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Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
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Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Top 5 Books of My Life So Far

As you may have noticed, I've suffered from a combination of a lack of time due to the holidays and a simple case of writer's block. So I approach this Top 5 list well aware that it may be the least interesting thing I've posted to date. However, if it inspires one person to read a book that has been so pivotal to me in my life, I will consider it worthwhile. Additionally, I am always looking for new reading material, so if my list suggests I would like something you would like to recommend, drop me a line.

  1. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis) - This book tops my list (as it does many lists of this sort), not because all of the theology was so pivotal, but because it made me hungry to read and study about God. Prior to this book, my reading time was largely consumed by The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (each of which got multiple readings). However, the wisdom, wit, and accessibility with which C.S. Lewis approached the logic and practicality of Christianity started a passion in me for all things theology, philosophy, and apologetics.

  2. Desiring God (John Piper) - In contrast to the previous book, this book more than any other has been pivotal to my theology. The supremacy of God's glory, holiness, and sovereignty were made clear (and precious) to me. With a slow pace that worked out the finer points in every facet of life, John Piper showed how God's ultimate glory and our ultimate happiness are satisfied in the same way.

  3. Disappointment With God (Philip Yancey) - I must admit, it was hard to pick just one Philip Yancey book. Other close contenders include What's So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew, but this book in particular answered some poignant questions for me and is a constant resource now for answering others. With honesty and transparancy, Yancey deals with our doubts and shortcomings about a God that doesn't always interact with us the way we want (but always the way we need).

  4. Wild At Heart (John Eldredge) - This book possibly has more hilighting ink in it than any of the others in my collection. While not heavy in theology, this book lit a strong fire in me to be a man (and husband) of God. Drawing on iconic imagery from childhood, Eldredge shows how the adventures and battles that we act out as kids are set in our hearts from God. A beautifully written book that made me want to get out and be a man.

  5. Your God Is Too Safe (Mark Buchanan) - Perhaps the least well-known of the five titles, this book may contend with Wild At Heart for the title of "most hilighted". With incredible insights throughout, Mark talks passionately about how to move away from a comfortable life believing in a safe god who is little more than fire insurance.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Hijacking of Christianity

Recently I was listening to a popular radio personality who called the Muslim community to speak out against the the acts of terrorism that are being done in their name. He suggested that the Islamic extremists have "hijacked" the public's image of Islam and that, if the Muslim community feels this doesn't represent mainline Islam, they need to publicly denounce these terroristic acts. Of course, we have not seen much of this, and the implication was that these acts are passively endorsed by the rest of the community.

This caused me to consider the community I claim to be a part of and the public image of Christianity. Are we permitting Christianity to be "hijacked" by those who commit their own acts of hatred under the guise of Christianity? The military funeral protesters, two-faced televangelists, gay bashers, and their ilk continue to dominate any news regarding Christianity and color it with their hatred. The abortion clinic bomber is commonly cited as Christianity's version of a terrorist, though there hasn't been one in almost ten years. Are we passively endorsing their behavior by not speaking out against them and not living in a way that is a loud and clear contrast? Who can we point to who is living a life that is full of peace and forgiveness to counter-balance the damage that group of people is doing to the image of Christianity? Is there anyone being that outspoken for Christianity in a way that is drawing people to Christ rather than driving them away?

As I have said before, one should never judge a worldview by it's abuses. One must instead judge a worldview by what it asserts and the founder who asserts it (in other words, deal with the ideas themselves). However, this argument by itself will not win a skeptical public to Christ. In fact, while this argument is sound and logical, it seldom will ever change the way someone feels about Christianity.

I know Christianity will not always be popular in the public eye (Jesus' ministry and teaching make this clear), but we must be sure that when we are unpopular, it is for the right reasons. This will require Christians who are aggressive with the grace and hope of Christianity. This will take Christians who are biblically informed and know how to handle the Word and those who are not living by it. I know those who are building the Church will not always be given as big a platform as those defaming it, but neither can we sit by passively and let such people form the public's entire picture of Christianity.

So it begins with you and it begins with me. Living a biblically saturated lifestyle out loud and in a winsome fashion on what ever platform we're given. Even if it's only with class mates, co-workers, friends and family. It requires an ear for which "Christians" are making the news and a finger on the public pulse. It requires the biblical literacy to know those who are and aren't living in accordance with the teachings of Christ and the ability to articulate the difference. But, most importantly, it takes a life that is full of Christ and empty of hypocrisy that will win the skeptics with an aggressive hope, peace, and grace that is out loud.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Genetic Fallacy and Political Issues

When discussing political issues, it seems that the Christian is often at a disadvantage from the outset. The question "Why do you impose your Christianity on everybody?" is sometimes used as a sort of misdirection to throw a Christian's argument off track. However, this charge bears no weight, not because Christians are innocent, but because every single person is guilty. Plainly, whether proposing, voting on, or challenging a law, everyone acts in accord with their own religion and/or worldview.

Every law imposes someone's convictions upon the rest of society. Speed limits exist because someone said "It is my conviction that placing restrictions on driving speeds is the best way to promote safety on the road". A law was proposed and a majority voted in favor (meaning that such a law coincided with the majority's viewpoint as well). In the same fashion, every law (once passed) imposes one's position on a certain issue upon everyone else. Essentially, law means "We impose upon you that you [do this thing or don't do this, you fill in the blank]."

Additionally, every position grows out of one's worldview. Every view is drawn out of an individual thinking "I believe the world operates in such a way, and these certain things are valuable, so my position on this issue is that . . . ". Thus a law like a speed limit is passed and enforced because an individual felt that human life was valuable and worth saving, and the majority of that individual's culture agreed.

Mind you, this does not excuse a responsible Christian from understanding and being able to defend a position beyond "The Bible says so". However, to discount a position just because it grows out of a Christian worldview is committing a genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy is committed when an idea is either accepted or rejected because of its source, rather than its merit. Again, the Christian must be knowledgeable about the merit of the position and ready to defend it, otherwise they are being just as lazy about their argumentation as the skeptic.

Thus, every law imposes somebody's convictions on everyone in that culture and all convictions come from somebody's worldview. So, while understanding this will not give your argument any additional credence, it can at least prevent your argument from being disregarded off-hand.

Note: This does not mean that we should try to make illegal everything that is a sin under Christian teaching (can you imagine a society where gluttony and lying are illegal?). Nor does this give us permission to judge the world by the same set of moral tenets and standards that we judge ourselves by inside the Christian community (Paul strictly prohibited this).