Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hades brother of Zeus

I just learned that Hades was the older brother of Zeus in Greek Mythology. He was the god of the underworld, the unseen realm where the dead go when they leave this world. Eventually the term also came to refer to the abode of the dead.

So when Hades is mentioned by Jesus and other New Testament writers, were they referring to the Hades of Greek mythology? To what degree did they believe this stuff?

I'm just journaling this for now. I don't know what to do with this.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

If Martin Luther lived today

I just re-read Martin Luther's 95 Thesis. When I started My 95 Thesis series of posts I was thinking Luther was taking issue with 95 separate issues with the Roman Catholic church of his day. But it looks like this trigger point of the protestant reformation was basically one issue described in 95 points or sentences. Indulgences was the main issue Martin Luther wanted to start a dialog around.

So my logic around naming My 95 Thesis series is a bit flawed. I have more than one issue I'd like to see some dialog around today.

I also wonder... If Martin Luther lived today, would he still write something similar to his 95 Thesis?

I think it's safe to say the main points in Luther's 95 Thesis are no longer concerns in the Roman Catholic church. I think the counter reformation of the 1500's - 1600's addressed most of those concerns.

A Catholic friend of mine had never even heard of indulgences until an 'evangelical' friend of her's told her how wrong it was for her to believe such things. She had to go look it up to figure out what all the fuss was about.

The war on this battle line is over, but many of the troops haven't been informed.

Is there still a need to protest the Roman Catholic church? There are other differences that have emerged, but if they are big issues for you, wouldn't dialog be more constructive? ... and that is what Martin Luther originally desired.

Are there issues with the traditions of the protestants that should also discussed?

If someone was to protest the protesters... what would they be called?

Monday, March 15, 2010

God's Mercy and Grace

Look at the history of God's people, recorded in Scripture, and throughout history. Then I look at my personal life.

How does God put up with us?

We get some of it right, but we sure do get a lot of it wrong.

Apply this perspective to our varying forms of doing church. I suspect all 30,000 + denominations are off base in a range of areas. But as I've visited different church traditions, I get a sense that God is active and working in the lives of many of these people. I'm pretty sure each group has got some wrong theology. Many have missed the focus of works, living out their faith, being living examples of who Christ is. Many have traded in a personal relationship with the living God for some form of religion. And many have lost their true love for their Lord.

But within each of these attempts at being Christ's church, I believe God is still present and active.

Why would God bless the work of people who have got it so wrong?

How can God Work through institutions that have wrong teachings, actions, or have lost their love for Him?

How can God work through institutions that maintain and promote divisions within His one body?

I think it's the same grace and mercy that I know God extends to me daily that he also extends to others. God must be OK loving us even when we get it wrong. He must be OK working in and through us, even when we make a mess of it all.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Theology After Google

This past week there was a "Theology After Google" conference in California. I did not attend, and don't know much about it, but just listened to a podcast about it. I recognize Google is playing a new role in our current era. We know the printing press had a huge impact on Christianity. It put the printed Bible into the hands of the common folk. The internet is taking this a step further. With a simple search one can access volumes of past and present Christian resources larger than pastors and church leaders in previous generations could have collected on their bookshelves.

A couple of thoughts...
  • The printing press allowed Christians to send written messages to the masses.
  • Radio allowed Christians send audio message to the masses.
  • TV allowed Christians to send video and audio to the masses.
  • The internet is sending video, audio, and text... but it is allowing the masses to also interact with the message... search for answers to their own questions, and dialog with others on similar journeys.
Yes these are potentially dangerous times for theology. Individually we need to rely on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and other wise godly people in our lives, or we could potentially go way off track. It is much safer if the masses would just follow the teachings of the trained leaders of the Church. (But which church tradition? The ones that have the longest history, that have changed the least over time??? Or a church tradition founded on questioning past traditions, yet hesitant to allow it's traditions to be questioned...)

Then I had to check what searches are common with Google:
Ouch... 'Christianity' is taking a bit of a beating by the average Google user.

At least God and Jesus are fairing a bit better.

And I see some interesting searches for the term church.

It's good to recognize what tools and sources we allow to influence our beliefs.

Past generations benefited from radio, tv, and the printing press to spread the good news of Jesus. I just thought it's interesting to recognize the role the internet is playing today.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Ecclesia Reformata, semper reformanda

"Ecclesia Reformata, semper reformanda," which means "the Reformed church, always to be reformed." In the context of the sixteenth century (and the mind of the Reformers) this phrase does not mean that the church is always morphing into something new with the passage of time (a common misconstrual in our own day). Instead, this seventeenth-century motto is consistent with the Reformers' idea that they were not innovating, but "turning again" to the form of the church and belief originated by Jesus Christ, lived out by the first disciples and early church, and born witness to in the writings of the Old and New Testaments shorn of later additions.

