Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Folk thinking about what is going on in New York:

I haven't forgotten about the Fundamentalist - Evangelical article. I'm letting it digest a bit & will get back to it.
Meanwhile, on my other blog, Something to Think About (See sidebar), I recently posted something about the controversy over the Mosque near ground zero. Since I also send STTA to a mailing list I received some replies.
Below for your convenience, I have copied the original post. After I have cut-and-pasted some of the thoughts I received. Good stuff. It would appear that folk are doing what I always hope they will do with STTA--think about it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This could get me in trouble, but think about it:
At this point I can't imagine that anyone in the whole country is unaware of plans to build an Islamic-Center/Mosque at a site so close to where the twin towers were destroyed on 9/11 that the building currently on the site is damaged from the landing-gear of one of the planes. Various polls indicate that most Americans are opposed to it being built there. If Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf calls me and asks my advice, I'd encourage him to build the center elsewhere. (If you are reading this Feisal, my number is in the book.) However . . .Whether our nation is a "Christian" nation or not, from a historical perspective is a subject of sharp debate. Based on influence that the Bible and Christian thought have had on our culture and institutions, it seems to me that in that sense we are. We need to be aware, though, that our Founding Fathers clearly, and purposefully chose not to create a government that supported a particular religion over others. I doubt that their thinking went much beyond a consideration of the spectrum of Christendom, and perhaps Judaism, but the laws they left us, confirmed by two-and-a-quarter centuries of practice clearly extend freedom of conscience even to those whose faith is radically different than the majority view. One of the wonderful freedoms we enjoy in these United States is that minorities are protected by law. As long as the few are exercising their rights lawfully, the majority cannot deprive them of that freedom.In recent years many communities have become opposed to churches being built in their "back-yards." Objections range from traffic congestion, to noise, to loss of tax revenue. I wonder if there are other reasons that lurk below the surface. I'll not step in the same mud-hole as our President, but I do think we have to be careful how we frame our argument. Some of the rhetoric being used to discourage the building of the Cordoba Center in Lower Manhattan could be, with little change, used to oppose my grandmother's church from building a new Worship-Center on the south side of Hometown USA.Let's just make sure that we speak in favor freedoms that we might need.It's STTA.


One respondent corrected some information: "Its not a mosque though, nor is it called the Cordoba center any longer. Its just called I think Park 51." I'll not take the time to sort out what is the current working name, etc. The respondent did go on to say that the Islamic Center would include a "prayer space." I'm not sure what the distinction, if any, between that and a mosque would be. I'll leave that to others.
The same respondent: "It was supposed to promote tolerance and inclusion of multiple faiths, but so much for that now.Some folks brought dogs to protest the morning prayers at a prayer space a few blocks away from the proposed Park 51.. classy.Ballot initiatives and movements are growing to make new mosques illegal. (I should note that similar things have just occurred in France and Denmark)
Its pretty ugly up here about it.. really embarrassing stuff. Its mainly related to the election cycle. . . . shameful."

Several respondents agreed with my sentiments--it shouldn't be built there, but it is legal for them to do so. One said, "I really hope it doesn't go up."

Interesting comparison: "Should the Japanese build a monument to their victory at Pearl Harbor AT Pearl Harbor? Probably not."

One reply recommended that if they do build it, the best response would be to ignore it. Don't let them control how we feel. "So many choose to offend. So many choose to be offended."

As I expected some readers had another view:
"You must not listen to talk radio, or you'd know there's a whole lot more to this issue than meets the eye, rendering your position way off the mark." (For the record, I had been on the road & listened to 3 radio talk-shows on the subject. It was partly what encouraged me to write.)
After referring to the similarity between interpreting scripture and the US Constitution an old friend said, "The intent of the authors has long been set aside by both conservatives and liberals, making the verbiage of the constitution fair game for most any agenda. And so the argument goes . . . until Christ returns.The building of a mosque is not a religious matter with Islam. It is an act of aggression by an enemy of the state. To apply religious freedom concepts to it is to use the wrong constitutional sections in a very unwise and improper manner." [emphasis added]

Finally, one reader offered some thoughts on even-handedness and government neutrality:
" I am concerned that the Orthodox church that was destroyed is about ready to give up fighting with the Port Authority on rules and regulations that are keeping them from building. Will the mosque encounter the same rigid standard? I thought government was to be separated from the church? If so, why is the government giving the impression they are pushing this matter forward and paying for some of the groundwork?"
This concern is bolstered by the fact that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is currently on a good-will tour as a representative of the United States.

Think on, pray much. The answer is not in a hole in New York, but on a hill in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Both Embrace and Reject Fundamentalism:

Several years ago a Bible College instructor whom I greatly respect came up to me after I had been privileged to preach in chapel at the conservative, I think in the good sense of the word, Fundamental, Bible College where he teaches, and observed, "You are on a crusade, aren't you?"
I was glad he noticed. I'm not sure if he intended his comments as I took them, but I was encouraged. Perhaps I am the ecclesiastical version of Don Quixote, tilting at windmills hung from steeples, but I do continue on, lance in hand.
As far as I understand what it means to be one in the historic sense, I am a Fundamentalist. As far as how Fundamentalism has come to be defined at this point in history, I utterly reject the label. Too many Fundamentalists became too committed to too many principles, convictions, and conclusions that weren't fundamental at all. They allowed--in some cases caused--themselves to be defined by what music they didn't use, what Bible translations they rejected, which well known Evangelicals they separated from, etc., etc. They made silly distinctions, such as separating from Theologically solid people who failed to do due diligence to some Fundamentalist sacred-cow, while continuing to tolerate--in too many cases even embracing--those who hold to heresies like King-James-Only-ism. No wonder many young people who grew up watching these contradictions rejected the whole business.
When I've had the opportunity--they are few, and my circle of influence is small--I have challenged this drift in our movement. Thus my friend's observation: It may be a tempest in a Theological teapot, but I am crusading when I have opportunity.

Recently I came across an article by Dr. Kevin Bauder, President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis. Bauder appears to be a Fundamentalist with solid credentials, yet in his article, "Let's Get Clear On This," he chides his colleagues for some of their foolish distinctions and lack of sound thinking. I highly encourage you to read the article and then the follow-up articles, The follow-up articles are listed in reverse order. As of today there are eleven. You need to scroll to page two in order to find the first one, "Now, About Those Differences, Part 1 - Why This Discussion?"

The whole set of articles is well worth the time it will take to read them. I'm so impressed, I'll be taking time to read them again. I hope to post some comments on this blog. I welcome yours.