) tend to view such certainty as presumption (and, incidentally, interpret “salvation” as more than mere escape from hellfire).

    • David Cornwell says:

      Assurance was a huge problem of mine for many years. The tradition in which I was nurtured as a child and young person seemed to teach that one must have a certain emotional experience to have assurance. When I was about 10 my family attended a a community revival at the county fair grounds. The evangelist was a Methodist preacher well known in the Ohio Valley and West Virginia areas. He was a dramatic preacher and could make stories from the bible live. He preached a sermon on the trial of Jesus before Pilate, and one could feel the drama of the moment and the moral corruption of Pilate.

      His point was that we had a moment in life where the great decision loomed before us, and that we dared not follow the example of Pilate. I was shaking in my shoes when the altar call started. I soon found the courage to make the walk forward. My younger brother followed. I didn’t know what to expect, and nothing seemed to happen kneeling there, so I went ahead and claimed I was “saved.” This was a big event in our family.

      The problem that arose was that whatever feeling I had kneeling there soon vanished, and with it my assurance went out the window. I struggled with it for years. Somewhere I found that my assurance didn’t need to be so complicated or emotionally based. My acceptance of the promises of scripture, my baptism, the work of Christ on the cross, and His resurrection, in time became all the assurance I need. If I based it on feeling, I’d be lost half the time!

      Thanks for bringing this subject up Steve. I have a feeling it is, or has been, an issue for many of us.

      • Thank you, David. I do suspect a great many Christians struggle with assurance. And we want them to have it, as we have it, and as we believe the Lord wants us to have it.

    • Nothing less
      Than Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness,

    • I believe Romans 8:16 and surrounding verses teach that assurance is one of the Holy Spirit’s gifts to God’s children.

    • I am a five point Arminian. People have asked me as an Arminian, where does my assurance come from. My answer would be the same as David Cornell’s.

      “My acceptance of the promises of scripture, my baptism, the work of Christ on the cross, and His resurrection, in time became all the assurance I need.”

      • If baptism is on your list, then you may be more Lutheran than you think! 😛

        • My Baptism from a Baptist perspective is the point at which I said publically “I belong to Jesus”.

          Jesus responds with “He belongs to me.” In this I have my assurance.

          • I would agree that in Baptism, Jesus says “He belongs to me,” but this seems a tad more sacramental than the traditional Baptist position. I couldn’t say that in Baptism, I am the initiator and God is the responder. God doesn’t adopt us into His family because I knocked on the door, that seems like works-righteousness. I prefer to think of salvation as somebody who was once dead being made alive again. But either way, Baptism is, at the very least, the adoption ceremony.

          • Using the door knocking analogy.

            Revelation 3:20

            “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

            “God doesn’t adopt us into His family because I knocked on the door, that seems like works-righteousness.”

            Agreed. Jesus does the knocking, and we do the opening.

          • Hay carumba, Billy Graham! Do you really think that verse is about conversion, given the immediate context? v.19: Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline. v.22: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the CHURCHES. When the revivalist says “Jesus is a knockin’ at the door of your heart!” I think that this is specifically true for the “lukewarm believers” being addressed by the passage.

          • Yeah, you are right, I probably proof texted that one.

    • Steve, your two questions should have easy answers for those who believe.

      1) YES.

      2) From the work of Jesus, communicated through the Holy Spirit and documented in the Bible.

      1John 5:13 on assurance for believers: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

      • Thanks, Chaplain Mike, Mike Bell, Cedric, Ted.

        I guess what I was after was trying to show what we (Lutherans) believe the purpose of the sacraments to be.

        That we could have assurance, in a concrete, real-time event (a visable Word) that comes to each of us in our personal histories, apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think. Because all of those things are subject to things going on inside of us that may be working against our faith.

        Thanks, so much for the opportunity to talk a bit about ‘assurance’.

    • I heard it put this way once. A helpless person in a burning building, or a strong river current has no hope of rescue until a fireman, or a lifeguard, comes to save him. When the “savior” comes, you hope that he is indeed able to save you. You hope that he is strong enough and well trained enough to overcome your helplessness and deliver you from your peril.

      Assurance is only possible when the object of your trust is Jesus. As the message has been proclaimed to me about Jesus in Word and Table, my assurance has grown. I am sure that I am saved, not because of what I did, but because of what Jesus has already done.

      Lord! Increase my faith!

      • The problem with at least some of those analogies is that a person on some level has to desire to be saved. A person can run back into a burning building, for instance.

        Personally, assurance isn’t something that I spend a lot of time worrying about any longer, but I think that most systematic theologies fail to address it in a satisfactory manner. I don’t really believe “once saved, always saved” in a Calvinistic sense is anything that the Apostle Paul would endorse. However, I also think that many Arminian theologies can make it seem that we are constantly in danger of losing our salvation.

        What I think now is that salvation isn’t a title that is ours to claim. Saved is good verb but a lousy adjective. Through what was accomplished on the cross, Christ is saving us all, and indeed the whole cosmos. He invites is to participate in that salvation, and we can take part in that or not. I believe that our participation is relationally based, so it’s hard to imagine someone wanting to participate in the Kingdom without having a relationship with Christ. It would be like someone saying they want to participate in a marriage without actually ever spending time with their spouse.

        • Calvinistic theology however treats assurance as separate from salvation. One can be saved without assurance. I find that in evangelicalism, which is more Arminian, salvation and assurance are almost equated. It’s not enough to be saved — one MUST KNOW he/she is saved. This ends up putting the burden on the believer to link salvation with feeling a certain way, and leads to the revivalistic practices of rebaptism and the like.

          • Strangely enough, I have never had an issue with this, or really even heard it preached about. In fact I have rather heard the opposite, that our assurance is not about feeling.

            I found this at an Arminian web site: http://savedthroughfaith.com/2011/03/18/is-there-fear-of-apostasy-in-arminianism-2/

            The Arminian position is that while the Bible does teach apostasy, we also accept that the Bible teaches that God holds those who abide in Jesus by faith. I love how Psalm 37:23-24 reads concerning God upholding the righteous. We are righteous if we are in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9) but apart from Jesus, we have no righteousness (Isaiah 64:6). The Arminian accepts that Jesus keeps His own (John 10:27-29) and that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). We accept that as we abide in Him, He is able to bring His work to completion (Philippians 1:6). We have the wonderful promise of Colossians 3:1-3 that we are hidden with Christ in God if we in Christ by faith.

