Recently PBS published a story called Colorado Springs Evangelicals. The new head of Focus on the Family is interviewed in depth. His goal? To engage the culture without becoming “wrapped around the axle of politics.” He is so right about this! The bottom of the bottom line is simply this: politics and religion don’t mix. Look, you are I are called to follow Jesus and advance His kingdom, which is “not of this world.” It’s also important to remember that the earliest Christians loved and supported their communities. They did not look down on lost sinners. It’s a beautiful thing when you begin to hear people at Focus on the Family admit that it was a mistake to become cultural warriors. The truth is that our activism has been a loud gong that has drowned out quiet voices, so that the culture has lost interest in anything we have to say. The people who have changed the world have always been risk-takers who climbed down through torn up roofs while the rest of the world slammed doors. I was a stranger at first to this kind of thinking, but my reading of the Gospels completely changed all that. (See my The Jesus Paradigm.) I don’t believe that God needs an advocate in DC or a faith-based organization to promote His kingdom. So I urge us all to be careful who we pledge allegiance to. Let’s be careful to raise the banner of the cross high above all other flags. So watch (or read) this interview. It should make us all uncomfortable. But the more you read the Gospels, the more your comfortable life will be interrupted.
Saturday, February 23
8:46 AM Hey there folks!
This morning I read a very interesting book review over at the Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary blog. The reviewer was Bob McCabe, and the book was Peter Enns’ commentary on Ecclesiastes. Bob extols the book because it succeeds, in his opinion, in doing what every good commentary should do — bridge the gap between exegesis and theology. But is that the only gap we must bridge today? I noted that the heading at the DBTS site is “Theologically Driven.” Is that what drives us or should drive us? Continue reading Sidetracked from Our First Love
5:46 PM Good Wednesday evening to you, thoughtful bloggers! I’ve been preparing for my course on hermeneutics at Odessa Theological Seminary next month in Ukraine. For what it’s worth, I’ve been jotting down some initial thoughts about hermeneutics. I’m calling them “Tentative Tenets of a Course in Hermeneutics.” I want to be clear that I’m exploring this train of thought. Here goes:
1) In studying hermeneutics, the emphasis must always be on “praxis” as opposed to mere abstract thinking. We need to “do” theology and not just teach it.
2) This means that theology must be incarnational, must be brought down to earth, must always be oriented to the pastoral needs of the church.
3) In my view, missions and theology belong together. As Paul says in Rom. 12:1, we must present our “bodies” to God as living sacrifices because deeds can be done only through bodies. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, His heart and mouth.>
4) Thus hermeneutics — the science of interpreting Holy Scripture — is an eminently practical discipline. The Bible itself stresses the importance of practicing the truth. The apostle Paul places an extraordinarily high value on deeds (see Eph. 2:10).
5) That said, hermeneutics, as I understand the task, is a high-risk enterprise. We study so that we may love and obey Christ. And He promises us trouble.
6) In short, hermeneutics is from beginning to end a way of life. Great theology must always produce relevant Christianity. Once this is recognized, we can begin to separate ourselves from the dark seductiveness of modern-day Gnosticism. At the heart of hermeneutics lie sacrifice and service, endurance and suffering, and above all fidelity to the Great Commission and a rejection of any lesser cause.
Anyone taking my class in Odessa will be faced with these questions. These are monumental issues. I trust that my students will leave the class championing the inextricable link between theology and spirituality, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, knowing the truth and practicing it. We need to rediscover the fact that hermeneutics does not mean merely the study of Scripture but rather the relational activity of trusting, living, obeying, serving, and glorifying God, through death if necessary. Knowing Scripture, in other words, involves obedience. It is the chief function of hermeneutics to unleash the power of the Lord in the midst of His people so that we do His will and thus bring glory to His name.
Friends, we need constant vigilance against substituting knowledge for action. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep My commandments.” To live this way is to revolt against everything in our lives that is inconsistent with the reign of God. To honor the King rightly, we must never forget this.
Long live the King!
9:35 AM Working on a “missions strategy”? I’ve got a few practical suggestions:
1) Rely solely on the Holy Spirit. Not your missions textbook or the latest fad in missiology. The early church had a secret for its success: It was Spirit-filled and Spirit-led. They were guided by God.
2) Be flexible. The Holy Spirit will affirm some of our ideas and reject others. Sometimes He works despite our plans. But be careful not to devise your strategy and then ask God to bless it. Instead, let’s ask God for the strategy.
3) Beware of busyness. Religious activity is not the same as spirituality. The church at Ephesus is proof of that (Eph. 2:1-7). Spend time with God. Seek His face. Rest in His sovereignty. Simply signing up more Ephesians to do more works without their first love will only lead to disaster.
4) Finally, ignore numbers. Our Lord never trusted the multitudes. He spent most of His time not with the crowds but with a few disciples. Don’t try to attempt with a host what can be done with a handful of committed Christians. Gideon’s 32,000 need to be whittled down to 300 patterned after Christ.
Friend, the Lord alone can guide our missionary efforts. If we work independently of Him we will fail every time. Frustration will kill us if we try to do it on our own.