Monthly Archives: August 2008

What is the Church?

As with other important concepts within Christianity, it is important that we define terms related to theology.  As I did previously with faith, I’m going to do the same thing with the term “church” this time.  I will also be taking a look at the term “catholic” in regards to different organizational churches claiming to be “The Church.”

Church, in the greek is ekklesia.  It is a noun (a femine form) that means, in Greek, “out-called ones” or an assembly gathered together usually for a purpose, or as a group connected by something.  So, The Church is all of God’s outcalled ones, and members of The Church all proclaim Jesus is Lord.  1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

When you turn to God in faith, when you are born again, you are a part of His Church; of His out-called ones, regardless of denominational title.  Now, of course there must be a correct and faithful understanding of Who Christ is, for you don’t want to commit idolatry in the sense that you need to make sure you are turning to God, and not something of your own making.

There are several denominations claiming to be “The” Church; that’s not how this works.  Take the Roman church for example.  They’ve attempted to co-opt the term “catholic” and there is great misunderstanding about this word, esp. amongst certain evangelical circles.  The term “catholic” means universal.

When the early church writers talked of the catholic, or universal church they meant all believers everywhere, not just those in Rome.  That’s the point.  So, even today many denominations’ creeds rightly affirm that they believe in “the holy catholic Church.”  This is why, to avoid confusion, I usually refer to “the Roman catholic church” as the Roman church; they began merely as the organizational church in Rome.

The true catholic Church is made up of all believers from every nation, every denomination, from every time.  Think of the gospel like a town crier; it is proclaimed and everyone who responds, who comes out to gather at the sound of it are the out-called ones, the ekklesia, who have all responded to the cry and assemble together in Christ.  We all become members of the Church upon our faith in Christ.

Also, there is definitely a difference between an earthly organizational church, and The Church proper.  You can belong to a Baptist organizational church, a Methodist, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Roman, etc… etc… organizational church an be a member of The Church, you may not belong to any organizational church, and still fully be a member of The Church.

Mark 9:38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

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Jehovah-Shammah; The LORD is There…

“The LORD is There” is actually a name of God, like Jehovah-nissi, Jehovah-rapha, Jehovah-tsidkenu, and Jehovah-Rohi.  I had not planned to cover another name of God so soon, but felt drawn to it today.  This is a message for everyone; believer and non-believer alike.

This name, or title of God is like all the rest; it is given so that we might come to know God better.  He reveals certain key aspects of His character to us through the use of names.  This one comes from Ezekiel 48:35 It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there. This is the only “literal” occurrence of this name in scripture, though the concept is throughout various verses.

While this application was to be given to a city, God is teaching us all the time that He is with us no matter what.  God is omnipresent.  It is one of those concepts that people tend to “hurry past” without really absorbing what is being taught.  He is everywhere at once.

One of my favorite Psalms shows us that David reflected on this fact, and felt awe at it, and comfort, as we should: Psalm 139:1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

No mater what we are going through, The LORD is There with us.  Are we going through hard times? The LORD is there.  Is there a storm raging outside?  The LORD is there.  Are we scared and alone? The LORD is There.  Are we going through good times? The LORD is There.  Are we facing a mountain that seems impossible for us to climb?  We are never alone in the endeavour; The LORD is There.  Are we surrounded by people that do not care for us, or for people abusing us in some manner, either physically, emotionally, or mentally?  The LORD is There…

Not only should it bring us great comfort, but also great peace.  The LORD is with us all the time, and so sees and knows every action and every human heart.  We also know that the LORD is a LORD of justice, and of mercy.

Now, for the non-believer, especially atheists.  I just want you to know that the LORD is with you regardless of your belief in Him, or your lack thereof.  If you are scared, or lonely, or hurting, He is present with you, you are not alone.  Talk to Him and He hears you.  It is the truth.  If you ever find yourself afraid, despairing, in need…talk to Him about it.  Also know that He offers each human being a chance at even greater connection with Him, a one-on-one relationship with Him through Jesus Christ His Son.  That is the relationship that saves, that is the relationship that ultimately leads to the complete fulfillment of this name of God, as those who put their trust in Jesus will come to dwell with God in a very direct way after death, and at the end of things as we know them.

