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Posts Tagged ‘random thoughts’

Okay, I took the first post down because I don’t know if was done in the right spirit. I still want to communicate what I was trying to convey. I want to be honest today with my struggle. This will be real honest so I apologize if I offend you up front.

I want to give you a quick backdrop. I came out of extreme Pentecostalism. Though there I believe I was genuinely saved. I was attracted to their cause for holiness (or at least I thought). You see they were holy in matters that really don’t matter to Jesus. The way they dressed, they didn’t smoke or drink, they didn’t wear makeup and they had a high view of the Gifts of the Spirit. However when it came to gossip, judgmentalism and just plain on messiness they had no power in these areas.

I was first introduced to Reformed Theology by a good friend of mine. I had always wrestled with the truth of the scriptures but Jesus usually took the blame when some group of churches wasn’t lining up with what Jesus taught. To me Church and Jesus were joined at the hip. I So I was pushed into the arms of Reformed Theology. They didn’t run around the church, have huge restrictions (at least I thought) and they studied the bible a lot. Gave me a grip of head knowledge. I became smart pretty quick. For years these men could no wrong. If they wrote a book it was right, what they felt about the gifts (Master’s) was correct and the books they recommended was the books I read. I became a Reformed Groupie I guess you can say. I loved the fact that they would rip into the extreme Pentecostalism I read the books and everything (you know which ones). I loved the Doctrines of Grace and all they taught. Man I was excited about a lot.

Something happened to me along the way folks. I started to realize something. There seem to be a double standard consistently. As I read the books of those my favorite preacher was reading something became clear. Those who had good theology got a pass for heinous orthopraxy. Let me ask what is worse. A man who owns and sales slaves or a man who appoints a woman as an elder. Okay let me put it this way. Joel Olsteen vs Johnathan Edwards? Yes Joel Olsteen is horrible, but man, if you can look me in the eye and say one of the most prized theologians, one who can handle the text like a brain surgeon handles a brain couldn’t figure out that kidnapped men, women and children, kept against their own will, encouraged to engage in sexual immorality (remember most slaves couldn’t marry and even if they could their marriage was about accepted as Obama at a Republican convention) for the job of reproduction, split up whenever Master needed some extra money was humane, then I am selling golden goose eggs for $5 a piece!

Now for some reason a guy can’t be a gay bishop but a guy can be a slave owning theologian. Paul, John and James and especially Jesus talks about the love of neighbor and enemy more than anything else. Even if you thought slavery was right Philemon had to have to have some impact on you. Philemon was in the bible before 1964 right?

I am even beginning to wrestle with Reformed Hermeneutics versus Experiential Hermeneutics. It is funny that Martin Luther’s hermeneutic encouraged the Reformers to burn men at the stake, drown them in lakes and imprison and torture them. While Martin Luther Kings hermeneutic encouraged him to free a people peacefully. It is funny that Calvin’s hermeneutic encouraged him to force everyone under their government to submit to Christianity but brothers like Menno and others were pacifist.

It is funny that during Reformation day we celebrate a man for nailing a theses on a wall but ignoring the fact to love your neighbor while we ignore individuals like Viola Liuzzo. I bet Sheriff Clark’s theology was much better than James Reeb a Unitarian who died at the hands of racist. For some reason we reject MLK for having some shady theology but we embrace ML the Reformer who had horrible practice.

Today a man can use filthy communication even profane reference to our relationship with Jesus but the same individual can discipline a man for deciding to stay at home while his wife works. It is funny that some can mock and caricaturize individuals but the same people get upset if someone decides they don’t want someone pastoring them. It is funny that we have no problem with visionary even ambitious pastors, but when a woman is ambitious she is living outside of God’s will. It is funny that we have no problem dividing with a church that appoints female pastors but write volumes on men who owned slaves.

We measure one group people with one ruler and another group (the group we like) with a broken ruler. I have seen people say “this is God’s chosen president” in reference to Bush. They have no problem with torture, the bombing of innocent, the reckless disregard for the poor, but turn in the other breath and call Obama “the most liberal president ever”. We don’t care if Muslim babies die, well because they are Muslim we just don’t want American babies dying.

It is funny that many of the unlearned (you know the ones who are mocked on blogs) don’t know much about the bible but obey what they do know, while others know a bunch about the bible and do very little of what it says. But it doesn’t matter accumulation of facts is more important that putting the facts you know into practice. Good theology gets you a pass in Reformed Circles while good practice is outright ignored.

The right reading of the bible is better than the right practice. It is funny that Jesus has the same problem with the Pharisees, their orthodoxy was spot on! However, Jesus tells them twice “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”. It is funny that the smartest bible people happen to be the most abrasive people I know. It is funny that Jesus said “they will know you are my…. by your love for one another” I wonder what the world has thought of us thus far.

You see I am beginning to struggle with much of this. Why? Because what I see when I look up ain’t what I see when I read. We are more concerned to flock to conferences where “truth” is preached versus live it out. We are more impressed with theologians who are untouchable than man and women who minister in trailer parks. Not to mention I know guys who have turned down the “call” to pastorate because the money wasn’t right, while I see some brother and sisters ministering in trailer parks with their own money. I know a man who travels on his own dime to different parts of the world for Jesus while I see churches say they can’t support missionaries while sitting in a 20 Million dollar building.

