1 March 2011

I heard the voice of Jesus

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad,
I found Him in a resting-place
And He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Behold, I freely give
The living water, thirsty soul,
Stoop down and drink and live."
I came to Jesus and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"I am this dark world's Light;
Look unto me, my morn shall rise,
And all the day be bright.
I looked to Jesus and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I'll walk,
Till traveling days are done.

~Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889

13 February 2011

This is only a Test

Test entry to see if this is still linked to my facebook wall.

13 August 2010

Is God Dead?

“God is Dead” – Nietzsche

“Nietzsche is Dead” – God

...or so bumper-sticker theology goes (nearly as famous as “To Do is To Be” – Plato; “To Be is To Do” – Aristotle; “Do Be Do Be Do” – Sinatra).

Do any of you remember this TIME Magazine cover? Or to rephrase, have any of you ever seen it? Currently, it’s the most famous TIME cover published, dated 8 August, 1966. Naturally, I don’t remember it, but I do remember seeing it as a point of discussion when I was younger… and it disturbed me; the idea that GOD could be… DEAD.

I now understand that it was a philosophical question and not a literal one, but that provides little more comfort than my initial misinterpreted misstep… culturally speaking.

This return to blogging addresses the rise in the so-called ‘New Atheism’ movement. Why? Because I live and minister in a (so-called) secular society, and I find myself engaging in passionate, civil discourse with a growing number of atheists. (I know… things ain’t what they used to be, huh?)

Attempting to understand what many of it’s own prominent members find difficult to quantitatively define, has been an important step in reaching common ground with my atheist friends, toward fostering healthy productive discussion about life, God, meaning, and the universe.

Again… why? A common Christian sentiment today is, “If we just start acting more like Jesus then people will want what we have.” I’m sorry, but what the (expletive deleted) does that mean? I certainly won’t argue that if we, as the people of God, began engaging culture with the truth and grace that Jesus personified, then yes, some people might want to know more about this God we follow… but it might also get us (expletive deleted) killed! Am I prepared for that? Are you? The authentic answers to those two questions carry with them an inherent weight of significance far greater than any ethereal, ambiguous call to ‘be Jesus’ to our neighbours.

Freud said that we have battled Nature to advance Western Civilization. A theological perspective on that might be that we’ve battled God for the sake of (western culture’s) progress; or more relevant to the people of God, for our place amidst the progress of western culture. However, that’s the topic for a future entry.

So, back to the ‘why’ question; Starting in 2004, a rash of bestselling ‘pop-atheism’ books (Sam Harris’ The End of Faith; Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion; Daniel C. Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon; and Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything) launched an ongoing public debate over faith versus reason, with Harris, Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens being dubbed ‘The Four Horsemen of Atheism.’

Public debates as such are certainly not new in recent times, and the media has definitely emphasized the ugliest side(s) of this debate, but while atheism, as an intellectual concern, has been a time-honored aspect of philosophy, it has never been generally popular (as Socrates learned when he was put on trial for impiety).

It should be noted that as recently as 1985 one of the most common dictionary definitions of “atheism” was “immoral.” At that time, disbelievers in a supreme deity tended to be identified with the Soviet Union as ‘godless commies,’ or with so-called ‘village atheists’, caricatures of petulance who reveled in offending the sensibilities of religious believers.

But there appears to be a resurgence of interest in atheism – both as a philosophical theory and as a life-commitment; disbelief has come out of the closet, so to speak. Faith in the Holy Spirit’s transformational power notwithstanding, I’ve discovered that listening patiently, and responding with grace and respect dispels the debate and paves the way for discussion… which I wholeheartedly believe, is paramount in challenging disbelief and skepticism.

If the Old Atheism was met by believers with resentment and dismissal, the way forward with the New Atheism is a patient willingness to LISTEN to its fundamental claims and try to understand why they are so embraced by those who uphold them. ‘Being Jesus,’ is becoming harder and harder to quantify in secular, western culture, and if we’re to reach our friends who don’t share our faith, it begins with our recognition of the significant backlash against religious fundamentalism, and as such, we must engage New Atheism with a new approach to it as a philosophical paradigm.

If the question is asked today, “Is God Still Dead?,” the overwhelming majority of the secular world would most likely be in the affirmative. This reality precedes a ‘being Jesus’ approach and necessitates civil discourse getting back to the relevance of ‘atonement’ for a society that no longer even considers it necessary.

I’m certainly not challenging the precept, ‘actions speak louder than words’; I still believe in preaching the gospel, using words when necessary. I’m simply saying that in some cases, our expression of the gospel may begin with a willingness to listen to beliefs and convictions contrary to our own, with an authentic desire to understand, so that we may be invited into and participate in ongoing discussions about faith, reason, grace, atonement and eternity.

8 January 2010

Quotes List

I'll be adding to this periodically... mostly for my own point of reference.

Our Lord never lays down the conditions of discipleship as the conditions of salvation... Discipleship has an option with it - "If any man...."

~ Oswald Chambers

An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.
~ M.K. Ghandi-

I simply argue that the cross should be raised at the centre of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town's garbage heap; at a crossroad, so cosmopolitan they had to write His title in Hebrew, Latin and Greek... at the kind of place where cynics talk smut, and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where He died. And that is what He died for. And that is what He died about. That is where church-men ought to be and what church-men ought to be about.
~ George MacLeod of Scotland (1895-1991)

God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves.

~ A. W. Tozer

"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people except Christians ever imagine that they are guilty themselves.
The vice I am talking about is pride. Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind... for pride is a spiritual cancer; it eats up the very possibility of love or contentment, or even common sense."
~ C.S. Lewis

"Humans are the only creatures that blush... or need to."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche