If you're going to get it wrong, do it out in the open where you'll have a better chance of learning from your errors.

American Exceptionalism? Yes and No.

Posted: March 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Andrew Sullivan plays the prophetic voice in affirming the exceptional values that founded America without ignoring the unexceptional parts of our history—including the threat of falling victim to the same over confidence and self-reliance that has ruined past empires. Money quote:

America’s exceptional freedom and exceptional wealth did not exempt it from unexceptional human nature or the unexceptional laws of history. To believe anything else is to engage in nationalist idolatry.

via Exceptional And Unexceptional America – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.

Two Elevators

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Christianity | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Following up on my last post, I thought it would be helpful to further clarify what I believe folks like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren are doing with their theological work. A model that’s been helpful in other conversations as I’ve tried to explain this idea is two elevators (below):

Two Elevators

The two elevators represent the traditional world-view that most of us in the Evangelical church have grown up with. The Bible story goes something like this:

  • There are two elevators, the first goes to hell and the second goes to heaven
  • Everyone is born into the first elevator (i.e. born into sin)
  • If we accept Jesus sacrifice for our sins we get to transfer to the second elevator
  • The point of the Christian life is to help get as many people into the second elevator as possible

That probably sounds pretty familiar. Now, the main concern in Evangelicalism has been to update the ways we explain the cross in this diagram. For some, the main question that is discussed is how exactly does the cross work within this equation (e.g. is it those who are predestined who get to cross from one to the other or is there human will involved?). For others, the main concern has been what tactics we use to communicate this world-view to the culture around us. We can use fear (think of the fire and brimstone preachers or the left-behind movies from back in the day), we can use logic (anyone been through an apologetics course?), we can even use culturally familiar language and music to make the message seem more “hip” (would you like a mocha with that?).

What folks like Bell and McLaren (and to some extent NT Wright) are doing is to question whether this whole worldview accurately depicts the story found in the Bible. The view that’s being articulated by those folks (among others) is that the story the Bible is telling throughout is that God is redeeming and restoring the world here and now—not sorting out who he’s going to rescue out of this world. It’s a story about how the Kingdom of God can be realized “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Check out this video by Bishop N.T. Wright further explaining this idea.

Will Love Win?

Posted: March 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Christianity | Tags: , , | 11 Comments »

Brian McLaren makes a strong statement in defense of Rob Bell in the wake of the controversy around his book, “Love Wins.” Money quote:

its not that the critics have accurately understood what Im trying to say and have explained why they disagree. Its that theyve misrepresented what Im trying to say and have explained why the misrepresentation is audacious and ludicrous.

via Will “Love Wins” Win? Were earl – Brian McLaren.

Love Wins

Posted: March 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Christianity | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Consider the following story:

There was once a king in the Middle East who had reigned over his country for decades. One day he decided that he should do something to show his people and the whole world what a great and benevolent ruler he was and came up with just the plan to do it. First, he intentionally created a law that he knew would be broken by everyone in his country—every single person. He then declared that the penalty for breaking this law would be the loss of all citizenship rights, government confiscation of all property, and banishment from the country forever.

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