Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I don't like the new Blogger

I don't like the new Blogger layout. They do not list previous titles on the side like they used to(except for this month). Therefore, readers don't get a listing of previous titles that might catch their eye. So here are the titles and links to everything from 2006.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I do note vote in favor of election....

There was a time in my Christianity when I was right. I was Charasmantic... Full Gospel... how much more right could you be than that?

Then life happens.

At this point you can do one of three things:
  • Hunker down and refuse to hear anything but the thoughts within your own group (you may listen to other arguments, but you know from the beginning you are right. So you, at most, only tolerate the deluded around you).
  • Abandon your faith. Having found a chink in your armor, you throw away everything in a resentful rage.
  • Eat some humble pie. Discover you are not half as smart as you think you are and learn to hold ideas with open hands.

Having grown up being right, I learned little about other people's ideas of God. So, in my latter years, I am having to play catch-up.

I have discovered that my thoughts this past decade line-up with a lot of things within something called "The Emergent Church" movement. Since I visit the blogs of a lot of these folks, I also come into contact with the blogs of many of their detractors. It seems (and here I say "seems" with heavy emphasis) that a lot of folks who cling to Calvanism take issue with the Emergent Church.

I always knew Calvanists were into predestination/election (the idea that God chose who would go to Heaven and who would go to Hell before anyone did anything), but I never really gave it much thought. However, I got into a discussion with a gentleman on his blog recently and it clarified for me how troubled I am with that idea. I commented on a post where he was stating his belief in predestination. I will post my comment and our brief conversation, then comment some more.


Andrew 7:56 PM
I could never put full stock in to election... This post confirmed that opinion. I grant that there is scripture that could lead one to that conclusion, but only if you ignore a heckalot of other scripture. I am not sure how it will pan out, but I am pretty confident God was not saying... "and you will be saved, and you too, but not you, hmmm how bout' you, you, and you, mmm not you, and not that one either..." If true, we are ruled by a psycho!

SB 9:01 PM
I'd like to see you defend that biblicaly. God elects people alright. It's all over the bible.

Andrew 10:28 PM
Is there a single scripture I could produce that you would not refute? You obviously believe wholeheartedly in election. The most you and I could do is play biblical ping-pong for the observers and each side would go away with the same view they previously held. Been in those conversations before?

Let me rather ask a question. Though my description of the thought line of a God of election above was absurd, is your view much different? Is that how you see God?

I have committed about 10 books of scripture to memory. I say this not as a boast, but to make a point. One of the unforeseen outcomes is that I started to see scripture by themes rather than statements. For example… I could remove all the scripture where God states that he loves man, yet, when I read the rest of scripture I would still come to that conclusion…. God loves us.

I don’t get that when it comes to election. Remove those verses and there would be nothing about the rest of scripture that would point in that direction. So for me, it leaves it suspect. There is scripture to defend and refute election. There is scripture to defend and refute grace vs. works. Pre, post, mid-trib? Whom shall I believe? The theologian who argues his point better? The one who produces the longest list of verses?

I honestly don’t have a big opinion about election. It is one of those scriptural oddities that seems to run contrary to other scripture ... yet there it is. To me, it is what happens when the eternal is explained in temporal language… it doesn’t quite fit. It can’t. In the same way a three dimensional being could never accurately describe himself in words to a world of two dimensions. I honestly think when people asked Jesus, “What is the Kingdom of God like?”, he had to think for a second. He must have thought, how do I put this, when they have absolutely NO frame of reference? Well, guys… ya see….. it's kind of like….. a mustard seed….

What concerns me is why people so doggedly want to defend election? Why? What is the motivation? To have a point of argument? To be more right than someone else? If one wants to lean toward election, I can’t totally dismiss them because it is a scriptural point… but why can there be no allowance for another view?

God chose the metaphor of a Father. He thought that was one of the best ways to describe himself to us. To buy into election, as people tend to interpret it, I would need to be comfortable with a God who is pro-choice – one who can toss his child in the trash can on a whim.

SB 9:47 PM
God would never toss his child....for someone to be his child he has to recieve Christ. The one's who get "tossed" aren't his kids. Other than that, I'd just say to you to use scripture as your standard, not make up your own ideas...


It bothers me when people respond, but don't really address my points. To me, it shows they don't know how to listen; they only know how to monologue. Being right requires monologue, not dialogue. To the absolutist, dialogue is tantamount to compromise.

Part of me wanted to respond back, but I am trying not to fall into the trap of needing to be right. Anyone who knows me knows I luuuv to be right, so it is something God is chipping away at. But if one needs a scriptural reference for my belief I will give one... well, two... and we could go on.

First, God is no respecter of persons. When I get to something in scripture I don't understand, I cling to the character of God. Does predestination sync with how God presents himself?

He desires all men to be saved. God would have to be a complete bi-polar or schizophrenic if he both desired a person's salvation, offered a way of salvation, but then put that person outside salvation's reach.

Again, if the concept of election/predestination mattered at all Jesus would have taught it, Paul would have taught it, Peter would have taught it..... not cryptically mention it, TAUGHT it.

