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May 03, 2005


I've been given some GREAT looking graphics for use on the site. I'm going to start testing them out tomorrow. I was GOING to do it tonight, but I have a boatload of reading to do for Friday.

Regular blogging will begin here this weekend, once I'm done my finals. Mark study, the ecumenical councils study, and more. So stick around! It will be worth it -- promise.

{edit} I'm trying to decide whether to move the archives over or leave them at the old site. There are some posts I will move regardless -- the Mark study and the councils of the church posts for starters, plus a few of the old ones. There are some that I'd sooner forget ....

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2005

New Logo Graphic Header Thingy

BIG thank yous going out to Amy from Prochein Amy for her work on the new graphics for the new site. She sent me a bunch of potential title graphics, and I picked the one you now see at the top of the page.

She's also working on some sidebar graphics that will replace the titles that are there right now -- I'll be getting those up later on. So head over to her blog and tell her how much these new graphics rock!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I'm changing the blogroll. Some entries are going to be leaving -- NOT because I don't read the blog anymore, not because I don't like them, but because my blogroll is too darn big. The only blogs that will stay on there are blogs that I read every single day, either through RSS feed or by visiting the site itself.

Some blogs that aren't there may show up. I'm going to TRY to limit myself to ten to twenty blogs that are listed there -- right now, there are 51 blogs in my blogroll.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 03:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 05, 2005

Beyond the Shadowlands: Introduction

{NOTE: This is the first part of my blogging review of the book Beyond the Shadowlands: C.S. Lewis on Heaven and Hell by Dr. Wayne Martindale. I received this book through Mind and Media as a gift from the publisher (Crossway), who donated the books for the reviewers.}

This post originally appeared at the old site on 4/10/2005. I am including it here so that the entire review will be on one site.

I am looking forward to this book, just from reading the author's Introduction. This quote will give you an idea why: "Somewhere in the back of my mind, quite unconsciously, Heaven was an extended, boring church service like those I had not yet learned to appreciate on earth -- with this exception: You never got to go home to the roast beef dinner."

Kids do tend to look at Heaven in just that way. Unfortunately, our misconceptions of Heaven often continue into adulthood. This book promises to skewer those myths, and the myths associated with Hell as well, and show how Lewis portrayed the reality of Heaven and Hell, and the myths we often have about them, in his books.

I've decided to blog about this book as I read it, and not simply do one single post on it -- mainly because I think the book deserves more than just a one-shot post. I think that it is very important for Christians to have a proper idea of what Heaven and Hell really are, and to know what the potential troubles are with incorrect assesments of both places. I plan on spending at least one post on the fist section of the book (which details seven myths people believe about Heaven), and one on the third (detailing six popular myths about Hell). The second and fourth sections, in which Dr. Martindale explores Lewis' treatment of Heaven and Hell in his fiction, may require more than one post each. When I'm finished, I'll offer one post giving my own opinion of the book, and will add links in each post to the other posts in the 'series' so that it will be easier to jump back and forth between posts.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 11:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 06, 2005

A Resurgence Not Yet Realized ...

Obviously, this is about Thom Rainer's newest report on the status of evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Rainer has found, through interviews with local Southern Baptist churches, that while the conservative resurgence has had great success, especially in changing the course of the SBC's seminaries, the expected evangelistic growth has not happened.

The full article is published in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology for Spring 2005, and I got my free copy today. Unfortunately, it's not available on Southern's web site yet, so you can't actually go there and read it -- and I'm not sure about copyright restrictions, or I'd offer to send anyone who wants it a copy. It is a rather revealing look at the Southern Baptist Convention -- and not a very flattering one.

Dr. Rainer uses two statistics as indicators of evangelistic effort and growth: the total number of baptisms reported, and the ratio of baptisms to church members. His data shows that Southern Baptists baptized not many more people in 2003 than they did in 1950 -- 376,085 in 1950 vs. 377,357 in 2003. The data also shows that there has no real sustained growth in baptismal rates since 1950 -- throughout the 47 year period, total baptisms never go above 445,725 and never dip below 336,050. We are, if nothing else, consistent.

The ratio of baptisms per church member is an interesting statistic. It purports to show how many people it takes per church to reach one person with the Gospel. Obviously, the fewer members it takes to result in one baptism, the better. Southern Baptist churches averaged 43 church members to 1 baptism, as opposed to 36:1 in 1978 and 19:1 in 1950.

Dr. Rainer then contrasts the SBC statistics with those of the CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship). For those who don't know, the CBF is seen as a sort of anti-SBC: moderate (and some outright liberal) churches who were upset at the conservative turn of the SBC left and formed their own group. The CBF and it's association with the Baptist World Alliance was a factor in the SBC pulling out of the BWA. (Add a few more acronyms to THAT sentence and you have alphabet soup!) The statistics he was able to compile from the CBF shows that they are actually doing worse than the SBC is doing.

Dr. Rainer admits that the data that he collected isn't the best. Data from the CBF is problematic because of the difficulty in getting a full list of CBF member churches. Their web site lists some churches, but clearly says that the list isn't a membership roster. 638 churches affiliated witht he CBF were included in the study: the CBF claims membership of 1,800 churches.

Assuming that the data is accurate, I think that Dr. Rainer's interpretations are correct. The conservative resurgence hasn't had the impact on evangelism that it was expected to have, but without it, things could be much worse -- judging from the CBF data.

Dr. Rainer has several hypotheses concerning why this has happened. I think that the truth lies in a mix of a few of his ideas. The US has become less receptive to evangelistic outreach -- people are more likely to think of faith as "a personal thing". There are unsaved members in our churches -- church membership is still considered a status symbol in some areas, and church membership is seen as something "good people do." Pastors are discouraged from making sure that members are, in fact, Christians because of the numbers game that we play. At the very least, we have many nominal Christians in the pews every Sunday. We need to focus on making sure that our church members are, in fact, Chrisitans -- make them aware that membership in the local church does NOT gaurantee them membership in the body of Christ. Then we need to make them aware of the responsibility they have to the lost -- the duty that we have to tell them of Christ, and the salvation available in Him.

{EDIT} Other places that are covering this story: GetReligion, Emerging SBC Leaders, and Amy Welborn. Click here for the Baptist Press article.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2005

Go Ahead -- Make My Day

View from the Pew

is a Giant Dragon that leaves a Trail of Goo, has a Massively Swollen Skull, Very Sharp Fangs and Dozens of Tentacles, and is Cold-Blooded.

Strength: 10 Agility: 7 Intelligence: 11

To see if your Giant Battle Monster can
defeat View from the Pew, enter your name and choose an attack:

fights View from the Pew using

Posted by Warren Kelly at 11:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Beyond the Shadowlands Part 1: Myths about Heaven

{This is the first part of the actual review. The introduction can be found here. I plan on at least four parts to this review, because of the nature of the book.}
In the first part of the book, Martindale deal with seven common myths concerning heaven. He shows that these are misconceptions based on a LOT of factors, including an attitude that any physical pleasure is inherantly sinful, so we won't have any fun in heaven.

We tend to get so focused on how much we enjoy life here that we think we won't enjoy heaven. We forget that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)" If we enjoy life here on earth, how much more will we enjoy life in heaven!

Martindale refers to Lewis' Space Trilogy quite a bit in this section. Clearly, I've missed out in not reading this trilogy, so it's been put on my list. Unfortunately, I have no idea whether Martindale's comparisons are accurate in this regard -- but the man is a Lewis scholar of some reknown, so I trust his opinions until I have reason to do otherwise.

The book thus far is very well written -- it's not written on a scholarly, academic level, so it's accessible to anyone. The only annoying aspect is the use of "Lewis's" as the posessive. I've been told that that form is now accepable, and since Martindale is an English teacher, I would think he would know about correct usage, but it's annoying to me. Very minor thing, and it won't spoil my enjoyment of this book.

In my next review post, I'll take a look at the section on the myths about Hell -- another nice thing about this book is that you can read the sections out of sequence if you choose to. And I choose to, if for no other reason than it's different.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 06:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 08, 2005

If I Could Be ...

I was memed a while ago, and haven't responded yet. I'm sure that Songstress thinks I've forgotten, but I haven't.

You have to pick out 5 different things that you could be from the list below. So here goes:

If I could be a chef ... I'd create recipes that were fun AND affordable, with ingredients that everyone can have or easilly obtain.

If I could be a musician ... I'd bring back the creaming guitar solo!

If I could be a librarian ... I'd have to work at a huge library, or I'd be forever buying books to add to the stacks. One thing that irritates me more than anything -- a small library.

If I could be a linguist ... I'd LOVE studying the differences and similarities in ancient languages, and looking into how each changed and developed over time.

If I could be a writer ... I'd finally write the time-travel novel I've had rolling around in my mind for the past two years.

So NOW I have to tag three people, and add a "If I could be a" of my own. Hmmmmmmm. Scott, Rebecca, and Bobby, you're all TAGGED!!!!

If I could be a scientist...
If I could be a farmer...
If I could be a musician...
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be a painter...
If I could be a gardener...
If I could be a missionary...
If I could be a chef...
If I could be an architect...
If I could be a linguist...
If I could be a psychologist...
If I could be a librarian...
If I could be an athlete...
If I could be a lawyer...
If I could be an innkeeper...
If I could be a professor...
If I could be a writer...
If I could be a llama-rider...
If I could be a bonnie pirate...
If I could be a servicemember...
If I could be a photographer...
If I could be a three-year-old ... (That's mine!!)

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

No Surprise Here ...

You are Proverbs
You are Proverbs.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 09, 2005

Best of Me Symphony

Head over the The Owner's Manual for this week's edition of The Best of Me Symphony!

This week's theme is Monty Python, so you KNOW I had to get in on it. I entered my old post about my dear friend Nicholas Kristof and his total buy-in to the idea of the God gene -- a proposition that has been roundly refuted by both theologians and competent geneticists.

There is a boat-load of great posts over there -- so go over and check it out!!!

{EDIT} OK, so I forgot to actually put a LINK to the BOMS. So shoot me. At least I remembered a trackback!!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Washington Post vs. Ergun Caner

I'm sure that the Post intended this as a nice story -- everyone knows how much they love Liberty University and Jerry Falwell. But they can't help but be critical of Caner -- he's not politically correct, the way he's supposed to be.

Caner is a former Muslim, who converted to Christianity. He has also been very critical of his former faith -- though he never made the "demon-posessed pedophile" statement concerning Mohammad that the Post credits to him.

Dr. Caner (who I never had the opportunity to hear, though I have heard very good things from those who have heard him) is regarded as an up and coming evangelical leader. He's an outstanding teacher (as is his brother, who has recently been named a dean at Southwestern Baptist Seminary), and has been appointed dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary now that Danny Lovett is headed to the "new and improved" Tennessee Temple University.

I think it's important to see things about the Muslim faith from the point of view of someone who used to be a Muslim. The Washington Post, though, paints him as a bigot. People think that he will upset Muslim leaders. Liberty is accused of not wanting to engage in dialog with the rest of the world, as one individual the Post interviewed puts it.

I guess that we're supposed to dialog without actually claiming that we have the truth. We have to assume that nobody has the truth, and sit down and figure out what in the world is going on. That's not what the Bible or Christianity is all about. Jesus said that He was "the Truth." That is the truth claim of Christianity. And a religion that is prepared to abandon its truth claims so that it can "dialog" in the "global community" is a religion that is not worth paying any attention to.

I've covered this before, many times, on the old blog.We should never abandon truth claims in the interests of being more "friendly." Christianity Today has a pretty good article on this today as well.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2005

Beyond the Shadowlands Part 2: Myths about Hell

In the next section I want to discuss (though it's chapter 8 in the book), Martindale (and C.S. Lewis) take on the various myths that we have constructed concerning Hell. We don't like to think about Hell. We don't like to talk about it. It's politically incorrect to tell other people that they might be going there (unless you're using profanity). But the fact is that Hell is a reality, and it is a severe, final punishment to all who persist in their rebellion against God. Lewis once said that there are two people in the world: those who say to God, "Thy will be done" and those to whom God says, "Thy will be done."

Martindale goes into a lot of depth discussing Lewis' feelings towards Hell. In most of the writings he cites, it's clear that Lewis is writing as a lay person (though a very gifted and intelligent one), not a theologian. Theological purists will cringe at Lewis' tale of Susan and Frank in The Great Divorce, where Frank is taken from Hell to the gate of Heaven and allowed to talk to Susan (his wife) who is in Heaven -- and is given an opportunity to turn from his sin and enter heaven, even though he is already in Hell. Lewis is trying to illustrate the idea that people in Heaven will not be sad or depressed about their loved ones in Hell, because of the fullness of the love of Christ they experience in Heaven. This is true, but I think the method that Lewis uses is not the best. Martindale attempts to defend Lewis' language, to some success, but ultimately falls short, IMHO.

Lewis does take great pains to show that Hell is NOT a place to be desired ("all the cool people will be there," "non-stop party in Hell," etc.). It is a place of eternal physical and mental torment. Sometimes, in our desire to emphasize the goodness and love of God, we forget about the reality of eternal punishment in Hell. When we do this, we leave out an important part of the Gospel.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Pastor Resigns after Political "Misunderstanding"

Chan Chandler, the pastor of the now-famous East Waynesville Baptist Church, has resigned after a closed-door meeting with the church last night.

"I am resigning with gratitude in my heart for all of you, particularly those of you who love me and my family," Chandler said, adding that the dispute was rooted in his strong feelings about abortion.

Chandler was accused of telling members of his congregation

The question then comes in the Baptist Church how do I vote. Let me just say this right now: If you vote for John Kerry this year, you need to repent or resign. You have been holding back God's church way too long. And I know I may get in trouble for saying that, but just pour it on.
IF Chandler endorsed Bush in the pulpit, and IF he forced the resignations of people who didn't agree with him concerning the election, then he needed to go. From the CNN article today, it sounds as if the dispute concerned Chandler's stance on abortion, and his endorsement of candidates who agree with is convictions. You can't endorse a political candidate from the pulpit -- I don't care which party you are a supporting. You can advocate positions on social issues -- that's what churches DO most of the time. You can point out that one party agrees with you, and one doesn't. You cannot endorse a political party or candidate.

The sad thing about this is that there was an easy way around it. Chandler could have held the same positions, said virtually the same things, and kept his job. But he went too far in endorsing a candidate from the pulpit, and expecting everyone in the congregation to do likewise.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 13, 2005

Beyond the Shadowlands Part 3: Remythologizing Heaven and Hell

I need to interject a definition here, because without it many people will miss the point, or assume something that is not the case. It concerns the use of the word "myth" and how it's used and misunderstood.

Obviously, a myth is usually regarded as an ancient story that was, at one time, an explanation of things that people saw but couldn't understand or explain, but that we now know are totally untrue. We speak of Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology in this sense. Many people have extended this use of the word to include any religious writings at all.

The term can also be used of any story that helps us to understand a concept that we can otherwise not understand. We accept the truth of what the story is trying to tell us without accepting the idea that the story is a retelling of factual occurrances. Both meanings of the word are used in this book, and it can get confusing unless we are careful to define terms beforehand.

Having discussed various misunderstandings (or myths in the first sense of the word), Martindale turns his focus to the second, and specifically writings by Lewis that try to convey to us what Heaven and Hell are like. Lewis really never claims that his descriptions are totally accurate or true -- he recognizes that we don't know what Heaven and Hell are like until we get there. Martindale emphsthe value of myth in helping us understand things that we really cannot understand, while emphasizing thaat the stories are just that -- stories.

Lewis' works contain a lot of truth concerning Heaven. Martindale goes through the space trilogy, The Great Divorce, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Till We Have Faces, and shows how Lewis describes Heaven in each book. Each book deals with a different aspect of Heaven -- the very concept of Heaven itself, it's inhabitants, the standing of the inhabitants of Earth, the idea of reality now compared to reality in Heaven, our sense of awe and wonder at Heaven, which includes all five senses, and the desire of all Christians to be in Heaven. Lewis also manages to illustrate exactly what the fall cost us in terms of our enjoyment of life on Earth.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Beyond the Shadowlands Part 4: Conclusion

One of the things that I was hoping to gain from this book is an explanation of Lewis' alleged heterodoxy. I've heard him accused of universalism. I've heard that he believed in Purgatory. From reading Mere Christianity, I can tell he was fairly ecumenical. Martindale defends Lewis from the first two charges in this work.

Against the charge of universalism, Martindale points out that in Lewis' works people DO go to Hell. They deserve to be there; in fact, in The Great Divorce, the choose to go there. If anything, Lewis could be accused of being slightly inclusivistic -- he believes that people are judged based on the grace they have been given, rather than professing faith in a Christ they have never known about. I certainly would disagree with Lewis on that point, as many evangelicals would.

Lewis's stand on Purgatory is interesting. He sees Purgatory as the vehicle by which we are sanctified before we enter Heaven, rather than a "second chance" for non-believers to get their act together to get into Heaven. I agree that believers are made pure by the working of the Holy Spirit; I disagree that it happens after death.

We need to remember that for all his great intellect, and his obvious writing talent, that Lewis was not a theologian. He was an academician, and very intelligent, and an apologist without equal in his day. But he was not theologically trained, and we should not use him to determine our theology. If he was wrong, we can say that he was wrong without having to abandon the ideas that he got right.

Much of Martindale's book is literary criticism: he looks closely at the symbols and imagery that Lewis uses, and shows their meaning in terms of Heaven and Hell. He assumes that the reader has at least a passing familiarity with Lewis' work, which I am increasingly aware that I do not have. The Space Trilogy is referenced many times -- I have put reading that trilogy at the top of my must read list. I've decided that I really need to start reading more C.S. Lewis -- the weekly readings out of Mere Christianity aren't enough. And I'm buying the Narnia set to read to my daughter.

The benefits of reading this book are numerous. I've gained an appreciation for C.S. Lewis beyond what I already had. But more importantly, my desire for heaven and my outlook on the afterlife has been slightly changed. More than a merely spiritual existance, we have a life to look forward to -- a life full of enjoyment and pleasure, unburdened by the worry and bondage of sin. We will be able to do what we want, because our desires will be pure.

