Friday, April 07, 2006

Loved This Quote... (And Then an Aside)

...from the imonk at the BHT today.

Let me be clear: As a Christian, I'm interested in moral values, but I am more interested in the Good News of Jesus for sinners. I want my children to be moral, but I want them to know they are sinners more. I want my children and my students to be good examples and good people. But without the Gospel of Jesus at the core of whatever they are, all the morality in the world is useless.

The context was in that he gave a sermon at the school where he works based on this imonk post, and one of the teachers made it clear that she was offended.
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I always enjoyed Sunday School as I grew up. The older I grew, the more we learned to say thank you, say nice things to one another, and the youth leaders clapped me on the back, because they were nice and awesome guys, and made me feel good about myself. We learned that it was wrong to drink and take drugs and smoke and watch dirty movies and have sex with the girls, all of which made me look with extreme skepticism on the people who did such things. Those were the freaks, sleaze-bags, and rockers, and they were all going to Hell. I stayed away from them and strangers just like I was supposed to. I was taught a few manners and etiquette, and the good people appreciated my usage of all things polite. And since I became a member of the church because I consented to be baptized, I had made it with the in-club. I was a good person, thank God, and I was going to Heaven. Since I loved to hear good things about myself, it made me feel good that people nodded in approval when I said or did all the nice things. Mostly, it was always nice that no one told me how much I sucked as a person when what I really needed to hear was how much I sucked as a person.

Oh, regretfully but needfully, I figured it out for myself along the way. Or, it might be better to say that God held out a mirror and what I saw...

I should add that The Church was a part of that, and Godly people helped me start and continue on a journey toward real life, a road that I'm still wandering on and most of the time hardly know where I'm going. I fall more than I walk, and I'm not sure at all how many people see me and think they might want to come along. It's probably more important, though, for me to see them and look for their needs, and then relate Christ to them by administering to those needs. But I'm awful at it, mainly because I'm still so self-involved. Not to mention all the times I'm climbing off the path and leaving bread crumbs in my wake to find my way back to it.

God, save me from myself.

Thank Him, He did. At the Cross. I've got a long way to go, but I'm pressing on until I get there.

12 comments:

DugALug said...

Rich,

The monk is a mixer for sure. A Scrappy ladd that he is!

Too bad his points are sometimes muddled in his ability to get a rise out of folk.

-Doug

Rich said...

I'll admit that some of the more theological and philosophical discussions over at the BHT go over my head, and sometimes I lament the factions that have developed over the God Blogsphere. In fact, the whole heretic-hunting thing that sort of goes on really pisses me off. However, I believe Michael Spencer has the Gospel at the root of everything he's doing and the way he lives his life. Obviously, he's a sinner like you or me, and we all have our faults. But his wisdom's far greater than my own, and I benefit greatly by reading his essays and blogs.

DugALug said...

Rich,

Theology that is too cerebral really scares me. I believe that philosophy relying to much on man's intelect, os prone to great diversions and error.

It is a lot like engineering: The very best ones in the world are the ones that can explain what they do in plain english. The ones who use all of the high-tech fancy-schmancy words are either full of poopy-kakka; they only know a portion of what they are talking about; or they think that what they are doing is way to important for the lowly to grasp what they are doing.

Guys who talk to much religiosity, are in the same boat to me. The Gospel is practical and desiged for the layman: not for the intellegencia to interperate for the masses.

Christ's ministry took the mysteries of the universe and put them into the hands of those who couldn't read, write, and weren't on the cutting edge of IQ. Once again, God trumps our greatest brilliance with the tangibility of simplicity. And yet there is still room for the smarties too!

-Doug

Rich said...

Doug,

I gotta say, there's a lot of the Bible that goes over my head. Yes, you're right that I understand what I need to understand insofar as Creation, Fall, Israel, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and, to some extent, salvation. Put even more basic, I get what I need to know from Jesus, the Son of God, coming to earth as a man and dying on the cross for my sins and His Resurrection. But there's an awful lot that I don't get. And I'd say that all the different denominations and different eschatologies and all the different views and applications put on different aspects of God's Word attest to the fact that if some of it's not going over most people's heads at the very least there are a WHOLE PLETHORA of misunderstandings. (That's one reason I love codepoke's site so much - he's calling for people, locally, to worship together despite those philosophical and denominational differences. Which, let's face it, we're going to be worshipping with those people with different views after our resurrection, so why not start now? Not that I'm doing that at this point, but I think it's a noble calling. Oops, I'm digressing.)

But I for one am thankful for historians, seminaries, teachers, and ministers of God that can take a lot of the stories and and difficult texts - have studied them - and can explain them so that I can understand them at the point that I'm at now. That doesn't mean I shouldn't be studying and learning for myself. But I will say that my direction in life isn't leading me to study 2nd Temple Judaism to get a better understanding of the time in which Christ lived. So when someone like N.T. Wright, whose direction in life is towards that bit of history, I can be thankful that he writes books, some "dumbed down" for people like me and others scholarly that I try to wade through as well, so that I can better grasp what Jesus was saying to the people whom he was saying it and what those folks were saying to Jesus as well.

It's certainly not wrong, or even anything to be suspicious of imo, for intelligent people to be talking to intelligent people like at the BHT. (I'd imagine that if I went to a Southern Baptist Convention or an interdenominational fellowship of pastors and I got to be a fly on the wall, I'd definitely be listening to a lot of theological stuff that went over my head. I think that's fine, but at the same time, I also think I'd get a whole lot outta just being there and listening.) Most of what they say, I do understand. But there are no doubt discussions which are to comprehensive for me, and from those I glean what I can, study something if it's that important to me, and/or move on.

Yes, I believe that everyone's theology has errors. But Christianity has functioned despite these flaws because of the basicness of the Gospel that everyone can understand. However, to disregard what scholarly and intelligent Christians have to say because the Gospel is for everyone, to me, would be a colossal blunder. We'd have missed the Reformation. I'd venture to say (at my own peril if there are any strict Calvinists in the room) that many high-minded people who have come to Christ may not have done so had other intelligent Christians not given some rationale for the Gospel, and all of God's word really, so that it made sense to them.

Christ's ministry took the mysteries of the universe and put them into the hands of those who couldn't read, write, and weren't on the cutting edge of IQ.

Agreed. But still, those who couldn't read still had to have the Gospel told (or read) to them. Those who weren't on the cutting edge of IQ (you realize you're including me there, don't you?), they had to have exactly what Christ did explained to them, didn't they? Many times throughout history, who has done this reading and explaining? It ain't all bad.

[Sorry if I misread what you were saying. I do that sometimes, but then I'm not on the cutting edge of IQ ;)

Love ya, Doug.

DugALug said...

Rich,

for some reason, your number of comments isn't increasing. This post says that it has 2 comments on your main page, but when I open it, it says 3.

Very fishy!

-Doug

DugALug said...

Rich,

Studying the texts and talking about them is not only healthy, it is imperative to us understanding the fullness of the Gospel. There is nothing wrong with BHT or any group that tries to iron out these things. I would warn that relying too much on our own intellect is shaky and prone to fault. C.S. Lewis wrote a lot of stuff in this vein, yet, in reference to the bible, I think that the heart knowledge trumps his head knowledge.

The Gospel that my daughter presents and believes is far less convoluted and much closer to accurate than mine. My girl will read her miss-spider book and tell me why they are not living under God's rules. I told her this past weekend that she was perfect and she looked at me said: "Daddy?! Only God is perfect! I am made perfect by Jesus." All I could to is say "wow!" She is amazing.

You are right that those who couldn't read for themselves had to rely on the benevolence of others, but the concepts and principals put forth in the texts were geared towards everyone.

With this in mind, you should be better able to understand the need for Catholic heirarchy. In the early church, few were literate so they had to rely on an 'interpreter' of the holy texts to share the Gospel. As the Catholic Church began to grow, it was clear that social doctrine was creeping into the 'interpretations'. The church decided that they needed one guy to act as the ultimate authority on scripture. Hence the pope position was created.

Also the many traditions that Catholics perform are to emphasize the important elements of the Bible, from Lent, to Communion, these iconic-traditions communicate the basic components of the Gospel. But if you can read the Bible for yourself, how necesary are the elements? Not very! Yet this was how the Gospel and its principals were preverved for literally over a thousand years.

My only problem with discussions on places like BHT, and even sometimes what I hear/read in what I write is when the knowledge becomes more valuable than the concept. It is like putting the creation over the creator. I get excited at God's perfection and cleverness and the scarlet thread through the Bible. I need to get excited about God.

In saying that, I think it is our duty, if not obligation to study the scriptures and work out the many mysteries of life. Once again, I am such a hypocrite.

By the way, The IQ comment wasn't directed at anyone... most of all you Rich. I hope it didn't come off that way.

Denominations are an offshoot of people disagreeing on what they consider primary principals in the Bible. Yet most Christians clearly agree on what God thinks is important:

1) Salvation is through Christ alone.
2) Christ is/was fully divine and fully human.
3) God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three in one (Trinity).
4) All that is going on is part of God's Plan
5) A requirement of Faith toward salvation
6) Christ died and rose again in flesh and in spirit
7) The Bible is the ultimate reference. No other text is on par with the Canonized Scriptures.
8) God Created the Heavans, Earth and Man.
9) There is a Heaven and Hell and humans actually go there.
10) Redemption is through Jesus, and there is no other way.

