The Assemblies of God recently had their national general council that they have every two years. Normally it is not that exciting but this year they were voting to add a fourth reason for the church to exist. As it stands right now the three reasons that they had were worship, evangelism, and discipleship. There was a resolution that wanted to add compassion as the fourth reason for being. When I read through the resolutions I just assumed that this resolution would pass because it seems like an obvious good thing. When it actually got to the floor though it became a very contentious issue. Many did not want to add it because they said that evangelism usually involves some sort of compassion and then the other side said we are called to compassion even when there is not a evangelistic motivation. Anyway it was a huge fight and the resolution ended up being defeated and that sucked, especially for those of us that were watching on the internet and could not vote from home.The thing that makes is kind of applicable to your blog is what happened the next day though. I think that when the vote happened it came pretty close to passing so it was not like it was defeated by a huge margin. The next morning the web stream fired up and sitting in the seat where the general superintendent usually lead the meeting from was occupied by the Assistant General Superintendent which was weird. Then the [camera] shot went to the floor and the General Superintendent was standing there. He had spent the first couple days of the business session saying that he was trying to remain as impartial as possible but that he was so troubled that he was the leader of a denomination that had voted down compassion ministry. He said that even though it has already been voted down he had to say something so that his conscience would be clear. He went on to talk about why he thought the resolution was necessary. That did not change anything though because it had already been voted down.The general superintendent went on to say that if the resolution was to be reconsidered that someone who voted it down, someone who got there way yesterday, would have to move that discussion be brought back to the floor. There was this kind of awkward silence but eventually someone got up and said that they still didn't think that it should be adopted that they would move to bring discussion back to the floor. So the discussion came back to the floor and similar argument were made but when the vote happened again it passed by a pretty good margin.This reminded me of your blog because I think that not only is it important to know when a fight is not worth it, but it is important to be willing to lose a battle that you may have already won.
- "We Have Just Begun to Not Fight" - An Oral History of Conscientious Objectors in Public Service During World War II
- Heather T. Frazer and John O'Sullivan
Many were surprised to hear that Theodore B. Olson, a conservative luminary and President Bush’s solicitor general, filed a federal lawsuit to challenge California’s Proposition 8, the law banning same-sex marriage. Some on both sides of the debate have even questioned his motives.
For his part, Mr. Olson has expressed his hope that the lawsuit (in which he is partnering with David Boies) will lead to a ground-breaking Supreme Court decision — like Brown v. Board of Education or Roe v. Wade — legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.
Is this the right time to go to a conservative Supreme Court with such a controversial issue — one that even President Obama has shied away from?
Liberals no longer write path-breaking books because the most important paths have already been broken. Modern people do not need to know why liberty, or society, or rights, or peace, or even equality are good things; the cases for them have already been made, and even if they had not been, citizens of liberal democracy have grown quite used to living with them. (255)Because liberalism is at one and the same time procedural, temperamental, and substantive, it will always be open to challenge: it's commitment to proceduralism presupposes a clash of ideas; its temperamental openness welcomes dissents to its own ways of htinking; and its substantive ideals are intended to be partisan and therefore subject to debate. As much as liberals ought to want to see their ideas win over their opponents, they should not seek unconditional surrender. A world in which the only ideas were liberal ideas would not be a liberal world. (286)No contemporary liberal can look back on the eloquence of a Louis D. Brandeis, the more sensible reforms of the Progressive Era, the massive public works projects of the New Deal, the willingness to stand up first to Nazism and then to communism, and the accomplishments of the Great Society without feeling that it has all been downhill since. Put that record against high protective tariffs, Social Darwinism, rigid adherence to the gold standard, isolationism, McCarthyite witch hunts, and today's Christian right, and liberalism's record out to speak for itself. That a political outlook which has accomplished so much can lose elections so frequently to one that has accomplished so little is bound to be a source of constant frustration. (288)
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Admiring Your Strengths
I have a lot of weakness. If I’m really honest, you have a lot strengths. No, not ‘you’(my obviously-like-minded friends, allies and progressive/liberal/emerging blog compatriots) but YOU, the anonymous posters who find my relativism shocking, my impiety troubling, my language offensive, and my disillusion downright depressing. I don’t say that disparagingly.
