Tag Archives: questions

“What do you believe about…Christianity and Science?”

Several times a year I’m asked the question: “What do you believe about Christianity and Science?”  Sometimes the question is posed directly over a coffee.  Other times it expresses itself through a concerned mother seeking faith-forming, but scientifically robust literature for her children.  Recently, the question was nested within a conversation with someone who had been grappling with questions of origin and meaning that had arisen from their undergraduate studies.

“What do you believe about Christianity and science?” is an enormous question that extends out into thousands of branching considerations and a seemingly endless subset of questions.  To address these in one fell swoop is neither possible nor pragmatic.  Instead, I thought I would highlight a resource that has helped me sharpen my thinking around this question and cultivate an integrated perspective between my biblical convictions and the scientific data.

That resource is BioLogos.

BioLogos seeks to help “the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.” 

BioLogos’ five core commitments:

  1. We embrace the historical Christian faith, upholding the authority and inspiration of the Bible.
  2. We affirm evolutionary creation, recognizing God as Creator of all life over billions of years.
  3. We seek truth, ever learning as we study the natural world and the Bible.
  4. We strive for humility and gracious dialogue with those who hold other views.
  5. We aim for excellence in all areas, from science to education to business practices.

In an often polarized environment where biblical faith is presumed to be antithetical to reason (and vice-versa), I’m extremely grateful for BioLogos.  Their team is doing some heavy lifting; thoughtfully challenging the dismissive caricatures that each side of this “debate” has often resort to in the quest for legitimacy.  Refusing to play within the confines of the “warfare” model of faith vs. science, BioLogos’ contributors are crafting an intellectual framework that upholds both biblical and scientific integrity.  They are reasonably, faithfully, and joyfully pointing us towards the full riches of complete understanding as they celebrate Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

Whether you’re wading into these waters for the first time, or swimming in the deep end of this ongoing discussion, I’d highly recommend BioLogos’ five article series on Christianity and Science found here: http://biologos.org/common-questions/christianity-and-science

The question, “What do you believe about Christianity and Science?”  is one that deserves the best from our intellectual capacities.  We do not honor God by skirting this issue due to laziness or dismissing it away while professing the virtues of holding to a “simple faith.”  We are called to love God with all of our minds (Matt. 22:37; Prov. 18:15), and in response to that calling we endeavor to bring our best thinking to bear on these questions, seeking to articulate a worldview that is faithful to the witness of both Scripture and science.  I hope BioLogos becomes a helpful resource to you on that journey.

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Four Questions from Ron Sider

If you check out this month’s Relevant Magazine you’ll find a great article featuring Ron Sider.  For those who are unfamiliar with him, Ron Sider started making waves within the North American Christian community of the 70’s and 80’s.  This was primarily due to his outspoken messages on the need for Christians to rediscover the biblical teachings on justice, peace, and compassion towards the poor; values that Sider believed where almost completely off the radar of most Christians at the time.  His most famous and important book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity, continues to influence Christians and introduce many to the importance of social justice for disciples of Jesus.

In the article, Ron Sider poses four questions to the emerging generation of Christians and church leaders.  The questions emerge from Sider’s concern that while many young people are eagerly embracing the social justice dimension of the gospel (“love thy neighbour as thyself), the central themes of the Christian faith seem to be eroding.  Here are Sider’s four questions:


1. Are you in danger of neglecting evangelism in your passion for social justice?

2. Are you in danger of abandoning an affirmation of moral and intellectual truth?

3. Will you honour your marriage vows?

4. As you seek to respect the dignity of gay/lesbian people, have you wrestled carefully with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality?

Thoughts?  Which question(s) do you find most challenging?

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Mere Disciple Interview: Karyn Makins

Recently I was thinking about a way to highlight some of the people that I’ve come to admire as examples of people who are passionately pursuing Jesus.  I thought that it might be cool to post some short interviews with them on this blog, and in the process have them impact you through their faith and passion (if they haven’t done so already). 

