Archive for October, 2004

Losing my religion

Losing my religion

These days I am surrounded by people who I care about that working through issues of faith.  In some ways it is a little bit of a struggle for me.  I think that after 15 years of following the Christian religion, many years of bible school, and several decisions of self denial for the sake of some higher ethic I have a lot invested in my faith.  I’m now very biased.  I am open and caring enough to listen to people challenge my perspective but part of me gets a little defensive.  I do my best not to let my emotional bias cloud my thinking.

At this point I have a unswerving unrelenting faith in Jesus Christ, confidence in the scriptures to guide me in to the truth, respect for church history and tradition, guarded suspicion of the church, and a strong disdain for people who try to sell me Christian goods.  I became a Christian, and have stayed a Christian because of profound number of experiences that I deemed supernatural.  All too o


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Church tonight

Church tonight

Our church met tonight and for the first time I lead a meditation and a study.  I printed out all the presentations of the gospel in Acts and had people scan through them to figure out what they could about conversion and the gospel message.  We shared the observations and it sparked a long conversation.  In the end I wrapped things up by writing down all the big questions we asked.  I’m not really one the people that downplays the “answers” in favour of the “questions”.  However I do believe that there are some things which we can be sure of, others we cannot, and yet other things which are a paradox.  Sometimes figuring out what we can be sure of takes a long time and we end up sure of less things than we were before. 

I emerged from the meeting a little sad.  Sometimes I feel like part of a small remnant that hasn’t given over to shallow, commercialized, or overly institutionalized Christianity.  I’m not saying our group is one of the 144 000 or anything.  I consider the College I work at to be part of the remnant.   I am dismayed at what has happened to the church.  I picked up the Purpose Driven Life at a used book sale.  Over ten million people have bought this book.  There are probably hundreds if not thousands of churches going through the forty days of purpose right now.  The book is not that good.  Rick Warren is very creative with his use of scripture and specific translations.  It is fast food spirituality for a malnourished church.  The quotes on the back scandalously over sell the product.  There are a number of sales pitches for things like the Purpose Driven Journal. 

What have we become that we sell out spiritual truth to make a profit on notebooks?  NOTEBOOKS!  If people could only realize that they are far better off avoiding the fast food and started preparing their own meals.  It isn’t even that hard.  A cheap pew bible, a pen, a notebook and you are set.  God is available to those who seek Him.    Buying a shortcut is not seeking God!  “Read this book and your life will be changed!”  What a load of crap. 


I must be a democrat

I must be a Democrat

Thanks Mike.  Can Michael Badnarik actually be that much more right wing than G.W. Bush

Your location on the scale above is based on the sum of your answers to questions in this quiz. Your views on economic issues most closely resemble those of John Kerry of the Democratic Party. John Edwards is the Democratic candidate for Vice President. For more information see their campaign website.

Your location on the scale above is based on the sum of your answers to questions in this quiz. Your views on foreign policy issues most closely resemble those of John Kerry of the Democratic Party. John Edwards is the Democratic candidate for Vice President. For more information see their campaign website.

Your location on the scale above is based on the sum of your answers to questions in this quiz. Your views on cultural issues most closely resemble those of John Kerry of the Democratic Party. John Edwards is the Democratic candidate for Vice President. For more information see their campaign website.


An 8 billion dollar surplus is a bad thing?

An 8 billion dollar surplus is a bad thing?

The Liberals did it again.  They projected a 2 billion dollar surplus and found an extra 6 at the end of the year.  Now people are complaining.  I think we have had it too good over the last 7 budgets.  Every other G8 nation is in deficit, our economy is seriously outperforming the US, and we’ve made a signfiicant reinvestment in health care. Now we can put a cool 8 billion against the debt and save ourselves 400 million dollars in interest payments next year.  Does anyone remember the 80s?