          • Your experience may differ. 🙂

          • “We accept that as we we abide in Him, He is able to bring His work to completion.”
            I hate to say it, but I feel a more honest rendering of that sentence would be “IF we abide in him.” They probably put “as” intentionally to not make it sound conditional, but the voice of doubt is always going to ask, “What if I don’t abide? How does one abide? How can I be sure that I am abiding?”

          • I find it kind of funny that the Lutherans are asking the questions about assurance when they are so certain that they have it!

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method
            We have our agenda, we’re just trying to be nice about it. We want you to come over to our side without having to say, “You are WRONG! Repent, damned heretic!”

          • 🙂

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I find that in evangelicalism, which is more Arminian, salvation and assurance are almost equated. It’s not enough to be saved — one MUST KNOW he/she is saved.

            Which leaves you open to the “Ressegue Regression” tactic — where you destroy the mark’s assurance and close the Fire Insurance sale through an Infinite Regression tactic; in the original IMonk’;s words: “Are You SURE? Are You CERTAIN You’re SURE?? Are You SURE You’re CERTAIN You’re SURE???”
            I wound up a notch on half a dozen Bibles that way.

            This ends up putting the burden on the believer to link salvation with feeling a certain way, and leads to the revivalistic practices of rebaptism and the like.

            Like I said, I wound up with half a dozen Fire Insurance policies (with bonus Rapture Boarding Passes, expiration date around 1980) that way. I have never had this Assurance (TM) since I found out first-hand how any Assurance can be broken down and demolished. And anyone who claims such Absolute Assurance (TM) has never had themselves broken. And how Assurance (TM) could become a game of One-Upmanship and be used as a weapon to break the other guy.

          • Margaret Catherine says:

            ” And anyone who claims such Absolute Assurance (TM) has never had themselves broken.”

            Indeed not.

          • “And how Assurance (TM) could become a game of One-Upmanship and be used as a weapon to break the other guy.”

            HUG, I hate to agree with you. It’s as if some of these “evangelizers” are really trying to destroy the faith of others. I think the first time this sort of doubt was cast the words were, “And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said…?'”

            I appeal to 1John 5:13.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            It’s as if some of these “evangelizers” are really trying to destroy the faith of others.

            It’s a form of sheep-rustling; if you can destroy someone’s existing faith, you can then “lead him to the LORD” and get another notch on your Bible. (Or should that be “sell him another Fire Insurance policy”?) Which in a common meme of that time and place, was the only thing that mattered to God once you were Saved. The more converts you could show at the Bema, the better.

            As far as I can tell, the Fellowships (TM) that I experienced doing this seemed to be totally independent splinter groups with little or no ties to any actual church (or even each other) except for parachurch publications and materials, Christian Best-sellers like Hal Lindsay’s, and various radio preachers. I can only conclude that these groups’ total autonomy had removed any chance of a reality check, leaving them adrift into some pretty weird tangents.

        • Good points, Phil.

          I especially like the “participation” idea. And being a great believer in the assuring effects of the sacraments, I think God has chosen this as one of the main ways we are to participate in the cross (death and resurrection) in a concrete way in which we are participating in His cross, whenever we do them (recieve them), or return to them. Like the Jews when they returned to Shiloh, etc.

          Thanks.

          • You keep talking about “the assuring effects of the sacraments”….I have been baptized but I don’t get my assurance from having been baptized. My faith is in the person and work of Jesus Christ, his dying in my place, his resurrection, his ascension, WHAT HE DID FOR ME. My baptism testifies to all of that and identifies me publically as a Christian, but my assurance is not in my baptism. Please explain in more detail what you mean if I am misunderstanding you.

            And my assurance that Jesus Christ is inside of me is BY FAITH IN HIS WORD, not by having physically consumed Him in the eucharist. I’m probably not saying this very well, but I am not sure what you are saying Lutherans believe. Elaborate, please.

            • Lutherans take verses like Titus 3:4-7 literally and seriously: “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

              Baptism is not my testimony of what God has done for me. Baptism is the means by which God washes and regenerates me.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Due to the above-mentioned deconstruction of any Assurance (TM) during my days in the Evangelical Circus, I can only find assurance through the Sacraments. Primarily Mass.

            “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You. But only say the word and I shall be healed.”

          • Chaplain Mike, this is just my opinion, of course, and you have had a lot more education than I, but Titus isn’t talking about physical water here. He’s saying that when the Holy Spirit regenerates and renews us by the Word we are as clean on the inside spiritually as our body is on the outside physically when we wash it, Titus is using the word “washing” as a word-picture, just as baptism is a picture of death, burial, and resurrection. But it’s the Holy Spirit, not the water, that is efficacious.

            I’m just funny that way. I read what’s actually there and try not read INTO what’s there. My Bible says the Holy Spirit descended “like a dove” and not that the Holy Spirit IS or WAS a dove. My Bible says cloven tongues “like as of fire” descended in the Upper Room, not actual fire. Dove, fire, these are symbols of the Holy Spirit’s work. So is baptism.

            As I said earlier, my assurance is in the Lord, not in the waters of baptism.

            I suppose I wouldn’t make a good Lutheran.

          • Phrases to always watch out for:

            “MY Bible says…”

          • Stuart, would it have been better to say THE Bible says? Or perhaps not to refer to the Bible at all?

            FYI, I do not think I have a corner on truth, not at all. In fact, I can be wrong. Let me repeat that. I CAN BE WRONG. That statement by itself separates me from the Church of Christ, the Baptists, the Lutherans, the Roman Catholics, the Truly Reformed, and a lot of others.

            I do not care for your implications.

          • been there done that:

            I am a Baptist, and I can be wrong too.

            I’ll use your own words and say that I do not care for your implications.

        • FWIW, I’d just like to point out that “once saved, always saved” is not the traditional Calvinist position, despite the fact that a bunch of wanna-be-reformed Baptist run around using it. The reformed confessions teach a slightly different angle: God’s grace WILL cause those who are elect to endure. It sounds similar, but truth be told, “once saved always saved” is, I believe, a product of Arminian theology seeking assurance. The idea that, “Gee, I’ve said the sinner’s prayer, so I’m guaranteed for life no matter what I do!” is quite repugnant to traditional Calvinists who link continuance in the faith to evidence of prior election.