Everyone, keep reminding yourself even in everyday situations that The LORD is with you, the more you remind yourself of that, the more you’ll take it to heart, the more you’ll let that fact bring you more understanding of God, and bring you into a closer walk with Him.  He’s not just with us in the rough times, He is not just with us on Sunday at church, He is with us no matter the circumstance.

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Filed under Atheism, Names of God, Theology

Righteous Anger…

There is an odd conception amongst some non-believers, and some Christians that anger, in and of itself is sin; that anger is always a bad thing.  This is not the case.

If God Himself lets us know He is “angry” in our sense of the word, then it quite simply is no sin to be angry, but how and why someone is angry matters very much.  Let’s look at a few passages:

Psalms 78:21Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;

Should people be afraid of the anger of the Lord?  Yes, in the scared sense if one is not a believer, and in the awed sense if one is.  We also have to recognize that someone, or something, such as a nation, has to be doing something seriously wrong to face the righteous anger of God, for:

Psalms 145:8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

If people turn to God with an acknowledgment of their wrongdoing, He quick to forgive.  OK, but those are Psalms right?  Perhaps David and the other writers of the Psalms were being figurative…

John 2:13 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

I once read a review from a person who said that CS Lewis should not have chosen a lion (Aslan) to represent Christ in The Chronicles of Narnia…it is comments like that that make me realize that many people don’t actually know anything about Jesus or Christianity.  Look at the first bold part above in scripture, here is a bit of info a lot of people rush past; there apparently was no whip on hand so the Lord Himself made one, notice too that it was a small one, probably causing a bit of sting with no actual physical damage. Hunh.

It was indeed a Righteous anger; it was in response to a slight on God Himself.  It wasn’t about hurt pride, or a purely emotional outburst, it had reason.  Notice also what Jesus does afterward; He uses the scene to teach the people the Truth of the Father, Himself, and the resurrection.

Anger can indeed be a sin;

Matthew 5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…

People have to watch it; anger can be an all consuming fire, an addiction, a self-serving, self-righteous response.  Humans through out history also have used God as an excuse to abuse (especially in the sinful act of physically abusing another human being under our protection; spouse, children boyfriend, girlfriend, etc…) and to persecute.  God knows precisely why someone is acting out in anger, and the overall tone of scripture guides us to the fact that, as with other things, we ought to leave the anger, especially the acting out of anger, to God Himself…it is yet another responsibility we humans muck up.

But, there are times when there is a place for righteous anger;

Ephesians 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:  22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

We must always search our hearts and watch our actions and words carefully when we are angry, even when we have reason.  We also need to read and study (and pray about) the whole of scripture talking about anger and how to “answer” evil, also responding to the guidance of the Holy Spirit on these things.  And also, we should never think we can fool God into believing our anger is righteous and on His behalf, when it is really self-serving, out of control, and hypocritical.

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Television and the Human Psyche…

It is inevitable; television shows, plots, characters, etc… will affect society.  We are a culture that absorbs a lot of information from the television set, both good and bad information, accurate and falsified, reality based and dramatized.

I’ve noticed a trend in my college students…and that is picking majors based upon television shows.  No, I’m not kidding.  And here is the problem with that.  Television shows of the kind I’m talking about are dramatizations of real life, not real life itself.  Shows like CSI, Bones, Law & Order, etc… are held up as reasons why some of my students are pursuing certain majors.

Now, this is all well  and good if the students 1) realize that the shows are dramatized and 2) realize to incredible amount of work and formal education it takes to be, oh, I don’t know, a forensic investigator for example.  As it stands, these TV shows make certain jobs look far more glamorous than the really are, and often do not include the downsides of the jobs at hand.  Students get hyped up and then when they realize these things, it’s like a pin being stuck in a balloon.

