Links To Go (April 24, 1015)

Bread, Wine and the Purpose of It All

So today, may you eat something as average as bread and drink something as mundane as wine. May you be reminded at the God who has injected meaning and life into everything you see and touch. And may we all honor God by loving each other well.


Five Ways Church Members Hold the Church as a Financial Hostage

Hear me clearly. Most church members give to their local churches freely, joyously, and without stipulations. But almost every church has one or more members who attempt to use “their” funds for their own needs and preferences.


The Static Church View and the Growth of a Church

We are a restoration church. We seek to restoration 1st century Christianity to a 21st century suburb area. We practice the same faith that Christians have practiced for thousands of years, but we also practice changing those elements that culturally connect with the people we are seeking to renew in God. If a leader cannot imagine the church for the next ten years, how it will look different, how it will behavior different, and what will be the future, this leader has taken on a static view of the congregation, and has denied the restoration culture within the churches of Christ.


Aspiring to the Great Commission Is Not Enough: Knowing the Gospel Doesn’t Mean We’re Sharing It

So rather than making our primary focus inviting younger adults to church, let’s first seek to tell them about Jesus and the good news of the Gospel that Jesus died on the cross for our sin and in our place. When they grasp that, they’ll get the church part. They’ll understand they can’t love Jesus and despise His wife. They’ll get that. But let’s first bring them Jesus.


How Miscarriage Led to My Crisis of Faith

God provided comfort through the suffering of his Son. I wasn’t alone in my pain. He wasn’t leaving me to my own. He began to reveal to me that he understood and he loved me dearly. I didn’t have anywhere else to go but to him, and he answered my cry in the wilderness. It was comforting for me to realize that it was okay to be in a wilderness. Jesus didn’t go to the cross cheering and clapping his hands. He was sorrowful—sorrowful for this world and for the pain and separation from his Father he knew he’d have to endure. It was okay to weep. Through my tears I had great hope because I knew that I wasn’t praying to a dead Savior. He rose and was indeed interceding on my behalf.


What Have I Left Behind?

One of our conscious thoughts should be that we are an ‘aroma’. Consumers spend billions of dollars a year in the fragrance industry to have a pleasing aroma. Christians, let’s try to be aware that we are to be the ‘fragrance of Christ’. What are you leaving behind that will influence the hearts and minds of people in your path?


5 Ways to Bless Someone This Sunday

How do we move from a Christianity focused on ourselves, to a Christianity where we consider “the interests of others”? It doesn’t happen overnight. We must be purposeful. We must take small steps to change our way of thinking. We must break old habits, and look for ways to bless others. It all begins with us. Don’t wait another week. Here are five ways you can bless someone this Sunday.


Thunderstorms

God has instructed us, not about the origins of thunder, but about his existence and his character. I can hear the rumbling and recognize whoever created the process and set the rules in order is surely powerful and mighty. However that doesn’t tell me about God’s nature and character. It isn’t enough for us to know we have a powerful God. Power alone won’t draw us to him or create our devotion. In fact, power alone often causes us to draw back or keep our distance.
God has revealed that he loves us, desires us, and sacrifices for us. His revelation tells us about his clear plans, his heart’s desire, and his consistent expectations.


How Ralph The Homeless Man And I Made Someone’s Day

See, the homeless man, while important, blessed another in the process by simply not being where he should have been. And….the homeless man and I gave a boss an opportunity to praise an employee when such wasn’t on his docket. We just created an Employee of the Day award…that homeless Ralph and me.


Man fires 8 gunshots into his Dell PC after Blue Screens of Death push him over edge

“I just had it,” Lucas Hinch, 38, told The Smoking Gun (via Ars Technica). Apparently the PC had thrown up one too many blue screens of death in recent months, so Hinch took it into an alley, loaded up a 9mm Hi-Point pistol that he’d purchased on Craiglist, and let the bullets fly.


