Monday, August 23, 2010

Loving our Muslim neighbors unconditionally

As usual I do not follow the news. As usual there are some things that refuse to be ignored. I suppose that's a good thing.

Apparently the Mosque near ground zero is one such thing. Frankly I just don't get why people are so worked up about it. But then, since I stopped following the news, and especially since I stopped listening to the political talking heads, it has become increasingly difficult to understand why people get so worked up about a lot of things. It's amazing how different things look when you're not being constantly harangued by the frantic, hand waving purveyors of doom and gloom.

Anyway, I could write a blog post putting forth my feelings about the whole thing, but someone already took the time to write an excellent blog post about it. This is what I would write (I just wouldn't write it as well).

Loving our Muslim neighbors unconditionally

Thursday, August 5, 2010


In a (now not so) recent post I said that everyone should stop everything until they know and understand their place in relation to God. I want to expand on that because I think it's absolutely critical that we get this. Most of us, if we're honest, do not live lives that are full of peace, joy and love. Oh we might have moments of bliss, brought on by a moving song, a great movie, or some religious ritual. We might have the occasional feeling of satisfaction when we've done a good deed or reached out to a hurting person. We might catch glimpses of glory in nature, or in a moment when a relationship is actually working well. But, by and large, most of us, in the words of Thoreau, lead lives of quiet desperation. Let's face it, heroic moments in a movie, complete with stirring soundtrack and professional editing, never seem quite so heroic when we're the ones facing sickness or debt; a looming temptation to sin, or a relationship that brings much more pain than joy.

When faced with these realities of life, what do we tend to do? If we're not inclined to any sort of spiritual faith, or belief in some sort of god, then we might, like Sisyphus, simply hitch up our pants and start pushing the boulder back up the hill. Grab some happiness where it can be found and just get on with the business of living. If we're of the Christian persuasion, or, I imagine, of most any other religious persuasion, I think we do the same thing. We hitch up our pants, get on whatever religious treadmill we happen to currently be in possession of, and start getting with the program. And, if you hadn't noticed, there are a lot of different treadmills.

There's the treadmill of right doctrine. There's the treadmill of right living. There's the treadmill of healthful living. There's the treadmill of theology. There's the treadmill of political action. There's the treadmill of church attendance (or avoidance). There's the treadmill of good works. There's the treadmill of a daily devotional and Bible reading. There's the treadmill of family values. There's the treadmill of Sabbath keeping. There's the treadmill of obsessing over end time prophecy and last days events. There's the treadmill of rediscovering and restoring long lost "truths". There's the treadmill of spiritual formation (the spiritual disciplines). There's the treadmill of missions. There's just no end of treadmills. Many of them are perfectly fine (and necessary) things, as long as we don't expect them to actually take us somewhere. Funny thing about treadmills is that, great as they are for strengthening and toning our bodies, they don't actually get us to any real destination.

So here we are, huffing and puffing along on whatever treadmill we happen to currently be on, and one day we look around and realize we haven't gotten anywhere. Oh, we might have conquered a particular sin, or discovered some new (or long lost) religious truth. We might have established a habit of regular church attendance, or we might have set ourselves free from the chains of the institutional church and started our own house church. Hooray! Hallelujah! But when we're quiet, when the trials of life hit, we realize we're no more peaceful or happy or at rest then we were when we started on the treadmill. And, just maybe, we're actually a little less hopeful, a little more questioning, a little more cynical.

So what do we do? We start looking around, we might do some Google searches, we might read another book, we might find another spiritual teacher, we might find a different church, we might start our own church, in short we get a different treadmill. And then we're back on there huffing and puffing and working that treadmill for all it's worth. Because this time, by golly, we've found it. This is the holy grail, this is the secret, this is the pathway to God. Maybe, just maybe, if we work this treadmill hard enough God will finally stop being disappointed with us. Maybe we'll finally stop feeling guilty and condemned for not being good enough. Maybe our dad will finally think we're a beautiful young lady or a brave and strong young man. Maybe our grandpa will finally think we're a good enough Christian. Maybe our mom will finally get off our back and stop nagging at us all the time. Maybe we'll finally stop being terrified that when we face the judgment seat of Christ he's going to shake his head sadly and turn his face from us forever.

Tell me something. Has it worked for you yet? How many treadmills have you tried? What treadmill are you currently working? Did you just start on this treadmill all bright eyed and hopeful, or are you getting ready to get off your current treadmill because it just doesn't seem to be working like it used to?

Think about it. Really think about it. And then think about this.

