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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Completely out of step


Following my posts (here & here) on being out of step with culture a huge debate kicked off over at Dave Warnock's blog. It reminded me of a couple of things, firstly that there seem to be some debates in which no one changes their mind (or at least very few) - sovereignty/freewill; gender; sex; views on scripture; atonement; heaven/hell; gifts of the Spirit. I'm pretty sure a religious mindset makes it harder to change your mind and I'm pretty sure no one is going to end up in heaven with 100% perfect theology, so a willingness to learn would be a good sign of humility. Of course it's always easier to encourage the other side to have that humility!

The more interesting thing perhaps that has been rumbling around, is that as an evangelical Christian I am out of step with society in LOTS of ways. This is uncomfortable but I think I'd better get used to the idea. It seems to me that government legislates with the tide of popular opinion which is flowing mostly against the example of Christ. It seems to me that more and more, the Church needs to be prepared to see itself as the early church saw itself - a missionary movement that stood out in contrast to the world of its day.

Here are some ways that I think I am completely out of step (not including my dress sense or choice in music):
  • I believe in God. I do not think that what you can measure is all there is. I do not need to see, in order to believe.
  • I believe, as a consequence, in the Supernatural. Miracles can happen, we can experience both the transcendance and immanence of God.
  • I believe there is an authority greater than myself. I do not mean the laws of my land. Jesus Christ is my final authority and the ancient teachings of the Bible guide my life and conduct. I do not think I can simply please myself.
  • I believe that marriage is for life. Statistics suggest society thinks otherwise. (*update - see my comment for a bit more clarity*)
  • I believe marriage is for a man and a woman. According to Sir Ian McKellen the problem I have as a result is homophobia
  • I believe that men and women are not exactly the same and that the differences between the genders are good not bad, a cause for celebration not protest. That possibly makes me sexist.
  • I believe that abortion is wrong. 200,000 abortions a year suggest I am out of step
  • I believe that you can't buy happiness and the meaning of life is not found at Ikea. Personal debt levels suggest I'm right but the rest of society isn't convinced enough to stop shopping yet.
  • I believe people can change, I believe forgiveness is better than revenge, I believe love can overcome evil. I see no evidence of that in society.
  • I believe that there is only one way to be right with God and that is through Jesus Christ. I am not a pluralist. All religions do not lead to God, which is not the same as saying 'we have nothing to learn'.
  • I believe that there will be a judgement on mankind, and not everyone will be in heaven.
  • I believe I do not know everything and I know I'm not perfect
Any others?

*Update* Just listened to this talk by Dave Holden on counter cultural churches, from the TOAM conference.

3 comments:

ianjmatt on 15 July 2008 at 11:38 said...

Phew!

NOthing like the big issues hey?

Let me ask a couple of questions before posting some of my own for your list.

"I believe that marriage is for life. Statistics suggest society thinks otherwise.

I believe marriage is for a man and a woman. According to Sir Ian McKellen the problem I have as a result is homophobia."

Yes - I do agree with you. HOWEVER, why is the church can find creative and grace-filled ways to deal with those who areremarrying, but not lifelong homosexual partners? If marriage is for life, is there a moral difference between remarriage and gay marriage?


"I believe that men and women are not exactly the same and that the differences between the genders are good not bad, a cause for celebration not protest. That possibly makes me sexist."

Yes - many in society would agree. The question is not if the genders are different, but if those differences create a heirarchy in home or church? Some may say there are differences, but these are complemetary for the same roles, each gender bringing something different to the same tasks, not different ones roles.

"I believe that you can't buy happiness and the meaning of life is not found at Ikea"

Now here you have just gone too far! IKEA is the meaning of life!

"I believe that there is only one way to be right with God and that is through Jesus Christ. I am not a pluralist. All religions do not lead to God, which is not the same as saying 'we have nothing to learn'."

Yes- Jesus is the only way to God. But is Christianity? Can Jesus draw people outside of the Church, who may never learn the language of Christianity and the Church, or even realise that is what they are part of?

"I believe that there will be a judgement on mankind, and not everyone will be in heaven"

But will they be in hell? What about the reference to the cross reconciling "all things" to Christ? (I think it is in Ephesians).


Here are a few other areas where I feel out of step:

I do not believe it is a biblical notion that our aim in life is a secure financial environment where we gradually accumulate enough wealth to retire for a compfortable last 15 years.

I do not believe that property ownership is an absolute good

I do not believe that a consumer-driven economy that depends on growing levels of consumption is either biblical or to the benefit of society in the long term.

I am sure there are some more...

DaveW on 15 July 2008 at 12:11 said...

Phil,

You have 12 points. I agree totally with 8 and have minor quibbles with the others, I am sure that those are reconcilable.

For example I believe marriage is for life, but recognise that when, through sin, a marriage fails we need to deal with that.

I agree marriage is between a man and woman, that does not mean we would agree on civil partnerships. I think disentangling marriage from being heterosexual is probably impossible and not particularly helpful to anyone. But I do believe that we need to recognise a lifelong commitments to consensual, stable, loving, monogamous same sex relationships.

Obviously biologically men and women are not identical, but I clearly believe they are equal in the sight of God and no one gender should be in authority over another (which to me comes clearly from the general tenor scripture with only a couple of difficult specific texts which refer to specific situations).

While all will be judged and those who reject Christ will not be in heaven I still pray that faced with Christ all will accept him.

Oh and I agree with Ian's comments (except for gay marriage as noted above).

Phil on 15 July 2008 at 13:14 said...

Thanks for the comments - I might need to amend my comment on marriage. I do believe we need to deal with divorce and the reality of marriage breakdown. We have a number of divorcees in church for example. However, I was clumsily trying to address the issue that divorce has become too easy. It doesn't work, doesn't matter kind of attitude.

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