And it isn’t just college kids and career choices.  Here is how I wound up writing about TV and the human  psyche for this blog; I was watching Fox News this morning, and they discussed a research finding.  People in one study reported switching from the Christian faith to practicing Wicca (especially women) because of…wait for it; Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Yes, there’s nothing like picking a religion based on a television show.  Forget truth, serious study, and conviction, go with a TV show, because if it is hip and cool for Willow, it’s hip and cool for me.  I would love to see the actual study and the questions asked.

Folks, it is up to each of us to use those critical thinking skills when it comes to this stuff.  I’m definitely not against television by any means, as my readers know by now…but we need to make sure that we have our feet firmly grounded in reality and don’t make life decisions solely based upon a television show that we happen to like.  Can it be one of the factors we consider, can we be inspired by things on TV?  Absolutely…there are examples of people watching things like Star Trek and being motivated to get involved in the space program, or watching medical dramas and deciding they’d like to help people.

The problem comes in when we allow the TV to give us unrealistic pictures and ideas about aspects of life that are radically different than those portrayed on television; romantic love, life and death situations, careers, religion, parenthood, etc…  Always check ideas garnered from the small screen (and the silver screen) against real-life, and don’t abandon logic and reason in decision making.

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Filed under Conversion, Of Interest, Sacred Secular

For fun: Addictive ‘site…

Some of my readers may already have stumbled upon this site, but I just had to share for those who haven’t: http://icanhascheezburger.com/ It is fun pictures of cats and kittens with various captions…it’s very addictive and good for a laugh or two, some are utterly hilarious!

My brother and I joke about zombie movies, and video games, so this one had me chuckling:

And one for GhostBusters fans:

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Filed under Humor, Of Interest

The Mitford Series…

The Mitford Series of books by Jan Karon has been out for a while, but I know that some people still haven’t read any of them, so I thought I’d put in a good word.  This set of books centers around a fictional town called “Mitford,” Father Tim (the local Episcopalian priest) , and the town’s various characters.

This is a good little Christian fiction series that draws you into the life of the town.  Karon does an excellent job creating a fictional place that you actually “look forward” to visiting.  She sets up the storylines in such a way that you care about the characters; their lives, their struggles, their pets, what they are having for supper…

The first of the series, At Home in Mitford, sets the stage and the original players, with characters added throughout the stories.  I find that her style of writing is rather pleasant to read; it doesn’t bash the reader over the head with The Bible; no heavy preaching, no pressure, just good storytelling.  This is not to say that there is no theology present, or that the gospel isn’t present, because it is.  It is done in such a way that it is “organic” to the story, and it fits with the characters, it is not forced either on them, or on the reader.

I’m trying to recall if there is any theology presented that I disagree with, and I can’t really think of any…there is good interplay between the various Christian denominations in the town which is heartwarming, and amusing at the same time.

Here is a list of the books in this particular series in order: 1) At Home in Mitford, 2) A Light in the Window, 3) These High, Green Hills, 4) Out to Canaan, 5) A New Song, 6) A Common Life, 7) In This Mountain, 8 ) Sheperds Abiding, and 9) A Light from Heaven.  I would consider A Common Life and Shepherds Abiding as kind of “mini-novels;” they go along with the series but are not as long as her regular novels.  Shepherds Abiding, which I have not read yet, is also a collection of some shorter stories that still take place in Mitford with the same characters.

Karon also has companion books out that are connected to Mitford; like a quote book, a cook book, etc…  Other reasons why I like this series; they are relaxing reading, non-stressful, they are what I consider to be “quick” reads…and you can usually find most of the series at used book stores if you ask for them, or most libraries carry them, or can get them.

Karon has started another series; The Father Tim Series, to continue on with some of the characters that you’ll get to know in the Mitford series.  I do indeed recommend these books…I have also heard that even guys who read them like them, but they are, to me, geared toward the female reader.  I would also welcome any comments by any of my readers who have checked them out and would like to add their reviews here.

