2006-06-23 2 comments

Knowing The TRUTH

"Jesus answered: 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
(John 14:6)

"Christianity Today" had, as its cover story in the June edition, a special section about "The Da Vinci Code." It's treatment included "How to Fight the Fever." Inside, CT made the same mistake I think most Christians are making when it comes to dispelling ridiculous notions an unbelieving (and largely unsympathetic) world seems intent on perpetuating.

I'd largely been ignoring the "Da Vinci Code" controversy ... not to marginalize it or anything, but simply because I didn't think it was as big a deal as everyone seems to be making it. It was the same with Martin Scorcese's "The Last Temptation of Christ," (I read the book a few years ago ... I'll admit it was interesting, misguided though it was). Christians boycotted, made the talk show rounds, spewed anger. Guess what? It's years later, "Temptation" is barely a footnote in pop culture history and Jesus is still God's son. Nothing changed.

Now, I understand the furor over "Da Vinci." It's claims are purportedly steeped in fact. And that has a lot of Christians nervous. How can we properly evangelize when so many questions are being raised by the book and film, and in light of the media's fascination with Gnosticism? And it's not just "The Da Vinci Code." There's "The Gospel of Judas," questions about the men who compiled the King James Bible ... all sorts of controversial topics. How should we react?

Well, one mistake we're making is that we're allowing "the World" to frame the argument. CT (and, to be sure, most others) are trying to combat the questions raised by "Da Vinci" by fighting fire with fire. That is, the evangelical strategy seems to be to use science and history to explain how The Bible can be the true, unfallible work of God -- which, of course, it is.

The logic is that if "the World" is using historical documents and scientific data to make spurious claims about Christ's divinity, then we should point to the historical and scientific accuracy of the biblical gospels to do the same. We want to point out, again, using the "world's" system of explanation, how The Gospel of Luke is more accurate than that of Thomas. Or we explain why -- again, using history, carbon-dating, etc -- the Bible ended up being what it is today.

This is a poorly chosen tact. It's so similar to that taken by those in the Emergent Church movement. Sure, their motives -- making the Gospel not only palatable but also interesting to an increasingly jaded world -- are wonderful. But when Brian McLaren and others want to steep it in "tolerance," not to mention dancing around the post-modern notion that truth can't be known ... well, there's a problem there. Again, you are allowing non-Christians to frame the argument, to put the explanation of Christ and His salvation on their own terms, not God's. Truth is knowable. Jesus is Truth.

Back to "The Da Vinci Code." Instead of pointing the reasons why our Bible, scientifically, historically and culturally, is more important than Gnosticism (or any other false doctrine), why are we not relying on our faith? We should be fostering faith -- and any attempts to explain our beliefs without that core value as its cornerstone is doomed to fail.

Start big and work inward. Macro-theology toward micro-theology, if you will. The facts are as follows:

1. God exists.
2. If God exists, then it logical to assume (the World assumes -- we know) that He is omniscient and omnipotent.
3. If God is both omniscient and omnipotent (that is, all-knowing and all-powerful), then is not God, in His divinity, able to determine what specific words make up His Bible?
4. If He can determine what goes into His Bible, then how arrogant are we to assume that man had anything to do with compiling the Bible?

Our mission is to tell others about Christ. We don't get them to trust and believe in Him by explaning His existence historically or scientifically. It's simple. He just is ("I am that I am"). And unless He is accepted in faith, he isn't accepted at all.

Yes, things were left out of The Bible. Yes, other Gospels were written. Yes, there are discrepancies between translations and so forth. But all of those things came as a result of a divine plan. We may never know why God chose to do what He did, but we can know Him.

And knowing Him changes EVERYTHING.

So, do you want to know him? Click on this link, read Romans 10:9,10 in the Bible or e-mail me.
2006-06-12 2 comments

A risky proposition

I hate talking politics in the context of my Christian spirituality because I think it's a dangerous proposition ... politicizing our faith, I think, causes great problems. It opens us up to be painted in very broad strokes, i.e., "all Christians are bigots whose ideas about social justice are hopelessly unsympathetic."

