Many of the questions that are polarizing our culture today are anchored in the old question of what it means to be human. Continue reading Pastoral Letter Extended 4: What are we?
To High Point Church in light of current events:
The majority of the New Testament books are pastoral letters written from a pastoral leader to a particular local church or churches with the intent of guiding them in how to think, feel and behave in reference to particular events of their day. While we normally teach from those letters, there is within the Church an important tradition of pastors from every generation following in that model of pastoral letters and speaking directly to their congregations in significant moments relevant to modern Christian life. As a pastor, I consider it my duty to help us reflect Christianly on the moment in which we live.
My letter this week is mainly in reference to the US Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, though it is also relevant more generally to other recent events. This letter revisits much of my sermon from Sunday, June 28th. To hear that message, follow this link.
I was an education major in my undergrad, and in my educational theory class I was taught three basic theories about human beings.
The first theory is drawn from the Puritans way back in the 1600s who thought that people are basically bad. This was supposedly called the “Old Deluder Satan” theory. Apparently it was taken from a 1642 law that referred to Satan this way. What I wasn’t told, however, was that the purpose of this law was to legislate public education (every town with 50 families had to hire a teacher, and every town with 100 families had to establish a grammar school).
How do we preach in the church when we know we exist as a minority culture?
There was a time when this wasn’t a question, a time not all that long ago. But the truth is that this is not the culture in which we, the American church, live. Some lip service is paid to religion. A majority of the population still self-identifies as Christian. Church attendance is still high relative to other places in the “Christian” West. But the culture-forming and worldview-forming mechanisms of culture are not merely neutral toward Christian beliefs, but are decidedly unfriendly toward them.
Are we responsible to people or for people?
I got an email a couple weeks ago talking about how we can’t be responsible FOR people- only TO people. The point was that we can’t make people do things. We can only serve them, help them do what’s best for themselves, and give them opportunities to do what God wants from and for them.
I agree. We shouldn’t be enablers.
Yet, I also disagree. Dare we ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” as Cain did? If we are going to say we are not responsible for people, we better clarify our distinction between the KINDS of being responsible for people.
Some kind of worship can be found in the archaeological history of virtually all cultures. People have always been religious and have always believed that the gods demanded something of them. Some believed they demanded human sacrifice. Some believed they required food. Some believed they required elaborate and ecstatic rituals. Some believed they required esteem and reputation. We now consider this a primitive notion, foolish and ignorant. But if Christians accept that the ancient barbaric view of worship was more insightful than today’s snide rejection, we can see how big a job it was for God to enlighten us through the progressive revelation of Scripture, especially in the special Revelation of himself in the God-man Jesus Christ.