Edit to update: The Father Tim Series order so far: 1) Home to Holly Springs 2) In the Company of Others

Second Edit to update: Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good is Jan’s next book in the series and is taking us back to Mitford! It’s set to be published on Sept. 2, 2014.

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Filed under Of Interest, Reviews

What is Faith?

We Christians are to live by faith, and we know that faith plays the staring role (from our end) in salvation…so what is it exactly?

The Greek word for faith is pistis.  When doing apologetics, you will find that many non-believers do not know that to really grasp some of the scripture, you need to return to the original language in which they were written.  This is one reason why the concept of faith is misunderstood amongst non-believers; they try to use a modern English definition for “faith.”

When we go to the Greek, the word takes on different meaning.  Pistis is a noun, it means to trust something/someone with great confidence.  One of the problems in our Bibles is that the translators used the word “believe” for a derivative of pistis; Pisteuo. Everyone should be able to see the same root there; Pistis is faith, and Pisteuo should be the verb form of faith; to faithe, faithes, faithing, etc…  Instead, the translators rightly chose a word in English that actually existed; however, in English “believe” does not get the point across as “faithe” would.  So, sometimes we can mentally “correct” the translations as we read.

John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe (Pisteuo; that ye faithe) on him whom he hath sent.

Notice, it isn’t “believe” as in head knowledge only, it is trust with confidence.  It also does not mean “blind” trust.  We humans do not truly trust something with great confidence without evidence.  We just don’t do it.  To have confidence in something we want evidence.

The Christian faith is not blind in the least.  We have logical and philosophical reasons for faith in Jesus, we have objective evidence that anyone can observe and study, we have “subjective” evidence that is personal to ourselves, but that we can indeed share with others, we have historical evidence, archaeological evidence, evidence that stems from nature, evidence that stems from ancient writings, etc… etc… etc…

The Greek word pistis does not, in any way, have the idea of “blind” faith within its meaning.  Now, my pastor, Dr. Gene Scott used to define faith in an easy to remember manner, “Faith is Action based upon Belief sustained by Confidence. ABC.  And I completely agree with him, but you would have to have studied his teachings from a while to not get confused here.

To a stranger’s eye, it may seem like Doc was teaching works-based salvation; this isn’t so.  The action he is talking about refers to pisteuo being a verb.  In logic we’d put it like this: All work is an action, but not all action is a work.  We have a verb in the English “to think.”  Thinking isn’t a “work” in the Jewish “law” POV, (you can still think on sabbath as it isn’t considered a work) but it is still an action.  It is the same with faith; it is a action on our part without being a work.

Now, the other misconception amongst non-believers is that some people have faith and some do not.  This is totally wrong.  Every human being has faith.  Every single one.  Faith is a gift of God; every human has the capacity for faith, and every human exercises faith.  The catch is; What do you have faith in?  Do you trust that when you get up of a morning that when you put your feet on the floor and stand up that gravity will do its job?  That’s faith.  Do you trust that the sun, baring a sci-fi movie type cataclysm, will rise in the East?  That’s faith.

Everyone has faith; it is the object of that faith that becomes important.  God knows that we have faith in other things, but what He wants is supreme faith in Himself over all other things.  I love my family; I have faith in them, but they are not God, and are not the number one recipients of my faith.  I know that they all have faith in me, but I also know that I am not the numero uno recipient of faith from their side of things; God is.

When doing apologetics it is very important to have an understanding of the word faith, its role in salvation, and what it means.  God wants faith, it is what He is looking for from us; utter confidence in Him, and the work of Jesus Christ.  Don’t ever let someone try to convince you that Christianity is a blind faith; they are completely wrong on that score.  Don’t ever let someone try to convince you that they don’t have faith; that’s wrong too.  We all have faith, and what it will boil down to is what/who do you place your faith in/on.

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Theology

Where two or three gather…

This is, and always has been one of my favorite verses: Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. It is one of those “simple” verses that to me, contains great truth, and comfort.

We all know that He is with us even when we are alone.  But, this verse pertains to any and all meetings that we call together in His name.  We have His direct assurance that He is with us as a group of people.  One of the most important things to note is that this verse has no limit as far as place or time.

