Friday, September 29, 2006

The Political Liberalization of Evangelicalism

In the Baylor survey that I referenced a couple of weeks back, the questionnaire asked respondents about their political beliefs and thoughts on the war on terror and war in Iraq and then juxtaposed them with the respondents church-going habits. The results, you might guess, were very interesting.

When asked whether the Iraq war was justified, 54.8% of people who attend church weekly agreed. Only 30.5 of those who never attend church agreed. 48.5% of weekly attenders believe that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11. Only 24.4% of non attenders agreed. (This idea has been debunked by the Bush administration in previous weeks, btw)

Now interestingly, when asked if God favors a political party only 4% of the entire population agreed, but twice that number (8.1%) of evangelical protestants thought that was true. Interestingly, 8.6% of Republicans believe that God favors a political party, but only 0.4% of Democrats believe this.

Here's where this is going. While Christians and evangelicals in particular have classified themselves with the conservative wing of politics, I've noticed in the last couple of years a leaning of some evangelicals (primarily younger, but not necessarily [said the 35 year old]) toward issues that in recent history would have been classified as some pretty liberal ideas: concern for the poor, opposition to the war, environmentalism, tendency toward pacifism/nonviolent resistance. Now, I don't know if this is because some people are reading the Bible differently, as in paying attention to Amos and Jesus' teachings on the poor, or if it's one of those cyclical things that tend to happen within the political life of a country or movement.

The honest truth is that I've felt these leanings myself. I'm trying to wonder if it's because I watch Jon Stewart now and that's influenced me or reading Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis. It doesn't seem right to exploit the land and the air that will probably bequeath to our children and their children, simply to live an easier life. It doesn't seem right to torture detainees for information, making us no better than those we are fighting against.

The thing is that I don't really believe that switching from conservative to liberal solves anything. It just gives a whole new bunch of baggage. And while I appreciate the attempts that Democrats and political liberals are doing to try and bring some of these issues to the forefront as well as giving another side of the public life of religion in our nation, there are potholes with that. And frankly, Mr. Wallis, I'm not sure the designation Red-Letter Christians is any less divisive than what the conservatives have done. The inherent comparison in calling oneself a "Red-Letter Christian" is to say that someone else isn't. I appreciate the idea behind Red-Letter Christians, but the name does give me pause.

However, I think what I'm starting to believe is that these ideas are not liberal or conservative ideas. America is a country of polarizations: you're either for the war or not; you're for homosexual marriage or not; you're for unregulated immigration or you hate illegals. The truth is that things usually lie somewhere in the middle. Jesus found middle ground or a third way. Jesus' way was love. What has to happen is that that those concerned for issues of justice, not retributive justice but Godly restorative justice, have to raise these issues above the language of conservative or liberal politics. Concern for the oppressed has to be an issue that is taken on by people committed to loving and serving them. These are not conservative or liberal issues. They're issues about the dignity of people and us valuing them as sons and daughters of God and our brothers and sisters.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Battlestar Birthday

Today is my birthday. 35 years old. And I could use this space for reminscing about birthdays or life in my mid-30s, but I won't.

Look, Battlestar Galactica is starting back up next Friday, October 6, (and Doctor Who this Friday!), and I know there are many of you who might not think this is something to watch or even express interest in. But as my blogger birthday present, I ask you to watch at the very least part 1 of a special that ran on the Sci-Fi Channel, called Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far. If it doesn't interest you after that, I'll understand. However, if you do like it, give the other 4 parts a shot too. Battlestar is a well-made and well-acted show that has been called the best on TV. If you're hung up over the Star Wars rip off from 1978, let it go. Only the basic story and character names have been retained.

This little bit would catch you up on the story and get you ready for the premiere. Then you can spend your discretionary cash to get the DVDs and really get caught up. And this way, you don't have to send me a card.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just Pictures

As you can tell, the dance lessons are working.