Dog driving tractor causes motorway tailbacks

Drivers in Scotland had a ruff journey this work to morning when a dog drove a tractor onto the M74 motorway near Abington in South Lanarkshire.
The bizarre incident was reported by Traffic Scotland who tweeted: “M74 (N) J13-RTC due to dog taking control of tractor… nope, not joking. Farmer and police at scene, vehicle in central res.”
It was reported that the dog had leaned on the controls of the tractor, taking it from a field on to the road.


The reign of Reason

syllogismAs I mentioned on Monday, when looking at the elements of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (Scripture, Reason, Tradition, Experience), our task is often to decide the order of influence of #s 2 through 4. Scripture is considered to be first, in most circles.

Modernism had no doubts: Reason was #2. Reason was how we understand the Bible. In fact, Scripture can be picked apart and put together again through Reason. Logic. Syllogisms. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18) was a popular verse. [Now, the student of culture in me drives me to point out that there are other forms of logic besides our own. As David observed yesterday, the role of culture in all of this is often overlooked. Generally, when we speak of Reason in terms of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, we are talking about the Western form of logic that we inherited from the Greeks.]

Reason proved to be a double-edged sword. Some traditions, like the one I grew up in, became too bound by logic. We had no use for poetic elements of the Bible. Narratives were taught mainly to children or used to glean 3-point lessons on life. There was little room for discussion of genres and their differences. We wanted BCV (book, chapter, verse) for everything. We cared little for context, little for literary elements. If we could pull out a verse or even just a phrase to support our views, we were happy.

It was felt that absolute spiritual truth could be reached by Reason and by Reason alone. Tradition was suspect. Experience was irrelevant. Reason was unchanging and faithful.

And so, in many circles, Reason came to trump Scripture! That is, reasoning from Scripture could overcome the teaching of Scripture itself, as illogical as that sounds. A proof text here and a proof text there, strung together by logical leaps and bounds… and an entire system of grace could be turned into legal code that the strictest Pharisee of Jesus’ day would have been envious of.

However, when used correctly, Reason can be a useful tool in theological reflection and Bible study. Nobody wants to arrive at conclusions that are irrational and completely illogical. That’s not the goal. But we must see that Reason alone is not sufficient and certainly must never be allowed to displace the Bible itself. In the end, Reason is a human thing, and as such, is open to all the weaknesses of the flesh. Let us reason together… with humility and subjection to the Word of God.

Obeying the Bible

b&w bibleYesterday I pointed to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as an interesting way of looking at theological reflection. This system puts Scripture at the top, then gives room for three other voices: Experience, Reason, and Tradition. I want to take some time to look at those four voices and how they speak to us on theological matters.

I think most of us believe that we put more emphasis on Scripture than we actually do. A strict, literal reading of the Bible leads us to some strange places. When someone practices self-mutilation based on Matthew 5:29-30, we don’t applaud them for their literalism; we place them in a psychiatric hospital. Even though 2 Timothy 4:13 is one of the clearest instructions in the New Testament, yet few of us feel the need to travel to Troas to look for Paul’s cloak, scrolls, and parchments.

So we read Scripture through filters, like the three mentioned above: Experience, Reason, and Tradition. Some may say, “We just read the Bible and do what it says,” but that’ just not true. There are other voices in the discussion; the questions we have to decide are which voices deserve to be heard, in what way should we hear them, and how much weight should we give them.

Links To Go (April 21, 2015)

America Is Not the Future of the Church

As Evans quotes G.K. Chesterton, “Christianity has had a series of revolutions, and in each one of them Christianity has died. Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.”
The church may be “dying” here, but from the Amazon to the Sahara to the Ganges, it is very far from dead.


A Biblical Argument (Sort of) in Opposition to the Bible as Tennessee’s State Book

Christians who get themselves in positions of governing power, and then start pulling such stunts, become an affront to Christianity. It damages the name of Christianity. It wastes time and energy. It unnecessarily offends. If you feel so obligated to offend in the name of Christianity, please offend us by praying for your enemies, seeking good for those who do ill to you, forgiving seventy times seven, giving to any who ask of you, turning the other cheek, and caring for the poor, marginalized, and ostracized, all that radical stuff that is actually in the Bible.


