Monthly Archives: November 2012

Church As Worship? Or Concert Hall Experience.

Presentational Technologies and the Cultural Mandate

In Genesis 1 and 2 we have what some theologians have called the “cultural mandate.”   God creates the world, calls it good and calls humans to be caretakers.  What this should indicate to us is that we are not saved FROM the world but FOR the world.  Going on the vast majority of theologians whom believe that technology is a part of this calling as caretaker we don’t need to justify technology.  We are called to develop and use technology as stewards of God’s creation.  This is contra those folk who think that Christians want to “rape” the land through governmental policies.  That is probably more of a by-product of an unChristian view of creation.  Admittedly, Christians in the past have bought into an inferior view of creation for selfish and greedy reasons but in the end, our vocation as Christians is BASED ON RESPONSIBILITY not exploitation.

If this is the case, then everything we do, we do it for the glory of the Creator.  Thus, as fun as new technology may be, there is even a wider purpose behind that PLAY.  For the longest time, I believed that God gave us “good things” for our pleasure.  I thought that we could simply enjoy those things whether we realized God gave them to us or not.  But I’m not sure I would agree with this anymore, especially as a Christian.  For one, it is hard to really enjoy ANYTHING AS A CHRISTIAN ON IT’S OWN MERIT.  It’s difficult for a Christian to say, “I’m suppose to enjoy this just because it is what it is, even though I ultimately enjoy it because of God.”  There is always the recognition of the divine.  So, play will serve a larger mission of “bringing delight and fostering goodness” but this is always viewed as being from the Creator.

Accordingly, the term ” shalom” would probably be the best way to understand technology.  It means more than keeping the Sabbath.  We could say that it means that we are to live in harmony with our Creator, with the creation and with each other.  It would indicate that we should live in obedience within God’s commands instead of our own selfish desires.  It would mean that we become vessels of grace and love.  Agents of peace and justice in the world.

Thus, the first question isn’t really about whether we use technologies (because we automatically do, ie., buildings, lighting, etc). Nor is the (second) question about the practical, what kinds of technology we should use or where to place projector screens for instance. The first question to be asked is, “How can we adapt our humanly devised technologies for the purpose of Shalom?”


My Thoughts About The Rachel Held Evans, Year Of Biblical Woman Thingy

Something I put up on facebook.

Anyone wanna have a go at the Rachel Held Evans, “Year of Biblical Woman” thingy? I’ll throw a few links up to start and then give my thoughts.

Roger Olson: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/10/thoughts-about-a-year-of-biblical-womanhood-by-rachel-held-evans/

Doug Wilson:
http://www.dougwils.com/Sex-and-Culture/bluestocking-feminism.html

Kathy Keller:
http://thegospelcoalition.org/book-reviews/review/a_year_of_biblical_womanhood

American Jesus:
http://theamericanjesus.net/?p=8245

Christian Piatt:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christianpiatt/2012/10/on-rachel-held-evans-and-why-vagina-gate-matters/

Peter Enns:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2012/10/a-review-of-a-year-of-biblical-womanhood-by-rachel-held-evans-or-hermeneutics-101/

and

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2012/10/a-year-of-biblical-womanhood-some-hopefully-constructive-thoughts-on-evanss-critics/

My thoughts: I read Peter Enns second blog and though he speaks favourably of Evans book, he says this with regard to evangelical subculture:

“So, as I said in my review from a couple of days ago, Evans is not bashing the Bible, as some continue to insist, but a dominant voice of an influential American Christian subculture that has used the Bible in destructive ways.”

“Evans is bashing a dominant voice of an influential American Christian subculture that has used the Bible in destructive ways?”