Happiness is... well, it's not having your picture taken in a Yankees cap.

I keep seeing her future flash before my eyes.

If only he'd fallen asleep this easily last night...
Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Christian, a Muslim, and an Actor Go on a Talk Show...

No, it's not a joke. It's an incredibly enlightening exchange that you can see here.

After you watch it, report back. Who's more sympathetic? How does the Christian woman come off? What about the Muslim? The actor? The host?

Is Maher right when he says that to be a Christian and think that someone is not saved is to automatically consider him or her inferior?


On the fourth Sunday every month, I head west of Nashville to worship with some guys at a prison out in the middle of nowhere. When we go, there is always one guy, David, who is cleaning the floors as we go in. He always smiles and we have a little conversation before we get patted down.

Last month , when we came in , the excitement on his face was very apparent. He told us that he was coming up for parole and if we would pray for him. He was extremely excited and looking forward to his release. We were excited for him as well. There is something so invigorating about a man about to be set free from prison.

Well, we came back last night, and there was David, cleaning the floors. I asked him what happened, and he said he was declined parole and was going to have to complete the rest of his sentence, another 2 years or so.

I don't know what David did to be incarcerated. I don't know how long he has been in. What I do believe from looking in his eyes last night as the tears filled them, that his faith has been shaken. He believed that God was going to set him free and he wasn't. David is holding on, because for many in prison, faith is sometimes all there is to hold on to. What I couldn't imagine before I started going to the prison and can only barely imagine now is what it's like to go in to the prison and not be able to leave, as I'm able to do every month.

It looks like I'm going to see David for a while and I hope God will sustain him. I ask for your prayers for him as well.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Is the Grass Greener?

My buddy Adam Ellis pointed me to a church in Birmingham called the Disciples' Fellowship that as I looked through their site, I found it extremely interesting.

The part that found the most interesting was on their Journey page. Check this out:

Blueprints for Church by Tyler Priest
  • be messy.
  • don’t have members.
  • don’t have church building with steeple.
  • don’t have sign out front—nothing except small and unpresumptuous “Worship” stickered to side of door.
  • don’t have anyone on stage to lead worship.
  • don’t have bells (or whistles, for that matter).
  • support missionary from Africa that is bringing the good news to USA.
  • let guys in that show up drunk.
  • care more about people than programs.
  • give up children’s classrooms for recovering alcoholics to live in, or share the space.
  • if sharing the space, allow partition to be a pair of jeans strung across rope.
  • have a tomato, squash, and banana pepper garden on side patio.
  • light up candles, brew coffee, see what happens.
  • let IBM guy tickle ivories each week.
  • don’t meet twice on the same day.
  • be church every day.
  • take in rejects that other churches don’t want around.
  • allow “it’s all good” guy to pretend he’s Catholic.
  • pay rent on building.
  • create space to cry, laugh, breathe, stretch, grow.
  • have CEO’s hanging out with rehabbers.
  • sustain an emergent cohort.
  • welcome 12 step groups of all kinds into building.
  • don’t make Jesus a commodity for sale.
  • purchase and dole out cigarettes to those who can’t control how much they smoke at one time.
  • see questioners as maturing spiritually.
  • let anyone talk about anything at any given time.
  • change up worship format every week.
  • listen to guy who talks about cat named Osama Bin Laden.
  • never shut or lock pastor’s office door.
  • don’t do “altar calls” and neglect guilt-inducing invitation songs.
  • sing occasional U2 song.
  • allow women to have voice beyond just singing.
  • allow folks to belong before they believe.
  • talk about stuff like a healthy family.
  • pour out love of Christ into Honduras.
  • be free to move about the kingdom.
  • move away from black and white distinctions and toward mystery of God.
  • ask more questions than answers.
  • don’t make it about “us.”
  • whatever happens, always say, “it is what it is” or “it’s all good” or even “everything’s holy now.”
  • see what happens after lattermost phrase is said.
  • let random red-headed guy play djembe drum if he wants to.
  • be real and honest in all things, at all times.
  • communicate primarily through email and blog.
  • begin worship time whenever somebody starts singing.
  • eat big meal together once a week as a part of worship.
  • don’t have church van.
  • hang around for long time after benediction.
  • serve wine.
  • discourage having vision statement or strategic growth plan.
  • don’t have designated elders.
  • sometimes be liturgical.
  • make room for artists, thinkers, and kids from up the hill.
  • reflect Trinitarian community.
  • create and nurture such a community so that it hurts to leave after just one summer.
How does that strike you? Does that seem like the type of church you'd want be a part of? Too informal? Too pie in the sky? Do any of those bullets especially resonate with you? Do any make you think, ""?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