          Usually, Arminians tend to point to conversion experience for assurance, the point in time where one was “born again.” Calvinists tend to point to either good works as evidence of election, or perhaps just the subjective feeling of loving God, which is technically impossible for non-believers (in their view). Lutherans, who stand about halfway between the two soteriologies with “single predestination”, tend to point an individual away from himself for assurance: The external, objective Word of God, which comes to us in our Baptism. If you are Baptized AND a believer, God’s promise (in the external Word) is true for you because it has been applied to you (through water, and with the Spirit).

          I have found this approach significantly helpful in liberating me from the ruthless despair of constant navel-gazing foisted upon theology by existential philosophy. It’s ok if I don’t feel saved, fail to do good works, or remember a life-altering experience from a big-tent meeting. I have God’s promised, sealed with the water and the Word.

          • Good summary, Miguel.

          • “I believe, a product of Arminian theology seeking assurance. ”

            But Arminians don’t spout the “Once saved always saved” non sense.

          • You can’t be a 4 point Arminian? I think 4-point Arminianism is very popular in revivalistic traditions. I’ve known many Evangelicals to reject Calvinism quite vehemently yet affirm “once saved, always saved.”

          • Sure you can be a 4 point Arminian, but you still can’t blame “Once saved always saved” or Arminian Theology when it comes from anything but! 🙂

      • Right!

        “Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.”

        • Interestingly enough, as a non-Lutheran Arminian, I echo that same cry!

        • Anonymous says:

          Being a friend of this woman and walking that road with her has broken forever the kind of faith that I used to have, and strengthened the kind of faith that I ought to have. Not an assured faith, but a stumbling, broken, pleading faith, a faith that will starve without grace. Not a faith that trusts in man – look at us, look at our priests, but in Christ.

        • Final Anonymous says:

          +1. My theme song.

      • schmitty says:

        You better hope the rescuing fireman is not Jim, the Anabaptist fireman:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVtQQKcNBYs

  2. Mark Leberfinger says:

    CM, I’ll just pray for you: that you have a time of refreshment and renewal after your intense week. Blessings.

  3. “What has been on your mind lately?”

    Egypt, Syria and Greece. The ecological crisis. Rising oil and food prices.

    “How has God been leading, teaching, and helping you lately?”

    I suspect this question would be more appropriately directed to God.

    “What have you seen in the world of Christian faith, churches, missions, etc., that has gotten your attention lately?”

    Christians in Syria at risk of being massacred by Sunni rebels; there is some talk of establishing a joint coastal Alawi / Christian enclave.

    New Jesus movie in development, to be directed by Paul Verhoeven (of Robocop fame).

    Brother Nathaniel Kapner, an Orthodox Christian monk and outspoken anti-Semite, turns out to be ethnically Jewish.

    • Josh in FW says:

      Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Mexico have been on my mind also. The problems in these areas are vivid reminders of just how fortunate we are in the U.S. (and Canada).

    • Veerhoeven’s STILL trying to do that movie?!?

  4. Brad H. says:

    This is hilarious! Be sure and watch til the end

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGjVH3XHTgw&feature=fvwrel

  5. JoanieD says:

    I just finishing reading Hans Küng’s book, Why I am Still a Christian which is a very short book explaining why Christianity is so true and so important. For anyone who does not know, he is a Swiss Catholic priest who the Vatican no longer allows to officially teach Catholic theology, but he is still a Catholic priest in good standing. Since we spent some time talking about the Holy Spirit, I thought I would put here a quote from Küng about the Holy Spirit. He writes, “Make room for the Holy Spirit, who is both tender and strong, who reconciles and unites and who is the power and might of God himself—the Holy Spirit, who is not a mysterious and magic fluid or an animistic magic being, but God himself, who is effective and seizes hold of us, but cannot be seized; who gives himself to us but is not at our disposal; who creates life, but also directs us.” (pages 104-5)

    It’s been very wet here in Maine for the past few days and this is going to continue for more days. My gardens seem to like the rain, though. Let’s hope we get a little sunshine too. Luckily, we have not been so hurt by floods as some parts of the country.

    Do small things with great love, fellow internetmonkers!

    • We are desperate for rain here, Joanie. Burn bans throughout the state, red flag warnings about fire danger, drought conditions in mid-June. We’re supposed to get to 100 degrees sometime this week with no precip in sight.

      • David Cornwell says:

        Same is true in north east part of Indiana. My son-in-law’s farm is parched. Some crops look terrible and desperate for rain. He installed irrigation on part of it about two years ago, and plans to add more to the section where we live soon. But for now the season looks bad. He never seems totally upset by these natural events and sees it as part of what farming is all about. My daughter worries much more than he does. His income isn’t totally from crops since he is a dairy farmer.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          Here in Saskatchewan, it is hot, humid, water everywhere…. Quite the opposite.

      • I live in a semi desert, just south of us is the only desert in Canada.

        We should have 100 degree weather now and the lake full of sail boats and full summer in bloom.

        We have rain, too much, the lake is high, north of us towns are being flooded out:

        http://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story-77054-26-.htm#77054

        Weird

        • Aka, every alien desert planet in every Canadian sci-fi production ever!

          rip Stargate…

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            rip Stargate…

            Don’t forget their establishing shots of Area 51 (IRL in the harshest part of the Nevada desert) in the middle of a boreal forest.

      • We’ve got plenty of rain here in FL thanks to Debby, who last I checked, was moving at 5mph back across the state.

      • Chaplain Mike, you don’t need the kind of rain they’re getting in some parts of Maine. In a town somewhat east of Joanie (Brownville) they had 8 inches. Some of the roads are gone and railroad tracks are washed out or crippled. Here on the coast it’s been wet but nothing dreadful.

  6. What’s on my mind? The economy…and how our government, much like fundageliclasim is running over a cliff taking the rest of our country with it. I don’t want to see the United States be like Greece.

    On a plus my Dad is doing better and it looks like his treatment for his brain tumor has been effective. My Dad wants to return to Montana to visit, so I purchased my plane ticket. I can’t wait to see my Dad again in the Big Sky Country!

