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Showing posts from August, 2007

Book: Why Churches Die

I recently read Why Churches Die by Mac Brunson & Ergun Caner.
It’s a very easy to read book for the layperson – in fact, I read it thru in one day. The authors are pastors and write from their own experience about types of problems in the spiritual and social dynamics that kill or hinder churches spiritually. Each chapter presents a common problem with real life examples, and then attempt to connect it to a biblical example. Sometimes the discussions of biblical examples could be more succinct and to the point, and at times, they are forced, e.g., the example of Demas deserting the apostle Paul – forced, since very little is known about Demas, so applying it to specific church problems is forced.

Otherwise, they do a good job descriptively of pointing out some common problems, and that’s the strength of the book. Some of the common problems described include legalism, bitterness and unforgiveness, the spiritually dry and coasting syndrome, spiritual atrophy, gossiping, spiritua…

Faith is...

Faith is not like the simplistic illustrations we sometimes hear in sermons. It is not like sitting in a chair ("it's like sitting in a chair" some say, "you can believe it will hold you, but nothing happens till you sit down in it"). It is not like getting on an airplane ("faith is like flying - you may believe the jet can safely transport you, but nothing happens till you board the plane"). Those are cheesy illustrations that I used to hear a lot. Give me a break. Since when does sitting in a chair transform your life? Parking your rear in a chair is not a life-changing experience! Such illustrations cheapen faith. Thank God my church doesn't use such cheap illustrations.

In an apologetics discussion in a Bible study at an evangelical church years ago, I even heard faith being equated to intellectual belief, to mere acceptance of propositional claims of a religious nature, no different than accepting other intellectual facts. Such claims cheapen …

Mystical & charismatic Christianity

As a person with charismatic leanings, I have come to prefer Catholic / Anglican / Episcopal forms of charismatic Christianity. As mentioned in my last post, charismatic Catholicism goes way back to the early church, under the rubric of Christian mysticism. The reason I prefer these forms is because they are more balanced. Protestant charismatics and Pentecostals greatly overemphasize things like speaking in tongues, which are really a minor gift. Tongues have been practiced throughout church history, and there is no historical or scriptural basis for the claim that tongues and other charismatic gifts ever ceased*. But they have never been considered "a big deal" or in any way a sign that a person is more spiritual than another who doesn't do tongues or such gifts. Only with the advent of modern charismatic movements did such an extreme emphasis get put on tongues and charismatic gifts. St. Paul commanded us to desire the better gifts - in that context, he was referring …

Mysticism and charismatic Christianity

As I've read about church history in the past year, I've come to learn about mystical traditions that have been an essential part of the history of Christian practice. What we call mysticism refers first of all to proper, biblical forms of mysticism, which generally correspond to charismatic Catholicism (and related movements in other churches) in more modern terminology. It may also refer to some types of theology and practice that can be aberrant, speculative, and heterodox, which tends to give mysticism a bad name. But 'mysticism' should be understood primarily according to "mainstream mysticism".

Mysticism is essentially a lifestyle and theology of direct, personal experience with God, and thus, is emotional, passionate, and engages the person intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. It is grounded on a biblical understanding of the fear of God and the love of God, and thus, mystics approach God as a Being to be held in great awe and respect, yet one …

Responses to very liberal theology

I hope to post some thoughts on liberal theologians I've read lately. For lack of time, I'll post some links about Bishop Spong's rather liberal pop theology. First is a well written response to his theses from Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; second, a review of one of his earlier books from Probe Ministries (I don't necessarily vouch for PM, as they are sometimes too fundy, but this review is decent).

Book review: Green Eggs and Ham (Dr. Seuss)

Green eggs and ham, as a recolorized staple breakfast food, captures the reader's attention by turning this diurnal sustenance into an unexpected and apparently unappetizing foodstuff. It thus symbolizes the existential angst of modern life, wherein we are unfulfilled by modern life, and are repelled by something that might impart nourishment. The "protagonist" to be convinced of its desirability remains anonymous, while the other actor refers to himself with an emphatic identifier "Sam I am", formed with a pronominal subject and copular verb of existence. This character thus seeks to emphasize his existence and existential wholeness, and even establish a sense of self-existence, with an apparent Old Testament allusion to Elohim speaking to Moses as the "I Am". This emphatic personal identifier thus introduces a prominent theme of religious existentialism to the narrative, probably more in line with original Kierkegaardian religious existentialism, ra…