Monday, August 27, 2012

[Shared Post] Sunday Sermon: "This Present Darkness"

Dennis posted: ""This Present Darkness" Epehesians 6:10-20 August 26, 2012 First Christian Church Minneapolis, MN It was sometime after my first year of college, that I read a book that was truly one of those books I couldn't put down.  In fact, a lot of pe"

Saturday, August 25, 2012

[Shared Post] Theology and Same-Sex Marriage

Dennis posted: "In a few weeks, my partner Daniel and I will celebrate five years of marriage.  Since we live in Minnesota where same-sex marriage is not legal, it was not something recognized by the state.  But our marriage, our joining together, was blessed by the ch"

[Shared Post] Repost: Holding Together

Dennis posted: "The following is from 2008. As the political season heats up, I am reminded of this post and how much things have become worse in the last four years. I've always been a political junkie. I interned for my congressman back in the summer of 1990. Wh"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner, Yada Yada Yada

"Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner." This is one of those cliches that Christians tend to use (or at least I've heard people use them, I don't remember hearing someone say it) and one Christian in particular doesn't like it. Here's what Christian Piatt (a fellow Disciples of Christ pastor) has to say about this:
This is a backhanded way to tell someone you love them, at best. It also ignores the command by Jesus not to focus on the splinter in our neighbors’ eyes while a plank remains in our own. Bottom line: we all screw up, and naming others’ sin as noteworthy while remaining silent about your own is arrogant.
Many Christians, mostly those in Mainline churches, hate the phrase and with reason: it's been associated with how some Christians have viewed LGBT folks. While I've never heard people say this, it is common for more conservative Christians to act this out and in some cases there's been more focus on hating the sin than there is on loving the sinner. Because of this tendency, there has been a move to basically be offended at this practice. "Mind your own damn business!" Is the response from most people. While I understand the tendency, I feel we are losing something in throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Paul Ryan and Christian Discernment

Now that Paul Ryan has been selected as the GOP Vice Presidential candidate, I've noticed an awful lot of talk about the Wisconsin Congressman from liberal Protestants, most of it not positive.  I've already stated that I think Ryan's budget was a good start in thinking about balancing the federal budget, but I tend to disagree with others on the center-right that Ryan's budget is the end all and be all.  But I also disagree with the center-left that is making Ryan out to be the devil himself.

I wish we could have a reasoned debate about the role of government and how Christians can best respond to issues like poverty.  As Christians, we have differing opinions on how to deal with poverty.  We can be faithful Christians and have different ideas on how to carry out God's justice.  We can disagree without resorting to painting the other side as evil.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

God Is...

Tony Jones has offered a challenge to liberal Christian bloggers. He has rightly sensed that progressive Christians have trouble talking about God. They can talk till one's ear falls off when it comes to politics, but God? Not so much. Here's what he said:
I’ve been writing recently about the problems with liberalChristianity, and I had a thought this morning. It was prompted by a recent phone conversation I had with the managing editor of a major publishing house, combined with my faithful listening to the Theology Nerd Throwdown podcast, and the silliness of all the hand-wringing about Chik-fil-A. These have prompted me to think that progressives have a God-talk problem. That is, progressives write lots of books and blog posts about social issues, the church, culture, and society. But we don’t write that much about God. That is, we don’t say substantive things about who God is, what God does, etc. You might say the same thing about conservative Protestants (i.e., “evangelicals”). But the thing is, their people pretty much know what they think of God. It’s well-known and on the record. Progressive/liberal/mainline theology, on the other hand, has a PR problem. We might think that people know what we think about God, but they don’t.
I think he's right. But instead of talking about the PR problem of liberal Christianity, I've decided to take up Tony's challenge- if for no other reason but that it's good to think about what we believe about God and be able to articulate that belief. I did talk a little bit about God from an autistic perspective the other day, but I want to expand on that. So here it goes. I believe in God, the Creator. I don't believe that the creation accounts in Genesis are actually science, let alone history. But I do believe that God created the earth and all that is in it. Starting with Genesis 1, we see a God that creates, the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, animals and plants and insects. Because God created all that is in the world, it means that everything has been touched by God- intended for a purpose: to give glory to God. I believe in God, the Father (and/or Mother). God isn't someone that is distant from creation, but is deeply in relationship with it, especially humans, those that bear the image of God. God is in relationship with Adam and Eve, a relationship that becomes strained with the Fall. God keeps being in realationship with humanity even though God's heart is broken over and over again. God chooses to be in relationship with Abraham and promises to make him a great nation- one that God will be in relation with in the hope of being in a healed relationship with the whole world. I know that some people have issues with God as Parent. I can understand that. Then we can talk of God as a Lover of what have you. The point of this is that God is a relational God, one that longs to be with us even when we don't want to be with God. I believe in God as Spirit. In Genesis 2, God breathes into Adam giving him life. The Hebrew word for breath, ruach, also means spirit. One of my professors in seminary, Lee Snook, used to say that God's Spirit is present everywhere. Where God is not, you are not, because it is the Spirit that gives life. This also means that God is present everywhere in all of creation: in the face of the poor, the thief, the good and the bad. God is present even where evil seems to reign, because this is God's world and evil won't have the last word even when it think it does. I could say a lot more, but I think I will leave it at that. I'd love to hear what other people have to say about God.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Theory of Mind, Theory of Faith (Autism and Atheism)

One of the things that has fascinated me has been linkages between autism and faith. If you go around the autism interwebs, you will find the common belief among many high functioning autistics and aspies is that they tend to be atheists. I've always found that both interesting and frustrating, being a person of faith.


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Sunday Sermon: July 29, 2012

“Left Behind”
John 6:1-21 and Ephesians 3:14-21
July 29, 2012
First Christian Church
Minneapolis, MN

I was never good at sports, but I tried anyway.  In high school, I was in cross-country and long distance track.  In the summer of 1984, the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in high school, I went with several of my cross country team members to a week-long camp at a state park in Northern Michigan.  We would practice during the day and the evening after dinner was on our own.  A few nights we would walk about two miles or so to lodge that had a large recreation room.  Most folks would play on the pool table or some of the other games in the room.  One night as we all gathered, I decided to leave the room for a bit to go to the restroom.  Most of the guys were talking to some girls who had showed up.  I didn’t think much of this as I left the room.

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