    On another note I’ve continued having theological conversations with friends and even a pastor in the DC area. I’ve showed up at a slight Calvinist church. I pop in from time to time and have a discussion or two on so many issues. Right now I am trying to figure out how to move forward. My skepticism is so deep that I’m afraid of beeing the odd man out in pointing out contradicitons or problems. Yet at the same time I deeply despise where my life is right now and am inching forward. One thing I have done is I’ve started the process of seeking out reconciliation with those who hurt me, and those who when hurt, I actually hurt in anger. So I reconciled with a freind of mine who attended John Piper’s church (I still view John Piper as the Jerry Sandusky of the reformed crowd…) and it felt quite good to resolve differences in a relationship that I tried to throw away a couple of years back. I’ve also reached out ot my former accountability partner in Milwaukee and have forgiven him. However, I am not expecting to hear from him. He’s quite evasvie, ducks personal responsibility, and has a spine that’s as strong as a piece of cooked spettegit. But I can’t say that I didn’t try…

    So that’s my life…..

    • Glad to hear about your Dad Eagle.

    • “One thing I have done is I’ve started the process of seeking out reconciliation with those who hurt me, and those who when hurt, I actually hurt in anger.”

      That speaks volumes to the depth of your integrity and character. God bless you as you move forward.

      • This will be an interesting time. The first person I reconciled with was awesome! In the end it looks like I may have saved a long friendship. As time passed I felt awful over how I reacted. I was very much in a “burn the bridges” mode. I think I’ve moved past that…now I’m just trying to figure out how to inch forward. One doesn’t need to be a Christian to practice reconciliation. But if Christianity is true than it will embody reconcilaiiton. That reconcilaiiton is between man and God. And reconcilaiiton will also exist between man and the world. As a skpetic this will be interesting. I really want this to work…I really do. However, I feel as if the onus will be on Christians in regards to how they respond. So far it looks like 1 to 1, both people involved in the church. I’m going to have to build up the courage to talk to a number of people. This will occur face to face, through email, and telephone. Who knows if this goes well than maybe it could help build my faith and lay a foundation for putting things together. Or if the onus is on Christians then maybe it could confirm agnosticism. If Christinas can’t forgive, my question to them is how can they worship God?

    • cermak_rd says:

      I’m glad to hear about your Dad.

      But I’m going to have to push back against your comparison with Sandusky and Piper. Piper is an arrogant, inflexible, intolerant wanna-be theocrat. Sandusky is a child rapist. I could live next door to Piper (of course I would instruct any children first to pay no attention to him) but I would not want to live next door to Sandusky because of the fear for the safety of the children.

      • Just as the Christian Industrial complex will destroy your soul, so too will the Neo-Calvinist theology destroy one’s faith. I make the comparison in a satire context but leave no doubt about it what John Piper teaches will lead to a spiritual molestation of one’s mind, leading to burnout, dispair, and little if any hope. Case in point…what he teaches about evil. Is evil ordained by God? I know many here would take difference with him, but his theology is highly toxic. But to tie it back to Jerry Sandusky if evil is ordained by God then that means that when Jerry Sandusky molested those children, it was under God’s will. Sanduksy was just exercising his faith when he raped children in a shower. After all if that’s how God operates than maybe he was just testing people. Maybe..just maybe that theology is part of the reason why hyper Calvinsit churches are struggling with more cases of sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, authorterian abuse, etc.. If God wills it then the act of evil makes it a matter of faith being exercised.

        It’s sick, it’s twisted. But it’s what the Neo-Calvinsits hold dear. Thanks I’ll pass as I find agnositicism much healthier than that aspect of “Christianity” So my imagery still stands.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Something my Dungeonmaster said to me when I was just coming out of the Evangelical Circus and was whipsawing back-and-forth like you are now:

          “HUG, Christianity is like a Clint Eastwood movie: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. And you look like you were in a position to see a LOT of the third.”

    • I am glad also to hear about your dad!

    • Final Anonymous says:

      Aw… Very happy for you Eagle. 🙂

  7. BTW…CM are you going to read and review Julia Duin’s new book? “Days of Fire and Glory?” It would go along well with the recent discussions that took place on charmaticism.

  8. JoanieD says:

    From an online 2005 article called, “Raptured or Not? A Catholic Understanding” I read, “The world of God’s creation is basically good (Gn 1). Though it is marred and broken by sin and death, it is still created in, through and for Jesus Christ (Col 1:15-20). The world shares in the redemption of God and even now is groaning, awaiting the fullness of redemption (Rom 8:19-23) which will be manifested as a (re)new(ed) heavens and (re)new(ed) earth (Rv 21:1-5). God sent the Son into this world out of love to show us the way to life. Jesus did not separate himself from sinners but, on the contrary, they seem to have been his preferred company. If we want to be with the Lord, we should be together with sinners.”

    by Michael D. Guinan, O.F.M., Ph.D., professor of Old Testament, Semitic languages and biblical spirituality at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California.

  9. Lately I’ve been thinking about my inherited Christian tradition, Protestantism. I didn’t choose this tradition. My parents belonged to a Mennonite church when I was born and so I went there for a few years, then they left and went to another Protestant church, and then another Protestant church, and so on. The church I’m at now is an independent Evangelical church that was one that my parents chose and I had no choice but to go to also since I was a teenager at the time.

    Now I’m 26 and have started taking an honest look at some other traditions (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, etc) and have found things that I like within these traditions in their theology and practice. However I am almost afraid to investigate some of these traditions further because I am afraid that I might find their tradition to be closer to my beliefs than my current Evangelical Protestantism. This scares me because I feel like should I decide that I have to leave Protestantism for, say, Roman Catholicism, I think I would be made to feel like I was committing an unforgivable sin. Not to mention I would also have to work my way into an entirely new community, which would be challenging for introverted me.

    Now in reality I’m not close to leaving Protestantism for Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy, but I am questioning and looking at some of the beliefs and tenets of Protestantism and Evangelicalism, and was thinking: what if I find myself in the position one day of having to decide between staying true to my beliefs, or staying true to my community? I didn’t like what my mind came up with.

    • Tom…..((hug)))

      What is happening to you is that you are becoming an authentic adult man, and it isn’t easy. Please understand that I am not saying you have not BEEN an adult up to now, but you have reached the post-adolescent timeframe that most all of us go through when we question our faith and everything else that has been given to us by our families. I have raised two sons (who are just a bit older than you) and watched them wrestle with this as well. It is a hard labor, giving birth to the authentic person God wants YOU to be.

      There is an old saying that “God does not have GRANDchildren”.

