Religion

God is Silent and Nearby

Nah ist und schwer zu fassen, der Gott
Near, and yet difficult to grasp, is God
    –German poet Friedrich Holderlinlauren

 

You could dedicate your whole life to finding, knowing, loving, and sharing God with others, yet deep down inside still have days or years when He seems awfully absent. You know in your head that God is near, but it doesn’t feel like He is, and it doesn’t seem like He is. Author and professor Lauren Winner has dedicated her entire life to serving and knowing God, teaching religion at Duke University and serving as priest at a local church. And yet she says,

“I have never, not once, felt anything at the Eucharist. Not a thing. I have never felt stirred, or joyful, or peaceful, or sad. I have never felt closeness.”

Near, and yet difficult to grasp, is God.

What Does Rob Bell’s Love Wins Reveal About Evangelicals?

Amidst all of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell and his book Love Wins, one thing has given me pause above everything else, and it involves the reactions from the Evangelical Christian world.

The release of this book is a good thing for Evangelicals, and here’s why:

Thousands of us are having our faith held under a light and exposed for what it is:

Fear.

It has become apparent that what has been masking as faith, as Christianity, for some of us for a very long time, is revealing itself in Twitter updates and Facebook links for what it really is:

We’re actually quite a frightened group.

Our theological systems, constructed over the years with bricks of books from authors we agree with, is being tampered with; holes are being poked in our houses of theology; a strange wind is blowing in and we don’t know what to do, and so we react in the only way we know how: attack. Make fun. Look to friends who are saying the same thing for affirmation.

“Defend” God and the Bible.

Who is this weak God needing defenders?

Amidst all the Scripture that comes to mind throughout this ordeal, one has continued to press upon me.

The setting: a few men were preaching about God in a new way, and this angered the religious gatekeepers of the day, the ones who defined Orthodox theology. So much, in fact, that they wanted them killed (they’re preaching heresy, afterall!)

And then something amazing happened.

One of the religious teachers, a man named Gamaliel, stood up to reason with his Orthodox clan. He did not point to the Scriptures in this instance; he did not cite Bible verses to back up his argument. He did not try to defend God. He simply said this: Brothers, before you continue in your tirade against these new teachers, carefully consider this:

“Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing.  After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you might even find yourselves fighting against God.”

This is calming wisdom.

Not, “These are heretics!” (Though they may be)

Not, “These people are misinterpreting the Bible!” (Though they may be)

Simply this: Leave them alone. If this is not of God, it will pass away soon enough. But if by chance it is of God, your efforts are in vain. In fact, you may soon find that you could even be fighting against God.

Are there religious gatekeepers–that group that defines what Orthodoxy is–in our day?

American Patriot's Bible, Greg Boyd, Perspective

Patriot's Bible

Greg Boyd reviewed The Patriot’s Bible at Christianity Today’s blog Out of Ur.

These days what’s been on my mind is how people’s perspective shapes their thoughts, which shapes what they produce, like blog posts or sermons.  Greg Boyd is going to say certain things about The Patriot’s Bible (if you haven’t guessed, he detests it) based on his own perspective — unfortunately this isn’t as obvious to some — and therefore his sermons/blogs/conversations are going to have a certain bent to them.

It seems to me that we’re all looking for the one right answer to an issue, as if every issue in life were either this or that, black or white, and so when we read a review on one of many Bibles available, we’re looking to give it our stamp of approval or our stamp of heretical.greg boyd

These days what I think of when I read blogs or hear sermons is not, “Is this true or not true,” but “Why has this person come to this conclusion on this text when others have come to completely different conclusions?  What’s at the bottom of this person’s view of the world?”

And most of the time it clears things right up.  Of course Mark Driscoll is going to say that about women in ministry – look at who he reads and the people he associates most closely with.  Of course Hugh Heffner is going to have that opinion about nudity – look at how he’s spent the past 50 years of his life.  Of course Greg Boyd is going to have that perspective on The Patriot’s Bible – listen to his sermons or read his books.