And maybe you aren’t just anonymous. To be fair, you’re my friends (in some cases, my closest friends) – online friends like RickNiek and Joan, and flesh-and-blood friends like James and Brent. You care enough about the conversation to cry “foul” when I’m being unfair or reactionary… some of you care enough about ME to cry “bullsh*t” when I’m talking out of the wrong end of myself. Or when I at least sound like I am - when I’m being ungracious, inarticulate, and theologically/conversationally/spiritually lazy.
Adele and I are continuing to reflect on what it means to be transparent about our weaknesses. Part of that necessarily demands that we be honest about “your” strengths. The places where you may hold an upper hand in an argument. Or where we haven’t fully developed a cohesive or coherent argument or apologetic.
To reorient since the last post…
“…What I really want to do is to enter into dialogs where I can talk about the weakest part of my argument and you can talk about the weakest part of your argument. and I can accept and celebrate the strongest part of your arguments and visa-versa.”_
Having grown up in conservative Evangelical Christian environments, there is a lot I still admire, and much I still carry with me. These are not hard-and-fast rules – not every conservative or Evangelical Christian exhibits or even agrees with all of these observations. I don’t want to unfairly stereotype. But these are some STRENGTHS I want to acknowledge:
• …Are passionately and wholeheartedly committed to not only their personal faith, but to advocating for their faith in the real world in dynamic, articulate, intelligent and captivating ways.
• …Attempt to align their personal morality with that of biblical witness, and seek – whenever possible – to avoid ideological disagreements with biblical statements.
• …Tend to successfully avoid “slippery slope” arguments that identify or validate “cracks” in an Evangelical reading of Scripture.
• …Are incredibly successful at adapting their theological understandings to the language of contemporary critique and debate.
• …REALLY love Jesus!
Let me try to break those down a bit:
1. Conservative/Evangelical Christians are passionately and wholeheartedly committed to not only their personal faith, but to advocating for their faith in the real world in dynamic, articulate, intelligent and captivating ways.
One of the greatest failures of the Liberal Mainline Church has been its inability to differentiate itself from liberal secular culture at large. Evangelicals know how to tap into underlying human needs, fears and drives, and they recognize that many people want to know where they’re going, what their purpose is and what the established boundaries for safe/healthy/normal living are (I have mixed feelings about that, but it’s a powerful reality, and I don’t think it’s all good OR all bad). For the countless people who resonate with this, Liberal Christianity offers very little, while conservative Christianity offers hope, understanding and security.
2. Conservative/Evangelical Christians attempt to align their personal morality with that of biblical witness, and seek – whenever possible – to avoid ideological disagreements with biblical statements. They see, for example, Pauline directives (as in the Colossians Household Code) as still wholly applicable. “Wives, obey your husbands…” Even as women have entered the workplace and nearly every level of political leadership, Evangelicals attempt to be faithful to their reading of the original text’s intent. That perspective sees Biblical witness, not as exhibiting cultural quirks that should be recognized and superceded, but as timelessly applicable. “All Scripture is God-breathed…”
3. Conservative/Evangelical Christians tend to successfully avoid “slippery slope” arguments that identify or validate “cracks” in an Evangelical reading of Scripture. The Colossians Household Code, mentioned above, goes on to list expectations of propriety for slaves and slave masters. It does not challenge the institution of slavery, but rather seeks to gently insert a Christian ethos into that system. I have heard multiple pastors explain that New Testament slavery was not so insidious or violent as the kind of slavery Americans associate from our own sordid history. Rather, Biblical slavery was an almost-respectable, established economic system that actually provided opportunities for slaves to achieve social stature that might be otherwise unattainable outside of their servitude. While I find this argument historically untenable, it is clear that fissures begin to emerge in the foundation of the New Testament’s inerrant, objective, universal authority when contextualization is given too much play. That is not to say Evangelicals do not utilize contextualization (as I will mention in the next point) but that they are careful not to let “context” undermine Truth. In this specific instance, by reframing slavery, they can avoid dealing with the implications of the New Testament (apart from the OT, which has different associated expectations) validating an evil system of servitude and domination.
