"Genuine Christians never stop serving because they never stop loving, and they never stop loving because they never stop believing."
(Mike Wittmer, "Don't Stop Believing")
Friday, December 26, 2008
A young acquaintance of mine is a youth Pastor in the Seattle, WA area. He is in the process of having a book published and is now blogging at the link above. I think you will find what Tony has to say will stimulate your thinking.
Another young personal acquaintance is a Youth Pastor in California who is blogging at the above link. Tim has a way of asking some provoking questions that are responded to by some very diverse people.
This is Dr. Mike Wittmer's blog based on his most recent book "Don't Stop Believing". When Dr. Wittmer is not traveling to and fro amongst the earth on speaking engagements, he happens to attend our church, so I've had opportunity to sit under his occasional teaching and preaching there. I've come to appreciate his striving for Biblical balance and his concern and love for the church of Jesus Christ.
~ The Billy Goat ~
As MacArthur points out, the beauty of Christmas can only be beautiful when set in contrast to the ugliness of Christmas. Without understanding that ugliness, the beauty of Christmas becomes meaningless.
~ The Billy Goat ~
Monday, December 22, 2008
I'm using Flickr for my photo site. I just found the blog feature on Flickr and am trying it out.
Why the feet? I don't know, but for some vague reason it seemed appropriate. So I will ramble a bit.
I can walk. I know some people who can't. They have to get around in wheelchairs, or they hobble along with a walker or at the minimum, a cane.
Why can I and countless billions of others walk while others can't? It's the impact of the fall and sin upon the created order.
Jesus was once asked why a particular person had been born blind. Jesus in essence responded that this man's blindness was so the glory of God could be demonstrated.
So let's ask the question. Why is it I can walk? Not because I am any better then someone who can not walk. If I can walk, it is so the of the glory of God can be demonstrated. Am I "walking" in a way that brings glory to Him? LORD, help me to do so I pray
~ The Billy Goat ~.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I recently received one of those many e-mails that come and go around the Internet all the time. This one was talking about how different automobile companies responded to the 9/11 tragedy, specifically in the area of help and contributions. The point of the letter was to applaud the "American Three", (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) and belittle alleged puny efforts or non-efforts of the "foreign" automobile companies such as Honda and Toyota. For a copy of that email, see the story at Snopes.com.
In regard to Toyota the allegation is:
Toyota (includes Lexus) - Press release with condolences posted on the Toyota web site on 09/14/01, but no contribution despite earlier press releases boasting that Toyota had high sales in July and August.
The conclusion of this e-mail encourages the reader to keep these "facts" in mind the next time one is buying a car. The implied thrust is that only the "American Three" responded in any meaningful way to the 9/11 tragedy.
Well, here is what I found at the Toyota web site:
Statement: Toyota Relief Contributions
September 18, 2001 -(updated September 25, 2001) New York, NY - In support of relief efforts and humanitarian aid, Toyota has donated $1 million to the American Red Cross. The Toyota Federal Credit Union also has established a special fund for the more than 28,000 American Toyota employees wishing to make a contribution to the relief effort. As of Sept. 25, Toyota associates, manufacturing team members and dealers have contributed more than $90,000 to the Toyota USA Relief Fund to support American Red Cross aid for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Toyota Logistics Services also has offered the use of its seaport facilities in Newark to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for any use deemed necessary, and Toyota has offered the use of vehicles and forklift trucks to emergency agencies, if needed.
The company is working with American Red Cross to coordinate a special blood drive at its sales headquarters in Torrance, California, and its many manufacturing operations across the country.
Toyota joins the rest of the nation in extending our condolences to the victims of the terrorists attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
The Snopes.com investagative article also details how the other "foreign" automobile companies responded to the 9/11 tragedy. The bottom line is that more then a few of those companies such as Honda and Nissan made sizable contributions to 9/11 relief efforts that equalled or exceeded those of any one of the "American Three".
The allegations made in this e-mail are scandalously false. It is also clear that these falsehoods are being circulated to attempt to bind the reader's conscience to buy cars only made by the "American Three".
Now whatever car you choose to buy is your own business. But if you choose to buy a Ford or GM or Chrysler product, please don't do so on the basis of a patent falsehood such as alleged in this spurious Internet e-mail. After all, "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor." The American workers at the U.S. Honda, Nissan, and Toyota plants as well as their respective U.S. suppliers ARE your neighbors.
