Thinking Out Loud

January 11, 2016

Do We Even Worship the Same God?

Filed under: Faith, God, Religion — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:41 am

Note: In some respects this is a part two to Saturday’s post, Can People of Other Faiths Be Worshiping the Same God?

Google-GodOn Saturday morning, my wife and I set out for the big city to help our oldest pick out what will be his first automotive purchase. The day resulted in completed frustration and failure, and ended up with our own car breaking down on the freeway and requiring towing back to our home.

But earlier on, when the mood was lighter, we were discussing Saturday’s blog post regarding the shared history of the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) and the question as to whether or not we worship the same God or simply seek the same God; and all of this in light of the Larycia Hawkins/Wheaton College situation in the U.S.

We wondered if perhaps there is not a more common, pedestrian use of the phrase “Are we even worshiping the same God” which comes up more often.

It comes up when you encounter people whose drive for success and wealth and material prosperity overshadows their understanding of scripture.

Are we even worshiping the same God?

Or people whose devotion to a particular Bible translation seems to overshadow their love for God.

Are we even worshiping the same God?

Or those Americans who somehow manage to equate the gospel with a particular particular party or view on a touchy political subject, such as gun control.

Are we even worshiping the same God?

Or church members whose busy-ness about the programs of their local congregation mean that you can’t see Jesus for the church activitees (think forest, trees)

Are we even worshiping the same God?

Or those friends whose conversation reflects constant references to their love and admiration for a particular author or televangelist but little in the way of references to Christ.

Are we even worshiping the same God?

…We have enough struggles in the church sometimes with clarity of identification; we often don’t adequately define our terms. I also think we also completely obscure our message when we put other things in the place of Christ, or God, or the Holy Spirit, or all three.

I have acquaintances with whom I disagree on a doctrinal point here and there. But I also have acquaintances whose faith is comprised of so many things that are so very different from my own understanding of the character and nature and ways of the God I serve that I do in fact find myself asking sometimes,

Are we even worshiping the same God?

 

 

January 31, 2012

One Less Elephant in the Room

Just desserts in my opinion.

A certain discernment ministry dude who has a certain discernment radio ministry thing apparently paid his $99 registration fee to attend The Elephant Room at the mother ship in Rolling Meadows, IL only to arrive and find out his registration had been revoked.

He blogs the experience, but I really, really don’t want to include the link to this guy — first time I’ve ever done this — so I’m copying and pasting without it:

Today, I traveled to Rowling Meadows, Illinois to attend James MacDonald’s Elephant Room 2 conversations. Upon entering the event venue I was met by a security guard and Jim Rowan, an elder at Harvest Bible Chapel and was promptly told that my entrance to the Elephant Room had been revoked and that I had to immediately leave the premises or I would be arrested for trespassing.

This is truly ODD, because the Purpose Statement of the Elephant Room states:

The Elephant Room is more than an event. It is the outgrowth of an idea. The idea that the best way forward for the followers of Jesus lies not in crouching behind walls of disagreement but in conversation among all kinds of leaders about what the scriptures actually teach. We must insist on the biblical Gospel, right doctrine and practice but not isolate ourselves from relationship even with those who believe much differently.

So, I ask the very logical question how is threatening to arrest me if I didn’t leave the premises of the Elephant Room an example of NOT “crouching behind walls of disagreement”?

Seems to me that the Elephant in the Room is the fact that the ONLY voices that James MacDonald and company are willing to hear are those that agree with them.

…First of all let me say that I do not automatically endorse everything that James MacD. does.  I love the forthright style of ministry he projects on the radio and I’ve visited his church in two locations in northwest Chicago, but I’m equally convinced that back in his elementary school days, he was the schoolyard bully. Sorry. That’s just my opinion, and last I checked, I’m entitled to it. Maybe this little bit of conference theater is just what happens when two bull-headed personalities clash.

However, I’m going to side with Harvest Bible Chapel and The Elephant Room on this one.  The particular Discernment Dude in question is trouble with a capital T.  A ticking time bomb in an event like MacDonald’s one-day live broadcast conference.  A person whose spirit runs counter to the spirit of the event.

You may not agree with J. MacD. on countless issues, but the motivation for this event is simple enough that even a child can understand it, and James MacDonald paid a fairly high price to forge ahead with it against criticism from various sides. I’m sure all the pastors and leaders in the audience had varying opinions on things, but I’m betting they were more aligned with the day’s central purpose than the one — and only one as far as we know — who was refused admission.

The MacDonald/Driscoll event was complex enough as it was.  There simply didn’t need to be one more elephant in the room.


HT: FBC Jax Watchdog, a blog we link to at this one, but one which, as far as The Elephant Room is concerned, disagrees with its presenters, disagrees with the denominational heads who permitted their pastors conference to link with the event; but seem to think nothing of siding with Discernment Dude on this one. The politics of hatred can get really complicated at times.  I think everyone involved in reporting this conference sidebar — absolutely everyone — missed the whole point of The Elephant Room.

