Blue Like Jazz opened this past week. And it is the topic of one of today’s Weekend Links.
“Plus, I have a hunch that if more of us preachers had to think about our sermons leading into a humble approach to the Lord’s Table, we would end not with an empty challenge for people to “do better”, but with a call to throw ourselves upon the grace of God and ask for Christ in us to be our hope of glory.”
“We have been deeply involved in movements for abolition, suffrage, civil rights, economic and environmental justice, and now we are at the forefront of the movement in the church for LGBTQ inclusion. Every one of these stands was costly and unpopular. It takes conviction and courage to speak against the culture. It requires a fire in the belly to speak against our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have often called us heretics and apostates.”
Randy Woodley wrote a thoughtful piece about the tension between right doctrine and right conduct, especially in the context of modern-day American Christianity. I was particularily struck by this portion concerning the weight we as Christians give to certain men and women whose conduct didn’t always line up with their convictions:
“Jesus made a clear distinction that favored correct actions over correct doctrine so I ask, why should we hail these and other, unrepentant, murderous and racists people in the hallowed halls of Christianity? Why should we hold their theologies and philosophies as sacrosanct? Some would answer, “They were people of their time.” My reply to their reasoning is that there were many other men and women in Christian history, (during the aforementioned times) who suffered unjustly because they chose to act like Jesus rather than misinterpret and, misappropriate the words of Paul in order to act differently to Jesus’ life and teachings.”
“Around the edges of organized religion, the exile Christians have heard the questions and are trying to reform, reimagine, and reformulate their churches and traditions. They are birthing a heart-centered Christianity that is both spiritual and religious. They meet in homes, at coffeehouses, in bars–even in some congregations. They are lay and clergy, wise elders and idealistic hipsters. Some teach in colleges and seminaries. They even hold denominational positions. Not a few have been elected as bishops. The questions are rising from the grassroots up–and, in some cases, the questions are reaching a transformational tipping point.”
“But the Gospels all open with sketches of Jesus that show dramatically, clearly, forcefully, and undeniably that they see Jesus completing/climaxing the Story of Israel. That’s the Story that sets up the Story of Jesus.”
Here is a convicting piece on how Jesus’ love and grace also extended towards the Pharisees:
“In modern society we love to point out that Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes. He crossed social boundaries. He was the friend of sinners. Sometimes we fail to note there is another group with whom he regularly dined: pharisees. What if Jesus reclined with pharisees for the very same reason he ate with the outcasts? What if he had the same mission whether he ate with Zacchaeus the taxman or with Simon the Pharisee? What if he cared for both? Perhaps the Lord knew we were all sick, all in need of a doctor.
Reading our rebellious ways into the ministry of Jesus is one of the dangers of our present age. We might assume he converted every sinner and condemned every priest. We might assume he ditched the synagogue for a day at the lake, or went to the Temple only to turn the tables. We might be surprised to discover that he loved his Father’s house, or considered the Law as sweet as honey, or longed to hear the prophets read week after week.”
Here is a needed post about the issue of evangelical tribalism:
“This is what’s at the root of many of the worst aspects of American evangelicalism. It’s the idea that evangelical Christians constitute “Our Team,” and that Our Team is in a constant competition with Their Team. This tribal framework shapes how evangelicals approach nearly every subject or area of life — functioning like the old binary view during the Cold War in which any event was perceived somehow as a “victory” for either the U.S. or for the Soviets and thus as a “defeat” for the other team.”
“In your reviews, you can be the savvy “engage the culture intellectually publication” if you like, or you can be the orthodoxy police of culture. I frankly don’t care which you choose, just thought you should know you don’t get to be both at the same time.”