Saturday, February 28, 2009

Baptizing Children

This is probably not a popular view, but it is one that I hold. I am not rabid about this; I don't go around trying to debate the point with parents who have chosen to do this, but I am pretty opinionated.

I do not think children should be baptized. I don't think there should be a rule about it, but I think it is bad practice.

Why?

Think about it: Baptism is a sign, it is a covenant. You are making a commitment to step out of one way of life and into another. The old man is dying, the new man is rising. You are exchanging one life for another.

How does a child do this? How do they weigh this out? What life are they exchanging?

Can I be honest? Isn't this more about the parent than the child? Isn't it more about the parent feeling safe and affirmed? Kodak moment?

Having taught for 18 years, I have found this to be true: Most children parrot the thoughts and opinions of their parents. Their politics and spirituality are all picked up from their parents' wake. Their is very little personal insight in their worldview.

So then I ask: Does it not cheapen baptism to direct a child into it? Are we not announcing that baptism is not really all that important, if a certain amount of soul searching is not needed in the decision process?

I do not think scripture's silence on this is a clincher for my case, but I believe it does lend some weight. You do not see children being baptized in scripture. I believe that is because the apostles understood that a child simply does not have the faculties or experience to make such a decision.

So how old then? Again, I do not desire hard and fast rules on this but I would ask believers to consider: If you do not think your child is old enough to select a spouse, why would you direct them into a decision of baptism? Is not baptism, in many ways, a more important decision than marriage?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

If you haven't seen it yet....

I wish I could say that this is a total spoof; but if you hang in Christian circles at all.... you know someone who thinks like this!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quotes from articles I read this week #2







Bruce Droppings


Postmodern folks tend to be more skeptical of institutions. They often operate with a hermeneutic of suspicion (a belief that "truth" claims are not as much "true" as they are beneficial for those who benefit from the status quo. For example 150 years ago many Southern churches interpreted the Bible to mean that owning African slaves is OK. Today we wonder how that is possible. This is what Upton Sinclair was getting at when he said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it." People bend the "truth" to their own ends). Michael's Blog

What I don’t get is why so often those who claim most loudly to be on the inside track of the deeper christian life are also the ones most likely to be considered asses by everyone else. Kingdom Grace

I want to seek truth, but not condemn someone for being unsure. I’m going to love people just to love them, not to convert them, because God is powerful enough to do that by Himself. Scripture is the main authority I consult, but two people can read the same thing and hear different things. It doesn’t have to mean one doesn’t believe what they read. Emerging Toward Something Redeeming

I consider all confessing Christians to be my brothers and sisters in Christ, but I doubt that feeling is mutual. Echos of a Voice

I did not suffer a failure of belief in God, so much as a loss of faith in those who claim to be His messenger boys. Weary of endless contradictions and conflicts, I found neither consistency nor coherency, either in our time or in history, among the multitudes of learned ones who have felt supremely confident they nailed the truth for time and eternity. Ifs of Og

Monday, February 23, 2009

Playing the God Card

Salt Lake Tribune columnist Paul Rolly had some interesting commentary today. He was quoting a letter written to the Utah legislature by the president of the Eagle Forum ( conservative/LDS lobbying group in Utah).

The Eagle Forum president was concerned about the various gay rights legislation coming up, so she wrote the following to remind the predominately LDS (Mormon) legislature where they should be standing:

"We have never seen a time when the homosexual community has been as aggressive and as committed to an objective as they are now," ...

"Every seat not taken by us in the committee room will be filled by those supporting these radical homosexual bills,"...

"I would like to share some scriptures in the (LDS) Doctrine and Covenants that have great meaning and comfort to me. In section 101 verses 86-95, the Lord gives us some lobbying instructions, starting with local government and working our way up through the state and federal government. We are told after we importune at the feet of our elected officials and they heed not (a righteous message) the Lord will arise and come forth and vex the nation and in His time will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers. He also mentions outer darkness, weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth." ...


Underlying message? Fail to vote the way we want and GOD IS GOING TO GET YOU!!

This is a very effective means of controlling many who take their religion seriously (not too dissimilar from how Ben Kenobi directed the minds of the stormtroopers near Mos Eisley).

So did the Eagle Forum president pull the God card because she is Mormon? No, I believe she did it because it was easy; and because she "knows" she is right. Why waste time on reason, persuasion, understanding, or... gulp... compromise - when you can pull the God card. It ends discussion and saves time.

My beliefs regularly get called into question because there is very little that I would be an absolutist about. I don't spend much time with rhetoric about absolute "Truth".

Why?

Because the end of that road leads to Ms. Eagle Forum president. You lose empathy, and your conscience no longer pricks when you try to strong arm people into accepting your view. Forcing someone into your worldview is for their good after all.

I was sharing at a bible study once that I was desiring to navigate a balance in instructing my children about God. I want to educate them about my faith, but I do not want to indoctrinate them. One of my friends said in a confused, but firm, voice "What is wrong with indoctrinating them if you know you are right?"

