This is one of the best short descriptions of Wesleyan theology that I’ve seen. Dr. Witherington III makes the connections between love, grace, and changed lives. A connection that Calvinistic theologies fail to make. I’ve always viewed Wesleyan theology as optimistic and joyful, and Calvinistic theologies as pessimistic and dour. Watch and enjoy!
I ran across this blog post from last year while I was doing some research: Top 10 Reasons Why Men Shouldn’t Be Ordained.
Some of the commenters are funnier than the list, especially the “you should read your Bible and repent” types. But I’m just a woman, what do I know?
Once again I note Christian media outlets, rightest political outlets, and a few Christian friends lamenting that some stores, groups, companies, etc., say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. They think this profanes the Christian celebration and shows a decline in moral values in the United States. Personally, I don’t think it demonstrates anything other than a generally jolly secular approach to a season filled with a number of different cultural and religious celebrations. Some of the better known traditions, in addition to Christmas, include Hanukkah, al-Hiijah, and Kwanzaa. Some lesser known observances include the Zen Buddhist celebration of the Buddha’s enlightenment (Rohatsu) and several different Baha’i feasts and observances. I won’t even get into all the ancient pagan observances that occur at this time of year.
As an Anglican Christian, I follow the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian church. That means that today was the first Sunday of Advent. There are three more Sundays in Advent and then I will celebrate Christmas. There will be 12 days of Christmas and then I will observe Epiphany on January 6. And the church year will continue on to Lent and Easter and Pentecost and right back around to Advent and Christmas. (Read more about the church year at CRI/Voice)
Christmas is a distinctive Christian celebration. You would not know this in the U.S. in the year 2009–not because people greet each other with Happy Holidays while they’re out shopping, but because Christians themselves have replaced shopping for a time of reflection and penance in anticipation of celebrating their Savior’s birth.
I do not care if some retail store says Merry Christmas or Happy Kwanzaa or Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukkah. They are, by their very nature, institutions who serve all customers, regardless of religious affiliation. Why would I expect them to cater only to the Christian and ignore all the others? They are incorporated to do business by a government that guarantees the religious liberty of all who live here, not just Christians. So, it puzzles me that Christians care what a secular institution says or does not say in reference to a religious celebration.
Perhaps Christians would better represent their faith by distancing themselves from the commercialization of the season. Christians, en masse, living out the joy and the hope of the season would say more than a million Merry Christmases from some retailer.
but I can’t help but blog about it.
I encountered a woman recently whose (adult, unmarried) daughter is pregnant (by accident) with her third child. The daughter has a long history of poor life choices, including obviously her choice in men. The daughter also lives with the mother and the mother takes care of the other two kids while the daughter works and (apparently) makes more bad life choices. I feel for her. This is a difficult thing for a senior citizen who would probably like to be doing other things with her life than constantly mopping up the messes made by her daughter. I offered my sympathy and prayers and suggested perhaps her daughter would benefit from counseling. It’s obvious she has some deep seated issues that need to be dealt with before she can take responsibility for her life and her actions.
The response was all too typical of “Bible-believing” Christians. She is suspicious of counselors and their “psychological mumbo-jumbo.” She believes the pastors at her church who have known the daughter her whole life are best suited to the task. Of course, the question that lingers in my mind is if they’re best suited why didn’t they help after child #1 or child #2? What’s so different now? Pastors are excellent confidants and counselors for people going through trying times. They are not (unless they’ve had the training) excellent at helping people deal with emotional and psychological problems. Do a little Googling and you’ll find cases where pastors have been sued after giving inappropriate and uninformed advice to people who need more mental help than pastors are equipped to give. Pastors and churches who insist on handling all problems themselves (using “Bible-based” counseling) are doing their members a disservice and potentially endangering the life of the distressed person.
I’m not saying all counselors are equal. There are certainly a bunch of quacks out there. But pastors who insist on acting as psychological experts are engaging in the most damaging quackery of all.
I ran across a story this week that talked about the findings of a LifeWay Research study. It basically says that the “unchurched” (a particularly stupid word) see Christian churches as full of hypocrites and overly judgmental. One of the quotes is that 44% said that “Christians get on my nerves.”
This study simply confirms what the Barna Group has found in surveys over the last couple of years.Their studies show that non-Christians and Christians who don’t attend a church (the “unchurched”) think that Christian churches are hypocritical, judgmental, overly political, and old-fashioned stick in the muds.
Will Christian churches, their pastors and their members take heed of this type of research and figure out a way to live Christ-like lives and engage in Christ-like ministries that will show the world that love of God and love of neighbor are indeed the greatest commandments? I doubt it… too much money, power, property and influence is tied up in the running of even the smallest of churches.
Both LifeWay and Barna note that people are interested in spiritual matters and open to talking about spirituality. Unfortunately, the modern Christian church is not interested in either. They simply want people to take an oath to support the creed of their particular flavor of Christianity, donate their money, fill the pews and vote the way the leadership of the church deems appropriate.
Somehow I think if Jesus came to visit us in 2008 he would live and teach among the “unchurched.”