Archive for July, 2014

Why is passing on the faith a big deal?

July 29, 2014

Christian Foundations for Ministry just wrapped up a series of classes at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Little Rock. The concept is born from the apparent departure of many young people from Christian belief. In many ways, they are like their parents being over-worked, suspicious of authority, and unwilling to get mixed up in demanding social activities. There are plenty of reasons, and the truth is that most of us walked away from organized religion in the younger days.

Today is different because Christianity is being forced to accept its place as a cultural minority. For the modern believer, this new situation may not result in martyrdom, but a life of enforced irrelevance is certainly no fun. This reordering may or may not be permanent. The elements are present for all  sorts of misbehavior. The point is that young people will be in a very much worse environment than their parents.

The supposed “grown ups” are often disconnected from the realities that personally demean and discount the individual follower of Christ. For one thing, if one is entirely clueless about postmodernism, he is missing the foundation of much contemporary thought. The traditional apologetics does not fit into a world that is, first, relational, and otherwise suspicious of absolutes. Yes, this is very similar to a lot that was happening in the 70s, but the “other side” has all the presumption of place that was formerly the sole possession of Christians.

This is not very pleasant, but here we are at the beginning of the decline. Yes, we have the biblical hope for final victory, but Jesus has placed the gospel in human hands and evangelization is our responsibility. It is a direct order from the Head of the Church, the Great Commission. That’s the big deal.

A question for Arkansas Senatorial candidate Tom Cotton concerning “once-a-week-Christians”

July 15, 2014

Let me tell you that things down in Arkansas are a mess and I find the pending November elections to be an awful puzzle. The candidates are terrible, which is such a departure from the time that this small southern state produced national figures like Joe T. Robinson, J. William Fulbright, and Dale Bumpers.

Republican candidate for the United States Senate Tom Cotton recently accused incumbent Mark Pryor of being a “one-day-a-week-Christian.” Such accusations have no place in political campaigns in the first place, and the Constitution clearly says that government may not require religious tests of office holders. Yes, I do get the distinction, but I also understand the background and what should be a rule in all elections.  Furthermore, I am willing to stipulate that Pryor’s response was tepid, shallow and absolutely dreadful.

Since Mr. Cotton has taken it upon himself to publicly question the religious faith or another candidate, and presumably somebody he would count as a brother-in-Christ, I am wondering what steps Cotton went through before using the nuclear option. Did he follow the procedure laid out by our Lord, Savior, and Living Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, in Matt 18?

Did Cotton go in private and outline his concerns? (18:15)

I’m not making this up. If Cotton had done so, He might have won his brother. That is what Jesus says. If Prayer would not listen to Cotton, did the GOP candidate go again with others and address the issue in front of Witness? Again, Jesus says this is what Christians with disagreements are bound to do. (18:16) Some churches actually follow these steps. No foolin’.

The final step is to bring it to the Church. My reading on the subject, which is not exhaustive, SUGGESTS to me that Cotton should bring the issue before Senator Pryor’s church. (18:17) Some might hold that Pryor be questioned in Cotton’s Church. I doubt it, but this is an area in which I am open to instruction.  I should add that my readings about the following aspect of proper order, point to the purpose of church discipline as eventual restoration. I might mention here the writings of John Calvin and the Anglican Articles of Religion in support of my opinion. Looking at the words of Jesus in v. 17, it seems that even tax collectors and Gentiles are capable of repentance.

Since Mr. Cotton apparently holds himself out as something more than a Sunday-only kind of guy, it would be good to hear about his theological and biblical reflection on Mark Pryor’s alleged shortcomings. There are one or two further questions that need Mr. Cotton’s attention.

Why did he take church business, stuff that Jesus himself instructs to be kept inside the church, into the political arena?

Does Tom Cotton believe that the name of Jesus is glorified by the public airing of accusations among Christ’s followers?

Duke’s Final Day: A Reflection

July 15, 2014

Thee is a set of photos concerning a black lab’s last day that has gone viral. I have seen it and you probably have too. It is beautiful and at the same time it is hard. If you have recently lost a pet, watch at your own peril. This is a great story told with powerful images. Here’s the link.

This Dog’s Final Day Proves We Should Live Every Day Like It’s Our Last.

We lost Molly a year-and-a-half ago, so this subject is still upsetting. Who cannot be moved by a dog enjoying the things dogs enjoy, especially poured out in abundance. Two thumbs up for these striking photographs because I only have two thumbs.

It is possible that we do ascribe too much humanity to animals. There is a tendency toward sentimentalism in modern life and it is not one bit pretty. Still. dogs know when they are seriously ill and they understand when the end is near. It is very possible that a well-socialized dog like Duke would realize that the time has come for farewells.

Duke’s story certainly reminds us of God’s goodness in creation. Everything in the material order is good. It is my opinion, and this is probably no earth shaking piece of theological insight, that animals who become our pets foreshadow a time when everything will be reconciled and put in perfect order. This marvelous relationship of a family and Duke hints broadly that someday we will live together in peace. Humans will be at peace with their neighbors, at peace with the cosmic order, and finally  in God’s favor.

As to the rainbow bridge, I tend to doubt that our pets are waiting anxiously to meet us on the other side. I don’t know if we get out pets back in the Kingdom of the Heavens, but I sure hope so. Since we will be resurrected and reigning with Christ on earth, it would be difficult to imagine a world without dogs, so why not our favorites? It is just a thought and whatever God has in mind is right.

Good boy, Duke.