Monday, April 17, 2006

Christianity Rediscovered Intro!

Alright, friends, tomorrow marks the beginning of our adventures through the waters of Christianity Rediscovered.

Since the chapters are not that difficult to wade through, we'll be reading a new chapter every Tuesday and Friday.

So tomorrow we will start with thoughts and questions on the introduction.

This should be lots of fun!


Josh said...

Well, I guess I'll start it off. The intro was pretty short, but beleaguered with loaded statements as most introductions are. There were a couple that grabbed me that I'd like to discuss here.

1. Evangelization (is there a shorter word for that?). It's "bringing the gospel to people where they are, not where you would like them to be" and it's an "unpredictable process...leading to that new place where none of us has ever been before" (reminescent of Star Trek there).

I love this idea that it's unpredictable, b/c in my short experience in living life with the teens in York, I am finding that the paths that I am taking with the teens are not always the same. I am walking with them into the realm where God desires us to be, but it looks different from relationship to relationship. There has been no formula for these relationships, except a listening ear and open heart on my part. I haven't had a three step program for leading these kids in their walks with God, because those steps might only work with one kid. Maybe there is similar territory, similar struggles for the kids, but the way each kid handles their issues is different.

2. Moving from a "theology of salvation to the theology of creation". I'm interested to see how Donovan will weave this into his book. I love the idea of a theology of creation, and have always put creation and salvation together, because it's been taught to me that we were made, we fell and now we need saved, we the emphasis on falling and getting saved.

Kipper said...

You stole both of my quotes, Josh, but he who hesitates must be content to quote the quotes of someone who just quoted them.

The flipside to both of these has always been for me not merely that we must be sensitive where we are taking God; but rather, that as we are sensitive, we will find that God is already present in the places, waiting patiently, where we finally bother to show our mugs.

This, of course, leads me to the heretical idea that the Way, the Truth and the Life may not be as exclusive to the Christian's religion or Faith, as we prefer to call it in our piety, as we often lead ourselves to think. There may be grace in "karma", faith in "kismet", a holiness in "paganism" that ultimately points those who embrace such ideas to the Creator. In fact, it might actually be as one Psalmist declares that the heavens and everything under them are constantly declaring the glory of God. "Let those with ears listen."

Brian said...

First, let me say I'm excited about this journey of "rediscovery" together. I hold no illusions that we'll all get along the whole way, but I do hope I don't get voted off...

I love the let's "begin all over again at the beginning" concept. I'm not sure its really possible to be OBJECTIVE, but I do believe that perhaps it is possible to strip away intentionally some of what we read INTO life, truth and the way. If not strip away, then at least acknowledge that its there.

As for my mug... its here with eyes and ears wide open!

renee said...

I also liked the part about bringing Christianity and paganism together and seeing what happens. I work in a world of science where things are supposed to be exact and where you want factual answers. The goal is to arrive at answers that can be helpful to society, but in being on the inside of the process, I see that the reason scientists stay in science and love science is not because they find answers. Most scientists will never directly contribute to curing cancer. They love it because they want to see what happens, what the end result will be if there is one. They have the unquenchable curiosity of children even though they wear grown up lab coats (or mismatched clothing). I want to learn how to better remember the awe and wonder of not knowing what will happen and think more about how I can share that with youth and with my peers. I'm ready to read more.
I vote to keep Brian.

Josh said...

Kipper, I like the thoughts that God is already where we are going...

I'm not quite ready to say that all religions lead to our common Creator (forgive me if I misunderstood your statements), but I do think there are traces of the divine in each; yet I am not ready to commit to the idea that b/c of that all lead to Christ. Above all, I think God is calling all people to herself, but I'm not completely sure what that looks like...I think Donovan might get into this a bit more later on.

Brian, I agree that it'll be hard to be completely objective.

Renee, thanks for your insight into the scientific realm..."unquenchable curiosity" would be an interesting attribute of a Christian leader. I like it.

Kipper said...

I don't think I would say that any religion leads to Christ, Josh. And this is where I vary the point slightly. What I would suggest is that God is leading all people to him/herself by whatever means, but primarily Christ. Christ is the example, that burning light in history, that seems most effectively to point the way.

But as you pointed out there is a touch of the divine in everything, his fingerprints on all that we think is original to us. Christ entered into a lackluster religion 2000 years ago and transformed it into a powerful movement (note the difference I would like to make between religion and one has the base "move" in it). Christ is God's way of infiltrating the defunct of humanity and revitalizing it. As a movement of Christ, I believe that Christianity, the practice of following Christ, will come together with paganism and find both that it did not have it all (or HAVE anything as much as it was HAD), and that God was already and still at work to bring people to the Truth (magic in C. S. Lewis' fictional representation) that is life.

Kipper said...

Follow up...There was a debate sometime ago on the district blog regarding the purpose of Christ. I believe that it was argued that Christ existed not to call people to himself but to point them to his Father. If that's true, then does it matter whether or not a religion/faith/belief brings those that hold to it to Christ?

daveapplegate said...

wowzers! this is quite a discussion. i hope i'm allowed in even though i'm not reading the book. since i hear no objections, i will keep typing. i first want to say that most of what i type will make no sense because i'm at work and i don't have the time to type coherently. on with the discussion at hand.

i think God is already many places we will show up to spread more light in the dark places (i also think he's places i'll never be). some people see God in those darker places, some don't. some people feel the tail of the elephant and think he is a rope. some feel the leg and think he is a tree trunk. others feel the trunk and think he's a firehose. although people who, sadly, don't have Life in the Messiah have some beliefs based in Reality, they're missing the most important piece (Jesus). the Messiah does point to the Father, or maybe it's better to say he is the pointer to the Father. Jesus said he is the way, truth and life. he didn't say he had these things; he said he was these things. i can wish and wish all i want that God draws people to himself through any number of ideas, but if Christ is not involved, it's a dud. Jesus is the pointer, the image we have of the Living God! he is God. i hope someone can make sense of my very general, typed ramblings.

mark said...

