Friday, May 28, 2004

On Leadership

James has some interesting thoughts on leadership. This is something salvationists including myself need to hear.

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An update

I've been awol for a while.
I can't say it has been an easy week.
Tolani and I have been wrestling with the fact that she has miscarried twice. This is a very sad thing. I have spent most of the last week and a half in depression. I was functional to a degree though.

Wednesday we had a doctors appointment. He said she was fine and all the tissue passed. But we're nor fine. We are going to run some tests on Tolani to see if there is something that is wrong. Its just some blood work.

Other then that we are planning a vacation for mid-July. We are taking two weeks and doing some camping in the redwoods, in Florence OR where my grandparents live, and we will spend some time with Julius and Shannon Murphy. They live in the bay area. We are looking forward to vacation. It is needed.

Depression has made me theologically dead. I have not thoughts and no new topics. I hope this doesn't last long.

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Friday, May 21, 2004

pain is an interesting thing

Thanks for everyone's support and space.

At the first miscarriage we both felt a great deal of anger. All I feel now is sadness. Emotions are an interesting thing. I am only beginning to grasp my emotions. I still do not understand them. I am starting to accept them though. The last few weeks have been horrible. It has felt like purgatory or hell at times. I have had brief thoughts of running. Not only would that not accomplish anything, it would add to the pain, and it would go against every thing in my body. I am madly in Love with Tolani. I could never leave her. Sometimes emotions just don't make sense. I Love Tolani with all my heart mind and body. Even in the sadness my Love grows stronger.

Tolani I Love You!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

update

Tolani miscarried today. I am not mad just sad.
I don't know what else to say.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

More Waiting

We went to the doc today. He saw a sack starting to develop. At 7 weeks there should be more. Either her ovulation was way off 2 weeks or so, or she is going to miss carry. I just hate not knowing.

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Monday, May 17, 2004

Future

Well we will be staying in Redondo Beach at least one more year. It will be interesting. It looks as though I will be doing what I am currently doing without much change.

More on how Tolani is doing tomorrow.

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Apology

It has come to my attention that my blog, my thoughts, and my language has caused some concern within the Army. I am sorry if anything I have said has offended anyone.

Again Sorry,
Blessings

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Saturday, May 15, 2004

Meaning of Faith/belief

I am teaching on very interesting subject tomorrow.

I have felt for the longest time that having faith required action. Or there is an ethical implication in faith. So I spent some time in Kittle (TDNT) and Brown (NIDNTT). These are some excellent lexicons. I came across an interesting fact. In the NT world the word faith (belief is simply the verb form) had two meanings. There was a Jewish meaning where faith was simply intellectual. It was having knowledge of something. Faith and belief were separate and not necessarily linked to action. One could believe things about God, Israel was God's chosen people, and yet act in a manor that was contrary to this belief.

In the Hellenistic world however, Faith carried with it an ethical implication. Faith (no matter what kind) required ethical choices in line with faith. Actions should come out of and correspond to faith.

I think this might account for 1) the different ideas and uses of Faith. James (writing to Jews) felt an obligation to point out that "Faith without works is dead." Paul never made such a declaration. He said we are saved through faith. If his Hellenistic audience understood the ethical implications of faith then he did not need to repeat himself.

Faith in the gospels hits both ideas. Jesus asks repeatedly "do you believe in me." To say I believe in Jesus meant that action was required. Following or obeying was part of faith. Faith and belief were not purely mental certainties.

A commentator in NIDNTT says "The faith of Jesus was directed towards reality. It was deeply involved in the act of living, and was on a completely different plane from hypothetical abstractions."

Faith and Belief requires ethical action. Since Luther Protestants have argued that we can not earn salvation. (I agree) Many have taken this to say that faith has nothing to do with action. Obedience to Christ is secondary to faith. Thus we spend much energy on defending orthodoxy and forgetting orthopraxy.

Faith divorced from its ethical implications is not faith. Faith requires ethical action. It requires us to follow Christ. It requires that we live Christ's example.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2004

New look

Well you come and see a new look.


Other news:
The news from the doctor today was marginal. Tolani has been having cramps for the last week. They went away yesterday. But the ultrasound saw nothing that would indicate the pregnancy has taken hold. She might miscarry again only time will tell. I will keep you all posted.

