Archive | September, 2011

If We are Not Meant to Be Alone Then Why Do We Promote It?

(Lisa Robinson)

This post is really not about singleness.  Although, by way of getting to something that has me increasingly troubled, I will use singleness as the spring to launch into what I believe is the root of a problem, particularly in American evangelical Christianity.  In contending with my own issues related to singleness, I note this as an objective observation, which actually prompted my thoughts on this matter along with other things related to ecclesiology that have come across my radar.

The single person who longs to be married, is generally told to be content in their present circumstance.  That single person should not express too much their desires for a partnership otherwise it gets labelled as idolatrous.  So the burden on their heart to be loved, accepted, to belong to a union with another is supressed lest the desire turn into an idol.  Now, I am not saying that we should not learn contentment for there is biblical support to do so, such as Paul says in Philippians 4:13 that he has learned to be filled (content) in whatever circumstance he is in.  Although I would contend that the contentment in this case based on his argument is more related to material comfort.  There is also the idea that we must endure hardship.  That doesn’t mean we are not impacted by it, but in consideration of our life not being our own, we consider the prize more worthy than our loss or pain.

Nonetheless, I have noticed the extent to which we celebrate love when it does happen.  From the time that special person is realized, each successive step in the relationship is met with announcement and fanfare.  The no longer single person can rave about their significant other.  They can publicize how wonderful it is and begin including their significant other in with every conversation.  The engagement is announced and every one celebrates.  This is just the beginning as the lives of these two people are intertwined, so is the display of the union.

So what is interesting to me is that the single person who desires this kind of celebration is told that it can be idolatrous.  But when it actually happens, it is not.  What is missing and longed for when it is not there must be supressed, but not so when it actually happens.  It is celebrated and encouraged.  Why is the partnered person not told that they are being idolatrous?  I don’t know about you, but this seems awfully hypocritical to me. Continue Reading →

Theology Unplugged: Why I Am/Not Charismatic, Part 11

Join C. Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, Sam Storms and J.J. Seid as they discuss issues surrounding spiritual gifts.

Jesus: King of Unmet Expectations

Let’s face it: Christ did not meet people’s expectation. He was supposed to be the savior of Israel. He was supposed to be the king of the world.  Yet, he was born in an obscure city, to obscure parents, and led a very obscure life until he entered his thirties. When things finally began to move forward, it did not go the way it was supposed to. At least, it did not go the way people thought it was supposed to go. Though protested by others, he was baptized by someone else (John 3:14-15). He was rejected in his own home town (Matthew 13:57). I mean, who can blame them. “Oh, that’s just Jesus. I changed his diapers. Now he thinks he is something special? He puts on his pants one leg at a time just like the rest of us.” He chose a gang of rough fishermen and nobodies to be his main followers. Others probably snickered, “That is the best he can get!” He was rejected by the religious establishment of the day. The aristocrats wanted nothing to do with him.

Every time he got his foot in the door, he would pull it back out. Upon performing many miracles, he had people take notice. “Maybe there is something to this Jesus. Maybe he is the one. Maybe he is the king who will provide for this nation.” Then he would turn around and tell them something crazy like “eat my flesh and drink my blood” (John 6:56) and scare them off. Then, to top it all off, he had to go and die. No, actually there is more. He had to go and die on a piece of wood. “Accursed is anyone who hangs on a tree!” (Deut 21:23). Christ was the king of not meeting people’s expectation. He was the king of bringing about experiences that confuse us. Continue Reading →

Believing in God vs. Believing God

There is no special nobility for believing in God. Most people at their best, using their common sense, believe in God. In fact, conservatively speaking, ninety-percent of all societies and peoples have all believed in a God of some sort. In our Christian dominated society, I rarely come across a true atheist. It is quite a novelty. It is about like coming across someone who does not believe that the earth is round or that we actually landed someone on the moon. They are very rare.

However, it would seem that many people believe that their is some sort of special pass or dispensation for simply believing in God. The same is true about believing “in” Christ. Many people have some sort of belief that Christ was who he said he was—God incarnate—, died on the cross for their sins, and rose bodily from the grave. After all, at least here in America, this still comes standard with every new model.

However, God is not calling on people to do something as minimal as believing in him. Belief in him is indeed required. As well, we can always believe in him more today than we did yesterday. However, God is calling on us to do something radical. God is calling on us to do something that far exceeds a mere belief in his existence or even his works. Because he exists, because he has done what he has done, he is calling on all people everywhere to believe him. You see, God has introduced himself to us as the sovereign of the universe. He as told us that he knows more than we do. He has presented himself as one who is not only bigger and stronger than we are, but one who is infinitely wiser than we are. Because of this, he wants us to believe him.

While in Chicago two weeks ago, I got into a very pleasant conversation with my taxi driver. He believed in God. In fact, he got very excited when I talked to him about God. He was very willing to engage in spiritual conversation. But the conversation was not so easy for me as I attempted to distinguish between his belief in God and a life lived believing God. Belief in God can evidence nothing more than mere intellectual assent. This assent often issues forth in no real or substantial change of life, thought, or action. Sure, it affects some things here and there, but God is more of an accessory to living than anything else. Believing God effects everything. When we believe God, we are saying that he is right about everything and it is of paramount importance for us to harmonize our lives with his reality. When our reality—feelings, emotions, experiences, and rationalizations—come in conflict with his revealed will, his revealed will trumps anything we have to offer.

Think of life like a car. Most people I know have God in one of four places in their car:

1. Trunk: In this sense, God is the “go-to” God when we are in trouble. Like with the spare tire, the tool kit, or the flashlight, we only call upon him when we are in desperate need. Other than that, he has no part to play in our daily living. We believe in him, but we don’t believe him enough to let him out of the trunk. Continue Reading →

The Easy Belief of Dogmatic Speculation

(Lisa Robinson)

A few mornings ago was one of the those mornings nobody likes.  Everything is going normal…until you turn the ignition key to get nothing in return but a ticking sound.  Ok, so I don’t know much about cars and had no idea what it could be.  I thought it wasn’t that long ago that I replaced my battery (I can hardly keep track of such things) so I figured it must be something else.  After a few tries, I figured it was time to call AAA.  As I waited, and walked around a bit, one of my neighbors who had been observing the whole thing, approached me and thought he should give me his assessment of the situation.  “It was my starter”, he said affirming that it had to be based on the sound the car was making.  He even had me turn the lights on so that he could see if it was my battery.  Nope, had to be the starter.

Well, that’s just great.  How much is that going to cost? I wondered.  So in response to my neighbors emphatic assessment, I got on the phone with my mechanic to let them know there was a high probability that I would have to have my car towed.  I had them give me an estimate based on this assessment of needing a starter.  Almost $400 bucks!?!?  I was two days away from payday and already had expenses earmarked.  I immediately started re-organizing things in my head to accommodate this unexpected expense.

Finally, the guy from AAA shows up.  Upon hearing the sound that replaced the engine noise, he immediately asserted “it’s your battery”.   I thought surely this AAA battery I got from the last time this happened should not have such a short shelf life.  But I figured that AAA had more credibility than the neighbor, who could only offer an emphatic statement based on his speculation.    I find out from the AAA guy that the battery only lasts a couple of years anyway.   And this is the business of AAA, right?    The guy actually knew what he was talking about.  Sure enough, after locating the receipt I discover that it had been 23 months since the last battery replacement.  Within 15 minutes, I was on the road again.  Whew! Continue Reading →

Theology Unplugged: Why I Am/Not Charismatic, Part 10

Join C. Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, Sam Storms and J.J. Seid as they discuss issues surrounding spiritual gifts.