4. Conservative/Evangelical Christians are incredibly successful at adapting their theological understandings to the language of contemporary critique and debate.
Read anything by Lee Strobel or Josh McDowell and you’ll find highly articulate, well organized, and often inspirational apologetics for Evangelical Christian tenets. I won’t go into them. Read The Case For Christ. They effectively utilize all sorts of rhetorical devices, from Socratic debate to scientific methodology, to construct their arguments and demonstrate the logic of their theological assertions and Biblical interpretations. And frankly, I’m thankful for some of that. There is enough there to validate faith for the thinking person. Strobel demonstrates that a thoughtful, educated person can believe in the unbelievable. Like C.S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers before.
But I don’t agree with all of Strobel’s conclusions. And I don’t necessarily find his apologetic devices helpful for modeling ideal Christian attitudes and behaviors. In fact, I find the tone of trying to “prove” something particularly intimidating. The attitude behind it is in classic opposition to what Adele and I are trying to do here: find the other’s weaknesses, and exploit them, while emphasizing the strengths of my argument. I haven’t spent considerable time developing any sort of strong refutation to those arguments. I don’t really want to. But if I got up and debated anyone well-versed in the Strobel/McDowell/Kirk Cameron School of Theology, I’d get nailed. The only sorts of fitting arguments still rattling around in my head are theirs. They’re what I grew up with. And frankly, I still haven’t learned how to overcome many of them. At least, not without completing throwing out the Bible and Christian tradition. Which I don’t want to do. I want to be a thinking person who still believes the unbelievable.
5. Conservative/Evangelical Christians REALLY love Jesus. What else is there to say? I know a lot of really intelligent people, with really high-minded values, and very high regard for Jesus. They seek to live the way Jesus might, in this modern world. They think about the things Jesus would care about. They try to do what Jesus would do! But “love?” … “Let’s get back to Jesus’ teachings.”
What I never want to lose, no matter where my faith journey takes me, is an absolutely intimate, passionate love for Jesus Christ. Evangelicals understand this in absolutely personal, reality-altering ways. I’d like to think that I do, too.
THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH IS…
When it comes to theology and debate, the “absolute truth” is, as I have walked away from conservative evangelicalism and its certainties, I have not replaced my old theology with an “equal” (in my view) new theology. I realize, with this blog, that I am standing in the middle of this dusty ol’ town at high noon. There are six-shooters pointed at me and as I reach for my sidearm, I find nothing but an empty holster. “Damn. Threw it away on a whim of conviction. Now I’m unarmed, and I’ve been talking just as big and belligerent as ever…”
Ah, but I’ve been unfair again. Because you aren’t horse thieves or cattle rustlers. You’re the good guys, just like we’re the good guys. And those aren’t guns you’re gripping. They’re Bibles. And I seem to have set mine down…
Maybe, by being counterintuitive here, recognizing your strengths and acknowledging my weaknesses, we can move past the defensive, entrenching zones of hostility that keep us shooting at each other while everyone with any sense stays indoors and wonders when it’ll end. Would it be possible for us to help one-another construct stronger incarnations of our spiritual and religious visions?
I can’t really begin growing spiritually until I acknowledge that there are many, many Christians – even conservative Evangelical Christians – who have theological systems far more developed and refined than my own. In this process, I have to confess that the pushback and disagreements you offer, in friendship, fellowship, and yes, even in antagonism… in the flesh, and through the blogosphere… it is meaningful. Your words have weight/validity/intelligence and are worth my respectful consideration. There’s a powerful part of me that wants to deny all this. I want to invalidate your disagreements, pretend only a fool would contend for a position other than my own, and prove you wrong/ignorant/unformed/mistaken. But the truth is, I’m not intelligent or articulate enough to do that. And even if I was, I wouldn’t want to be.