The more I read, the more I spend time with people the more I realize the blaring inconsistencies. We expositorly preach through James while ignoring his commands on being impartial. We preach through Ephesians while ignoring the command to be kind, patient, gracious. We like Ephesians 1 more than we like Ephesians 4. We are more concerned that the guy quit speaking in prayer language, than we are feeding the poor.

I used to once believe that “if you preach to the mind the heart will change”. I now say “if you preach to the heart the mind will change”. I believe it is the heart that changes the mind. Why? Because the people who have all made a huge difference in this world had great hearts. While those with the greatest minds sit back and philosophize. But we love knowledge, we love being smarter than others and we hand out a broken ruler to prove it.

I am not innocent of this. For years and years I would praise Martin Luther while pointing out the flaws of Martin Luther King. For years I would applaud the Reformers while turning a blind eye to the True Reformers. I want to say this plainly as I can. Lets stop being hypocritical. We point fingers at Rob Bell and others while we ourselves refuse to engage the same people that he engages. We don’t want sinners to interrupt our holiness. While these men storm bars and the like. I am starting to believe that many of these gentleman that I use to loathe are beginning to look much more like Jesus and the ones I used to esteem, not so much. The Pharisees were all head and little heart. They tied millstones and yoked people up to heavy burdens. They had little heart and much facts. For some reason the Jesus I see in scripture, man, He spent much more time giving of Himself than writing books and holding conferences. He was touchable, He was approachable, He spent time where the religious elite would never go. He touched people that they would never touch. He served in ways that the religious elite wanted to be served. Jesus was really different and my reading of the scriptures was blinded so I only saw the Jesus that called the Pharisees “brood of vipers” not the Jesus that ministered to an adulterous woman by a well.

I didn’t see the Jesus who went into Zaccheus house but I did see the Jesus that flipped over the money changers table. I didn’t see the Jesus who was called a drunkard and a friend of sinners. But I did see the Jesus who said “depart from me you evildoers”. Thats funny. Maybe because I even came to the bible with a broken ruler. Or maybe not. I guess I am just saying man things are different. I don’t know if that is good or bad, but it is. For some reason my heart is becoming more and more compassionate. Maybe that is because of men like Alan Knox, Dr. David Black, maybe I missed from pastors like Dhati and Calvin. There are so many people in my life now that have been pushing me in a different direction. Not because of what they say but because of how they live. They don’t just read their bibles. They care about people. I have brothers who won’t get any recognition for sleeping in tents in trailer parks. Or uprooting their family from the suburbs to minister to marginalized individuals. People who sit in mobile homes with alcoholics while cigarette smoke and who knows what other kind of smoke is blown.

Men and women who touch the lepers of America, Ethiopia and the Muslim world. I have been moved, because they look more like Jesus than any of the Reformers with their right theology. I am rambling here but tape your ruler together when you get a chance and be as critical on those prized theologians as you are on those you don’t like. You may be surprised that they are the same size!

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Someone said this to me a few weeks back:

First, and I’m not being funny, make sure that you’re always reading the New Testament. And, instead of reading primarily for theology or soteriology, ask what the writers are saying about the church. Many times the theology or soteriology is assumed, but the writers say a lot specifically about how to live relationally with others as a result of the gospel

It only push me further out of the circles of those I agree with theologically. Let me explain. Today we are encouraged to read, but those who encourage us encourage us to read what they like. For example someone once gave me a quote by Spurgeon and said “any men who won’t read another men’s work is a fool”. I actually like that quote. The only problem is decoded it says this “only read the works of men that my prized theologians enjoy”. So if Piper reads it then it must be good, and if Carson speaks against it then it must be bad. You see we become carbon copies of our prized theologians (nothing against either of the two men just popular theologians).

Not to mention I see people fighting to get their books prefaced by certain theologians it is like a place of arrival. No I am not attempting to be a Maverick or some isolated Christian, what I want to say is that God has spread His truth through many individuals and I want to be able to dine with each of them because each of them are my brothers and sisters, I may like some more than others but they are still my brothers and sisters.

Today though there are invincible theologians and whoever gets in good is in good and whoever makes the naughty lists well they are ostracized and whatever they say or do is either labeled bad or ignored though the Spirit may be speaking through them equally. I guess in my struggle for theological truth I have ignored what is clearly written. Because of theological alignments I have said mean things to the family of God and have not given an equal ear because my favorite theologian didn’t accept them.

We see that huge in the Emerging movement. Since a theologian disagrees pretty much all of what they have to say is “post-modern”. Which is the new “heretic”. Not to mention we feel it is our job to play the role of the Holy Spirit in peoples live and if the person questions these gentleman they are “trying to do something new” and one of the favorite quotes is “ignoring 2000 years of Church History”. These are the same individuals who applaud Calvin and Luther for their work. Did God stop working at the Reformation? Was the Reformation the end point of God’s dealing with His people? If not why are we not open to critique and refocusing on the scriptures? Oh, that’s right because Sola Scriptura (the Reformation way) is the final authority of truth.

It is funny that Doctrine was developed 1500 years later. Though many will say “no it was always there just articulated then”. Okay I am off my soapbox, I am just saying we need to be careful that’s all. I think it is good to read the works of our great theologians today, but it is better for you to study the scriptures and pray for clarity. It seems that we have given up on what made Luther challenge the papacy. I have no desire for people to follow me or my leanings, I do however ask that ALL BELIEVERS have an equal voice and that we abstain from name calling with people who disagree with us.  Just because someone has not read the latest book recommend by your favorite theologian and would rather read their bible doesn’t make them any less theologically astute.

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