This book should be on the shelf of anyone who reads and enjoys Lewis' works, both fiction and nonfiction. It should also be on the shelf of anyone who is interested in learning some very different ways of looking at both Heaven and Hell.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2005

Newsweek and the Qur'an

I admit that I was outraged when I first heard the story about intentional desecrations of the Qur'an at Guantanamo Bay. I'm not 100% sure why I didn't blog about it, though. Maybe I had a gut instinct that we weren't getting the whole story, maybe I was nervous because I hadn't heard much about the story from other outlets (and it gets a small mention in the Newsweek article. If you blink, you might miss it). But I held off, and I'm glad I did.

No surprise that there were riots in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Palestine because of the story. If I had heard of Muslim soldiers desecrating Bibles, I'd have been just as outraged. 15 people were killed in these riots, though, which is tragic. I think that the story at Christianity Today is telling:

When The Washington Times in 2002 reported that Muslims holed up in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity had used the Bible as toilet paper, Christian leaders there complained under their breath. Christian and Muslim leaders here in America were silent.

When, on the first season of Survivor, Rudy Boesch said, "The only reason I'd bring a Bible out here is if … I needed toilet paper," it was played for laughs. There were no deadly riots—at least none that Weblog remembered.

When an NBC sitcom plot included a joke about flushing a consecrated Communion wafer down the toilet after a Catholic funeral Mass, Weblog remembers reading one press release from an organization that complains about a lot of things. No riots. No protests. No mainstream media coverage (at least none Weblog remembers seeing). And for what it's worth, Roman Catholics believe that the host is the actual body of God incarnate.

But if, let's say, a Christian leader had called for a boycott over such matters, the cry would go out that we are living in a theocracy.

I recommend the rest of that article, incidentally -- very good reading.

Of course, now Newsweek is saying that the story may have been wrong.
In an apology to readers, Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker (search) said that its lone source for a story accusing U.S. interrogators of flushing the Koran (search) down the toilet to rattle a detainee later said he could not recall where information about the alleged incident came from.

"We believed our story was newsworthy because a U.S. official said government investigators turned up this evidence," Whitaker wrote. "But we regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst."

Had this been a blogger, there would have been cries of regulation, accountability, etc. Had it been Drudge, or Limbaugh, or O'Reilly, there would have been a lynch mob ready to exact justice. But it was Newsweek. So I'm betting that in a week or so (maybe less) we won't hear anything more about this, or what kind of punishment was inflicted, or who got fired or demoted. Unless the story is kept alive.

People died because a major news source based a story entirely on the statement of an undisclosed source. Something needs to be done, internally. Newsweek needs to institute a plicy similar to the one the Wall Street Journal has -- there should be a limited number of undisclosed sources used in a story, and the story should be verified by sources who are willing to go on the record. If this happens, maybe in the future people won't die because a magazine didn't bother to check their sources.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

From the "DUH!" File


Sunday Schools Teach Children Creationism

Seriously, is this really news? Next thing you know, Mr. Baker will be leading off with a story that many evangelical churches pray, and at most the church leader (called the "pastor" by the congregation) ends the service with a half-hour speach based on a selected Biblical text. Some parishoners call this speach a "sermon," and it is often followed by an "altar call" or a "benediction" in some churches.

This would be in the running for a Clewie award, but I'm not sure this guy can get a clue. He sure shouldn't be covering religion news if he thinks that teaching creation in Sunday School is news.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Kristof and Spong

I haven't been mocking Nicholas Kristof lately, but his latest effort has really got me ... laughing.

In his attempt to reimagine Christianity, Kristof has engaged the arch-heretic John Shelby Spong. Paul was a gay man who attacked homosexuality to keep his own desires in check. Judas didn't betray Christ, because Paul (as well as the ever-elusive Q source) doesn't mention the betrayal at all. Never mind that Paul doesn't attempt to give an account of the life of Christ, and the betrayal never really factored into his ministry or teachings. If Paul didn't mention it, then it didn't happen. And Q seems to be the last refuge of doubt -- if we see something that all three Synoptics have in common, it has to be from Q (rather than it having to do with the common inspiration of God that the writers labored under).

Kristof comes short of actually agreeing with Spong, but he does say "at least he's engaged in the debate," and encourages liberals to engage conservative Christians on their own turf, on their own terms. If Spong is the best they have, I think they're better off with their current strategy of ridicule and ignore.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 05:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

But .. He DIED!!!

Thanks to Bryan at Spare Change.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2005

Good Question!

The New York Sun has asked a question that I think we should all be asking ourselves in light of Newsweek's article about Qur'an desecrations


Do Muslims really revere the Koran so much more than Christians and Jews do the Bible? It would seem so. They certainly act as if they do. Think of the Salman Rushdie affair. For years this Muslim-born novelist was threatened with death all over the Muslim world for parodying certain episodes in the Koran. A Christian or Jewish novelist who did the same with the Bible would get yawned at.

Indeed, that Muslims do take their religion more seriously is, sociologically speaking, the case. The percentage of observant Muslims in any Islamic country is considerably higher than that of observant Christians in the West or observant Jews in Israel.

The problem is that we don't think people will get that upset about attacks on their religion. After all, people in the US routinely attack religious beliefs as old fashioned, silly, superstitious, etc. And the people they are attacking -- Christians, Jews, Mormans, Hindus, etc. -- sit by and take it. Muslims aren't going to take it.

I think that's one reason Newsweek was so slow to retract the story -- they couldn't believe that people got that upset. "It's just a book," they think.

The reactions of Muslims across the world should also be an indictment of Christians here in the US. When someone desecrates a Qur'an, there are riots. When someone desecrates a cross, they get government money. Bible mistreatment abounds, because people don't have any respect for it.

If Protestants are true to their ideal of sola Scriptura, then we should be incensed when the Bible is mistreated or abused. We believe that it is the very Word of God -- as the Muslims believe the Qur'an is. They take the Word of God seriously -- Christians in the US treat it as something that is disposable. Something taken for granted. Certainly not something we build our lives and faith around.

And that is the problem with the state of Christianity. We've developed beyond our reliance on the Word of God. We've lost our first love. And it shows in our inaction -- in everything from global poverty to our lack of evangelical efforts at home and abroad. Church membership is considered a right that should never be witheld or revoked (I may have more on the subject of church discipline later on this week -- Al Mohler is covering it in detail). There is no cost. There is no obligation. There is no duty. And we have people sitting in church pews who know nothing about their faith, and do nothing in it's cause.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

This Week in Church History

May 16, 583

He was more famous than Patrick in the Middle Ages. But we know very little about Saint Brendan the Navigator, who (we think) died on this date. Tales of his adventures abound, but most (if not all) have to be regarded as legendary, fictitious. Brendan offered an Easter communion from the back of a whale. On his voyages he was "raised up on the back of sea monsters." The expedition was pelted by flaming rocks thrown by the inhabitants of a nearby island.

