Monday, January 30, 2006

From an Interesting Discussion on Inerrancy of the Bible

I am having this discussion with Greg, primarily, at From the Salmon, and yes, it includes that blow-up I spoke about in my previous entry (blushing). I just wanted to share it, anyway.

Greg, I like the way you think…I can’t really argue with you. You are right we have choices which have to be made about to whom (or what) we give authority. You are also right when you suspect (I think?) that I believe that the Bible is inerrant. I absolutely do. Because I’m simple-minded? Is that why fundamentalists believe that way, because it’s easy? You think? I find nothing easy about the Bible, myself. I find a new revelation each and every time I pick it up, but what is amazing is that more than 40 different men were used by God to write it, men with different perspectives just like you and I and yet they did, indeed, reach a level of agreement, in all their different writing styles with all their different up-bringings and baggage from life they managed to find consensus throughout the entire Bible which, if one really thinks about it, is often not even matched by a single writer of a book from front cover to back, especially when dealing with such philosophical subjects. That is inspiration.

Where the “pickle” comes in with me is in this argument that God still communicates with man, and yes, I believe he does, therefore that must mean that there is “new” wisdom and “new” understanding? Certainly you are correct that the Bible was written during certain periods of time and reflects the language and situations of those times but that language and those situations can be applied to our time, as well.

I once asked a progressive Christian who does not believe in the Bible’s inerrancy, on another blog, what book he believed was an equal to the Bible, what book did he feel was more authoritative, was more brilliantly written, was richer and wiser in its philosophy or its wisdom, he never replied to that very specific question.

This is the crux of my problem with not believing in the Bible as God’s inerrant Word:

Many question its authority because it was written by mere men, but in that questioning they trust what other mere men are telling them, this is where their questions spring from, from other men.

In my heart of hearts I believe that the Bible is God’s Word, but I’ll tell you this, if it hasn’t been kept from blemish? If God’s power somehow was not enough to keep it pure, to keep it on track? It is still the best guide that we have for understanding God, aside from our Savior and Lord and what he speaks to our heart, and much of what He speaks to our heart is garnered from and verified in that very Bible which some question. It reveals more about God than any other book available to us and contains more wisdom than I will likely understand in my lifetime, so, you see, to me it is about having faith in God that He is able to keep his Word pure. I’m trying really hard to articulate this just right because I have been accused of worshipping the Bible in the past by some Progressive Christians INSTEAD of God, that isn’t it at all, though if the Bible is, as it claims to be “The Word” and “The Word” IS Jesus Christ and “The Word” IS living and active, just as it claims to be, then it does require a level of faith when it is accepted as the authority.

All I am saying is this, in a nutshell: IF I am going to put my faith in the Words of a book, in words written by men, then I believe this Book, which has survived and been passed on for thousands of years, which claims to have been inspired by God Himself is more worthy of that faith than any other Book on the planet. Some of my favorite scripture, and I have far too much of it to pinpoint a single scripture and call it my favorite, comes from the Book of Job, please indulge me:

Job 40:1-14 (NIV)

"1 The LORD said to Job:

2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?Let him who accuses God answer him!”

3 Then Job answered the LORD :

4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?I put my hand over my mouth.

5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”

6 Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:

7 “Brace yourself like a man;I will question you,and you shall answer me.

8 “Would you discredit my justice?Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

9 Do you have an arm like God’s,and can your voice thunder like his?

10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.

11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,look at every proud man and bring him low,

12 look at every proud man and humble him,crush the wicked where they stand.

13 Bury them all in the dust together;shroud their faces in the grave.

14 Then I myself will admit to youthat your own right hand can save you."

Man can do no better and can do much worse than retaining a belief in the Bible.

Just Sharing My Thoughts

Just popping in so people will know I'm still alive. I have been spending a little time in discussion at other Christian blogs. I do so like to have discussions and I actually went off the deep end last week, I let someone get under my skin who was debating about my communication style rather than the content of what I was saying. I am not so great about letting other people speak for me and tell me what my underlying intentions and motives are, let alone being called dishonest. I have always felt that while, yes, it is certainly a good tactic to ignore it, on the other hand it could give some the false impression that I agree with a person who attacks me in such a manner if I don't challenge, I shoot off my mouth, so to speak, and most of the time wish I had handled it differently after all is said and done. I'm human, what can I say, and all of us are defensive, I suppose. All of us are on edge because, I believe in the world of the internet, all of us have had these sorts of experiences and therefore we have to be so overly cautious in what we say, for fear of insulting or angering someone else that we either have the choice of keeping our mouths shut or tip toeing all around what we'd really like to say. I grow so tired of being so careful and I do wish all of us could just accept the fact that we're all human, we all get cocky, we all say things we don't mean, or say things poorly and they come across differently than intended. Such a shame that none of us are perfect. I could direct you there, to my little "blow up" but why would I want to point people to my inevitable weaknesses?

It doesn't help that I'm on this very restrictive diet and will be for five more days, including today, wherein all I can eat is this homemade vegetable soup with a little something else thrown in each day. Like today, all the vegetable soup I can eat plus vegetables (preferably leafy green) and fruit (except bananas and preferably melons). I can have black coffee and unsweetened tea and water. Geesh! How exciting... :( but it's only for seven days. It is having the effect of putting me on edge, however, and my temper isn't quite as controllable as usual.

Anyway, if anyone wants to throw in a comment on any subject or share something, that'd be great...just please don't talk about fine dining! Arrrrrrggggghhhhh!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Beliefnet Poll

Isn't this an interesting poll?

It asks the question:

"Has your house of worship gone through a divisive time when many people left?"

beliefnet poll survey

So far 79% answered in the affirmative.

Seems I'm not alone. :(

Military Chaplain Controversy

Sunday, January 22, 2006, Religion and Ethics Weekly Report on PBS aired a story on the Military Chaplains' Controversy. You can find that report in its entirety here: Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

I'm not going to say much, I just want to highlight some statements made by Chaplain Klingenschmitt and let him tell it in his own words. Following are quotes from Chaplain Klingenschmitt along with Bob Abernathy's conclusion to the interview:


"When the government says to me that, well, you can practice your faith in private but don't say the J word in public, because the Jesus word is insensitive, well, they're characterizing Jesus Christ as an offensive word. And they're turning my Lord into a slur. Well, that is inherently offensive to me, and that is inherently discriminatory to people of my faith tradition."