Rev. Mike is lurking

Rev. Mike is lurking

Ok Mike, I know you are lurking.  You keep linking to me and quoting me.  I write about John Kerry and I hear nothing.  I attack George Bush and you don’t respond.  I have a Republican with a brain on my blog roll and I expect a little heat if not light added to the discussion.  🙂


A few thoughts on gay marriage

A few thoughts on gay marriage

Strap yourselves in boys and girls I’m pushing a hot button here.  As many know I am an evangelical Christian, who considers the message of the bible, humbly and honestly interpreted, gives great insight in to being Christ’s disciple on this earth.  I’m also someone who had a close relationship with one guy friend who engaged in sexual acts with someone of the same gender.  There were two women in my past life whom I almost dated and both of which admitted to me they were bisexual.  In all my relationships with these people I felt nothing but love and compassion for them.

When I went to bible college I encountered many warm friendly and peaceful people.  Unfortunately a startlingly large amount of these people were, for lack of a better term homophobic.  The thought of being around gay people repulsed a lot of people and they would fly in to rants about the desire to curb stomp any gay person they were alone with..  What I observed is nothing less than hatred from otherwise pretty good people.

Gay people are still hated in society.  I understand their desire to be found equal under the law.  I also understand the need for gay people to be protected from discrimination.  The church is part of this, and doesn’t really care because of a handful of passages in the bible. As I read scripture I see God having a great deal of concerned for the suffering, the poor and the oppressed.  I believe that in our society God has great compassion for every gay person who has been abused or discriminated against. 

The debate rages on about the causes of homosexual orientation.  The evidence I’ve read seems to indicate that some people are born with a biological predisposition towards homosexuality.  Other evidence suggests that sexual abuse or a dysfunctional family relationship are contributing factors.  Regardless most gay people did not choose to be gay.  From what I understand many people would have much preferred being able to turn off their sexual desire for people of the same gender.

In New Testament times many homosexuals were rich slave owners that used boys for pleasure.  I can see why God wouldn’t like that because it is oppression.  How much does God care about monogamous homosexual relationships?  I don’t know but I’m still pretty conservative on the issue.  I’m not convinced that a homosexual orientation is ideal.  Lots of people are born with the predisposition to do some pretty nasty things, so being born with a predisposition towards some kind of behavior isn’t a justification for that behavior.  It certainly seems unnatural biologically.  If a homosexual orientation is the product of abuse or family dysfunction that would make it a health issue.  Gay marriages in other countries seem more prone to divorce. 

Some people claim that through therapy or some sort of miraculous intervention they became more heterosexual than homosexual.  Some deny this can happen, but I have no reason to doubt this.  Our orientation or predisposition towards a lot of things can be changed.  Why would sexual orientation be any different?

There are many people in the church that are freaking out over the gay marriage issue and  I believe that we are too worried about this. How the state defines marriage changes very little.  It is possible that in the future the state will attempt to legislate churches to act against their own beliefs.  Something I doubt would happen because freedom of religious practice is protected in the charter.  Even if it did the church seems to function much more powerfully and faithfully when it is in an adversarial relationship with the state. 

If the church is concerned about the moral decline of society it should first worry about the moral decline of its members.  There aren’t that many gay people in society and most of them don’t want to get married, they just want to be equal under the law.  In my opinion divorce should be of far greater concern.  The foundation of the family has already eroded substantially and the people that suffering the most are the kids.  The church, which is showing such fervor in defence of marriage in the courts, does very little to address the rampant levels of divorce in its own walls.  It makes me wonder, if we really cared about the sanctity of marriage wouldn’t we be making more of an effort in our own churches?  A gay person looking from the outside can make a strong case that the opposition to gay marriage is just a thinly veiled expression of homophobia.


The church and politics

The church and politics

In the early days of Anabaptism there was something we call Two Kingdom theology.  Simply put the world is in two kingdoms.  One is the kingdom of God which encompasses the faithful saints around the globe and the world is part of the kingdom of this world.  The worldly kingdom included the state, civic politics and state churches, like the Lutheran church.  They might have considered their Reformed and Lutheran cousins in a more positive light if they weren’t being hunted down and killed by order of the state church.  Funny how current events can shape theology.

Anabaptists didn’t participate in the public affairs of state.  They didn’t work for the government nor did they serve in the military.  If they were transplanted in to our time they probably wouldn’t vote.  Their position seems impossible to live out in our world.  Governments have changed a lot since then and it is very difficult not to be involved or at least take advantage of what the government offers us.

