Categories
The Church

Justly, Mercifully, Humbly

When I was young, my mother always taught me that God loves every person the same, no matter what they look like or where they’re from. And I was so lucky to see both her and my dad live that out to the best of their ability throughout my childhood.

As the country enters what feels like another watershed moment in the history of racial justice in America, I am reminded of that lesson. I wonder why this is so hard for us humans to do?

I’ve seen a whole host of churches and Christians add their voices in solidarity with the protests going on around the world, and it makes me very happy and proud to see that. I see priests washing the eyes of the tear-gassed, I see pastors binding the wounded. I see Christ-followers of all stripes trying their best to be a source of healing and support for the hurting. I feel like the church in America is starting to get back on the right track in following the heart of God.

But I have also seen others use this opportunity to repeat the same old arguments, the same old yeahbuts, the same old whatabout-the-looters, the same old all-lives-matter-why-are-blacks-so-special…the same old things that do nothing to salve wounds or encourage unity or bring shalom.

And I guess those are the reasons why I wanted to write this article: 1) to express my solidarity with black Americans in seeking structural change and demanding that we live up to our ideals of equality under the law; and 2) to challenge those of you my fellow Christians who are not on that side, or are still wondering which side to be on.

Categories
Atheism

For the Skeptical Atheist

On this blog I call myself a skeptical believer. That is, I am a believer but I tend to habitually question everything. I don’t go for pat answers or religious cliches. For me this way of thinking is mostly a blessing as it makes me confident that the things I believe in are real, but it doesn’t come without cost. There are many times I’ve wished for a simple uncomplicated faith where I didn’t have to wrestle and debate every single point of every single belief like two countries hammering out a peace negotiation line by line.

Categories
Atheism

Guess How Much (My Genes) Love You

“Daddy, do you love me?”

“Of course I do sweetheart. Higher than the moon is high.”

“Daddy?”

“Yes, darling?”

“Why do you love me?”

“Well my little angel…I..I don’t really have a choice.

You see, my biology forces me to. My love is really a trick of evolution to make sure my genes survive.”

Categories
Atheism

Ludicrous Belief, Go!

I finally wrote up the rough draft of a post on atheism (by which I mean the active belief that there is no Ultimate Creator) that I promised months ago. Hopefully that will be out in a few days. Before I post that one, though, I wanted to lay a little groundwork with an aside on what people believe and how we tend to react to others who believe something different than us.

Here’s my thesis:

No matter what your spiritual or atheistic beliefs are, you believe something ludicrous and crazy.

Categories
The Church

Christians Are Today’s Pharisees, Coda

I want to tell you a personal story that illustrates why I get so angry that we’ve allowed ourselves to become known by the spirit of pride and condemnation.

Before I get there, I should recognize that I’m often critical of the church in my writings. People may get the impression I hate it. I don’t. I actually love the church. And like I said earlier, I recognize there are multitudes of us who quietly go about our lives being merciful, showing charity, and being a real light in this world—the whole world, not just our own little Christian circles. I’m fortunate to know lots and lots of you like that. My friends at Journey Church saved my belief in this.

But like James says, teachers are called to higher accountability, and when it comes to those who don’t follow Jesus, we are all the ones in the role of teacher. Most people in your life will form their opinion of Jesus not by logical, rational contemplation but by watching the news and watching you.

That’s quite a responsibility. And it leads into my next point:

I strongly believe that the most dangerous threat Christians in America face today is not not gay marriage or Democratic presidents. It’s the spirit of the Pharisee within.

Our greatest peril today isn’t them. It’s us.

Categories
The Church

Christians Are Today’s Pharisees, pt. 2

In America we Christians, fairly or not, have collectively become known to our culture to be like Pharisees. All of us, Catholics and Protestants alike, need to hear and learn from Jesus here:

“Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’
For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Matt 9:13

Jesus calls to sinners. He doesn’t convict them. He gives hope, healing, and mercy to anyone. He loves furiously and he offers good news to bad people. And the sinners flocked to him by the thousands.

They still do today, by the billions.

Categories
The Church

Christians Are Today’s Pharisees

I love Matthew 23. It’s Jesus laying down a no-holds-barred smackdown on the self-righteous Pharisees. It blows the caricature of a flannelgraph, mild-mannered inoffensive Jesus out of the water.

Here’s the thing, though.

Today, he’s speaking those words to us.

We are today’s Pharisees.

Categories
Apologetics Resurrection

The Good Friday Deception

What’s so Good about Good Friday?

There are those out there who believe Jesus’ crucifixion was in fact the crushing, final defeat it appeared to be.

“My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?” (Eli eli lema sabachtani?)

Matthew 27:46

Evidence, they say, that Jesus realized in the last few minutes of life that his naive belief in a loving Father was no match for the powers and systems of the world. They believe that Jesus was experiencing the abject horror of one who realizes he is about to die in vain.

I say these people couldn’t be more wrong.

Categories
The Church

The War on Christmas Needs You!

Seems like there’s a lot of talk on American news these days about The War On Christmas. I don’t know if regular people actually believe in this or whether it’s just something that the cable news channels drum up to manufacture ratings, but certain news personalities seem to have confused the changing cultural landscape of our society with an active assault against God Almighty.

My view is that if your god is weakened or threatened by the changing cultural standards of the country you live in, he’s a pretty puny, tribalistic god. A god you believe in for much the same reasons you root for your favorite sports team—because you live close to it (this is a red-blooded Angels fan writing, so I know all about tribalistic loyalties). Anyway, a weak god. Not the living God of the universe whose immense power spoke all things into existence. No, the real God is not worried on His throne, His plans are not threatened, and His will is not thwarted by any so-called “war on Christmas”.

Categories
Atheism

Particle God, pt. 2

Part 1 talked about whether you believe in something or nothing. Many people I know believe that there is indeed something out there, but they’re kind of vague and unspecified in just exactly what that something is. Their definition doesn’t go much farther than “a Higher Power”. Many of them believe this power is a sort of innocuous, vaguely beneficent Energy that directs and guides us.

A belief very similar to the following, if you’ll allow me to quote some sage wisdom from a venerable master:

It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.

Obi-wan Kenobi

Old Ben’s not entirely wrong.