"When I evangelize and I invite sailors to come and hear my sermons and they disagree, that's fine. They are never punished for disagreeing with me. But when I refused to practice the faith of liberal senior chaplains, I was punished with the full weight of the United States government. So who is proselytizing whom?"

Bob Abernathy's conclusion:

"Last month, Chaplain Klingenschmitt went on an 18-day hunger strike outside the White House to protest the navy's restrictions on how he can pray and preach. He says the navy gave in, and he is now back at work. The navy says Klingenschmitt had been free all along to conduct Christian worship services as he chooses. But whenever it is a multifaith ceremony, says the navy, it asks that a chaplain's language be inclusive."

Friday, January 20, 2006

An Old and Dear Friend.

Not many folks can say they've had one friend, since childhood, who has stuck with them through thick, thin, the good, the bad, and everything in between. Though, not many people would consider a child's toy a friend either.

I've had this old Eeyore since I was 5 years old. Why, that makes him.....well, never mind that fact. Let's just say he's vintage. He's also worn and tattered. His right ear is torn, with a little stuffing hanging out. His mane is barely there. And he never had a tail. When my mom took me to Sears to buy him that fine day many years ago, we looked through all the shelves filled with Pooh characters and not a single Eeyore had his tail. My mom made him one, but he never seemed to cotton to it. Tail-less and gloomy, I loved him anyway.

No matter where I've gone in life, Eeyore has accompanied me. Whether it was overnight stays with friends, summer visits with my aunt and grandmother, or college. He has been a constant companion and trusted confidant.

After seeing me through to adulthood, he has goodnaturedly accepted my children's affections. Which has sometimes meant a sticky mane or new worn spot. Yet, he endures, never loosing his gentle demeanor or that twinkle in his eye, which reminds me that he is still the faithful keeper of my secrets and dreams.

Someday, after I've completed my journey in this life, I hope my children's children, as well as their children and all that come after will care for my old friend. I hope, when they touch the worn fur of their family heirloom, they feel some of the warmth and love I've buried in the frayed threads of an old Eeyore that meant so very much to me.

The Emergent or Emerging Church

Last Saturday I made a trip back home. Back home for me is the Arkansas Ozarks. I currently reside in the Missouri Ozarks. I remarked to my husband as we crossed over into the more hilly curvy divide that, no matter how many years I live away from Arkansas, I still get that thrill as I cross the State-line that I'm going home. It's funny, I grew up partly in the Missouri Ozarks, in fact, I actually spent as much time here and have as much family here as in the Arkansas Ozarks but there is something about the mountainous landscape and the people in Arkansas, the warmth, the friendliness, the slower pace, the southern drawl, that gets under my skin.

My Father and Step-Mother always have some musical adventure for us to experience while we're spending time with them. This trip was no different. On this trip we went to a quarterly "gospel sing" at Rally Hill, a non-denominational church in Valley Springs, Arkansas. A term I would use to describe it would be charming. There were so many people already there when we came in, about five minutes late, that my husband and I had to sit in a different pew, separated from my Dad and Step-Mom. I sat directly behind the leader of the Marion County Choir. He was fun to watch and it was a joy listening to him sing the echo verses of the old time gospel songs we sang. We sang from two different old time hymnals. Switching back and forth from one to the other according to the wishes of the song leaders, who, by the way, were chosen almost randomly from the crowd by a woman named Elizabeth. Who she was and how she was positioned in the church I don't know, but she reminded me of a dear friend I have here in Missouri.

We stayed at Rally Hill about an hour and a half. We sang, we listened to special music performed by gifted people from all around the Arkansas Ozarks. There was an Evangelist there who was to be preaching at a revival the following Sunday morning who performed with his guitar and vocals then invited those who had no plans on where they would be attending church to come to the church where he would be preaching.

Now, you might be asking, what does this have to do with the Emergent or Emerging Church, and I can certainly understand why you would ask that. Let me take you back about two weeks ago when I happened to catch a news report, and I can't even say what station was giving this report but I suspect it might have been PBS, about the Emergent Church. It was, of course, a video expose, so the cameras were rolling at a variety of Emergent Churches which were being spotlighted, but there was little meat to the reporting. What I saw were churches with couches in them and video games, people experiencing worship but also milling around talking to one another. In one church a girl was accompanied by her dog, which appeared to be a golden lab.

So, how does Rally Hill relate? Not at all, and that is why I bring it up, it provides a contrast between the past and what some would like to see become the post-modern future of the church. Two weeks ago, when I saw parts of that program on the Emergent Church I was intrigued, and I thought, "how wonderful, what a nice way to reach out to un-churched people who are not attracted by the 'old-fashioned' pattern of most Christian Churches." My curiosity was aroused and so, after replying to Brandon's post at a badchristian blog, see my entry "Two (?) Wrongs Don't Make a Right," I began doing a little research on the internet to see what I could find out about Emergent Churches.

I'll have to say the research I did turned up commentary by people who both support and do not support the goals of the Emergent Church. When I began to research it I was excited about the prospect and at one point even considered that I might be interested in going to an Emergent Church, and one thing that should be kept in mind in this discussion is that each church in the Emergent "conversation" is different from the others. There do, however, seem to be a few common goals.

According to all of the research I did, the consensus is that Brian McLaren, a 50 year old author of the 2001 book "A New Kind of Christian" and other books on Christianity is the spiritual leader for the emerging church. From an article at Christianity Today Magazine:

"...recently McLaren has started to sketch the outlines of his vision of a postmodern church. He sketches a big circle labeled "self," a smaller circle next to it labeled "church," and a tiny circle off to the side labeled "world."

"This has been evangelicalism's model," he says. "Fundamentally it's about getting yourself 'saved'—in old-style evangelicalism—or improving your life in the new style. Either way, the Christian life is really about you and your needs. Once your needs are met, then we think about how you can serve the church. And then, if there's anything left over, we ask how the church might serve the world."

He starts drawing again. "But what if it went the other way? This big circle is the world—the world God loved so much that he sent his Son. Inside that circle is another one, the church, God's people chosen to demonstrate his love to the world. And inside that is a small circle, which is your self. It's not about the church meeting your needs, it's about you joining the mission of God's people to meet the world's needs....""

"...I don't think we've got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be 'saved'? When I read the Bible, I don't see it meaning, 'I'm going to heaven after I die.' Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, or walked down an aisle, or said the sinner's prayer."

It's not that McLaren is interested in joining the liberal side of modern Protestantism. "I don't think the liberals have it right. But I don't think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy.""

Wikipedia describes it this way:

"The emerging church or emergent church is a diverse movement within Protestant Christianity that arose in the late 20th century as a reaction to the influence of modernism in Western Christianity. The movement is usually called a "conversation" by its proponents to emphasize its diffuse nature with contributions from many people and no explicitly defined leadership or direction. The emerging church seeks to deconstruct and reconstruct Christianity as its mainly Western members live in a postmodern culture. While practices and even core doctrine vary, most emergents can be recognized by the following values:

Missional living - Christians go out into the world to serve God rather than isolate themselves within communities of like-minded individuals.

Narrative theology - Teaching focuses on narrative presentations of faith and the Bible rather than systematic theology or biblical reductionism.

Christ-likeness - While not neglecting the study of scripture or the love of the church, Christians focus their lives on the worship and emulation of the person of
Jesus Christ.

Authenticity - People in the postmodern culture seek real and authentic experiences in preference over scripted or superficial experiences. Emerging churches strive to be relevant to today's culture and daily life, whether it be through worship or service opportunities. The core Christian message is unchanged but emerging churches attempt, as the church has throughout the centuries, to find ways to reach God's people where they are to hear God's message of unconditional love."

Now, I'll have to tell you that this all sounded really nice to me until I dug a little deeper and considered other thought on the matter. Here are some snippets from the second part of a two part series on the Emergent Church broadcast by PBS which began to alert me to some dangers, whether this ideology is intentionally groomed in an effort to undermine the Evangelical and more traditional Church or not, I'll have to leave up to the reader. I'll be providing some links a little later to some people with the viewpoint that this is a vast~ fill in the blank~ conspiracy to undermine true Christianity but I don't go that far. Anyway, here are the snippets from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly . COVER STORY . The Emerging Church, Part Two . July 15, 2005 PBS:

"...LAWTON (Religion and Ethics Correspondent): The emerging church movement seeks to apply that message in a contemporary, postmodern culture and is developing new ideas about worship, theology, and mission. McLaren's provocative writings have become a manifesto of sorts for many in the emergent conversation. But he's also generating intense controversy, especially among conservative evangelicals....

"Prof. CARSON (Professor, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School): At the end of the day, it becomes a kind of very isolated, new form of individualism, in which I pick up what I want from these things, rather than in fact belonging, honestly, to any of them. Instead of being all of these things, he really isn't any of them.

LAWTON: But McLaren insists a more open view enriches faith and better equips Christians for ministry. He's become a strong voice urging more attention to issues from poverty to the environment to social justice. He's been active in the effort to raise more attention to the atrocities in Sudan's Darfur province.

Pastor MCLAREN: The way we treat our neighbors; the way we treat people of other races, religions, social classes, educational backgrounds, political parties; the way we treat other people and interact with the environment, and all the rest is part of our spirituality.

LAWTON (To Pastor McLaren): You're pretty critical of many Christians' focus, emphasis on personal salvation after death. Why is that?

Pastor MCLAREN: Well, first of all, I'm not at all against the idea of a personal relationship with God. I think that's where it all begins. And I think this is part of the beauty of the message of Jesus. Every individual is invited into a personal relationship with God. But personal is not private. The church has been preoccupied with the question, "What happens to your soul after you die?" As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, "Jesus is trying to help get more souls into heaven, as opposed to hell, after they die." I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water. I don't think that the entire message and life of Jesus can be boiled down to that bottom line...."

"...LAWTON: McLaren's latest book, THE LAST WORD AND THE WORD AFTER THAT, urges Christians to reassess conventional views of hell.

Pastor MCLAREN: One of the deepest problems is that -- and nobody ever would intend this -- but that for some people, the traditional view of hell makes God look like a torturer. My purpose is to get conversation going about the old view and problems with it so that we can together move forward in reconsidering, and maybe there is a better understanding of what Jesus meant and what the scriptures mean when they've talked about issues like judgment, justice, hell.

LAWTON: McLaren never says exactly what that better understanding might be, just as he declines to take specific stands on other controversial issues for the church, such as homosexuality.

(To Pastor McLaren): You don't seem to enjoy giving straightforward answers.

Pastor MCLAREN: Well, you know, a couple people tell me they think I'm being evasive. They think I'm a coward, I'm afraid to say what I really think. But here's the interesting thing. I don't think I'd be saying what I'm saying if I was a coward. I'm saying that because I'm trying to be faithful to God, I'm trying to be faithful to the teaching and example of Jesus. So it's my fidelity to my understanding of the Christian message that makes me say sometimes, "We're asking the wrong question."

LAWTON: McLaren believes Christians must always question their own interpretations of Scripture. The Bible, he says, is not a "look-it-up encyclopedia of moral truths...."

Prof. CARSON: The historic good news of the gospel, right across the centuries, has always been concerned not only with excellent relationships and who God is and turning from that which is evil. But it has also been concerned to confess certain things as true."