It wasn't until I was commenting on Scott Freeman's blog yesterday that I realized it was the 9th anniversary of Rich Mullins' death. I went back and dug through my archives to find a piece I wrote for a local Christian publication called Christian Activities right after I heard about his death...

I heard about Rich's death Sunday night; I immediately thought about all the memories that I have with his music. The first memory is hearing Winds of Heaven...Stuff of Earth at a church youth retreat in Florida. I loved so many songs from it. "Wonder of This World," his celebration of nature was beautiful, but even more so was "If I Stand." It is a classic that still moves me and began my love for Rich's music. I only met Rich twice; once was with that same youth group and he came in and played some songs from his upcoming CD, which was Never Picture Perfect. But the most vivid memory was a snowy night at the old Koinonia bookstore. It had just begun to snow, and Rich and Michael W. Smith were doing a very small show. I watched in admiration as Rich hammered on his dulcimer. Every time I heard his music it touched me in a very special way.

For awhile I didn't listen very much of his stuff until The World as Best I Remember It, Volumes I and II came out. I fell in love again. "Boy Like Me/Man Like you" was again a breath of fresh air, and my wife and I used "Sometimes Step by Step" as our recessional in our wedding. However, my love grew stronger with A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band. I believe this is the best CD Rich ever released. It is so strong lyrically with "Hold Me Jesus," "I'll Carry On," and "Land of My Sojourn," which now holds so much meaning in his death. It describes a life on the road and being alive in America.

Rich's culmination musically came in Songs, and I feel the cover speaks so strongly of his personality, his hands over his face, almost too shy to be the man who speaks so powerfully through his music. His own recording of "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" and the additions to it are amazing. However, the song that Rich wanted to be remembered by was "Elijah," and it is true: the Jordan was waiting, but Rich isn't anymore. As sad as I am and his friends are, he lived a full life. He showed a simple life and a full one. I loved his music, and in loving his music, I loved him and grew to love God as well.
I'll be honest, my respect for Rich has grown as I've found out more about how he lived his life. The sacrifices he made financially when he could have lived much more extravagantly, his faith amid the doubts of life, his struggles with temptation. Rich was not a saint from the generally perceived perspective, but he was a saint of God.

For a great read, I heartily recommend Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven by James Bryan Smith, a posthumous biography of Rich that really does a great job of capturing a piece of who he was.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Specter of Divorce

If it seems like I haven't updated much on Connor recently, well he's not doing much. He's started to roll over a little bit, even though his arm stops him from rolling over completely. He's also a holding baby. If he's not being held, he's either asleep or crying. He's also grabbing onto his toes and holding them a lot, which is fun to watch.

Kinsey and I were watching a movie the other day, one I did when I was five. I hope to put it up on YouTube at some point to share it. It was done by Nan Gurley and called A Wider World. It was little vignettes about struggles that kids go through. Mine was about getting a new baby in the house.

Kinsey and I were watching it and one of the scenes is where Mom and Dad are about to go to the hospital to have the baby. I asked Kinsey who Dad was and she said Dad, meaning my stepdad. I looked at her and said, "No, that's Grandpa." She looked at me confused. And it was then that I realized she had no idea that my mom and bio-dad were ever married.

