The wrath of God is a necessary corollary to His love. Were God not angry with our sin, He could not truly be said to love us. It is almost impossible to conceive of the absence of anger in any relationship marked by love. I deeply love my wife, when she is wronged by another I become angry at the injustice. I deeply love my children, but when one of them does something that places them in harm’s way—running into a road, for example—I become angry.Continue Reading...
Archives For Jesus
As our culture continues to grapple with the meaning of marriage, the Washington Post reported that vocal advocates of polyamory in the Unitarian Universalist church are detrimental to legal recognition of same sex marriage. You can read the original Post article here and the IRD’s commentary here.
Many traditionalists have asked the question: if same sex marriage is recognized, what next? This “domino effect” objection has been pooh-poohed by progressives as something of a straw man. Yet, as the Washington Post notes, the efforts of Unitarian “Universalists for Polyamory Awareness” (UUPA) threaten to demonstrate that perhaps this conservative objection is not as specious as it once appeared.
The article cites sociologist Peter Berger as observing that once you recognize same sex marriage, “you open the door to any number of other alternatives to marriage as a union of one man and one woman: polygamous (an interesting question for Muslims in Germany and dissident Mormons in Arizona), polyandrous, polygenerational – perhaps polyspecies?” If Berger is correct surely it is only a matter of time before the poly community poses the questions: “Why is marriage limited to two people?” “Why is marriage privileged over other arrangements?” According to the article, poly activist Kenneth Haslam has argued: “Poly folks are strong believers that each of us should choose our own path in forming our families, forming relationships, and being authentic in our sexuality.” The key concepts here are: autonomy, choice, and authenticity.
This stands in stark contrast with the Christian notion of the purpose of marriage. Marriage was ordained for the “procreation of children,” as a “remedy against sin,” and for the mutual society, help, and aid of the couple (Book of Common Prayer 1929).
These three concepts are external to us whereas the modern litany of autonomy, choice, and authenticity are self-focused. We enter into Christian marriage for the purpose of bringing children into the world who will be raised in the faith. We enter into Christian marriage for the purpose of limiting and focusing our sexual expression to one with whom we enter a solemn covenant. We enter into Christian marriage to support, encourage, love, and suffer with our spouse. These are concrete obligations that have stood the test of time and which tower over the mantra of “to thine own self be true” that has so bewitched our current moment.
Given the growing polyamory movement, is it really specious to argue that the legalization and normalization of same sex marriage will be the dropping of a domino whose tumble will have subsequent repercussions? I think not.
You can read the rest here.
On Saturday I experienced a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. After spending the morning doing various things to serve our downtown community, members of our church went out and invited everyone they met to have lunch with us. Many came.Continue Reading...
This week I’m in Madison, WI for InterVarsity’s annual leadership meetings. This year we’ve been hearing from Dr. Dan Meyer, Senior Pastor of Christ Church, Oak Brook (IL). Dan is the co-author of the IVP book, Leadership Essentials. In this morning’s session, Meyer quoted Augustine, the fifth century Bishop of Hippo on the role of the minister. It’s one of my favorite quotes on ministry.
“Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low-spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, litigants pacified, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with and all are to be loved.” -Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
This is a tall order, isn’t it? As I reflected on Augustine’s words I was reminded that in order to come anywhere close to doing this list requires that a pastor be–before all things–a saint, someone who is holy. Consider your pastors, are you giving them time, opportunity, and encouragement to become holier? I sometimes wonder whether the relative weakness of the American church has been caused by the relative functional godlessness of many of our leaders.
What needs to change in order to better facilitate godly leadership?
George G. Hunter, III. The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West…Again. 10th rev. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon, 2010). 130pp.
A single question is central to the mission of the local congregation: how can we translate the gospel message for our context? The answer to this question will have implications for every part of our life together. It will influence our discipleship, and it will shape our engagement with our city.
The last sixty years have witnessed significant change in American society. In 1953 few would have anticipated an African American President, the legalization of same sex marriage in several state, or the church being moved to the margins of society. Yet, these are the days we have been given and our commission is to faithfully and effectively communicate the gospel in this new milieu.
George Hunter’s book, The Celtic Way of Evangelism offers insight into how the Christian community can engage these new realities. To do so he draws on the Irish mission work of Saint Patrick, a British Christian who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. He escaped and years later returned to engage in a highly effective apostolic mission to the land of his captivity.
Hunter provides a significant amount of historical background that helps the reader come to know Patrick as well as the key distinctions between the Celtic and the Roman expressions of the Christian faith.
This book does not contain a strategy so much as express a vision of what the Christian community can be, and must be, in order to do effective mission in our post-Christendom culture. Hunter identifies ten characteristics of Celtic Christianity the translate to characteristics of effective missional communities today. I will highlight four: contact, community, contextualization, and conversation.
Conversion almost always happens in the context of a relationship (i.e., contact) with both an individual Christian and a community of Christians. Authentic, trusting friendship with a Christian is often a key avenue through which the Holy Spirit draws a not-yet Christian into the kingdom. Relationships–with all that is entailed with sustaining them–were central to the Celtic way of evangelism. Are you intentionally nurturing an authentic friendship with a not-yet Christian?
A unique understanding of community marked the Celtic approach to mission–belonging preceded believing. Celtic communities were hospitable to people, encouraging them to become a part of the community without the expectation that they change in order to be welcome. This is an echo of the gospel–God doesn’t require us to change before he welcomes us. Instead, he welcomes us in order to change us. As a church, are we welcoming strangers and people who aren’t like us? Or, do we inwardly expect people to change (learn “Christian etiquette) before they become part of our community?
Christian missiologist David Bosch informs us, “the Christian faith never exists except as ‘translated’ into a culture.” The job of the church is to work to effectively and faithfully ‘translate’ the message so that it can be heard by the members of our culture, one in which the Christian worldview is no longer ascendent. At the very least the work of contextualization requires taking seriously the changes in assumptions that are now evident in culture. For one, there is no longer an assumption that everyone ought to at least publicly give lip service to the Judeo-Christian ethics. If we start by assuming traditional ethics, our witness to the gospel will go nowhere fast.
Celtic Christianity placed a high value on conversation as opposed to presentation. Conversation is bilateral; presentation is unilateral. The ministry of conversation is central to becoming a new creation in Christ since we encounter the gospel most fully through relationships. Conversation is also significant for discipleship. Celtic Christianity emphasized the role of “spiritual friends” as companions as we follow the way of Christ–people who help us to live out the message in the midst of the realities of life in a broken world.
The Celtic Way of Evangelism is a helpful book that offers much to prayerfully consider as we collectively try to discern what it means both to love God ourselves and to lead our city to God as well.