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Tag: Christianity

The Transformative Gospel

Posted by – 6/4/09

The true Gospel is a unique, life-altering thing. It is not merely some philosophical angle to which a person might direct his attention for a time. Not at all a high moral standard to which we must strive for redemption; this is just a new, impossible law. No, the Gospel is the truth of a doomed humanity, a God who requires perfection, and the reconciliation of two such disparate conditions that this very perfection-requiring God Himself has given each of us. (I have only far too recently realized that the often used analogy of a drowning man is woefully insufficient here. We are not merely drowning. We are not each a man adrift to whom a life preserver must be thrown. In this imperfect analogy, it is much more like we are cold and dead on the sea floor, requiring something extraordinary enough to both retrieve us and bring us to life.) The “good news” of the Gospel is that God has come into time and space to take upon Himself, in our stead, the punishment that His very nature requires of us, justifying us in His presence.

What we see in the Gospel presented is the truth of God revealed, a man’s acceptance in faith of that now startlingly undeniable truth, and Christ’s free justification of that man. What follows is God’s transformative work of remaking that man with new desires, a new purpose, and a new mind. Can a person accept the Gospel and be left unchanged? I do not think this is possible. It is only since Christ yanked me from my depravity that I have experienced the inner struggle of desires and behavior that Paul refers to in Romans 7. I have never, since my conversion, not believed the Gospel; I have just spent my most painful hours actively ignoring it and wishing it weren’t so.

Deepak Chopra on Belief

Posted by – 3/30/09

I just watched a Nightline Face Off special tonight that presented to a panel the question, “Does Satan exist?” In one incredible encounter at the end, the irony of which Deepak seemed not to appreciate, an audience member recalled a statement the guru made earlier in the debate.

Audience member: “Did you say that belief is used to hide insecurities?”

Chopra: “Yes.”

Audience member: “Do you believe that?”

Chopra: “Yes.”

Audience member: “Thank you.”

The Single Issue Voter

Posted by – 10/22/08

The discussion over the so-called single issue voter in this election cycle has certainly created tension within the church. The label describes a person who seemingly applies a litmus test on abortion to candidates to determine which candidate for whom they’ll be voting. A theologian and pastor I greatly respect, Greg Pinkner, argues that it is a prioritized issue rather than a single issue for voters. I’d excerpt his argument, but that would give away its brilliance. I strongly recommend you read it.

The Interracial Church

Posted by – 8/4/08

Interesting that this article should appear on the front page of CNN.com today, considering my pastor spoke at length yesterday concerning this very issue.

When I heard my pastor mention that one of the goals of City Church of East Nashville was to reconcile the diversity of East Nashville to each other and to Jesus Christ, my anti-affirmative action, knee-jerk response was, “Why is that so important?”

We were talking about it before the sermon because the church is searching for both an assistant pastor and a worship leader. Our church leadership feels strongly that the assistant pastor should probably be black, and it might not hurt if the worship leader was bringing a different cultural experience as well.

As I sat listening, the reasoning sunk in. First of all, I reminded myself, there’s nothing unbiblical about the desire to reconcile and break down barriers. In fact, the message of the Gospel levels the playing field, breaking down all barriers.

Then I read the article on segregation in the church. I never used to think of it as a problem. You know, they enjoy their services, we’ll just do ours a differently over here. But that is precisely why it’s a problem. The “us” and “them” mindset. If it’s that pervasive in the Church, how do we expect it won’t invade our lives elsewhere? It will.

The article does a great job of showing the breakdown of fellowship between Christians from all angles, speaking to the detriments from a religious standpoint. It was the end of the article that really got me, though. And keep in mind that this was on the front page of a major news outlet:

When Pryor sees his friend on Sunday, he says he no longer sees a “they” or a “them” trying to invade his world.

He sees his brother in Christ.

“We come to love each other,” he says. “When I look into his eyes, I can see the love of Jesus Christ. He and I have become friends.”

Shouldn’t that be a strong enough reason for racial healing to take place beginning in the Church? Remember, once the truth of the Gospel reaches a person’s heart and they really understand the Fall and their depravity, is it not true that we begin to realize just how much this whole thing isn’t about us and our preferences?


Posted by – 7/16/08

Are you certified?

Reprint: My Vote…

Posted by – 1/22/08

Reprinting this from a note a friend of mine wrote. She does a beautiful job of coherently laying out her case for support of a presidential candidate.