My parents were divorced when I was 11. I was old enough to remember it and remember a lot of the things that led up to it, although at 11, I thought I knew a lot more things than I really did. I remember being scared. I remember wondering if they were getting divorced because I hadn't kept my room clean. That kind of stuff. And a lot of it came flooding back to me as I watched the piece with Kinsey.

My parents' divorce is the reason I have the relationship with Sheryl that I do. I'm honest with her, we try to share a lot of interests together, we work on money issues together. My parents divorced after 12 years of marriage. Sheryl and I don't even use that word, even jokingly, with reference to our relationship. I've seen too many marriages implode from a lack of communication and we will never do that to our kids, but even as importantly to ourselves.

I'm going to have to explain to Kinsey and Connor in more detail some day why they have three grandfathers and only two grandmothers and I'm sure they're going to ask why Mom and Dad divorced, and I'm sure they're going to ask if Sheryl and I will get divorced. I'm going to tell them that we won't and I hope that the relationship that Sheryl and I share can be a model for them, much as the relationship that my mom and (step) dad have and Sheryl's mom and dad have have been models for us.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Running Sound

I've mentioned before some of my adventures in running sound at Otter Creek, both in the previous building and the new one. The last seven days have been a new adventure in that. Last weekend, I worked the Glory Bugles concert at the building. To say there were complaints would be an understatement. People complained about the level of sound, the inability to hear punchlines, specific decibals that the system needed to be lowered. Now admittedly, the crowd was quite a bit older than our typical group, but there were definite problems on my side. Mistakes I made that should never have been made. And of course, that night, I went home with the Bugles' song "Heaven Yes, Hell No," running through my head, rehashing the problems and Sheryl trying to convince me that the sound wasn't that bad. Of course, I dreamed about feedback going through the song.

Wednesday went ok for Vespers. No significant issues.

Sunday morning... Yikes. We started the sound check with a really, really good team, but the system just felt dead and BST was getting pretty frustrated. Now, Brandon getting pretty frustatated can actually be slightly amusing because the color of his forhead can match the roots of his hair, but it's not fun when it's sound and it's right before the auditorium class begins. Fortunately, Stephen Vail was running sound that morning and knew some tricks to work out and restarting some software got the system live and bright again. However... as we started service, something incredibly wacky started happening with the subwoofers and we were getting an awful bass thump from any b or p or m or d or really any hard stop letter. We worked on that and lessened it some. Then, Doug Sanders' mic was giving some kind of hiss as he was preaching and I felt really bad because I believe so strongly in what Doug is bringing to Otter Creek and I wanted people to hear about those opportunities without the distraction of sound issues. At any rate that was Sunday morning and all the problems with it.

The offshoot of all of that was that it's been really hard for me to worship recently because I can't worship if I'm worrying about sound problems. I'm trying to make it better for other people to worship.

Sunday night... Celebration Sunday. The Sanctuary band that used to meet at OC's previous building and now is at Woodmont Hills played. I was stressing, of course, because I wanted it to go well for them and the worshippers. I get there at 4:30 with Stephen Vail. As I'm hooking up the band, he's playing some CDs trying to figure out where the trouble spots in the room are, doing some tweaks. We get going in the sound check and I'm not hearing problems.... We get going into the worship and I've got to turn the vocal's up and a guitar down some. No issues. People downstairs are worshipping. The band sounds great and they're leading worship and for the first time in several weeks I'm starting to worship too. I'm worshipping and listening for issues. And the worship is wonderful and I'm allowing myself to not worry about things (because they're going well, naturally). It was a great night and one I badly needed.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Survey Says!

It would have been real easy to react to the piece in Time magazine this week titled Does God Want You To Be Rich? and the Osteenism that's sweeping much of Christianity, but Shaun Groves did it and then got reacted to by Aunt B.