A parent considering adoption gets a picture and description of a little child from some other country. In their hearts they know this child belongs in their family. So they set into motion the legal proceedings to complete an adoption. Nothing that child can do can prevent those legal proceedings from taking place. In fact, before that child even knows the parents exist that child might already be legally adopted and have a place in the family. It might still be weeks or months before the child is actually brought home. It's not the child's choice, there is nothing the child ever did to earn that adoption and there is nothing the child could do to prevent it from taking place.

That's you. You're the adopted child. There's not a treadmill in the world that could get you adopted in the first place, and there's not a treadmill in the world that can keep you adopted (or get you unadopted for that matter). It's not up to you. In fact it happened before you were even born. Here it is in black and white from the pen of Paul:
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
Ephesians 1:3-10 (The Message)

And just in case you don't like The Message, and also because there are some cool things highlighted by another version, here is the same passage from the TNIV:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Ephesians 1:3-10 (TNIV)
In the light of this passage let's think about some of the reasons we might get on a treadmill.
  • So God will bless us? We've already been blessed with "every spiritual blessing in Christ".
  • So God will accept us? He not only accepted us, He CHOSE us before the creation of the world.
  • So we can be a part of God's family? We've already been adopted. It's a done deal.
  • So we can be holy? Well, that's exactly what He chose us for, "to be made whole and holy by his love" as the Message has it. We don't make ourselves holy, as should be obvious to anyone who's tried that treadmill for any length of time.
I wish like everything I could just end this right here. If I could end it right here, and if you actually believed what I'm telling you, then that would be wonderful and no more would need to be said. But of course the believing bit is the hard bit isn't it? Some of us, if we're honest, just don't really believe it. It seems too good to be true. And some of us immediately start thinking that if it's true then everyone would be saved (I wonder what that says about us if that's our first thought?).

So to wrap this up let's look at one of the most excellent summaries of the gospel in the whole Bible.
For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. -2 Corinthians 5:14-20 (TNIV)
Holy Spirit, give us ears to hear the truth. Help us to finally accept who we really are and stop trying to get somewhere on our own steam. Help us to get off our treadmills. Open our eyes so we can see that we're already in the lap of our Papa. Jesus dove headfirst into the darkness of our alienation, grabbed hold of us and brought us back into the circle of love, the other centered dance of the Holy Trinity.
  • Who does Christ's love compel? Us (that includes you).
  • Who did Christ die for? All (that includes you).
  • Therefore who died? All (that includes you).
  • Who can be regarded in the same old way? No one (that includes you and everyone else).
  • Who was reconciled to God in Christ? The world (that includes you).
  • Whose sins are not counted against them? I'll leave that one up to you to figure out.
I implore you, I beg you with everything that is in me, to stop trying to reconcile yourself to God. You (YES YOU) have already been reconciled to God in Christ. So again, I implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

This is not something you actively do. This is not some frustrating game God is playing where Jesus fulfills a legal transaction but it doesn't actually become real until you reach out under your own power and take the promissory note from his hand. In that model, even though it reveals a lot of beautiful truth, your reconciliation is still dependent upon something you actively do (reaching out under your own power and taking the promissory note).

The difference is so subtle that it's almost invisible, but the ramifications are huge. So huge in fact that we have entire faith traditions (i.e. Calvinism and Arminianism) built up over the centuries due to the natural outgrowth of philosophical paths which started out just a little bit off the mark on this point.

No, being reconciled is not something you do, it is in fact the cessation of doing anything at all and the acceptance of the fact that the "doing" has already been done. Yes, I know the word "acceptance" has an active component to it. I think the English language simply fails us here. A student of Greek might help us out by talking about the different voices (active, passive, middle). I'll just wrap it up by returning to the original metaphor of the treadmill. Instead of slogging forward trying to obtain something that's always just out of reach, and instead of stepping off the treadmill and chucking the whole thing altogether (Atheism), just stop and let yourself fall off the back of the treadmill where you'll finally discover that you are right where you've always been, in the embrace of the Trinity.

Then and only then, only when you know who you are and where you are, will you be able to start truly living. Then and only then will repentance and baptism and forgiveness and taking up of crosses and discipleship actually start making sense. Only then will you be able to actually get back on some of those treadmills, not as a way to find inclusion in the triune life of God, but as someone who is held, with every step, in the unfailing embrace of the Trinity.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I can't take it anymore

I try not to read or follow the news. I definitely stay as far away from politics as I can. Still, no one can live in a complete vacuum. As such I am aware of the oil spill in the gulf. I am going to say something in response to this tragedy. I don't care that it might not be reasonable. I don't care that it might not make common sense. I just don't care. This is not political, because as you would know if you knew me I no longer can tell the difference between our political parties and don't have even the tiniest amount of faith in any party or politician. OK here goes:

I am green. I guess I was green before I knew there was such a thing. I identify more with the Sierra Club than I do with the country club. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, more than that I literally grew up living in the wilderness. I guess you could say my dad is one of the last remaining mountain men. It's only been through living so far away from there for so many years that I've begun to realize just what wilderness means and how important it is to me that it continue to exist and that it be protected.