It doesn’t matter if we are gathered in a church building, at a park, in a prison, on a boat, on top of mountain; doesn’t change the fact.  Doesn’t matter if it is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  He is with us when we gather in His name.  We have His promise, and we believers know that God keeps His promises no matter what.

Why else do I find this a great comfort?  Because when you read about even the angels in the Old Testament; they ran into trouble coming to the aid of the Old Testament faithful, take for example;  Daniel 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

When the Lord became human, living for us, dying for us, raising for us…He took back certain…domains that Adam has lost.  The prince of the power of the air has no dominion over Christ.  The adversary cannot harass Jesus, nor keep Him from us, as he could perhaps harass the holy angels.  Jesus is with us always, as I said, and we are assured of that when we come together as believers as well.

I got really sad once reading a Roman catholic mother explain (on a Roman board that doesn’t allow non-RC’s to post) how she teaches her child about the mass…”Do you hear that bell?  When that bell rings Jesus is really and truly comes to be with us here.”  Okay…what have you just taught your child?  That Jesus is sometimes not with us, and that He did not really mean it when He said the when two or three are gathered in His name that He is already there.  Really and Truly. Doesn’t need a set of misused words such as what are said at the mass, doesn’t need a bell, doesn’t need to be in a cathedral, doesn’t need to be with a crowd.

So, never forget, He is with us, and if you want even more assurance find another believer gather together in His name, and know.  We are most assuredly not alone.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

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Human worth…

I got an urge to watch The Last Samurai on DVD yesterday, so went and rented the two disc special edition.  I’m a huge fan of any “extras” on a DVD and am a commentary junkie.  Watching the movie with the commentary by director Edward Zwick gave me the nudge to write this post.

How did the commentary do that?  Because Zwick was talking, in several parts of the movie, how the action scenes made him nervous while filming them.  There are stunt men, horses, extras, the “stars” of the movie, all running and “fighting” and screaming, and Zwick makes a few comments that just struck me as “wrong,” or odd.

Here all these people are doing the scene, and Zwick makes comments (in paraphrase) like, “When you have your stars out there like this it is really nerve-wracking,” or “what a risk it is having our big name actors out there, think if one would get hurt!”  I don’t think he consciously new what he was implying, but it was clear to me what had to be going on in the back of his mind.

The question becomes this; “So, it is worse if a “big name” actor gets hurt or killed than if a mere extra takes a hit, earns a scar, or gets trampled, that would be much less of a blow?”  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not surprised by this attitude, nor am I judging Zwick for what he said, or unconsciously implied…but I do think it is something that humans have got to watch out for; placing a greater “worth” on other humans for no other reason than they are famous, or rich, or good looking, or their loss would hurt our bottom line, etc…

I praise God that human worth isn’t based upon the worth that we humans place upon each other.  As another example; Bernie Mac died recently and it was all over the news, which is indeed a sad thing…but, it is important to remember that people die from pneumonia every day, hard working people, funny people, mean people, old people, young people, yet we never see their faces all over national news…no wonder some humans let fame become their “god.”

No, God sets our worth, and humans are indeed “worth” a lot to God; He created us in His image, He has dealt with and guided mankind from the beginning, He Himself “struck up a tent in human flesh,” became one of us, dwelt amongst us…lived a perfect life on our behalf, died for us, and rose for us.  All so that we could be with Him.

Most humans recognize the differences between mere animals and human beings.  Even most non-believers admit that there is a difference; for example, if they had to choose between saving a dog and a human child, they would save the human child.  The only logical explanation for this, the only meaningful explanation, stems from the fact that there is indeed a God, and He values us; each of us.

