Monthly Archives: April 2013

Oh, the Logic that betrays a lack of understanding about Christianity!

If you are not familiar with what happened earlier this week when Jason Collins, an NBA player, who stated publicly that he was gay (apparently the first such participant in a major men’s professional sport to do so), click on this link and catch up. When you do, be sure and watch the video embedded in the article showing Chris Broussard’s comments when asked what he thought about the fact that Collins, the gay athlete, also claimed to be a Christian! Broussard’s answer was refreshing and uncommon in our present atmosphere. It was also brave—borne out by the fact that the article I am referencing concerns ESPN’s decision not to fire him-for exercising his first amendment rights!

But here is the part I am interested in. In the video, Broussard’s answer is rebutted by LZ Granderson, an ESPN contributor, who, as indicated by his comments, must be gay. Here’s what Mr. Granderson said:

“Well, my response is that faith, just like love, just like marriage is personal and that if you try to use a broad brush to paint everyone’s faith what you really are painting is a world which is comfortable for you and not a world in which, in this country, we’re allowed various forms of religion and just because someone doesn’t agree with one person’s interpretation of the Bible versus the other doesn’t mean that they have the exclusive rights to dictate what that person how that person should live.”

The idea of “personal” faith has taken on new meaning of late! It doesn’t just mean personal in the sense of privately held or arrived at out of the public spot light. Instead, it means personal and private interpretation. It means I can decide subjectively what Christianity is and bend it to fit my own personal lifestyle. It almost sounds as if Mr. Granderson is trying to say that in America we have been given permission to redefine Christianity to fit our whims, as though it is our right.

Mr. Granderson is correct in his understanding that he is free to say what he wants about Christianity and he is free to live how he wants and call it Christianity. For that matter he can bow down and worship a bag of sink stoppers if he wants to and call that Christianity. But that doesn’t make it true! Along these lines there is a growing disconnect between the Church and the culture. The Church is not saying that a person is not free to pursue whatever type of lifestyle the law allows them to, though we certainly reserve our rights to speak out and work towards more righteous laws. But we are saying that just because the law or public sentiment or Aunt Effie says something is right doesn’t make it so!

By the way, there is a difference between the truth that our nation allows us to have various forms of religion and the question of whether or not those religions are valid before Almighty God! The Bible defines Christianity, not America!

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Coming Up at ccithink . . .

ccithink

The Tickle Chronicles

Recently, I made an effort to contact Phyllis Tickle. In case you don’t know who she is, she is the founding editor of the Religion Department of Publishers Weekly, the author of several books, very visible on the web (just Google her), and for our interests here, one of the leading voices of a movement called Emergence Christianity. I wanted to contact her because I was (and still am) concerned about some things she has written and said. I had already some of my concerns in classes and in blog posts here at ccithink and I wanted to solicit her input and inform her that I have been and plan to continue discussing her theology. To my amazement, Ms. Tickle got back to me almost immediately. She was gracious and addressed my concerns

in-depth.

In an upcoming series of articles, I will share the…

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The Sinking Ship of Evangelicalism, Part I: The problem

ccithink

By Scott Fowler

Behind the Times

According to Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon (Resident Aliens), Christendom, having begun with Constantine in 313 AD, ended in 1963.1 I can still remember the inner conflict I experienced the first time I heard that Christendom was dead or that we were living in a post-Christian era. It was well after 1963 when the news came to me. I was young and rather uninitiated into mainstream theological discussions, but even after I heard and understood those statements, I encountered many others who had not heard either. In fact, I am sure that I could still find many even today who do not understand what is meant by post-Christendom or for that matter what Christendom means. My point? The average evangelical normally runs at least twenty to forty years behind the times. With that said, there is another seismic…

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George Washington Rolling Over in His Grave!

Ok, not that big of a surprize when a Democratic Senator endorses gay marriage, but you gotta love the brilliant reasoning behind his decision. He said,

“Simply put, if The Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn’t, and I won’t,” he wrote.

It sounds so principled, right? Interesting how the cry for the separation of Church and state goes up, but that doesn’t keep misguided politicians from dabbling in theology to the detrimint of our nation!

 

Sen. Nelson endorses same-sex marriage – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs.

 

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And Another One Bites The Dust!

Another GOP Senator, citing personal emotional reasons, has come out in favor of same-sex marriage (see link to article below).

 

Our leaders–in and out of the Church–are mired in subjectivity, willing to allow their emotions to influence the future of the nation. Not that we are ever unbiased or that we are ever truly free of the influence of our emotions and experiences. In fact,those things can certainly serve us if harnessed. But guess what? Truth and commitment to it is the harness! It is not OK to make decisions solely based on your own harrowing brush with death or on recent information that one of your children is gay. Where are the statesmen and the churchmen and the civic leaders who once understood the value of commitment to principles: principles not founded in self-serving subjectivity, but founded on truth that comes from outside of ourselves? Truth that is self-evident? Truth that reflects the source of Truth which is the Almighty God of the Bible? It’s rare that one actually gets to observe the crumbling of a nation’s moral infrastructure as it happens.

