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    Entries in Christianity Today (8)

    Thursday
    Mar012012

    Around the Web :: Lutheran Insulter, Lent, and the Pope

    I can't help but laugh at Luther.  Perhaps spendings some time with the Lutheran Insulter will help me be more bold when challenging others.

    Gizmodo deemed the Pope's Twitter handle spam-like, bizzarre, and "the worst of all time."  I tend to agree.

    And finally, Christianity Today posted an analysis of what people gave up for Lent in 2012, according to Twitter.

    Thursday
    Jul072011

    Mark Galli, Francis Chan, and the Question of Hell

    On July 5, Christianity Today posted Mark Galli's interview with Francis Chan on his latest book, Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up, a work written in response to Rob Bell's Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.  The interview examines Chan's motivations for composing the book, his views on hell, his thoughts on Rob Bell, his burden of responsibility for representing God and the message of the Bible truthfully, and his discomfort with the idea of eternal, conscious torment as punishment for rejecting Jesus Christ.  Galli also leads Chan to discuss the importance of the doctrine of hell in light of its pervasiveness within the pages of Scripture.

    Concerning biblical interpretation, I though Galli (in bold) was able to draw out Chan's thought on method, and on the dominant, overarching themes we often focus on when reading Scripture.  Here is the exchange:

    I would say for me the most compelling thing is that it's woven all through Jesus' teaching. You can't possibly talk about him and what he said faithfully and ignore judgment and hell.

    Yeah. I read Scripture pretty simply even though I've been through seminary and everything else. I try to read with an open mind and be led by the Spirit. I try to picture myself stuck an island reading it over and over and ask, What would I naturally conclude? What would be the thing about God that I'd be most struck by? I would definitely be shocked and awed by his love, but I'm more stunned by his power, and his seriousness, his holiness maybe even more than his love. I don't want to say his love's no big deal. He loves us but nonetheless the reoccurring theme is about his power, his glory, his holiness.

    Two items here are of note.  First is Chan's method, what he describes as a simple approach to reading the text.  Second is Chan's focus, or the primary themes that burst forth from the pages of the Bible as he reads the text.

    Chan's description of his methodology indicates that he holds to the idea of the perspicacity of Scripture, an approach held by many evangelicals.  Perspicacity is an uncommon word in our day, but connotes the idea that the message of the Bible can be clearly perceived by the one reading it.  Stated differently, there is nothing within the pages of Scripture that cannot be grasped through careful reflection and open mindedness.  As someone who possesses Baptist heritage, and as someone who continues to believe in soul competency, this idea resonates with me deeply.

    Yet, I know all too well that the story of the Bible is deeply complex, and its interpretation comes to us within the context of an existing and ongoing discourse.  We call this discourse the practice of theology.  And, again, as someone with Baptist heritage, the idea of a theological tradition can be difficult to maintain, particularly with slogans like, "No creed but the Bible, no cause but Christ".  And while I respect Chan's method, that being reading the Bible simply, his account is, frankly, too simple.  As he indicates elsewhere in the very same interview, the testimony of the saints throughout time is critical for our own reflection on doctrinal matters, including the question of hell.  I do not intend these remarks to denigrate or dismiss Chan, but rather to remind us all (myself included) that biblical interpretation is a complex and difficult task.

    Secondly, there is the question of theme, and here I believe Chan's observation is important.  We live in a time where the love of God is the biblical theme that trumps all, but the definition of love, and what a loving God might be like, is often determined by a sentimentalized account of God and an "I'm OK, you're OK" anthropology.  Chan's insistence that his reading of Scripture causes him to reflect on God's power, glory, and holiness, is a welcome corrective.  Through those lenses, the love of God takes on new meaning, and refuses to be sentimentalized.

    Friday
    Jul302010

    Me Love Me Some Media - Uncommon Environmentalists (4 of 5)

    Uncommon Environmentalists from The Global Conversation on Vimeo.

    Film is incredibly powerful.  The film featured above is the fourth in a series of four that is the fruit of a partnership between Christianity Today, the Lausanne Movement's Global Conversation, and Fourth Line Films.  The fifth film in this blog series is another production from Fourth Line, but is unrelated to CT and the Lausanne Movement.  These films are great discussion starters that address important issues in worldwide evangelicalism.

    Today's short film tells of a refugee community in Thailand who is being served by a small group of Christians.  These Christian leaders are working with the indigenous communities to improve agricultural and farming techniques, to serve as go-betweens  for the refugees to the Thai government, and to address the spiritual needs of the community.  This is a great example of holistic ministry that not only addresses the needs of the soul, but also works to alleviate hunger, poverty, and oppression among an uprooted people group present in a foreign land.

    Share the footage, join the discussion, and consider deeply what this issue means for the future of Christianity.  I invite you not only to be a critic, but to offer constructive feedback on how the church might rediscover the gospel message, and communicate that message in a truthful manner.

    Thursday
    Jul292010

    Me Love Me Some Media - Neighbors (3 of 5)

    Neighbors from Nathan Clarke on Vimeo.

    Film is incredibly powerful.  The film featured above is the third in a series of four that is the fruit of a partnership between Christianity Today, the Lausanne Movement's Global Conversation, and Fourth Line Films.  The fifth film in this blog series is another production from Fourth Line, but is unrelated to CT and the Lausanne Movement.  These films are great discussion starters that address important issues in worldwide evangelicalism.

    Today's short film tells of religious violence in the city of Jos, Nigeria.  The film follows two individuals, one Muslim, and one Christian, and unveils their perspective on what has taken place in their city.  Each man, a father of young children, comments on the challenges they face in raising their children to love their neighbors, even when they do not believe as they do, and how difficult this is in the face of such egregious violence.  This film presents us with just one example of the challenge of religious pluralism in the world, asking how we are to regard those of other faith traditions in a spirit of peace, service, and love, denouncing the temptations of violence against the other.

    Share the footage, join the discussion, and consider deeply what this issue means for the future of Christianity.  I invite you not only to be a critic, but to offer constructive feedback on how the church might rediscover the gospel message, and communicate that message in a truthful manner.

    Wednesday
    Jul282010

    Me Love Me Some Media - Family (2 of 5)

    Family from The Global Conversation on Vimeo.

    Film is incredibly powerful.  The film featured above is the second in a series of four that is the fruit of a partnership between Christianity Today, the Lausanne Movement's Global Conversation, and Fourth Line Films.  The fifth film in this blog series is another production from Fourth Line, but is unrelated to CT and the Lausanne Movement.  These films are great discussion starters that address important issues in worldwide evangelicalism.

    Today's short film "Family" documents the deep struggles faced by those around the world who grow up without a mother or father, and the places our world provides refuge.  There is some solid commentary about the nature of ministry, the true test of our deep devotion for God as presented by the challenge of loving people who appear different but share in our humanity, and the need for a faith that moves beyond confession to action.

    Share the footage, join the discussion, and consider deeply what this issue means for the future of Christianity.  I invite you not only to be a critic, but to offer constructive feedback on how the church might rediscover the gospel message, and communicate that message in a truthful manner.