Archives For Politics

This book took longer than it should to finish but with each passing page I felt my life and vocation was under permanent construction.  Books that say the same thing about Christianity bore me as those are a dime a dozen.  Books that afford all of the answers and develop a formula for the world’s current existence also bother me.  The Next Christians did none of that as it posed very difficult questions with some great a unique challenges.  This was a book that merged topics like church, culture, spiritual formation, leadership, entrepreneurship, creativity and collaboration all under the umbrella of Lyons’ fundamental thesis (paraphrased): The world “ought” to be different and Christians should seek to restore the world in the name of the gospel.  I think what was most helpful for me was how he dissected the different ways Christians have interacted with current culture in a way that would make Richard Niebuhr proud.  He then offers six characteristics that set apart the next Christians from the current milleu of Christianity:

  1. Provoked, not offended
  2. Creators, not critics
  3. Called, not employed
  4. Grounded, not distracted
  5. In community, not alone
  6. Countercultural, not “relevant”

I am not making an understatement when I say this book has changed how I view Christianity in the present world.  It has changed my focus and even how I read and interpret Scripture.  Normally I give you the strengths and weaknesses in this book and the only weakness I found was that it bordered on the tension between theory and practice.  There were times I felt Lyons spent more time on just talking about gospel-living (or restorers) instead of showing us how we could actually do it.  But that is the paradox in that restorers have no limits to the practical implications of this book.  As cheesy as this sounds, from here you can go anywhere.  Throw cheese bombs at me…I know.

Pick up the book and read it and then send it to a friend.  Let’s start changing things for the better of our society and our world.

“If this Gospel-the Gospel of Jesus Christ-is going to re-engage Western culture in a new way, it starts with us.”  Gabe Lyons, The Next Christians, p. 195


So it has been almost a month since my last post and since I used Facebook and I must say that I actually feel great. I activated Facebook and discovered I had missed some things but overall I really was ok. I am not sure how mug facebooking I will do but it will not be nearly as much as I used to. I will blog a lot but that is because it is a part of my spiritual formation and a way to connect to others.

Today is a special day because my daughter Madelyn turns 3. In many ways Madelyn has been the forgotten child as Kaleb is the first boy, Amelia is the first girl and Samuel is our baby. As a parent you want to think you are impartial but sometimes we just forget about the important things and unfortunately sometimes that is Madelyn. Of all the kids Madelyn was the one who least liked me until she was a year old. She wanted mommy to hold her and many times she would ball her eyes out until mom picked her up. Things change though and now that girl is wrapped around my finger and she is so amazing. Every time I cook dinner she says “thank you daddy!” She is the first to give me a hug when I come home. I could go on and on. I want to thank God for blessing this world with Madelyn and truly being a joy to so many.

Then there is Bin Laden. U.S. forces shot and killed him in a raid of a compound in Pakistan. I have witheld my opinion because even now I struggle with it. Ezekiel 18 is clear in that God does not rejoice in people dying and Jesus was clear when he said that those who kill by the sword will die by the sword (Matt. 26:52). Also there is the certainty that God is one who is just and surely bin Laden and his cohorts have killed thousands even post 9/11. Yet, we juxtapose a man dying by the same tactics he employed (kill with the sword and die by it) with the command by Jesus to turn our cheek (Matt. 6:38-42) and love our enemies (Matt. 6:43-48). Keep in mind Jesus said those things in the context of those who desired revenge. Yet, was the killing of bin Laden part of the purposes of God and not man? We may never know the answer. Perhaps we need to mourn his death as we mourn anyone who dies in habitual sin and pray that we go about the work of righting wrongs on earth as a part of what God does in heaven.

What bothered me tremendously were the drunken celebrations of people on the streets which, by the way, was painfully reminiscent of the celebrations over there when 9/11 occurred. That was unacceptable and probably fueled the view that America is filled with a bunch of drunken gun-slinging cowboys who care nothing more than to dominate the world. I mourn for that as well.

That is about as political as I will ever get. I plan on finishing my review of Bell’s book and then a series on youth ministry.

Deo gratias


A lot on my mind today for a number of different reasons so I will try to keep this post near 1000 words ;).  I read the Tennessean this morning and saw that a “pastor” in Gainesville, Florida has plans to burn 200 copies of the Koran (Quran) on September 11 to memorialize what happened to the U.S. on 9/11/01 (see story here for a good response to this see Anderson Cooper’s CNN interview here).  It upsets me to see this and I hope that the emotive radicalism spurned by a few does not discredit the good of so many Christians out there.  Perhaps the same could be said for Islam as not every Muslim is a radical who believes all pagans should die.  I am not here to argue about this, the Islam community center plans near Ground Zero or any other facet of Islam but the nature of World Religions itself and what Youth Ministers should do about it. 

Jeremy Zach in his article, “5 Problems American Youth Ministry is Facing” at relates that one problem is that youth ministries contain weak teaching on other religions.     

“Our students need to know how to talk about other religions.  It’s unproductive when our students start talking down about other religions.  Especially when they are uninformed.  It is not good when it becomes ‘us’ versus ‘them’…I see more youth ministries teaching students the fundamentals of other religions while also educating  how to respect and admire them.” 