They recognized that secular politics is a whole different game from the church.  I think this is where I believe we can learn from them.  Democracy might be the most efficient and balanced form of government but it still is based on power, influence and coercion.  After working in a local campaign it became apparent to me that it would be very difficult to be authentic, straightforward and honest and still win.  Politics is, for lack of a better term, a dirty game.  When church plays that game it almost always loses.

When the church becomes dependant on secular politics it is a like a baseball team going to a football game and expecting to win.  In that situation either the baseball team loses or it transforms itself in to a football team so it can win, but in the process it ceases to be what it originally was.  It has taken 25-30 years to transform evangelical Christianity in the United States in to a Christianized political party.  At one time Jesus was the answer to transform people in to His likeness.  Now the cure for the ills of society is to appoint enough conservative judges to the supreme court.  This change in strategy has done very little to stem the steady moral decline in an increasingly post-Christian world.  While step one of the strategy has never been accomplished the Republicans are more than happy to accept the support as they follow through on their agenda.  Has it dawned on anyone other than George Barna that the church’s influence in society has dropped dramatically despite all the political activity?


Community Hermeneutic versus Marketplace Hermeneutic

Community Hermeneutic versus Marketplace Hermeneutic

Community Hermeneutic is often talked about in Anabaptist circles.  I had a great chat with a prof at the college today who is doing a dissertation on Community Hermeneutic.  What is a community hermeneutic?  Imagine a bunch of post-reformation exiles hiding in a barn studying the scriptures and trying to figure out theology.  Everyone has a voice and the leaders frame and facilitate the discussion.  Together the group prayerfully works through their understanding of scripture.  The Holy Spirit speaks and guides as the group discerns together.  They work collaboratively to interpret and apply the bible text in their culture.  There is an understanding that the process never stops as the church continually reexamines its conclusions.

As Doug and I talked I brought up the idea that we have a marketplace hermeneutic.  Much of the church’s theology is based on what is marketed most effectively.  10 years ago do you think you could convince anyone that continually reciting a 4 line prayer would bring you blessings from God?  People don’t understand the distinctive elements of their own denomination but they have all heard of the prayer of Jabez. 

A lot of good theology still exists in academia but the main bridge between the theologians and the people are books and conferences.  These are dominated by the successful pragmatists and profit driven companies.  Walking in to a Christian bookstore is like walking in to a grocery store and finding 4 aisles of junk food, 3 aisles of microwave dinners, and half an aisle of fresh fruits and vegetables.  I don’t think we can blame the bookstore for giving the people what they want.  The problem is Christians are rabid consumers of the religious products that satisfy our hunger but only contribute to our spiritual malnutrition.

In a community hermeneutic people learn how to interpret and apply scripture, tradition and their own spiritual experiences.  The theologians interact relationally with everyone else.  Leaders are equippers and facilitators.   In a market place hermeneutic people are driven to consume that which has already been prepared for them.  Leaders are producers.


New poll on Gay Marriage

New poll on Gay Marriage

A slim majority of Canadians support the idea of gay marriage.


Sometimes governments don't deserve to win

Sometimes governments don’t deserve to win

In the last Canadian federal election I worked pretty hard for the governing party.  The general sentiment in Canada was positive towards the government’s record but the populace didn’t want them to win. At least they didn’t want them to win big.  One scandal saw a 250 million dollar program funnel somewhere between 20 and 100 million dollars to ad agencies which were big financial supporters of the Liberal party.  To most Canadians this was a very big issue, and despite the fact they liked the government’s record and vision, they just couldn’t bring themselves to reward corruption.  I really had nothing to say to that because the people were right.  In the end Canada punished the Liberals by giving them a minority government.

Does G.W. Bush deserve to win this election?    I look at his record of deception, fiscal mismanagment, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, human rights violations, the economy, the environment and can only conclude that this is the worst president America has had in my lifetime.  There are times when voters need to vote against the government just because they are incompetent or corrupt regardless of idealogy.  Fiscal conservatives in the US should vote against Bush on the deficit alone. 

Where is the pride in the GOP?  Do they not recognize when someone is ruining their name?  Wouldn’t the future of the GOP be better served if they cleansed themselves of this mess and renewed themselves ready to take on Kerry in 4 years with a leader they can be proud of?