Polarization rant aside…

The Jollyblogger, David Wayne, has self-admittedly had “a bit of a hostile tone toward” Emergent in some of his blog posts. I followed a trackback to his comments on a conversation that has been going on between Mike Horton and Andrew Jones, and it is all so dang encouraging.

People can disagree and still be civil, even develop healthy, growing relationships! I do not know if we are ready for a big’ol love-in just yet but, man, I think it is great that people who embrace more traditional and modern forms or understandings of our common faith are starting to realize that they can have a voice in this emergent conversation and they will be listened to and not attacked.

The more perspectives the better, I say. It goes right with another thing that I have been finding myself saying a lot lately, been quoting it actually, “There is wisdom in the multitude of counsel”.

Oh, I also like, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself”, and, “We find these truths to be self-edivent, that all men are created equal”, oh yeah, and, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” :)

Polarization.

I shouldn’t do it and I know I shouldn’t, but much like the allure of the possibility of seeing a wreck at a NASCAR event, I read emergent blog comments well after the posting turns into an us-vs.-them argument.

For example, in a resent posting by Emergent, called “Our Response to Critics of Emergent” someone said in regards to the tone of the message that the response was “…PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE. This statement is no different than everything heard before. The underlying sentiment is that the critics are narrow-minded, selective legalists and misguided dinosaurs. Nice try, Slippery, Slimey Emergent! You fool only those entranced by your poetically smiley luster. Soothsayers!”

Now, can someone tell me how this is suppose to convince me of Herold’s point of view. It seems that he has nothing but contempt for those in the emergent “camp”(divisive terminology), to the point that one feels like Herold is communicating that we who identify ourselves as emergent are all just lost, minions of the dark one, and deserve nothing from true Christians but contempt. Perhaps I am reading too much into his retort, but terms like “legalist”, “misguided” “slimey” and “soothsayers” make me feel attacked and that he sees me as his enemy, as if I am someone to be fought and destroyed rather then someone created in the image of God who God loves dearly.

Of course biases is cemented when another responses, “Very, very well said and stated, Emergent fellows…very, very, very sad words from the “other” side professing Jesus as Lord…when will so-called followers of Jesus ever learn that their vitriolic responses, their “name withheld” e-mail boxes, and their weak theological stances simply do nothing more than betray their supposed allegiances to Jesus, the Risen One?”

In my mind this is an attacking statement also. The “other side” and “supposed allegiances to Jesus”? How do divisive statements like that do anything but widen riffs between people? Hiding venom in an academic sounding response does nothing to but threaten people and send them seeking for protection in numbers. We end up huddling amidst likeminded people that affirm our beliefs but do not call into account our understandings and convictions, creating this “other side” mentality.

Maybe I am being too harsh here but is there not room in the body of Christ for discussion of these differing points of view that could lead to better understanding of each other as well as of God, whom we both serve? Is there no room for civil behavior in an open conversation? Is there no room for choosing our words so as not to purposely wound? Is there no room to receive wisdom in the multitude on counsel or to speak the truth in love? Is there no room to assume the earnest conviction of another point of view rather then the assumption that these ideas are purposely misleading, steeped in deception and narrow-mindedness?

If “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things*”, then what right do we have not to be generous in our conversation?

If I say that I have come to believe that full-water emersion baptism of the adult professing believer is something that God calls all Christians to do, some would say that I think, in turn, that those who disagree with me are less biblically literate, not able to understand what is written in the bible as well as I, are not guided in interpretation by the Holy Spirit as closely as I am, and/or are perhaps even deceived or practicing deception. Why cannot I just have a conviction based on the evidence as I see it without having to make all these other base assumptions about people that hold a differing view? Even if I have considered other lines of thinking on the matter and have decided not embrace them, why must it mean that I have to reject individuals that do? If we truly have the same Spirit in us then, by faith in God, our doctrines should work themselves out. Mostly though, it seems in arguments like these we are more likely to assume the worst about someone who disagrees with us on a point rather then give them the benefit of a doubt.

Is it because our faith feels more grounded if we can convince others of the truth of it? If so, where is the root of our faith, in God or in the people that we can convince to believe the same?

Is it because we have come to love our doctrines and expressions of faith over God Himself? It is not unheard of for people to embrace this processes that God has given to bring us closer to Him as an idol.

Is it that we just find it easier to believe in what we are told by those we trust rather then learning the truth of it for ourselves? I have done this myself, looking to someone to teach me in the way of God and totally forgetting and disregarding that God can instruct me Himself by the Holy Spirit. Come to think of it, I have done the opposite also.

Perhaps we need to examine this compelling need to be right and what it is that is within us to attack those who disagree with those items that we have a compelling need to be right in. Do we fight so strongly for our convictions because we are champions of truth or is there something dark in us that cannot stand the thought of being perceived by others as being wrong?