What caught my interest even more was a new survey by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion called American Piety in the 21st Century: New Insights to the Depth and Complexity of Religion in the US (pdf). Now, of course, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics, and there's always the halo effect (people answering how they think they should answer, lying basically), but this one seemed pretty straightforward and will provide me material to write about for weeks.

The one that hit me is the concept that develops of the 4 Gods. 95% of people surveyed ascribe to a belief in God. However, when asked specifically about their beliefs in God, those views were pretty divergent. From those views, the researchers developed this idea that people in the US have four views of God, or the four Gods.

The concept is developed from a person's ideas about God's engagement in the world and everyday life and His level of anger.

So someone who believes that God has a high level of involvement and high level of anger, the researchers called that view the Authoritarian God. Their definition was "Individuals who believe in the Authoritarian God tend to think that God is highly involved in their daily lives and world affairs. They tend to believe that God helps them in their decision-making and is also responsible for global events such as economic upturns or tsunamis. They also tend to feel that God is quite angry and is capable of meting out punishment to those who are unfaithful or ungodly."

The God with a high level of involvement but a low level of anger is the Benevolent God: "Like believers in the Authoritarian God, believers in a Benevolent God tend to think that God is very active in our daily lives. But these individuals are less likely to believe that God is angry and acts in wrathful ways. Instead, the Benevolent God is mainly a force of positive influence in the world and is less willing to condemn or punish individuals."

The God with a high level of anger, but a low level of involvement is the Critical God: "Believers in a Critical God feel that God really does not interact with the world. Nevertheless, God still observes the world and views the current state of the world unfavorably. These individuals feel that God’s displeasure will be felt in another life and that divine justice may not be of this world."

And finally, the God with low anger and low involvement is the Distant God: "Believers in a Distant God think that God is not active in the world and not especially angry either. These individuals tend towards thinking about God as a cosmic force which set the laws of nature in motion. As such, God does not “do” things in the world and does not hold clear opinions about our activities or world events."

How this breaks down demographically is fascinating. For instance, 43.5% of people in the South (not sure how the researchers defined South, but we'll let that go for now) believe in the Authoritarian God; 32.5 in the Midwest. 30.3% of people in the West believe in the Distant God.

If you're white, you have about an equal chance of believing in the Authoritarian, Benevolent, or Distant God (29.6, 24.5, and 25.1, respectively). However, 52.8% of African Americans subscribe to the Authoritarian model. Males believe about equally in Authoritarian and Distant (with 7.8% claiming atheism). Females were about equal on the Authoritarian and Benevolent.

The differences get even starker for those that attend church weekly or more and pray daily or more.

So, which of those four ideas resonate? Some factets of several? Do the demographic breakdowns surprise you or confirm things that you already felt?

This is really a fascinating survey and for anyone interested in this stuff, I highly recommend it. It gives a very clear picture of the state of religious belief in the US (as far as any survey can, I suppose).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

YouTube Insanity

Some things I've found on YouTube recently...

The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain covering Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit

In honor of the original versions of the original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD yesterday, Darth Vader the Musical

And Star Wars Legos playing the Imperial March

And Keith Olbermann, my favorite sportscaster ever ("If you're scoring at home or even if you're alone;" "I can read his lips and he's not praying") gets a little bit ticked off at the current administration on the 5th anniversary of 9/11

And here's a rebuttal to it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Kinsey and Race

We had a very interesting dinner conversation last night. We were talking to Kinsey about her friends at school and I forget exactly what she said, but she talked about some of the kids in her class that had different skin color and while I don't remember exactly what she said, I remember Sheryl and I looking at each other with some concern. I feel like she said something about not being friends with someone and then described him or her as having brown skin and black hair or something like that.

Like I said, Sheryl and I looked at each other with some measure of concern. We obviously know that Kinsey will make distinctions in her friends (DJ is apparently one of her boyfriends), but we hope to God that she won't choose friends based on skin color or any other visual distinctives. And that was the brilliant point Sheryl made. She pointed out how one of Kinsey's other friends had blond hair and another one had red hair and how that made them different, but not better or worse than someone and the same thing with the color of the skin. Kinsey seemed amenable to that idea.