Monday moves are announced in the SA. I will post on Monday where I will be in July.

I hope to dialogue tomorrow about my next thought on following God. There are two topics on my mind. Agape, active love, and money, how we follow God in dealing with money. I will start with money because that is simpler. Agape will take us down many roads.

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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Re: Tom and Paul

I understand your struggle however; I can not help you with your question. I am not looking to form a framework where God is "sovereign over future events." In some ways I like chaos theory.

On the other hand. God is still creating. It is in this act that God answers prayers. Creating and recreating.

One side bar, often we do not know if God answered a prayer or if stuff just happens. Shit happens and life is recreated. Both are part of creation.

Tom: Greg Boyd is a good start. Kevin has some great resources as well. I am not in the business of defending open theism or postmodernity. Modernity and postmodernity are both true, as are other non-western worldviews. This worldview effects how we see and communicate with God. A modern worldview bases itself out of a picture theory of language. Words create pictures. Thus Language always has the same meaning. Words mean the same regardless of their culture.

A postmodern understanding of language is that of a game. Language is bound by context. Words are written in a context, words are read in a context. The result of that is meaning. Meaning is contextual. As a result I do not know if I can show you open theism in scripture. We find ourselves in two different worlds. As a modern you read scripture as a modern. You see an unchanging and sovereign God. You are not wrong.

As a postmodern I read a text that tells me that God changes his mind. I read how God repented in Gen 6. I read that even when the scriptures were written people saw God differently in different cultures. Thus we are left with many contradictions with is scripture. I read a God who is active in this world creating and recreating all of creation.

I am not wrong, neither are you. I am not right, neither are you. All we have is who we are. We come and seek to follow Christ in our time.

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Friday, May 07, 2004

A response

Paul asked me a question:
Hi Bill.
How do you reconcile the unanswered prayers we often endure with the "power praying" we hear so much of in the Christian world right now? How does this affect your prayer life? Personally I see much honesty and truth in what you say about prayer and find myself extremely challenged in this area lately. Email me if you like.

Keep up the excellent thoughts!

Paul

He speaks about "power praying." I'm not sure but I believe Paul is referring to things like prayer of Jabez and other ideas. My understanding of it is that if we keep praying for something then eventually we will persevere in our prayers and they will be answered. This is a staple with the Pentecostal Faith Movement and has started to come into main stream evangelicalism. We pray the same prayer until God answers.

Paul asks how do I reconcile "unanswered prayers." For me its simple.

Jonny is 6. Every couple days he goes with his mom to the store on their way home from his after school program. Once every couple weeks he asks his mom if he can have a candy bar or an ice cream cone. His mother almost always says yes unless it is going to be too messy or it will spoil his diner. Sometimes she buys him something but he can not eat until after diner. She loves him.

Jonny is 8. Every couple days he goes with his mom to the store on the way home. He has learned that if he asks for candy he gets it. So he has started ask every time they go to the store. Most of the time his mom says no. Every couple weeks she gives him candy.

Jonny is 10. Jonny has learned that the more often he asks the more often that mom says yes. But lately he has started to ask even when they are at home. He will ask before school and after school and before he goes to bed. Jonny's mom has grown weary of the constant nagging. In many respects she has stopped listening. On occasion she will hear but simply answer no. Nagging just doesn't work.

Jonny is 12. He has started to be a fox. He tries to use long sentences and big words to get what he wants. For a while it worked. But soon his mother learned it was the same old game. Jonny never got any more candy or ice cream. He was mad at his mother for not answering his request. His mother was just tired of listening.

Why do we act as though we are little children always asking for a good thing? Will God spoil us? Sometimes we are so immature. Why are some prayers not answered? I think sometimes God gets tired of nagging and just want fellowship and conversation. He truly stops hearing us.

Secondly, I think often we pray for things that
1) are not in God's nature to do.
2) are not in God's power to do.

heresy, God can not do something? Is not God sovereign?

I said before I see and hear an open God. If i ask God to change the past or the consequences of a past action he can not. He does not have the power to change the past.

God can not show us the future. If the future is yet to written he can not show it to us. He shows visions and dreams, they are not the literal future.