I think we border on sheer ignorance when we make claims of moral/spiritual superiority when we do not have a clue about what others believe.  The problem also lies in the FACT that most of us do not have a Muslim friend or a Buddhist contact or someone who believes something completely different from us.  I am not advocating that we become ecumenical but I AM advocating that we become educational and that we, like Jesus and Paul, get to know them.  In Acts 17:22-27 Paul learns of the Athenians and what they believe and what they teach.  Then he compliments them and then he teaches them about God.  It’s not hateful, it’s not coercion, it’s relational and incarnational. 

Let us learn what we can about others because last time I checked we ALL are created in the image of God (Imageo Dei) and all need Him.

Growing up MLK, Jr. was (and is) my hero.  He was not perfect (find me someone who was) and had his share of flaws but led a revolution in one of the most turbulent times in America’s history.  I am writing my final graduate paper (and the church says?  AMEN!) for my African-America Church History and Theology class this week and the next two weeks.  The title for my paper may interest you, “The churches of Christ and Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Assessment of Views.”  Essentially, I am tracing how members in the churches of Christ viewed the work of Dr. King during the period of the 1960s and all the way up to current views.  I am shocked by what I have encountered.  Not all of it is positive.  I will lead you with one quote then I will ask for your thoughts about Dr. King,

Christianity Today, a liberal magazine, says Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe in the virgin birth of Christ, and that Christ was divine only in the sense that Jesus preached a divine message to man!  Can we praise him in that? Can we praise him for being a Baptist minister and preaching Baptist doctrine?  Can we praise him for his Communist leanings?  Ray Hawk, “Eulogy: Misplaced Praise?” Christian Chronicle 25 (May 17, 1968): 3. 

What do you think?  Understand the above comment is contextual but what are your thoughts about Dr. King?

I do not know why I am writing this and I am sure most of you are only reading this because of the title.  I actually, when I was in undergrad at Freed-Hardeman, heard a fellow student say those words: “Robbie, real Christians are republicans.”  I thought to myself, “Funny, I thought real Christians, are Christian.  Guess I missed the word ‘republican’ in the Scriptures.”  I am not a politically savvy individual so much of what I say comes from an apathetic background.  My parents moved to the US in 1982 so have never really been involved in politics at all so I did not grow up with a slanted view on things.  It was only when I started going to FHU that I became politically involved because most everyone at Freed were republicans and the few democrats that existed were looked down upon.  It seems that politics is one of those words you just don’t talk about in church but everyone hints around it.  It seems that these issues we do not discuss still polarize the brethren in a way that I find to be unChristian.  “Brother so-and-so is a staunch democrat which means he must believe in killing babies!”  I have heard that before come from a brother’s mouth!  I have also heard, “Sister so-and-so is an old republican and all she wants to do is keep her money and get rich!”  What in the world is all of this about?  Why are we so divided when it comes to politics?  This is not just an American issue as some could argue that Apartheid exposed Christian efforts in South Africa for what it was and how they missed the boat when it came to transforming a society.  Or even the Christian efforts in Bosnia where, in the early 90s, Christians in Serbia, Croatia and the former Yugoslavia all killed each other and Muslims.  What about the Crusades and all of the massacres that were done in the name of Jesus but had political polarization involved? 

Clearly there is more to this than I am introducing and all of the things I just mentioned are occasional in nature.  But they illustrate a significant point in that what is the church’s role in culture?  Do we conform to culture and do things American ways because we feel America is the nation God only blesses?  Do we exist to transform culture and through the kingdom of God do things differently?  I am not sure.  I am not content to sit here and try to go back to the “glory days” of America because those days are gone.  Let’s face it…they are gone!!!  I believe America is a good place to raise a family but careful study of Scripture will lead one to conclude that Jesus is neither Democrat, Republican, Communist, Moderate or whatever.  Jesus is the Word!  Maybe if we “seek first the kingdom of God” then we might see a society turn around!  Did you know that the Philippines export more Christian missionaries than any other country in the world?  Why?  Because they are being transformed not by partisan politics but by the kingdom of God!  I have heard president after president speak to the polarization in our society and how we need to “drop partisanship and start being a united nation!”  then they proceed to listen to their groups who believe in what they believe and nothing gets accomplished.  

We need Christians engaging the government, we need Christians helping local institutions, we need Christians helping families, we need Christians serving the poor, we need Christians serving the rich, we need Christian seeking the lost, we need Christians seeking the saved, we need Christians helping grieving mothers, we need Christians helping pregnant teens, we need Christians in the slums, we need Christians in the suburbs, we need Christians on capital hill, we need Christians in the infantry, we need cooperation all over the place!  If you are Republican, fine!  If you are Democrat, fine!  If you are a moderate, fine!  Know this, if you are Christian you pledge allegiance to Jesus and hail him as your President first.  everything else is a distant second.  I know many of you politically inclined people could rip every argument in this post.  That’s fine…have fun with it.  I will say this…I don’t have time to engage politics, read the newspaper, look at websites all day.  I will go on record and say that if a Christian spends more time studying politics than Scripture then something is wrong.  I am done with my little rant.  Have fun ripping it apart 😉