It is the minutia of these points that makes the denominations. It is the failure of acknowledging all of these points that make them the litmus for cults such as the Unitarians, the LDS's, and the Jehovas Witnesses.

Love you too Compadre
-Doug

DugALug said...

Rich,

Bonus comment: I think you sell yourself way short in the smartness area. Just my opinion, but I love your observations on this site. They show you are seeking with your heart and trying to let your mind catch up.

Now if only Ken would get in line.

-Doug

Rich said...

Doug,

You didn't offend in the least (and I knew it was a general statement not aimed at anyone). I was trying to provide a bit of levity to an already-too-deep-for-me conversation.

And I agree with your list, but I think people run into problems starting out with number one on your list. "Salvation is through Christ alone." Christians would whole-heartedly agree with this statement in its essence, but then let's see what's added to it. The Sacraments (which are an extension of Christ in some denominations). Baptism (which is a sacrament to some, an ordinance to others, and a part of salvation in Christ to others).

So denominations start up at Number One on your list (and I understand you stated this when you spoke of the minutia). And then the proof-texting starts, etc. etc. etc. I won't even go into Number Two, which has it's own questions, and then on down the list.

For me to dissect the Truth from all the truth that's flying around, it's not so easy. And even for the layman, we're not supposed to stop at being babes in Christ, although I haven't personally made it that much farther yet. We're to journey on with Him, and be His disciples. Which mean we're to learn. And we learn from people with more wisdom than ourselves as well as from what God reveals to us in our own reading of His Word.

I don't think I see "knowledge" or "theology" over Christ in anything I read at The Internet Monk or the BHT. In fact, I think the imonk rails against that. His Jesus = Salvation post that I linked a few posts backs would be evidence of such. What I do see is wisdom, and I'm drawn to it. Don't worry, though, I see it from you, too, and lots of other place on and off the blogsphere. But when in Rome, I like to point out the Christians from the lions. So I highlight imonk's site. I love it.

(But I have no problem with you having problems with it... if you do)

DugALug said...

Rich,

I don't know what to say. I enjoy reading a lot of the monk's stuff too. I know he loves God and he makes a lot of good points. Still, you can't convince me he doesn't like to scrap a little, at the cost of being the devil's advocate. It grates on me a little sometimes. I do believe that imonk does 'rail' against blowhards, but he also fuels their ire.

At BHT, it is also hard for me to gauge if the posts are serious or they are just being sarcastic. It certainly makes for some lively banter.

Still, when you and I discuss the stuff on your blog, I know there is point. I don't think you pose questions for the sake of posing questions. There is a point to it, and I love hearing what other people think. I think I know a lot of theology, but I think there is quite a sea that separates me from arriving and I still love the journey.

As far a denominations, BHT is a microcosm of what is at the core of why they exist. People find sticking points and think that they cannot coexist with someone who thinks so differently then themselves.

Sacraments, baptism, escatology, pergatory, predestination, speaking in tongues, salvation through faith unto works..., all are sticking points that have caused rifts, wars, deaths, and blogspaces. I know there are universal truth's and I pray that we will uncover them. I think God is just chuckling at us.

I know that I have those moments where I further the discord, but I also know that my heart is to better understand what I cannot. It all makes me love blogging that much more.

Thanks for putting up with MY banter.

-Doug

Rich said...

I enjoy your banter, Doug. Thanks for putting up with mine.

I won't say much else. you make some really good points.

I will say this about the BHT: it's a running conversation of people of different Christian persuasions. That's what it is. Oh, and it's a bar. So anything that might come up... will. I don't think there's an agenda there except for open dialogue from different-minded Christians. So, yes, sometimes they're serious (like a guy crying in is beer and telling his life story to the other drunk next to him), sometimes they're frivolous (like Norm walking into Cheers and making his "Norm" comment), sometimes they're sarcastic (like college frat boys poking fun at one another) -- it runs the gamut. But if you listen well enough, you can pick up a lot of jewels for life. True life, I mean.

As always, Douggie, thanks for the discussion.

DugALug said...

Rich,

You are pretty great to put up with my rambling.

I really love your blog and your format makes for great daily reading.

BHT is clever as you have pointed out, but don't sell yourself short, you really have a cool outlook on life and Christianity. I don't think there is too much that you don't comprehend on BHT. I still love hearing about your struggles and insights they keep me fresh too!

I like hearing Ken's too.... well when he has some.


You're the man Rich!

-Doug

Rich said...

Doug,

I think we all know that the secret to our blogging is Ken's invisible posts.

You, too, are the man, Doug. And don't forget, everyone loves sticking it to the man.

Thanks for the kind words, btw.