I have tried in the past to conform to the religious right and the conservative politics that I thought were my "Christian" duty. I couldn't do it. I don't care how much sense it makes. I don't care if conservatism can be successfully won and argued in a logical debate. I just don't care. I don't care that I'm having a knee jerk, bleeding heart, tree hugging, save the whales, idealistic reaction. I honestly don't care. You can make all the arguments you like about the necessity of offshore drilling or drilling in Alaska. I heard them all. Heck I've argued them myself. They may even be good arguments. I don't care.

I'm not interested in logic. I'm not interested in what's best for our country or our economy. I don't even care if the result is we all revert back to 3'rd world living conditions because we can't sustain our way of living without raping the land. To HELL with our way of living. I mean that literally, because I honestly believe that's where God will send our way of living at the last day.

In Genesis 1 God told our ancestors to "be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of the Earth. (The Message)". For too long certain elements of Christianity have heard the traditional King James type translation of that verse and have used it as an excuse to exploit God's good works of nature for their own advancement without any thought to protecting, respecting and cherishing it as the thing of beauty and grandeur that it is.

I think we Christians ought to be sold out for a few things. Not everyone can do everything of course, but to the point of personal sacrifice and beyond here are some of the types of things I think we ought to give our lives for.

1. Fighting Aids in Aftica.
2. Fighting poverty all over the world.
3. Fighting racism in our own hearts and minds and in our own back yards.
4. Standing in solidarity with the poor and persecuted all over this world.
5. Working for reconciliation between ethnic groups, religious groups, and other groups that need it.
6. Reconciliation with first-nations.
7. Standing against corporate greed and consumerism in favor of the environment.

Ok. Just had to get that off my chest. Now I'm off to figure out how to put some action to all this talk.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's an Oak... No, it's a Maple

I was reading a popular Christian blog this morning and the following statement jumped out at me.
Most books are easily-verified, easily fact-checked. A book discussing a particular doctrine can be easily held up to the Scripture and seen immediately to be true or false.
I suppose it must be really nice to actually believe that. I suppose in some ways the Christian life would be a lot simpler if the Scriptures were actually a concise doctrinal treatise written in our own contemporary language by authors who were born and raised in our own time and place. I know that in the Christian world we certainly have such books and every major era of history has certainly produced their own versions of such books. If I were so inclined I could hold up a book to something like Calvin's Institutes or Barth's Church Dogmatics and see quite easily if it were true or false in relation to a particular theologian's interpretation of Scripture.

I think it is certainly true that the Christian Church has been able to agree on a basic foundation of common fundamental beliefs. We can all pretty much agree with the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed. We can even pretty much all agree on the basics outlined by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. However, there are very few books that discuss doctrines at the basic fundamental level contained in the creeds or Mere Christianity, and those books that are at that level certainly don't cause anyone to desire to hold it up to anything, Scripture or otherwise, to see if it is true or false.

No, the books the blogger is talking about are books that deal with doctrines that are not universally agreed upon within the Christian community. These might be books that deal with doctrines that are unique to, or at least uniquely interpreted by, a particular denomination, or they might be books wherein a particular theologian, scholar or layperson is arguing for something unique to themselves or their own smaller group. Thousands upon thousands of these types of books have been written, read and argued about for the last 2 thousand years. While it is certainly true that anyone can hold one of these books up to the Scriptures, it is also true that the conclusions drawn as to its truthfulness or falsehood will be quite varied and will have more to do with the examiners place in a particular tradition or denomination then it will have to do with the examiners ability to know exactly how to correctly interpret the relevant passages of scripture.

My point is this. If the Holy Scriptures had been intended to be the basis for a comprehensive Systematic Theology we would not have these thousands of books espousing their own particular interpretations of doctrine. But since we do, and since the debates, arguments and holy wars continue unabated, I think I will throw down the following, sure to be contested, statement (actually it's already been made and contested).
Apparently the Scriptures were never intended by God to be the basis for a comprehensive Systematic Theology and set of doctrinal statements.
Certainly the Scriptures contain exactly what God desired them to contain. And certainly they are completely sufficient for His purposes. I suppose it's just possible that in our thirst for knowledge and understanding we have focused so intently on the botanical structures of the individual trees that we have lost our ability (to some extent at least) to see the beauty and grandeur of the forest as a whole.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What's with all the beeping?