Here's where I got a little bothered. Sheryl and I have never used racial epithets or judgements, in Kinsey's presence or out of it, or if we have it's so unconscious that neither of us are aware of it. We've never tried to judge people based on appearance and to instruct Kinsey to do the same. To hear a judgement based on the color of skin is very antithetical to how we're trying to raise Kinsey. Does any one else out in blog world have knowledge of studies about this kind of behavior in kids? I just don't want this type of behavior or attitude to become prevalent in her.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Confronted by Evil

I'm watching the coverage of 9/11 on CNN's Pipeline right now, which is broadcasting their live feed from 2001. It's amazing the confusion and fear that you hear in anchors' and eyewitnesses' voices. I remember hearing about this from Sheryl as she was on her way into work and initially thinking it was an accident and a very unfortunate one... and then the second plane hit.

Listening now, I hear the first mention of possible terrorism and how much that idea and notion has changed for us. We're engaged in a war on terror and a war in Iraq. Something that has changed us as a nation and people forever. Evil stared us in the face.

It is a day of tragic remembrance. For a riveting 1st person account, I highly recommend For Thou Art With Us by Sarah Bunting.

Faith in these times is either broken because how can a good God allow such tragedies or it becomes a strength, because God is good and his strength enables us to make it to the next minute. I choose faith as a strength, even in the face of unspeakable evil.

Friday, September 08, 2006

No Deep Thoughts, Just a Simple Choice

I wish I had some thoughts to share on this Friday. If you've read the blog for a while, you know that I post some of my theological musings on Fridays, but nothing's firing my cylinders today. Nothing's getting me fired up.

I could do some more thinking about the relational vs. judicial readings of Scripture, or Lee Camp's point from his Sunday morning class on the Sermon on the Mount about legalism being that thinking the rules are the point, or the Nashville Cohort from yesterday, which was a singularly frustrating experience for me. But nothing is hitting me today.

So, I post this and am interested in the responses. Which band do you like better? U2 or the Beatles, and why? I'll post my choice around 4 this afternoon.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is Blogging Dying?

Just a thought. People who were blogging last year have dropped out for various reasons: lack of time, lack of interest, lack of subjects, etc.

It seems like this time last year, blogging was the hottest thing. Now, the heat has seemed to pass and it's become passe. So is blogging dying or has the plateau been reached and now the downward slide to the actual level begun?

Just curious.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Explaining Post Restorationist Radio

I realized as I posted the link to Post Restorationist Radio that I might have several new readers who might not be familiar with what's going on with that, so here's the explanation.

About three years ago, I "met" Adam Ellis through the Grace Centered message board. We had both mentioned Brian McLaren in posts and started instant messaging each other. We found a great deal of similar affinities (emerging theology and ecclesiology, blogging, comic books, etc) and started talking back and forth a lot. As I became more and more familiar with podcasting, I thought it would be fun to do a conversation between him and me concerning some othe issues within Churches of Christ from a "Post Restorationist" perspective.

Two questions might naturally follow:

Question 1: What is podcasting? Podcasting is to talk radio what blogging is to writing articles. It's basically a way for the common person to get ideas out to the world through different media. In blogging, it's self publishing your writing, basically. In podcasting, it's distributing your vocal thoughts. Adam and I use Podomatic to distribute the episodes and we've had a lot of fun. The term itself is kind of a pun on "broadcast," but podcast is something that can be downloaded to an iPod or any mp3 player or played on a computer.

Question 2 is most likely "Post Restorationist"? What the heck is that?