God can not "punish our enemies. I have heard people pray for Saddam to die and the like. Or even that Clinton would go to jail. It is not in God's nature to take sides in political struggles. Israel is no longer the chosen race so why would God supernaturally intervene on behalf of one nation? God fights against principalities and powers not stupid humans.

It is not in God's nature to make us rich. Often people pray for wealth. They pray that God would tap into his heavenly gold and give us some. The problem is it is mostly Americans praying this prayer. We are all rich so shut up.

Sometimes i think we see God as this all powerful father whose job it is in life to give us gifts. We portray Christmas like that and we pray think that. God is not about giving gifts. God is about being in community with us. Walking talking and crying with us.

Maybe our prayers are not answered because we ask for too much. We think rattling off our wish list is praying. If you have a friend you want to be able to vent just say what is bugging you on that given day. If you always ask the person to fix it then 1 they will eventually run. 2 they will not be able fix it so you will run to someone who can.

Lets be real friends with God. Real beings in community with each other.

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Sunday, May 02, 2004

Following God part 1

Before you read this post please read the previous post as it serves as an introduction to this thought process.

I want to start by saying I am answering a question which is impossible to answer. I am also asking a question which is contextual. The question speaks to both a person and the context which the person exists. Following Christ in Africa looks very different then following here on the left coast. There are many different ways for me to address this. I am going to focus on this topically. It may end up looking like a set of spiritual disciplines. In my mind it is more like a story that can only be discussed topically. It is too large and ever changing.

I want to start by talking about prayer.

This topic is probably the most personal of all topics. Most prayer is never seen or heard by anyone except God. Growing up I was told, like all good evangelicals were, to have a quiet time. Take a half hour out for God and that means you'll be a good Christian. I never could. Most people I knew never could. It was some sort of ideal that was never reached. This idea of quiet time I deconstructed. I felt liberated. I was free to pray whenever however I need and or want. Over the last three years I have been living looking out over the ocean. I take what I call prayer walks. I walk around the campus communicating with God. Talking out loud and listening. Sometimes, a piece of art will bring me to prayer. This why I have an affection for catholic, orthodox, and Episcopal churches. They are a place which brings the person to prayer.

The next thing I deconstructed was language. Growing up there was two types of prayer. First, English which used words like thee and thou, Father in heaven, and other church language. There was a perception that I could not be real, I couldn't tell God "Life sucks."

The other thought was as a Pentecostal there was the expectation that I spoke in tongues. This is theological mess but I say simply I see no value in saying words I don't understand.

I have started to be real with God. Talking to him like I would any close friend. I use whatever words I must to convey what is on my heart and mind. I have prayed "God I'm pissed off right now." And many other prayers that conveyed by pain.

My challenge is simple be real in your prayers.


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Saturday, May 01, 2004

belief vs following

I have spent most of the day blogging. Seeing some new blogs and being challenged by some old friends. Dwight has been dealing with the idea of what is essential doctrine? He calls this the naked gospel. In two weeks I am preaching. Something struck me recently and was reiterated by a friend at Praiseworks. There is difference between accepting (or believing) and following. To accept Christ or believe in Christ means acknowledging a set of beliefs. However, belief is not enough. James 2 gives an excellent rational for why belief is not enough. I short belief is purely an intellectual exercise. Modernity is built upon the belief in rationality. The maxim is "I think therefore I am." The result has been a salvation based upon rational acceptance of "facts." When we accept these certain facts about Christ we are saved. We are as Luther put Justified by faith alone. Faith is defined by Hebrews 11:1. Faith is evidence and assurance. In this sense faith and belief are synonyms. In fact by Luther's insistence that salvation has nothing to do with works (sola fide or "James is a strawy epistle) makes salvation an intellectual enterprise. The revival movements only popularized this theology and gave us the language of acceptance; ask Jesus into your heart, do you believe in Jesus, and the like.

To say that Salvation is anything but belief has brought outcries and condemnations. Saying things like "you believe in a works based salvation" or "you have no faith." The problem has been that we continue to use the language of modernity. While Faith or belief is essential for salvation what beliefs are essential? I will let Dwight continue to answer this question. But is more the Faith required? While I understand why Luther said what he said, Luther's thoughts no longer work in a postmodern society. Christ never calls people to just believe. He calls us to follow. So what does it mean for us to follow Christ?

