Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tearing Down Babel

Today was our last workday in Mexico. We finished up with a great lunch (including tamales!) and the Christians from Mexico singing for us. During the singing, something occurred to me. If we are pursuing God dream for the world or, stated differently, his original intent for where the project is supposed to go, then we must get back to the other side of the tower of Babel. Babel, it seems to me, is where barriers came up between people...where languages barriers and borders came up. Perhaps one of the things we need to be about as followers of Jesus, is the removal and erasure of those borders and barriers that unnecessarily separate people. For too long we have made Christianity an individual enterprise. Perhaps we need to make a point in our churches to facilitate ways for people to do exactly that.
P.S. Longer post next week.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

2/2 Kevin


Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer

1/2 We have made it to San Antonio safely and we are headed to Del Rio tomorrow. Continue to keep our team in your prayers. God Bless.


Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Crossing The Border

Well, I'm leaving this weekend to do a short term mission trip with some teens in Mexico. Due to the hurricane, I'm not sure whether we are going to be doing construction or clean up. We will also spend some time in San Antonio where we will go to church at Oak Hills and I may get to visit the Alamo.

When we get back from this trip, we'll be home for a week, then we are leaving again for an inner-city mission trip in Cincinnatti.

In addition to all this, I'm in the process of applying to Grad school at Lipscomb so I can hopefully start back on my master's degree this fall.

I am planning on blogging from Mexico (or maybe TX) next week. Check back on Thursday. In the meantime, check out Matt Wilson's Blog and Ryan Ice's Blog. Matt is a new friend of mine who is a C of C youth minister who is into the emergent conversation (sound familiar?) and Ryan is Grand Central's youth ministry intern. Check them out and leave them some comments!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The War of The Worldviews

I've been doing some reading lately on worldviews. It seems to me that all worldviews are in their essence eschatological. This is true even of those people who have no faith to speak of. They believe that nothing happens at the end (and after) and consequently, the best of them tend to focus their energies on improving the quality of life on earth while others sink into nihilism. At the opposite end of the spectrum , is the group commonly referred to as the "Left Behind" crowd. This subset of Christians buys into an eschatology commonly known as premillennialism. Admittedly this is a gross oversimplification, but this is basically the belief that at some point all of the good Christians will be "raptured", or rather they will disappear from this "evil world" in order to be with Jesus in Heaven. After this takes place, there will be a period of "tribulation" in which things will get really, really bad on earth. According to this view, people sort of get a second chance to "come to Jesus" but it will be much harder and cost them much more from an earthly standpoint. During this tribulation period, the Antichrist (who is apparently one guy even though scripture points out that there are many antichrists). After the period of Tribulation is over Jesus comes back and sets up an earthly (political) kingdom, which exists for 1000 years, after which the earth is presumably destroyed and all the good people go to Heaven. The interesting thing is that this view was officially pronounced a heresy by Augustine and the early church fathers and only really came back in vogue with the publication of the Schofield Bible with its notes by John Nelson Darby. It is possibly now the most widely held eschatological view held by American evangelical Christians. There are several other millennial views, such as postmillennialism [the idea that Jesus will hold off his second coming until Christians have set up the Kingdom of God (presumably politically), and then, as with premillennialism, the earth will be destroyed and the souls of the Christians will go to Heaven.] Churches of Christ have traditionally held to Amillennial beliefs, which hold that most of the prophesies are figurative and we are in the (figurative) millennium now, which began with the establishment of the church (which in this view IS the Kingdom of God).

The problem with all of the popular views is that they basically buy into a dualism which views creation (everything physical) as evil (or at least not good) and only the "soul" and "spiritual things" as truly good. This is actually closer to Platonic (Plato's) thought, Buddhism, and classic gnosticism (while most christians reject the gnostic's story they still seem to buy several of their conculsions such as this dualism) than anything Biblical, much less Christian. As Rob Bell says, most Christians act as if their Bible begins in Genesis 3 (where things start going bad), but my Bible has 2 chapter before that full of God declaring Creation to be "good". If you look at what the Bible actually says(particularly in the prophets and then often quoted or referenced by Jesus), it repeatedly refers to this dream that God has for the world. The bible repeatedly points to a time when there will be "new heavens and a new earth" (in the original language "new" refers to qualitatively new i.e. renewed or renovated). Jesus prays that God's Kingdom would come, then defines what He means by restating the same idea as "your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Romans 8:18-25 indicates that creation itself is groaning in anticipation of what God is going to do with the "sons of God" because creation itself has the same promise. Revelation 21 and 22 pictures a very different consummation of time where God comes down and makes his home with men (pay careful attention to the directional indicators in this passage). Jesus and Paul both continually refer to something they call the restoration or renewal of all things.

Worldviews that are informed by a "creation/matter is bad and only the soul/spirit is good (in general) care very little for this world instead turning their attention to only "spiritual" matters lsince none of this matters and will all be burned up(in stark contrast to 1 Cor. 3:10-15). However, the worldview informed by "The Restoration of All Things" eschatology believes that we are partnering with God in His dream for creation. We believe that God hasn't given up on this project, only to pull some good people out and scrap it (some victory that would be). We believe that what we contribute to God's project or dream will last forever (as will we). We believe that with God we are moving the world closer to what He dreams for it to be until, one day, Jesus returns to finally bring the dream completely into reality. We believe that everything matters. We believe that God made whole people,(not just souls) who will one day be resurrected as the firstfruits of Jesus' resurrection showed. The lenses we view the world through show it to be drenched with God. Fallen? Yes. Flawed? Surely. But drenched with the God who refuses to give up on his dream...who believes in us more than we believe in ourselves (or even Him for that matter.) Our lenses show the world to be a project that is going somewhere (and not a cosmic garbage can). What a difference a worldview makes! I may or may not have convinced anyone with this little rant. I can anticipate lots of "but what about..." questions. There are resources available that articulate this much better than I can. Still I will ask you to imagine a world where Christians held this worldview. Would it be different? Could it change the world? Could it draw the world? What if that was the idea all along?
P.S. CLICK HERE for a passage dealing with the question of 2 Peter 3 from "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" by Michael Wittmer (pages 201-203, begin at the subheading "The End Is Near?")

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Grandaddy: Epilogue

It was a holy moment. I felt like an intruder, yet, at the same time I felt incredibly blessed to be a witness. It's an odd thing as a son to watch your father say goodbye to his father. Dad asked me to go to the funeral home with him to handle some last minute details before the "visitation". We walked in and saw the body in the casket. It was him and at the same time it wasn't. Life is something you can see. If it isn't there, a person just looks different.

It was the first time that Dad had seen Grandaddy since he died. His hair was all wrong. They had slicked it back (something that anyone who knows my grandfather knows that he would never do). Dad asked for a brush. I watched through tears as he re-brushed his fathers hair with tenderness that would simply break your heart if you saw it. He checked to make sure that Grandaddy was wearing his watch and that he was wearing it the "right" way...with the face on the inside of his wrist. On the way out, Dad asked me if I was ok.

The next day I watched my Dad and his brother do the first half of their father's funeral. I hope one day that I have that kind of strength. My Dad talks about how strong his Dad was. Maybe that's where Dad got it. Maybe that means I've got a shot.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Grandaddy 2

My grandfather died this morning. My sister was with him and had to call the ambulance when he fell. My dad is scheduled to do a funeral for someone else in about a half hour. I don't know how he does it. There's a sense in which I know this is better. He was in a lot of pain and I know he didn't want to "live like that". On the other hand, I had entertained the idea that I'd get down to see him before he died. I hurt for my sister. I hurt for my dad.