I've been reading Tim Challies blog from time to time lately. I find it's a pretty good balance to my usual diet of heterodoxy . I think all in all he is amazingly gracious given his milieu.

Anyway, a recent post of Tim's (having nothing to do with 'doxies of any sort) captures the frustration I'm sure many of us feel in this always-connected world of smart phones, email and the scintillating thumb-dance of the chronic texters.

If you can fit it in between sending that email, checking your voice mail and texting your pal about the latest youtube craze go check it out.

Later, I'm getting beeped.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fine Tuning

I've been fascinated lately with thinking and reading about the origins of life (or "OOL" as my betters refer to it), and the fine tuning of the universe necessary to give rise to and/or support life. I think there isn't much argument about the fact that our universe is incredibly fine tuned. You certainly don't need to subscribe to ID (Intelligent Design) to accept that fact. In fact I'd guess about the only partaker in the origins arguments that don't need to make a big deal about fine tuning might be the YEC or OEC (Young/Old Earth Creationist) camp. I think some Theists, certainly some Christians, probably believe that God holds the universe and life together in some sort of magical/supernatural fashion which doesn't really need fine tuning, just lots of magic powers.

Just in case anyone wasn't sure, I am a Christian, and I do believe that God has lots of "magic" powers. I just happen to think that it's becoming abundantly evident (to me at least) that one of two things is true. Option one is that God created a universe and life in a literal Genesis 1 and 2 kind of way but gave it every appearance of being much much older than it really was, with every evidence that some sort of big bang happened, and with every evidence that some sort of really long evolutionary process gave rise to life via common descent. Option two is that God created a universe that actually began with some sort of big bang and actually did give rise to life through a really long evolutionary process via common descent.

Either option is equally plausible since God, being God, could pull off the deception in option one so well that it is indistinguishable from option two. You'd just have to wonder why he would do such a thing.

I like this clip of Richard Dawkins talking about fine tuning. I think his points are very good ones.

I think the most interesting thing about his remarks is that he summarily dismisses any sort of Theistic role in the origins of the universe and of life, stating that it can be quickly dismissed because it is just a regression and passes the origin question back up the line (who created God?). He also dismisses a science fiction theory that this is all some sort of "Second Life" simulation for the same reasons (who created the Programmer?). The theory he doesn't dismiss is the multiverse theory which, instead of falling prey to regression, seems to fall prey (to me at least) to infinite expansion.

This theory is a clever one in that it tries to remove the basis for the fundamental questions. It basically says: "fine, since you're always asking where X came from or what caused X or what came before X, we'll make the questions moot by positing an infinite number of universes, all of which could be tuned in completely different ways.". With this theory our universe could have been "birthed" out of a singularity in another universe which was in turn birthed in a similar fashion and so on ad infinitum. When someone asks "how likely is it really that our single universe, ancient and massive as it is, could have been fine tuned enough for life?", this theory can say "well, given an infinite number of universes it's not so hard to believe that 2 or 3 of them might just happen on the right tuning."

So let me get this straight, you dismiss the notion of a God infinite in scope and duration as the causal explanation for the universe, but accept the notion of a multiverse infinite in scope and duration. I'm afraid it's still just another regression. Even though you've made it infinite in scope and duration, doggone it I still just can't help asking where the multiverse came from, what caused it to be, and why.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

In which I apologize to King George and others

Let me start by saying that I'm glad to be an American. I have a feeling that if I were blessed enough to have been able to spend significant amounts of time in a variety of other countries I'd still be glad to be an American. It certainly seems like a lot of people from other countries feel that way given the level of immigration into the USA over the years. But (and you knew there was one) I feel I need to set the record straight on a few things.

Down through the centuries a lot of things have been done in the name of God, Jesus or Christianity. A lot of things have been done in the name of a variety of deities, but since I'm of the Christian persuasion I'll limit my discussion to that arena and let others deal with the rest. Under the banner of the Christian God (in one form or another) countless wars have been fought, and more often than you might think the wars were between groups or nations that both believed they were fighting for, or at least with the blessing of, the very same God. Beyond taking to the field for God and Country, ordinary folks, calling themselves Christians, engaged in the genocide of indigenous populations, slavery and various other questionable activities, apparently without seeing any contradiction.

Now, let me point out again that all of these things are part and parcel of human history, and have taken place under the banner of any number of deities and belief systems. In fact some of the worst have taken place under the banners of no-god-at-all, or even anti-god (think of the Soviet Gulag's, or the Cambodian Killing Fields). But again, my issue is with those who would do such things under the banner of the God I happen to worship and believe in.