Adele, thanks again for joining me on this journey!
If you can bear it, there are two scenes in the first 2 minutes. The second features me silently (awkwardly) watching slides of female anatomy. I feel so proud ;)
(Part II of: STARTING WITH OUR WEAKNESS)
CO-OPT BLOG POST PART 2
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ADMIRING YOUR STRENGTHS
As I have stated on numerous occasions: I do not know everything, and my weaknesses are abundant. To be truthful – and as hard as it is for me to admit – you have many strengths; strengths that I even admire. The YOU I refer to here are those people who are often my detractors: people with divergent viewpoints from my own, whether theologically, politically, and/or philosophically; people who find me to be a heretic, reprobate, and on my way to hell; people who are anonymous or leave fake email addresses; people who basically like to argue for argument’s sake.
You all challenge me in my arrogance, pride, bullshit, ungraciousness, and anger. Sometimes I am wrong and you call me out on it. Sometimes I am not wrong, but you still brave the waters to express your disagreement. I admire that.
Peter and I are, 'continuing to reflect on what it means to be transparent about our weaknesses. Part of that necessarily demands that we be honest about “your” strengths: those places where you may hold the upper hand in an argument. Or where we haven’t fully developed a cohesive or coherent argument, or apologetic.'
To reorient since the last post…
* * *
Peter Rollins said:
“…What I really want to do is to enter into dialogs where I can talk about the weakest part of my argument and you can talk about the weakest part of your argument. and I can accept and celebrate the strongest part of your arguments and visa-versa.”
* * *
We’re inspired to celebrate the strongest part of your arguments. Here’s why that’s both natural and difficult for me to do: I became a conservative Evangelical, charismatic, non-denominational Christian during my sophomore year of college in January, 1989. I was on fire for the Lord where I went to church 2 to 3 times a week, joined Bible studies, volunteered in the youth group, witnessed by going door to door and handing out tracts, attended prayer meetings, et al. Inspirational preachers visited our church where we had healing services following the preaching. We often hosted big praise and worship services and contemporary Christian concert events. Each of these always had an altar call at the end. Even though I got brutally burned, which left a bad taste in my mouth and a lot of disdain I’m still working through, I am beginning to recognize there is much that I can learn and admire from my early Christian roots. I do not like to be boxed in, so I need to remember not to box YOU in! I am aware that not all Evangelical or conservative Christians manifest or concur with the following observations I make, but for those who do, here are some STRENGTHS I observe and admire:
EVANGELICAL/CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS are. . .
* Committed to G-D with heartfelt passion
* Care about and are concerned for the well being of others
* Are very serious about Truth and scriptures
* Attempt to live moral lives
Here is my attempt to flesh these out more:
1. Evangelical/Conservative Christians are “sold out” for G-D and living a life expressing that personally and publicly. They are not ashamed of who they are or what they believe.
I see a weakness in the Liberal Mainline Church of not being outward in their expressions of faith. For many it, is public by going to church on Sunday, but then the rest of their faith remains private. For those on the Evangelical/Conservative side this is a puzzling thing for them to grasp. For them, to compartmentalize is foreign and even un-Christian. With a desire to respect all people and honor differing religions, liberal Christians avoid “proclaiming” too loudly… but that translates into lacking the enthusiasm conservatives have in spades.
2. Evangelical/Conservative Christians are genuinely concerned with what happens to others. They care about their needs, physically, emotionally and spiritually. They pray for others, often spending great lengths in intercessory prayer for people and nations.
3. Evangelical/Conservative Christians take the Bible very seriously, and work very hard to see how it applies to their lives. They seek out Truth and G-D's will in their lives, and desire to please and obey G-D. They spend staggering amounts of time seeking G-D through the Holy Spirit, praying to discern how best to live according to the Bible.