At this point, when "the rubber hits the road," it does seem that McLaren is evasive, it does appear that in an effort not to alienate some post-modern Christians that McLaren is not willing to take a stand on any given issue, prefering to stay in the murky waters of philosophical, loosely applied interpretation. Interpretation which casts more attention on certain passages of the Bible while ignoring others. This is a part of an ongoing debate between "progressive" and "conservative" Christians, as well. In the true Reformist Christian belief of Martin Luther, however, we are called to believe that God has elected some to be called, and that Jesus did, indeed, come to save the lost who couldn't save themselves, and that God has, indeed, provided a way for all His people to find that salvation. The mystery in all that, is that we cannot know the mind of God, we cannot know His chosen ones, all we can do is follow His instructions in the Bible to tell that Gospel message to all people. By not being a straight shooter with these Biblical truths, by ignoring descriptions of what is right and what is wrong, there is a definite danger of leading people astray, of becoming a false teacher who has forgotten the "main thing." In Evangelical churches there is a saying "let's keep the main thing, the main thing," so what is the main thing? The Gospel of Christ, and that Gospel, that "Good News" is that Christ came to seek and save the lost through His death, burial and resurrection. When the emphasis is taken off of that, all the "feel good," tolerant platitudes and affirmations in the world will not make much difference, the Bible makes it very clear that man is not "saved" by works but by the grace of God. All people, whether Christian or not, are capable of doing good things for mankind, for the world, but it is this Christian's belief, based on God's Holy Word, that unless you have been sought and chosen by God to accept His gift of salvation all the good that one can do for the world will be for naught when it comes to salvation, there is but one way to God and that is through Christ. I praise God for the non-Christians who do good and we should pray for their souls, but I must tell you that in my research I have come to the conclusion that often, what sounds good on the surface is not so good, that is the sentiment I am left with after researching the Emergent Church, on the surface it sounds good, but it isn't so good.

One of the first articles I read about the Emergent Church came from Baptist Press, - (BP), contained in that article was the most authoritative report on the Emergent "conversation." It was AnEcclesiologicalAssessment.Hammett.pdf, written by John S. Hammett, Professor of Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which had the greatest influence on my opinion of the Emergent Church. I would recommend everyone to read it for an exhaustive study of the Emergent Church "conversation."

Ahh, those wacky conspiracy theorist links? ;)

You'll find all the wacky conspiracy links on this topic you want here: The Emerging Church and Contemplative Spirituality. I only include it to show the broad spectrum of thought on the subject.

I will, however, mention that this quote from McLaren, who claims not to be a Progressive and yet promotes the political agenda of the "Progressive" Christian while remaining largely silent on the political agenda of the "Conservative" Christian:

"I don't think the liberals have it right. But I don't think we have it right either. None of us has arrived at orthodoxy.""

is almost a word for word recitation of the "Progressive" Christian's darling, Jim Wallis.

In Hammett's pdf document he questions the need to reach out with a new gospel, a different gospel in the first place, it appears many post-modern Christians are quite satisfied with the church of their parents and grandparents. Some statistics from the pdf:

"A third line of evidence questioning the central premise of the emerging church
movement is the continuing influence of parents on the spiritual lives of their children. A
recent Newsweek poll found that 68% of the respondents said that their religion was “The
same” or “Mostly the same” as that which they practiced growing up, while only 20%
said their practices were “Mostly different” or “Completely different.”26 Moreover, when
asked, “How traditional are your religious practices?”, 71% answered “Very traditional”
or “Somewhat traditional,” while 19% responded “Not traditional,” and only 6% said,
“On the cutting edge.”27 The survey did not separate the responses of the younger
generation from the general population, but Christian Smith’s research on teenagers has
found that “the vast majority of American adolescents are not spiritual seekers or questers
of the type often described by journalists and some scholars, but are instead mostly
oriented toward and engaged in conventional religious traditions and communities.”28 He
underscores this point in a later description of “the vast majority of American teenagers”
as “exceedingly conventional in their religious identity and practices.”29 He concludes
that his research gives no basis for the idea that teenagers need “some radically new
‘postmodern’ type of program or ministry.”30" (These were not live links, but rather footnotes).

Remember Rally Hill? Do we want to experience a "new" worship experience? Sometimes the old is the new. I'm more comfortable with the old new than the new new, if that makes any sense. Some researchers feel that we can learn from the Emergent Church, I think there is truth in that, we must, however, always be careful and avoid taking some scripture out of context and excluding other scripture. I disagree with McClaren on his effort to take the focus off of sharing the Gospel message, Jesus certainly did come to live among us to get people saved from their sins and keep them from going to hell, or being separated from God. I find his quote...:

"The church has been preoccupied with the question, "What happens to your soul after you die?" As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, "Jesus is trying to help get more souls into heaven, as opposed to hell, after they die." I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water."

...particularly troubling. But don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with holding church services in a warehouse, in a video arcade, sitting on couches or allowing dogs to be present at those services. After all, Jesus taught people where they were too, "there is nothing new under the sun," and I have no problem with teaching in innovative new settings, but the theology, the message of Christ must retain the truth, must continue to be "the main thing."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Reflections on waiting while waiting.

Every Monday through Friday I pick my daughter up from school. In order not to get in a huge line of slow moving traffic, I choose to get there a little bit early and wait in a line with a few other early arrivers. My habit is to do odds and ends that can be done while sitting in a car. Writing out bills, balancing the checkbook, catching up on reading............things along that nature.

Today, as I sat in line, I got to thinking..........which can be dangerous for me, still I did it nonetheless.......but I got to thinking about how much time people spend waiting, not just in line, but in life. People are always waiting for the other shoe to fall, that golden opportunity, the next big thing, something better, or even their big break. Sometimes they wait before sharing thoughts and feelings with the ones they cherish. Sometimes waiting so long, fate steps in and deals a cruel blow, leaving them to live with that regret forever.

You can miss a great many wonderful moments in life if you spend time waiting for things that may or may not happen. It's only with age I'm realizing how precious time is...... much too precious to waste even a second of it waiting for things that won't ever happen unless you dive in and make them happen. Things won't always work out as you plan, but you may discover treasures you never anticipated. Stop waiting and live.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Insanity of Dogs.

My dogs are insane. That's all I can figure. I have 8, which is unfortunate for me, but it worked out fine for them. Living out in the middle of nowhere has it's downside. One of the biggest being how people, instead of throwing garbage out of their cars when driving through your neck of the woods, throw cats and dogs. So I, being the soft-hearted sort, end up with new pets more often than I'd care to.