January 22, 2012

Disagreeing without being Disagreeable

…the longer an online conversation goes, the more likely it is that someone will make a reference to Hitler…

Stephen Altrogge has written a great piece, “How to Disagree Online Without Being a Total Jerk.”  I guess if you really don’t want to be a jerk online, you don’t steal blog posts wholesale; but then again, Stephen has written this for the ages, so to speak, and it should be the sidebar of every site in the Christian blogosphere; with multiple iterations at CNNBelief and USAToday’s Religion page.  But if you prefer, here is the link

Science has proven that the longer an online conversation goes, the more likely it is that someone will make a reference to Hitler.

It can start off very innocently, with two Christians on Facebook debating the relative merits of Calvinism. But after several comments, the innocence is usually gone, and is replaced with comments like, “I can’t believe that you would believe in such a stupid thing like free will! Have you ever heard of the Bible? You should try to read it sometime.” If it keeps going, someone will inevitably say something along the lines of, “I suppose you think Adolf Hitler didn’t have free will either!” At that point, the conversation is officially dead in the water.

How can we avoid dreadful conversations like that? How can we disagree with a person on the Internet in a godly, humble, God-honoring way? The truth is, we will give an account to God of every careless word that we speak AND every careless word that we type. I want my online interactions to be honoring to God. Here are a few suggestions for how we can honor God in our online speech:

Remember That Your Opponent Is Created In the Image of God

When we’re sitting snugly behind our computers, it can be easy to forget that the person on the other end of the conversation is a real person. A real person who is created in the image of God and should be respected as a fellow image bearer. A real person who has real feelings and strengths and weaknesses. A real person whom God really, really cares about. The words that I type will have a real effect on that person, either good or bad. My words have the potential to build them up or tear them down. To corrupt them or bless them. To strengthen them or be a source of temptation to them. God will hold me accountable for the ways in which my words affect others.

Remember That Your Opponent Is Your Fellow Brother Or Sister

If my opponent is a Christian, they are also my brother or sister in Christ. They have been bought with the precious blood of Christ and they belong to him. Jesus values. The Father treasures them. The Spirit dwells in them. If I insult them, I am also insulting Christ. If I speak poorly of them, I am speaking poorly of Christ. There is no place for maliciousness or backbiting or insulting in the house of Christ, and that house extends to the digital world.

Don’t Say Anything You Wouldn’t Be Comfortable Saying To Their Face

Being behind a computer screen gives me a weird, and often times sinful, boost of confidence. Suddenly I feel like I know everything, and that every person who disagrees with me is a complete and total moron. I also may be tempted to say things that I would never say to a person’s face. But when I get behind a computer, the Golden Rule still applies. I’m still called to treat every person as I would want to be treated. I don’t want to say anything that I wouldn’t be comfortable saying in person.

Ask Forgiveness Quickly

If I sin against a person through online speech, I need to ask their forgiveness quickly. Just because it happened online and I don’t know them that well doesn’t mean that I’m not accountable for it. The house of Christ should be a place ruled by grace and mercy. I want to seek out grace and mercy from those whom I sin against.

Spoken words matter and digital words matter. I want the words that I type to be pleasing to the Lord, don’t you?

~Stephen Altrogge

Nothing Matters But The Weekend…
Some blogs pretty well shut down on Saturdays and Sundays, but weekends can be a rather quiet time for those who miss the pace of work or school; so Thinking Out Loud frequently ramps it up with extra weekend posts.You can be a part of doing something similar. Find a need that’s not being met. Find a group of people who need connection. Find a place where every sign says ‘closed.’ And then step up. Make a difference. Swim upstream. You can have a part in changing lives. Know somebody who could use some people contact today? Maybe that’s you. Get in touch. Reach out.  And watch for more here at TOL later today.

June 14, 2011

Choosing a Church in a Vacuum

Here’s how this works:  You have to write a comment based on the very limited information you have.  There are no prizes. 

  1. You are just married, no kids, and have moved to a rather small-ish town with very limited church choices within the type of church you’re familiar with; in fact, there is only real possibility according to the information you were given before you moved.
  2. You make contact with someone to get the address and time only to discover that this particular church has had some kind of split with half the congregation staying and half going to a new location.
  3. The person you’re talking with is very helpful and informative, but doesn’t attend either and really can’t offer you a thing as to why the church split and what the particular issues were.
  4. You have to choose between the two; picking something else or staying home isn’t an option in this particular scenario.

So which one do you choose and why?

There is actually a good reason to choose one over the other.  But it might be a different choice for different people.

I’ll be back on Thursday — after Wednesday’s Link List — with what my choice would be and why I would make it.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.