Psalm 116:15

“Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints.” (ESV)

Membership Classes Starting Soon

The Pastor will begin teaching membership classes in late March.  The classes will be prior to the Sunday morning worship service at the church building in the Pastor’s office (upstairs, in back, on the right).  The current dates for classes are March 23rd, March 30th, and April 6th.  Prospective members must attend each meeting.  The classes include cursory discussions of Christian history, bible doctrine, and United Church history, beliefs, etc.

Wireless Internet Now Available

The Red Door church now has wireless internet access throughout most of the building. A wireless router which was no longer in use was connected to the previously existing internet line in the pastor’s office, so the new feature comes at no added cost. However, for security purposes access is password protected. If you need or want the username and password, please email the pastor at jmoore@unitedchurchofsoro.org.

Technology Campaign This Sunday

After the worship service this Sunday (the 9th of Feb.) there will be a meeting regarding a proposal first presented to the council by the Christian Education committee in November of last year. That proposal has to do with possibly purchasing some new technology for the church fellowship hall. Interested committee’s are invited as well as anyone else who would like to discuss the matter. This technology would be for the purpose of employing video Bible studies, outreach materials, and maybe even live streaming services to overflow seating downstairs if needed for worship, funerals, weddings, or other gatherings.

Romans 12:17-19 (NAS)

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine , I will repay ,” says the Lord.

Another Look at Diversity

Today, there is talk of the need for “diversity” everywhere.   Around every corner we see a push for greater diversity in all things.  It is assumed that diversity is always a good thing.  Without going to far, one could probably argue that “diversity” is the mantra of our time and place.

I’m not going to dispute the “goodness” of diversity.  God created a universe full of diversity.  What I wish to dispute in this post is that diversity should be the measure of all things, especially Christianity.

Many young Americans today reject organized religion because it appears narrow and exclusive.  Sadly, this is the impression that many have of Christianity.  Tim Keller in his book The Reason for God writes on the very first page of chapter one:

During my nearly two decades in New York City, I’ve had numerous opportunities to ask people, “What is your biggest problem with Christianity?  What troubles you the most about its beliefs or how it is practiced?”  One of the most frequent answers I have heard over the years can be summed up in one word: exclusivity. 1

Another way of framing the idea of exclusivity is to see it as a lack of diversity.  Christianity is not “open” or “tolerant” of other viewpoints and is therefore, “exclusive”; it is not congenial to a diversity of opinion or practice.

But is this a fair evaluation of Christianity?  Does this claim hold water?

Two thoughts on this matter will be enough for now.  (1) Often when this objection is put forward what the person means is that Christianity claims to be the one true religion; it’s core doctrines do not leave room for a plurality of “true” perspectives.  (Nearly every religion claims this in one way or another.)  For a great deal of people today such a claim sounds ludicrous on the surface.  They might say something like “How can you know the truth?  Nobody really knows whose right and whose wrong.”  Or they might say that it’s arrogant to insist your religion is right and to seek to convert others to it.  These are all common critiques of religion, especially Christianity.  2

These critiques are usually presented by a person who is an advocate of “diversity” and plurality in the marketplace of ideas and perspectives.  But Christianity is just that.  In fact, as we will see in a moment, Christianity is one of the most diverse movements in all of recorded history, and certainly in today’s world.  The real problem with the critiques above however, is that they fall on their own sword.  If a person insists that no one can adjudicate with confidence between one view and another, why should we be persuaded of what they are saying?  Or, if a person says that it’s arrogant to try and convert others to your point of view simply ask them what they are trying to do with you.

In the final analysis, you cannot make “diversity” the measuring rod of all other belief systems, without being exclusive and narrow yourself.