Anyway, back to the insanity of my dogs. They bark constantly, at everything. They bark at me, when I pull into the they've never seen me before. They bark at me with the same intensity they use whenever barking at the UPS guy. They bark when one of my cats walk by their fence. They bark at my two horses they've lived around for years. They bark at the moon, the stars and everything else you can imagine. Yet, with all the barking they do, they will watch with calm disinterest when a small group of deer walk through the yard. Not the least bit interested in barking at them. It's just not natural considering their propensity for barking at every little thing. What's up with that?

Just today, I stepped outside to fetch something and found that a gaggle of wild turkey were walking up my drive. Is it gaggle? Or is that for geese? Seems so........gaggle of geese, flock of seagulls, an unkindness of ravens......what in the world do you call a group of turkeys? Who knows? I'll try to remember to google that later. I digress.

SO, a whole bunch of turkey are wandering up the driveway and my dogs just glance. Like it's an everyday occurrence. Then pure chaos erupts when my cat Angel walks close to the fence and the dogs begin to bark as if their very lives hang in the balance. See what I mean about insane? I never imagined turkeys could move so quickly.

Word of advice. When you find yourself confronted with a gathering of startled turkey. Stay still. Just like they're a bear or something. I never realized what intimidating creatures they could be until they were flapping madly about. My own wild flapping, as I am trying to get out of their way, only made them more agitated and confused. For a moment there, all I could think of was how my death by turkey flogging would end up as one of those strange but true headlines. What an embarrassing way to go.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Discussion at badchristian

The discussion regarding my last entry "Two (?) Wrongs Don't Make a Right" is ongoing at a badchristian blog, and can be linked to here: progressive christian apologetics

Monday, January 16, 2006

Two (?) Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Okay, I have about three different topics which I would like to blog about but before I can begin to go down the list, I feel I must make some comments on a discussion which took place at a badchristian blog which kind of came to a head in Brandon's entry under the title of in pursuit of righteousness. I gave Brandon kudos for writing this entry and I approve and applaud it, as I always do honesty, however, it brings up some troubling issues for me and I did not want to bring them up in the comment section of Brandon's blog, primarily because I was interested in seeing the reactions of others who frequent there, without further interference, before I made further comment. Here are the quotes which I would like to address:

"Buried in our little tiff the other day, Jacke and I had what I found to be a revealing and profitable–I think for both of us–exchange. This was the question Jacke asked that got me to thinking:

Are “Progressive” Christians trying to redefine the historic and traditional meaning of “Reformed” Christianity to suit their progressive agenda?

My answer is an unequivocal “yes”. And, I think it sucks. Of course, this is less often the problem with “progressive” Christians in reformed Christianity as it is with “conservative” Christians. Regardless, though, of who’s doing the redefinition of Christianity to suit their agenda it ain’t cool.This was my response to Jacke’s question:

Some probably are.

Others, like me, pursue orthodoxy radically (or at least we try to) and we find that that radical orthodoxy expresses itself as an adherence to a progressive politic.

In fact, Jacke, it’s probably a whole hell of a lot like “Conservative” Christians who try to redefine the historic and traditional meaning of Christianity to suit their conservative agenda.

Some do that.

Others are in pursuit of radical orthodoxy."


"If we’re going to believe in the God that allows different people as they grow nearer and nearer to her diverge in their political opinions, perhaps it’s time that we all learn a lesson. I doubt that the lesson is that politics are unimportant. Rather, if one of the main vehicles for the Church is community, and Christ followers (who are called to fellowship and commune) are turning out to be both liberal and conservative, perhaps the lesson is that we need to listen to eachother and learn from eachother."

Okay, my problem is this. If Conservative Christians are redefining Christianity, I would like to know how? By believing that God's Word is true? By believing that we can draw conclusions from God's Word based on implications regarding other subjects which can be reasonably applied to modern day issues which are not mentioned, specifically, in the Bible? How is that redefining Christianity? How is believing in widely accepted interpretations of the Bible which have a long history in our faith somehow redefining Christianity? I would like more specificity on how, exactly, Conservative Christians have redefined Christianity by continuing to believe in time tested interpretations of theologians and Biblical scholars for ages. I would like to know how remaining committed to trying to live one's life according to our understanding of scripture we are somehow redefining Christianity. In my own opinion, standing up for what has historically always been the accepted interpretation of particular scripture in the Bible plays a large role in pursuing that radical orthodoxy of which Brandon speaks. If we cannot stand up in the face of those things of which God clearly did not approve, and in fact condemned in His Word, before they get a foothold and change our entire American society and value system how can we then claim that we are pursuing radical orthodoxy? It makes no sense to me.

Orthodoxy (Page: 1014)
Or"tho*dox`y (?), n. [Gr. : cf. F. orthodoxie. See Orthodox.]
1. Soundness of faith; a belief in the doctrines taught in the Scriptures, or in some established standard of faith; -- opposed to heterodoxy or to heresy.
Basil himself bears full and clear testimony to Gregory's orthodoxy. Waterland.
2. Consonance to genuine Scriptural doctrines; -- said of moral doctrines and beliefs; as, the orthodoxy of a creed.
3. By extension, said of any correct doctrine or belief. (emphasis mine)

In my own view, a Conservative Christian would be one who fits the definition of a follower of othodoxy. In my view that would define a Conservative Christian. One who makes an effort to understand the Bible as a whole, in context and connected throughout, inerrant and the authority over our lives. Oh, and I know that Progressive Christians like to use Pat Robertson as our poster boy, but the fact is that most Conservative Christians do not agree with Pat Robertson and Pat Robertson does not speak for them. Let's keep in mind that we are all individuals as we look at this issue, just as all Conservatives do not agree with Pat Robertson, there may well be Progressive Christians who do not agree with Brandon's admission that Progressive Christians are making an effort to redefine Reformed Christianity. Brandon, however, believes this to be the case, and remember, in his own words, he is a liberal among liberals. This begs for us to take a look at what is the historic meaning of Reformed Christianity. I have found a good reference for studying that very issue here: What is Reformed Christianity? and according to this source, here are:

The Fundamental Beliefs of Reformed Christianity

"In our day there are "many" Churches that call themselves Reformed, which in reality are Reformed Churches in name only. For any Church can slap the title "reformed" over its entrance. But the basic teachings of God-centered historical and Reformed Christianity, remains constant. They do not change with the shifting winds of time, or with the social, political or moral climate of a culture. They forever stand as strong as the solid rock of scripture upon which they are built. The following are the general guidelines of the doctrines of true Historical Reformed (Biblical) Christianity (emphasis mine):

1). We accept without question that the 66 books of the Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments, are the divinely inspired Words of God to man (Psalm 119:160).