      Having been raised Jewish/Catholic/Republican/A Cubs Fan does NOT mean you will be this forever. You must choose your own path, the one God has laid down for you from your conception. Some things you will evaluate and keep, others you will reject. Unless your family is unhealthy, they will know that adults make their own choices, and to expect an adult to be a compliant child is morally and ethically wrong and stifling. Little boys become men with their own thoughts, morals, and usually their own families that they raise as THEY and their wives see fit and good. This is how it goes, how the Lord planned and ordered our lives as we “grow in wisdom and maturity.”

      So PLEASE keep looking, listening, and asking questions where you feel drawn, but make sure that you examine your childhood faith as deeply. (For example-and not that it should influence YOU-I am Roman Catholic, and find that many teens and young adults leave because of what they THINK the Church teaches, when in fact they are rejecting what they learned before age 14 when their relgious education ended. They are rejecting a child’s version of Church teaching without ever learning the adult truth behind their childhood faith and education. Be sure you know exactly what you are leaving, joining, or staying with and WHY!)

      As to your fear of finding new community…I can certainly understand the apprehension of the unknown. I can assure you, however, that whatever faith expression you choose BECAUSE YOU THINK IT IS TRUE will likely have several options for a church home for you to choose from. Even here in a small southern city which is only 7% RC, we have two parishes within the city limits and four more within a forty-five minute drive. We chose the parish that was warm and welcoming from within our Catholic options, while others are drawn to the older, more traditional parish downtown. Simply a matter of taste since they are all valid Catholic churches. SO, once you prayerfully choose your faith expression, then you can visit churches of that denomination and surely will find that you will be greeted with open arms at the place God wants you to be. IMHO, most liturgical churches are glad for newcomers and make room in the church family.

      So, blessings to you on your journey. The Lord will guide your seeking heart. Godspeed…..

      • Thanks for the encouragement Pattie.

        I think my immediate family would be supportive, or at the very least my mom would because I’ve mentioned this possibility to her before. Some of my friends I think would be supportive, but others not so much.

        I think if I were able to find a good community within whatever tradition I would decide to join would be a major help in the decision process.

    • Josh in FW says:

      I’m in a similar place, but have the extra issue of a wonderful wife who is very happy where we’re at. I find it very difficult to articulate my dissatisfaction with the evangelical dispensationalism of our current church home to her. Our current church isn’t perfect, but it is a good church. I’m very cautious of swapping one set of problems for an equal but different set of problems.

      • Dana Ames says:

        You’re so right about swapping problem sets. No matter where you go, there will always be people 🙂 God will help you, and your wife.

        Dana

    • That’s a really good question. As a person who grew up protestant but was received into the orthodox church, I hope my experience can be helpful to you. For contrast, I’ll also talk a little about the experience of my friend, Z, who has been exploring orthodoxy after being in a conservative protestant denomination, and is right now at that gap you are afraid of. I imagine the experience would be similar no matter what sort of tradition change you might end up pondering.

      I found my way to exploring orthodoxy through intellect. Disabled, in bed, I did a lot of reading, including theology and church history. I had always had a lot of intellectual hangups, but great church communties, so I had been shunting them aside for a long time. I even started moonlighting at liturgical services that weren’t offered in my evangelical context, like Easter vigil. Slowly, I was being drawn toward historic christian traditions. For me, the big moment of conflict never came, though – because of logistics. I was very disabled, couldn’t travel far for church, and couldn’t find a nearby orthodox church to visit. I had to move states before I would come to visit my first orthodox church. So my previous church family didn’t feel abandoned, there was no difficult transition. My mom didn’t precisely approve, but she’s glad I’m still a christian. On a visit home, I was confronted with the question: what church do you got to? And I stammered out the name of our church without the “St” on the front. I’m going to have to actually face that squarely on the next visit home, but I think it will go ok.

      Z found her way through relationships with orthodox people. She started attending the wednesday night vespers at our church, while still going to her own on sundays. Then she started coming to saturday night vespers, too, and midweek feast liturgies and the like. She loved it – even the parts that cause most evangelicals to think we’re crazy. Then it grew into some sundays here, some sundays there, with progressively more being “there”/us and her home church was unhappy. Now she’s stretched between two worlds. She’s effectively a practicing orthodox catechumen who not even officially a catechumen, her family think she’s nuts, and she’s had a lot of sit downs with her old pastor. She can’t seek reception into the orthodox church at this point without marital difficulties. It’s a really, really tough place to be, and she’s in it for the long haul.

      Now evangelical to lutheran woudn’t be such a big jump socially, but I think the evangelical-catholic or evangelical-anglican divide would be as large. I know my grandpa didn’t talk to my mom for years when she left the catholic church for protestantism.

      • Dana Ames says:

        Hi Tokah – if I remember correctly, you are a fellow female, yes? Hooray for theologically-attuned females, minority though we are among Orthodox “converts”!

        For me, it was something like Z. I edged into Orthodoxy partly through a Byzantine Catholic church. My husband does not understand and does not want to understand. The only one of my family who came to my chrismation was my Wiccan daughter and her boyfriend (other kids were away at college). Husband just could not do it in good conscience. We still love one another, are still committed to be married. But it’s not easy. God will help Z.

        Glad it all worked out for you. I know what it’s like with a big move like that and the parents. What Pattie said about that … Blessings-

        Dana

        • I am indeed a gal, though I’m not very good at being one. 😉 I share something else with you: all the friends who came to my chrismation were pagans of various sorts. My parents would have come, but we were unable to schedule it before my mom’s surgery, and I was becoming more ill so there was some urgency to getting it done while I could still commit to showing up at particular times and dates. My husband is an atheist, so he doesn’t really care what I do, he just wants me to be happy. He slept through my chrismation, heh! I hope that someday he comes to know the Lord, until then I’ll keep “loving the hell out of him”, as Father Gerasim put it.

        • Dana and Tokah –

          Thanks for sharing your stories. Its sad that your pagan friends were more supportive than your believing friends. Although Tokah’s parents at least seem to have a good reason for not being there.

    • I did that 3 years back. For me, the first step was to search Christianity’s Jewish Roots. I read “Our Father Abraham” and joined a Torah study group at the synagogue. And then I let myself be led by the Spirit.

      By the way, I am an INTJ . It is not easy to walk a solo road but I never felt alone.