My life has been surrounded by political arguments lately.

A lot of people believe I am voting for a kook who wants to legalize everything that Christians see as wrong. I just want to take a second (maybe more) and explain why I am voting for Ron Paul.

Let me start off by stating my big issues. They are abortion and the economy. It’s one thing to say that, as president, you will “fix” these two things. It’s another to have proof that you have tried. I am not talking about attending pro-life rallies or cutting taxes a few times. I mean definitive evidence that what you are saying can be backed up. Otherwise, you are lying to me. Ron Paul’s congressional voting record and his personal life cannot be denied. He is known as Dr. No in Congress because he votes for what he believes, even if he is the only no. And he believes in cutting spending, drastically, to get us out of debt.

For him, everything goes back to the economy. And truthfully, everything does. Illegal immigration, abortion, health care, the war…it all affects the economy. What really woke me up was when I realized where our economy is heading. It’s not just about the numbers. It’s about my convictions.

I truly believe that the society of debt and wealth we live in is a disgrace. People live far above their means. As a Christian, I look around and see plenty of places our money could be better spent. But, we have created a society of faceless giving. The government takes care of the poor, the ministries in churches take care of the poor and hurting. So we give our chunk of change to Uncle Sam and we put our dollars in the offering plate and we feel good. There is no face to our giving. So, we build our big houses that we can’t afford, and we drive our big cars that we can’t afford and do not need. And we feel okay. This is a big problem in America. Greed, wealth, and the need to get ahead.

And our government does it as well. We borrow money from China at a rate of $1.5 — 3 billion dollars a day. Yes, billion. Yes, each day. From China. A communist country who has been accused of some horrible humanitarian atrocities. Who aborts more babies each day than any other country. Who has enormous leverage in Sudan because of their investment in Sudanese oil fields (and could help to end the crisis but won’t). As a Christian and a human being, borrowing money from this country is bad on many levels. Borrowing money like this from ANYONE is.

Ron Paul is one of the only candidates that directly addresses this issue. Many of them say they will cut spending and lower taxes, but when I took a look at their track records, few can compare to Ron Paul’s stance on this issue.

A lot of Christians won’t vote for Ron Paul because he “wants to legalize everything” from gay marriage to prostitution. Not true. He wants to live by the Constitution and not federalize these issues. Christians seem to believe that if we do not force everyone to live by our beliefs, then we will no longer be “a Christian nation.” The only thing stopping us from being a Christian nation is our own failure to be what God called us to be and do what God called us to do. He never says to make sure gay people can’t get married.

Instead, he tells us to love our neighbor. He tells us to take care of the oppressed and the poor, the widows and the orphans. If Christians spent more time loving people instead of telling them what they are not allowed to do, we could get a lot further. Making certain things illegal does not mean they go away. If something is not infringing on the rights of others, it shouldn’t be a federal issue, it’s a states issue. Making it a federal issue does not change hearts and minds, Jesus does. This “Christian nation” is in our hands, not the governments’ and governing by the Constitution will keep it that way without running over the rights of others.

How “Christian” is a nation that kills unborn babies, borrows money from a humanitarian horror of a country, and has hundreds of military bases worldwide so that we can intimidate everyone and keep them in line. The world knows us through two things, military presence and Hollywood…not very “Christian” things to see.

Somehow the Christian vote means voting for someone who can say everything just right, keep our troops in Iraq, and keep gay marriage illegal. In Isaiah 1, we are warned against leaders who “accept bribes and seek out gifts” but this never comes into play when deciding who to vote for. Ron Paul is KNOWN for not accepting bribes and gifts. Lobbyists are fiercely hoping he will not get elected.

I believe America is heading into a dismal state. There are already parts of the Constitution that we blatantly ignore. What happens when we ignore freedom of speech or religion? You may laugh and say that will never happen, but I am not so sure.

We are sacrificing the Constitution and freedom to keep a few key “Christian” issues. We are no longer the country we used to be. We are weakened, spread to thin, and in debt.

For goodness sake, our LIGHTBULBS are going to be outlawed! The signers of the Constitution are rolling in their graves I am sure. The government has no right to do this, not according to the Constitution. We are blatantly not living by the Constitution. When sworn into office the president is swearing to “uphold the constitution”.

Let’s elect someone who won’t lie to us their first day in office.

Dickens: It's the same as the offer of $5 million!