In endeavoring to answer this over the next couple weeks I will also be looking for some new language.

First, I will use belief as synonymous with faith. As I said belief is different the salvation.

Second, I will not use the word saved. This word carries too much modern baggage to reclaim. Instead I use either reconciling, or being saved, or another word that shows the process nature of Salvation.

Salvation will refer to complete or full salvation, body, soul, and spirit or internal, external, and eternal aspects of salvation.

Holiness or holy will refer to a lifestyle of following Christ's example being transformed to His image.

Finally, I will be working under the assumption that orthopraxy (right practice) leads to orthodoxy (right belief). Also orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy. In other words they happen at the same time. As we endeavor to be holy orthodoxy happens. I operate under the believe that orthodoxy does change as circumstances change and while the naked gospel remains the flesh changes in every culture as orthodoxy and orthopraxy are inseparable. I culture demands a change to orthopraxy there will be a change to orthodoxy.

Thus I start the process of answering the question what does it mean to follow Christ?

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News

This week has been interesting. Among other things, we found out the Tolani, my wife is pregnant. I will a dad in January. WOW who would have thunk it?

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A couple New Blogs

I found an interesting conversation taking place over in England at Gordon's blog. Its taking place at Barky's and Matt's blogs.

The discussion has centered around thoughts of righteousness and justice. I would encourage you to read this discussion as it continues. I want to think about the issue here on the left coast. (People joke about it but it’s true, we are more liberal, but still...) In the SA we have a problem. The question is why do we do social work? I see three views.

First, it is all about the money. If we stop the money stops. Thus we do social ministry half assed. We simply hand out food and act like we are doing a good thing and then tell everyone so that we can get money to run the business.

Secondly, Salvationists do social ministry as a way to "get people saved." There is large chunk of officers in this camp. They are the evangelicals. The purpose to life is eternal salvation. Furthermore the emphasis is on the individual. Thus we can provide the essentials of life and yet support social policies that cause people to be poor or have a sub-American lifestyle. (ie not advocating for socialized medicine, or opposing higher minimum wage, or supporting unjust immigration laws, ect) This evangelical ideal focuses only on the individual in isolation.

Third, there are group (I do not know how large) of Salvationists who believe in full salvation. The individual salvation is part but can not be treated in isolation. As Salvationists we are engaged in social salvation. Early on in the Army entire communities were transformed because the Army lived God's justice. In this camp we will disagree as to what individual salvation means. However, the emphasis is on salvation and holiness as a process.

If Justice is defined as "what God considers right" (Matt's blog) then what are we to do? I can believe that God's justice means equality, peace, love, honesty, not screwing other people over, and ect. The problem in evangelicalism is that they believe all this. But argue that the kingdom is something in the future. God will bring in the kingdom we sit and wait until then. We can not expect God's justice to be seen here. Thus we stand in our pulpits talking some internal religious bull and making it appear that Salvation has no consequences here on earth.

Yet Christ says follow me. I am an open theist to use the theological term because otherwise why are we still here? Furthermore, if the future is set, if God knows the future, then what does it matter what I do? I can do whatever I want the future will still happen. What if everyone lived that way? Besides, Christ says "follow me. Do as I do, proclaim God's justice as I do. Work to see the kingdom come, as I do. Follow me."

William Booth believed that God's Kingdom would come as a direct result of the work of the SA. Somewhere along the way, we stopped believing this and rightly so. Instead many started to argue for and live a theology that says "God's kingdom will come when God chooses there is nothing we can do." So what the hell is the church for? Why the church? The church and the kingdom are linked. So, what will we do? What does it mean for the Church to live in God's Kingdom? I can not help but to look at society and say, "We must show God's justice." We must practice it and in so doing we will be very counter-culture. I must live God's justice. What does that mean? It means being political. The political system can either help or hinder the pursuit for justice. Only the government can solve the health care crisis. But it also means that my ministry becomes a transformational thing. Seeking to transform these communities. What else does it mean? How can I do this? Any thoughts?

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