What set this all off for me was that term passive-aggressive as it was used by Herold. As if trying to take into consideration another person’s feelings when forming and argument is simply just another way to attack that person without sounding like it is cynical beyond defense.

I think we need a lot more civility, honest reflection and, yes, even open-mindedness in the church if we ever truly going to live up the high calling that Jesus prayed for us, “The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind — Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as we are — I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, And give the godless world evidence That you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me.**”

* 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (NASB)
** John 17:21-23 (NASB)

I cannot help, I love to take these tests…

Funny, last time I took this type of personality test for work I scored a strong ENxP with an equal split between T and F, just like this time. I don’t know why they gave me the option of 5 matches, but the more the merrier. I am definitely a heavy mix of the first two with some dabs of the rest.

Thanks for the link Patsy.

Your #1 Match: ENTP

The Visionary

You are charming, outgoing, friendly. You make a good first impression.
You possess good negotiating skills and can convince anyone of anything.
Happy to be the center of attention, you love to tell stories and show off.
You’re very clever, but not disciplined enough to do well in structured environments.

You would make a great entrpreneur, marketing executive, or actor.

Your #2 Match: ENFP

The Inspirer

You love being around people, and you are deeply committed to your friends.
You are also unconventional, irreverant, and unimpressed by authority and rules.
Incredibly perceptive, you can usually sense if someone has hidden motives.
You use lots of colorful language and expressions. You’re qutie the storyteller!

You would make an excellent entrepreneur, politician, or journalist.

Your #3 Match: ENTJ

The Executive

You are a natural leader – with confidence and strength that inspires others.
Driven to succeed, you are always looking for ways to gain, power, knowledge, and expertise.
Sometimes you aren’t the most considerate person, especially to those who are a bit slow.
You are not easily intimidated – and you have a commanding, awe-inspiring presence.

You would make a great CEO, entrepreneur, or consultant.

Your #4 Match: ESTP

The Doer

You are adventurous and risk taking. You act first, think second.
You love being the center of attention. Chances are you were the class clown.
Competitive, charming, and charasmatic – you have your own code of honor.
You live a flexible life, bouncing between a series of activies that interest you.

You would make a great salesperson, marketing director, or entrepreneur.

Your #5 Match: ENFJ

The Giver

You strive to maintain harmony in relationships, and usually succeed.
Articulate and enthusiastic, you are good at making personal connections.
Sometimes you idealize relationships too much – and end up being let down.
You find the most energy and comfort in social situations … where you shine.

You would make a good writer, human resources director, or psychologist.

Called. pt.2

My pastor, John has a good point in a commit that he made on my “Called.” post. The concept of a lack of trust in God being central to this problem and the fact the our calling is at the core of who we are was not well defined in the entry. It puts things in a slightly different light when you think that instead of focusing on becoming who I am supernaturally inclined to be, I need to focus on relationship with God.

It made me immediately imagine a flower that is planted in the shade that was meant for open spaces and full sunlight. After a number of weeks the plant still has not bloomed and the gardener is frustrated because he knows what the plant is suppose to be like from the picture that came with the plant when he bought it at the store. In the picture, the plant is robust, coloriful and fragrant, but the thing before him is a sickly, drab eyesore. Our life can be like that plant, we wonder why it is not thriving, why it is not what it should be. What it is for us to be is still there inside us, it does not have to be manifactured or strived for, it is simply what we are. Rather we need to get out of the shade and into the light of day. We need to set ourselves before God and bask in His love, majesty, power… all that He is and all that He offers if we are to bloom.

All you have to do is trust God and learn to be captivated by our first love once again. So simple, but such a tall order. In my mind’s eye that life can seem a world away sometimes. Still, if we focus only on the situation that we find ourselves in, we are focusing on the shade/sin around us and not on the only thing that can change that state we find ourselves in, the sun/God.

Good comment John, thanks.

Update: ‘How to’ Extinguish the Sun, pt.2

Knowledge on ‘How to’ Extinguish the Sun is apparently far too controversial for wikiHow to allow it to remain. Poor old James Quirk, creator of the article, was spanked by the powers that be at wikiHow and his article was removed. James explains this all to us in a new post at wikiHow, but we will just have to wait and see how long this article lasts.

Apparently this topic of extinguishing the Sun has been floating around for quite some time. When I google “Extinguish the Sun” I found quite a wealth of commentary and information on the subject.

Here are some of the more interesting links:

Anti-Nuclear Protesters Target The Sun by Missy Enformed


SAVE THE NIGHT!
the Game.

Dusk in the afternoon by Brian Fitzgerald of B.U. Bridge

Black Solstice from Hammer of Gods by Angelcorpse (an uplifting little diddy)

Here’s a funny:

An astronomer is on an expedition to Darkest Africa to observe a total eclipse of the Sun, which will only be observable there, when he’s captured by cannibals. The eclipse is due the next day around noon. To gain his freedom he plans to pose as a god and threaten to extinguish the Sun if he’s not released, but the timing has to be just right. So, in the few words of the cannibals’ primitive tongue that he knows, he asks his guard what time they plan to kill him. The guard’s answer is “Tradition has it that captives are to be killed when the Sun reaches the highest point in the sky on the day after their capture so that they may be cooked and ready to be served for the evening meal”. “Great”, the astronomer replies. The guard continues though, “But because everyone’s so excited about it, in your case we’re going to wait until after the eclipse.”

