Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism’


My politician’s mind is not yet ready to comment on the gong show of “what the” that was the Ontario PC leader vote (may never, as it did seem like reality television run amuck without the fun of a RuPaul Drag Race challenge). But, there has been some thoughts on new readings and thoughts in the religious world I feel like sharing.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Bart D. Ehrman’s Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World (2018) is the latest in his scholarly look at the life and times of Jesus, but also the New Testament World, and ancient Christianity. This is the exploration of the long-held claim that the reason Christianity took over the world, was due to the Conversion of Constantine and thus decriminalizing and promoting the religion. It has a good examination of how gods were interacted with back in the ancient world, belief of their daily interventions or causalities of history. Examination of other monotheistic religions that did not make the “cut” if you will.

The idea though of an exclusive monotheistic religion. Yes, there is power in that. But it was also an Emperor interjecting in theological debates. Ideas held that followers were writing cover letters for early apostles’ writings (idea of Pseudo-Paul letters, as covers for the collection of letters of Paul). How many active writings were out there, and what was to be held. What was to be included in the Nicene Creed, even though an Apostle’s Creed predated. There was already rigorous debate, and an exponential growth. How?

Think of the patriarchal/matriarchal dynamic. If a male household head converted, all in the household (including servants and slaves) became part of the religion. If a wife converted it may be slower, but soon would happen as well. It was communal growth, that moved people away from their localized deity to a universal meta-narrative.

Whether you choose to read it for yourself, part of a book group, or like other historical accounts to understand context of where your religion grew from…it is worth the read.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

For those facilitating conversations that are looking for a different way in. I suggest CW’s Black Lightning for an exploration on family, vocation, addiction, and the difference between inclusion and belonging.

I would also highlight Netflix’s Marvel’s Jessica Jones for those above noted, as well as mental health and trauma, what it means to find who you are and where you fit within the world

______________________________________________________________________________________

Reza Aslan’s God: A Human History (2017) does not bring much new to the table on the idea of the evolution of God as a concept crafted by humanity. If you have followed anthropology, or progressive religious writers the concept is not new. Why this makes my thought pattern is that the brilliant way he presented the journey of Adam & Eve in context within evolution, is worth a discussion group and reading.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

There is an argument fallacy in Christian apologetic and evangelism I wish to address.  It is the idea that the Christianities are not a religion but a “relationship”. This is the basis of the turn-burn movement. It is also the misinterpreted and misunderstood idea of choosing a narrow path in life, a life lived with respect and love for self and others and divinity.

Let’s be honest, people choose to be apart of something that is usually culturally significant or part of their family life. If they move outside that circle of influence, it is because they feel included. But just being included, or having the secret handshake or password is not what keeps them. They authentically must feel that they belong. That is, that if they were not there they are missed. It is the key. It is the missing piece of indoctrination. If one does not know what they believe, why they believe it, how it impacts their life (basics of mentoring in any movement or religion or business) they will not stay the course.

One can find belonging in any religious movement that gives their life meaning, fills the intrinsic piece. Why? Because relationships exist in the divine we meet before us. God is in everything, and everything is in God. It is God who we meet in our neighbour, and God we share to our neighbour through the life we live, and how we belong and aid others in belonging.

Basically, relationship drives every religion, so do rules and rituals…do not lie to yourself otherwise. What grows anything though is: do members feel safe?

Do they authentically belong?


Evangelical support for Santorum shows generational shift for Catholic candidates.

One needs to look no farther than any presidential or American political race where one’s faith becomes a political hot potato, or better yet vote getter.

Now I am not saying that politics and religion are seperate entities…I am saying that when it comes to one’s personal faith they should shape one’s decisions on everything. For leadership of any religion to come out with official endorsement of one candidate over another, strips the believers, disciples, and apostles of Christ from using their faith to inform their daily decisions.

For what is it to say that just as many believers would not be led to vote Romney, Obama or someone else. But an endorsement of this kind brings the divide into the pews of “this is God’s choice”.