Some history. In the early 1800's a movement began, springing from the Presybterians amazingly enough of the idea of trying to restore the First Century church. The idea sprang forth that God had given a pattern of what worship and church structure was supposed to be like in Scripture and the current denominational structures were an aberration of what those were supposed to be. Hence the need to restore the church. There were some eschatalogical leanings behind that (restore the church and Jesus would return kind of things), but mainly it was an attempt to purify the faith. From this ideology sprang the group alternatively known as the Churches of Christ or Disciples of Christ. The terms were used interchangeably for several decades until 1906 when they were recognized as separate group, primarily designated by the use of musical instruments in the DoC and unaccompanied/acapella music in the CofC. Now, I'm grossly oversimplifying here but this gives you the basic idea.

The term "Post Restorationist" is pretty much stolen from an idea by Dallas Willard, but he uses the term "Post Evangelical" and defines it thusly: "Post-evangelicalism is by no means ex-evangelicalism... post-evangelicals are evangelicals, perhaps tenaciously so. However, post-evangelicals have also been driven to the margins by some aspects of evangelical church culture with which they cannot honestly identify."

Remove Evangelical and insert Restorationist and that's me and Adam (and Matt on this most recent episode). We love the Church of Christ and desire to see the Kingdom work through her. So we identify as participants in the Restoration Movement, but know that it is being shaped and evolving. We recognize a certain futility to trying to revive the 1st Century Church in Palestine and elsewhere as related in Acts and the Epistles in 21st Century America, but we recognize that there was a spirit/Spirit about those men and women that we can take inspiration from, as there has been in saints throughout the history of Christianity.

At any rate, that's what we're about. If you get a chance, take a listen. We have fun doing them and try not to get too esoteric or pie in the sky about our ideas. And if you're not in the Restoration movement, we don't really hew too closely to that mindset. Hopefully what we talk about is applicable for all Christians, not just the dysfunctional Restoration one.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Post Restorationist Radio Has Returned!

In a special "live" episode, Adam and I were joined by Matt Wilson in my basement last week. We had a great discussion and a lot of fun doing it. We talk about a judicial reading of scripture vs. a relational reading of it. It's actually part 1 of 2, which I'll post next week. Listen here or go to to download.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Plural You

With Adam Ellis and Matt Wilson in town taking their graduate course on the Prison Epistles, I've been privy to many of the conversations happening there as well as some of John York's teaching within the class.

One of the things that I've heard is the idea of the plural "you" in Greek. For instance, in the Philippians passage: 12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (2:12-13), the "you" and "your" there is plural.

One of the problems with the "regular" English language is that "You" can be both singular and plural (referring to both one and multiple persons, for you non-English afficianados). In the South, this would end up being "Y'all;" in the North, maybe "youse guys;" out West? Who knows.

The point is that this is not a singular passage, and most of Paul's You's are not singular; they're plural. One of the issues the contemporary church faces, and has been a part of causing in some ways, is an unreasonable focus on the individual. We've made salvation only a matter of making sure my own personal soul gets to heaven, and maybe I'll convince some others to go with me. The problem is as well that many of the praise and worship songs we sing are individually based. "I want to know you, I want to hear your voice." "Thank you for loving and setting me free, thank you for giving your life just for me." "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less."

Now, I'm not saying it's bad to sing those songs, but they strike me as much more devotional than suited for singing in a large group setting. I would love to hear us sing more songs like "Let Us Be You" and "Salvation Belongs to Our God." Songs that reinforce the need for community and the interdependence we have on each other. I feel that they should grow in frequency and the individual devotional songs should decrease.

Salvation is, in fact, an individual event, AND as Paul points out in that passage, a community event as well. He doesn't say, "Work out your salvations." Salvation is singular, but applies to the whole group. As we start to realize the importance of community, the theology of our teaching, whether from the preaching minister or worship minister, must continue to focus on communal worship. Worshipping God together, not simply as individuals gathered.
Template Designed by Douglas Bowman - Updated to Beta by: Blogger Team
Modified for 3-Column Layout by Hoctro