Called.

It is really hard not to use Christianese, terminology and phrasing specific to the Christian culture, when you have been running in Christian circles for so long. The only word I know for what I want to communicate is the concept of being “called�. Being called is what one is called to do and be by God, kind of your purpose and reason for being. Come to think of it, the term ‘calling’ is not unknown to the post-Christian culture. I have heard it used by people in non-profits and social work as a reason for doing what they do. Still, when I think of the term ‘calling’ I think of a concept that is very religious or spiritual in nature, if not specifically Christian, that many do not understand.

All that is not the reason for this post though, other then to say that I have been thinking about God’s ‘call’ on my life. What is the reason and purpose for me being here? This is a question that I feel I can answer with some level of confidence, yet I never do when posed the question. See, I think that I have a pretty good bead on the work that God has for me to do in His kingdom, it is just that I feel so far away from that person that I need to be to in order to do what I am ‘called’ to that I do not think I am that person yet.

This was pointed out to me in no uncertain terms yesterday, and it pissed me off. I am more mad at myself then anything else. What am I waiting for? I have known for some years the direction my life needs to go to fulfill this ‘call’ on my life, but yet I hesitate to commit myself to this path.

The answer is fear I am afraid :). I have a huge fear of failure and of not being accepted that in some ways it has kept me chained to a place in my life that I do not want to be. Maybe you do not know what is like to be scared into inaction. It does not feel so much like fear I think, rather you feel numb and tired. It is kind of like a bug bite, you do not feel the bite so much as the itch that is your body’s response to it.

When I think of the task before me, I would rather sleep or watch movie or something, anything other then what I must do. It is almost a paralyzing way of interacting with the world but I have been able to get by pretty well none-the-less. Did I mention hating just getting by. I am not without hope though, it is impossible for me to believe that God has put this ‘call’ in my life and not also started me down the road of change necessary to become a person that can fulfill that ‘call’.

In truth I do not really ever want to feel like I am qualified for my ‘calling’ because in that I can see a sense of security and superiority that leads to complacency and self-dependence. The tension between my inability and the service I am ‘called’ to is the, potentially, perfect recipe for dependence on God and His sufficiency… but that is another story for another day.

So, what am I ‘called’ to? You know that when you speak something forth, it takes a certain unexplainable hold on reality. It is the nature of being created in the image of God that our words have the power to created or destroy, and am just not ready to create or destroy this ‘calling’ yet. So I will do something uncharacteristic and hold my tongue on this question.

Two blogs that have got me thinking about preparedness vs. God sufficiency:

Judy by Gordon Atkinson at Real Live Preacher

“You know about that deacon thing, how I was nominated and all?�
“Yeah.�
“Well, I was gonna say ‘No.’ I thought about it a lot, and I decided that I just wasn’t worthy of something like that. I mean, I just finally stopped smoking, and I still cuss sometimes. I’m trying to do better with that.â€?
I opened my mouth to say something, but she continued before I could get a word out.
“But then I read your book.” She began to smile. “And I thought, dang, if this guy can be the PASTOR of the church, surely I could be a deacon or something.â€?

Legalism by any other name is… by Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed

Instead of using “legalism,” which has become a bogey word for bogey opponents for each of us, why not shift this term to “covenant path markers” so we can get a fresh start on a genuinely serious problem we all face?

Here’s what covenant path markers do (and now I begin to extrapolate from Holmen’s study): first, they quantify covenant faithfulness into behavior that can be measured and seen; second, they enable us to “judge ourselves” on whether or not we are faithful; and third, they enable us to judge others on whether or not the others are faithful.

Legalism, aka covenant path marking, is a vicious form of life: instead of living faithfully, we are judging faithfulness. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for covenant faithfulness.)

Yet another quiz.

I found this link for a quiz on your Theological Worldview through Mark Oestreicher. It was a lot like another quiz I linked to few weeks ago except more frustrating. I found it difficult to just answer with a level of argeement or disagreement because of the nuances involved in the questions. Found my answer changing when I began to speculate on the intent of the question and started waffling when I weighted the statements like “Sola Scriptura is probably the most important doctrine.” against “Relationships and community are more important than teaching doctrine.”

Well, have fun. Here’s my results:

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God’s grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
68%
Emergent/Postmodern
50%
Reformed Evangelical
50%
Neo orthodox
43%
Classical Liberal
36%
Modern Liberal
36%
Charismatic/Pentecostal
32%
Fundamentalist
32%
Roman Catholic
25%

What's your theological worldview?
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