Thinking Out Loud

May 19, 2010

Wednesday Link List

For your consideration…

  • Top Trend of the Week On Christian Blogs (and Everywhere Else) — Quitting Facebook.   This one isn’t a faith blogger, but it makes the point well.
  • C. Michael Patton may call his post Why I Am Not Charismatic, but he’s more Charismatic-friendly than most.   Besides, I have a thing for charts:

  • Speakers, worship leaders, pastors:  If your church has an audio system, act as though The Mic Is Always On.   (Actually it’s a good rule for life, too.)
  • This British TV commercial — a long one, at 1:30 — for the John Lewis department stores is our YouTube clip of the week, as it could easily be one of those media clips your church uses on Sunday morning.
  • Donald Miller thinks the next time you’re at a party, instead of asking someone, “What do you do?” you might try asking, “What is your story?”  Everybody has one.
  • Even the little ethnic churches in major cities are prone to sex scandals.   This one took place in Toronto and you probably didn’t hear about it, but South Korea’s two largest TV networks were all over it.
  • This post on theological systems isn’t very long, but makes a good point, and besides, like I said, I’ve got a thing for charts.   Go to Matt Stone’s blog and double click the image there for a clearer vision.

  • Here’s a longer post I wrote on the weekend over at Christianity 201 which includes a long re-post of something serious by Jon Acuff.  Check out Where Sin Abounds.
  • Tired of getting all your blog input from 20-somethings and 30-somethings?   Donald M. Bastian is no spring chicken, but if you appreciate the wisdom of older mentors — especially if you’re in ministry — check out Just Call Me Pastor.   (And the page which explains the blog’s name.)
  • I need you to check this apologetics blog out — pretend you’re a skeptic for a few minutes — and tell me what you think of Proof That God Exists.
  • Joel Taylor discovers that your local hospital may not be able to call that little room a chapel anymore, because that word is too sectarian.
  • Will Mancini says that when you break down Jesus’ spoken word content, his influence boils down to the use of metaphors.   As a matter of fact, this blog post even has a chart:

  • Book Trailer of the Week:  David W. Pierce describes his 2009 Waterbrook story of mountain climbing with his daughter, Don’t Let Me Go.
  • Devotional Blog Discovery of the Week:  Smoodock’s Blog.   The writer is actually named Eddie, and his “about” page tells you what a Smoodock is.  (You already know, you just didn’t know it had a name.)  Short devos posted every other day or so.  Reminds me a bit of Rick Apperson‘s blog.
  • In our Saving-The-Best-For-Last department, Matt Stone scores another Wednesday link with this post — you so gotta do this — asking you to compare two worship songs.
  • This actually isn’t part of the Wednesday Link List — It was in my image file and I truly have no idea where I got this — but like I said, I have thing for charts:

  • Instead of actual cartoons this week, we have some panels from Sacred Sandwich:

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March 23, 2010

Quote of the Day: Discernment Ministries

This is from C. Michael Patton at the theology blog, Parchment and Pen.

Watchdog ministries. Lighthouse ministries. Appraisal ministries. They go by many names. They are full-time Christian snipers. Let me back up. There are certain ministries that exist to find and expose false teaching. I have no problem with exposing false teaching. Indeed, it is part of what we are to do as teachers…correct false doctrine. However, it is very rare to find a ministry or a person who does this well. Most of the ministries and people who do this are arrogant, ungracious, and counter-productive and themselves need to be exposed. I have worked for one of these ministries (a long time ago). After a while, the ministry becomes obsessed, concerning itself with nothing else other than beating someone up in the name of the Lord. When there is no controversy, like a drug addict in withdrawals, they begin to create controversy ex nihilo or go back to dead horses and kick them. Their goal soon loses the priority of truth, learning, and understanding. I think that many people would have nothing to talk about if there was not someone to kick.

July 27, 2009

The Value of Doubt

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:53 pm

Years ago, I remember saying that if ever wrote a book, it would be called “The Value of Doubt.”   I think it’s important sometimes that we allow the rug to be pulled out from underneath us so that we re-affirm the propositions that underlie the faith we verbally confess.    I think it’s good to re-take ownership of those basic truths every once in awhile, the same way a good sports coach will go over the fundamentals of the game with his team on a regular basis.

This article is similar to that idea, but also different.   I was going to simply link, but I wanted to make sure that you got a chance to read it.   You can use the link at the bottom to add comments to the original, and you may also want to subscribe to the Reclaiming The Mind newsletter.

Can Christians Doubt God at a Fundamental Level

faith_posterby C. Michael Patton

I have been in a conversation recently about doubt. Most specifically, the question that has risen is, “Can a true Christian doubt God at the most fundamental level.” A girl just wrote to me and said that she often envies Christians who don’t ever doubt. I told her that there is really no such thing. All people doubt!

Let me be clear (for this is something that many people would disagree with me on): I don’t think that belief should ever be conceived of as “black and white.” No, don’t go there. I am not talking about some form of relativism with regard to the nature of truth (i.e. there is no such thing as truth). What I am saying is that people vary with regard to the strength of their beliefs. And I am saying that this can vary from time to time. Belief can go up and down. In other words, belief is not something that you either have or you don’t.

I have already revealed my proposition (i.e. a truly born again believer can doubt). Let me define “fundamental level.”  What I mean is that a Christian can doubt to such a degree that they even doubt the very existence of God. Yes, I am assuming that you have done the same. I have and sometimes still do.

Where did this come from? I had a different conversation today when a lady, whom no one would ever expect, came to me in confidence expressing her inner pain. “I have recently been doubting the existence of God,” she told me with much trepidation. I think that she was most surprised that I was not surprised (well, maybe a little).

A dictionary definition of a straight line is “the shortest path between two points.” The definition of doubt, at least from one perspective, is the line that bridges our faith and perfect faith. I am under the assumption that no one has perfect faith. If this is true, then everyone’s faith is lacking in some respect. This lack will take on different forms for different people and different circumstances. Sometimes it will show itself though particular habitual sins. Sometimes it is our own pride. Many times it takes the form of doubt at our most fundamental levels.

I don’t believe that this is wrong. Let me step back and rephrase. In a fallen world with fallen people—and Christians who are still battling the flesh—should we expect anything else? Do you really believe that once you become a Christian doubt is no longer a foe? So it is wrong only in the sense that living in a fallen world is wrong. It is bad to the degree that being a resurrection short of full redemption is bad.

These are the words of another who sent me an email today (it has been a day full of this issue for some reason): “I lived for so many years doubting as religion was crammed down my throat, and watched those very same people live in hatred and judgment…now I know that Christ is not about rituals, dogma, and I was so relieved to find out it was OK to question…I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.”

I can’t read too much into this, but my assumption is that many people, like the one above, are afraid to make a commitment because they have worked under the unfounded assumption that our faith must be perfect. J.P. Moreland once said if someone believes 51% and disbelieves 49%, they are a believer in that which holds the greatest percent.

Do Christians doubt? Of course we do. But this does not mean we don’t believe. You may be at 63%, 95%, or 51%, but know that your ability to rise above 50% is of the Lord. He is with you and will hold you tight. Doubt is a necessary by-product of imperfection. It is a necessary evil that accompanies us on our road to belief.

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Michael Patton blogs at Parchment and Pen, always linked on our blogroll.

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