Archive for December, 2005

Election Issues

Election Issues


My take on some of the issues so far.

Issue: Same Sex Marriage

None of the above

I agree with the NDP and the Liberals that homosexuals should be fully equal under the law in Canada. As a pluralistic democracy the government shouldn’t not pick winners and losers on religious issues. On this issue the churches are divided. I don’t think the Government should pick the Baptist position over the Anglican one or vice versa. It would have been better for the government to issue civil unions for all and leave marriage to the religious institutions.

Issue: GST vrs Income tax cut vrs no tax cut

Liberals

Income taxes punish innovation and hinder investment. They make it more difficult to save for retirement. They should be cut before the GST. As taxes go the GST is the least harmful to the economy. There is lots of room for tax cuts.

Issue: Environment

NDP

The Liberals talk a good talk but their track record is poor. I don’t know if it is any better or worse than our provincial NDP government. What Paul Martin said about the Americans is true, but he was completely hypocritical in saying it. The Canadian conscience is shifting ahead of the governments action. I wish the NDP would have held the Liberals hostage on this issue rather than private health care.

Issue: Gun Control

Conservatives

The ban on handguns is not really a ban but a further restriction on a heavily restricted item. I don’t think the new restrictions will help. As many people have commented this just an attempt by the Liberals to get the Conservative base to over react and remind Ontario why they generally don’t vote Conservative.

Issue: Day Care

Liberals

I come from a dual income family that can afford day care but has a problem finding quality day care. The bulk of Harpers plan is just more money for families and it doesn’t sufficiently address the lack of day care spots. The government already gives out the child tax credit to support families. I’m not sure we need baby bonus addition to it.

Issue: Income Trust “Scandal”

Liberals

I don’t see any reason for a finance minister to resign because someone from his department called someone and said they there was an announcement coming. People would have anticipated this to be good news and acted accordingly.

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Kingdom of God vrs Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of God vrs Kingdom of Heaven


I’m doing a little research on the Kingdom of God. I never noticed that Matthew is the only that uses the phrase Kingdom of Heaven. He uses Kingdom of God as well. I wonder why he switches. It is a good thing to remember when playing bible trivia games. I don’t know if I’ll ever beat Scott or my wife but every little bit helps.

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Growing concern with Emergent

Growing concern with Emergent


I was directed to this article at Emergent What? Emergent issued a press release about an upcoming meeting between Emergent and a Jewish group. Bob Hyatt shares some concerns.

Brian said, “I’m thrilled with the possibility of developing friendship and collaboration in ways that help God’s dreams come true for our synagogues, churches, and world.”

And Tony said, “”It’s with great joy and promise that we partner with the leaders of S3K to talk about the future and God’s Kingdom.”

Now… While I believe you can partner with and converse with people who do not share your faith in Christ to do things like build a community center, feed the poor, talk about the challenges of modern life, etc. I do not believe that you can talk about building God’s Kingdom with those who actively reject God’s King.

The post is active with comments. Doug Pagitt responded.

On this conversation with the Emerging Rabbis, as a church Solomon’s Porch is going through the book of Romans. Finding the cultural context to the letter has been wonderful. Well, reading this conversation makes me harken back to a very similar period of the first century when the questions were about the Jews not wanting to let the Gentiles into the story of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s agenda. Boy how times of changed. It is interesting to see how off of reading a press release, not knowing any of the people involved from the Synagogue group that you would assume that “they cannot be part of the things of Jesus”. It just seems that this conversation would be benefitted by a gracious spirit (but I read that one of you felt that Brian was being irresponsible in his graciousness – an interesting problem for one to have in my view) that wants to join with those who are working toward the things of God’s agenda inand for the world and not go through this word-play parsing of what part of the kingdom of God people are in.

I share Bob Hyatts concerns. I haven’t been a fan of McLaren’s theology for sometime and this latest event is starting to raise some real questions. I’m no fundamentalist but I do believe that there are two kingdoms in this world: the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of the World (Rev 11:15). I would like to know how Emergent defines the Kingdom of God.

I’m pretty sure E-No will be picking up on this soon.

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Why does the church gather?

Why does the church gather?


Most church meetings are called worship services but should the main purpose of  a church gathering be worship?

1Cor 14:26-33 NRSV
26 What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let them be silent in church and speak to themselves and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to someone else sitting nearby, let the first person be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets, 33 for God is a God not of disorder but of peace.

I’ve been processing this for awhile. 

  • Is the weight of our focus on corporate worship biblical? 
  • Was Paul’s main purpose for gathering to build each other up? 
  • Does the church have an unhealthy focus on worship?  Particularly worship as an intimate experience with God?
  • Have we obscured or downplayed the idea of obedience as worship? 1Sam 15:22
  • Has our idea of worship become so event driven that it has redefined worship for the church?
  • What would the church look like if we were geared towards building one another up through gift based ministry?

When I read 1Cor 14 in the light of 1Cor 12 I see the ideas mix well together. We see in 1Cor 12 Paul’s concept of the body has different members with different purposes all playing essential roles. In 1Cor 14 we see people gathering together ministering to one another in various ways with an admonishment to do things in order because things got chaotic.  I would say that what is going on in chapter 14 is the natural progress from Paul’s concept of church in chapter 12. 

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Christmas gifts to the Liberals?

Christmas gifts to the Liberals?


Washington Times editoral declares Harper most Pro-American leader in the world.  I hope Becky sees this.

Though still a young man in political terms, Stephen Harper may not receive a better opportunity to gain power and to steer Canada in a more conservative direction. If he and his fellow Conservatives can seize this opportunity to recast the policy debate, it will reveal a great deal about the evolving nature of Canadian political culture.
A Harper victory may prove to be the exception to the international rule — a rare foreign event that manages to put a smile on President George W. Bush’s face.

