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Something You Can Do for Liberia’s Ebola Crisis

Care for One Hundred is a response to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, especially Liberia. On August 13, 2014, the World Health Organization identified Liberia as the new epicenter of the crisis. That means that Liberia is the nation where the most new cases of Ebola are showing up.

Given the depressed Liberian economy, most Liberians subsist on one meal a day. We have calculated that for less than $0.35 a day we can provide one good meal of rice and beans. Provisions also will include oil and seasoning. For $1,000 USD we can Care for One Hundred for one month.

Five Reasons Progressive Christians Secretly Love Mark Driscoll

Christian Piatt is refreshingly honest about this:

  1. He helps us define who we are.
  2. He distracts us from working on ourselves.
  3. He gives us causes to rally around.
  4. He serves as a common enemy.
  5. His shortcomings are obvious.

See also a few words of evangelical commentary from Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk.

An Alternative Christian Model

David Gushee has written a profoundly encouraging piece today about his observations of the recently concluded General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. After summarizing some of the amazing things that happened and were celebrated last week in Atlanta, he concludes:

If America and its religion is destined to continually fracture along right-left lines, and if that is the religion news story that everyone wants to talk about, then this particular religious community will be of little national interest.

But perhaps the very existence of a religious community — primarily located in the politically hot-blooded South — that doesn’t fit this narrative, but is instead doing the slow, organic work of ministry, service, advocacy, inclusion and reconciliation, is in fact a story worth telling.


So, What’s the Status Quo, Anyway?

Chaplain Mike takes aim at this article:

So, Thom Schultz suggests that the church learn from Kodak’s failures. This is our “Kodak moment,” he warns. Unless we (1) accept the reality that things are changing and churches are declining, (2) give up trying to simply “tweak” what we do and instead focus on “revolutionizing,” and (3) take risks by acting now and experimenting with bold new ideas, we face a future like Kodak experienced.

Therefore, Schultz exhorts us to re-examine everything we’re doing. To ask big questions. To step out and try something. To boldly step into the future because that’s where God is moving.

Etc. etc. etc.

To which I say, with all due respect, “Yawn.”

This is not challenging the status quo. This is the very definition of the status quo when it comes to evangelicalism, and it has been at least since Thom Schultz started writing youth curriculum back in the 1970′s. It’s the same old church growth mantra: “Change or die!” It’s the same old focus on “catching the next wave” and riding it into the future. It’s the same old emphasis on “relevance” and “effectiveness” and “success.”

Thom Schultz’s article represents the same tired evangelical thinking about the church’s mission and methodology: imagining that what we’re about requires relying on “spiritual technology” to “connect people to God” and build “effective” churches. It’s just plain bad theology, folks.

In fact, it is nothing less than an ongoing denial of Jesus’ words about the organic nature of the Kingdom, which involves seeds falling into the ground and dying so that they may bear fruit and bring forth life.

Though all the world go digital and beyond, building gleaming towers that reach to the heavens, the mission of Jesus proceeds with a quiet, unstoppable tenacity at ground level.

Get the picture?

Which Jesus?

I really should link to Jim Somerville more often. His post today, “Which Jesus Will We Give Them?” is a refreshing back-to-basics sermon for all of us:

I was reminded of that when I was at the BGAV meeting in Fredericksburg recently. There we were—a thousand Baptists from Virginia all gathered together in a single room. You would think that we all held the same views, wouldn’t you? But as one speaker after another talked about Jesus I could tell that we thought about him in different ways, and maybe that shouldn’t surprise me as much as it does. After all, there are four Gospels in the New Testament, which means that we have four different accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. And then there are Paul’s letters, which are more about the risen Christ than the earthly Jesus, and about what his death and resurrection mean for us. And then there are the other writers, like Peter, James, and the author of Hebrews, who each have their own perspective. And finally the Book of Revelation, in which the risen Christ appears with “hair as white as wool and eyes like flames of fire” (1:14). So if I’m going to “give them Jesus” I have to ask: which Jesus am I going to give them?

Because I think we tend to “cut and paste” when it comes to Jesus. We take what we like about him from the Bible, and from the hymn book, and from the pictures that hang in our Sunday school classrooms, and the songs we learned as children, and we put them all together to make this composite picture we carry around in our heads, and that’s “our” Jesus. Sometimes the confused looks I see on your faces when I’m preaching are not because you don’t understand what I’m saying, but because “my” Jesus doesn’t look like “your” Jesus. My Jesus is always talking about the Kingdom, and urging people to join him in the joyful work of bringing heaven to earth. Your Jesus may be saying, “Go, make disciples of every nation,” or, “Come to me, all you who are weary,” or, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” I was thinking about that on the way home from Fredericksburg when it occurred to me that if even if you put all these cut-and-paste images together you still get the picture that God sent Jesus to love us, save us, change us, and send us. I said it out loud: “God sent Jesus to love us, save us, change us, and send us.” And something about that rang so true I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

Do read it all.

The Church: Mother or Babysitter?

Thoughtful piece by Chaplain Mike on why so many young evangelicals are turning toward more historically grounded expressions of Christian faith. The final paragraphs speak for me as well:

I don’t have statistical evidence to prove that, as Rebecca VanDoodewaard says, young people are returning to historic traditions in droves. If our roster of authors and families here at Internet Monk is any indication, many of us who are Baby Boomers may be. I think that most of us here would say that the older we get, the less stomach we have for the shallow pandering to culture that characterizes so much of contemporary American evangelicalism. Our journey has been a long and winding road through decades of experimenting and fads.

If some of those in younger generations are feeling that way now and doing something about it, perhaps they won’t have to endure some of wilderness experiences many of us had.

My Favorite Baptist Bishop

William E. Yoder has an article in Christianity Today about my favorite Baptist bishop, +Malkhaz Songulashvili of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia (not the state, the former Soviet Republic). Here’s a sample:

Many Orthodox view Baptists as a Western-inspired and -funded fringe or underground movement, decrying them as sectarian heretics. Baptists, in turn, have regarded Orthodox as unconverted. Yet Songulashvili has “uncovered the treasures” of the Orthodox tradition, he says, and incorporates them into faith and practice. He intends to lead a denomination that’s Baptist in theology while both Georgian and Orthodox in culture—and to break the longstanding impasse between evangelical Protestants and Orthodox throughout Eastern Europe.

Structurally, the EBCG calls itself an Episcopal Baptist church. It is headed by an archbishop and three bishops—one of whom is female. Female ordination and liturgical dance both mark EBCG’s departure from Orthodoxy.

But the tradition of worshiping God with all five senses is one Orthodox gift that the EBCG receives “with gratitude,” says Songulashvili. Consequently, the EBCG has founded a school for icon painting and uses incense in services. It has a monastic order and holds processions and pilgrimages.

(H/T: Michael Bird)