Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meeting: February 25th

This is a reminder about our upcoming get together next week:

The usual time: 7pm, February 25th
The usual place: High Point Coffee, 1735 W 7800 S, West Jordan

Check this video of Brian McLaren's presentation, The Episcopal Moment, on faith-sharing and evangelism to the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington on Saturday, January 31, 2009. (Streaming video in Windows Media Player, just click on the link for the video. Note audio has some complications during the first 15 minutes or so, but it's fine after that.)

Really! It's worth your time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Movie: Fireproof

I finally saw the “Christian” romance film Fireproof this last weekend for Valentines Day. My wife liked it… so did everyone else I saw it with at the little Valentines Day social that our local church put on (at least as far as I could tell). People were talking about buying it, that it was such a great film.

Me? Well… I watched the whole thing. But it seemed to me to be more-or-less just a Harlequin romance with an alter call, and a serious ideological bent. What I mean is this – there are several marriages either portrayed or mentioned in the film: there is the main character Kirk Cameron’s marriage, which is on the rocks, and heading for divorce, until he accepts Jesus; there is his parent’s marriage, which was on the rocks at one time, but then they accepted Jesus, and all is bliss; there are the two marriages of Kirk Cameron’s co-worker at the fire station, for the first one, he hadn’t accepted Jesus in time so it ended in divorce, the second was after he accepted Jesus, and was evidently blissful; finally, there is the doctor, who takes a romantic interest in Kirk Cameron’s wife, and who hides his wedding ring in his desk, obviously doesn’t have Jesus, and his marriage is heading for ruin. The message in the film is clear, if you accept Jesus your marriage will be bliss, if you don’t accept Jesus your marriage is destined for ruin and divorce.

The thing is actual life isn’t quite as idealistic as this film portrays. All marriages have problems. We’re all people, we’re all sinners, and we all make mistakes. But I’ve seen married couples who’ve not “accepted Jesus” that are doing just fine, moving right along with its bumps and occasional potholes, but far from ruin and divorce. More importantly though, I have also seen many couples throughout the years, who have “accepted Jesus” much like the film portrays, and whose marriages have not gone so well. Divorce still happens. And when real life doesn’t match the idealization that is promised, people lose faith.

But the thing that gets me about the film, it’s not just that we have imperfect married people, who still continue to sin, even after they have accepted Jesus, and they have to continually repent and overcome the effects of that sin that prevent it from being truly bliss. No, that’s not it. It’s that God doesn’t anywhere promise that your marriage will be bliss if you follow Jesus in the first place.

The film tries to say that if you do things Jesus’ way, if you follow the rules, and stick with it (kind of like the 40-day self-help challenge that Kirk Cameron’s father gives him), and this goes beyond just marriage, that things are going to be great, you are going to be blest. Now go read about Job and his three friends. Yup, that’s the same general message Job’s three friends gave him that God scolded them on at the end of the book. Now go read about Hosea, and how his biblically arranged marriage to that harlot went. Yup, I’d say the message this film is trying to say is the wrong message. God isn’t about the business of blessing your marriage just because you accepted Jesus. No, he has an altogether different idea in mind.

But besides all that… I guess I could say the film was kinda cute. My wife liked it. And the points in the self-help challenge are good advice. I think I’ll do them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Rick, over on his blog Cheaper Than Therapy, takes a humorous look at the ever increasing number of hyphen-mergent groups popping up all the time, like Presbymergent, baptimergent, anglimergent (which I joined), more recently inclusivEmergent, and even queermergent. And he speculates on some others that may soon come along. This one I noted with a good laugh:
Were the teachings of Jospeh Smith meant to be taken literally? Was Moroni a literal angel or a guy in the woods? Should Mormons return to their ancient faith, but with more black people? Should their missionaries dress snazzier and what does Tony Jones have to say when he comes to BYU?
I look forward to the day! …but thinking about it… we may already have that here… it’s been around for a while, and goes by a different name, called Sunstone.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Darwin Day!

Evolution is finally beginning to take hold in the churches, and Creationists are diminishing through the process of natural selection, or should I say de-selection in their case. Over the past few days its been good to see more church recognition of Charles Darwin’s achievements in science, and less talk of him “as some kind of anti-theologian”.

  • Happy 200th for Charles Darwin!
    Video and article from
    A site on Darwin by the Church of England
    And from NPR: Darwin Finds Some Followers In The Pulpits

  • And Happy 150th for On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin!
    Selections at the New York Times
  • Friday, February 6, 2009

    NT Wright: What Is Hell Like? Does It Even Exist?

    I'm with NT Wright on this topic, I don't know how many others of you are. What are your thoughts?

    [HT: glocal christianity, also there are more videos in the series available from 100 Huntley Street on YouTube here.]

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Learning from our faith's mistakes

    In an article posted in USA Today, Stephen Prothero makes a point that got me thinking and that I'd like to highlight:
    When I was a professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, I required my students to read Nazi theology. I wanted them to understand how some Christians bent the words of the Bible into weapons aimed at Jews, and how those weapons found their mark in the concentration camps. My Christian students responded to these disturbing readings with one disturbing voice. The Nazis were not Christians, they said. Jesus was, after all, a Jew. This response was in many respects laudable. But in distancing their religion from the history of the Holocaust, my students absolved themselves of any responsibility for reckoning with how their religious tradition might have contributed to these horrors.
    I think we do this with much of Christian history, not just the Nazi Holocaust. We hide the parts we disagree with, clean out the dark spots, and say to ourselves, "they weren't really Christians". We see only the "good" side of our faith, but not the "bad", and we don't really learn from our faith's mistakes.

    Prothero mentioned to me that it was the book Theologians Under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch, by Robert P. Ericksen, that he assigned to his students.