(2) The second thought is simply this, despite the impression that exists in many places in our Western culture today, Christianity is in fact a religion of enormous diversity, inclusion, and breadth.  For one, Christianity the most diverse religion on the planet in many respects, just as a point of fact.  There is no religion, ever, to my knowledge, that has been embraced by so many different cultures and people groups.  Currently, to the surprise of many, Christianity is predominantly a non-Western religion.  The largest numbers of Christians, in fact, live on the continents of South America, Africa, and Asia.  Philip Jenkins writes in his book The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity:

If we extrapolate the [current growth model data for Christianity] to the year 2025, the Southern predominance becomes still more marked.  Assuming no great gains or losses through conversion, then there would be around 2.6 billion Christians, of whom 695 million would live in Africa, 610 million in Latin America, and 480 million in Asia… By 2050 only about one-fifth of the world’s 3.2 billion Christians will be non-Hispanic whites.  Soon, the phrase “a white Christian” may sound like a curious oxymoron, as mildly surprising as “a Swedish Buddhist.”  Such a people can exist, but a slight eccentricity is implied. 3

It is difficult to grasp how a “narrow”, “exclusive” religion could be so widely embraced by so many peoples of different backgrounds, language, cultures, and values; the diversity found within Christianity seems to imply otherwise.

Maybe Christianity is not as “exclusive” as some suppose.

 

  1. Keller, “The Reason for God” (Dutton: New York, 2008), 3.
  2. These examples are used by Tim Keller in his book The Reason for God, 9-12.
  3. Jenkins, “The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity,” (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2011), 3.

Mark 10:43-45 (NIV)

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

“The Bills”: An Interview with Wired Magazine

I just read an interesting article in the December issue of WiredThe cover story of this edition is about an interview with the “Bills”, that is, Gates and Clinton.  As you may be aware, these men are founders of massive philanthropic organizations.  Gates founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Clinton founded the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

The article (and interview) discusses some of Gate’s and Clinton’s ideas about how to better the future of the world.  The essence of their argument was this: if we want the world to improve, then we need to work together.  Globalism was inherent in nearly everything to the two tycoons said.

Of course, the benefits of globalism are debatable.  But there are bigger fish to fry at the moment.  Yes, I said it that way intentionally.  Globalism is a really big deal, literally (a really big problem in my book), but there are still bigger problems.  Let me explain.

Maybe the easiest way to get at it is to ask a question: what is good?  When Gates says “It was not ‘good’ for the world for the U.S. to generate 30 percent of the economic activity” what does he mean?  Or when Bill Clinton says things like “Congress needs to keep our future in ‘good’ shape” what does he mean?

And that’s the rub.  Who decides what the standard is?  Who decides the definition of good?  Who determines the yard stick by which we will understand “goodness”?  Take a guess.  I’ll give you three, and the first two don’t count (as my dad used to say).  Well, the billionaire philanthropists get to decide.  Which means the top 1% of the world are calling the shots about the future of the other 99%.  And you know what?  You don’t get to be a billionaire by being philanthropic; you become a billionaire by being a business man.  And I’m not convinced that “the Bill’s” philanthropy is not just more business in disguise.[1]

But there’s another big problem.  Technology is NOT going to fix the world.  I hate to break it to you, but it’s not.  Over and over again in the interview this assumption is made.  Technology is the key to our global threats.  Technology only makes human wickedness more sophisticated and appalling.

Technology isn’t “good” or “bad” in itself, what makes technology good or bad is how its employed, and that’s something that technology has very little to do with.  In other words technology is only as “good” as its inventors and consumers.

The world’s solutions do not lie with billionaire businessmen concocting new technological ideas and scheming about how their products can shove their foot in the third-world door first.

Jesus said that “There is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man… For from within, out of the heart of man, proceed… all these evil things” (Mark 7:15, 21, 23).

A man’s heart will determine whether or not he uses his baseball bat to play baseball or beat his wife.

The future of the world hinges infinitely more on the condition of man’s heart than it does the gizmo’s he holds in his hands.

And neither of the Bill’s said anything about that.

 


[1] In the article Clinton admits that his foundation is really a glorified “launching pad” for “projects benefiting the global good.”  It’s hard to imagine that the “global good” is not directly tied to the Clinton family’s financial portfolio.  Clinton gives a couple of examples of how his foundation facilitates business in the article.  I’m amazed at how his political side still comes out in all of this, conveying and packaging controversial ideas in a way that makes them publicly appealing.  Speaking of Google’s idea to use balloons that provide internet connectivity to the rest of the world where there is none, Clinton says “Connectivity can be incredibly empowering to the people at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”  But he then goes on to give examples in which he arranged deals where the “the six big banks” and the “biggest cell phone company” where involved in solving problems in South Asia.  Who benefits more here is highly debatable: the big banks and corporations, or those on the “bottom of the economic pyramid.”