April 28, 2008

Jeremiah Wright

I've held off on this topic just because I was enjoying watching the religious Left squirm a bit. It's nice to see them having to deal with their own Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell figure, though I've been a bit disappointed that Wright's "America deserved 9/11" remarks seem to have engendered less outrage than either Robertson's or Falwell's. Guess there's still a double standard concerning outrage on the left.

I actually tend to agree with Mike Huckabee on the whole Wright controversy; any preacher can sound stupid/intolerant/whatever if you grab sound bites out of a 30+ minute sermon. On April 20, you could have gotten quite a sound bite from my own Sunday morning sermon -- "Those people are going to hell. They're getting what they deserve. Who cares?" THAT would have gotten me some press. Of course, the rest of the sermon was all about who cares, and as it turns out there are a lot of people who care, but the sound bite makes me sound like a Westboro Baptist member. So I think it's wrong (at best) to try to determine someone's theology based on snippets of sermon, and I think that's why Huckabee didn't release transcripts of his own sermons to the press.

That said, there was one remark that Wright made this morning that concerned me. He used John 10:16 to respond to John 14:6.
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April 26, 2008

The John 3:16 Conference

This November at FBC Woodstock (a huge, iconic church in the SBC, and very influential nationally), they're having the John 3:16 Conference - a non-Calvinist's response to the Building Bridges Conference. I'm not going to criticize FBC Woodstock, or Jerry Vines Ministries -- I've been blessed by the ministries of both, and know people whose lives were changed by both. I want to look at both these conferences, though. There are some telltale differences between the two, and I think it's important to note them.

One of the things I noticed about the Building Bridges conference is that the speakers represented a broad range of opinions, and not all of them were Calvinists or favorable to Calvinism. Non-Calvinists presented on reasons that they were concerned with the increase in Calvinism in the SBC; Calvinists presented on why they thought that was a good thing. Theology was discussed, alternate viewpoints were presented, and a healthy debate was encouraged. Above all, cooperation was emphasized -- the last two sessions were on "Working Together To Make Christ Known." AND each session is available (for free) on the internet, to encourage the discussion to continue.

The John 3:16 Conference looks to be a fisking of the five points of Calvinism. I don't see any Calvinists listed as speakers, just the assertion that "This conference is not going to be a "Let's bash the Calvinists" conference. This conference is going to be a biblical and theological assessment of and response to 5-point Calvinism." It appears pretty one-sided in it's scope. And "There will be no live or archived audio or video of this conference via the Internet."

That is disappointing. It shows me that discussion and debate is not going to be encouraged in this conference - it's going to be a lot of "Here's what we say, you'd better learn it and learn to repeat it, because we're smarter than you are." It reminds me of the problems with the Ascol-White/Caner debate that was scheduled last year, that fell through at the very last minute.

People on both sides of the debate were encouraged by the Patterson/Mohler discussion at the Pastor's Conference at the SBC in Greensboro. There was potential there that both sides could learn to work together, and stop vilifying and misrepresenting each other. It looks to me like the John 3:16 Conference represents a giant step backwards.

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April 25, 2008

Quote Of The Day

"If your blog regularly makes you enemies, that doesn't necessarily mean you're being persecuted for Jesus. It may just mean you're a jerk."

From a guest post from Abraham Piper, posting at Between Two Worlds. The rest of the post is great as well, but this line really stood out for me.

I may have to Tweet it ... ;-) {edit} Nope -- too long. Twitter has taken us from the 30 second soundbite to the 140 character soundbite.

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New Jesus Book

There's a new "Historical" Jesus book coming out next year (probably just in time for Easter '09) written by Paul Verhoeven -- they guy who directed "Basic Instinct" and "RoboCop." Don't let those stellar credentials fool you, though -- Verhoeven is also a member in good standing of that cabal of uber-scholars known as The Jesus Seminar.

As you can probably figure out, Verhoeven's book is far from orthodox.

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April 24, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name ...

Is the term "podcasting" dead?

