Thinking Out Loud

May 7, 2015

Thursday Link List

Monday night we went to see Do You Believe? but it’s so late into the theatrical run, that I decided to hold comments until the week the DVD releases. For now, suffice it to say I think that in many ways it improves on God’s Not Dead which is by, I think, the same producers.

So there was no blog post scheduled for today, and rather than a re-run, I thought we’d just do what we do best, with some material that didn’t make it in time for yesterday.  But first, a random page from The Brick Bible:

Brick Bible

Amy Julia Becker at the Washington Post on the National Day of Prayer:

But if Christians want a National Day of Prayer that invites people from various faith traditions to join together in what we hold in common — a belief in a good, active, creator God — and implore that God to work through us and in us for the good of our nation and our world, then we need to do so in a way that creates common ground rather than reinforcing the theological points that divide us.

Thom Rainer’s list of 10 Things Never to Say to a Guest at a Worship Service:

“That’s not the way we do it here.”Of course, you can’t have a worship service where any behavior is acceptable. Most of the time, however, the varieties of worship expressions are absolutely fine. I heard from a lay leader recently who witnessed that sentence spoken to a guest who raised her hand during the worship music. She never returned.

Pete Wilson’s 4th book launched Tuesday, What Keeps You Up at Night?

It’s easy to feel paralyzed by uncertainty.  We want our questions answered, our decisions affirmed, and our plans applauded.  But life doesn’t come with an instruction manual and rarely follows a straight path. How would your life change if you learned to lean into uncertainty instead of waiting on the sidelines for just the right moment or opportunity?

For an international body concerned with religious freedom, Russia is now on their watch list.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reports Russia is now a country to watch. The USCIRF issued their report April 30. According to the 232-page document, there are 17 nations listed at Tier 1 abusers of religious freedom. There are 10 on the Tier 2 list, including Russia. Mission Eurasia Director of Religious Freedom Issues, Wade Kusack, says Russia being on the list is a big deal. “This is a first official announcement, or recognition, of the persecution from the U.S. government’s side.”

Purposeful Parenting: 5 ways to avoid raising ‘It’s all about me’ children.

A recent study on the origins of narcissism in children concluded, “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.” The abstract of the study further explains, “children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them.” Unfortunately, the “you are so special, so smart, so beautiful, so talented, so gifted—you can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be—mantra” is often believed, and our children suffer because of it.

“I’m into Jesus, but not all the technical, big-words stuff.” Sorry, but in many circles,doctrine really matters.

Indifference about doctrine is the mother of every heresy in all of history, and in our day indifference about doctrine is spreading like wildfire in the pulpits and pews of our churches. Ironically, the assertion that doctrine doesn’t matter is in fact a doctrine in itself. When people tell me they are into Jesus but not into doctrine, I tell them that if they are not into doctrine, they are, in fact, not into Jesus. We cannot know Jesus without knowing doctrine, and we cannot love God without knowing God, and the way we know God is by studying His Word.

 

 

Songs with substance
If you check the right hand margin over at Christianity 201, you’ll see that all of the various music resources that have appeared there are listed and linked alphabetically. Take a moment to discover — or re-discover — some worship songs and modern hymns from different genres.

 

 

 

April 11, 2012

Wednesday Link List

WLL #99, but who’s counting?  Besides they existed before the name became uniform each week. 

