According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Howard Snyder - I Dreamed a Great Revival Came (poem)


Irish Land-Coast


I Dreamed a Great Revival Came

I dreamed a great revival came,
and all things were made new.
God’s Spirit moved upon the earth,
and through the heavens, too.

A deep conviction wakened hearts,
and people felt the wind
Of truth invading from afar,
and echoing within –

– awakening to an awesome God,
awakening to sin;
Conviction of All-Holiness;
corruptedness within.

A movement of reform grew deep,
grew wide as earth around.
The name of Jesus was the theme,
his praises were the sound.

And nothing was beyond its scope—
not art, nor technic skill,
Nor science, stage, or industry;
all served a higher Will.

The desert blossomed as a rose,
the air grew pure and clean,
the children learned to praise the Lord
and dance on meadows green.

The cities now were full of hope,
and creativity,
The government was just and fair,
and ruled with equity.

And all the earth was full of grace,
and fruit full on the trees.
The nations, healed, sang songs of praise,
a gentle Spirit-breeze.

I dreamed a great revival came,
and all things were made new.
God’s Spirit moved upon the earth,
and through the heavens, too.

- Howard Snyder




14 Favorite Ways to Twist the Gospel


Whatis Gospel

14 Favorite Ways to Twist the Gospel
http://howardsnyder.seedbed.com/2014/01/03/14-favorite-ways-to-twist-the-gospel/

by Howard Synder
January 3, 2014

 1. Interpret the gospel primarily through Romans.


Biblical writers, including Paul, tell us to study the whole of Scripture and interpret it through that wholeness. But the persistent tendency to see Romans as the key to all Scripture persists. So the church and the world suffer. (See my Seedbed blog, “Misplacing Romans.”)

2. Focus solely on “personal salvation.”

The Bible does not teach “personal salvation” in the private, individualistic way that phrase has come to mean. Rather it teaches in multiple ways and through many metaphors the reconciliation of all things (e.g., Eph. 1, Col. 1)—though not without judgment.

3. Make heaven the goal.

The Bible and the early Christian creeds say nothing about “going to heaven” Yet that phrase has become virtually synonymous with salvation in many minds. The Bible focuses on God’s will being done on earth as in heaven, and the ultimate redemption of all creation, not some cosmic eternal split between earth and heaven.

4. The clergy/laity split.

This is one of the earliest signs of the “mystery of iniquity” in the church. Once Satan has convinced us that only a few (and mainly men of a certain sort) are called into “the ministry,” he has reduced the church’s effectiveness by ninety percent. The clergy/laity split is thus more debilitating than any other prejudice in the church. It undermines the biblical doctrine of the priesthood of believers, the gifts of the Spirit, and the universal call to diakonia (ministry, service).

5. Thinking economics and politics are not directly gospel concerns.

Walling off economics and politics from the gospel, placing them outside our discipleship, is unbiblical dualism. The gospel is an economic and political reality, so by definition the church is both economic and political. But economics and politics are to be understood in light of the gospel, not the other way round. The kingdom of God is the comprehensive framework.

6. De-prioritize community.

New Testament writers focus much more on community—the body of Christ, our membership in Jesus Christ and thus in one another—than any other topic. The less genuine the community in the mutually-sharing biblical sense of koinonia, the more doctrinal disputes become central and the church focuses on everything else but community. This is why I deal so much with this in Community of the King and other books.

7. Neglect the Old Testament.

The two most common mistakes here: Neglecting the wholism of God’s salvific purposes as revealed in the Old Testament, and buying the myth that all important truths in the Old Testament get “spiritualized” in the New. So “promised land,” for example, comes to mean “heaven” or some inner spiritual experience. When that happens, preachers mine the Old Testament looking for “spiritual” nuggets that often have little to do with the biblical historical context and meaning.

8. Limit justice to personal righteousness.

The Old Testament—Psalms, Prophets, Law, Wisdom—constantly pair justice and righteousness as two sides of the same comprehensive reality. Notice for instance how frequently justice and righteousness are coupled and used almost interchangeably in Hebrew poetry.