    • I was 24 when I started exploring churches outside of my family’s upbringing. I only explored within protestantism although previously when at University I looked into the Bahai faith for a bit. For me it was important to get out from under the shadow of my Parents, and to have my own identity in a church. I chose a number of churches in the Protestant tradition, and decided to visit each for six weeks. After my fifth church I found one that was a good fit, and I although I no longer attend a church from that tradition, I still consider it my home church.

      • What were your impressions of the Bahais? (I know some.)

        • They were nice people. It was the idea of Jesus’ 2nd coming in the 1800s that I have difficulty swallowing. The anti-dispensational wars carried on by my father in a dispensational church helped my end times knowledge significantly!

          • So William Miller was right after all…! 😀

            I guess every religion looks kind of bizarre to people on the outside.

    • Dana Ames says:

      Tom, I was raised Catholic. When I left, because of theology and conscience, in my parents’ view it was basically losing my salvation. It was hard. After they got over their initial grieving, they never, ever treated me any differently than when I was growing up, and neither did anyone else in my devoutly Catholic family, or anyone in the church of my youth. My parents and I had an excellent relationship until they passed on.

      Before I left Evangelicalism, when it was becoming apparent to me that I might in good conscience have to find another way, I stayed in the church where I was for a couple of years for the sake of the relationships I had there, a total of 10 years all together. When I finally did leave, 2 people called when they noticed I was not there anymore; one was the pastor just making sure I was in church somewhere else, I don’t think out of much concern – I think he was relieved that I, a thinking woman, was gone. No one else made an effort to reach out to me. When we have seen each other around town, there have not been any bad feelings – we live in a small town and we’re going to run into each other in the grocery store or post office. Swapping churches for small reasons is also par for the course where I live. My reasons weren’t small. It grieved me to leave those I thought were my friends, and it grieved me even more when I realized the relationships were not what I thought they were.

      When I left Protestantism for EOrthodoxy – again, a very theologically-driven move, a matter of conscience- the folks at the PCUSA church I was part of for 9 years were sad, and the vast majority did not understand, but they blessed me and have always been happy to see me, ask about me and my kids, etc.

      So it’s a mixed bag. God will help you. We’re all just doing the best we can with what we know. If you want to read the best Orthodox blog on the ‘net, it’s http://www.fatherstephen.wordpress.com

      Dana

      • Thanks for sharing Dana. I’ve been at a spiritual crossroads of sorts for several years. Born Catholic. “Saved” in a SBC. Recently attended a SBC based church that dropped the Baptist name from the church sign. Led a Bible study and quickly realized I didn’t agree with the fundamental perspectives and Biblical interpretations consistent with the fundamental mentality so prevalent in the group. In reading about church history, books on worship, the Lord’s supper, blogs such as this, etc., came to the sense of being drawn towards more historic faiths, but couldn’t really say that in the study as I would have either been stoned or flogged.

        Eventually resigned and have been attending other churches as I continue the quest for what’s next? Where will I land? Spouse drawn to Catholicism. Me at times to Catholicism but more so towards Orthodoxy. Perhaps a compromise of sorts and attend a Byzantine Catholic Church? Don’t know. But will keep praying and seeking. Eventually this boat that’s a bit adrift has to hit land at some point.

        BTW, Father Stephen’s blog is a wonderful blog. Have you read his book “Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe”? I downloaded it the other day and so far it’s a really good read.

        • Dana Ames says:

          God will help you and your wife, Don. Keep on praying and seeking. Just be aware that Byz. Catholic churches few and far between.

          Yes, of course I have the book! I’ve been reading Fr Stephen since 2007. I have 179 pages of stuff copied from the blog 🙂

          Dana

    • Randy Thompson says:

      A helpful way to think about these matters is to view oneself as a “Protestant Catholic.” Such a perspective keeps one open to the whole catholic tradition. Intellectually, it makes one’s understanding of church a lot bigger than before. It also leaves open the question of which room in the catholic “house” you should live in. “Catholic” is the noun. “Protestant” is the modifier. And so is “Roman.” When you get your nouns and modifiers straight, it’s a lot easier to figure out which specific modifier is yours.

    • Hi Tom,

      I just wanted to encourage you in your journey. I have been on a similar road in the past year or two (I’m 26 now as well…this seems to be the thing to do in your mid-20s ha!). I grew up Southern Baptist, and I am thankful for my parents and for a tradition that helped me to know and want to know God. However, once I started actually thinking about other denominations and traditions, I realized there was a lot more diversity in Christian thought than I once realized! It led me on a journey with a lot of questions and difficulties. At first, I felt like the rug was being pulled out from under me and almost everything I had known was no longer certain. But I have found some measure of peace and joy as I have sought after God and truth, even in the midst of coming to realize that I will never know everything. I am now at an Anglican church, which I enjoy.

      As far as relationships, my experience has been mostly positive although it was very difficult at the beginning. Some of my friends did not understand why I was questioning things. It was also difficult to talk with my parents at first. I found it difficult to explain what I was thinking and why I needed to step back. However, I have found that some previous friendships have been deepened greatly, and I have a new community of friends at my new church. I am also an introvert, so it took about a year for me to really meet people, and I’m still in the process, but it’s possible. And it’s worth it.

  10. Have you guys seen this article? It’s a reprint from the Chattanooga Free Press. It’s a story of a SBC Minister who struggles with faith after learning that his son is gay and dieing of AIDS. Quite moving…and challenging.

    http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/25/12406071-aids-in-the-pews-sons-secret-divides-southern-baptist-minister-and-his-church

    • Very well written.

    • I am crying having read this story. It goes straight to the core of this gay heart of mine.
      God bless your churches and all who enter. Surround us with your love and mercy. That is where I have to leave it.

      • Debra I hope you understand how much many of us here love you. Many here are tired of the culture wars. While I try and figure out myself spiritually I’ve met and know people from all backgrounds. I have had gay friends and I admire and love them. But please remember we all love you. From the Commander in Chief of this blog down to the little peons at the bottom of the totem pole! 😀 We all love you.

    • It was well written and moving. It is a reminder that in everything there is a human element.

      A few weeks ago I was walking through a park and saw a lady that looked like a drug user.

      My first thought was something like ‘they get messed up because this is the fruit of that lifestyle’

      My second thought was ‘someone’s daughter, someones sister, maybe even someones mother’

      I felt like crying.

      • My husband read this article (http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=859) by Abraham Piper the other day and he said what really stood out to him was #8 – respect their friends. It’s important to remember that those kids who might be a bad influence on your own kids have parents who are probably grieving their situations as well.

