Posts tagged: religion
"Your world becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution."
Oh Bill Nye, I know you have a degree that probably will make my B.A. and my two Master’s look pale in comparison, but I would love to sit down with you and talk about Jesus. I would love to talk to you about the supernatural and see how you explain those things?
See I love Jesus and believe in creation because I love the fascinatingly complicated things in life.
Is Jesus easy to understand? Do I know why He said “turn the other cheek”?
Do I know how the Trinity works - nope.
Yet, I love the complicated things because it is usually in these things we find the real truth.
Also, as a religious studies major it offends me that he thinks this line of thinking will disappear. Every culture and generation has had religion. Why must people always assume the more education we get, the less we will need it? I’m so thankful more and more schools are placing an emphasis on the study of religion.
Just because it’s complex does not make it wrong.
Unity. Unification. Unified. Like minded. Single purpose. One. Together. Love.
As a disciple of Jesus I fail at this far too much. So many times I let personal, trivial, inconsequential matters come between me, the Gospel, outsiders and fellow disciples. I have more defeats in this area then victories, but I cannot help but want to hear these words of Paul to ring true in my life - “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
There are things in this life worth knowing; others are not. Personally, if I only ever get the privilege to understand one thing and only one thing - I want to understand Jesus, His life, the Gospel, the cross and the resurrection. One simply complicated, beautiful, life encompassing, never fully understandable thing - Jesus. The principle of the last statement can be summed up into one, profound (probably stolen, but I don’t remember who I stole it from) and beautiful realization - no one has ever cornered the market on Jesus and no one ever will.
Yet, despite this truth, despite understanding how each individual disciple has never and will never know everything there is about Jesus, there are too many stories of disciples throwing away unity for the sake arguments and disputes about things that are complex, difficult and non-essential doctrines.
Orthodox, Evangelical disciples who can be deemed “conservative” or “liberal”, “Reformed” or “not”, “Calvinist” or “Arminianist” are found, in many times and many ways, fighting and arguing with each other. It pains me to see this.
I say this as a man who holds no single, theological team - if anything I am all or none. Sometimes, all our systematic theologies take the mystery out of God and Godliness (1 Timothy 3:16). My theology is eclectic. When I read the Scriptures, I don’t see one side - I see both sides. Part of me wonders if that is the “mystery of Godliness”?
During this past week, I’ve been marinating on two confrontations inside the evangelical world which look a lot like the Republican race for Presidential Nomination, where there are constant verbal jabs and jarring for face time and position. Sometimes our “discussions” even look a lot like congressional debates; as a disciple this makes me sick. It makes my heart break. Our “liberal” disciples and our “conservative” disciples fight like Republicans and Democrats - even though they both claim to want the best for America, or in our case, the Kingdom.
Let me turn you to case study number one - Mark Driscoll interviewed by a British guy. Here is the post I was turned on to: http://cognitivediscopants.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/driscoll-brierley-on-women-in-leadership/. Here is the podcast: http://media.premier.org.uk/unbelievable/a2f28d73-4770-4e0b-b255-7ac5ef1ec0e0.mp3.
Case study number two. This is a spoken word video by Jefferson Bethke entitled "Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY&feature=youtu.be. This is a response to the video by Kevin Deyoung: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/01/13/does-jesus-hate-religion-kinda-sorta-not-really/.
Lastly, for sake of a fair compare and contrast, let me turn you to case study number three - Rob Bell. For a refresher on his controversy last year check out: http://thereforethecross.tumblr.com/post/3982111368/heres-the-video-that-started-it-all-judge-it and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-jonathan-weyer/rob-bell-vs-john-piper-do_b_829956.html.
(I want to make a note, that no way am I agreeing with or disagreeing with any one of these three men - remember, no one has cornered the market on Jesus. What I am simply trying to do, is undertake an analysis of my own, Christian culture and tribe. So, with that said, I will not give my position on either Bell or Driscoll, the point of the post is not this at all…)
When Love Wins came out, the left, the Liberals, all cried foul for the right, the Conservatives, attacking Bell without giving him a shot and coming in with preconceived notions. They attacked. The other side didn’t like it. The left cried unity and other things; they longed to be accepted by the right. Meanwhile, now, Mark Driscoll is being attacked by the so called left (well, actually, this is an ongoing process…). What I find so confusing is that when the Liberals get attacked, they don’t like it. Yet, they are doing the exact same thing to the right.
Bethke is the wild card. Honestly,there was nothing wrong with the video when I watched it. It was poetry. I think he honestly made a decent video. Do I like it? No, but not because of the content. Though, if I’ve learned anything the last year, it is Deyoung has too much time on his hands (but he passionately loves Jesus and I can’t get on him for that) as he tends to be the first to respond with lengthy treatises to all kinds of theological things he disagrees with.
For some reason, as I’m typing this, I cannot get the infamous quote by Rodney King out of my head - "Why can’t we all just get along?" The Gospel is too important to argue over Jesus or religion, can women lead or can’t they, is it a men’s only club, did Jesus choose me or do I choose Him?
I just want our tribes to be united. I want to be able to work with those people who I may disagree with. I want to work with all my brothers and sisters who passionately love Jesus. Can you fault a man for that?
So this guy comes to me and says: “What’s the vision? What’s the big idea?” I open my mouth, and the words come out like this…
The vision? The vision is Jesus. Obsessively. Dangerously. Undeniably. Jesus.
The vision is an army of young people. You see bones? I see an army.
And they are free from materialism. They laugh at 9-5 little prisons. They could eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday. They wouldn’t even notice. They know the meaning of the Matrix. The way the west was won.
They are mobile like the wind. They belong to the nations. They need no passport. People write their addresses in pencil. And wonder at their strange existence. They are free. Yet they are slaves. Of the hurting and dirty and dying.