  • Fine artist Thomas Kinkade died over the Easter weekend. He chose to highly commercialize his art rather than sell in galleries; and after becoming a Christian many of his works were faith-focused.
  • Many local churches are discovering how to do what we call The Lord’s Supper or Communion in something closer to its original context as a meal. Alan Knox shares how that happened in combination with an Easter Sunday gathering.
  • You may have seen the Google predictive search results for phrases beginning with “Christians are…”  Matt Stone tries Google searching the same phrase substituting other religions.
  • An Ontario school board wants to ban the distribution of Bibles, and now board members are receiving threats which are not coming from the Gideons.
  • The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) ran a report on Easter Sunday on how technology is impacting various world religions. Bobby Gruenewald of livechurch.tv was interviewed, and there was a brief shot of Craig Groeschel, but otherwise, Christian representation was limited to file footage of Billy Graham et al.
  • The American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) wandered down the same road on the same day with an interview with Rick Warren, who hasn’t done much media lately.  Don’t miss the part on page five of the transcript where he affirms that dogs and cats go to heaven. Yes, he said that. (Video not available outside the U.S.)
  • And speaking of heaven, Time Magazine revisits the concept four years later.  Here’s a link to their coverage then and now; the ’08 article is available in full, the current article will cost ya.
  • The Russian Orthodox Church went to a lot of trouble to airbrush a photo showing Patriarch Kirill I wearing a $30,000 wristwatch, but while they got they watch removed, they missed its reflection in a highly polished table.
  • Peter Rollins publicly denies the resurrection. But before you quote me on that, better watch the video.
  • Yesterday at C201 we tapped into a series from Mike Breen’s blog wherein a British pastor reflects on the differences between the church in North America and the church in England.
  • A graduate student in theology and support staff worker at Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspective Ministries gives a short Christian response to The Hunger Games franchise.
  • Rachel Held Evans spoofed her own Sunday Superlatives — the equivalent to this Wednesday Link List — on what happened to be April 1st. Too bad; some of the articles looked promising.
  • Blogger John Shore participated in a “Burning of Resentments” ceremony on Easter Sunday. Apparently in 2013 this is going to take place across religious lines in San Diego County.
  • What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him is a new collection of essays from author Byron Forrest Yawn. Check out the book trailer.
  • The character in this Motts for Tots packaging looks really familiar, but shouldn't that be tomato juice instead of apple juice?

    Jefferson Bethke, aka the “I hate religion but I love Jesus” guy, is interviewed by Trevin Wax on the topic of Student Ministry.
  • The old church annual report is never the same once it goes digital.  Here’s an analysis of the one from Elevation Church (Steven Furtick) which includes video links, infographics and humor.
  • Want to take your church service online?  Check out Church Online Platform and also 316 Networks.
  • It’s been ten months now, and this post about regulations at Perry Noble’s church still draws a lot of comments from both sides.
  • The Worship Song links in the sidebar at Christianity 201 have finally been updated, and the blogroll here is in the middle of some serious editing. Only blogs with posts within the last 30 days are listed, though some do return after disappearing.
  • Christianity Today now requires a subscription in order to read selected articles online. If you find a link here to what is now paid article, let me know and it will be deleted.

February 17, 2011

Musings on Muslims

I found it interesting that the following items arrived within a few hours of each other.

First, a friend sent me this link to veteran Christian composer, musician and author John Fischer’s blog Catch, just after the link list was already out.  He’s a great writer, who I encourage you to read regularly, but knowing the click-ratio, I’m taking the liberty of posting this so it will get read:

This morning I had the opportunity of hearing Dave Robinson speak at a Women of Vision Orange County Partnership Breakfast. Dave is the Senior Advisor for Operations for World Vision International. He has also lived most of his life as a Christian amongst Muslim people, and this is what I have to say about that: Why don’t we let this man inform our thinking and our activity towards Muslim people in this country and around the world instead of listening to a man who has lived in suburban America all his life and whose only claim to understanding Muslims is the fact that he is a popular radio talk show host? Why were 75 people listening to what the qualified man said and hundreds of thousands listening to the other? Why is fear more popular than reason?

Among a number of stories Mr. Anderson imparted was this one. In the wake of initial U.S. successes in Iraq, a moderate Muslim man said to Dave, “America is great.” To which he responded, “No. God is great,” which is actually a very common Muslim phrase of worship not unlike our Christian, “Praise the Lord.”

“Are you Muslim?” asked the man excitedly when he heard that.

After some thought, Dave replied, “I am a student of Jesus Christ.”

Notice he didn’t say, “I am a Christian,” which would have put him at odds with the Muslim man. Actually, Muslims are students of Jesus Christ too.

“Initiate open ended conversations that will eventually lead to Jesus,” Anderson said over and over. “Seek common ground even though the core of the message is missing.”

How often do we do that?

Last September, we had as global crisis on our hands because a pastor in Florida wanted to burn a copy of the Koran in retaliation for the memory of 9/11/2001.  Anderson said that had he succeeded, it would have ended World Vision’s presence in any and all Muslim countries of the world.

Seek common ground. Initiate open-ended conversations that will eventually lead to Jesus. Not a bad way to operate with everyone. Cast aside fear and get smart.

