"Not only devotion: discipleship. Reading and studying scripture has been seen as central to how we are to grow in the love of God; how we come to und...more"Not only devotion: discipleship. Reading and studying scripture has been seen as central to how we are to grow in the love of God; how we come to understand God and his truth more fully; and how we can develop the moral muscle to live in accordance with the gospel of Jesus even when everything seems to be pulling the other way. Since these remain vital aspects of Christian living, the Bible has been woven into the fabric of normal Christian life at every point" (p. 3).
"Idolatry generates all kinds of less-than-truly-human ways of living" (p.34).
Holiness - "genuine and renewed humanness" (p. 34).
"The one thing it is no longer possible to do is to claim that 'modern biblical studies' have come to the kind of fixed and unalterable conclusions that used to be taught in colleges and seminaries- an important point, since many who now debate major issues in the life of the church were educated in that way, and their reading and use of scripture has been, to say the least, significantly skewed as a result" (pp. 90-91).
"To affirm 'the authority of scripture' is precisely not to say, 'We know what scripture means and don't need to raise any more questions.' It is always a way of saying that the church in each generation must make fresh and rejuvenated efforts to understand scripture more fully and live by it more thoroughly, even if that means cutting across cherished traditions... continually trying to understand and live by our foundation texts even better than our predecessors. Again, that is precisely what living by the authority of scripture looks like in practice... tradition should be allowed to be itself; that is, the living voice of the very human church as it struggles with scripture, sometimes misunderstanding it and sometimes gloriously getting it right. That is why the challenge comes fresh to each generation. Traditions tell us where we have come from. Scripture itself is a better guide as to where we should be going" (p.92, 97, 120).
"Reasoned discourse is part of God's alternative way of living, over against that of violence and chaos. THat, perhaps, is part at least of the reason why Paul speaks of our being transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2), over against being conformed to the present age, in terms of 'our reasonable worship.' All this is as necessary in discussing scripture as anywhere else... we must be ferociously loyal to what has gone before and cheerfully open about what must come next" (p.121, 123).
"The Bible is a big enough book, and the church ought to be a big enough community, to develop a relationship of trust between its biblical scholars and those involved in the many other tasks to which we are called" (p.136).
"If we are professional about other things, we ought to be ashamed not to be properly equipped both to study the Bible ourselves and to bring its ever-fresh word to others" (p.139).
I am tired of hearing people say stupid things in the name of Christianity. I am tired of nutty, pisto...moreBest bits:
Chapter 11 - Things I Am Tired Of
I am tired of hearing people say stupid things in the name of Christianity. I am tired of nutty, pistol-packing pastors who want to burn the Koran. I am tired of televangelists who claim that natural disasters are the will of God. I am tired of Christians who respond to the pain of disease with a lecture about behavior. I am tired of preachers who promise prosperity. As grumpy as it sounds, I am even tired of Tim Tebow.
I am also tired of people who say that they are privately spiritual but not religious. I am tired of people who have one bad experience with a church and paint the whole of Christianity with that brush. I am tired of celebrities who criticize the church for being patriarchal and homophobic but do nothing to support the churches that are not. I am super tired of Anne Rice.
I am tired of people who say they want a church like mine but cannot be bothered to attend one. And I am tired of people who criticize churches like mine and go somewhere else.
So I resonate with the angry words from letters to the early church that criticize shallow believers with itchy ears. I feel like I live in a society where stupid and simple spirituality always trumps the depth of a complex faith. We are a people of itchy ears, who depart from sound doctrine in favor of easy answers.
Perhaps I am really just tired of myself. In criticizing others in their faith, I hardly live up to the best in my own faith. Perhaps the people who irritate me the most are exposing my own false doctrines. And this is why I can't do this religion thing all by myself. This is why I need a community.
Chapter 19 - Please Stop Boring Me
On airplanes, I dread the conversation with the person who finds out I am a minister and wants to use the flight time to explain to me that he is "spiritual but not religious." Such a person will always share this as if it is some kind of daring insight, unique to him, bold in its rebellion against the religious status quo.
Next thing you know, he's telling me that he finds God in the sunsets. These people always find God in the sunsets. And in walks on the beach. Sometimes I think these people never leave the beach or the mountains, what with all the communing with God they do on hilltops, hiking trails, and... did I mention the beach as sunset yet?
Like people who go to church don't see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. How lucky we are to have these geniuses inform us that God is in nature. As if we don't hear that in the psalms, the creation stories, and throughout our deep tradition.
Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn't interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or, heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself.
Being privately spiritual but not religious has become the norm in American culture, and has even made its way into the culture of some of our churches. So while I can't stop these people from talking to me on the airplane, can I at least inform them that they are boring?
Thank you for sharing, spiritual but not religious sunset person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull bu find themselves uniquely fascinating. Can I switch seats now and sit next to someone who has been shaped by a mighty cloud of witnesses instead? Can I spend my time talking to someone brave enough to encounter God in a real human community" Because when this flight gets choppy, that's who I want by my side, holding my hand, saying a prayer, and simply putting up with me, just like we try to do in church.
These are two very cynical excerpts, but OH MY LANTA how they resonate with my caustic spirit.(less)
- dastardly; a varmint of an adjective, a villainous word dressed up in a black hat and handlebar mustache, signaling cowardly, ignoble behavior. - pan...more - dastardly; a varmint of an adjective, a villainous word dressed up in a black hat and handlebar mustache, signaling cowardly, ignoble behavior. - panache; effortless style, easy swagger. - enigma; a secret, a riddle, a shadowy saying, a puzzling person.