It all goes down to your fundamental views on how life works.

I know this doesn’t solve the issue, and I’m not advocating not debating or blogging about issues, I’m simply saying if we take a few steps back we might save ourselves a lot of energy by first taking a look at everybody’s starting point.

American Patriot’s Bible, Greg Boyd, Perspective

Patriot's Bible

Greg Boyd reviewed The Patriot’s Bible at Christianity Today’s blog Out of Ur.

These days what’s been on my mind is how people’s perspective shapes their thoughts, which shapes what they produce, like blog posts or sermons.  Greg Boyd is going to say certain things about The Patriot’s Bible (if you haven’t guessed, he detests it) based on his own perspective — unfortunately this isn’t as obvious to some — and therefore his sermons/blogs/conversations are going to have a certain bent to them.

It seems to me that we’re all looking for the one right answer to an issue, as if every issue in life were either this or that, black or white, and so when we read a review on one of many Bibles available, we’re looking to give it our stamp of approval or our stamp of heretical.greg boyd

These days what I think of when I read blogs or hear sermons is not, “Is this true or not true,” but “Why has this person come to this conclusion on this text when others have come to completely different conclusions?  What’s at the bottom of this person’s view of the world?”

And most of the time it clears things right up.  Of course Mark Driscoll is going to say that about women in ministry – look at who he reads and the people he associates most closely with.  Of course Hugh Heffner is going to have that opinion about nudity – look at how he’s spent the past 50 years of his life.  Of course Greg Boyd is going to have that perspective on The Patriot’s Bible – listen to his sermons or read his books.

It all goes down to your fundamental views on how life works.

I know this doesn’t solve the issue, and I’m not advocating not debating or blogging about issues, I’m simply saying if we take a few steps back we might save ourselves a lot of energy by first taking a look at everybody’s starting point.

Saved But Not Whole

“What happens when it all becomes about some other life is we end up being very fractured, broken people. I began to discover that you could be a Christian in a nice Christian church and be saved and be singing all the right songs and actually be miserable. And to have anger and rage and people you haven’t forgiven. I discovered it’s possible to be a super-Christian and yet salvation hadn’t even begun to (be) a part of your life. It’s possible to lead a church and to be like a shell of a person. I want to be the kind of person who’s pursuing wholeness and allowing every single area of my life to let the light get shone in, and let God make peace where there wasn’t (peace) before.”  –Rob Bell

“Though today some Christians believe that Jesus came to enable us to escape this creation and live eternally in an otherworldly and heavenly dwelling, such an understanding of salvation would have been entirely foreign to Old Testament prophets, to first-century Jews — and to Jesus himself.  Salvation is not an escape from creational life into “spiritual” existence: it is the restoration of God’s rule over all of creation and all of human life.  Neither is salvation merely the restoration of a personal relationship with God, important as that is.  Salvation goes further: it is the restoration of the whole life of humankind and ultimately of the nonhuman creation as well.  This is the scope of biblical salvation.” —The Drama of Scripture

‘Basic Instinct’ Author Has Damascus Road Experience

After a lifetime of wild living…

“He felt an overwhelming peace. His heart stopped pounding. His hands stopped twitching. He saw a ‘shimmering, dazzling, nearly blinding brightness that made me cover my eyes with my hands.'”
–Joe Eszterhas, author, Basic Instinct and new spiritual memoir Crossbearer

Toledo Blade Article: ‘Basic Instinct’ author writes book about faith

'Basic Instinct' Author Has Damascus Road Experience

After a lifetime of wild living…

“He felt an overwhelming peace. His heart stopped pounding. His hands stopped twitching. He saw a ‘shimmering, dazzling, nearly blinding brightness that made me cover my eyes with my hands.'”
–Joe Eszterhas, author, Basic Instinct and new spiritual memoir Crossbearer

Toledo Blade Article: ‘Basic Instinct’ author writes book about faith