But Brenden may have found the 'New World' 900 years before Columbus. Many people think that Newfoundland is the "St. Brendan's Isle" that the stories speak of -- and that maps ion the 15th century show as being in the Atlantic Ocean west of Europe.

In 1976 Tim Severn recreated the voyage of Saint rendan, showing that even with the technology of the time the voyage was possible. And there are some people who believe that there is evidence of Irish exploration as far south as West Virginia by apx. 1000AD.

Much of Brendan's voyages are legendary. But legend has to be based on something. I think this Irish saint's life and work needs to be studied more -- without modern cultural biases that relegate anything that we cannot believe or understand to the realm of myth or legend.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


What military aircraft are you?

F/A-22 Raptor

You are an F/A-22. You are technologically inclined, and though you've never been tested in combat, your very name is feared. You like noise, but prefer not to pollute any more than you have to. And you can move with the best.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

Hat tip to Scott at The Crusty Curmudgeon

Posted by Warren Kelly at 03:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pomo? Not Me

Just read this over at Credenda/Agenda. I don't always agree with the folks over there, but I kinda like this one:

We would be postmodern, if we could only get the Leotard to fit. We would embrace the Permanent Possibility of Misconception, except it took us too long to find him, and when we did, he was picking his nose. The truth is, the big sign outside the community center said, "Postmodern Emerging Church: All Welcome." But they didn't mean it. We couldn't even make it up the sidewalk. The guys out front remembered us from T-ball. And they saw the squirt guns. Nobody wants to keep score in T-ball. And the guidance official behind the plate let some of the kids round the bases backward, or stay on base when they insisted that out was a narrow concept of being. So we did things. Things our mother made us say sorry for. But we didn't mean it. We still don't. Now they're accusing us of not taking the Leotard seriously, and we're not sure how they guessed.
Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2005

More on the Qu'ran Desecrations

Found this interesting article at the Wall Street Journal (registration required). Since you have to register for it, I'll quote the relevant section here.

Soon after Newsweek published an account, later retracted, of an American soldier flushing a copy of the Quran down the toilet, the Saudi government voiced its strenuous disapproval. More specifically, the Saudi Embassy in Washington expressed "great concern" and urged the U.S. to "conduct a quick investigation."

Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Quran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia. This would seem curious to most people because of the fact that to most Muslims, the Bible is a holy book. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia we are not talking about most Muslims, but a tiny minority of hard-liners who constitute the Wahhabi Sect.

The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible. The State Department's annual human rights reports detail the arrest and deportation of many Christian worshipers every year. Just days before Crown Prince Abdullah met President Bush last month, two Christian gatherings were stormed in Riyadh. Bibles and crosses were confiscated, and will be incinerated. (The Saudi government does not even spare the Quran from desecration. On Oct. 14, 2004, dozens of Saudi men and women carried copies of the Quran as they protested in support of reformers in the capital, Riyadh. Although they carried the Qurans in part to protect themselves from assault by police, they were charged by hundreds of riot police, who stepped on the books with their shoes, according to one of the protesters.)

As Muslims, we have not been as generous as our Christian and Jewish counterparts in respecting others' holy books and religious symbols. Saudi Arabia bans the importation or the display of crosses, Stars of David or any other religious symbols not approved by the Wahhabi establishment. TV programs that show Christian clergymen, crosses or Stars of David are censored.

Now THAT'S what I call a theocracy. And the left in the United States don't understand that at all.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 04:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 21, 2005

Blog Critics

I am now a part of the vast cabal known as Blogcritics. My first post is right here, so go over there and read it, and comment!!

If you blog, and you review things like books or music, or even movies, Blogcritics is the place YOU need to be. Why not apply?

Posted by Warren Kelly at 01:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mark Study: Mark 7:24-30

And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." And he said to her, "For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter." And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
(Mark 7:24-30 ESV)

Jesus' ministry at this point was directed primarilly to the Jews. This is why He didn't want people to know where He was (verse 24). He was in a Gentile house, and did not want the Jews to know He was there, because it would have immediately prejudiced them against Him. He also was in the last place that the Pharisees would have looked for Him.

But He could not be hidden. His reknown had spread to the Gentiles, and soon a woman in need came to seek His help. Jesus' reply seems to be a bit out of character to us -- He won't help her? John Gill believes that Christ said this to "test her faith" (from his notes on Matthew 15:26). But when we remember that His primary mission was to the Jewish people, His meaning is clear. She understood who the "dogs" were -- Jews often referred to Gentiles as dogs. But her faith is shown in her perseverence.

She is blessed for her persistence. Sometimes, we are too easilly stalled in our Christian walk. One bad thing happens, and we are ready to throw in the towel. We need to follow the example of this woman, who had no real reason to think that Christ would bother to help her, but through faith came to Him anyway. She knew that she did not deserve anything from Him, but she still came, out of a sence of her own need. She knew better than those who He had come to minister to.

It is interesting to hear the words of Christ -- "Let the children be fed first." First, not only. Christ showed there was hope for the Gentiles. Gill says " as a priest, or as a Saviour and Redeemer, He was sent to make satisfaction and atonement for the sins of all God's elect, and to obtain eternal redemption and salvation for all of them, whether Jews or Gentiles;as a prophet, in the discharge of His own personal ministry, he was sent by His Father only to the Jews." But He was willing to show that there was hope for all who would believe in His name.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 23, 2005

What's on YOUR Desk?

From Rebecca Writes, via Challies.com.

What books are on my desk? Well, my desk is almost too small for the computer I have on it, so I'm including what's stacked up next to it:

  • The Historical Evidence for the Virgin Birth by Vincent Taylor

  • Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity by David de Silva

  • (both now overdue from the library at Southern)

  • At the Pure Fountain of Thy Word: Andrew Fuller as an Apologist edited by Michael A.G. Haykin

  • The Holy Bible: New American Standard Version

  • The Holy Bible: English Standard Version

  • Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey

  • God's Bestsellerby Bryan Moynahan

So what books are on YOUR desk?

