John 17:20-23 anyone

This picture says a lot about the evangelical movement today.

This picture says a lot about the evangelical movement today.

This is a picture of a sign advertising a ‘church plant’. Notice that there is another church not far away.I have sympathies for the Church that is being advertised but not enough to not be discouraged by this so obvious sign of Christian dis-unity. John 17:20-23 anyone

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Why Millennials are leaving the Church

This is not the only reason but it bears mentioning.

Jesus prayed to his Father just before he was to be crucified and the prayer is recorded for us in John 17:20-23.

My prayer is not for them alone.

The disciples

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,

That would include Christians today.

that all of them may be one,

Christians today are not one and we evangelicals are the worst. We will answer for this come judgement day.

Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

That is quite the high bar for Christian unity.

May they also be in us

Quite the high bar for the Christian walk.

so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

This is key! Jesus wants us to be unified so the world will know that the Father sent the Son. If Jesus says unity causes belief, does it stand to reason that disunity causes dis-belief?

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, so that they may be brought to complete unity.

It sounds like Jesus has already given us the glory that the Father gave to him and that we have the ability to do this

Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Jesus says again that the unity of his followers will convince the world that he was sent from the Father. He must really mean it.

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Secular Self-righteousness and Chemistry

The writer of this link uses his knowledge of Chemistry to refute the claims made by health guru. I like it because l like chemistry and as a rule I don’t like health gurus. To my way of thinking, health gurus are the priests of the false religion. Health-ism is a sect of the ubiquitous religion-of-self. It is a popular sect because you get to think about your own health all the time and you get to be self-righteous about it. The link below pricks some of the self-righteous bubbles of health-ism.

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An example of everything that has ever been wrong with Christianity for the last 1983 (approximately) years.

I got this rant from the face book page of an evangelical preacher. I know him personally though not well. As far as I can tell, he is intelligent, knowledgeable and, by any measure available to mere mortals, he is a genuine Christian and a genuine good person. And yet his thoughts have been captured by the spirit of our times. There is nothing new about that. From the time that Jesus was beamed up until the present day followers of Christ have been trying to make Christ’s message reflect what they already believe. If you have ever wondered how ‘real’ Christians could have done all those bad things that the anti-Christians are always taunting us with, this is how it happens.

In the quote that follows the preacher says that farmers should have the right to save seeds. The seeds contain the intellectual property of Monsanto and a condition of using the seeds once is that Monsanto must be paid each time their property is used. The farmers who are saving seeds to grow next year’s crop are breaking patent law and contract law. How does a Christian justify such sin? By using the world’s thinking.

The quote

“ Almost late enough to post a rant about Monsanto. Wish I didn’t have friends who work there. Just saying that no corporation should be able to control seed distribution, the farmers right to save seeds, or the food supply chain… (stuff left out for brevity. You can find it if you really want to read it.) …..Frankly speaking free markets and true capitalism hasn’t existed in our countries for at least 100 years.

• “No Corporation” If you are trying to justify bad behavior it helps to de-personalize the victim. In this case calling the victim a corporation. Corporations are owned by people and it is from them that the stealing takes place. It is not stated but it is implied that the people who own the corporation are rich whereas the farmers are poor. Christians care about all people. Even the rich. Even the rich sinners. Even rich sinners who got rich by exploiting others. Like ‘what’s his name’, it starts with a Z.

• “Should be able to control seed distribution” A little implied untruth helps. This makes it sound like Monsanto controls all seed distribution. They only control their own property.
• “The Farmer’s right to save seed’s” It helps to throw in the word right. If something is a right it is inalienable. Stealing is not a right. If you don’t want to pay Monsanto don’t use their property.

• “or the food supply chain” very scary and it makes you angry that anyone would even think of trying to control the food supply chain. If you want to convince people to do something they would not normally do, in this case steal, make them angry and scared. Their higher reasoning functions shut down. It has been used many times before.

