Fight Club 10: What’s Wrong with This Picture? (cont’d)

WHEW!!!  It’s been over a month and a half since I posted the previous Fight Club installment.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  But now that school is winding down until the fall semester starts in a couple of weeks, it looks like I will finally have some time to finish this up and get it out there for you.  Still, I don’t see many of you clamoring to take a stab at what the missing element from the gospel presentation in the previous Fight Club installment was.  So I’m going to tell you.

The missing element was Jesus.

That’s right.  The missing element was Jesus.

Think about that, folks.  An entire Gospel presentation, and not one mention of Jesus (except for maybe a couple of brief mentions in passing). Continue reading “Fight Club 10: What’s Wrong with This Picture? (cont’d)”

William Lobdell on Religion Reporting as a Test of Faith

William Lobdell is the religion reporter at the Los Angeles Times.  Here is a column which has been making the rounds of the blogosphere this week, in which he talks with gut-wrenching honesty about his spiritual journey and his eventual loss of faith.  As a young adult he had the classic evangelical conversion experience.  He spent several years in the world of evangelical Protestant-dom, during which time he felt that God was calling him to become a religion reporter.  During his time as a religion reporter he felt drawn to Catholicism, to the point where he joined an RCIA class.  Unfortunately his time in RCIA was right at the time that the clergy sex scandal broke back in 2001 and 2002.  His observations of the lengths which the Church went to to protect certain priests who were known sexual abusers, as well as the way in which rank-and-file Catholics responded in support of those priests, was very disheartening to him.  He talks about how he tried to reconcile the character of God with what he was seeing, but in the end his efforts were futile.

Clearly, I saw now that belief in God, no matter how grounded, requires at some point a leap of faith. Either you have the gift of faith or you don’t. It’s not a choice. It can’t be willed into existence. And there’s no faking it if you’re honest about the state of your soul. Continue reading “William Lobdell on Religion Reporting as a Test of Faith”

All the Crazy Things You Can Do in a Speedo

File this one under “Crazy Things You Can Do in a Speedo”.

British long-distance swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh just became the first person ever to swim at the North Pole.  He swam for almost 19 minutes in 29-degree water (-1.8 degrees Celsius), wearing nothing but a Speedo, a swimming cap, and goggles.  He did this to draw attention to climate change–it is all due to global warming that it is even possible to swim at the North Pole in the first place.

Swimming at the North Pole in nothing but a Speedo.  Crazy.

Can anyone else out there think of anything crazy to do in a Speedo?

A Melange of Thoughts from the Weekend: Boulevard of Broken Dreams and Another Michael Spencer Post

Today’s post is going to be a melange of thoughts; responses to sermons that I heard and blog posts that I read over the weekend.

Our pastor has just started a sermon series called “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”.  The premise is this:  What do you do when the dreams that you have for your life just aren’t working out?  When you don’t get the job or you get laid off?  When you dream of one day being married or having children, but it’s just not happening?  When you dream of finishing your life married to only one person, but it is spiraling rapidly toward divorce?  What do you do?  Do you say that God has lost control or has voluntarily taken His hand off your life?  Do you throw out everything you believed in, take control of your life and carry out your own plans?  No, you lean hard into God, at this time in your life more than ever.  You remember all the ways that God has been faithful in the past and commit yourself to be faithful in the future. Continue reading “A Melange of Thoughts from the Weekend: Boulevard of Broken Dreams and Another Michael Spencer Post”

Michael Spencer on the Real Presence

Sorry that I haven’t been able to put anything substantive up here in a while.  I’ve been busy with school and work lately–you know the drill by now.  But I would like to share a little something that I found over at Michael Spencer’s blog this week.

Michael Spencer writes about the real presence of Christ in the world.  This is a key point of Christian doctrine–the idea that in some form or fashion, Christ is with us here in the world.  Christians of different stripes have different ways of formulating this–those of a sacramental bent say that Christ is present in the elements of the Eucharist; those of a Pentecostal/charismatic bent will talk about how the Spirit showed up during an anointed time of worship; while those of a Calvinistic bent will say that God is present where believers are gathered to hear the teaching of the Word.  This is all well and good, but when people of one particular bent say that Christ is absent from other churches, or not as present as He is in their own, that is a problem.

Read Michael Spencer’s post, and I will try to get something more substantive of my own up here soon.  I promise.

Of Atheists and Holy Books

Today I would like to take you to a post which is typical of the discussion which is taking place nowadays in the culture at large.

Simen over at De-Conversion, an atheist/agnostic blog, has a post entitled “Don’t Ask Me to Read Your Holy Book”.  In this post he takes issue with one of the leading arguments which many Christians use to prove the validity of the Bible.

The argument goes like this:  Start with the Bible as just a plain old garden-variety book, just like any other.  As you read it you will eventually notice that it makes statements about itself by which it claims to be inspired and infallible (2 Timothy 3:17, for instance).  So what are you going to do with those?  Look at other factors, like the fact that there are more ancient manuscripts of the Bible which go closer to the originals than for any other work of classical antiquity (Homer, Socrates, Plato, etc.), like the fact that you have hundreds of authors on three different continents over a roughly 3,000 year period all articulating the same message more or less, and when the Bible claims to be inspired, you can safely accept that. Continue reading “Of Atheists and Holy Books”

Shawn Lovejoy on Video Church

Shawn Lovejoy is the lead pastor at Mountain Lake Church, a church which serves the Alpharetta/Cumming area north of Atlanta.  Mountain Lake is similar to North Point in that they try to create a church environment that will be welcoming to those who are disconnected from God and/or from church for whatever reason.  Shawn Lovejoy has a blog; here it is.

A few weeks back Shawn Lovejoy wrote a post that was critical of the video church movement.  Video church is an integral part of the way North Point does things; two of North Point’s campuses are video venues where the message is played on a big screen.

In this post he gives two arguments against video church:  it causes senior pastors to focus more on “doing the ministry” themselves instead of equipping and developing other pastors and teachers who might eventually take their place or assume a position of leadership elsewhere, and it causes the church or ministry to be centered too much around one person.

Along the way, he claims that the ministry emphasis which results from video church is unbiblical: Continue reading “Shawn Lovejoy on Video Church”