I know scripture mentions it, I don't deny it. It is the conclusion of Calvinists I find unsupportable. If their view is accurate, then I will pass on Heaven. Their view makes God into as big a jerk as any I have met on this planet; as big a jerk as me....

.... and I need to worship someone greater than myself.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Apocalypto - move along folks, there is nothing to see here.

Violence doesn’t bother me, so my objection to this film doesn’t stem from that (though that is the core of many critical reviews I read). I am bothered that Gibson portrays it as being meaningful, when it bordered on pointless. Beyond that, Apocalypto was a used storyline.

I went in knowing a smattering of pre-Columbian history, so I was looking forward to a bit of insight into Mayan culture. Instead, very little is displayed of Mayan culture – except the human sacrifice part… we stayed there for a bit. In fact, we were treated to the view of a head bouncing down the stairs of the pyramid, from the head’s perspective (there’s a new ride idea for Universal Studios).

Used storyline? Yep. This movie was Rambo/Predator B.C. Our hero is pursued into his jungle by 7 Mayans, whom he proceeds to pick off one by one. It was such a used premise, it almost started to seem like a “Scary Movie” parody. At one point, the hero catches his main enemy in a pig trap… three spikes through the torso. He walks up to look at him in his eye. I found myself clutching my popcorn. “Say it! Say it,” I cried. I just so wanted him to snarl and say in a perfect Arnold accent - “Stick around!”

I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending, but I couldn’t cause you know where it will end by the first hour. Gibson obviously wanted one of those M. Night Shyamalan endings. It looked like one, but it didn’t feel like it. There was such a big build up to it; the natives looking stunned, out at the ocean. The moment kept hanging til I think half the audience was thinking “Just show the damn Europeans!” When the moment came, it was so cliché I was more in danger of barfing at that moment then when the heads were bouncing.

To me, this movie failed the way Lucas’s last three Star Wars movies failed. Lucas became absorbed in neato special effects, and forgot to infuse the movies with story. Gibson is falling into the same trap with graphic gore. The violence in Braveheart had a point, and it sat amidst a good story.

Apocalypto doesn’t offer anything that Predator and Rambo didn’t; and those two were more fun to watch.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Thanks to the bands of my youth

My friend Brook wrote on this topic recently in his blog, so pop over there and give his a read. We were in sync that day, he just wrote his first. :) He gave some of the same critiques I would, so I am just gonna share my thank you's.

I was appreciating my Ipod's ability to stitch live tracks together while I was working out the other day. I was listening to Fireworks Live, the first album I ever owned. Later in my workout, I clicked over to Petra's Captured in Time and Space and rolled to the Praise session. Ahhh the good old days!

As I listened, I was thinking about how much my faith and theology was shaped by so many of those bands. I will probably miss some (I'll add later) and this thank you will probably never be seen by any of the bands, but some of you reading may share many of these thoughts and memories.

Daniel Amos - What can I say? You were my first love. You were the first one to put in my head that maybe Christianity did not have to be lived the way I was taught. Even prior to my conversion, you were already stirring rebellious thoughts. Thanks!

Keith Green - You left us too soon. You showed me what it was to throw off everything and follow Christ. The sheep and the goats still reminds me about how petty perhaps all of our doctrines truly are.

Randy Stonehill - "You are the light" on Equator was probably one of the first songs that really drew me into worship. Sunday morning choruses never did much for me, but when I listened to that song I worshiped.

Steve Taylor - You always felt like the older brother who would give me good advice. I felt that so long as Steve wouldn't have cause to write a funny song about what I am doing, I must be ok.

Undercover - "Branded" affects me to this day. Hard to pick out which song affected me most. There was a verse in Darkest Hour which was the single strand my Christianity hung on for a long time. In many ways, it still does. When I lay me down to sleep/Is there a soul for you to keep?/I fall down to my knees/and all I know is Jesus Please!

Jerusalem- I met you guys at my first Ichthus back in 84. I loved how you guys loved people. I taped your show and in the foolishness of youth, I lost it. I would give anything to have the rendition of "Loves you more" that you did that day.

Mylon Lefevere - I loved to hear you preach. That was half the fun of going to your concerts. The way you could talk about Jesus was no less than amazing. I wore a tape out rewinding "Crack the Sky" to listen to again and again.

Rez Band - Glen was another one you loved to hear preach. The man lives his faith. I still listen to "The Struggle" with some awe.

The Imperials - Yes, my tastes are eclectic. The Russ Taff albums were amazing.

Sweet Comfort Band - "Perfect Timing" was the definitive album that year.

White Heart - "Over Me" was my anthem for years. I still hum it everytime I am walking in the rain.

Stryper - Some darn fun, big hair, christianized metal. I still jam to this stuff! Nuthin gets me air guitarin faster.

I realize as I write this, that if I continue this list, I enter into bands that were with me during a different stage of my Christianity. So I am going to stop here with the bands of my innocence. Though some of these (like Undercover) stayed with and affected me over time, these are the bands who helped me through my teen years - back when Christianity was just about accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, being righteous, and enjoying youth group activities.

Those of you who knew me at the time, let me know who I am missing. Share some Ichthus memories.... (Matt applying generous amounts of baby oil one sunny day comes to mind).
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