        Anyway, your comment made me think of that. I like all my kids’ friends right now, but it’s a good reminder that even if I don’t, they’re kids with families and they need to be loved – and their families need to be loved.

    • Eagle,

      Loved the article. I am worn out with the culture wars. Love my gay friends so much. So, I will probably get corrected or spanked for sharing where I chose to live; In mercy, cause I have a boat load of sins that no matter how much I try to stop being a sinner it just ain’t ever done. Well, until I see him! Long live Mercy! Lord have mercy!
      The Message
      Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
      James 2:13
      New International Version
      because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
      New King James Version
      For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
      Amplified Bible
      For to him who has shown no mercy the judgment [will be] merciless, but mercy [full of glad confidence] exults victoriously over judgment.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      My first thought at the point where the “SBC Minister” finds out about his son was “Perfectly Parsed Theology, meet Reality.” And Reality is Messy.

  11. On my mind is how much people just need to be loved. This past month I have been surrounded by people who are offended and/or taking up other people’s offenses: a dear family member had been offended by something I did over a month ago, but never told me about; A friend thinks she was singled out to not be prayed because her phone message to our prayer tree wasn’t received and so didn’t go out; Another friend has taken up the hurts of other church members who are offended because they don’t feel cared for; Yet another friend is offended because these people shouldn’t be offended!

    Love covers a multitude of sins. How we need to love!

  12. I’ll cast a wide net…

    – I recently watched a video of Lawrence Krauss explaining how the universe can come from “nothing”, so no God is necessary to have created it. Then I looked up an interview with him on the Atlantic, where the interviewer had a fairly easy time forcing Krauss to qualify his term for “nothing” so that it’s fairly meaningless with regards to the question of the existence of God.

    Has anyone else read or watched him and come to the same and/or opposite conclusions that I did? I’m curious how others perceived his arguments.

    – Have been pondering my place within the Christian traditions. Any recommended reading to help consider all angles? My timeline has been evangelical -> reformed -> ??? (whatever I am now), and I feel that any future progression on my timeline should be guided by an extended period of careful consideration and reflection.

    – Heard a podcast the other day in which two reformed professors defined love as “moral perfection”. Anyone else weirded out by that? I believe perfect love entails moral perfect, but that love is a much bigger thing and cannot be directly equated to morality. Is that a necessary implication of reformed theology or is it unique to the folks I was listening to?

    • Google “Five view on” there are a series of books that look at different theological topics and discuss different traditions approach to them. They can be fairly heavy reading, but you may find that certain views resonate better with you than others. Years ago I had to write a paper summarizing the book “Five views of Sanctification”. Helped me understand the different perspectives.

      • I LOVE those books! I’m collecting them all. I did read the one on Sanctification, it was then I realize that Wesley was insane. The most paradigm altering one for me was the Roman Catholic essay in “4 view on the Lord’s Supper.” I never realized they rooted the theology of transubstantiation in the theology of the incarnation, they don’t teach you this in evangelical Sunday school.

        I second the recommendation. I just finished up a similar search last year, and these books are extremely helpful to understand what the differences are between denomination on different issues. However, if church polity is important to you, don’t read “five views on church government.” The arguments were surprisingly disappointing and narrow, especially for James White and Paul Zahl. Go with this one instead:
        http://www.amazon.com/Who-Runs-Church-Government-Counterpoints/dp/0310246075/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pdT1_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&coliid=IFSL5LCUVZGZN&colid=10NIGFGKTYBJK

        Mike, which view in the Sanctification book do you lean toward?

        • Thanks Mike and Miguel. Will have to look into those. So much to read, so little time with a baby on the way…hah

        • Miguel, is English your first language? I’m thinking it isn’t. Otherwise, you might bite your tongue before saying something like “it was then I realize that Wesley was insane.”

          • No comprende. Are you referring to a grammatical err or a theological one? In the former, I meant for a “d” after “realize.” In the latter, I’m sure Wesley was intellectually competent. Except for when he thought he had attained perfection. If the “Wesleyan” perspective in the aforementioned book is indeed accurate, then Wesley was either more holy than Paul or woefully ignorant of his own shortcomings. My experience with people holding similar positions is vastly the latter (and they have no shortage of acute understanding of YOUR shortcomings…).

      • David Cornwell says:

        Many Wesleyan people argue for hours and hours about sanctification. And that’s within their own ranks. When a Calvinist comes along the argument gets a little more heated.

        • I was going to tell Miguel that I leaned (past tense) towards the Wesleyan view, but then he already knew I was insane! 🙂

        • Well, the Calvinists offend my Arminian senses.

          One well known him in my traditions goes:

          There’s a new name written down in pencil….

        • They couldn’t be speaking more opposite languages! Wesleyans love the doctrine of Christian perfection, yet what is more dear to a Calvinist than his total depravity?

    • I don’t really like Krauss’ overall argument, but I don’t think that particular critique has a lot of force. Basically because 1. there are many types of nothing, and 2. we have no reason to believe that some of those types exist. So Krauss is limiting himself to discussing how the universe could come about from the types of nothings that we have reason to believe exist, rather than the ones we don’t, which is probably a good limitation if your looking for naturalistic explanations for the beginning of the universe.

      I don’t think his conclusions are very convincing, but I think in general it’s going to be hard to get to one, given our very limited understanding of the origin of the universe.

      • Different nothings! Very interesting – I used to keep up with the latest in physics (though I understood very little) when I was an undergrad in engineering.

        I see my mistake – I mistook his explanation in the article about different nothings as a sort of backpedaling when he meant it as a clarification. This happens to me all the time in trying to relay something technical to folks not educated in the sciences.

        Still, it seems that he overstated his claim to be able to prove that God isn’t necessary and was using a semantic argument to his advantage. In his case, he appears to have defined nothing as “no matter or energy in existence”, and that quantum fluctuations caused matter and energy to spontaneously exist. Which is fine – but in the mind unversed in modern physics, nothing means nothing, so he has unnecessarily brought about the end of the conversation.

        But there are still questions that could be asked, such as why were there quantum fluctuations? Doesn’t that still necessitate a first cause? So he hasn’t really proven anything with regards to God’s existence from our origins.

