Category Archives: Social Justice

A Note to the Purchaser

Neckless SalesmanRight now in life I am a salesman. Some people have myriad allergic reactions to the word “salesman.” Some of this is rightly deserved. But have you ever taken a moment to consider whether you are just as allergy-causing to the salesman.

This is by no means a gripe session. Rather, it is a call for Christians to be christianly in their purchasing habits. Day in day out I interact with people from so many backgrounds your head would spin. Some people come in my door thinking that I am wicked – this is before they have spoken a word. Their demeanor says everything. Others open up and tell me about how they are getting ready to divorce for infidelity.

To the one who hates the salesman: Consider that this salesman is performing a valid service to your community. In a world where cyberspace has crowded out human interaction. In a world where people are not challenged to buy something they thought they wanted. The salesman provides some kind of sanity in the consumer’s overly righteous, yet uninformed, way. The salesman provides flesh and blood instead of keys and buttons.

To the one who lays it out: even though it can be over the top, but perhaps this is society’s plea for humanity. Like the hemorrhaging woman who reached out in despair, so to the consumer who has had enough of automated prompts and pixelated faces reaches out to their closest friend – a human.

To the Christian: make sure you are purchasing in a way you would if your salesman was Jesus. Don’t say you’ll come back. Don’t ask for a card when you have no intention of calling the salesman. Have some backbone. Don’t be like the boy who wanted to bury his father, spouting lines to get any kind of decision on his part postponed. Realize that the person attempting to sell you a phone or a car or a television needs to feed his family. He is not a shark (always).

Enjoy interacting with humans. Pay the extra $20 in order to feed your neighbors kids. On-line is cheap, but so is the experience and the loving of neighbor. It requires no backbone on your part – read people-pleasing. It requires no sympathy, empathy, or any other emotion than just getting what you want.

Challenge yourself to buy as you would from Jesus. [Matt 25.40, 45; Heb 13.2)

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Is It Okay to Abort If the Woman Was Raped?

This is a question that has been brought up recently in the presidential campaign as Sarah Palin has said that it is not okay for the, woman to have an abortion. I read the comic “Get Your War On” by David Rees in Rolling Stones magazine yesterday that said this:

“I wonder why McCain didn’t just pick Rachael Ray as his running mate? She’s even feistier?”

“Does Rachael Ray oppose abortion even in cases of rape, like Palin does? Remember, Palin’s on the ticket to please fundamentalist Christians. (And rapists.)”

“I wonder if Palin is in favor of pressuring rape victims to marry their rapists? It must break her heart to see unwed mothers.”

Other than the mere emotional arguments in this comic (hey, it’s a comic, but humor often betrays underlying presuppositions), it is telling that those who think such a view as Palin’s is archaic have not thought about the implications of their view of justice. Doug Wilson has written a good post on this issue. Here’s the gist of such a view of justice:

So here is the answer to the “rape and incest” objection. When a woman conceives as the result of a rape, there are three parties involved. There is the rapist, there is the woman, and there is the child. Two of these parties are innocent, and one of them is guilty. What kind of sense does it make to execute one of the innocent parties for the crime of his father?

[Read whole article]

This is not an easy issue to talk about. For we are not just speaking about some mere impregnation, we are talking about a violation of what it means to be human and made in the image of God. May we pray earnestly for all three people involved in this travesty. And may we remember that in no law court would it be permissible to punish an innocent person for the guilt of another. And may we remember that he who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might be made the righteousness of God.

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Filed under Abortion, Apologetics, Culture, Current Events, Family | Parenting, Pastoral, Politics, Social Justice

Dwell Conference Summary

All the audio for the conference is now up.

Here are my notes from the talks. Feel free to copy, paste, and edit as you listen.

Pastoral Priorities: Watching Your Life & Ministry (CJ Mahaney)

Dwelling in the Kingdom Mission (Ed Stetzer)

Dwelling Incarnationally (Eric Mason)

Dwelling in the Text (Mark Driscoll)

Dwelling with Non-Christians (Darrin Patrick)

Dwelling in the Gospel (Tim Keller)

Dwelling Through the Text (Mark Driscoll)

Persuasion (Tim Keller)

A friend of mine asked which two talks I would suggest listening to if you’re crunched on time. I would recommend (in this order) 1) Dwelling in the Gospel; 2) Dwelling with Non-Christians; and 3) Persuasion. I know, but I couldn’t narrow it down to two.

