Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Looking back to not only where I've been, but where we've been:

In a couple of previous posts, here, and  here, I've talked about the transitional phase of life and ministry that I'm in, right now.  Since I last posted on the subject, things, as they sometimes do with the passage of time, have cleared up a bit.  After March 15, I'll be a part-time associate pastor with a missionary component thrown in.  At least for now.  The church's commitment on this is only for the rest of year, and I'm entering a phase of life when very little, besides heaven, is long-term.  If you are really curious, you can find out more here.

Tomorrow and the following Sunday, 3/8/15, I decided I'd do some looking back at a couple of messages that have particularly motivated and given definition to my ministry--a couple of capsules of ecclesiastical autobiography.  For most of my life I have preached messages.  I have preached sermons about sermons--the Sermon on the Mount, for example.  Having preached in the same church for more than 40 years, there are plenty of times that I have preached the same message.  The first message I preached as Pastor of Covington Bible Church, I've probably preached 25 times (On March 15, I'm planning to use that one for my half of a tag-team sermon.  I'll start and Pastor Doug will finish.), but I don't remember preaching about one of my past sermons.  (We'll be posting the videos of the message at our Truthcasting site.  I'll try to remember and post the links in the comments on this blogpost.

As I said, the past message, as will tomorrow's message, have an autobiographical element to them.  I grew up spiritually in Fundamentalism.  I owe much to that heritage, but I am bothered that so many have taken an excellent heritage and squandered it.  They have forgotten what to be fundamental about.  They are the reason that I seldom use the title to describe myself.  I don't think I've changed all that much.  Much, maybe most, of the movement has.  You can listen to the message, when it is posted, to find out more, but below are a couple of good articles that help explain Fundamentalism and what has become.

  • The first article was published last summer by Biola University.
    The Fundamentals vs. 'fundamentalism'The Fundamentals publishing project is a part of the history of fundamentalism in America, to be sure, yet the two words are also different in important ways
    Note especially the last section on legacy.
  • The second is published by Wheaton College's Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals.  The article, titled simply "Fundamentalism" gives a brief history of the movement.
  • This third, very short, article, by Alvin Pantinga, is, using the standard of many Fundamentalists, vulgar.  He uses the term that technically means that one's mother is a canine several times and with several regional variations in his brief article. If you are going to be insulted or bothered by that don't click the link.   I include the article, with warning to stay away if you are likely to be offended, because it gives a clear picture of how most people outside the movement see it.  They regard "Fundamentalist" as a " term of abuse or disapprobation"--an insult.  Again I offer a warning.  Here is the link.
    Keep in mind though, that sometimes being insulted is a good thing.  I didn't tell you this was easy.
A while back in the midst of a health crisis I recited my heart-health heritage.  It is awful, full of people who died young and had major crises/surgeries even younger, but we don't have the privilege of picking our ancestors.  Since most of us were young and dumb when we started our Theological journey, we didn't have a lot of intelligent choice over that heritage either. What we do with our heritage is another matter.  I'm still working on that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A "Senior Religious Leader" Condemns the Murders in Chapel Hill.

I just read, on a friend's Facebook page, about the murder of three young adults in Chapel Hill, NC.
The killings have an obvious inflammatory twist.  The victims were Muslim.  The alleged perpetrator is an atheist who had made his anti-religion views known.
My friend had merely posted the first story with the comment "awful."  I absolutely agree.
Another comment-er said, "How sad. Three non-extremist Muslims killed by an extremist atheist. I wonder what his reasoning was."  Again I agree, but not because "three non-extremist Muslims were killed by an extremist atheist."
I started writing the following as a comment on my friend's Facebook wall, but then realized it was too much for that venue.  Even though my friends page has a bigger audience than this blog, I choose to write my comments here.

I agree this is a terrible act.  I do take exception to the comment, however, that implies that this act is sad because of the religious views of the victims, or the lack of religion, and extremism of the alleged perpetrator.  What is horribly sad is that three people--image-bearers of our Creator and therefore possessing lives of value beyond our ability to measure or express--were wrongfully killed.  The Sixth Commandment does not contain any commentary on the racial or religious make-up of the people under consideration.  People's lives are worthy of protection because they are people. Period!  Adding to the tragedy of what happened in Chapel Hill is that, apparently, another human being, who likewise bears God's image, has so distorted that image that he was willing to perform such a heinous act.
The second news story above indicates that the motivation for this killing my not have been religious at all, but, rather, a dispute over parking.  If that is the case, is this crime any less awful?  Not in the least.  We should be outraged because God's standard for human habitation on His earth has been violated, and because His image has been further marred.
The first story indicates that some folk interested in making a political/social justice statement out of a horrible tragedy are calling for "senior religious leaders" to condemn this act.  I'm sure I'm not who they have in mind, but I am a religious leader, and I am almost 65, so I qualify.


I condemn all unwarranted taking of human life.  I uphold the sanctity of human life without regard for racial, social, national, religious, or gender-related considerations.  The accused in this case should be given a fair trial.  The families and friends of the victims should be able to grieve the loss of their loved ones without political or media pressure.  Their community, including Christian neighbors and friends should reach out to them with comfort.  There should be no attempt to build a riot, demonstration, or petition-drive on the back of this crime.
Further, to stretch my already thin "religious leader" status even more, I wish to go on record as upholding the sanctity of all human life.  People's lives' have value because of the image of God that we bear.  That is true in Chapel Hill, Mosul, Afghanistan, and wherever the life of a fellow human being hangs in the balance.