Yet the church often separates them in various ways—for instance making righteousness mean personal morality and justice something God takes care of by himself through the atonement and/or final judgment. This is flatly unbiblical.

9. Neglect intercession.

The more I read of prayer in the Bible—Moses, David, the Prophets, Job, Jesus’ life and example, the Epistles—the more I am convinced that I and the church generally have neglected the essential ministry of intercession. Through the mystery of prayer and God’s Spirit, persistent intercession by God’s people can (and often does) change the course of history and relations among nations and peoples and religions—as well as meeting our more immediate and personal needs.

Intercessory prayer is a primary means of seeking first the kingdom of God.

10. “Believers” instead of disciples.

Jesus calls and forms disciples so that the body of Christ becomes a community of kingdom-of-God disciples. The New Testament rarely uses the word “believers.” Today this fact is distorted by the tendency in modern translations to use “believers” in place of “brothers” (in order to be more inclusive) or in place of pronouns such as “them.”

What counts is not the number of believers but the number of disciples, and thus the ministry of disciple-making.

11. Substitute heaven for the kingdom of God.

In the Bible, the kingdom of God is as comprehensive as the reality, sovereignty, and love of God. No spirit/matter dualism. Most people in Jesus’ days understood this; they knew that “kingdom of heaven” in Matthew, for example, was just another way of saying “kingdom of God.”

In the Bible we see the kingdom of God as both now/future, heavenly/earthly, personal/social, sudden/gradual, inward/outward, in a mysterious dialectic with the church which itself is neither the kingdom of God nor divorceable from God’s kingdom.

12. Faith just a part of life.

We compartmentalize. Our Christian walk gets reduced to just one part of our lives, and that one part is often reduced to simply what we believe.

But now abide faith, hope, and love—and the Bible makes clear which is the “greatest” and most comprehensive. According to the gospel, faith is not the ultimate reality; it is the means to the end of loving God and others and all God’s creation with our whole being. And that 24/7, as the saying goes.

The biblical picture is faith working by love; love enabled by faith and powered by hope—full confidence in God’s amazing full-salvation-for-all-creation promises.

13. Disregard Genesis 9.

There is a huge literature on “covenant” or “federal” theology (from the Latin for “covenant”). Yet oddly, such theology almost always begins with God’s covenant with Abraham (perhaps with a passing reference to Genesis 3:15). Yet the first explicit biblical covenant is found in Genesis 9, where God establishes his “covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 3:13).

The emphasis is explicit and repeated: A covenant with humans and all living creatures of every kind. If our understanding of salvation skips from Genesis 3 to Genesis 12, we miss essential biblical teachings about the created order and distort everything else in the Bible.

14. Divorce discipleship from creation care.

When we neglect or distort biblical revelation about the created order, we shrink the gospel to something much less than the Bible promises. We do this to our own loss; we impoverish the church; we over-spiritualize Christian experience and reduce the dynamic of Christian mission.

When we see how discipleship and creation care are inseparably connected in God’s plan, the church becomes patiently and humbly powerful “to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4).
There are many other ways to twist the gospel, of course. Anytime we get our focus off Jesus Christ and interpret the gospel through other lenses, we are in trouble.

Use whatever verb you wish—twist, distort, warp, undermine, neutralize, neuter, emasculate, cancel out, undercut—the problem persists and calls for careful Bible-based, Jesus-centered discipleship.

The Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, yet already in the New Testament we see the Apostles battling emerging distortions.

And yet sovereignly, strangely, God’s Spirit is at work and will still fulfill the promises and guide the body of Christ into “all truth” (John 16:13) until “the earth [is] full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9).