 

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Dwelling in the Gospel

Tim Keller

Rather than share my sporadic notes on this, I thought it would be best to scan the sermon that was printed in our packet (from which Keller “read”). This may help begin dialogue on what the Gospel is and what the Gospel does.

Dwelling in the Gospel – Tim Keller

 

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Dwelling with Non-Christians

Darrin Patrick

Preliminary Questions:

Do you love non-Christians? Do you have good friends that are far from God? Is your heart broken consistently for lost people?

Romans 10:15 – It is your job to realize that you have been sent. He wants to take away excuses for why we are not reaching the lost and propel us to go out and accomplish our task of evangelism.

God is the first missionary in that he pursues fallen humanity throughout the biblical narrative. Genesis 12 (Walt Kaiser calls this the Great Commission of the OT). The seed promised to Abraham is Jesus. Matthew 4, Jesus links evangelism, discipleship, and mission together (cf. chapter 28:18-20). John 17 teaches us that we are in the world but not of as we try to reach the world.

John 1 is the seminal chapter on incarnational ministry. An example is Zacchaeus where Jesus tells him that he wants to stay at his house. He doesn’t just tell him a message but lives out his mission in his home.

1Cor 5:9ff – it’s assumed that you will and must dwell with unbelievers. The problem Paul is addressing has to do with not dwelling with those who are sexually perverse and call themselves “Christian.”

There are opportunities for being around non-Christians: Tailgating, pay-per-view events, happy hour, video game times, basketball at the gym, a hobby (photography). “Theology at the Bottle Works” is a mercy ministry of The Journey in St.. Louis. You are not going to happen to step into personal evangelism, you have to be intentional in it. (1Cor 9; Acts 13; 14; 17 – Paul went to places with the purpose of sharing the Gospel story with Jews and Greeks). Get involved in people’s lives. If someone is terminally ill, find out about their illness through study of what they have. If someone is a “foody” find out about the fine dining culture. Essentially, care about people enough to take interest in their interests.

Recommendation: Becky Pieppert books. The problem with Christians is that we don’t know how to be ourselves.

The Seeker movement has rightly challenged us to think through missional worship. That is, helping people understand what is happening in the service (keeping away from Chriistian-ese – lingo that is not easily definable).

This is an investment and a sacrifice. It can hurt your sermon preparation; but it can help it by making you aware of real needs in your community. Christ sacrificed (through his relationships) his reputation as a good rabbi.

Our non-Christian friends need to see how we are similar to them and how we are different than them. If you are a struggling father, admit that. But also talk about what makes your desire to be a better dad. You don’t have to hit people over the head with some ideological principles that makes us distinct from them. They need to see anecdotally how we are different.

What are the people that irritate you? You have to bathe your homophobia, racism, preferentialism in the Gospel. Christ came to redeem all kinds of people.

 

Table Talk

What are the main obstacles in connecting with non-Christians?

Being yourself and honest. It is oftentimes easier connecting with people we do not know than people we do know. We have to allow people to see our lives that we do not have to have it together.

So much of what Darrin talked about has to do with being intentional in our lives and relationships. We need to try and not be so enmeshed in strategic church planting that that is the only thing we can talk about. Our passion for reaching the lost can become an idol. We theorize about how to reach the lost and do not reach the lost.

Our arrogance that impels us to micro-manage the weekly service or other gatherings of our people.

Many times we can find solace in our title as “pastor” around our Christian friends, but around out non-Christian friends there is no pretense in our relationships with them. We can go from conference to conference and leave ourselves with little or no time for people (Christian and non-Christian).

We presume that our friendships with non-believers can only be superficial and we, therefore, miss the imago Dei present within the non-believer. We short change ourselves when we fall into this false view of humanity and being connected. One of the qualifications for being an elder is “hospitality,” which means to be welcoming into your homes.

We do need to be aware of our weaknesses so that if we are tempted to get drunk ata pub, you need to stay away from those situations. That does not mean, however, that you divorce yourself from being involved in people’s lives. You can have people over for coffee or dinner.

Recommendation: Jerram Barrs, Being Human

What hobbies, interests, and activities do I participate in or could I participate in that might enable me to meet and befriend non-Christians?