So, this isn't a political stance ... at least not overtly so.

But to answer some questions and discuss things relevant to our society, I want to weigh in on a political issue. My only fear is that I'll be painted as a liberal, a Democrat, a Communist ... I'm none of the above, but we've entered "darned if you do, darned if you don't territory here."

Indeed, I feel as though I'm apolitical when it comes to my Christian life. Ask Billy Graham what happens when you get too closely aligned with a political stance. To his credit, he learned the valuable lesson Watergate taught him ... and, now, doesn't waste words. He's too busy telling about "Christ, and Him crucified." If only all prominent evangelicals would do the same -- and leave social commentary to the politicians.

Hypocrite, hypocrite -- that's me. Here I go, doing what I just criticized. But, sheesh, the war in Iraq is just plain wrong.

Now, I'm not talking wrong in the political sense. There are arguments for and against what the U.S. did politically. But as Christians, that isn't our issue.

Our issue is whether war, in and of itself, is morally wrong. And I think the answer is unequivocally yes.

God didn't provide any qualifiers when He handed down the 10 Commandments. Christ didn't provide any qualifiers when He delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Look if you want. They aren't there.

"Thou Shalt Not Kill ... unless someone hurts you first."

"Turn the other cheek ... unless the jerk really made you mad."

I watched the movie "Munich" the other day, and it really brought the point home to me. Revenge is a natural response to terror. Defending oneself, you say? Even more so. Israel's response to the atrocities committed by Black September at the 1972 Olympics can be understood, if not condoned. But it was wrong, and not because of its consequences.

The War in Iraq is wrong, too, for the same reasons. Sure, you can point to the body count. You can point to the political morass that has come as a result. You can point to high gas prices.

Those are only symptoms of a greater problem ... that is, failing to abide by the principles set forth by Jesus Christ Himself.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth,'" Jesus said on the Mount of Olives. "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:38-42, NIV).

As Phillip Yancey points out in "The Jesus I Never Knew," humans throughout history have been searching for a way to explain away Christ's seemingly impossible precepts, specifically those given at the Sermon on the Mount. But our inability to live up to them -- how can I, for instance, "be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect" -- is insignificant. I can't. But that doesn't absolve me of my responsibility to try.

Agree or disagree ... take your pick. But you can't argue with scripture.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Want to know Jesus? Click here to learn more.
2006-06-10 0 comments
2006-06-05 0 comments

beginning the discussion ...

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
(John 14:6)

First, a few links so we can frame the discussion -- don't read anything into the order of the links. It doesn't imply anything other than a desire to be fully familiar with the subject matter.

Read about what's being called "Emergent Christianity" by clicking here.

There's also interesting reading about post-modernist Christianity here and here.

The reason for the next few posts (if our discussion gets that far) is a column written by Chuck Colson (he of Watergame fame) for "Christianity Today" magazine (which is an excellent rag, by the way.) Read the latest on his on-going argument against the post-modernist movement in the American Church by clicking here.

(I'm proofreading now and, sheesh, that's a lot of parentheses. Sorry. Of course, I just did it again ... I have a habit of using a lot of parentheses, elipses and dashes -- not that there is anything wrong with that.)

I've been enamored of the Emergent movement in the past year or so as part of a deeper look at my faith. Christ is the author of my grand inquisition (maybe that's a poor choice of words ... don't read anything into that, either). I just feel He is calling me to a deeper understanding of why I am a Christian and what that means for the ministry to which He has called me.

To get specific? I want to know why my generation and, more than likely, the one that comes after is so disillusioned by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why do young men and women who were raised on His message and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior so readily dismiss Him for the carnal world?

Why is a message so loving and full of hope falling on ears that are more interested in "easy" answers to tough questions?

I'm growing more and more disillusioned by some of the basic assumptions of those participating in the "emergent" movement. I don't want to get into them too much here, because I have a few more things to read and a few more thoughts to make more lucid before posting them. Plus, I wanted to see if anyone who comes across this is interested in talking and exploring it more at length. We'll see, of course.