---

Howard Snyder

Howard Snyder

Formerly professor of the history and theology of mission, Asbury Theological Seminary (1996-2006); now engaged in research and writing in Wilmore, Kentucky. Professor of Wesley Studies, Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, 2007-2012. Formerly taught and pastored in São Paulo, Brazil; Detroit, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Snyder's main interest is in the power and relevance of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom for the world today and tomorrow. Works include The Problem of Wineskins, Community of the King, and most recently, Salvation Means Creation Healed.


Irish Land-Coast


I Dreamed a Great Revival Came

I dreamed a great revival came,
and all things were made new.
God’s Spirit moved upon the earth,
and through the heavens, too.

A deep conviction wakened hearts,
and people felt the wind
Of truth invading from afar,
and echoing within –

– awakening to an awesome God,
awakening to sin;
Conviction of All-Holiness;
corruptedness within.

A movement of reform grew deep,
grew wide as earth around.
The name of Jesus was the theme,
his praises were the sound.

And nothing was beyond its scope—
not art, nor technic skill,
Nor science, stage, or industry;
all served a higher Will.

The desert blossomed as a rose,
the air grew pure and clean,
the children learned to praise the Lord
and dance on meadows green.

The cities now were full of hope,
and creativity,
The government was just and fair,
and ruled with equity.

And all the earth was full of grace,
and fruit full on the trees.
The nations, healed, sang songs of praise,
a gentle Spirit-breeze.

I dreamed a great revival came,
and all things were made new.
God’s Spirit moved upon the earth,
and through the heavens, too.

- Howard Snyder



The Pew Report on Losing Youth re the Question of Evolution: "Should the Church Change its Message or its Thinking?"


"The latest Pew poll on American beliefs about evolution came out last week. It seems to confirm what many young people are saying motivates them to walk away from the Evangelical church. That is, 72% of 20-something college graduates think humans have evolved (68% of 20-somethings overall). And yet almost 2/3 of all white Evangelicals think humans have not evolved. According to the poll, only 18% of white Evangelicals think God guided evolution. To my way of thinking, this poll suggests that Evangelicals need to offer young people the possibility that God creates through evolution!" - Thomas Jay Oord

Also refer to NYT article, "Indoctrinating Religious Warriors" by Charles M. Blow, January 3, 2013


* * * * * * * * * *

"Polling and Analysis"
http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/30/publics-views-on-human-evolution/

December 30, 2013


Public’s Views on Human Evolution

evolution2013-1According to a new Pew Research Center analysis, six-in-ten Americans (60%) say that “humans and other living things have evolved over time,” while a third (33%) reject the idea of evolution, saying that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.” The share of the general public that says that humans have evolved over time is about the same as it was in 2009, when Pew Research last asked the question.
About half of those who express a belief in human evolution take the view that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection” (32% of the American public overall). But many Americans believe that God or a supreme being played a role in the process of evolution. Indeed, roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.”
These beliefs differ strongly by religious group. White evangelical Protestants are particularly likely to believe that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Roughly two-thirds (64%) express this view, as do half of black Protestants (50%). By comparison, only 15% of white mainline Protestants share this opinion.
There also are sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap.
These are some of the key findings from a nationwide Pew Research Center survey conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, with a representative sample of 1,983 adults, ages 18 and older. The survey was conducted on landlines and cellphones in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3.0 percentage points.

Differences by Religious Group

evolution2013-2A majority of white evangelical Protestants (64%) and half of black Protestants (50%) say that humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. But in other large religious groups, a minority holds this view. In fact, nearly eight-in-ten white mainline Protestants (78%) say that humans and other living things have evolved over time. Three-quarters of the religiously unaffiliated (76%) and 68% of white non-Hispanic Catholics say the same. About half of Hispanic Catholics (53%) believe that humans have evolved over time, while 31% reject that idea.
evolution2013-3Those saying that humans have evolved over time also were asked for their views on the processes responsible for evolution. Roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today,” while about a third (32%) say that evolution is “due to natural processes such as natural selection.”
Just as religious groups differ in their views about evolution in general, they also tend to differ in their views on the processes responsible for human evolution. For instance, while fully 78% of white mainline Protestants say that humans and other living things have evolved over time, the group is divided over whether evolution is due to natural processes or whether it was guided by a supreme being (36% each). White non-Hispanic Catholics also are divided equally on the question (33% each). The religiously unaffiliated predominantly hold the view that evolution stems from natural processes (57%), while 13% of this group says evolution was guided by a supreme being. Of the white evangelical Protestants and black Protestants who believe that humans have evolved over time, most believe that a supreme being guided evolution.

