Odds & Ends


All of us like compliments, but why?  I think a large part of the reason is that they serve to either validate our own healthy sense of self-perception or, if we have an unhealthy self-perception, they serve to bring hope that we just might be better than we perceive ourselves to be.  Compliments serve as confirmation that we are, indeed, valuable. Receiving compliments is necessary to a healthy development of one’s self-perception.  A failure to receive compliments can cause someone to doubt their own value, and may lead to them doing abnormal things to solicit compliments so they can be reassured of their own value.

Of course, there is always the temptation to pride when one receives compliments.  That’s where a health Christian theology comes in handy.  We recognize that everything we are, and everything we do, is because of God’s grace.  He is to be thanked for everything we are/do, and thus we redound the praise to the glory of God.

Makes sense.  Take a look.

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Testing

 

refugeesA lot of Christians are arguing that our Christian principles, based in Scripture, demand that we welcome the Syrian refugees. This article shows why this is a hasty conclusion regarding the teaching of Scripture.

Surely the Scripture does not mean to say we should allow foreigners to come into our nation who intend to kill us (as if the Israelites would have let the Philistines or Babylonians into Jerusalem!).  And surely those who argue that Scripture demands we accept the Syrian refugees would not cite those same passages if they knew members of ISIS or Al Qaeda were among them, but could not be identified.  But here’s the thing: We know from the experience in France that terrorists are coming in with the refugees undetected, and people have been murdered as a result.  Until and unless we can properly vet these refugees to determine who is a possible terrorist and who is not, how can any reasonable person say we should just let them into our country?  It only takes a few terrorists to produce mass killing.  9/11 and the French attacks are proof of this.

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Empty BedThe predominant sexual ethic today is built on three moral principles: 1) Consent; 2) No harm involved; 3) Whatever feels good.  As long as it feels good, no one is getting hurt, and those involved are consenting to it, it is deemed to be morally acceptable.  Timothy Hsiao has written a great article showing why consent and harmlessness are not sufficient to justify a sexual behavior.

Regarding consent, Hsiao argues that consent ought to be based on what is good for us (not just desired by us), and thus the inherent goodness of the act – not just consent – is required. Furthermore, to give consent is to give someone moral permission to do what they would not be justified in doing absent the consent. Giving consent, then, presumes that one has the moral authority to give that permission to another. But if one lacks the moral authority to grant such permissions, consent is not sufficient to make an act ethical. If the act in question is not morally good, then the consenter lacks the proper authority to give consent.

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Political correctness has progressed from silliness, to annoying, to downright stupidity. From CTPost.com:

Under pressure from the NAACP, the [Connecticut] state Democratic Party will scrub the names of the two presidents from its annual fundraising dinner because of their ties to slavery.

Party leaders voted unanimously Wednesday night in Hartford to rename the Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner in the aftermath of last month’s fatal shooting of nine worshipers at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were wrong to think they could own black people. We see that clearly now, but these men were men of their generation. We honor them, not because of their actions in regards to slavery, but for their many other accomplishments in the founding of this nation. To remove their namesake because they did not think and act like people in the 21st century is absurd.  What’s next?  Should we throw away the Declaration of Independence since Jefferson the slaveholder wrote that too?

In the future, when America comes to see that abortion is a moral tragedy, and the practice is outlawed, will we remove the names of Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton from everything their names are attached to as well?  Will we fail to honor them for whatever good they were honored for, just because they could not see as clearly as future generations will see?  No.  We honor the people of the past for the good they did, not for their flaws.  To remove their names from monuments or anything else due to their flaws is wrongheaded and petty.

Lifestyle Evangelism3Jesus charged his apostles – and by extension, his church – with the great commission.  The mission he gave us involves both the proclaiming of the gospel as well as the discipling of those who put their trust in Jesus.

If we are honest with ourselves, the American church is not great at either proclaiming or discipling, but we are doing worse on the proclaiming end, and it’s only getting worse.  As our culture becomes increasing secular and as Christians increasingly buy into the notion that our faith is to be kept private, we are becoming increasingly reluctant to proclaim Jesus.  There are a host of reasons for this, but I am not concerned to analyze them at this point.  Instead, I want to focus on the type of evangelism we are opting for in its place.  Some have called it “lifestyle evangelism.”  Lifestyle evangelism entails the notion that the way we live our life is the best witness of Jesus.  Our lives are a living gospel.  This form of evangelism is summed up in the apocryphal quote attributed to Francis Assisi: “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.”

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worshipSinging is a spiritual exercise (Psalms; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).  Few things can open up hearts to God like beautiful music and meaningful lyrics.  The effects of music on the soul are nothing short of amazing.  That is why virtually all Christian congregations feature music in their services.  But what we sing about is just as important as the fact that we are singing.  After all, singing the latest Taylor Swift song would not be deemed spiritual just because it was sung in church.  Content matters.  But not just any ‘ol content that mentions God will do either.

Theologically Lean

I have been increasingly concerned over the years with the lyrical content of mainstream “worship” songs.  Many of our songs suffer from theological anorexia.  There’s not enough theological content in them to make the Devil yawn, yet alone choke.  They are so generic that one may have a hard time telling what God they are talking about (if God is even mentioned).  Then there are the “God of my girlfriend” songs that are spiritually androgynous.  One can’t tell whether they are singing about their love for God or their love for their girlfriend.  Finally, there are songs some have called “7-11” songs: They contain seven words sung 11 times.  If you want to know what theologically robust songs look like, get yourself a hymnal that’s more than 30 years old.  They are pregnant with theological substance. (more…)

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