I'm not asking is podcasting itself dead -- I know it's not. I produce two, and would do more if I had the time. I listen to a ton of them. Podcasting News just reported that podcast ads are 7 times as effective as TV ads. More people are listening than ever before.

I'm talking about the name. Is it finally time to retire the use of the word "podcast?"

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April 22, 2008

Spread the word

This needs to be spread all over the Internet.

I don't care what your perspective on global warming is; it's wrong to misrepresent the truth to make your case about anything. And it's incredibly dishonest to misrepresent the statements and opinions of practicing scientists to bolster your arguments - I don't care what you're arguing.

Wikipedia is potentially a great resource, but it's things like this that make teachers (and academics in general) frown on it's use as a resource. Wikipedia needs to clean up it's act, and crack down on activist editors of all political and philosophical stripes.

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April 13, 2008

Community As A Commodity: Selling a Twitter Account

The tech end of the blogosphere is abuzz. Andrew Baron, the founder of Rocketboom and all-around new media guy, is selling off his Twitter account, including all his followers (right now, 1,509 -- up from 1,397 when he posted the auction).

This presents us with a question, and it's a question that will probably be asked a lot as the whole idea of Web 2.0 and new media starts to mature. What is the value of a community? Is the community you build up a commodity that you can sell (and buy)? Or is it an asset that is connected with you that you can take with you? Baron is betting that people are going to think the former, even though he may or may not believe it himself. As he says at the eBay auction, "... as with any dynamic group, there is obviously risk. My followers could jump ship at anytime. There is no guarantee on this part. People will come and go, thats just the way it is."
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April 09, 2008

My Twitter Addiction

Hello. My name is Warren, and I am a Twitterholic. And no, you won't see my name on that list. Yet.

What's Twitter? Twitter started as a way to keep track of people. In 140 characters, you tell people what you're doing, right then. You can Twitter from a desktop or a cell phone, and people who follow you get all your Tweets delivered to them.

It's become something more than that, though. Through strategic following, you can keep on the cutting edge of what's happening in technology in general, and in new media in particular. You can carry on conversations with people who you would never be able to in "real life" (a few weeks ago, I talked popsicle sticks with Michael Geoghegan). But more importantly, you can find out what's going on in whatever you're interested in.

Twitter right now seems focused on tech issues. But we're not just talking nuts and bolts here -- you can learn as much about how people are using technology as you can about the hardware and software that they're using. Scott Sigler, J.C. Hutchins, and other novelists talk about how they're using new media to promote their books. Must be working -- Sigler's novel Infection debuted at #1 in Horror at Amazon.com. Any podcaster worth their salt is on Twitter, interacting with their fans and getting tips from folks like Geoghegan and Paul Colligan, whose post on his own Twitter habits inspired this one. And you can get good advice from people with all kinds of skills and backgrounds, if you just take the time to ask and listen.

There are some people who don't use Twitter well. There are a lot of people who have thousands of followers but only actually follow a handful, and that defeats the purpose. At least it seems like it to me. I follow almost everyone who follows me (the exception being a couple of obvious spammers). And there are people who wouldn't find Twitter useful; the main conversation seems to be Web 2.0 related, so if you're not doing that, your Twittering may seem a bit dull.

But I'm totally into the whole idea of new media. There's lots of promise in it, and there are a lot of people who are doing things with it that can only be described as groundbreaking. And those people talk about what they're doing on Twitter. They give advice on Twitter. They give support on Twitter.

And that's why I'm on Twitter. And in just a few moments, a link to this post will be there, too.

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April 07, 2008

Spring Cleaning

I'm taking some time to clean up the blog, especially the sidebars. I'm going to add some social networking links to the sidebars (Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Twitter, etc.), and get rid of a few buttons (the SBC Bloggers thing is pretty irrelevant now, for example). I'm thinking about a redesign, which may happen this week, but I have to learn a bit about how some things work in Moveable Type. I may be eliminating some categories, combining some into a new category, or something like that. I've had this template ever since I moved to mu.nu, and it's time for a change.