2). We believe that the Bible in it's original manuscript, is infallible, and thus the ultimate authority for the Christian Church today (2nd Timothy 3:16).

3). We believe in one God, revealed in the three persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This God is Sovereign Creator and ruler of the universe (1st john 5:7; Isaiah 48:16) who upholds all by His power.

4). We believe in the personage of the spirit of Satan, and his present control over unregenerate man (Luke 22:3; Gal. 4:3).

5). We believe in the fall and lost estate of man, which places him under the curse of sin. He is a slave (in bondage) so that he cannot please God with his good works, unless he is regenerated unto righteousness by the Spirit of God (Jeremiah 17:9-10; Romans 3:10-18).

6). We believe in the necessity of regeneration, or being born from above a new creation in Christ. Every person who is justified before God, must be born from above (John 3:7).

7). We believe in God's irresistible Grace, that all whom God has chosen unto Salvation, and all for whom Jesus Christ died, will be drawn of God, by absolutely no merit of their own, and be saved through faith (John 6:44; Ephesians. 2:8).

8). We believe that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour (Acts 4:12), the God/Man who was crucified in our stead, that our sins might be forgiven. It is in our wearing His robe of Righteousness, that we are accounted to stand righteous (1st Peter 2:24) before God.

9). We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, His miraculous virgin birth, and His fulfilling the prophesy of the coming Messiah (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:34-35; John 1:14; Isaiah 53;), Saviour of man.

10). We believe in the Sovereign right of God, in which:
"..He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, 'what have You done?' " -Dan. 4:35 We believe that God, before the worlds were made, has Chosen those in Christ that they should be Holy and without blame. As scripture makes clear, "He will have mercy on whosoever He will have mercy, and whomever He will, He hardeneth." (Romans 9:18).

11). We believe in His realized redemptive death, and we understand the faithful truth that Christ did not die in vain for any man, thus He couldn't have died for every man or indiscriminately for all mankind. The wages of sin is death! He died for the sins of His People, those known only to God from before the world. They are those who were predetermined to be saved for His own purposes. His death was sufficient for His people, that every sin that went to the cross with Him, was atoned for, providing a "real" redemption of man from those sins (Matthew 20:28; John 10:15, 26; 17:9).

12). We believe that in Christ's Resurrection from the dead, we were raised with Him, and as He was raised without sin, so we are risen without spot or blemish, an eternal redemption. It is Finished! God succeeded in saving those for whom He died (Matt. 1:21). He Saved all His people from their sins.

13). We believe in Christ's Resurrection from the dead, His present exaltation at the right hand of the father, and that in due time He will come again and bring all of His saints with him, and so they will reign in Life and Glory evermore (Luke 24:1-8).

14). We all believe in the spiritual, indivisible (not invisible) Church, the Body of Christ that is bound together by the Holy Spirit. We believe that the "true" body consists only of those who are born from above, for whom Christ now makes intercession in Heaven. We believe in the visible return of Christ to this world for final judgment (Acts 17:31).

15). We believe in eternal security, where all for whom Christ died, washing away 'every' sin, cannot have that sin return wherein they could be lost again. We understand the belief in man's ability to "lose his salvation," is not only an unbiblical doctrine, but also an illogical and indefensible one. For it is self-evident that "if" all sins were washed away in Christ's blood, we cannot come into condemnation for any bad works, or lack of works (sins). Else all sins were not atoned for in the first place. In this God is revealed not as an idle bystander, but as an active Spirit in all of nature and the affairs of man, that He keeps His elect secure, and will not slumber (Psalms 121:3). Those who "truly" receive salvation from God are sealed (secured) by the holy Spirit and preserved in strength of His faith, that they will endure to the end (John 10:27-29; Eph. 1:13; 4:30; 2nd Cor. 1:22). Not by their own merit, but by the meritorious work of Christ."
This is a perfect description of what I believe, so am I a Reformed Christian or is a Reformed Christian something else entirely? Something whispy and non-committal, something abstract which cannot be pinned down, as Brandon described in these blog entries: reformed christianity and truth, reformed christianity and community, reformed christianity and minority voices, reformed christianity and service?
I am pleased that Brandon showed the honesty to reply in the way he did regarding the fact that Progressive Christians are trying to redefine Reformed Christianity to suit their own political agenda, I have always found him to be honest in the past and he has my respect for that, I have no reason to begin questioning him now, based on his own past honesty, and that must have been a difficult admission for him to make. I do have questions regarding how he thinks "Conservative" Christians have strayed from the historic meaning of Reformed Christianity, because I believe that most Conservative Christian's belief system would adhere to the guidelines in the above referenced source.
This brings me back to an issue which has troubled me concerning Progressive Christians since the moment I have tried to open a dialog with them. If one believes in the old saying "Two wrongs don't make a right," how can one justify doing the very thing which they have accused Conservative Christians of doing and for which Progressive Christians have condemned them? My most recent entry on this subject asked some hard questions of the Progressive Christian, find it here: On Jim Wallis, Progressive Christians and Hypocrisy at the Other End of the Political Spectrum. I did not receive any replies to the questions I asked. I did, however, shortly after writing it, get a comment from a Progressive Christian on another blog that he had read my blog and that it was "brutal." I have conceded that it is, indeed, brutally honest.
I am thankful that Brandon would like to listen to Conservative Christians and I am thankful to God for giving me a passion to listen to Progressive Christians. I do believe that when we begin and continue in this dialog we can all learn and we can all grow in the Lord.
I have tried to be as fair as I can in replying to Brandon's entry. I wish to repeat his quote and add one:
Brandon wrote:
"Regardless, though, of who’s doing the redefinition of Christianity to suit their agenda it ain’t cool."
and further, he wrote this:
"Yes, I’m a liberal. In fact, I’m so liberal that I’m known as a liberal amongst my classmates at an institution of higher education. (I know, I know, if I ever get my Ph.D. your children won’t be safe.) The thing is, I really don’t think that I’m trying to redefine Christianity to be a liberal. In fact, in my pursuit of Christ, I’ve found that I’ve become more and more liberal all the time. Perhaps one thing hasn’t anything to do with the other, but I don’t think so. Absolutely, part of my liberalism springs from my devotion to Christ. But, here’s the really wierd thing: I know a lot of really great people for whom the exact opposite was true! Shocking, no? I could swear that their conservatism was born directly out of their own radical orthodoxy."
Perhaps there is hope for future dialog between "Progressive" and "Conservative" Christians, I do hope there is and I find it a great learning experience. It is not my intention to misrepresent Brandon's views in any manner, and he, of course, is always just as welcome to comment here as he has made me welcome to comment at a badchristian blog.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hi World, it's me.....PJ

