Monthly Archives: October 2011
Last month, Southern Baptist Convention president Bryant Wright announced the formation of a committee to explore the option of changing the name of the SBC. Blogs quickly became forums for people to discuss the merits of the proposal. Some believe the name change represents a sell-out of our historic identity. Others believe that not changing the name keeps us stuck in the past (with racial connotations even!) and hinders our future growth and effectiveness. Still others are open to a name change, but don’t like the way the current president is going about things.
I don’t have a strong feeling one way or another regarding changing the name of the SBC. But I do have some thoughts on the subject, and a few people have asked me to make them public. So, at risk of making people on both sides of this contentious debate angry, here goes nothing…
1. We’re not as big or important as we think we are.
Much of the talk about changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention assumes that people have a terribly negative perception of Southern Baptists. It’s assumed that our mission work in many parts of the country is hindered because the term “Southern” is an obstacle. Or perhaps we’re afraid people associate our name with the backwoods Baptists of yesteryear.
I may be mistaken, and I am willing to be corrected, but I doubt that most non-Christians have a negative perception of Southern Baptists. Truth be told, most non-Christians don’t even know who we …
We just look at our group and go “sure, that sounds nice, but…nobody in here could be a leader.” I think I’ve heard that more than anything else and when I start to dig, the reason for this is that we are often looking for an “ideal” instead of a few tangible signs that this person is headed in the right direction. Here are some things I look for…
The 20 Unhealthiest Cereals. (Whatever the list says, Fruity Pebbles is still my favorite!)
Does Reformation theology matter today? Absolutely. It is tempting to think of the Reformation as a mere political or social movement. In reality, however, the Reformation was a fight over the evangelical gospel itself. The reformers argued that God’s free and gracious acceptance of guilty sinners on the basis of the work of Christ alone is at the heart of the gospel. While the political and social context has changed since the sixteenth century, nevertheless, this issue remains at the forefront.
As a pastor, I’m scared of becoming nothing more than an earnest gate agent. I’m afraid of calling people to places I’ve never been. Of course, pastors are humans too. None of us have arrived. There must be room for aspiration and inspiring ourselves (so to speak) even as we try to inspire others. But my fear is that I would keep preaching …
“You have shown great and faithful love to Your servant, my father David, because he walked before You in faithfulness, righteousness, and integrity. You have continued this great and faithful love for him by giving him a son to sit on his throne, as it is today. Lord my God, You have now made Your servant king in my father David’s place. Yet I am just a youth with no experience in leadership. Your servant is among Your people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:6-9, HCSB)
Notice several parts of this prayer:
The prayer is rooted in Solomon’s trust in the good and faithful character of God.
The request is rooted in Solomon’s recognition of God’s grace in establishing him as king.
The prayer demonstrates Solomon’s humility. He describes himself as a servant, a youth, and without leadership experience.
The request is made from a self-giving perspective, as Solomon seeks wisdom on behalf of God’s people.
The request itself begins with the desire for obedience and only then moves to issues of discernment of good and evil.
I love the next verse too: “Now it pleased the Lord that Solomon had requested this” (v. 10).
We mentioned the apostle John’s view of technology found in 2 John 12, where he wrote, “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.”
John was comfortable using the communication technology—pen and ink—of his day, but he did so with a set of values that were contrary to the tendencies built into the technology of writing. Whereas a letter requires that one isolated person write a message and then another isolated person later read that message, John says that his joy is never complete until he is physically present with his community.
And yet, aware of this problem, John used writing because he understood both its helpfulness and its problematic value system. From that perspective he was able to use technology in service of the embodied communal life that Christ taught him. When John could not be physically present with his community, he was comfortable using technology to communicate with them. But he was always careful to state that he considered technologically mediated relationships to be inferior to embodied relationships.
For John, both embodied and disembodied communication were “real”; he simply believed that only face-to-face reality offered him “complete joy.” The great temptation of the digital generation is to inadvertently disagree with John and …
Kingdom People was launched five years ago this week. Today is the last day for revisiting some past Kingdom People posts. Here are some notable posts from the fourth and fifth years of this blog:
“In Defense of Proselytism: Talking Points for Brit Hume” (January 11, 2010)
As Christians, we must recognize that before we can make a robust defense for the Christian faith, we may have to clear the air by making a case for evangelism in general. After having listened to some of the remarks made about Brit Hume, I have compiled a list of common objections to “proselytism” and why each of them are unpersuasive.