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April 02, 2008

Two Posts that Answer Each Other

Over at Reclaiming The Mind Ministries' blog, Parchment and Pen, a reader has sent an email with a problem. Essentially, his pastor, who is an intelligent man, thinks that theologians are out of touch and irrelevant to ministry.

He equally shows disdain for Theologians and gets quite angry at terms like Calvinism, Arminianism, Vicarious Substitutionary Atonement, or anything other theology term. His feeling is that theologians are out of touch, have no ability to relate the concepts to people, and theologians in general treat the laity as simpletons.

Now, that's a problem. A big one, because theology is important for pastors to understand and be able to relate to their congregations.

But earlier today, I read a post that solves the problem -- even though it was written before the Pen and Parchment post! JT at Between Two Worlds mentions a post by Owen Strachan talking about theologian-pastors and pastor-theologians.

Just as we need "theologian-pastors" (by which I'm referring to theologically astute pastors), so also are we in great need of "pastor-theologians" (by which I'm referring to academic scholars who bring pastoral concerns to bear on their work). There is a gigantic need for exegetes, historians, theologians, systematicians, and philosophers who see their work as done, generally speaking, in service of the church. . . .

These scholars do not study, publish, and teach to pursue their own eccentric interests and doctrines, but to assist Christians in the task of understanding the Bible and its teachings as they apply to life and ministry.

This hits home for me. I love the academic aspects of seminary. I love the study, the writing, etc. But it's important to put this stuff into practice. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and effort.

I've always used the analogy of the sponge. There comes a point where the sponge becomes saturated -- can't hold any more liquid. Unless you wring the sponge out, it's worthless. Likewise, when we learn things, that knowledge is worthless unless we use it to help others grow closer to God. Academic research has it's role; it's not an end unto itself, but a means to an end. That end is to glorify God and edify His church.

Sounds like the pastor mentioned above ran into some theologians who forgot that, or never believed it to begin with. And that's the problem. The solution is a recovery of the role of theology in ministry, and a recovery of the role of the theologian in the Church.

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Somebody Gets It

It's always heartening when I read something written by someone that reflects something that I've been saying for a long time. this LA Times opinion piece does just that.

Darwin fish annoy me as nothing else does. Maybe because I understand why the fish became a Christian symbol, and remember that people died because the believed. Or maybe because, as Jonah Goldberg says, Christians are an easy target for intolerance like this.

I find Darwin fish offensive. First, there's the smugness. The undeniable message: Those Jesus fish people are less evolved, less sophisticated than we Darwin fishers.

The hypocrisy is even more glaring. Darwin fish are often stuck next to bumper stickers promoting tolerance or admonishing random motorists that "hate is not a family value." But the whole point of the Darwin fish is intolerance; similar mockery of a cherished symbol would rightly be condemned as bigoted if aimed at blacks or women or, yes, Muslims.

Christians aren't rioting in the streets over Darwin fish. There are no official pronouncements decrying this co-opting of an ancient religious symbol. No drivers displaying Darwin fish have been targeted for elimination.

But the most annoying aspect of the Darwin fish is the false bravado it represents. It's a courageous pose without consequence. Like so much other Christian-baiting in American popular culture, sporting your Darwin fish is a way to speak truth to power on the cheap.

Darwin fish folks are trying to show the world their opposition to the "oppression" of organized religion. How about trading in that tired old Darwin fish for something hitting Islam? Oh, yeah -- Muslims will kill you for that.

Wimp.

Christians have died for millennia for daring to speak out against people who could kill them. We've practiced our faith in places where even owning a Bible meant death. We have the courage of our convictions -- well, at least most of us do (that's a post for another day, I think). If you really believe what you think is true, put your money where your faith is.

People of faith do it every day, all over the world. Atheists haven't yet. Guess that says something about conviction, doesn't it?

Yes, I'm in a foul mood. Inconsistency bothers me, no matter where it comes from. I have a lot more respect for an atheist who consistently lives by his convictions than a Christian that doesn't. Unfortunately, I find very few of the former, and a whole lot of the latter.

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