bonar crump

bonar crump
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Monday, March 28, 2011

This, That, and the Other Jesus

by Greg Garrett 

Of the criticisms I've been getting about my book The Other Jesus (and I'm not wading through anything like the abuse that Mr. Bell and Mr. McLaren face), the one I take most seriously is the accusation that I've just rejected an angry Jesus built by frightened people, and replaced him with a peace-y, justice-y Jesus of my own creation. I know we are prone to such things; Albert Schweitzer opined that we tend to find the Jesus we are looking for.
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That innate tendency toward finding what we're already looking for is why now, since returning to a faith that saved my life, I try to listen, not just talk.
It's why I try to be aware of my own filters and desires and read scripture and tradition as honestly as I can to see what new things God has to teach me.
One of the things I found soul-killing about the tradition I was raised in was the insistence that Christian faith was about unswerving belief that could not accommodate questions or disagreement.
And one of the things I have found life-giving is the idea that God is always doing a new thing, and that, as the Reformed tradition would have it, the Church is always reforming to try to get on board with that new thing God is doing.
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Like them, Jesus loved so much he was willing to live and die for the poor, the broken-hearted, the castaway, and all the rest of us schmucks.
Like them, Jesus was a spiritual leader whose beliefs led him to feed, comfort, heal, and speak out for justice.
Like them, Jesus was a person who rejected the earthly values of wealth, power, and possession for the heavenly values of compassion, prayer, and hope.

Mass graves replace elaborate funerals in Japan

What Kind of Person Does God Use?

by Donald Miller

Growing up in church, I learned there were standards for being used by God. Most of the standards involved character. We learned, both directly and indirectly, the standards involved being holy or righteous, skilled, willing, among a few others. These are the three that stick out most, though.

Theologically speaking, none of us are holy, but I think what they meant was you went to church a lot and didn’t use tobacco or cuss. As for being skilled, I think it mostly meant you were a good communicator. Being used by God, at the time, meant mostly doing church work. And then, of course, you had to be willing. If you were willing, it was said, God would use you.

As for what God was doing in the world through the church, I deduced two main priorities: 1. Grow the church and 2. Make God look good. The church was doing other things, but this seemed to be the primary focus.

I have since learned the objectives of the church are different than the objectives of God. And I’ve also learned the people God can use are different than the people the church can use. If you glance at scripture for just a second, you’d get the sense that God uses perverts and criminals. If you glance at the church (at least the modern, megachurch) you get the sense God uses preachers that were once in the band Rascall Flats but laid it all down to rock a Bible.

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This is no argument against the church. The church absolutely needs to hold a different standard than God. God doesn’t have to vet his leaders like the church does. Can you imagine interviewing Moses for the job of lead pastor, listening to him stammer out a bunch of excuses in response to the inquiry about that pesky murder in his past, and then the elders making a gut decision to give him the job anyway? So I don’t have a problem with the church having a higher standard than God. But if we lead people to believe they cant be used by God to save lives even though they aren’t a fit for professional ministry, we are making a huge mistake, and it would be an interesting debate as to whether we are being guided by the Bible in our thinking. God can use anybody he wants. Anybody, anytime. He displays this over and over in the scriptures.

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I don’t know if God will use you. I can’t think of a reason he wouldn’t, but I’m not God and neither is your pastor so there’s no telling. I only know God is trying to save many lives and that he uses anybody he wants.

Will ‘Love Wins’ Win? We’re Early in the First Inning …

by Brian McLaren
Red Letter Christians

Brian McLaren is an author and speaker who’s new book is Naked Spirituality: A Life With God in 12 Simple Words
Because of my own experience as a writer, I’ve been anticipating the baptism in hot water (or worse) that Rob Bell was about to experience with the publication Love Wins. And because of the old saying that it’s not the attacks of your critics but the silence of your friends that hurts the most, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to speak up in Rob’s defense.

I couldn’t help but predict who would be first at bat with critique, what they would say, and how they would say it. A prominent Southern Baptist leader, Dr. Albert Mohler, put it well: “We Have Seen This All Before.” His response to Rob’s book, in an article under that title, will be judged by fans a veritable home-run of a response. It stirred up a few responses which I’d like to share.

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So after the first inning of responses, I imagine Rob Bell feels a lot like I have on many occasions: it’s not that the critics have accurately understood what I’m trying to say and have explained why they disagree. It’s that they’ve misrepresented what I’m trying to say and have explained why the misrepresentation is audacious and ludicrous. Thankfully, there’s still time to see the conversation continue and deepen, and Dr. Mohler can be thanked for getting the first inning off to a strong and exciting start. If we seek true understanding and give one another a fair hearing all along the way, knowing we’ll all strike out sometimes and even commit an error or two from time to time, whoever “wins,” love will win.