In pockets of the United States are swarms of atheists. Centered around institutions of higher learning, these intellectual folk are hot for debate and hot for religion, just not in any way that would be supported by the local Christian church. Yet, housed within these groups is something intriguing, that they even do not realize is there. The seed of truth that has lain dormant for so long is germinating in this oddly fertile soil.
The “Good without God” campaign seeks to canvas the country with billboards and fliers announcing that it is possible to be a moral person without belief in a Higher Power of any sort. Even in nearby Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University, a humanist group started a controversial bus ad campaign declaring that people all over the world do not believe in God and still are able to resist committing murder, adultery, and theft. Oddly enough, with full agreement, the church may find the answer to its current identity crisis.
In The Pilgrim’s Regress CS Lewis talks about growing up and being handed a card that was covered front and back with rules. He found that there was no possibility of following all of the rules, and this set him on his journey to find what truth really was.
As I was wondering around in the forest of the Emergent Church (see part 2), I decided to follow what I believed to be God’s call on my life to serve as a pastor. I honestly thought that I had something figured out, and was ready to lead a group of people in the same direction.
My fervent determination to make a difference in the church instilled a passion for learning, and in the process was opened to a number of books and resources on church leadership and church models, which is how I was exposed to the work of Thom Rainer.
Nearly a year ago I began to follow the moving and shaking that has been happening in the northern part of my state in a booming Christian congregation called Granger Community Church. A typical megachurch, Granger prides itself in being fully relevant to popular culture even to the extent of using Coldplay songs to headline services and basing sermons on popular movies, drawing out “spiritual themes” and applying them to the lives of Christians.
As a testimony to the belief in the method above the message, executive pastor Tim Stevens wrote a book called Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture? to defend the church’s philosophy of taking pop culture as the driving force behind its weekly services rather than the good news of Jesus Christ.
Lacking theological basis, services at Granger lack the biblical substance, giving popular culture the center stage. Granger wrongly bases its success on the number of people in attendance, not on the strength of their belief. For the remainder of this post I will take chapter 8, titled “I’m Not a Theologian, But…” and address each of the ten points he tries to make to justify a position that the church should not only address popular culture, but completely embrace it.
The theme of Ash Wednesday, three weeks later on St. Patrick’s Day: Momento Mori – “Remember your death.”
Death is not only a theme for this season, but a theme of the Bible. It is easy to think that there are gross and terrible sins that would be worthy of death. Few of us can constrain a feeling of wanting vengeance on people who are responsible for mass murders or terrorism. Yet seemingly buried in the book of Leviticus is this:
If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.
Hardly your typical retort for badmouthing a parent. Yet even with this offense comes the sting of death. Sin has a constant knell of death, even in all its subtleties.
Printed on recycled paper, using soy-based ink with a cotton/linen cover, the Green Bible is the project by HarperCollins to bring environmental responsibility and the teaching of Scripture in to one beautiful package. Within the text of this edition of the NRSV, verses that are about the earth and the environment are printed in green ink to highlight the Bible’s comments on taking care of the planet.
Yet under this cover is a message that arguably undercuts aspects of the overall message of the Word of God. What’s the harm in putting two good concepts together, you may ask? Should Christians not be concerned about the environment, it being God’s creation and all?