From my personal perspective I remember this happening in the first church I returned to as an adult, Foothills United, where during the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party (C-CRAP) was forming under Stockwell Day in the late 1999 early 2000, where Day an outspoken early Earth, evangelical-Pentecostal was rising in polls to be leader. This Sunday morning during announcement time, before opening prayer the board chair stood up and began hawking memberships so that church members could vote for Day to ensure the Christian voice was in Ottawa.

Rewind that, yep you read correctly, at the time we had a Roman Catholic Prime Minister, and a devout Roman Catholic Finance Minister, an evangelical opposition leader, many anglicans, Jewish, muslim, sheik, etc in the House of Commons and Senate, yet this endorsemnt clearly stated that if people supported anyone but this one person their choice was UNChristian…ala they were anti-God.

Suffice it to say 4 years into my renewed spiritual pilgrimage with God this shook me, as I was definately not an Alliance supporter, I leaned more to Joe Clark and his Red Tories, or the NDP, or Communists, or the Liberals…so I received a pew slap that morning as did quite a few in our church being told by our elected board chair that we were insufficient as Christians because our faith had not led us to the same conclusion.

So before leaders of any church deem it is right to say this is “The Christian Candidate” or the “God Choice”…stop, breathe, and remember your belief, and the Holy Spirit may be guiding you to this choice, but you must also remember that each and every one has the Holy Spirit in them, and as a leader you must trust them to make the choice that their faith speaks to.

For those elected, you must trust the faith of the elected, whatever that is from Atheist to Zoroastrianism, to shape them and their decisions.

This open and honest way of allowing for Free Will to actually live out, renews trust in the institution that many have begun to distrust among the spiritual/sexual abuse scandals, financial scandals, and just what is perceived as a thirst after our money…

Let us refocus as the church on what we were called to do…share the gospel through word and deed that opens many up to becoming “Believers”  and once believers then they journey with the community of faith and become disciples, and if the call is there in their lives they will take their discipleship and break new ground in new places as apostles, or be called to be formed as teachers or preachers, or evangelists, or prayer warriors themselves.

But there needs to be an allowance for their own relationship and faith to develop out of their own situation and story, not a brain washing that exists within the negative connotation of cults.

 


For years I have been sharing with folks I try not to enter the translation debate on the scriptures. For me it is whichever translation/paraphrase allows you to be open to the blessing of the Holy Spirit and draws you in thirsty to go deeper.  The idea that there is only one accurate translation has never sat well with me, for it is divisive, and misses the point that each translation team comes with their own socio-political baggage they try to communicate through the translation choices, footnotes, study notes, and reference points.

Most know that the idea of rapture and tribulation comes from the Scoffield Study Bible Translation; the simplicity of the 1 John passage: Jesus is Love comes from the King James Version, the idea of verily and multiple Amens after Jesus statements comes from the authorized Catholic Bible(New American)…so each has their own cross references etc. to aid in the believers understandings of their denominations beliefs, dogmas, or to push their own political agendas such as the new NIV adjustments in translation I have never not recommend any translation until now, this betrays not only the spirit of the original texts, but their socio-historical-cultural contexts and is simply an abomination by misusing not only the name of God, but God’s word to advance a theology of hate.

To say I was dismayed to read this about probably the second most popular English translation is putting it mildly. This act of “clarity” is nothing more than the Religious Right’s opportunism to shape God to fit their beliefs, not allowing God’s word and Spirit to shape the believer.

-30-


It is a season in the church calendar, noted by the colour green for new life.  I know totally awesome explanation, it happens between the end of the 12 days of Christmas festival and the beginning of Lent. But truly what is Epiphany about?

Each year I sit in church and ponder what is the discovery of new life. The revelation of the divinity of Christ which is given to us through the Gift of the Holy Spirit. This is a time not only to reflect on the visit of the Magi to the Holy Family, but also to reflect on the living faith in ourselves and others. Whether your tradition terms them Saints, Martyrs, or Heroes of the Faith their story (or testimony) is what reflects how Christ manifested (Epiphany) within their souls, and lives.