John Fischer (italics added)

Then, I received this report from my son about the Campus Church meeting they had on Sunday night at his university:

…Campus Church and the Muslim Student Association are having a joint event called “The Life of Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him)” where representatives from Islam and Christianity are going to present their views of who Jesus Christ was and what he did on Earth 2000 years ago.

In preparation, Campus Church invited a Muslim cleric to come to a Christian worship service to speak about Islam.

After a time of singing, the imam …. was introduced.  He spoke for 20 minutes and took questions for 20 minutes.  [He] claimed to be an expert on Christianity among Muslims, but he said Mary (Jesus’ mother) was a member of the Trinity, and he thought Jehovah’s Witnesses are Christians.  He told us that the Bible is useless because it’s become corrupted by Hindu stories and theology.  He said that the words of Allah are meant to be obeyed and not studied, and that Bible studies amount to “pooling our ignorance.”

He left in a hurry after taking questions, during which he told us that Hell is a second test-life that, given indefinite time, we’re guaranteed to eventually pass and reach paradise.  Paradise consists of lots of good food and rivers of alcohol-free wine. (He didn’t say anything about 72 virgins.)

After [he] left, we held a debrief.  …[A] Campus Church member polled the audience and found that there was a mix of anger, resentment and compassion, because [the guest speaker] was disrespectful, but he sounded like he really did want to serve God, although he was seriously mislead as to how this should be done.

After this, [the guest] came back in and was re-introduced, but this time we learned his real name … he’s a Christian minister who goes around teaching Christians how to minister to Muslims.  He has spent years ministering to Muslims and Hindus and studying their arguments against Christianity (including their misconceptions about us).

…To communicate Christ to the Muslims in attendance, we need to be loving and compassionate towards them.  We also have been told to be quick on the Scripture quotes and know our stuff, but not to be argumentative.  The temptation to argue out of pride, just because we like to be right, is hostile to this event. [He] said that for every hour we spend studying the Qu’ran, we should spent four hours in God’s Word (which basically means nobody should try to read it through by Wednesday.)

BTW, here’s how the event went:

Tonight was the Muslim/Christian discussion about Jesus.  [The speaker from Sunday night] was our representative.  The representative for Islam …was introduced with an impressive resume of titles.  There was no violence, interruptions or raised voices…

…The details of Muslim judgment day make it difficult for them to understand the sacrifice of Jesus.  They believe that everyone has an angel dedicated to recording all their actions, words and intentions.  They don’t know until after judgment day whether or not they’re good enough to get into heaven.

The Muslims I spoke to were very respectful, and they were particularly respectful in that they anticipated us being equally respectful.

I don’t think their notions of holiness, justice and sin fit together.

And so the dialog continues.

Right now North American Evangelical churches see the “current issue” as the “gay issue.”  But we need to somehow get past this and move the “Muslim issue” —  our knowledge and understanding of their faith and how they perceive us and how they regard Jesus — off the back burner and more front and center in our church life.

The topic for this blog post is inter-faith dialog.  Please keep comments limited to that subject.


January 8, 2011

Should Churches Rent Space to Other Faith Groups?

Martin left a comment at the end of Wednesday’s Link List this week that I promised myself I would spin off into a separate discussion, so that any of you who wished could join the thread. First, here’s what I wrote; it’s the first of the two links that matter, but for those of you who read this from Canada and will get the context, I’ve left the second link in as well:

  • While some “Christian” pastors — one anyway — want to burn the Qu’ran, Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tennessee has “a more welcoming approach.” ” Steve Stone and his congregants put out a sign welcoming incoming neighbors at the Memphis Islamic Center. The church then allowed these Muslim neighbors to use their sanctuary as a makeshift mosque throughout Ramadan while the Islamic Center was under construction.”  Read more at Christianity Today.
  • As strange as that story may be, it’s also the basis for a Canadian situation comedy now in its 5th season.  The new season of Little Mosque on the Prairie kicked off on Monday night with an episode that makes the Imam look a lot more appealing — i.e. “nicer” — than the Anglican minister who is renting the Islamic congregation its space.   Watch past episodes at CBC-TV.

A day later, this was Martin’s comment:

Brilliant…a pastor turns a Christian church into a place that allows a 1400 year old cult to practice their blasphemous faith. What would Jesus do? Would that same church lovingly open its arms to a Wiccan ritual service in their basement? Think not!