I'm late for lots of reasons, but mostly because Josh didn't invite me until Monday night and my book is still on the way...

So if you will all please forgive Josh for any mistakes that follow, I'll throw some stuff out here.

1. I do wish there was a different word for evangelization (and shorter would be good, too). For the church the world always seems to point to somebody else and deal with a certain kind of prayer (often at the end of a tract). The good news (where is that better word at??) came first to the Jews (certainly a people of God). How does it come to the church (a more recent people of God)??

2. There is no such thing as objectivity. It's not up for debate (and by saying so, I almost certainly guarantee that there will be one). Luther didn't like the book of James because it reminded him in ways of his father and his school master - both abusive when he didn't show some kind of good work. Wesley didn't so much become a Methodist in his belief and practice as he was raised a Methodist by his mother. Calvin was a lawyer. Gutierrez's liberation theology came from his work in the second (and maybe even third) world areas of Latin America. It's not possible to seperate experience of life from how we view life.

3. God is at work outside of Christianity (and that's a good thing!). Some of my most valuable experiences lately have been in conversation with a Muslim coworker. We talk about all kinds of things, and religion and faith are always there, too. This past week was a good example. It was one of the most stressful I've ever had. We had a huge upgrade that I was responsible for, and I worked about 115 hours over 7 days. I had joked in our one group meeting that I wanted people to stop by the one server before they left for the weekend so we could say a prayer over it. As she left, she stopped by my cubicle and said she would be praying for me. Then she stopped by the office over the weekend to check on me. God is at work in her life, and she is doing things that I'm sure God is proud of. I do hope she comes to know Jesus as her God and friend, but even if she doesn't, it would be difficult for me to cast any kind of negative judgment on her.

mark said...


I went to your site and listened to firework. Good stuff. Thanks.


Brian said...

Truth is truth no matter where she may be. If we truly believe that life in Christ is the best life and the truth, then we should have no fears about people exploring any and all possibities, truths, etc. In fact, we should encourage it more than any one else. (that might be a record for "truth" in a paragraph)

Having said all that... it seems to me that Jesus is both/and. He points people to the Father, he embodies the best life and we can only find the best life through him.

Kipper said...

I like your statement, Brian, about not being afraid of people exploring truth in other places (my paraphrase). I also like C.S. Lewis who said through Aslan that though a person did not particularly know him, all that person's good he counted as done in service to him. Or as Jesus pointed out to his disciples, a man casting out demons, though he wasn't a disciple or casting them out in Jesus' name, was still doing his good and revealing a Truth and Life that was not to be discounted.

And as if this discussion wasn't growing lengthy enough already (we're still in the introduction, right?), I appreciated Mark's statement about recognizing God at work in other belief systems. That has always been God's subversive pattern, to borrow from Eugene Peterson: infiltrating the deficient systems of humanity (and even humanity itself) and make something more of them, something that reveals the fingerprints of God.

renee said...

Let's call it evy. It has a more colloquial, less pretentious sound than evangelism.
So let me clarify with those of you who think that encouragement of people to explore all possibilities, truths, etc, will ultimately lead to them finding Christ as the best life and the best life through them? Encouragement of someone to explore karma, kismet, Koran, and any other "k" word you want to put in there will lead to a person ultimately deciding that Christ is the best?
It's not that I disagree that we should encourage it and have no fear of it. It's just not been my experience that people pursue truth in these ways and come away convinced that it is not enough, that it is not the best, and that they need to now turn to Christ.

Josh said...

I wonder if the encouragement for the pursuit of truth is a reaction to the force fed truth of the past.

We don't want to be guilty of "making" someone follow Christ. We've seen the negative effects of that.

But I think part of evy is walking beside someone in their search for truth. Not just letting them search on their own.

daveapplegate said...

alright, i'm feeling guilty for not reading the book and still commenting, but josh told me i should join the conversation! i'll see about getting the book. i just have a few things to say: i agree with brian that there is truth unchanged by our subjective and objective banter (yes, i think we can be objective based on the definition of objective i found on i think we should encourage the sincere search for truth and, as josh said, walk beside those people who are searching, encouraging them towards Jesus the whole time, but not making decisions for them. my heart beats for Jesus and i think he's the only way to have Life. it really doesn't matter what i think though, mark (and i'm glad you enjoyed 'firework,' thanks for saying so). my judgements are powerless - only God can judge your muslim friend and anyone else for that matter. all i can do is try my best to do what God wants: spread the good news that we don't have to die because Jesus gives us Life (evangelization, evangelize - i hate these words; they've been destroyed by salesmen) and let him bleed through me, taking up his cross everyday (sacrificially loving people around me, seeking out people to love, not being concerned with my own good, but the good of others, letting them know the truth). kipper, if i remember correctly, the character in the last book of the chronicles of narnia who was given Life after death was given that life not because of the good he did, but because of who he did it for. he thought he did it for the god of his people, but Aslan was the one he lived for. i think this fictive picture is possibly the way God deals with all of the people he made. but i don't know how often this grace is given. i really don't. what i read in the Bible leads me to believe that all the good we do is not good enough, it misses the mark of the perfect life required to be with God and live in heaven (the early chapters in the book of romans). only by Jesus death and resurrection can we have Life.

Sam said...

Wow, that's a lot of comments! Probably no one will come back and read this so my small input will likely be ignored. Thank goodness.

The humility and matter-of-factness is refreshing. Take only one presumption with you: That God is and a relationship with Him is a good thing. Love it.