4. Evangelical/Conservative Christians attempt to live upright, moral lives in order to obey and be pleasing to G-D. They want to do right. They want to avoid wrong. They are tireless advocates for upright living, and are often great examples.
As G-D-loving human beings, we have a lot more in common than many of us remember or care sometimes to admit. Though sometimes disappointing and painful, I’m beginning to be thankful for my Evangelical background and the things it taught me about G-D. I’m thankful for the opportunity to reflect on the ways faith can connect and enrich our divergent, complicated lives. At times, we may not agree on very much, but I hope we can always find areas of common ground, and admire common beauty. Divergent viewpoints paired with love and respect are what make this world a beautiful place to live in, and I think make G-D smile.
a big believer in wise Latinas...
i do not have a problem with people smoking marijuana. They are much nicer being stoned than many belligerent alcohol induced drunkards! To some, i am already a heretic for being queer and calling myself a Christian. So, why not add fuel to the fire, eh?! If i am already on my way to hell, i figure anything else must be icing on the cake!
"...Scientists say it could be years, if ever, before the collider runs at full strength, stretching out the time it should take to achieve the collider’s main goals, like producing a particle known as the Higgs boson thought to be responsible for imbuing other elementary particles with mass, or identifying the dark matter that astronomers say makes up 25 percent of the cosmos. The energy shortfall could also limit the collider’s ability to test more exotic ideas, like the existence of extra dimensions beyond the three of space and one of time that characterize life.
“The fact is, it’s likely to take a while to get the results we really want,” said Lisa Randall, a Harvard physicist who is an architect of the extra-dimension theory. The collider was built to accelerate protons to energies of seven trillion electron volts and smash them together in search of particles and forces that reigned earlier than the first trillionth of a second of time, but the machine could run as low as four trillion electron volts for its first year. Upgrades would come a year or two later. Physicists on both sides of the Atlantic say they are confident that the European machine will produce groundbreaking science — eventually — and quickly catch up to an American rival, even at the lower energy. All big accelerators have gone through painful beginnings.
“These are baby problems,” said Peter Limon, a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., who helped build the collider."
- "A fad..."
- "A bunch of Gen-X hipsters..."
- "A precursor to the MISSIONAL movement..."
- "A precursor to the neo-Reformed movement..."
- "An effeminate structural caricature designed to make Mark Driscoll look tough..."
- "A hiccup in the throat of late Evangelicalism..."
- "Gas in the bowels of late Mainline Liberalism..."
- "A brief correction to Modernity's metanarrative..."
- "Trendy heresy..."
- "A party that's 'already dead'..."
- "A good idea that never deserved twelve volumes..."
- "SO over."
Since I'm in NO position to judge anyone for being self-indulgent, here it is!
- A ‘pure’ reproduction of “God’s words” - That is, the writers were not transcribers. Our understanding of God’s Words in the bible are absolutely different than an Islamic understanding of Allah’s words in the Quran.
- A list of propositional truths about God’s actions or nature – There are two ways I mean this. A) I do not support the “univocity” of God’s “being” and our “being.” And so, even if we took a certain statement from Scripture concerning God to be “true”, it is to us only analagous to what God is in his essence. B) ‘A “proof-text” does not a proposition make’
- Inspired in the same way throughout the whole – Ad hoc pastoral direction in pseudo-pauline letters are not as authoritative as sustained theological reflection in, say, Romans or the Gospel of St. John
- A single massive book – It is a collection of books which where shaped canonically and which underwent a canonical history (btw, I happen to think theHebrew Bible order makes the most sense theologically)
- In any way shape or form; Inerrant OR Infallable – The two are, after all, exactly the same thing. One for the ballsy fundamentalist, the other for the conservative Evangelical who wants to read the scholars. *more comments on this below*
- Authoritative – WHAT!? That is to say, the book, lying on a coffee table, does not in itself have authority. God exerts his authority through Scripture upon the reading community. The unread text has no authority.
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