August 28, 2004
I love looking at the lives of people who are barely mentioned in the Bible. I figure that if they were worth being mentioned in God's Word, they must have something to tell us. Some of them tell us something little. Some tell us something major. Things that SOME tell us are wildly misinterpreted. So I'm going to take a look at the lives of some of the "little guys (and gals)" in the Bible.
I'm going to start with Demas. Demas is mentioned three times in the New Testament:
Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
(Philemon 1:23-24 ESV)
Col 4:14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.
2Ti 4:10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
Demas starts out with Paul, and is present with Paul when he writes to Philemon from Rome during Paul's first imprisonment. He is also mentioned in the letter to the church at Colossi, which Paul also wrote during this first imprisonment. Just a few years later, Paul writes that Demas has forsaken him, having loved the world more.
What happened to Demas? The same thing that can happen to many of us. He started enjoying life too much, and was afraid to lose it. He saw Paul in jail again, and knew, as Paul did, that this time it would be different. Paul wasn't going to be released again. He was going to die.
Demas wanted to live. He may have even rationalized it by saying "I have so much more to do for God! There are so many people to win, so many places to go! I CAN'T die now!" Maybe he thought about his own self-importance. "If they kill Paul, who is going to spread the Gospel? I HAVE to stay alive, no matter what!" Maybe he was just afraid.
Whatever the reason, Demas didn't trust God. He didn't think that God would preserve the life of someone that was needed to fulfill His plan. He thought that God could be thwarted -- that His plan depended on something that He couldn't control.
We tend to think we're indispensible. "Boy, if I didn't do this, NOBODY would be doing it. At least, nobody that could do it as well as I can." If you have that attitude, start a blog. Then read other people's blogs. My blogroll is full of people who write better than I do, are better-informed than I am, are more involved than I am. Maybe even some that are better-looking than I am (but since I haven't put up a picture yet, most of you don't know. Matt, keep quiet). God's plan doesn't hinge on me. By His grace, and for His glory, I can be a part of His plan, but if I don't do the job, He'll find someone else to do it. His will WILL be done.
Demas was a part of what God was doing. He could have been a bigger part, but he loved his own life more than he loved the things of God. And now, for eternity, his name is associated with abandoning principles. When things got really tough for Paul, and he needed friends, Demas bailed, too concerned with his own life. The church is full of people just like Demas -- we need fewer.
August 25, 2004
Then I found this (thanks to Dave from Jollyblogger). Someone is actually DOING Open Source Theology.
I've taken some time to read a bit of the site. Maybe I'm just an old fuddy-duddy (at 36? Maybe), but I have a few ... concerns. Quotes are taken from the 'Rules of Engagement' page.
"Biblical and theological scholarship will have to subordinate itself to the missiological imperative. " In other words, study and Truth will have to take a back seat to getting people to agree with us. It doesn't matter so much that Christ was born of a virgin, for example, if that belief keeps someone from believing in Christ. We're not concerned with doctrine -- we just want conversions. Never mind the fact that Christ commanded us to "make disciples" -- that turns post-modern people off, apparently.
"I think there is a consensus that in the most general terms the theology represented on this site must take very seriously both God, as Father, Son and Spirit, and scripture as the record of the story of the people of God." This one shows up in a response to a comment, and I have no problem until that last phrase. "Scripture as the record of the story of the people of God." Scripture is God's revelation to Man, not simply a story about God's followers. Without a basis of Scripture as Truth, how can we really know anything about God? in fact, how can you have a God as Son if you don't have Scripture as divine revelation? I think this is aproblem with the system that could be very troublesome down the road.
There seems to be a general aversion to systematic theology. I like systematic theology, though I really enjoy studying historical theology. It seems to me that a systematic theology is a consistant theology, one that recognizes the inter-relations between various ideas. Our idea of what God is, for example, is going to influence our idea of what Man is, what and who Christ is, what the Church should be, etc. Our understanding of Christ will influence our ideas about salvation and the Church. Each discipline cannot exist in a vacuum; it must be consistant with other areas of our theology, or our ideas do not stand.
I'm going to keep an eye on this site. The idea of a group of people getting together to hash out theological principles seems like a good idea, but the road is full of potholes.
August 21, 2004
I think that one of the major problems with the Church is our Open Source Theology. Open-source software is, for those who aren't familiar with it, software that encourages people to write changes or additions to it that make it more functional for users. We're doing the same thing with theology. We're trying to make it "work" for everyone, and rather than letting God's Word speak to hearts, we're changing things, making things easier.
Have a problem with repenting from sin? No biggie -- here's the "Easy Believism 1.0 Patch". Now you can have a "great relationship with Jesus" without all that "Go, and sin no more" stuff.
You want to learn all about Jesus, and have that be enough? No problem -- the "Sandemanian Patch" will give you an intellectual faith without all that nasty faith stuff.
Here's our newest patch: "Open Theism .95". It's still in beta testing right now, but it's based on some really old patches. It lets you believe in a God that really depends on YOU to chart the course of the future. Now THAT makes you feel important, doesn't it? Go is waiting for YOU to act before HE can know what's going to happen!! WOW! What a neat patch!
I'd say that Theology should be licensed software. There have been some updates from the Manufacturer (like the Trinity 1.0 update) that clarified some things in the software. There have been some patches (Reformation 1.5) that were designed to completely update the system (even though many people didn't upgrade at that time). Other people have written "patches" for the software, but they AREN'T licenced by the Manufacturer, and their use can corrupt your whole Theology system. You should ALWAYS try to check the certificate on any Theology-based download that you encounter, and make sure that it is a licenced, authorized upgrade from the Manufacturer.
August 12, 2004
So this weekend, while I'm on the road, I'm going to take a look at it. I'm planning on commenting Tuesday or Wednesday.
So why am I telling you this? Good question. I missed the boat in April, so I'm figuring that someone else has blogged about this survey. If anyone knows of a blog source I can refer to, let me know in the comments. I'm also letting you know so you can take a look at the conclusions that PBS came to. You'll be surprised to learn that evangelicals don't all go to mega-churches, don't consider Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson to be their leaders, and that white evangelicals often differn in their responses from evangelicals of other ethnic backgrounds. Ok, so maybe you won't be surprised by that -- I sure wasn't. From reading the article, it seems that PBS was a bit surprised by all that. Maybe they should have been paying attention to us all these years, rather than looking down their noses at those quaint little peope who actually believe all that God stuff.
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