God is no respecter of persons; He doesn’t care if you are filthy rich, or dirt poor.  He doesn’t care if you didn’t graduate high school, or if you have several Ph.D.’s, whether you are tall or short, good at sports, or bad at spelling, whether you are a great actor, or never even starred in a high school play…  He’s all about relationship, and yes that includes acknowledging His position as God, King, Lord, Saviour, etc… but it is about more than that.  He is with each of us, and give each of us the chance to be close to Him through His Son, to better ourselves through His Son, and His Spirit.  Our worth stems from His worth of us, and His creation of us, and His willingness to have a true relationship with us!

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

As with Morality, which logically only gets its meaning from God, human worth works the same way.  And, don’t ever think that you are not worth something to God; He numbers the very hairs on our heads.  Think about that.  He, the Creator of all things, is with us, and cares for us!

Luke 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? 7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

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Filed under Philosophy, Theology

Christianity, Culture, and Spirituality…

There is an interesting debate which crops up from time to time amongst my fellow Christians.  It has to do with all three of the things mentioned in the title of this piece; Christianity, Culture, and Spirituality.

The Olympics in China have actually brought this back into my thoughts, as well as some discussion on a Christian message board.  The debate usually starts (just as one example of a larger phenomenon) something like this, “Is it ok for Christians to do yoga?”  There are many many different POVs on questions such as this…I have one too; it depends.

It’s going to be my standard answer right off the bat; what you do and don’t do is between you and God.  Remember, freedom in Christ, but freedom comes with a lot of responsibility.  But, to get more detailed, I would say it totally depends upon what form of yoga someone is talking about, who’s teaching it, is it aimed at spiritual matters, or merely physical?  Can you as an individual separate the spiritual aspect from the physical? etc…

One side of the issue is that yoga began as a Hindu practice, and some of the forms are indeed aimed at certain “gods.”  But the thing that gets me, is that for most Christians who are against yoga, they say that if the forms are changed slightly and accompanied by scripture (just as an example) then it is ok.  I understand this point of view, because that is exactly what the Roman church did with things like Christmas and Easter.

Take a pagan occurrence, practice, celebration, etc… and take it over, change it, Christianize it.  It is all a very interesting discussion, one which I’m not going to go into any any great depth here, I’m more just thinking out loud, so to speak.

How about meditation?  How about Tai Chi?  How about any martial arts?  I know you know what is coming from me at least; it depends.  What are you meditating on?  Are you chanting, or even repeating a vain “prayer?” Then no.  Are you simply calming you heart and meditating on God’s word…why not?  But, again, some people will be able to completely divorce the spiritual aspects of things like Tai Chi from the purely physical or mental.  The Holy Spirit is there to guide each one of us; some should stay completely away, and some can and will handle it.

If you are going to an instructor, or a dojo, or a studio; use your eyes and also talk to the instructor.  Is there a shrine?  Then stay away.  Do they force you to participate in the meditation exercises and you don’t really want to?  Don’t go back.  The Holy Spirit does guide us, and God gave us common sense…well, most of us, anyway.

It is a heart matter.  You know if you are offering up something to false “gods” or if you are simply trying to maintain your physical flexibility.  Now, of course, as in the rest of life, there are certain things that no Christian should “mess with” such as playing around with  an ouija board; there’s nothing to “separate” there folks, it isn’t a mere board (or bored) game…you are asking questions to whom exactly whilst “playing” with a ouija board?

So, I do think there are some “black and white” issues; should you light a “punk” and place it in front of a statue of Buddha because the rest of your family is Buddhist and wants you to because it is a part of “your culture.”  Probably not a good move.

Anything that the Bible explicitly touches upon and instructs us to avoid, we should.  If you are in doubt about something, stay away from it.  If you are feeling guilty about something, don’t do it again, or find an alternative.  Long discussion short; pray about it, read any pertinent scripture, and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture?  Romans 14 speaks to issues such as these I believe.  We should indeed always keep our “witness” in mind as we either participate or refuse to participate in certain activities.  We should not help to cause a brother/sister to stumble in the exercise of our freedom (look over 1 Corinthians chapter 8).  As always, don’t trust my ideas on all of this, I’m a fallible human; dig into it on your own and pray about it…I would be interested in any thoughts on this subject if anyone cares to comment.

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