I’m Kimmy Schmidt, Minus the ‘Unbreakable’

It was so hard for me to understand my own feelings that when I watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt I hollered with laughter when Kimmy’s bunker-mate said: “Yeah, I’m doing good. Sometimes I get mad for no reason. Like the other day I smashed one of those Kia Sorrentos.” Yep. That is so life after a cult. You’re alive, you’re okay—maybe—but then you have these inexplicable bouts of severe negativity, and you don’t know why. It took me two years unpredictable, unwieldy emotions before I asked for help in therapy.


A Holy People

The church in our day is known for many things; some great, some laughable, and some embarrassing. But what will our individual local churches be known for?
Slick services? Music cranked to eleven? Disney-fried children’s ministries? It’s easy for a church to become known for a product, but we are more often known for the people—the actual church. What will the living and breathing church, not the commodities we produce, but the people that fill the pews, what will we be know for?
We will be known for being mean, angry, and “get off my lawn” kind of people? Are we perceived as gossipy, grudge-holding, hypercritical holier-than-thous? Our doctrine matters, and so does our doctrine in animation—in life and in the culture of our churches.
We ought to be known for being holy people.


How Shauna Niequist helps Christians turn kitchen tables into sacred spaces

The second is that food is a symbol for the whole material, tactile, messy, loud, smelly world God made. I love this world. I love the sounds and smells and textures, and they seem to me to be just as divine as the ideas and beliefs we hold about God. A lot of modern Christianity is about your head—right beliefs that don’t engage our senses or connect us to the world God made. Food gets us back to caring about material, tactile life, not just brains and ideas.


How to Love Where You Are

Quitting jobs the minute they get challenging or boring doesn’t lead anywhere. And here’s a sobering thought I waited to say until after I had wooed you with unicorn jokes: Every job has boring parts.
It’s true. There’s no such thing as a perfect job where you just sit around all day watching entire seasons of shows on Netflix and eating bottomless bowls of queso. (That’s not your dream job? Fine, we’re different.)
What if, regardless of the job you have right this second, there was a way to enjoy it more?


No Cigar: Obama’s Cuba Critics Are Dead Wrong

The adoption of a new approach is long overdue. Washington’s current strategy has been in place for some fifty-five years, yet it has spectacularly failed to achieve its objective of bringing down Cuba’s communist government. One wonders what the proponents of staying the course hope to accomplish. Do they believe that the fifty-sixth year—or the maybe the sixtieth or eightieth year—will be the charm? At some point, persisting in a policy that is clearly not working constitutes nothing more than being obstinate. We reached that point in our Cuba policy several decades ago.


Parrot’s Cries of ‘Help, Fire’ Bring Firefighters to Burning House in Idaho

“Once the captain did his walk-around, he could hear something or someone inside yelling, ‘help, fire, help, fire,'” Islas said. Crews went into “rescue mode” and called for backup, thinking that the calls for help were coming from an elderly female, Islas said.
When firefighters couldn’t find anyone in the house, they started using thermal imagery technology, which detected no people, but rather, a parrot sitting on a table, Islas said.


Wesleyan Quadrilateral

I thought I had written about this before, but I can’t find it. For many of you, this is something very familiar. It was new to me when I saw it a few months ago. It’s a method of theological reflection called the Wesleyan Quadrilateral (many credit John Wesley with its development) or the Methodist Quadrilateral.

The four sides of this quadrilateral are:

  • Scripture
  • Tradition
  • Reason
  • Experience

One document from the United Methodist Church describes it like this:

“Wesley believed that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience, and confirmed by reason. Scripture [however] is primary, revealing the Word of God ‘so far as it is necessary for our salvation.'”

(The Book of Discipline)

When I heard this presented, the speaker said that almost everyone will agree that Scripture should be of primary importance. Where we differ is how we value the other “voices” in this system.

Over the next few days, I want to discuss this system, looking at the different aspects, getting a feel for how different groups might value different items, and trying to get a handle on how I value each of these four voices in the theological discussion.

I hope you’ll join me. I’d like to hear your initial thoughts and reactions.