It doesn’t matter how many practice this cult or how accepted it is (by forced ‘tolerance’ imposed by daftly ignorant political proponents), the Muslim faith is anti-semetic, anti-christian and encourages shari’a law that oppresses its women.

Why not open your church to the needy, the unfortunate, the mother and child with no place to stay…a few cots and a shower stall. But open doors to a cult that believes Christianity’s Christ was too good to die for our sins? … That believes that it’s okay to ‘Slay them (Christians, Jews) where you find them’ (or tax the living crap out of them if they don’t convert)… That believes the only way to know the Q’uran’s truth is to learn Arabic – ancient Arabic?

Yeah, sure…c’mon in…it’s stupid in here.

Waiter, I’ll take my reality-cheque now.

The first thing I need to do here obviously is insert a disclaimer.  The views expressed in the comment above and those that follow are those of the writers. There are variances among followers of the Islamic faith just as there are variances among the practices of various Christian denominations. I’m not looking for comments here as to the essence of Muslim doctrine and ethics.

I am simply looking for further responses to Martin’s comment.

The CT article seemed to put a positive spin on this — certainly justified in light of the other option I mention in the link list — but the CT comments are not as kind:

  • Muslims believe Jesus was just a prophet and that he married and moved to Asia where he died. He was not resurrected, he definitely is not the Son of God. So, when they enter a sanctuary and worship there it means to other Muslims that they have conquered for Islam the territory they have moved into and which is owed to Muslims by God. Burning a Koran or a Bible doesn’t match burning to death non Muslims in their worship space and their homes in Muslim minds… (Anna)
  • Evangelize them, debates them, pray for them, love them, and demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit, but please do not allow them to worship in your Sanctuary or use any of your grounds. I suggest to those who think this is okay to research how Islamic Law implements property rights… (former Muslim student)
  • …That besides however, I must say that lending them facilities, buildings or whatever else have you that were built by the sometimes hard earned money and resources of Christians now gone. It’s an absolute NO NO! It will create confusion among new and young believers and among our children. I believe 1st Cor. 10:21; Eph. 5:6,7; 1st Pet. 4:4; 2nd Jn. 1:10,11 correctly applies here among others… (Salero)
  • I’ve been involved with reaching out to Muslims the last 20 years. Offering a church facility to be used for the purposes of a Mosque is not a good idea. There is an entire spiritual element that is present and proclaimed that is unbiblical. Just read Galatians 1:6-9 to begin to pick up on the spiritual implications. It is far better to be Biblical than try to demonstrate some form of religious correctness… (Mark)
  • …I see no reason why a church should not use its building as a means to help a group of Muslims, especially if part of their purpose is to demonstrate Christ’s love with a view to possible evangelism.  [and then, just 20 minutes later] …We certainly don’t wish to further the cause of a false religion, and allowing them to worship in our facility may do just that. On the other hand, a building is just a building, and those who compare it to a temple or a sacred site seem to be confusing Old and New Testament places of worship… (Galen)
  • While I could understand the good neighborliness of offering space for non-worship activities, I think the author has missed the point of view of many strict Muslims. Once worship of Allah has taken place in a venue, it has been “sanctified” by that, and reverting to Christian worship (which Muslims see as heretical, since Christians are seen by them as among those who have “gone astray”) would be problematic for Muslims… (Phyllis)
  • 2 Corinthians 6:16 states “… what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” Yes, personally we are to show love to all, no matter what their beliefs. But to facilitate the false worship of Islam in a Christian church is totally different and has nothing to do with Christian love… (John)
  • Christ drove the money changers from the temple for misusing that sacred space. An Islamic worship service is a similar misuse of a sacred space. Our attempts to be Christ-like should be rooted in scripture and truth, not vague impressions about what we think Christ would do.  (D.S.)
  • So, Pastor Stone, you’re saying that in your mind Jesus would find it acceptable for the Golden Calf that the Israelites were worshiping to be bought into your church and worshiped again? I agree with the struggle to figure out how to best love the Muslims of the world. But sanctioning false worship and idolatry is not the way to go about it. In our rush to love we go to extremes. It does not have to be Stone’s method or the Burn the Koran method. We should find the balance in between where we can love but still hold fast to Truth.  (Michael)

Looks like Martin held the majority view.  These are just a few of the comments left at CT and it may well be you choose to add yours using the link at the very top of this post.