Posted by Warren Kelly at 09:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 24, 2005

One Year Ago Today ...

I have no idea what to write today, other than to let you know that I've got another review (actually two) at Blogcritics. And the KJVO review has generated a little bit of discussion (more than most of my posts at my own blog -- hmmm). So go over there and read -- and respond!

The real reason for this post is to take a trip back in time. One year ago today, what was I writing about? I was trying to refute the whole "all evangelicals are Reconstructionists" insanity (and probably doing a bad job of it), and I was confounded by the insanity of Christian secessionists who wanted to spark secession by one or two states. I had made a minor change to the blog template (not many people noticed...). But I was also busy wishing Nick Queen a happy birthday. Hmmm. If that was a year ago today -- that means it's Nick's birthday again!!!

Head over to his blog and wish him a happy birthday. Tell him I sent you!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 25, 2005

Pagan Roots?

I'm writing this in response to some reactions to my review of James White's The King James Only Controversy over at Blogcritics. Most of the comments on the review have little to do with the actual subject of the book (the controversy over modern translations of the Bible), but rather toiuch on the roots of Christianity itself.

One of the commentors mentioned the alleged pagan roots of Christianity -- in particular, a Norse myth that has Odin being hung on a tree and having his side pierced by a spear for his followers' benefit. The plethora of virgin births, dying saviors, eternal punishment, etc. has been mentioned; the allegation is that Christianity merely borrows from these other religions, fabricating a myth around the alleged life of Jesus of Nazareth (who may or may not have even existed).

I admit first that I'm not an ancient religions expert. My research tends to focus on the middle ages, and the changes that the church was going through at that time (which were numerous!). But I've heard these arguements most of my adult life, and I've finally taken the time to look into their validity.

I had never heard of the Odin story -- my mythological knowledge is limited to the very basics of Greek and Roman myths. The only exposure I've ever had to Norse myth was back when I read Thor comic books. So I had to do a Google search on the whole Odin-crucifixion story -- found one retelling here.

He hanged himself from the tree Yggdrasil, whilst pierced by his own spear, to acquire knowledge. He remained thus for nine days and nights, a number deeply significant in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes. The purpose of this strange ritual, a god sacrificing himself to himself because there was nothing higher to sacrifice to, was to obtain mystical insight through mortification of the flesh; however, some scholars assert that the Norse believed that insight into the runes could only be truly attained in death.
I won't nitpick regarding the time Odin hung on the tree vs. the time Jesus hung on the cross (9 days vs. several hours), because the motivation is what seems to me the most different in the two stories. Odin is looking for something he wants -- Christ is paying a penalty for us -- there was nothing in it for Him. That seems, to be an important difference.

There is speculation that this story helped Christianity to spread throughout northern Europe, but my question is: IF this story is the basis for the Christian story of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, HOW did a dozen Jewish fishermen learn about Odin and the Yggdrasil? And, being good Jews that they were, what possible motivation could they have had to appropriate parts of this story to start their own religion -- an act that resulted in their deaths? This seems to be more like something the syncretistic Romans would have done than something the devoutly monotheistic Jews would have done. (Interestingly, some scholars have seen this story as having been influenced BY, rather than having an influence ON, the Christian crucifixion story.)

There are also many virgin-birth stories that are said to have influenced the Christian nativity story. The problem still remains -- why would Jews borrow from pagan tradition? And clearly it was Jews who first taught the virgin birth of Christ -- Matthew is our earliest source for the birth narrative, and the book was certainly written by a Jew, and written for Jewish readers (Irenaeus is our earliest source for this, though it is at least partially attested to by Papias).

One of the prevalent theories concerning the development of Christianity is that it grew out of Paul's fascination with mystery religions that proliferated in the Tarsus area -- specifically with Mythraism. On top of the obvious dificulty in Paul becoming familiar with the inner workings of these mystery religions, many of the dates simply do not match up. In other words, when examined closely, the mystery religions are far more likely being influenced by Christianity than having an influence on Christianity. I'd recommend Ron Nash's book The Gospel and the Greeks as a good starting point for inquiry into this subject -- most of what I would be able to contribut to the discussion are things I learned either from reading this book or talking to Dr. Nash. J. Gresham Machen offers The Origins of Paul's Religion, which is on my (ever-growing) reading list, as is Seyoon Kim's The Origens of Paul's Gospel.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:06 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2005

Blogroll Cruise: 5/26/2005

This is my very first Blogroll Cruise at the new site. So let's get started!! For those who aren't familiar, this is just a look at posts that have caught my attention while surfing through my blogroll. I do this every so often, supposedly as a service to my readers, but actually because I can't think of anything original to write ...

Over at Al Mohler's blog, he is commenting on the blogosphere as revolution -- specifically Terry Teachout's new blog. If you don't know who Teachout is, or why you should care, read Dr. Mohler's blog, then Teachout's.

Everybody and their brother seems to be reviewing Beyond the Shadowlands over at Blogcritics. Glad I was the first one to do it -- maybe I started a trend!

The folks who brought us the ESV are soliciting questions for the Translation Oversite Committee. Submit yours at Adrian Warnock's place.

GetReligion has a piece about an unusual baccalaureate at one high school. I salute those who wanted a Christian message -- but I have to wonder if they couldn't have found a better speaker than Joyce Meyer.

Stop by Matt Hall's place and congratulate him on the birth of his son, George.

Russell Moore has started blogging at Mere Comments, so I've started reading it more often -- and I've blogrolled it as well.

If you want to know all about Songstress, head over to her blog and check out the tests she just finished taking.

Evangelical Outpost offers a look at reason and religion ... err, I mean Cogito and Christ. Maybe I need to revisit my Faith and Reason posts from a while ago, and actually finish the series.

Think that will do it for now -- I'll have more in a few days!

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is the Reformation Over?

Mark Noll has co-written a new book with Carolyn Nystrom called Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Asessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism that attempts to answer just this question. I just found out that the book is scheduled to be out in July, and it's on my reading list (now WAY too long).

