Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the importance of pneumatology

friday night i had the privilege of going with a friend of mine to hear philip yancey speak in berkeley. it was really great. the man has bad hair, but he has great things to say.

one of the things he said was that it's very interesting that today the evangelical church is known best for what it's against, particularly abortion and homosexuality, two issues that existed in Jesus' time but in much more egregious forms. babies were carried to term but then abandoned by the sides of roads. homosexuality existed primarily between older men and young boys, still illegal in most countries today. and yet, Jesus didn't say a word about them. interesting. not that they're not importan issues. just interesting. so the evangelical church spends a lot of energy and resources talking about something Jesus never mentioned.

i grew up in an evangelical tradition that did not emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit. obviously they acknowledged the Spirit's existence, but didn't make a big deal of it. there was a big reaction against pentacostalism so that people looked askance at anyone who even raised a hand during worship. there was not a lot of time spend trying to understand the Holy Spirit, which resulted in a weak pneumatology.

is it any wonder, then, that the evangelical church has decided to take on the Holy Spirit's job?

in john 16 Jesus said, 7Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocatea will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong aboutb sin and righteousness and judgment: 9about sin, because they do not believe in me; 10about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

so, it's up to us to go and make disciples and up to the Holy Spirit to deal with the world. i'm just saying...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

i've got issues

i'm in a bit of a church shopping mode right now, which is no fun. at this moment i'm loosely affiliated with a church in marin, but i'm struggling with them theologically. they are fairly reformed in their theology and i am growing more wesleyan as i get older.

the one particular issue that i'm finding to be sticky is their observance of the lord's supper. it is stressed in the service that those who do not have a relationship with Jesus are not to partake. i have issues with this and i need to have a conversation with the pastor, but before i do, i need to straighten out my own position on the issue.

i have found that most denominations who place restrictions on the taking of communion do so based upon paul's words in 1 corinthians 11. here he is addressing abuses of the ordinance in the corinthinan church. it seems that those who were more well off and didn't work for a living got to the gatherings first and just started eating. those who did work got there later, but by the time they did, there wasn't any food left. he says in verses 21-22 "for when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper and one goes hungry and the other becomes drunk. what! do you not have homes to eat and drink in? or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?"

in the following few verses he he recounts Jesus' words at the last supper, instituting the ordinance. then he goes on to discuss taking the supper in an "unworthy manner."

"whoever, therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an wunworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. for all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. for this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. but if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. but when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we my not be condemned along with the world. so then, when you come together, wait for one another. if you are hungry, at at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation."

ok - now i know that God takes issues of social justice seriously. he sent the people of israel into exile because they were cheating the poor. paul says here that some are ill and some have even died because they were taking in an "unworthy manner." but what does that mean.

it seems to me that it means that if you are looking out for yourself, taking the supper to meet your own needs without considering the needs of others, that's unworthy. not if you're part of our club or not.

my other issue is that i don't see exclusion anywhere in Jesus' life. he gave the last supper for Judas. what do we do with that? i hear him saying come to me, all who are weary, and i will give you rest. in the supper we have the recollection of the sacrifice made for us so that all could be reunited with their intended place in the kingdom.

so who should take of the supper? i think anyone who is interested in following Jesus, at any level, should be welcomed.

Monday, June 05, 2006


i have a couple of thoughts rolling around in my head after church yesterday. i sang at bay marin again, which is always a fun experience. great church, great folks, great vision.

a gentleman called avery badenhop shared about his experiences as a person who jumps off high things for a living. not my cup of tea, but whatever. he made the point that we all have something we were created to do and that "God loves it when we fly."

i totally dug that idea because i'm in such a great place right now in a lot of ways but in a difficult place in others. i have such a great future ahead - a big project that will hopefully be funded by a grant that will allow me some great experiences. a burgeoning relationship with a non-profit that will allow me to do some things i've been wanting to do in africa. relationships with churches that will most likely lead to a huge social justice-oriented event joining together churches in marin. a lot going on, all of it great, and yet i'm still feeling some angry, vengeful things. i know that there's no logic to that, but it is the reality right now.

so, i've decided that i'm going to live in this place. rather than judge my feelings or try to run from them, or reason them away, i'm living with them. i've asked God to sit with me in them and help me learn from them, and it's really helping. i don't feel alone or that i'm struggling. it's helping me to fly, even though i've got some extra cargo at the moment.

we all have these things that God has given us to do and when it comes down to it, it's a humbling thing that God would ask us to do anything, but he does and it's pretty cool. i recently heard someone say that God's job is not to make us happy and give in to what we want, but to father us to maturity. i think that one of the ways he does that for us is to give us jobs that we think we can't always do, but then he gives us the tools to do them and then makes things happen that we would never expect. it's a pretty good arrangement, even if it doesn't always go smoothly.

go read 1 Chronicles 17