For the zillionth time I've sat myself down to plunk out some words that will hopefully reflect semi-intelligent thought. After all, what do I have to contribute to the blogosphere, that isn't already being contributed by millions of others. Surely not sanity. I've very little of that. Wit? A tad. At least, I'd like to think so. Maybe just some good old fashioned common sense? We'll see. Probably not though, but if you've got some to spare, please send it my way.

I guess I could simply start by telling a little about myself. I mean.........who doesn't like talking about themselves? Well....maybe some Jesuit priest whose taken an oath of silence would beg to differ...........that is, if he could talk.

I'm a stay at home mom. Exciting I know. Actually, it IS exciting. Children do the darndest things and luckily, I am able to share in most of the darn things they tend to do. My kids probably do more than most. That's where the real excitement comes in. Nothing like trying to figure out how to get a crayon out of child's nose. Especially considering the fact the crayon has made said nose slightly snotty and the tweezers won't reach it. I'm pleased to tell you that some doctors have a sense of humor and ours actually waived the doctor fee for that particular visit. The crayon was blue, by the way.

I'm also the resident financial advisor, taxi-cab driver, chef, nurse, rule enforcer and comedic relief. As if that doesn't keep me busy enough, I do laundry too.

On to how I ended up here, at Jacke's blog. We meet in a political chat email group. Right off, despite the fact she a republican, I liked her. All joking aside, I could tell she was a good and kind person. She also shared an interest in something that I think of often. How does one live their life as a Christian, yet dabble in politics and stay connected with their Christian brothers and sisters on the other side of the political fence. For the very political, it can be a real problem. Which is sad and not how it should be at all.

Honestly, I don't take politics as seriously as some, but I enjoy keeping up with them. I have issues that are important to me, but politics has never defined me as a person. I see them kinda like a hobby. I approach it the same way I do my hobby of collecting antique Haviland Limoges. I enjoy it, but sometimes I get tired of searching for the treasure among the junk. It seems lately, when it comes to politics, finding the treasure gets harder and harder.

When we think of how seedy politics has gotten, instinctively, we think the system needs changed. Which, on many levels, it does. Though lately, I've been thinking, we needed to change how we participate in the system. We see what is going on, but out of fear that the other party might get one up on us, we keep supporting our guys. Collectively, as citizens of this country, we really need to show them we are watching. Bombard them with our opinions. Force a reaction from them and an acknowledgement of our existence. We are more than statistics and polls. We are the we in "we the people," and we deserve better than what we are getting. Despite our political differences, we all want our representatives honest and working for the people. That's what we pay them for.

Anyway, I've gone on enough and I will end, lest you begin to wonder what in the world Jacke thinking when she asked me to be a contributor.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Some Things I Learned in 2005

I think 2005 was a year of learning for me, and I am very thankful for that.

I met a lot of people on-line that I had not known before. I value each and every one of them, whether I always agree with them or not.

Maybe this entry is for me (aren't they all?) more than for any potential readers of JackeHammer. I wish I could list everything I've learned this year but that would be a book rather than a blog entry and I'd run off every reader, the few, who check in here. :0

Momma Twoop and I decided to start this blog back in February of 2005, so it has been nearly a year. We knew that no one would read it at first and we didn't know if our thoughts would warrant any attention at all. As you can see, I use the standard format of blogspot, I don't know html well and so what you see here is just a basic anyone can do it format. I know it isn't a particularly nice to look at blog but it's where we can write. I keep thinking I'll do some study and change that a bit, but it just isn't really where my interest lies. I also find myself hoping that someone will come along and offer me some know like "Running a Blog for Dummies," or something like that. I also know that we don't have a large number of readers, but I'm very thankful for the readers we do have, it's always like receiving a gift from someone when we get a reply, regardless of the content of that reply. It is a small thrill, but that small readership we have drives me somewhat, causes me to want to continue...if after nearly a year no one was reading it at all, I'd probably just chuck the whole thing. It is an honor to think that anyone would be interested in anything any of us have to say, it humbles me, to say the least.

If anyone is reading this, particularly "Progressive" Christians, I did not start this blog with the intention of starting a Christian blog. Twoop and I started it to be a political blog but not strictly. It wasn't until I attended church one day and my Pastor discussed briefly, really he just cited it as much as anything, an article which had run in my local paper in Missouri. The article was discussing the plight of Progressive Christians who feel that the "Conservative" Christian had stolen their voice, had defined their Christianity, in short, they seemed to feel that "Conservatives" had stolen their religion. It seemed quite the oxymoron to me, at the time, to claim to be politically progressive and a "good" Christian. At any rate, I disagree that one's faith can be stolen, that's one of the things I learned this year, that no one can "steal" anyone's religion, no one has the power to steal my faith, my beliefs, others may challenge that religion and those beliefs but no one can steal it.