This struck home this Sunday for me, as my new home church (Crossroads Community Church) brought in the Acting up Drama Presentation on the life of Corrie Ten Boom…a powerful story of the ordinary people God call’s to do extraordinary things.

Over the years on Epiphany I have spent time reflecting on the Magi visitation, but what if a better tradition for the church now is experiencing those of history, recent church history, that have had the miracles of God (miracles that we say do not happen anymore) manifested in their own lives? And use this season of Epiphany to disciple followers to bear witness to the miralces in their own lives and how to share their stories in impactful ways (possibly the use of social media like blogs, vlogs, twitter, facebook, etc)…a new way to share the story of God with his children, and God’s children with her?

How appropriate that this season sees my church family offering their community meal this week…living life through the ordinary into the extraordinary…crafting our story for the now.


This summer as a unit the family came to the decision that we were in recovery from Christendom.  Obviously, my Maid Marion an I had more to recover from than our children, but our mainline church where I was a Lay Professional Leader had managed to have members do a number on the littlest ones among us.

That is where the next step took as we literally threw out everything but our non-negotiable, the birth, life, teachings, death and new life of Jesus of Nazareth.  This focus on the master teacher brought us to a little gem of a community (Unity of Calgary) where we were blessed with an accepting and loving community of individuals seeking the holy and with amazing teachers of the likes of Rev. Tony Heggi, Doug Horne (Intuitive Healer),  and Rev. Doug Craig.  This community helped us, and most importantly myself, to forgive and reconcile to not only God, but God’s children of believers as found in the church.

So why write on the New Thought movement? Well it took us through a journey that shocked even us as a family.  As winter rolled in we were unable to attend Unity (let’s be honest, it is in the far south and we live in the far north)…but the healing that took place where as Doug Horne would say “take the past hurts and put it aside to no longer affect, so one can move forward from it”.

This was the step the family took when 3 weeks ago we realized just how much healing that forgiveness and reconciliation had brought us by rejoining a Christian Church. Not just a christian church, but for this liberal (liberation/social gospel/borderline universalist) theologian it is an Associated Gospel Church, Crossroads Community Church. So far it appears to be a welcoming community, with authentic people that accept my kids for who they are in God, and accept us for us.

Time will tell where it goes, but what is for sure is the journey of the last 6 months has brought my family to a core in God (is love) and knowing what it means to seek healthy community, learn and grow deeper within our faith to grow healthy community. 

The recovery leg of the spiritual quest has been concluded, now for the steps of new life…

 


 

THE BEST POEM IN THE WORLD!

 

Author Unknown
(Though possibly written by either the worst sinner or
the most thankful person in heaven, or both!)

 

 

 

 

I was shocked, confused, bewildered

 

as I entered Heaven’s door,

 

Not by the beauty of it all,

 

by the lights or its decor.

 

 

 

But it was the folks in Heaven

 

who made me sputter and gasp–

 

the thieves, the liars, the sinners,

 

the alcoholics, the trash.

 

 

 

There stood the kid from seventh grade

 

who swiped my lunch money twice.

 

Next to him was my old neighbor

 

who never said anything nice.

 

 

 

Herb, who I always thought

 

was rotting away in hell,

 

was sitting pretty on cloud nine,

 

looking incredibly well.

 

 

 

I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal?

 

I would love to hear Your take.

 

How’d all these sinners get up here?

 

God must’ve made a mistake.

 

 

 

And why’s everyone so quiet,

 

so somber? Give me a clue.”

 

“Hush, child,” said He “They’re all in shock.

 

No one thought they’d see you.”

 

 
Judge NOT.

My speaking notes from today, for those in attendance you know that there was quite a bit more meat than what is presented here:

Reading:
Gospel of Matthew 10:40-42

Some may be familiar with the idea of
a Recovering Catholic, it is essentially like anyone in a 12 step recovery
movement.  For my family, we prefer the
term recovering Christian. We hear the words of Christ echoed in today’s
gospel, and know that we are striving for that freedom in our own lives.