Views About Evolution by Party Affiliation

evolution2013-4There are sizable differences among partisan groups in beliefs about evolution. Republicans are less inclined than either Democrats or political independents to say that humans have evolved over time. Roughly two-thirds of Democrats (67%) and independents (65%) say that humans have evolved over time, compared with less than half of Republicans (43%).
The size of the gap between partisan groups has grown since 2009. Republicans are less inclined today than they were in 2009 to say that humans have evolved over time (43% today vs. 54% in 2009), while opinion among both Democrats and independents has remained about the same.
Differences in the racial and ethnic composition of Democrats and Republicans or differences in their levels of religious commitment do not wholly explain partisan differences in beliefs about evolution. Indeed, the partisan differences remain even when taking these other characteristics into account.

Views About Evolution by Demographic Group

evolution2013-5The 2013 Pew Research survey varied the exact wording of the question about evolution to better understand public views on the issue. A random group of respondents was asked about the evolution of “humans and other living things” while others were asked about the evolution of “animals and other living things.”1 The survey found that the wording focus on animals vs. humans made little difference in beliefs.
Beliefs about human and animal evolution tend to vary by gender, age and education. Men are somewhat more inclined than women to say that humans and animals have evolved over time. Younger adults are more likely than older generations to believe that living things have evolved over time. And those with more years of formal schooling are more likely than those with less education to say that humans and animals have evolved over time.

About the Survey

This report is based on telephone interviews conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, among a national sample of 1,983 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia (1,017 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 966 were interviewed on a cellphone). Interviews were completed in English and Spanish by live, professionally trained interviewing staff under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
evolution2013-6A combination of landline and cell random digit dial (RDD) samples were used to reach a representative sample of all adults in the United States who have access to either a landline or cellphone. Both samples were disproportionately stratified to increase the incidence of African-American and Hispanic respondents. Within each stratum, phone numbers were drawn with equal probabilities. The landline samples were list-assisted and drawn from active blocks containing three or more residential listings, while the cell samples were not list-assisted but were drawn through a systematic sampling from dedicated wireless 100-blocks and shared service 100-blocks with no directory-listed landline numbers. Both the landline and cell RDD samples were disproportionately stratified by county based on estimated incidences of African-American and Hispanic respondents.
The survey questionnaire included a split-form design whereby an additional 2,023 adults were asked a different set of questions, including the questions on animal evolution reported above. The total number of interviews conducted was 4,006. Thus, the data collection involved two simultaneous surveys; where the same question was asked on each form, the results of the two forms can be combined to yield a representative survey of U.S. adults with the full 4,006 respondents.
Several stages of statistical adjustment or weighting are used to account for the complex nature of the sample design. The weights account for numerous factors, including (1) the different, disproportionate probabilities of selection in each stratum, (2) the overlap of the landline and cell RDD sample frames, and (3) differential non-response associated with sample demographics. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies, including disproportionate stratification of the sample.
The survey’s margin of error is the largest 95% confidence interval for any estimated proportion based on the total sample – the one around 50%. For example, the margin of error for the entire sample is +/-3.0 percentage points. This means that in 95 out of every 100 samples drawn using the same methodology, estimated proportions based on the entire sample will be no more than 3.0 percentage points away from their true values in the population. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance used in this report take into account the effect of weighting. In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.
  1. Most analysis in this report is based on respondents asked about human evolution (N=1,983). An additional 2,023 respondents were asked questions about animal evolution. The margin of error for those asked about animal evolution is +/- 2.9 percentage points.