We just did the biggest spring cleaning around our home. Every couple of years we clean out different rooms and get rid of stuff we don't need. But there's always some items we keep but never use. Who knows, I may need those old MS-DOS disks - (I don't even own a floppy drive anymore... but.... but...).

This year we were motivated to create more living space in our home. Instead of buying a bigger home we knew we needed to empty all the junk we've collected that we just don't need. There was a lot of good 'junk', but we realized that we'd be better off without it. (And the Salvation Army could put some of it to better use.)

One may view the reformation period like a spring cleaning. The church threw out some trash that had accumulated.

Did the reformation overlook or hang onto some items that could have been disposed of? Have we accumulated some new trash that is inconsistent with the way that Jesus left for us?

Is there still room to reform further? What do you think?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Freedom From Biblicism

I recently came across this article from: http://www.christinyou.net/pages/brinsmead.html

By: Robert D. Brinsmead

Living under the bondage of the law rather than in the freedom of the Spirit can assume many forms.

In our time, living under the law may assume the form of biblicism. Many suppose that the evangelical faith stands or falls on the matter of biblical inerrancy ­ meaning that the very letter of Holy Scripture is without any error in everything it affirms, including theology, history, ethics, geography, biology and chronology.

The great danger of biblicism is that, instead of being used solely in the service of the gospel, the Bible becomes a book of rules about many other issues. Christians may become enslaved to the Bible just as the Jews became enslaved to the Torah ­ their Holy Scripture (John 10:34,35). Just as the Jews barricaded themselves behind the letter of the Torah to oppose Jesus, so we may easily barricade ourselves behind the letter of a supposedly inerrant Scripture to oppose the gospel's festival of freedom.

There can be a false faith in the bible. In the proper spiritual sense faith is an act of real worship which should be rendered solely to the Creator (John 9:35-38). Saving faith is not faith in the Bible (for even the Christ-denying Pharisees trusted in the Bible ­ John 5:39) but faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:22-26). While Catholics have been particularly susceptible to ecclesiology ­ the worship of the church ­ Protestants have been disposed toward bibliolatry ­ the worship of the Bible.

The purpose of all Scripture is to bear witness to Christ (John 5:39; 20:31). The Bible in itself is not the Word of God. The Word of God is a person (John 1:1). Neither does the Bible have life, power or light in itself any more than did the Jewish Torah. These attributes may be ascribed to the Bible only by virtue of its relationship to Him who is Word, Life, Power and Light. Life is not in the book, as the Pharisees supposed, but only in the Man of the book (John 5:39).

The Bible is therefore to be valued because of its testimony to Jesus Christ. The Bible is absolutely trustworthy and reliable for the purpose it was given. It is designed to make us "wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15), not wise on such subjects as science, history and geography ­ which it is our responsibility to learn through general revelation.

That which makes the Bible the Bible is the gospel. That which makes the Bible the Word of God is its witness to Christ. When the Spirit bears witness to our hearts of the truth of the Bible, this is an internal witness concerning the truth of the gospel. We need to be apprehended by the Spirit, who lives in the gospel, and then judge all things by that Spirit ­ even the letter of Scripture.

If we do not allow the Bible to be the Word of God ­ the bearer of the gospel ­ it might be better to follow Luther's advice to read some other book. For if the Bible is not used in the service of the gospel, it may either find people mad or make them mad.

We must stop using the Bible as though it were a potpourri of inerrant proof-texts by which we can bring people into bondage to our religious traditions. (For in practice the only inerrancy we ever defend is the inerrancy of our religious traditions and our way of reading the Bible.) We must no longer use the Bible as the Pharisees used the Torah when they gave it absolute and final status. Christian biblicism is no different from Jewish legalism. It is the old way of the letter, not the new way of the Spirit (Rom. 7:6).

Jesus and Paul declare that apart from the Spirit we cannot understand the truth (John 16:13; I Cor. 2:14). This means that unless we are caught up in the Spirit of the gospel, we cannot understand or use the Bible correctly. Apart from the gospel the Bible is letter (gramma), not Spirit (pneuma). "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (II Cor. 3:6,17).

(Brinsmead, Robert D. "A Freedom from Biblicism" in The Christian Verdict, Essay 14, 1984. Fallbrook: Verdict Publications. Pgs. 9-14).

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