Theologically we have journeyed
through various religions, and churches- Mennonite, United, Presbyterian, Roman
Catholic, Rainbow, Anglican, Franciscan, Ignatian, Alliance, Nazarene, Lutheran
Brethren, Restoration, to name but a few when we came to rest in the ELCIC. Yet
each one has left us thirsty, looking for the Christ to give us the cold water,
to welcome openly the young and young at heart, to be able to see that which is
unseen, and to be able to be that prophetic voice for change, be in that
mission for others.

We as a family have travelled the
roads, struggled with doctrine and dogmas, balked and embraced traditions that
fed our spirit and built community, questioned, ministered, served, taught,
wrote, reflected, meditated and prayed. The conclusion is a simple calling as a
household, to make our corner of the world a little bit better.

Let me say clearly, the moves the
ELCIC is making to remove hierarcy, broaden the circle of ministry, and
removing sexuality and sexual orientation barriers to God, we fully support and
embrace.

Yet we know in our souls as a family
we fit more of Matthew Fox’s description, Post-Denominational, rather than any
of the other labels.  We are mystics,
seeking the Holy, to drink deeply of the River that populates the many wells.
The reason: Simply, we do not hold to the root of traditional Christianity, a
heaven/hell dynamic, a “righteous” over wrongness, or that we are abhorrently
evil worms.

Look around at the 8-10 churches that
call this half block home, we are not that different, yet each building sits
quasi-full on a Sunday Morning because we identify with our label more, than
choosing to follow the way of Christ as seen in his LIFE.

My family is choosing to discover what
it means to live the life of Christ. We believe what the stories say, God is
love, Her creation is called blessed, and beloved, and very good. We have free
will out of this goodness to choose to act in love, or selfishness. To choose
to offer the life giving water to quench another’s thirst or to hold it back,
wrapped in dogma from our family called humanity.

As a family we have entered prayer. We
came to rest at Prince of Faith, to begin to heal, lick our wounds from
denominational over Christ strife. It was where our individual faiths became a
family faith truly. Our children declared their love of the Holy Mystery. Where
good friendships have been formed that we hope will endure. Theologically we being
here as members though, are coming to a close in our journey, for it is akin to
trying to keep a triangle peg in a square hole. So please pray about whether or
not you wish to be apart of council, or the webmaster or even the lay pastoral
assistant.

We thank you, we commend you on the
journey we will be back to visit, and we are praying for our brothers and
sisters within the ELCIC for the transition you are going through. We pray that
as followers of the living Christ, we can dig deep into our souls and ask the
hard formation questions on what makes church? What does it mean to follow
Christ, not to get tripped up on what is or has or has ever been, but to truly
see the world through Christ’s eyes.

Look
into our collective soul,

What
do you follow?


Who do we follow? That is what today’s journey through contemplation and sermon is about. Asking ourselves do we follow the printed bible? Do we follow the crucified Christ? Do we follow the empty tomb? Do we follow the Ascended Lord?

OR do we follow the living and present word of God, Jesus the Christ? Today is about discovering what the idea of following the Way of Christ is actually all about. Our altar is set up to reflect this, with the only present thing being one lone Christ candle reflecting the light of Christ shining through us to the world.

As with last week we are offering our time, talent and treasures. We invite the children and children at heart forward to create art throughout the service to be placed in the altar area at the time of offering, and encourage other members to write their worship pledge for the week.

Please join us in the prayer of the lighting of the Christ Candle.


We are not alone,
we live in God‘s world. We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
A Holy Mystery
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
born of a teenage peasant,
to reconcile and make new,
Within the family of the Holy Spirit
Love pours out to all.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God’s Love, hope, and communion with us,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified for his message of inclusion and change
and risen in glory witnessed by those he loved,
Brother Jesus our hope In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.
Hallejuah!

From the now defunct Rainbow Chapel ULC Calgary

 


We are not alone, we live in God's world. We believe in God: who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust in God. We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God's presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.We are not alone. Thanks be to God.