• “…true capitalism..” The writer knows the importance of capitalism to so many good things so to justify the abrogation of the rule of law and property rights he must convince himself that this is not really capitalism. It may or not be capitalism but it is still stealing.

• “100 years..” Christians are very good at long term thinking. We study events that happened thousands of years ago and we prepare for events that will take place in the infinite future. Our connection to the long term is so strong that whether something is good or bad in the long term is usually the final arbiter of goodness or badness. I would say that if you want to get people to do bad things you say something like ‘we don’t eat in the long run we eat every day’. I’m glad to see this preacher is thinking long term even if it was long term past. What Christians need to think about is what the world will look like 100 years in the future if we allow people to steal.

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Biblical Perspicuity and Linguistic Under-Determination

This is a good article about why the Bible is hard to interpret. I have my own opinion as to why God made the Bible difficult. I believe that studying the Bible is part of the reward. The same thought processes that are useful for making sense of the Bible are useful for making sense of the world. It is part of how Jesus brings the abundant life. Besides that God knows that no matter how clear things are written we will misinterpret them if we want to. Our Canadian constitution is barely a generation old and our Supreme Court has felt free to interpret in counter to what it actually says.

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A different look at an old story

When I was a teenager I was attending an event at our denomination’s Camp. Representatives from many of the sister churches were there. Being a teenager I only was interested in other teenagers and being a boy I was mostly interested in girls but I was way too shy to just introduce myself to girls I didn’t know. Fortunately I have an older brother and older siblings can be helpful for breaking new social ground. I saw a pretty girl who was a friend of my brother’s. Her name was ‘Alice’ (name changed to protect the innocent). For some strange reason I thought that since this girl knew my brother it was okay for me to approach her and strike up a conversation. After a pleasant talk Alice began to excuse herself and she said ‘have you seen my sister Alice? She looks like me. If you see her tell her …’ I thought I was talking to Alice. I later found out to whom I had been talking and Alice was not her twin but to people who do not know them well the sisters look very alike.

I thought of this incident when our preacher was re-telling the story of ‘doubting’ Thomas. I have always thought of ‘doubting’ Thomas as being the lesser member of the unholy trinity that included ‘betraying’ Judas and ‘denying’ Peter. As with so many things, I am much less judgmental of Thomas than I used to be. You see Thomas means Twin in Aramaic and Thomas’ other name Didymus means Twin in Greek. I imagine that the ‘di’ in Didymus means two the same as it does in other Greek loanwords. I believe that the disciple who was a twin thought it was very reasonable to ask to see the nail holes in Jesus’ hands. Just think of the last movie that you saw that used the doppelganger plot device. Didn’t the writers use some version of the ‘cut himself shaving that morning’ to allow the audience to sort out the doubles? The disciple who was a twin just wanted to make sure that the disciples had seen the Jesus who had actually been crucified. Maybe that is why God left the holes when he healed everything else?

This story is not in the Bible to make Thomas look bad and it is not about criticizing Doubting Thomases today. Many of us have doubts that are based on our unique circumstances. Thomas’ doubts were the sort of doubts that someone familiar with mistaken identity might have. My doubts are the sort of doubts that someone familiar with my life might have and your doubts are the sort that you might have. They are legitimate doubts and God will help us through them. Another story, I was talking to a guy one day and he said he didn’t believe in God because he believed that God would have given Man a predator. When I said, ‘but he did, that’s what diseases are’ he didn’t fall on his knees and say “my Lord and my God”. His doubt was not really legitimate. It was just something to say.

Jesus is willing to come through locked doors if necessary to help each person who wants to believe. I also believe that he knows when someone is just not interested and them he leaves alone. Nothing can be done and it would be unkind to keep making them uncomfortable.

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So what do we do about it?