 

English: Official portrait of United States Se...

English: Official portrait of United States Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/politics/2013/April/Mark-Kirk-Second-GOP-Senator-to-Back-Gay-Marriage/

 

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The Bible on The History Channel: Final

So here’s a question: Would you watch The Bible on The History Channel again? I can definitely say I would not. As far as I am concerned it missed its mark–at least the mark I set for it as a potentially viable, useful, inspiring account of the Bible. It was needlessly violent, did not offer any real purpose behind the violence it did show (particularly violence that was not merely incidental and not tied to the furthering of Israel, etc.). God was conspicuously absent, and frankly it was kind of boring.1 Now, on to the final installment.

Roma Downey & Mark Burnett

Roma Downey & Mark Burnett (Photo credit: Sharon Graphics)

Don’t Bore Us With Details!

There were the usual liberties taken, with the story.

Not surprisingly, the passion followed a traditionally Catholic viewpoint and Mary the mother of Jesus was quite active, beyond scripture of course.

After the crucifixion, Mary the mother of Jesus is sent off to Galilee by none other than Mary Magdalene. Of course, Jesus’ mother was in the Upper Room at Pentecost (it’s not likely that she went all the way back to Galilee and back to Jerusalem, and of course she is not shown in the Upper Room in the Burnett/Downey version.

The Ascension was lame and incomplete. Peter looks at his fellow disciples ( and Mary Magdalene of course) and says, “We’ve got work to do!” No awe. No wonder.

Kudos for making an effort at depicting the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. There were actually 120 in the Upper Room and all were filled with the Holy Spirit. The reaction of the disciples after the experience was sort of  a “Hey, that was a cool experience!” Peter’s sermon was non-existent.

Mary Magdalene was prominent once again, even replacing John as Peter’s partner in the account of the crippled beggar’s healing in Acts 3 and 4. The account overwhelmingly is about Peter and John: the Burnett/Downey version was largely Peter and Mary.

The martyrdom of Stephen was anticlimactic; almost an add-on. It marked the beginning of the scattering of the church.

Paul’s conversion experience on the Damascus Road was thoroughly botched. B&D had him shouting “No!” to the risen Lord! In fact, he was portrayed as maniacal before his conversion and referred to as Paul before and after (every Sunday Schooler knows better! Why not the world in on it?).

The beheading of James the brother of John was shown, proceeded by a fabricated story of fear and dispersion (the dispersion actually began after Stephen’s martyrdom five chapters earlier), and Mary Magdalene once again the voice of wisdom keeping the disciples straight. No sense of Holy Spirit boldness moving in the disciples, only in Mary M.

Too much was made of Peter, though his imprisonment after the beheading of James is ignored), and Thomas’s doubt was overblown. For Thomas seeing was believing, but not in the Burnett/Downey rendition (again due to the underplaying of Jesus’s actual bodily resurrection).

I sort of liked the summary scene depicting the various directions the apostles took as the Church began to grow and spread.

We see Paul as he is trying to minister to the Church that is afraid of him and then we see Paul reach out to Luke saying “I can’t do this alone!” while Barnabas is “chopped liver” or something, even though he was instrumental in helping Paul gain credibility in the Church. Paul was certainly not alone and the New Testament doesn’t depict such a needy Paul.

And then what is this appearance of Jesus to Peter? More “touched by an angel” type story telling. And then the angry “seizure” of Peter on behalf of Cornelius. Entirely misses the true essence of what really happened! I have to wonder what is going on in Burnett and Downey’s minds when they simply decide to tell the story differently than is written, even changing the actual details to form a different story! O course, the events that took place at Cornelius’s house were completely truncated to leave out the falling of the Holy Spirit upon them as Peter was preaching, an important detail.

The treatment of Paul in prison is good and his confidence at the end is inspiring. And, ignoring the reduction of the Book of Revelation down to something very ordinary, and Jesus’ last statement “May the grace of the Lord be with all God’s people!” (a possible nod to people outside of the Christian faith?), the final words of Jesus telling of His coming, etc. were effective.

 
The Resurrection

On a more serious note, I felt that the resurrection was not dealt with full on. It was treated as though somehow Jesus was “alive” but the story never really emphasized that He had risen from the dead. In fact in one place we hear Peter declaring, “He did not die! He is still with us!” I assume the B&D Peter simply meant that it was as though he had never died, and that His influence was still with them. Lame. The scene at the tomb was so sedate. In fact, coupled with their reaction at the ascension, you have to wonder what it is going to take to impress these people?

Conclusion

Oh, there’s plenty more. I do not have time to trace out the ways in which Peter was “pope-ified,” but you can watch it for yourself if you haven’t already. It’s out on DVD and Blu-Ray tomorrow.

 
1 Any story can be told imaginatively and in an inspiring way that leaves the listener changed or at least informed. I don’t feel the BHC did that.

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