Posted by – 11/14/07

The Tennessean has an article today about the settlement between Belmont and the Tennessee Baptists, and one of the best parts is a quote from Marty Dickens, Belmont’s Board of Trustees Chairman:

Dickens said the payout actually is worth about as much as a $5 million offer the university made to the convention two years ago.

Belmont could invest $4.2 million now and make the $250,000 annual payment for the next 40 years off the earnings, he said.

With the $1 million the university will pay the convention upfront, Belmont’s out-of-pocket costs would be $5.2 million under that scenario.

Ha! Nice little final jab at the Tennessee Baptists. Sort of, “See? If you’d only taken the same settlement two years ago, you could’ve avoided this whole PR nightmare.”

A Resolution to the Belmont/TBC Fiasco

Posted by – 11/13/07

I received an email a half-hour ago from President Fisher of Belmont announcing the official end of the relationship between Belmont and the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Included in his email was a statement released by Belmont’s Board of Directors:

Belmont University is pleased to announce that it has reached a mutually agreeable settlement of all disputed claims with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. We believe that this resolution honors the many significant contributions that Tennessee Baptists have made to the University and upholds the teachings of Jesus Christ, whom we all seek to serve by ending litigation.

The settlement concludes a 56-year relationship between Belmont and the TBC and provides gifts by Belmont to Tennessee Baptists of $1,000,000 next year followed by annual payments of $250,000 for the next 40 years. These gifts are an expression of gratitude to Tennessee Baptists for the financial and spiritual support that they have provided to the University over the past five decades. The funds will be added to an endowment at the Tennessee Baptist Foundation to support Tennessee Baptist missions and ministries.

Approximately $4,900,000 in funds being held for Belmont by the Tennessee Baptist Foundation for the benefit of the University will be transferred to another trustee selected by Belmont. Of that amount, $1,500,000 represents funds which are subject to the terms of the settlement agreement between Belmont and the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

Belmont is grateful to the many Tennessee Baptists who have encouraged the University as it seeks to broaden its Christian mission by including on its Board of Trustees Christians who are members of churches affiliated with other denominations. The University will continue to be a student-focused, Christian community of learning and service with a rich Baptist heritage that we intend to foster and nurture through our ongoing relationships with local Baptist churches. That is our promise and our covenant.

Though Belmont is parting ways with the TBC, we trust that our shared history has provided important groundwork to achieve common goals of the Convention and the University, and that our futures will evidence this good work. Belmont is committed to its Christian mission and to cherishing its Baptist roots.

Marty Dickens
Chairman of the Board of Trustees

I’m glad to see the end of it. Earlier this year I went down with some 25 to 30 other Belmont students to protest the TBC’s actions (detailed in the post “I’m Not Jesus.”)

Of course, instead of the Tennessee Baptists winning a settlement like the hethens do, they’ve won mandatory gifts for 41 years from Belmont. How nice of Belmont. Nobody gives me mandatory gifts totalling $11 million. That’d be nice.

But it is definitely a positive to see them settle it out of court. May 2008 would’ve seen the case placed on the court docket with a judge determining the validity of the document signed between Belmont and the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 1951. Given the settlement, I’d say that document was valid enough for Belmont to want the case never to reach that judge.

There’s a great letter to the editor in a recent Baptist & Reflector (the newsjournal of the TBC), and once I get a copy of it in front of me, I’ll throw in a few quotes.

No Jesus?

Posted by – 12/2/06

Sweet Fancy Moses, either put up a manger scene or don’t. Can someone please let me know when it started seeming reasonable to this town’s park superintendent or mayor to construct an entire manger scene without Mary, Joseph, or Jesus? Does the manger scene even make sense without the baby Jesus? What’s the point of all these people gathering, coming from so far away? In some incredible skew of logic and reason, these leaders somehow think that leaving out the Holy family will keep from offending people? Listen, if you don’t have the stones to display a complete manger scene because you’re afraid of the ACLU and the one atheist in your town, then don’t put one up at all. If you want a “holiday” scene, find a blow-up Santa. It’s only $49 at Walmart. Sheesh. St. Albans, any reasonable person would look at your town’s display and wonder, “Now, why’d they go and do that?”

News 2 Coverage of the TBC Protest

Posted by – 10/11/06

Here’s a short excerpt from this morning’s newscast. Click to watch the Quicktime movie.