And what about other faith groups?  Are there some groups whose presence you would consider acceptable?

July 3, 2010

When Scripture Becomes Conversation

Filed under: apologetics, cults — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:13 am

About ten days ago I walked in a conversation one of my staff members was having with a member of the LDS or Mormon church.   We were quite busy and so I started dealing with her, leaving my staff member to deal with other customers.

She was hoping to find some LDS material from their in-house printing company, Deseret Publishing, and I gently explained why it is that you don’t see those materials in a Christian bookstore.

But once I’d drawn a few lines in the sand, she was comfortable staying as I was comfortable continuing the conversation.

The thing that impressed me was how — without citing chapter or verse — the scriptures of her faith flowed out of her conversationally.   I could tell when she quoting something versus when it was just her talking, though she didn’t make a big deal out of it.   Of course, I don’t know if she was quoting Doctrine and Covenants, or Pearl of Great Price, or The Book of Mormon; while conversely, she was impressed that I could name those books off the top of my head.

I don’t know how many quotations our conversation contained.   I was able to spot two or three but there may have been more.    It was natural, effortless.   Biblical quotations flow from me just as easily — either quoted or instantly paraphrased — though I wasn’t trying to match her line for line, as it wasn’t that type of discussion.  But maybe that’s why I recognized what was going on at her end.

She remained convinced that I would be won over if I would simply sit down and read The Book of Mormon, though she failed several times to truly hear me when I said that I do, in fact, actually own one and have read large sections of it.

I’m reminded again of two quotations:

Of all the major religions in the world, Christians are least acquainted with their own scriptures.

And this one:

A faith community that does not impart its sacred writings to its young people is one generation away from extinction.

Sorry, I don’t have the sources on those at hand.  But obviously, either my LDS friend, or whoever has been mentoring her, gets it.

September 11, 2009

Starting a Town Laiterial

Like most North American jurisdictions, we have a ministerial association where the various rectors, priests, ministers, pastors (and rabbis if we had any), etc. meet monthly to “talk shop.”   These groups often include chaplains from local seniors’ homes, hospitals or jails, as well as full-time youth workers with parachurch organizations.

The local shoe stores may be in competition, but by virtue of this monthly meeting, the churches can honestly say they are working together on various community initiatives.    The various clergy may not agree on every matter of faith and doctrine, but these religious professionals have, at the very least, a context in which to dialog with other men and women who have chosen the same vocation.

But they are, at the end of the day, restricted to the professionals, and there are a great deal of initiatives that never get brought forward for discussion, and a whole host of other ideas that never get presented because, despite the stereotypical idea that these people only work on Sunday, they are actually quite pressed for time.

Which is why I think our ministerial should be complemented by a laiterial.   That’s right, a laiterial.    Didn’t expect my spell-checker to be too happy with that one.   Why not something where one member of the laity in each congregation meets with representatives from other assemblies and places of worship for the purpose of seeing if more can be accomplished by working together?

This means not just a loose collection of people meeting in an “inter-faith” context, but actual selected delegates, representing each faith group with a purpose and agenda.  People who know what it means to get something accomplished. People who recognize that their various pastors and ministers have an entirely different set of priorities when they meet each month, and want to produce something in conjunction with them that may take great amounts of time and effort.

People from different places of worship can work together in ways that clergy simply cannot.    It’s the potential of cooperation on a much more grassroots level.   It’s about interacting with people who attend the church across town.   It’s about being in conversation with people whose believes are often extremely divergent.   For the Christian, it’s a context yielding to a different definition of what it means to be salt and light.

The type of thing these meetings can produce is going to be  of a very general nature in terms of inherent spirituality.   But it can show that religion — any religion — is more than just doctrine.   It’s doctrine plus ethics.   Orthodoxy plus orthopraxy.   Talk plus action.

Laiterial.   It’s not in the dictionary.  Not yet.

Coming monthly to a restaurant meeting room or church basement near you.

The word “laiterial” is the exclusive intellectual property of Paul Wilkinson and Thinking Out Loud unless of course, you actually make public use of the term, in which case I’d be too flattered to object.

Blog at WordPress.com.