What is the vision? The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It makes children laugh and adults angry. It gave up the game of minimum integrity. Long ago to reach for the stars. It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is dangerously pure.
Light flickers. From every secret motive. Every private conversation. It loves people. Away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games.
This is an army that would lay down its life for the cause. A million times a day. Its soldiers choose to lose. That they might one day win the great “Well done” of faithful sons and daughters.
Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night.
They don’t need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards. And hear the crowds chanting again and again: “Come on!”
And this is the sound of the underground. The whisper of a history in the making. Foundations shaking. Revolutionaries dreaming once again. Mystery is scheming in whispers. Conspiracy is breathing… This is the sound of the underground.
And the army is disciple(in)ed- Young people who beat their bodies into submission. Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms. The tattoo on their back boasts. “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes. Winners. Martyers. Who can stop them? Can hormones hold them back? Can failure succeed? Can fear scare them or death kill them?
And the generation prays like a dying man with groans beyond talking, with warrior cries, sulpheric teras and great barrow loads of laughter!
Waiting. Watching. 24-7-365.
Whatever it takes they will give. Breaking the rules, shaking mediocrity from its cozy little hide, laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs, laughing at labels, fasting essentials. The advertisers cannot mold them. Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resovle at late-night parties before the cockerel cries.
They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive (on the inside). On the outside? They hardly care! They wear clothes like costumes: to communicate and celebrate. But never to hide.
Would they surrender their image or their popularity? They would lay down their very lives, swap seats with the man on death row, guilty as hell: A throne for an electric chair.
With blood and sweat and many tears, With sleepless nights and fruitless days, they pray as if it all depends on God and live as if it all depends on them.
Their DNA chooses Jesus (He breathes out, they breathe in). Their subconscious sings. They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.
Their words make demons scream. In shopping malls. Don’t you hear them coming?
Herald the weirdos! Summon the Losers and Freaks. Come the frightened and forgotten. With fire in their eyes. They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow. Mountains are dwarfed. By these children of another dimension.
Their prayers summon the hound of heaven and invoke the ancient dream of eden
And this vision will be. It will come to pass; It will come easily; It will come soon.
How do I know? Because this is the longing of creation itself, the groaning of the spirit, the very dream of God.
My tomorrow is His today. My distant hope is His 3-D. And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous, resounding, bone-shaking great “amen!” from countless angels, from heroes of the faith, from Christ Himself.
And He is the original dreamer, the ultimate winner. Guaranteed.
do you study other religions, people, and cultures?
you should… for the sake of the Gospel.
The city that holds the holiest spot in Islam — where Mohammed was born, where he began receiving the divine word of God, and where he won the victory that established Islam as a future major world religion — Mecca, Saudi Arabia, sees millions of the devout descend upon it every year for Eid al-Adha, the festival celebrating the sacrifice of Abraham. One of the Five Pillars of Islam dictates that every able-bodied Muslim make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his life. Those men who have made the trip are honored with the title Hajji. Here: A time exposure photograph shows the whirlpool of movement created by devout Muslims performing the tawaf, the circumambulation of the Kaaba, the climax of the hajj, in 1971.
My days at CSUF were wonderful. I completely enjoyed my days as a Religious Studies major at a secular university. It taught me so much about life, culture and mission. Lessons that I’m still learning and delving into more and more. One of my specialties, of course, was finding ways (as technically my major’s name at CSUF was changed to Comparative Religion to place an emphasis on comparing and harmony - not studying) to tie every project, every paper, every religion, back to Jesus and how they specifically need to see and hear the Gospel message - this looked differently every time. I loved it though.
That’s what I’m going to do here in this post. Bear with me.
In Islam there is a ceremony called the Hajj. It is something that every Muslim is commanded to take at some point in their life if it is at all possible financially or physically. For those of you have heard of the 5 Pillars of Islam it is number 5. Hajj simply means “resolve to visit a Holy Place” (it is the largest pilgrimage in the world), in this case, Mecca - which is the place that Mohammed shared the Qur’an and gained his followers.
*I could tell you all the information you need about Islam and the Hajj - but the best way to study culture is to do it yourself. Take a look. I’ll provide you the links though. Some are information. Others are stories. Check them out:
A professor, from Ghana (I believe), had gone on his Hajj. He shared the story with us in our class on the Qur’an. My heart grew for this man. He is a good man. A kind man. A man who needs Jesus.
That’s my transition. The Hajj is an impressive thing. It is full of devotion, sacrifice and determination. Yes, it may be legalistic devotion because they have to - but, can you imagine if the Church sold themselves out like this, on this scale, together for a common mission?
I’m not saying that we all need to drop what we are doing and go the the Holy Land. Actually, I want to imply at something farther from that then you think. What if we just simply sold ourselves out with the same devotion for the Gospel in our cities, inside our communities, with our faith communities?
What if we embodied Acts 2:42-46 and had everything in common for the sake of everyone else?
This post isn’t completely about us. It is about our Muslim neighbors, classmate, friends and co-workers that you know.
Do you judge them or try and take the time to not understand them - but know them? Do you ask them questions or try and tell them they are wrong? Do you know what their core values are or do you assume them?
The point of this is not to just know them but to love them. The point of loving them is not to not judge them but to be able to share the Gospel with them. The point of being able to share the Gospel with them is so that they can encounter Jesus. The point of them encountering Jesus is so that He can be made famous.
Understanding the Hajj is one way to do this. Ask your Muslim friend, classmate, neighbor or co-worker about the Hajj and if they have done one or hope to do one and understand that the nature of the Hajj is what underscores the entire religion. This devotion or “submission” is their view of what Allah wants and collides with our view of Jesus.
Will you love your Muslim neighbor, friend, classmate or co-worker so they can encounter Jesus?