Haggard and Dawkins

31 01 2007

Very disturbing video. I don’t want to beat up on anyone, but I was not surprised by Haggard’s fall. There is something wrong with the kind of Christianity that tries to force everyone to believe the way you do, and makes Christianity look like one big show that you put on every week. When you amass that much power and influence, I bet that it is tough to admit your weaknesses to someone else. I think that this video proves that the megachurch model simply is not the healthiest one, especially for the ones who are in charge. Mind you, I have not decided that all megachurches are bad, there are some I like, with pastors I really look up to, but it is not for me.


Rick Warren on Hannity & Colmes

31 01 2007

The video is of rather poor quality, but I like how Warren represents both himself and the faith.

God, Violence, and Genocide

27 01 2007

They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. Joshua 6:21

I do not like it when God sends death and destruction upon humanity, but it does not cause a crisis of faith for me. I do believe that since God is our creator, He has the inherent right to destroy us. However, I do have a problem with those Scriptures where God calls for the destruction of entire groups of people at the hands of other people, usually Jews. This does create a crisis of faith for me because all manner of religous fanatics from Eric Rudolf to Osama Bin Laden use the Bible and the Q’uran to justify violence in the name of God. This lends credence to the argument from my atheist friends that religion is the greatest cause of evil in the world. This is the kind of argument that people like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have been making. And let me state at the outset that Messers Harris & Dawkins are not the enemy, violent religious extremists who kill in the name of God are. They give all theists everywhere a bad name.

Let me state first that though I am a Bible-believing Christian, I do not accept those parts of the Bible that have God commanding people to kill for Him. Call me selective in my application of Scripture, but I do believe that if the Hebrew Bible was perfect and complete, that there would be no need for Jesus and the New Testament.

Second, in a pluralistic world, believers of whatever stripe are going to have to be comfortable with people disagreeing with what they believe. Moreover, many people are going to be very disrespectful and irreverent towads every permutation of religious faith, including your own. And the more you try to ram your faith down other people’s throats by using politics or violence, the more people are going to disrespect you and your faith.

I think that the way forward for Christian believers in navigating the problem of religious violence against non-believers is to follow Paul’s admonition: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”1Corinthians 5:12. Further, I also think that the way we influence those who think differently than we do is not through the ballot box, with bullets or diatribes, but rather, being the kind of community that speaks cogently to the larger culture, not by what we say but how we live.

What if we had churches that became demonstration projects for the truth of the Gospel? Imagine, multi-ethnic congregration that are racially reconciled and build homes for the homeless, and care for widows and orphans. I suspect that if we had a bunch of churches like this, that even Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins would be impressed.

Life is Hard

5 01 2007

Things have been crazy, my pay has been significantly decreased since November by InterVarsity (I have to raise my own support). Plus, we had a pipe burst the night before last, and water was everywhere. We had to shell out over $800 to get it fixed, and then the plumber told us that our drain pipe is broken and that is another $800 fix. On the very next day (yesterday) I was asked to resign from my new job selling Honda’s at a local dealership. I don’t know if we will have enough money to pay our mortgage and the van note this month and the months to come. And I don’t have a clue what to do. Life is hard and it is certainly not a board game. And we just got the board game for our three girls for Christmas. It is their favorite game. We just played it during our family time together a few days ago. They love this game, I hate it, because it only reminds me how difficult life is and all of the mistakes that I have made.

The funny thing is that I specifically heard God say that this year, 2007, would be a year of blessing for us as a family. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not some kind of prosperity, name-it-and-claim-it, preacher. But I do believe that God is going to bless us both spiritually and materially this year. Yet I also believe that life is going to continue to be difficult and hard. I guess it is supposed to be that way. I just saw “The Pursuit of Happyness” with my wife. The main protagonist of the movie, Chris Gardner said near the beginning of the movie that the framers of the Constitution were on to something when they put in the preamble of the Constitution something about the “pursuit of happiness”. Chris made the salient point that happiness is never a destination, but a pursuit, a striving towards some kind of ineffable goal.

I think that Chris is on to something here. I don’t think we ever arrive at a total place of bliss, at least not in this life. But I do believe that we can experience joy right now. Joy is not the absense of difficulty or pain. It is actually a choice to choose to be joyful inspite of how hard life is. This means that ultimately, you have to have faith in order to experience deep and utter joy.

So yes, life is hard. I am having a really tough time right now, but I still have faith, hope, love, and yes…joy.