A lot has been written on the subject of Christian unity -- especially in the Bible. I've said before that I think we need to be careful about what differences we are going to consider worth splitting over, and what issues are not worth splitting over. There are many churches that I am familiar with who separate over things like women in pants and CCM -- not worth it, in my own opinion. There are other churches who don't seem to be willing to view rejecting the authority of Scriptures or the deity of Christ as reasons to separate -- I strongly disagree with that.

The Reformation was based on strong principles: sola gracia, sola fide, sola Christus, sola Scriptura, sola Deo gloria -- by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, under the authority of Scripture alone, for the glory of God alone. I haven't been watching Catholic theology that closely in recent years, but I've heard that they are moving closer to the Protestant understanding of many of these issues.

My wife and I had a discussion this evening -- one of those discussions that you only have between academics (she is writing her thesis for her MA in colonial American history this summer on Virginia Baptists in the American Revolution). We reached the conclusion that either the Reformation has really been misnamed, or it failed in it's goal. If the goal was reformation of the Catholic Church, that didn't happen until Vatican II (unless the elimination of papal indulgences can be considered a major victory). The end result of the Reformation was the formation of Protestant churches -- a schism, possibly greater than that between the Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches. Luther left some possibility of reconciliation (which the Roman church rejected), but other Reformers wanted no part of Rome.

Ever since, there have been parts of "Protestantdom" that have wanted to try and reconcile with Rome, and parts that want nothing to do with Rome. Can there ever be total unity? I don't think it will happen until Christ Himself comes back and heads the Church Himself. Even before the 1500s, there were schisms -- most minor ones, many ended by crusade or inquisition, but there were always "Protestants."

I think it's important to partner with those who can help us on specific issues. It amazes me at the number of people who will throw in with any Republican candidate that runs for office (many of whom are conservative, but NOT Christian), but won't work with a Roman Catholic organization to try to end abortion. If our goals are the same, we can (and should) work together. We don't have to endorse their theology to work woth them on social issues. When we realize that, I think we will become a little more effective.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 08:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 27, 2005

How then shall we Blog?

This is one of those posts that is hard to categorize, so I've dumped it into everything else. It's a little bit Intolerant Tolerance, but it's also a little bit Theology, but it doesn't really fit into those categories at all.

A bunch of us from Mind and Media have joined Blogcritics. Seems to be a perfect fit -- they review books, so do we. Match made in Heaven, right?

Not exactly. In fact, quite a few of the members of Blogcritics were none too happy to see their site "overrun" by a bunch of "fundamentalists." And they made it clear to us in their comments on our reviews.

What do you do in this situation? How can we be salt and light to a group of people who want neither -- or see no need for either? I see three options:

1. Get mad right back at them. Match them attitude for attitude, invective for invective. Call names, question parentage.

Obviously not the best option if the goal is actually having them read you and think about what you've written. I admit, I've done this in other venues, and it does have a sort of hgih to it, as the adrenaline starts pumping and you wait for your opponent's next post. But nobody ever really changes their minds in a "discussion" like this, AND it feeds the stereotype of evangelical Christians as "intolerant bigots" who think that they're always right.

2. Leave. "I don't have to put up with this garbage. You all aren't worth the trouble." OR "I'm in over my head. I need to learn some more before I can hang here." Or any number of other reasons.

This is honorable, to an extent. But it does give "them" a victory -- one more fundamentalist that they've run off from their turf. But we don't have to put up with that kind of garbage.

3. Stick around, pick your battles. Make your stand on ground that matters, but don't let that be your only point of interaction. You have other interests -- use them. Post reviews about the last Grisham novel, or the DVD you just bought. Once people see that we're actually human, they can deal a little better with the fact that we're humans with different theological beliefs.

This is the path I'm following. After a big exchange on the Blogcritics Yahoo! group, I posted a short note defending myself, and others. So far, it's been received better than I expected (and the adversarial side of me was itching for a fight, too!). People there can be reasonable -- they just don't want to be beaten over the head with the Bible. I think I can understand that.

Christianity is a LOT more attractive to others when they realize that we're actual people, and not theo-bots on a mission to rule the world. Take a stand on the Truth that we believe in. But show the rest of your personality. Who knows, your next friend might just be an agnostic former Buddhist from Jersey or something.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:31 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

May 28, 2005

New Feature

Yes, I have succumbed. If you haven't noticed yet, there is a flickr box on the right sidebar. Right now, you can see pictures of my daughter's first dance recital, my daughter and me playing the guitar together, and my wife and daughter on the way to this year's prom (we chaperoned).

You won't see many shots of me, because I take most of the pictures. You WILL see lots of pictures of my daughter, because ... I take most of the pictures.

I'll add to it as I feel inclined.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 30, 2005

Judge Tells Parents what Religion to Teach

Ok, now I may be in disagreement with everyone who reads this blog on this issue. But that's never stopped me from shooting off my mouth before.

A judge in Indianapolis has decreed that a set of divorced parents can't teach their kid their religion. Because that religion is Wicca.

I disagree with pretty much everything Wicca teaches. I think they are totally wrong, and deceived, concerning the nature of the supernatural world. I sometimes wish that Christians had as much of an appreciation for the spiritual forces that are out there, though -- we tend to separate things into "God did it" and "Not real at all" and reject the whole "Satan did it" category out of hand. But I don't believe that everything supernatural is essentially good, or should be harnessed.

BUT -- last time I checked, the Constitution prohibited government interference in religion, including the religious instruction of children by their parents. As far as I can tell, the parents are in agreement about the religious training that their kids should have -- it may be the only thing they agree on, I don't know. The judge has prohibited the teaching of "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." No definition of what "mainstream religious beliefs and rituals" actually ARE.

THAT'S a problem area. Evangelicalism is often considered non-mainstream. So the parents can't teach their kids evangelical Christianity? Never says that specifically, but it could be interpreted that way.

I hate to use the phrase "slippery slope" here, but it seems to fit. A dangerous precident has been established if this decision holds up. The government, or at least a representative of the government, is dictating to parents what type of religious training and education that their child can have. That is simply wrong.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 10:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

What IS Fundamentalism?