Jennifer Knapp and Larry King: Why We Always Lose This Debate (April 26, 2010)
I’m convinced that we continue to lose the argument about homosexuality and Christianity because the traditionalist almost always makes his case within a conversation that has been framed by the opposing viewpoint. The Christian doesn’t lose the argument at the micro-level. The argument is lost from the beginning because of how the discussion is framed.
Building Deep Relationships Before Sharing Christ? Impossible! (November 9, 2010)
It’s true that effective evangelism usually takes place after trustworthy relationships have been built. But something is amiss when we can “get to know” people well over a period of months and never talk about Jesus.
So You Want to Go Deeper… (January 6, 2011)
I once met a youth pastor who was so frustrated with accusations of “shallowness” and demands for “more …
Seven links for your weekend reading:
This week, I’m taking a break from posting new content, and since this blog is turning 5, we’re taking a look at some past Kingdom People posts. Here are some notable posts from the blog’s third year (2008-09).
I’m convinced one of the reasons people like this blog is because of the interesting people who agree to be interviewed here. Blogs that are all about the blogger usually bore me, primarily because none of us are as interesting as we think we are. So I try to point people to interesting people that I run across and interesting ideas that deserve a hearing.
One of the most interesting people I’ve interviewed here at Kingdom People is Andy Crouch. I sent him a few questions about Culture Making, which he answered at length. Crouch’s work is provocative and engaging, and even when people disagree with his conclusions, his work serves to stimulate good discussion about the creation mandate. “Interview with Andy Crouch” (January 9, 2009)
During Kingdom People’s third year, I also began posting more regularly about pro-life issues, beginning with this post after Obama’s election titled “Can the Pro-Life Movement Succeed?”
The 2008 presidential election represents a major setback for the pro-life cause. President Obama will likely replace two or three judges on the Supreme Court. His replacements are sure to maintain the majority opinion that favors Roe vs. Wade.
Despite this major setback, the ascendancy of Obama to the highest office in the land fills me with tremendous hope that the abortion debate will be turned around in this country. Why?
“Hacked!” – a fascinating article about how vulnerable your own email account and all your personal history may be:
As email, documents, and almost every aspect of our professional and personal lives moves onto the “cloud”—remote servers we rely on to store, guard, and make available all of our data whenever and from wherever we want them, all the time and into eternity—a brush with disaster reminds the author and his wife just how vulnerable those data can be. A trip to the inner fortress of Gmail, where Google developers recovered six years’ worth of hacked and deleted e‑mail, provides specific advice on protecting and backing up data now—and gives a picture both consoling and unsettling of the vulnerabilities we can all expect to face in the future.
Instead of writing ten songs for your next album, write 50 and whittle down to your ten best. Volume is your friend. It will give you more choices, and the sheer amount of work it requires will cause you to improve over time.
What the Ascension says about Christ is just the start of its impact to the Christian life. Indeed it is through our union with Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we can be assured of salvation and begin to glorify Christ and not ourselves.
I am really enjoying the new weekly podcast from World magazine: “The World and Everything …
As this blog turns 5 this week, I’m pulling out some posts from the archive and giving them new life. Yesterday, we looked at several posts from Kingdom People’s first year. Today, we’re jumping into Year 2.
The most monumental blog post of Kingdom People’s second year was the podcast and lengthy transcript from my sit-down conversation with N.T. Wright - “Interview with N.T. Wright – Full Transcript” (November 19, 2007). I had been reading Wright since my years in Romania, primarily his work on Jesus. I had recently begun to read up on the controversy surrounding his views on justification and Paul. Wright agreed to an hour-long interview at Asbury Seminary, where he answered a number of questions related to his life and work as well as the current discussions of justification. A few months later, I sat down with Bishop Wright again in Nashville to discuss his book Surprised by Hope. In the second interview, I brought up specific criticisms from Mark Dever, Doug Wilson, and other pastors and theologians.
One of the longer blog posts I wrote in 2008 was called “Don’t Replace the Substitute!” I registered my concern with replacing reductionistic, past presentations of the gospel with newer presentations that were equally reductionistic:
When I evaluate a gospel presentation, I try to imagine what kind of disciple the presentation will produce. The gospel presentations of past generations have given us individualistic Christians without an understanding of the missio Dei and the nature of the church. They need to be …