Notice where absolutism leads? Why bother reasoning with my children, persuading them, living my faith in a way that makes them think well of it.... when I could just strong arm them into it... give them no options.... make them believe GOD WILL GET THEM if they don't share my view.

I finish with a quote from the movie Dogma by Kevin Smith.
Bethany: So you're saying that having beliefs is a bad thing?

Rufus the Apostle: I just think it's better to have an idea. You can change an idea; changing a belief is trickier. People die for it, people kill for it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

South Jordan's own "Chris Buttars"

Well, all the talk in Utah right now is about Chris Buttars. Everyone has an opinion. I think some of these opinions are worth remembering when election time comes up. South Jordan councilwoman Aleta Taylor, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, praised Buttars saying:

"[Buttars is a] watchdog for the values of, what I believe, are the majority of the citizens of our state. I trust that what he said was probably accurate," she added, "if not very politically correct."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chris Buttars - Yep, he's my senator!

Senator Buttars is our very own Archie Bunker... without the humor. The only benefit I see to him politically is that he drives many conservative republicans toward the center.

Utah is changing slowly but surely. Senator Buttars is one of the last vestiges of the old political guard that we need to wipe from our shoe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two Points for Pat Robertson

I usually don't agree with Pat Robertson (or any TV Christian personality) but he was spot on today - and I like to give credit when I can. In an interview Pat Robertson said of President Obama:

It's not over, but I still want to give him the benefit of every doubt, and I definitely hope he succeeds. It wouldn't be good for Americans for him not to. We don't want a president who fails at domestic and foreign policy.

So you don't subscribe to Rush Limbaugh's "I hope he fails" school of thought?

That was a terrible thing to say. I mean, he's the president of all the country. If he succeeds, the country succeeds. And if he doesn't, it hurts us all. Anybody who would pull against our president is not exactly thinking rationally.

Pat's perspective, in this regard, should be self evident.... but it isn't. Thank you Pat for speaking wisdom to those in your circles.

HT: Bruce

Scripture speaks to Wall Street

Luke 12

16And Jesus told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.

17
He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

18"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."

20"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

I read over this scripture today, and I could not help but think of our friends on Wall Street. While need expands around them, they cut jobs and take public money while redecorating their office space.

Why are American churches not speaking out? Perhaps we have lost all credibility on the money issue.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Quotes from articles I read this week

We really have to stop this nonsense talk about taking the world for Christ when most of us don’t even know our own next door neighbors. - Backyard Missionary

Fundamentalists and fanatics can't laugh at themselves or anybody else. Don't make that mistake. And fundamentalists also fear that somebody might have fun somewhere...let that person be you. - The New Unitarian Universalist

This salvation message was one of the fact of Hell, the plan for avoiding Hell, and the subsequent "sinners prayer" that would keep you out of Hell. - A Former Leader's Journey

Is there a better world to have? It seems there must And still we pray to God, when will He make it just? He might ask the same of us
- The Bob Blog

Shouldn’t the same people who insist that the Bible be taken literally on the matter of homosexuality also insists that the Bible be taken literally on the matter of personal wealth? - John Shore

Christianity presents itself as a system of belief while Buddhism presents itself as a way of Life. - Living in the Kingdom

Here is the bottom line. Donations are down. Droves of Evangelicals fled the fold during the last election and no one is taking their place. Less people. Less money. Less money. Less influence. Less influence. Less power. Their greatest fear? Irrelevance.

So what is the answer? Fear. Stir up the passions of the faithful. Get them to fear Obama and the Democrats. Get them to fear religious persecution. Result? More money. - Bruce Droppings

Discovering our potential is some kind of modern mantra, but it's a brutal one. Fulfill your potential or else your life is a waste. I reject that. - How God messed up my religion

In God’s economy, there is enough for everyone because no one has more than he needs. - Out of Ur

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bible Believing Christians

I have heard the phrase "bible believing Christian" and "bible believing church" a number of times recently. I am wondering - Is there a more self-serving phrase in all of Christendom? Does it not really translate as - "These folks get juiced up over the same verses that I do!"

I am finding it difficult to lend any credibility to someone who would use such a phrase. I want to remain open to learn from all, but such a statement is very telling about the individual making it. It strikes me that the person wants to speak with authority.... but they don't want to go through the tedious process of earning it.

Is there anyone other than the guy who wrote "The Year of Living Biblically" who can claim to REALLY be "bible believing"? Typically, someone who would use the phrase "bible believing" believes that many Christians aren't "real" Christians. They would say that most cherry pick or ignore parts of scripture... whereas they take it at face value - The bible said it, I believe it, that settles it.

Of course, even a cursory examination of their closet - with its multiple coats - lets us know that they don't take the bible all that seriously.

