Richard Beck Gets His Ass Kicked

Theoblogger Richard Beck has a beautiful post about his worship home, a small service called Freedom:

Another thing I like about Freedom: One of the church leaders and I have a running conversation (and he might have this conversation with more than just me). A few months ago he came up to me and asked, “Richard, do you know why we come to church?” “Why?” “So God can kick us in the ass.” Every week it’s a variation on that theme. “Richard, did God kick you in the ass today?”

I smile and say yes.

Read the rest: Experimental Theology: Freedom.

And if you haven’t yet read Richard’s book, Unclean, do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Update: Minnesota Governor Sides with the Lawyers (and Against Dads)

Minnesota Governor did the WRONG thing when he vetoed the Shared Custody Bill.

A while ago, I wrote about a bill making its way through the Minnesota legislature. At first, the bill was going to take the presumption of parenting in cases of divorce from 75%-25% to 45%-45%, with the remaining 10% to be worked out by the divorcing parties. Effectively, that means that dads would go from 25% to 45%.

In committee, the bill was gutted, merely raising the 25% that goes to dads to 35%, but it finally got out of committee, to the floors of the House and Senate, and passed both houses.

Yesterday, Governor Mark Dayton — a divorced father himself — sided with the divorce industry and vetoed the bill, defying the will of the people of the state and of our representatives. Yet he thought it wise to spend a bunch of his political capital embarrassingly cheerleading for public funds to build a billion-dollar Taj Mahal for the NFL.

In his explanation letter, he even admits to being swayed by lobbyists, rather than listening to the citizens of the state:

[Read more...]

An Evangelical Argues for Legal Same Sex Marriage

Out of Ur is the staunchly evangelical blog of the staunchly evangelical magazine Leadership, published by the staunchly evangelical Christianity Today International. Nevertheless, minority voices are sometimes heard there, and this is one of those times. Chad Hall prefaces his post by saying that he thinks homosexual practice is unbiblical and that he’s against same sex marriage. Yet, in an argument that resonates with my own ebook on the subject, he doesn’t think that evangelicals should fight the legalization of same sex marriage:

First, I see no biblical warrant for imposing our Christian standards for same-sex behavior on non-Christians. For the most part, our jurisdiction is within the church (where I see strong biblical mandate for not affirming homosexual practices, including cohabitation and marriage). When we see Muslim countries forcing non-Muslims (including Christians) to live according to strict Sharia law, we cringe. But we Christians are all-too-willing to force non-Christians to live according to our standards. In fact, there is history of us doing so, dating back to (but not before) Constantine.

Certainly there are times when Christians should seek to impose our Bible-based understanding of right and wrong on the society at large, but my reading of Scripture leads me to limit such attempts to issues of justice. We should strive to make the world a more just place, pushing for laws that protect victims of all kinds of injustice: abuse, slavery, trafficking, theft, rape, violence, oppression, and discrimination. We do this out of concern for the oppressed, a concern fueled by the indwelling Spirit of God. But even on issues of justice, a still more powerful witness than our efforts to pass justice-based laws are our efforts to eradicate injustice in our own communities. For instance, slavery in the United States would have ended centuries earlier if only Christians had promoted biblical justice among their own families and communities. Christians should strive to make the world a more just place, but passing laws that restrict whom sinners can marry does not make the world a more just place, and thus is none of our business.

Read the rest of his arguments: Out of Ur: Why Legalizing Gay Marriage May Be Good for the Church.

The Church Is Dripping with Culture

My response to Jason Clark’s review of my book is up at Church and Pomo:

If I may put a finer point on it, the question is this: Is there a normative (biblical?) ecclesiology that is timeless, to which every congregation must aspire? Or is ecclesiology necessarily shaped by the culture that inevitably envelops every congregation?

I unequivocally say no to the former and yes the latter.

I am most interested, as I wrote above, in theologies that are grounded. My criticism of Jürgen Moltmann is that he is too idealistic, too naïve—and he’s exponentially more grounded than Milbank, Hauerwas, and the other ecclesiologists on the scene today. To develop an ideal ecclesiology—an image of the perfect, eschatological church—doesn’t do anybody any good because it’s pure hypothesis. It merely establishes a aspiration of which every congregation in the real world will fall short.

Every congregation is dripping with culture. It comes into the sanctuary in the clothes that congregants wear, in the music they were listening to in their cars on the way to church, and on their phones as they check Facebook during the introit. A realistic ecclesiology will acknowledge culture; it will recognize that parishioners talk about their experience of the numinous using cultural idioms, not second-order theological discourse.

via Jones’ Response to Jason Clark : the church and postmodern culture.