        • I still have trouble wrapping my head around those sorts of discussions. I remember hearing that in the first few Planck times after the Big Bang that the universe was expanding faster than the speed of light. When someone objected that nothing can move faster than the speed of light the lecturer said, “Yes, Nothing can and was expanding faster than the speed of light.”

        • Right, when you talk about the casual chain in both religious and naturalistic world views you eventually have to stop at some point. As Christians we don’t demand a cause for God for example. This is basically the cosmological argument for God, so Augustine and Plato again. I’ve never found the argument from first causes very convincing because I don’t think that there is any real reason to believe our everyday understanding of cause and effect is the understanding that necessarily applies to quantum fluctuations, any more than our normal understanding of position and speed applies to photons.

          I tend to just be comfortably agnostic on the issue of the exact mechanism by which the universe came into existence, or even if non-existence is a quality that the universe can have. Even in Genesis (which I don’t believe to be a literal document) there is arguably pre-existing stuff before God does his creation.

  13. Marcus Johnson says:

    In general, given the ever-present (and often-annoying) debate in America over our country’s inherent moral values, I wonder sometimes what it is about this country that seems to justify our labeling of it as “Christian.” Are we just looking at a couple of centuries-old documents, in context with the number of people who label themselves as “Christian”? Are we looking at church membership and attendance? The number of people who claim to believe in a God or angels? Everything about the Bible suggests to me that the level of commitment required of a people who aspire to be “of Christ” is much higher than what America as a nation has ever achieved. Is it time to drop the label?

  14. Matt Purdum says:

    Dylan put it best, doesn’t matter who you are, the moment you die, you’re knockin’ on heaven’s door.

  15. “What questions would you like to ask your fellow IM readers?”

    Q: What is Liberation Theology and why is it “bad”?

    I’ve frequently heard the term used to attack other’s theological leanings. However, whenever I’ve researched the term, it seems to amount to “Jesus cares about poor people”. To which I respond “Yes, of course He does. And this is controversial because…?”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Q: What is Liberation Theology and why is it “bad”?

      In the early Eighties, my wandering the Post-Evangelical Wilderness brought me to the Charismatic Masses at Azusa Newman Center, at the peak of Liberation Theology.

      Liberation Theology had become Political (TM) in the USSR sense. It had mutated from “Jesus cares about poor people” to a mixture of Karl Marx and Jesus to (in the most extreme cases) Marxism-Leninism with a Christian coat of paint. About a year after this Pope John Paul II shut down Liberation Theology HARD for just this reason. It had become contaminated with hardcore Marxism. I witnessed Liberation Theology types to whom their New Trinity was Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Fidel Castro (this was during the early Reagan years, when “Contragate” was rumbling).

      And true to a pattern established by the “British Jacobin” fanboys who cheered on the French Revolution from the safety of across the Channel, the most extreme Liberation Theology fanboys were rich-kid “Yuppie Puppies” from a local high-priced suburb.

      • HUG, as usual, you’ve employed some hyperbole but you’ve hit the nail right on the head. Liberation Theology, like communism, was a good idea that failed, and for some of the same reasons. I still appreciate the Roman Catholic Church’s “preferential option for the poor” but some of the people who have tried to practice this have botched it.

        It’s also important to recognize, though, that there are various liberation theologIES, plural. Not all are painted with the same brush, but too often LT has been an intellectual exercise of privileged North Americans (your rich-kid “Yuppie Puppies”) and not of the campesinos themselves. When the campesinos want to protest, they simply go ahead and do it, and they don’t ask permission of the Church or read their bibles first.

      • “And true to a pattern established by the “British Jacobin” fanboys who cheered on the French Revolution from the safety of across the Channel, the most extreme Liberation Theology fanboys were rich-kid “Yuppie Puppies” from a local high-priced suburb”

        Sounds like the oh-so-fashionable and upscale suburban “Catholic” church that my brother and his wife were married in. The priest who performed the ceremony was well-known for his “social justice” activism, especially in issues of Latin American “Liberation” theology.

        • Social justice is good (I renewed my subscription to Sojourners on-the-spot- after Glenn Beck went on his rant) and helping people is always good, whether in the name of Christ or for other reasons; but, as HUG mentioned, Liberation Theology allowed itself to get in bed with the Marxists, who, God love ’em, aren’t all that interested in doing anything in the name of Christ. I don’t go looking for Marxist boogie-men behind every bush, but I think in this case it happened, and Christ got thrown under the bus.

  16. androidninja says:

    Haven’t written on this blog in forever. Moving to a flyover state. Downsizing living area. Also wondering where I am in the Christian spectrum. Post-Pentecostal, Post-Anglican? Heck, I don’t know. Trying to read the Bible without chapters and verses (appeals to my big-picture mind). Facing hard experiences via journaling, as I’m too broke to afford therapy.

    Pray for my body. Pray for my mind. Work is wearing down both, and all the exercise and the rest in the world won’t make up for the fact that I’m overworked and underpaid.

    God has been teaching me that He hears me, even when I don’t believe He hears. I have to let go of a lot of plans I have, and it’s hard. And He’s the one who made me the planner I am, so rather than throwing my daily planner across the room, I ask for His grace and aid with all the stuff I have to do.

    Also learning God is there in the mundane, which is the opposite of what I learned in my Word of Faith childhood.

    • JoanieD says:

      androidninja, I wish you well with all the changes going on in your life and I hope that you get some needed rest. I am glad you had a chance to post here again. Come back and post again soon!

  17. No problem Bryan! Sorry Janice however you are completely narrow minded and brief sighted. If we for a society might drink alcoholic beverages and hold it together for the most part, I think we can easily work along with pot. There isn’t a correlated explanation that pot is often a stepping jewel to more complicated drugs. As will there be no proof in case you start having beer as well as wine you could start undertaking harder liquor. But why don’t we paint a graphic you are susceptible to cancer. You start out therapy which hurts more than the cancer malignancy. You loose hair, your weight, your urge for food, and life you may already know it is very unbearable. Then a person smoke as well as some exactly how eat the medically issued little cannabis and that enables you to live a whole lot better. I find out I rather waste time behind bars to better my young families existence to suffer. Now Janice how do you feel about masturbation? Will that produce hard key porn or merely blindness. Sencillamente espectacular talento, creatividad, imaginacion, dedicacion gym asistencia de una deidad.
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  18. I keep forgetting to say that I am human….and the post is gone again. when I go back to check the box., oh well.

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