I'm reposting this from several posts I made on the old blog. I'm not reposting the whole thing -- just some parts, so you might want to head over there and read the full posts I made a little over a year ago. I just finished reading this piece by Frank Schaeffer. I like Frank -- I've read his books about his son in the Marines (Keepin Faith and Faith of Our Sons) and enjoyed them immensely. I've read his father's works, and been blessed by them. But I'm not sure that Frank "gets Fundamentalism" as well as he thinks he does. What is needed is a good definition of what fundamentalism is, and what it isn't.

----------------{begin repost}
So what ARE the fundamentals, anyway? Glad you asked. According to the people who wrote the book The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth, which was written to combat the rise of liberal theology in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the fundamentals are:

1. The inerrancy of the Scriptures
2. The Deity of Christ
3. The second coming of Jesus Christ
4. The virgin birth
5. The physical resurrection of the body
6. The substitutionary atonement
7. The total depravity of man - original sin

Belief in all of these is all it takes to consider yourself an historic fundamentalist.
------------{end repost}
Orthodox Christianity has always held to most if these basic beliefs -- I would guess that C.S. Lewis would consider this type of fundamentalism to be "mere Christianity". The only possible exception is the idea of substitutionary atonement -- many early Christians didn't see the atonement this way (Anselm was probably the closest).

The problem is that there are, within Christianity, different types of fundmentalism. Modern fundamentalism has added a LOT to the basic beliefs of the church -- things related to musical styles, dress, etc. Bahavior-related legalism (no movies, no dancing, etc.) has become S.O.P (standard operating procedure, for those who don't know) among modern fundamentalists. Many modern fundamentalists have fallen into the King James Version Only camp, rejecting any translation of the Bible made after 1611 (or 1769, depending on how hardcore they are). They have retreated into their churches, refusing to engage culture at all. The only interaction with anyone outside their churches that they might have is on Saturday mornings when they go out and knock on doors, evangelizing the neighborhoods.

Problem is, nobody knows who they are. They have no interaction with the everyday problems in their communities, no empathy with those who live right next door. They have separated themselves to the degree that in many cases they are completely worthless -- the salt has lost its savor.

There are fundamentalists who are not like this. They have largely abandoned the name 'fundamentalist,' though, leaving it for the moderns in their church complexes. Some call themselves 'evangelical,' but not all evangelicals are fundamentalist. Some call themselves 'Bible believers' to reflect their dependance on the Word of God. Many don't label themselves at all, calling themselves simply Christians. Many of these don't realize that they are really fundamentalists, and reject the label because of the abuse that the moderns have subjected it to.

Unfortunately, the moderns have gotten most of the press in the recent past. And more unfortunately, most people aren't interested in finding out the truth of what fundamentalism actually was meant to be, and how it has been hijacked.

-----------{begin repost}
There are many areas where evangelicals and fundamentalists differ -- especially if you look at modern, rather than historic, fundamentalists. Modern fundamentalism had become a haven for legalism and anti-intellectualism. Modern fundamentalists typically hold very dogmatically to a rather rigid set of beliefs, and often pride themselves in who they have 'separated from' -- carrying the Biblical injunction to separate from heresey to degrees never envisioned in Scripture.

The differences between evangelicals and historic fundamentalists are slight. The differences between modern fundamentalists and evangelicals are huge, and getting bigger every day. As modern Fundamentalism has slipped into KJVOnlyism, second, third, and fourth degree separation, and other such doctrinal abberations, the gulf will grow even bigger. This is the reason I stopped calling myself a fundamentalist -- I don't like what the name has come to represent. I am, and always will be, an historic fundamentalist.
---------{end repost}

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 31, 2005

Does Western Christendom Still Believe in God?

{This is a repost of one of my favorite posts at the old place. I'm gradually moving the best stuff over here -- eventually, I'll have everything in it's proper chronological order, but I want to put these first so that new readers can enjoy these "historic" posts. This is originally from November 21, 2004}

I need to define my terms first, because I'm using the word 'Christendom' in a different way than I usually do. I'm going to use Christendom to describe Western society in general, assuming (I think correctly) that much of Western culture, especially it's morality, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

I started thinking about this topic on Thursday in my Intro to Philosophy class, as we discussed Nietzsche's The Madman and it's claim that God is dead. I'll start by letting the text speak for itself:

Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!"---As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?---Thus they yelled and laughed

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him---you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.

"How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us---for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars---and yet they have done it themselves.

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"

As of 2002, 85% of all Americans considered themselves to be Christians, according to the data at the Barna group. 87% of Americans say that they believe that God created the world. Only 69% believe that God is all-powerfule, all-knowing, etc. But clearly, there is a majority of people who claim to have some type of faith in God, most of them considering themselves Christian. But what kind of God do they really believe in?

  • 54% believe that being good enough gets someone into heaven. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)
  • 60% say that Satan is not a real being, but the personification of evil. And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.(Luke 10:18 ESV)
  • Only 20% have volunteered time to help out a church. Only 25% volunteer time to help a non-church-based nonprofit organization. And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'(Matthew 25:40 ESV)

We aren't consistant. We pay lip service to God, and deny Him by the way we live our lives. We're like the people in Nietzsce's parable: we are shocked when someone actually comes out and says there is no God, or that He is dead, but we live so that people cannot see Him through us. We lament the fact that our society has no moral base, that in essence God is dead, but we ignore the fact that we are the ones who killed Him, through our apparant unbelief.

We get upset about the risque commercials airing before Monday Night Football. What do we expect from a fallen society? What do we expect, when we have by and large abandoned popular culture, choosing to live in our Christian ghettos -- listening to our Christian music, reading our Christian fiction, watching TV on our Christian satelite channels. We rarely engage anyone who is not a Christian, and when we do, we find we have nothing to say. We cannot relate to them at all, on any level.

We have bought into the lie that faith should have no impact on our lives outside of the church building. We've also bought into a false notion of what the Christian life really is. We've forgotten that living the Christian life is more than "giving Jesus a try." It's more than becoming Jesus' best friend. Jesus really has become our "homeboy" -- He's one of the gang, He fits in. He doesn't tell us to change our lives. He doesn't tell us what to believe -- matters of religion are personal things. He doesn't expect us to make an impact on society.

We need to rediscover a faith that impacts every aspect of our lives, a faith that makes it impossible to live contrary to our beliefs. We need to recover a belief in a Savior who commanded us to go and make disciples.

Posted by Warren Kelly at 02:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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