Luke 10:25-26
25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"

I make a motion that the phrase "bible believing" be removed from Christian vernacular. Instead, like Jesus, let's see if others are reading things a little differently and discover what we might learn.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Truth Project Feedback

Before I get started, I want to put in a plug for fellow blogger Adam, who has been doing some great summations and commentary of The Truth Project by Focus on the Family. You can check out his writings here.

Somehow in Google's calculations, one of my articles on the Truth Project has moved up to the third item on their search list. Not sure how long that will last, but it is causing my blog to get slammed (slammed for my little corner anyway).

About twice a month I will get emails thanking me or condemning me for my articles. The disadvantage to email, as opposed to commenting, is that no one else sees your response. Most thank-yous are short, but the complaints can get lengthy. I don't mind the complaints, but a lot of them repeat stuff that someone has already taken me to task about.

So, I thought I might post a couple of the more coherent complaints (many are just mindless rants), and my responses so future complaints can deal with topics that nobody has touched yet.
_____

(Letter)

I stumbled across your comments as I was searching The Truth Project, which I have seen. I tried to find out more about you and was disappointed to find that your self-description was very limited. I find that in order to make heads or tail of someone's opinions you need to understand his bias.


Everyone is biased by his upbringing, his life's experience and especially his personality. I find that in order to actually be open to truth, you need an understanding of your personal bias (your personal worldview) before you can really be open to truth. I am glad that you are passionate enough about your search for God that you would spend so much time expressing your opinions. You are obviously an intelligent person. Intelligence alone is not enough when searching for truth. I am disappointed in your methods of interpreting scripture.


Your bias is very obvious. Truth by definition is not relative. It is there to grasp and to provide confidence for your faith. I would be interested in knowing enough about you to see why you have arrived at answers that seem graceful and loving but are actually misunderstandings. As an Evangelical Christian myself I think you have totally misunderstood The Truth Project.


(My response)

I appreciate your taking the time to read my blog and to comment. Although you and I may disagree about the Truth Project, I am sure there are many points of Faith that we have in common. I want to use something you said to explain why I feel the way I do.


"Everyone is biased by his upbringing, his life's experience and especially his personality."


I couldn't agree more. These biases and vested interests are something all of us are subject to and can never fully get away from. That is why I cannot agree with your second statement:


"Truth by definition is not relative."


Every word we utter, every word we hear, is filtered through our biases and vested interests. Not even scripture can be purely distilled. Each of us reads a verse and asks, "What does that mean?" That is why we hear certain verses quoted often by some and little by others. We all weigh into it differently.


God is Truth... the rest of us muddle through as best, and hopefully as honestly, as we can.


I may be wrong about the Truth project, however I can state that I used to think in that format. It is not an unknown area for me.


Blessings to you and all those you do life with this Christmas season!

________


(Letter)

Hi. Just have to say are you kidding me about the men in suits having the right answers and the women having the wrong answers? Seriously, you are reaching. Obviously they are interviewing people off the street when they aren't in suits. The men in suits are prepared and ready to answer the questions and anyone can see that. They aren't trying to fool anyone with that. Plus there is a "respectable" engineer that they are interviewing that doesn't have the "right answers".


Sorry, I just get tired of people ALWAYS trying and reaching to find something wrong when these people are trying to do something so right. We are human and aren't going to get it exactly right and God can give individuals the discernment, but really, do you think you are helping anything by picking apart what YOU think is not right. Well, it isn't. This series is amazing and it's an eye-opener. You don't have to agree with every single detail of every single sentence, but you are going to miss a lot of truths if you are just looking constantly for things that could be right or wrong. I didn't even agree with your other points either just so you know.


In the end, we are both believers, and I'm happy that I'll meet you in heaven some day so we can laugh at the way we both fought thru all this stuff to find truth. Thank God for grace. Ha.


(My response)

If the white men in suits being right were the fulcrum of my argument, I would agree with you. However, I was merely pointing out the ironic ending of the whole thing... the cherry on top, as it were.


Do I think I am helping? Perhaps I am not, but I believe I am and here is my reasoning. It is not enough that the TP is "trying to do something right". When their rhetoric is designed to present "the Christian Worldview", they have taken on the right to speak for a myriad of people, both living and not. I believe in this that they have overstepped their bounds. They of course have every right, even a duty, to present their view as they understand it. However, it is inappropriate to state things with as broad a brush as they do.


Secondly, it is necessary that other views be heard. Scripture is very clear that we are not to judge ourselves by ourselves or compare ourselves with ourselves. In many counselors there is wisdom. The fact is there are many Christians entrenched in the TP style of rhetoric and because they surround themselves with like minded people, they are not even aware that there are other ways to consider these points. If they hear ANYTHING to the contrary, the only thought they will let enter in is that the contrary position is wrong - no wrestling, no consideration. I by no means think people ought to avoid the TP, there are a number of people at my church who teach it; but I do hope they will look at it critically. If you google search the TP, there is plenty of praise for it. I think a critique or two should be allowable.


Blessings and peace to you,

___________


Here are my articles on the Truth Project.

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