Today in church we had a visiting speaker from denominational head quarters who gave a presentation on the attitudes of young adults towards church in general and especially the church of their childhood. it is not surprising to anyone who is paying attention that a good percentage of young people are not continuing with church activities. According to the information presented this morning only about 48 % of (evangelical) children who come up through the church remain active in church upon reaching young adulthood. So what do we do about it?

Below are the opinions of someone of reasonable intelligence and moderate mental stability who grew up in the evangelical community and cares very much for Christ and his church and the evangelical community especially. A few of the ideas at least should be worth considering.

Have Faith. Remember that Christianity is God’s religion. We just work here. If God wants things to decline for a little while or forever that is his business. Remember, without faith it is impossible to please God.

Christian Unity. This is the big sin of Evangelicals. The Catholics filled Christianity with paganism and the protestants compromised with liberalism but it was us evangelicals more than anyone else who blew the unity file. Out of a love for Jesus and because of our desire to serve and glorify him let us strive to be unified. Sometimes churches want to know the secret to church growth. it was Jesus who said that if we are unified the world will know that the Father sent Jesus. John 17:22-23 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Youth leaders: Our church wants a youth pastor but at the moment we can not afford one. I’m ambivalent about youth pastors. What is the message within the message of having a youth pastor. One message is that youth are important and we love them. I’m good with that but the message is also that youth are the center of the world. Youth are already self-centered maybe we should not be catering to that. If we demand that youth pastors also be youthful we are also implying that it is okay to hire people based on their age which is not Christian at all. We are also saying that the truths of Christianity are not Universal but that kids need to hear truths a certain way. This skates to close to syncretism for my blood. We are often saying that church should be about fun and games so when the fun stops the kids stop coming. None of these is a deal breaker. I wish our church could have a youth minister also. We can’t afford our own so we should share one. Maybe we could afford a half or a third of a youth minister. Sharing a minister would also be an unspoken lesson in Christian unity and love etc.

Have more children: If half of all Children raised in the Church leave the church then have twice as many children. In our church there are a number of young people who are unmarried and therefore not reproducing. It was pointed out to me that these days it is hard for kids to get married because they don’t have jobs that they can live on. I work with a Moslem fellow who like many of us who work there is only on a part-time contract. He’s not making enough to start a family but he is – because he still lives at home. Why can’t Christians do that? I know it takes a lot of patience to live with your in-laws but we have the Holy Spirit.

More Jesus: This is just my own experience and I am willing to admit that it may be my fault. Since reading about Jesus and the words of Jesus I really began to like the guy and I have become convinced that Jesus really nailed it. If Jesus really was just a philosopher then he was the a super duper explicative explicative brilliant genius because he really got it. That is my opinion anyway.

Less Bible: I really hate to say this, that is why it’s the last point. I am fully aware of the thin ice upon which I tread. When we tell youth that the Bible was inspired by God and that inspired means verbally dictated we make a target that is very easy for the enemy to hit. We have taken 2 Timothy 3:16 ” All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” and turned it into ‘The Bible as we have it today was dictated by God just like he dictated the law to Moses and now we must obey it the way the Jews obeyed the Torah’, I don’t believe this exegesis. I believe it just the way Paul said it to Timothy. I also believe that the scriptures that are in our cannon are much more valuable than the ones that the church fathers saw fit to leave out but even those scriptures have good stuff in them. Notice that Paul did not mention that all scriptures are a good place to look for doctrine. That is because some of what people then considered scripture had some clearly wacked ideas. Paul was able to write what he did because despite the importance that Paul himself placed on proper theology the most important part of Christianity is still “teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”.

To explain a little better, because of context I believe that all four points are about sin. I suppose there are some who would read it as ‘teaching (about doctrine), for reproof (of bad doctrine), for correction (of bad doctrine again) and by the way as a side point training in righteousness also. I don’t read it that way.

If you have read this far thank you very much for the compliment. If you disagree with something that is fine. Tomorrow I’ll disagree with some of it too. Let’s agree to be friends though so that by our unity the world will know that The Father sent the Son.

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