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Archive for June, 2010

The local Christian radio station has decided to withdraw its sponsorship of the local Christian music festival because Jim Wallis has been invited. Their reasons for pulling back have to do with Wallis’ position on various social issues. they disagree with wallis’ ideas on the need to take care of people’s basic life needs first as opposed to sharing the Gospel and introducing them to Jesus.

Their statement is here.

The money quote for me is this:

We recognize that individually and as the Body of Christ we are not doing all we could as Jesus taught us to. But we do not believe the solution is the church partnering with the government in this endeavor. Feeding the poor with no ability to share the gospel message is at best an incomplete solution. And we fear this is what will happen as the government controls the purse strings. Doing so might indeed help them in this life, at least while the food and water lasts, but what about their eternal souls? While we are commanded by Jesus to help the poor, Jesus said our greatest calling is in Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Coming under federal control may make this impossible without legal and financial persecution.

A couple of things stick out.  First is the assumption that where government is in charge of re-distributing the wealth through taxation, the gospel will be hindered.

Has anybody asked the church in  China how that’s working out for them?  China controls and redistributes everything.  Yet the church is growing immensely in that country to the point where they are sending missionaries to their neighboring countries.

Of course, if the government decides that the gospel can’t be preached if your church is feeding the poor or using government money to do so, it will be harder to preach the gospel.  So what?  Where were we promised an easy time of spreading the good news of Christ?

Second, the statement that the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) is more important than Jesus’ command to help the poor, begs for some explanation.  It sounds almost Manichean to say that preaching is more important than helping people to eat.  The spiritual life takes over the reality of living in this world.  It is hard to hear the gospel when you don’t know where the next meal is coming from and your stomach is rumbling.

I appreciate their words of concern that we should be caring for the poor, I think they and Jim Wallis would agree on that point.  It is hardly humanism to suggest that the poor are more likely to hear the gospel if their basic life needs are met first.  I’m missing the statement from Jim Wallis that says we don’t need to preach the gospel.

I think this radio station has withdrawn its sponsorship in the attempt to get rid of a strawman.  The line in their statement that says they invited Wallis to a meeting of local Christian pastors, I thinks suggests that the powers that be aren’t quite certain Wallis is committed to the Christian Gospel as they are themselves.

Just my 2 cents.

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I couldn’t agree more with the thoughts she’s expressing. Since coming back from overseas, I’m just not into the things that seem to make up most of the conversation on Christian radio or the titles in the Christian bookstore.

I only wish I had thought of how to say it like she has here.

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Just read the following quotes:

The faithful soul is always given grace sufficient for the matter at hand; there is no possibility of insufficiency of grace.  The realisation of this truth adds greatly to the calmness with which one may face crises and enables one to accept the events of life as they come without undue worry.

and

It is clear, then, that grace is not merely valuable, but necessary to the spiritual life; we depend upon it for our conversion to God and our union with Him, for our perseverance in holiness and for our soul’s growth…God gives His grace richly to those who ask Him, but the soul that does not pray is so shut up in itself that even the grace of God can hardly find an entrance.  Yet the use of grace demands circumspection. If grace is to have free course and attain its end one must desire to always do the will of God and avoid exposing oneself willfully to danger.  It is precisely this holy circumspection which is so often lacking even in well-disposed persons, and which is responsible for so many grievous falls from God.  There are many dangers in this world which cannot be avoided; if one loves God and desires to do His will one can rely on grace to keep one safe in these, but one has no right to presume on the grace of God by deliberately going into danger or by allowing oneself to carelessly drift.–F.B. Harton, The Elements of the Spiritual Life

Given the book is about the spiritual life, I would not want to jump to conclusions that we’re looking at another case of prosperity-type gospel here.  Rather, I would think the author is talking about spiritual dangers and carelessness.  So I see his argument is this:

  1. God’s grace is sufficient and does not fail
  2. We are dependent on God’s grace for our spiritual life
  3. We can block God’s gracious action in our lives by our lack of perseverance and our thoughtlessness
  4. In such cases, we cannot presume that God’s grace will prevail in our lives

Is this correct?  Though God’s grace is sufficient, can we block it by our lack of faith, holiness, or whatever?  Is faith, therefore, the necessary ingredient by which God unlocks the treasure house of His grace and pours those riches into our lives?  How does this fit into the finished work of Christ on the cross on our behalf?

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I read a great interview with Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet about their new book, The Jesus Manifesto. I was loving the focus on Jesus and the importance of making Christ the center of His church again, when I stumbled over this paragraph…

Folks can visit www.theJesusManifesto.com and read sample chapters, hear some brand new songs that were recorded by professional Christian artists based on the book (one of them by the man who wrote some of Amy Grant’s most popular tunes), check out the iPhone app, read endorsements, etc.

It just sounded like another marketing strategy for Jesus in the 21st century. Do we really need an iPhone app to help our lives center on Jesus?

I loved their original, but much shorter, Jesus Manifesto from a couple of years ago.  It is good to see the original expanded into book form and placing Jesus inside orthodox Trinitarian theology.  It was only that one paragraph that made me feel uncomfortable.

That said, I already ordered my copy, I hope you will do the same.

Any other thoughts?

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