We need to be reminded that Christ has redeemed us as humans. We cannot expect to be super-human. We are intended to be sanctified and become human – through and through. We need to learn how to integrate our faith into the hobbies and interests we have in the world. We can affirm our desire to go workout, sports bars, motorcycling. 

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Where are the Prophets?

First Things put up an article by Peter Leithart that provokes and informs. I may write more later regarding prophets and prophecy – as this has been a focus of my studies this semester. But for now, read this snippet and pick your jaw up from the last sentence:

Far from simplifying prophecy, the Bible greatly complicates it. It’s as easy to denounce from a distance as it is to launch smart bombs from a command center on the other side of the world. Gestures of repudiation cost little, and adding the term prophetic lends an aura of piety to our reputations.

Prophets in the Bible, though, cannot afford gestures. They are called to speak the word of the Lord from within the court, mounting an internal critique. The pressures on Nathan to keep silent after David seized Bathsheba and sent her husband to his death must have been enormous. He could have vented himself in a scathing editorial and then kept his head down. From all appearances, though, Nathan had free access to the court, was a friend of David, and a close adviser. It is said that prophets spoke truth to power, but that goes beyond cliché when we realize that prophets spoke the truth face to face with power, to powerful men and women whom the prophets knew intimately, frequently from their own position of power.

Power corrupts, and it always has. Court prophets were often pusillanimous yes-men like Ahab’s four hundred, who dramatized Ahab’s coming victory over Aram by shaking around iron horns. But power doesn’t always and necessarily corrupt, and the company of priestly and court prophets also included spokesmen of Yahweh. Faithful “insiders” were always a minority, but the biblical picture shows that we can’t tell a true from a false prophet simply by answering the question, Where is the prophet? Not all prophets are in king’s houses, but some are.

Judging by the biblical evidence, though, we are as likely to find a prophet in a presidential Cabinet, at the Hague, or roaming the halls of WCC headquarters as we are in the mountains of Northern Idaho or the deserts of Arabia or the desperate ghettos of Chicago. God is no respecter of persons, and a Karl Rove or a Paul Wolfowitz, as scandalous as the suggestion may be, is as likely to be a prophet as a Jeremiah Wright. 

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One Issue Voting

I have been thinking alot about one-issue voting lately. I have long been an advocate of this as it relates to abortion. I have oftentimes told friends that if both Republicans and Democrats were pro-life then I would have a much harder time – I might even vote for a Democrat. I have heard some evangelicals respond that they are going to vote Democrat because the Republicans have failed or messed things up. I fail to see the validity of such a charge as Democrats have not been the saviors of the world either; merely voting for one will not remedy our situation.

There are so many issues, why have I chosen one to ride my horse on? One of the dangers in calling my perspective “one issue” voting  is the misnomer that there is only one issue that a candidate needs to agree with me on and the rest is chaff. The is a farce since there are myriad issues that I also evaluate when picking a candidate. I have said for several years that if all parties agreed that abortion should be illegal that I would have a much harder time deciding who to vote for.

Am I being petty and naive? I am sure I am in several ways. However, when you talk to people it is obvious that they are also one issue voters. For example, those who are pro-choice have this as their one issue that will steer them towards one candidate over another. Another person may not vote for someone because he wants to leaglized marijuana. Someone else may be allergic to joining hands with the Castros in Cuba.

Why did we go to war with Nazi Germany? We went because they were war-mongerers. This was one issue. The killing of babies (let’s not use “abortion” as the primary term as it is mechanistic and euphemistic for what is really happening to the child) is a heinous crime against humanity. We cringe at the thought of chimpanzees or polar bears eating their own young, but celebrate the virtue of choice in the similar decision to take the weak’s life.

Political renovation does not stop with the illegalizing of the killing of human babies. Movements must start somewhere. This is the most immediate need right now. Of course there are homeless people, hungry people, unemployed people. But if we can’t even take care of those who are helpless, what kind of policy could we dream up that would do justice for the poor?

It is a shame that the Republican party believes that if they say “I am pro-life” then they have the evangelical vote. It is a shame that it is only the Republican party that has said this most resolutely. I wish it would be across the board that sucha  statement would be made. But we are tyrannized by other (yes, important) less immediate issues.

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