Christianity and Dialogue? You tell me.

A couple evenings ago I was catching up on the news via Yahoo! News while trying to watch my usual Grey’s Anatomy. After the usual intense closing shots of the characters in distress I reopened by Apple and started reading a very interesting article about Christians and atheists communicating calmly. Yea thats right, calmly. The article addressed a growing trend of open dialogues between Christians and atheists over the internet and in person. Live discussions and conferences are sprouting up around the country calling for atheists to speak up about what they feel Christians are doing wrong or right. Church leaders like Phil Wyman, pastor of The Gathering, located in Salem, Mass. are inviting atheists to voice their opinion on why they don’t like church. Many pastors like Jim Henderson, a former Evangelical pastor form Seattle, are setting out to learn how the unchurched respond to various kinds of worship services.

Oddly enough, I have been working with my youth pastor on organizing a community wide program that would work with other churches on striking up this open dialogue between atheists and Christians. Instead of holding youth groups inside church walls, where people must come to us, we instead meet them where they are, their communities. Parks, parking lots, malls, whatever we can manage to get, we will go and talk. Simply share the gospel and actively engage with nonbelievers. Along with talking I wanted to just serve. To get out in the community and make it better. Plant, paint, fixing peoples yards, fix anything, meet the needs of the community. My hope is that many churches will join the campaign and come together as one and work together on correcting our communities “ideas” about Christianity. So many people think churches hate each other, or that Christians don’t care about the environment, and the list goes on of generalized myths. By being a presence in the community serving and talking I want our dialogue to pin point these myths and straighten them out so that people see who we represent, Christ.

So now that you know that this whole idea has been on my mind alot lately, I’m going to tie it back into the article. Doing a little investigation I found that most of these groups are affiliated with a movement entitled “the emerging church.” This movement carries along with it a heavy reliance on postmodern beliefs. It seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct Christian beliefs, standards, and methods to fit in the postmodern mold. One of the biggest ideas that this movement pushes is dialogue because it leaves room for a “natural progress” of doctrine as they might call it. Emergents see theology as an “icon” pointing to God rather than as a definition of God. By this they mean that they do not see any doctrinal expositions as definitive. The whole idea is very dangerous and could cause a huge avalanche.
But I think open dialogue, especially including people of other faiths is very beneficial to learning and discovering truth. But by no means do I think that truth is based in the interpretation and experiences of man. Truth does not hinge on a communities experience but only on the word of God. Yes culture has changed and it is far different from that of the Biblical times, but the truth has not. The metaphors may not make total sense at first glance like they may have in centuries past, but that is what dialogue is for. To pick apart the truth weaved into the analogies and to make it more clear. If used properly I think dialogue can strengthen peoples beliefs in the truths of scripture rather than tear it down and rebuild it. Its the motive of dialogue that I think truly matters, to either use it to make truth or to understand truth is what must be decided.
Now I want your opinion, can this work? Do you think this community project will help Christians better understand how to reach nonbelievers and help nonbelievers understand Christ through dialogue?

The First Postmondernist.

Two thousand years later and we are still stuck on the same question. “What is truth?” From the time of Pontius Pilate to the here and now, we grapple with the idea of truth. For many its just to loose of an idea to pin down. For many its a solid rock that is evident to all. But I ask this. What must it take for us to understand truth? What do we think we need to fully believe? How many facts or ideas do we need to memorize to be able to grasp truth. For Pilate, not even standing face to face with God himself was not enough to know.

As Pilate questioned Jesus as to who he truly was (I can just see Pilate hoping and wishing for Jesus to just come clean with his wrong doing) Jesus replies with a swift and nimble answer. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world-to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” And there we have it, our first postmodernist! Standing before God in the flesh, Pilate casts doubt as to what truth even is.

So I am let wandering, am I that much different from Pilate? Do I stand in the midst of beautiful truth, truth that will free me, truth that will give life to my flesh, and I answer to it or question it. Am I guilty of throwing a shroud over Christ’s truth every time I define truth wrong? When I grab onto the “truths” of this realm instead of His truth and when I listen to a different voice rather than His, am I mocking his purpose? The only difference I see is that Pilate did not take the time to search this man. He did care to find out what he was really about other than in that minute of dialogue. If you encounter Christ my prayer is that you will take that time to know him. Seize every moment you have to understand him and the truth he came to bear wittness to. Its an opportunity to actually feel that solid rock, that firm foundation that truth really is.

Typical

So I have ran across this band that is… hmm. i guess you could say strange. They are a group of Christian guys who have come together to form a band called Mute Math. They kind of throw in a whole bunch of musical influences, ranging from Bjork to Sting and Police, make it sound pretty good for the most part. A few songs just dont settle with me too much but overall they do. Now what makes this band stand out in my mind is not just their unique style but their courage. For a while Mute Math could not release their album because their record label just didnt know how to market them. No corprate executive could figure out if they could be marketed to the mainstream secular industry or just what exactly to do with a band whose lead singer plays the keytar! After a few years of waiting their album was finally released. Mute Math final had the chance to show they werent the typical band. As a matter of fact they made a song that speaks directly to being different. It asks for people to get a dream, to not sit and wait to be somebody. And their music video even exemplifies the whole theme even more. So here you go. Watch it and see for yourself.


Click here to watch it!

I Am Afraid to Go to School (better yet, I am afraid of humans)

Im sure there is not a single person who has not heard the gut wrenching news about the massacre at Virginia Tech today. Two people died in a dorm room, and 31 others were killed in Norris Hall, including the gunman, who put a bullet in his head. At least 15 people were hurt, some seriously. Previously, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history was a rampage in 1966 at the University of Texas at Austin, where Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower and opened fire on students. He killed 16 people before police shot him to death.


 Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said. “The university is shocked and indeed horrified.” But I am sure that its not just the university that is shocked and horrified, but the rest of the country. The pointlessness of the act. The sickness of it. The randomness. The heartlessness. It all just adds up and falls so heavily one me. I cringe not only at the loss of life, but the sickness of life too. Its that dreaded fall. The single most influential event in human history. We fell and fell hard. Thank God for the redemption we have in Christ. I wait so earnestly for that day when all things are restored back to Him. A broken and crumbling world where innocent blood is shed every minute will finally be reconciled. Until then I am afraid to go to school and even more afraid of what we as humans are capable of.

The World is Flat! Someone tell Christopher Columbus…

So I found quite the shocker today awaiting me at work. I routinely pop into my youth pastors office to discuss things and come up with ideas. But today’s routine was shaken up a little. While sitting down at his desk my curiosity and inability to sit still for to long brought me too a packet of stapled paper leaning half way over edge of the desk. I had to look of course, it would just be wrong for me to not pick it up and take a glance. Much to my surprise I found a photocopy of Time Magazine’s cover and the cover story. It was entitled, “Why We Should Teach the Bible in Public School”. Yes you read it correctly. “Why we should” teach the Bible, not why we shouldn’t.

Over all the article turned out to be quite compelling. It posed a good argument on the grounds that the Bible is the “bedrock of Western culture” and that its “constitutional, as long as we teach but don’t preach it.” Step by step the author, David van Biema, identifies logical reasons why our nations children should learn to become Biblically literate. Using some very saddening statistics, like the fact that only half of U.S. adults know the title of even one Gospel, Biema projects the problems of our Biblical illiteracy. He argues that so many classic pieces of literature, including Shakespeare and Hemmingway, reference Scripture. The knowledge of what these Biblical illusions are actually referring to would easily increase our understanding of what the authors are trying to convey. Not only does he cite literature as lying heavily upon Scripture, but also the “ideas and rhetoric that have helped drive U.S. history” and political rhetoric. Simple put Biema argues that the Bible is essential to a better understanding of our culture and life.

With the overall excitement fading from actually seeing this article, I went back through the article to find some key points. And on my way through the pages I found a single quote that so eloquently said it all for me. “Without the Bible and a few imposing secular sources, we face a numbing horizontality in our culture – blogs, political announcements, ads. The world is flat, sure. But Scripture is among our few means to make it deep.” This quote still takes my mind to so many different thoughts but for now I want to focus on the very fact that a secular writer sees the depth the Bible adds to our world and how key it is. For all I know the man could be a Christian, but whether or not the point still stands. The Bible holds within it truth about a God, who he is, what he has done, what he says about life. By giving us purpose and reason for doing anything at all the Bible makes a life that seems flat and dull, sharp and brilliant in color. By the truth it holds we can experience thoughts far beyond what this thin world can even bear without caving in. Thoughts of an infinitely beautiful God and how what he has done for us are available to our hungry society. But throw this added depth away and our world is left to wither away with no hope. You will see that there is a reason that the grass withers and the flower fades and a reason that the word of God stands forever. No flat and one-dimensional world will ever be able to produce such depth as the Bible can and does, because it will end and go nowhere, but the words of God will exist forever. This true depth we need is forever, not finite like the things of our society.

God’s Plan?

Alright, Im going to admit it. I am a huge fan of Greys Anatomy. Im not quite sure if its those crazy intense moments of ER drama or the emotional love games, that keep me watching it. But nevertheless I’m hooked. So as Im sitting there clutching my pillow waiting for commercials to end I am hit by what I actually just saw and heard. My mind quickly flashed back to a conversation between Izzy and Addison. Izzy approaches Addison about her current love problem and her out of the blue love affair with a married man, George. Being the wonderful woman that Addison is, she encourages Izzy to not think much of it and drop it. This is where Izzy makes a very interesting claim. She asks Addison and I quote, “How do you know that it didn’t feel so right because it was God’s plan!” Recovering from the shock of the question, Addison clears her throat to repeat the question. “You think God wants you to be an adulterer?” And once again Izzy fires back with yet another claim. “Well God got a virgin pregnant by magic, He isn’t exactly playing by the rules!” 
 Yup thats right everybody, God is 1. not playing by his own rules, therefore he is sinful, and 2. God wants Izzy to continue committing adultery. Of course I mean this in the most sarcastic way possible. But the horrible thing is, is that a lot of people watching tonight’s episode would hear that conversation and say “Yea, thats right! God isn’t playing by his own rules!Hey maybe I should go have sex with my married friend.”
Yet another sad thing about this whole scene is that it shows the ignorance of our culture. It makes clear the lack of understanding we have of God and the Bible. I mean look at this secular show. It has a basic understanding of one of the 10 commandments and a very shallow view of God. But that is it. Even rational thought is thrown out here. Did anyone ever stop and think, “Wait does this make sense? Could God actually not play by his own rules, wouldn’t he not be God if he broke them.” Yea thats right he wouldn’t be.
Hopefully in the end this dialogue caught people’s attention and brought their minds to think about God. Who knows maybe its even God plan for people to misrepresent him on primetime national television.

A defining call..

Silent no more is pretty straight forward in its objective. We are writing to verbalize our thoughts, to awaken the thoughts of others, and to actualize change. We write against the flow of our culture, that floats in silence. A culture that sits still in the midst of its own decay. We will write till we see that stagnate water churn with a fierce tide. Until then we break the silence with a defining call to be louder.