Now when you look at Piatts blog, obviously he is a progressive Christian, something Greg (Boyd) claims to be. So he’ll make statements like these:

“The subjugation of women to a lesser role than that of men is a time-honored endeavor in the faith, and unfortunately, it’s not one that is merely a relic of our past, pointing to a shameful inequity that has since been abandoned. Rather, many churches and denominations explicitly ban women from holding certain positions. Patriarchy, it seems (often argued based on a few select passages from Paul’s New Testament writing) is all part of God’s greater plan for humanity.”

 Let’s look at this for a second. Those whom Enns speaks about are the same one’s that Piatt speaks about. That is, the “destructive ways” that Enns speaks about are the “banning of women from holding certain positions by patriarchs.” For Evan’s, this comes with a picking and choosing steeped in a biblical literalism.

Now, Christians are not uniform on biblical hermeneutics in terms of there be a “universalizing of hermeneutical rules throughout the centuries” contra Keller. In other words, Christians are not agreed on the rules of biblical interpretation and thus that means there are no universal rules that all Christians abide by.

Of course, I don’t agree with Keller on this point, for the obvious reason that we have different branches of Christianity and different denominations that result from these hermeneutical differences. And this is where the hub-bub starts to get my goat about this whole controversy.

Sure, we should be aware of our hermeneutical principles but on what grounds does one say that those of another tradition are destructive because that tradition does not agree with their interpretation of scripture?

Now, I lean towards an egalitarian view myself but I don’t say that those, like the Roman Catholic Church are patriarchal (a dismissive term) or destructive especially given the fact that many women are not only in agreement with such understandings of but frankly don’t have much, if any problem with said complementarian views, ie., Fredrica Matthewes-Green, http://www.frederica.com/writings/womens-ordination.html

My problem with these progressive types is not that they have progressive views (some of which I adhere to) but that they attack other traditions and speak about them in terms of the Church in general. For example, Enns says,

“The core issue is that Evans’s conclusions undermine theological systems for which biblical inerrancy–which carries with it a strong tendency toward literalism, albeit on a spectrum–is the non-negotiable theological foundation.”

That’s the thing. Evan’s conclusions don’t apply only towards inerrantists but also to, as Piatt says, those “Christians throughout the centuries who make up the rules.” So this wouldn’t apply simply to fundamentalists but also to say, the Roman Catholic Church or Orthodox Churches.

But why would someone from one tradition care or worse seek to undermine another tradition’s theological system? Also, don’t all traditions pick and choose? Even the more reason not to undermine (if such is possible). But this goes to show that this REALLY is the issue and not simply hermeneutics.

I’m not trying to say that Evans is trying to undermine truth but I do think she is trying to undermine certain systems, especially as they go against supposed human rights.

The bottom line for me is how we work this out pluralistically. If we are to be aware of our own hermeneutical principles and traditions then we need to allow for those who we don’t agree with to live accordingly. If I’m not a part of the RC Church why should it matter to me or be my concern what they teach their congregants? I see this as no different than my concern about what the RC Church teaches about say, infant baptism or soteriology or the atonement, etc. The RC Church is not going away. Fundamentalists will probably always be with us (not all fundamentalists fit the stereotype, btw). Pentecostals/charismatics (the tradition that I’ve been apart of) will be with us. There will be things we’ll disagree over and if change needs to take place then there is a particular way to go about that without undermining that authority in the first place. If you find that you can’t agree with something? Then the nice thing about North America is that there’s always another church down the street you can go to. I know that sounds a little cavalier but it really isn’t if you look at Church like a grocery store. If one major chain said no one could buy food at their store if they ever shopped at another store, what kind of response do you think they would get?

As I see it, the church is like a Garden and God is the Gardner who tends to it. God will eventually take care of the weeds and the thorns.

As Bob Brow says elsewhere:

“With the obvious facts we also need the theological facts. God is not in a hurry as we are. The most Christian of men are very imperfect this side of heaven. There are many tares among the best of wheat. The growth of life both in nature and by the spirit is imperceptible, and what is to be is never seen. The end product is the City of God. Its design is perfect. It only awaits the people who are still being fashioned in this space-time world.”