I would like Progressives to know that at first I viewed you as an enemy, as a hypocrite, as one who for the sake of your progressive politics was willing to sell out your "God." I still belief there is a basis for believing that to be true about some Progressive Christians, but now I know that not all Progressive Christians are in it for the politics, some are in it for something deeper and I have learned this year, more than any other, to respect the individual. I thank God for your existence, for your challenge to my own faith and for helping me to grow in my own faith and beliefs. Each of you is a special person worthy of love. I could count on one hand the Progressive Christians I have come across who I feel are disingenuous and intellectually dishonest, that, my friends, is a compliment and evidence that the majority of you are Christians first who are merely interested in politics, in other words, you're just like me, eeeeeek! I have always believed that each person in this world, whether a Christian or not, has something special inside, something loveable inside. If one takes the time to get to know people, one can always find something to love in every person on this earth. Progressive Christians have further strengthened that belief.

In 2006 my goal will be to continue being a listener as well as a communicator. My goal will be to continue to be open minded, teachable, but to also retain the values and beliefs which make me who I am. I don't know the direction this blog will take, I have no way of even knowing if it will continue to be primarily on the subject of Christianity or not, I want to let it lead us wherever it will, or wherever God would have each of us go. I appreciate any and all who go on the "ride" with us. It's been fun, it's been a blessing.

One request I have for Progressive Christians. I have been willing to accept your primary agendas as valuable while not embracing the methods by which you seek to meet success in that agenda. Would it be too much to expect that same respect from you toward the Conservative Christian who seeks to follow his convictions? It should not be.

I am getting really anxious for PJ to share with us here, and I would like to see Twoop's name on more posts in the future. These are both brilliant, articulate women who have much to share. I'm trying to put the pressure on PJ, not too much though, and TWOOPSIE! It's time. Maybe you could share with us some information about that new project you are working on? I'm honored to know you both!

God bless all who read our blog.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Please welcome a new contributor to JackeHammer. PJ, affectionately known as "Peege," accepted an invitation this morning.

I will only say about her that she is a moderate Democrat who is full of common sense.

I look forward to her representing a new perspective at JackeHammer.

Welcome, Peege! Glad to have you aboard!

Monday, January 02, 2006

NBC's The Book of Daniel

Even though a Christian, I fancy myself as a somewhat open-minded individual who doesn't just take other's words for controversial issues that come up in the Christian community. So, when the Pastor of my church gave a brief synopsis of the characters in the new and upcoming television series, "The Book of Daniel," to be broadcast on NBC, without telling us what to say but encouraging us to contact NBC with comments, I didn't jump the gun.

To quote

"In Kenny's "The Book of Daniel," which NBC just picked up for midseason, Aidan Quinn plays Connecticut-bred Daniel Webster. Daniel is a good minister and a good man, but that's not always enough to deal with his life. He's addicted to Vicodin. His wife, Judith, has frozen inside since one of their sons died of leukemia. His son, Peter, is gay. His daughter, Grace, is dealing marijuana to raise extra cash...."

In an article found at, Vince Manze, president and creative director of The NBC Agency is quoted:

""Due to the popularity of such books as 'The Da Vinci Code' and the box office success of such movies as 'The Passion of the Christ,' there's no denying the general public's interest in the supernatural and the spiritual realms.""

From the same article NBC Entertainment President, Kevin Reilly "says (the Book of Daniel) is exemplary of his new watchword in program development – “fresh.”":

"I like that it's slightly provocative," Reilly told Reuters. "We did realize that we're in uncharted waters. ... It certainly stirs people's passions and stirs opinions, and if we do it right, with quality, I think there's millions and millions of people who would say, 'Hey, that's what I've been looking for on television."'

Now, while this statement, made by Ed Vitagliano, director of research for the American Family Association, found at AgapePress news , is true:

""... we certainly recognize that Christians do have problems, and they have problems in their families...""

a statement with which I totally agree, does the Christian community really want a man who describes as one ""in Catholic recovery," (who) is interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation, and isn't sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus....," himself, to be the voice of Christianity for us?

Yes, NBC, "The Passion of Christ" was a box office smash. Yes, NBC, the Christian community would welcome more broadcasting on a religious theme which explores Christianity and the Christian's daily walk with Christ, but please, would it be too much to ask that the writer of such programs have more in common with the average Christian in America???

Further, quotes Kenny, a homosexual, as saying:

""I pull from my own life, but I don't have a gay agenda. Peter is not me, to use an example. He's a conservative, middle-of-the-road Republican gay man, and that's not me."

Mr. Kenny may not be a "conservative, middle-of-the-road Republican gay man," but I cannot accept that any writer, not just Mr. Kenny, can write a fictional screen play without, however unintentionally, expressing his own views and opinions of Christianity and the gay lifestyle, including its agenda. I believe this program is rightfully viewed by Christians as an attack on their faith, why? Because, here we have an Episcopal Priest who is addicted to prescription pain killers, an Episcopal Priest's wife who drinks daily martinis to medicate her emotional pain, an Episcopal Priest's son who is gay, and Republican, mind you, (not that Republican gays don't exist, they certainly do but why this particular choice for the show, if not politically motivated?) an Episcopal Priest's daughter who sells drugs for extra money...we are to believe that this is a common family among the Episcopal faith? Even if it were a common family description of Episcopal Priest's families it still would not set well with the Christian community in America because such a portrayal will be viewed by citizens who have little exposure to church or Christian beliefs as what it is like to be a Christian. Yes, we do have problems in our lives, but the average Christian looks to Jesus to help them with the sin in their lives, they do not look to prescription pain killers and martinis nor are the majority of Christians gay Republicans or selling marijuana as a source of extra income. How can this program be taken as anything less than an attack on Christianity, an effort to portray them not as the unusual people who God calls on them to be, people in the world but not of the world?

Mr. Kenny will be giving an imaginary, fictional view of Christ in his program, of the Christian God in this program. I do not wish the Christian Godhead to be defined by someone who "isn't sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus," in the first place. Is that portraying the Christian lifestyle " right, with quality," Mr. Reilly? I don't think so.