What if it isn't true?

A few weeks ago, a student was asking me a lot of theological questions about the veracity of the Christian faith and the Bible. I attempted to distill a lot of theology into simple statements that non-theology people can understand with ease. Questions such as: Did the exodus actually happen? How can the stories in the Old Testament be true when so much evidence points against them happening? Aren't the stories mostly exaggerated? Do you really think Jesus is God, Divine or was he just a human?

This got me thinking about my belief in God and Jesus. I've made a startling discovery about myself-- even if none of it is true, Jesus will still be my Lord and my King! This was startling because it goes against my skeptical nature. I tend to look for solid facts and ideas that can be proven to some degree. Yet, I am discovering that I do not believe in Jesus because of the miracles he performed, or because of the virgin birth, or because he is omnipotent, omniscient, or omni-anything else. These things are all extras for me-- not that I don't believe in them because I do. But they are not the reason I believe in Jesus.

I believe in Jesus because of the way he lived. I believe in Jesus because of the reasons for which he was crucified. I believe that his way will change the world if we imitate it as well. I believe that what he did forever changed the world-- that much is obvious from history! For me, its about not serving Caesar or any other empire's emperor. For me its recognizing the anti-Christ that exists in our world systems and how its systems do not work. For me its recognizing my natural, selfish desires and realizing that those actions that proceed from it (ie. sin) are destroying my life and our whole world. And I believe and trust in Jesus-- his ways, his life, his death-- to provide resurrection. To provide new life for me. To provide new life for the world. To spawn a new creation.

In conclusion, a hypothetical example--
Student: Do you believe Jesus is God?
Me: Yes, I do.
Student: If Jesus was not God, would you believe in Christianity?
Me: Yes, I would.
Student: Why?
Me: I think the person of Jesus Christ is the only hope for my life and a world gone wrong.


Rev. Wright, Politics, and the Pulpit

I feel compelled to post about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Recently, I was in Chicago and heard him give two lectures in a seminary chapel. Both of these lectures were about racism and reconciliation. They were fantastic lectures and Rev. Wright was thoroughly generous and gracious. He even referenced the clips going around the news and YouTube-- this was before it became such huge media frenzy by the way. He was very clear that he regretted some of his comments in those sermons. However, he was very clear that we obviously have a gospel-sized problem here in this country and especially in the church. We are divided. Some of us are more privileged than others due to decades of unfair social and political policies. And the majority of Christians, especially those with the power, have often sat idly by and ignored these problems. Does not the gospel compel us to change our world? Does not the gospel compel us to affect the social and political landscape around us? Wright focused much of his first lecture on what is wrong in the church and the need for the prophetic function of the pastor to challenge this reality (using prophet the way it is most often used in scripture as one who calls out the people and exposes their sin-- not in the future-teller sense). and the second lecture was about the pastor as priest who must help bind up the wounds of those in pain and hurt (on all sides) in this political reality.

My friend Travis has posted his own ideas about Rev. Wright and politics in the pulpit. I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing. I hate it when pastors get on some political rant in the pulpit. Nevertheless, I find the gospel deeply political-- we declare Jesus as Lord rather than Caesar as Lord. Our citizenship is in heaven not in this earth. We are called to be transformed and to transform-- ourselves and our world. I definitely see my friend's point and agree in a lot of ways. But I also fear that many Christians think faith is a private matter that does not or should not have political and public ramifications.

What are your thoughts? Do politics and gospel go hand-in-hand? Or should politics be banned from the pulpit?

Hell Freezes Over As Earth Heats Up

I came across very two interesting headlines this week:

"Southern Baptists change their stance on global warming!"

"Vast Antarctic ice shelf on verge of collapse"

Immediately I thought, hell must have frozen over for the southern baptists to admit global warming. Ironic, the earth is heating up and hell is freezing over!


We Are Moving To Chicago!

I found out this past week that McCormick Theological Seminary will be giving me a $25,000 scholarship each year to attend their school (tuition is $11,000). I will be pursuing a joint MDiv/PhD between McCormick and University of Chicago. Sarah and I will be moving their this summer where she will be looking for a job in Marriage and Family Therapy. McCormick is in Hyde Park surrounded by University of Chicago.

I visited McCormick back in February to interview for the scholarship and had been anxiously (a very big understatement!) waiting to hear if I got the scholarship. This will allow me to truly focus on my studies and really dive into research. My two areas of focus are liturgical studies and Christian ethics/moral theology, especially in the intersection of the two.

I will also be pursuing ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA). It takes three years to get ordained in this denomination, and the PCUSA has the most difficult ordination requirements of any Protestant denomination in the world. This makes them a very educated crowd. Since I have been working at a PCUSA congregation during the past four years, I have come to have a deep respect for the wide-range of theological perspective, an inclusive set of social ideas from conservative to liberal, and wide-spectrum of worship elements from emergent to traditional to contemporary to Gregorian chants and Taize services. I even like the Book of Order-- the Presbyterian rules for how a congregation and the denomination should function!

I'm very excited to be pursuing ordination. With my attendance at McCormick, I am able to see a glimpse of how my life over the next five years is going to play out. That is very refreshing!


Pissing and Preaching

Check out this video of an independent Baptist KJV-Only Preacher (if you don't know what that is, you will definitely have an idea of what that can look like after watching this) "preaching" to his congregation.