SES has the Libs at 40% today. Decima has them 8 points up and gaining.   I’d be tempted to say that it is all Harpers fault but the Cons haven’t really lost much support. If any support has moved  it has been from the Bloc and the NDP. 

The first round of debates is coming up and Calgary grit and others maintain that Paul Martin isn’t a good debater. He does fumble around a lot. I noticed that on Monday when I was home sick and watched CPAC. I can just imagine what some people are thinking after that confession. Anyway I watched Paul’s photo op with the kids. Paul fumbled around fairly simple questions from reporters and such.

Last year there was a shift in opinion after the debate. Few of the analysts thought Paul won and on technical points he probably didn’t. My favourite is Duceppe, he has such wit and style with his sarcasm…anyway. It seems that a lot politics is just getting people to like you and it his hard to dislike and distrust grandpa. 

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There is no such thing as a perfect church

There is no such thing as a perfect church


There is no such thing as a perfect church. How many times have I heard this phrase when offering some critical analysis of some aspect of church life? I was thinking about that yesterday after house church. In our get together some of us talked about how much the group has meant to us and how frustrating it is when we go back to visit “regular” churches. Admittedly not everyone is in that space.

I’m happy that I’ve found a place where people can be themselves to a greater degree. We can study the scriptures and laugh with one another. More and more we are praying for each other and supporting one another in other ways. I’ve seen people allow themselves to be stretched and lead discussions or experiment with different ways of leading people in to communion with God. What I’ve experienced over the last year is not perfect but it is worthwhile. I look forward to it even if I am tired physically or emotionally.

I’m starting to wonder if the phrase “there is no such thing as a perfect church” is cop out for many. There are going to be people who give up too early and too easily and at the first sign of difficultly they run. Those people will always be around. However I can’t help but think we’ve fooled ourselves in to thinking that we can’t experience something better than what we have. We’ve accepted the status quo without really considering the possibility that things could be way better than they are.

I wonder how many people told Jeremiah that Judah wasn’t perfect but that God loved his people and he will always protect the temple. Do you think he was told that he should have a positive attitude and all this criticism is just demoralizing God’s people and helping the enemy?

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The new joy of Christmas

The new joy of Christmas


It is really late and I’m suffering from a McDonalds sundae.  Lactose intolerance sometimes causes issues.  The McFester strikes again.  Not sure how I’m going to function tomorrow without a good amount of sleep.  I still had a really good day today. 

We put up the Christmas tree.  We did it as a family with Christmas music in the background.  I was giddy.  The boys had a lot of fun and so did I.  I’m really pumped about my first Christmas as a father.  A lot of the rituals that lose their lustre get a new shine when kids are involved. 

My oldest is convinced that parents invented Santa Clause to keep their children behaving well.  He sees it as an unjust manipulation.  My youngest is a true believer in Santa but is very disturbed when I threaten to buy him Barbies instead of Bionicles.  The boys seem really pumped to have a new dad around for Christmas.  I’m pretty pumped to be their dad.  They love me a lot and I’m happy to return that love.

I love Christmas.

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Respond to postmodernism?

Respond to postmodernism?


One of the criticisms of the Emerging Church is that it is too focused on changing the church, and even the gospel message to suit the ears of a new generation.  This criticism is on target to a large degree.

Jesus contextualized his teaching on the kingdom.  He used illustrations that involved things that people were familiar with.  Vineyards, sheep, coins and the concept of hades were all things people were familiar with.  He didn’t change the palatability of his message but he did use forms that ensured people could understand if they wanted to.  I think this is perfectly acceptable.

I’m not concerned that people are using projectors or candles in their gatherings.  I am concerned that evangelicalism as a whole has watered down the gospel.  Jesus said there is a cost to following him.  In many circles the gospel as is preached implies there is very little cost too following Christ.  The problem with seeker sensitive religion is that says come as you and you can stay as you are.  Come as you as are is perfectly acceptable.  Stay as you are goes against the central tenets of the Christian faith.  I’m not suggesting we create a legalistic code of conduct.  That might change behavior but it won’t change our hearts.  We need to embrace the grace that God has for us.  To embrace this free gift we must under go the death of our old selves.  This is part of salvation.  We are freed from slavery to sin.

Romans 6:1 What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For whoever has died is freed from sin.

Paul asks how can we who died to sin go on living in it?  This is a very very good question.  Today I ask the question in another way.  How can we believe we have died to sin if we keep on living in it?  How can we lead people to Christ without telling them this free gift we accept is a surgery on our lives which will remove the cancer of sin. 

Sadly we don’t believe this is so.  Christianity has been redefined in to some nebulous spirituality devoid of sacrifice, suffering or Lordship.  I haven’t seen this change in the EC. 

In the light of postmodernity we should examine how the church compromised with the last culture and diligently search for that which is eternal and cling to it. In church history the people of God made the biggest impact when they truly were different.  They weren’t different in the sense that they espoused the values of a church subculture in opposition to a secular culture.  They were just different people.  They were more like Christ and people saw that.  Love, joy, patience, endurance, peace and self control translate well in to every culture.

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Cut the GST?

Cut the GST?


I can’t resist commenting on this issue.  I’m a little surprised that Harper would propose cutting the GST.  In his own words he is an economist but he sure doesn’t sound like one.  The GST is a fair tax. It is easy to collect, remit and calculate.  Income taxes are evil.  They are a drag on investment and productivity.  They punish the best and brightest in our country.  The Canadian economy would receive a much bigger boost from a cut in income taxes.  That boost would help replace any government revenue that was lost in the tax cut.  

Cutting the GST may be politically expedient but it is poor policy.   Andrew Coyne thinks so.  A former Reform MP at The Fraser Institute thinks so

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