I should also point out that all of these things were being done in the name of Christ long before there was ever a United States of America, so not only should we be careful about thinking this is a particularly Christian issue, we should also be careful about thinking this is a particularly American issue. But again, since I'm a Christian and an American, I'll limit my remarks to so called Christian America.

The New Testament of the Christian Bible has a fair amount to say about government, rulers, politics and war. It is by no means a primary theme, but it does pop up from time to time. What many people might find surprising is that right down the line, every time the issue pops up, you'll find that the New Testament seems to be in direct contradiction to the traditional viewpoints of many Americans, especially those on the religious right, regarding this nations founding, its status as a "Christian" nation, and many of its subsequent actions.

If, as many have said, this country was founded by Godly men under God's direction, then you'd think we'd find some evidence in the New Testament that this could be so. In fact, the very opposite is what you'll find. Never, in the entire New Testament, does God endorse or encourage people to rise up against their governing authorities. This country came into being on the basis of a revolution against its own government. The clearest and longest statement in the entire New Testament regarding the attitude a Christian should have towards their government is found in Romans 13:1-7.
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
I don't think I need to say much about that passage. A quick comparison of the circumstances surrounding the birth of this nation with that passage has got to make you squirm a little.

There has been a long standing argument in this country between the left and right, the Christian and the non, about whether the founding fathers were, in fact, Christians, or whether they should more properly be considered Deists. Strangely the lines seem to be drawn exactly opposite to what logic would dictate. In light of the passage above, I could quite imagine a Deist penning the Declaration of Independence. I could quite imagine a group of Deists, or even of Atheists, holding up the banner of "Self Evident" truths, or "Inalienable Rights" and rising up against a government they felt was tyrannical. I could even imagine God working out his purposes through that group of revolutionaries. What I can't see is how anyone who has actually read their New Testament and determined to follow Jesus could march under that banner and take the lives of their fellow men, especially when you consider that the "enemy" also considered themselves to be Christian, and also considered themselves to be fighting for God and Country.

Let me quickly point out that I'm not questioning whether the leaders, or the commoners, who fought on either side of the Revolutionary war were devout followers of Jesus. I'm sure many of them were. I'm sure many of them honestly believed that what they were doing was the right thing to do.

Moving on from there things only get worse. It has been said repeatedly, from stump speeches and pulpits, that this is a Christian nation, founded by Christians and meant to be a beacon of Christian evangelical light to the darkened world. I must protest. Very little about the way this country was founded looks even the tiniest bit like Jesus. Very few of the actions surrounding this countries founding look like the actions of people who are following the path and the words of Jesus. Wasn't it Jesus who said the following?
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. --Luke 6:27-36
Can you honestly imagine Jesus advocating that his followers rise up in violent revolt against their rulers? Can you honestly imagine that Jesus would lead his followers to systematically wipe out an indigenous population in order to take the land for His glory (stay with Jesus here, we'll deal with the Old Testament another time)? Can you honestly imagine that Jesus would lead his followers to build much of "his" country on the backs of slaves? No, these are not the actions of those who are truly following Jesus, these are at best the actions of human beings. These are the kinds of things that humans have always done. The founding of this country was no worse and no better than the founding of most other countries down through history, in fact it was, quite simply, very much like the founding of most other countries.

So yes, for my part, as a United States citizen, I am quite willing to apologize to old King George for revolting against him. I am quite willing to apologize to the Native Americans for the genocide and theft enacted against them. I am quite willing to apologize to the slaves, and all of their families and descendants, for the atrocities committed against them. But, on the other hand, as a citizen of the United States the passage from Romans applies directly to me and I will be the best citizen that I can be.

Ultimately, however, my truest citizenship is in the Kingdom of Jesus, and Jesus quite pointedly said that his kingdom was "not of this world" -- John 18:36.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

This is how the world will end

Yeah, I borrowed that title from The Elms. Check out what they're doing for Haiti. Help them out if you can.

But before you do that I'd like to ask you to watch this video. There are a lot of people running around making claims about how and when the world will end. What's especially sad is the tendency of Christians to get involved in all of this speculation. Just in my lifetime, the stated time of the end has come and gone more times than I can remember. The "Left Behind" series is mere child's play compared to the meticulous eschatology I was taught to cull from the apocalyptic writings of Daniel and The Revelation. But to what end? It only brought fear.

So, what with all the earthquakes, pestilence and war. What with the rumblings of the beast and the whoring of Babylon. What with all the wild eyed prophets crying out "the time is near". Let's go back to the feet of our master. Let's listen to the words of Jesus. What was it that He actually said. I think this message is right on the money. Take a listen.