~ The Billy Goat ~
Monday, December 01, 2008
by Wolfhart Pannenberg
"A public climate of secularism undermines the confidence of Christians in the truth of what they believe. In "A Rumor of Angels" (1969), Peter L. Berger describes believers as a "cognitive minority" whose standards of knowledge deviate from what is publicly taken for granted. Berger wrote about "plausibility structures." People need social support in holding that a given account of reality is plausible. When such support is weakened, people need to muster a strong personal determination in order to maintain beliefs that are out of line with the beliefs of others around them. Berger's is a social and psychological analysis of the situation in which people find themselves, quite apart from the truth of what they may believe. "It is, of course, possible to go against the social consensus that surrounds us," Berger notes, "but there are powerful pressures (which manifest themselves as psychological pressures within our own consciousness) to conform to the views and beliefs of our fellow men." This is precisely the experience of Christians living in a dominantly secular culture.
In a secular milieu, even an elementary knowledge of Christianity—its history, teachings, sacred texts, and formative figures—dwindles. It is no longer a matter of rejecting Christian teachings; large numbers of people have not the vaguest knowledge of what those teachings are. This is a remarkable development when one considers how foundational Christianity is to the entire story of Western culture. The more widespread the ignorance of Christianity, the greater the prejudice against Christianity. Thus people who do not know the difference between Saul of Tarsus and John Calvin are quite certain that Christianity has been tried and convicted as a religion of oppression. When such people do get interested in religion or "spirituality"—their interest being a natural reaction to the shallowness of a secularist culture—they frequently turn not to Christianity but to "alternative religions."
"The absolutely worst way to respond to the challenge of secularism is to adapt to secular standards in language, thought, and way of life. If members of a secularist society turn to religion at all, they do so because they are looking for something other than what that culture already provides. It is counterproductive to offer them religion in a secular mode that is carefully trimmed in order not to offend their secular sensibilities. In this connection, it seems that mainline churches in America have yet to internalize the message of Dean Kelley in his book of a quarter century ago,
What people look for in religion is a plausible alternative, or at least a complement, to life in a secularist society. Religion that is "more of the same" is not likely to be very interesting.
I hasten to add that this is not an argument for dead traditionalism. The old-fashioned ways of doing things in the churches may include elements that are insufferably boring and empty of meaning. Christianity proposed as an alternative or complement to life in a secularist society must be both vibrant and plausible. Above all, it must be substantively different and propose a difference in how people live. When message and ritual are accommodated, when the offending edges are removed, people are invited to suspect that the clergy do not really believe anything so very distinctive. The plausible and persuasive presentation of Christian distinctives is not a matter of marketing. It is a matter of what the churches owe to people in our secularist societies: the proclamation of the risen Christ, the joyful evidence of new life in Christ, of life that overcomes death."
Whatever you may think about the thesis set forth by Pannenberg in the complete essay, the above excerpts give a pretty accurate picture of the place Christianity has in an increasingly secular culture and society.
These excerpts also puts the finger on some of the pressures behind some of the recent trends in the Evangelical world. I am thinking specifically of the more extreme manifestations of the emergent movement (ala Brian McLaren). I am not sure our friends in that movement always realize how much of their thinking comes from a cultural cistern that is just as broken as the one they are being critical of.
The point is one I've made before in another place. As Evangelical Christians, we are always to some degree or another going to have to be counter-cultural if we are to remain faithful to the message God has called us to be faithful to. To quote from a previous post:
On the one hand we have to resist the modern mindset that wants to rationalize everything and in so doing, erase the tension and mystery we find in Biblical theology. We resist that view of reason that says all questions can be answered. We also assert that rational apprehension of God’s truth is not enough to save, but there has to be with that apprehension the experiential (existential) encounter and communion with the God which that rational apprehension points us to.
On the other hand we resist that post-modern epistemology that makes meaning meaningless and definition undefined. Words have some objective meaning and definition. If that were not so, we could not communicate at all with one another and God communicating to man through His revelation of event and Word would be just as impossible. We resist the Neo-Orthodox view that the only “truth” is our existential encounter with a “God Word”. In reading the Bible we are not listening for the Word of God, we are listening to the Word of God; an objective Word given by God in time and space.
.... Biblical Christian Evangelical epistemology calls me to embrace both objective (rational) reality outside of myself, and the existential experience of being able through that objective reality to know and commune with the Sovereign God of all creation as my Lord and Savior.
If that sounds a little like "both/and" it's because it is. This affirmation also brings up the question of the Christian's relation to Modernity and Post-modernity. Can a Christian say they are a modernist or a post-modernist? Am I a post-modernest because I view Scripture as meta-narrative? Or is the truth of the matter that once again we are neither/nor?
~ The Billy Goat ~