First up on the interview queue, Karyn Makins.  I met Karyn back in late 2008, and after our first coffee together it was obvious that she was intensely interested in discovering and following through on God’s call on her life–whatever that turned out to be.  Over the next several months, Karyn got heavily involved in our community, built some great connections within our church and established herself as one of our young adults who led by example and exuded a passionate and sincere faith. 

Currently, Karyn serves as a leader within Grindstone’s high school program (Elevate), and also serves as a member of one of our Sunday morning worship teams. 

What does being a disciple of Jesus mean to you? 

Being a disciple of Jesus to me means being like him in everything that I do. You know the cliché Christian saying “what would Jesus do?” I actually ask myself that a lot! When I am going through my day and trying to be a disciple I ask myself what would he do in this situation? Then I try and do it! I think it also means learning and practicing what we learn from other Christians who exemplify Jesus’ character or what we learn from reading the word and seeing who Jesus is.  


What have been a few of the more significant learning curves you’ve experienced as it relates to following Jesus?
 

I think that I have had a few significant circumstances that have really challenged me to forgive and love others despite what they have done to me. The great thing about Jesus’ love is that it isn’t earned and in fact isn’t deserved. He forgives me for how I have wronged him – just as I need to forgive others that have wronged me. 

I also have learned a lot about living life with kingdom value instead of worldly value. I think that it is good to do things for fun, and that things need to be prioritized (like your job, school etc.) but knowing that if there is something that will enhance the kingdom you prioritize that instead because you know that its value is greater. 

Describe your relationship with God in five words.

Dependence, love, trust, challenging, comfort.

Why are you connected and involved in a local church?

I am involved in the Church for a few different reasons. I LOVE to serve in ministry; it gets me excited and fulfills me! I also think that as Christ’s followers we are called to serve especially in the body of Christ. God gives us spiritual gifts that help others connect to him and grow in their faith.

When did your faith first become “real” and why? 

My faith first became real to me when I entered high school. I was blessed to have met passionate Christ followers who I became very close with. They were living a lifestyle that reflected Jesus’ character and had a personal relationship with him – which was something I was missing. Over the course of grade 9 and 10 I was able to understand and start a relationship with Jesus and ultimately ended up living for his will only, not mine.

 What is a life-stage challenge for you as it relates to living out your faith faithfully and passionately?

 There are so many areas of my life that challenge me to live out my faith. One is living in a culture that is all about selfishness and consumerism. I find that it is a struggle to daily put others before myself and not be consumed by things of worldly value instead of kingdom value.

While I am waiting for my mission term in Rwanda I am working in a mall where all I want to do is spend money on things that have next-to-no value. I also find that my job can be exhausting and can sometimes feel pointless. I know that in this time God can use me through the relationships I have built, but it is so hard to live with zealous faith when I spend my time in a job that is so un-fulfilling. I just look forward to February when I will be serving alongside orphans, widows and refugees.

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Is Blogging “Cultural Masturbation”?

NT Wright shares some wise and insightful reflections on the blogging phenomenon.  His warning about how blogging can become a kind of “cultural masturbation” is especially interesting.

It sounds as if he really wants us to ask ourselves the question, “Does my blogging behaviour push me into deeper face to face relationships and community, or help me avoid these things?” 

I think that’s a great question that we need ask ourselves, because it relates to so many issues tied to our use of “screen time” technology (e.g., Facebooking, texting, blogging, etc.)

Here is the full video:

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“This church had a man crisis…probably”

I recently received an email from the president of our denomination association (www.agcofcanada.com), encouraging us to watch a short video advert for a new book by Darrin Patrick (Mars Hill Church–Driscoll edition).  The email was sent as a kind of “watch and be inspired” email that you get forwarded to you when a friend sees something and then says, “I’ve got to tell others about this!”

Now, I want to be up front and admit that I’m not a fan of the philosophy of ministry that seems to undergird Driscoll’s church, so my expectations were immediately…tempered…to say the least.

I’ll post the video first, then offer some reflections afterwards.

After repeated viewings, the message is of the video is clear: The health and effectiveness of the local church is causally connected to the “manliness” of the men within it.

Really? O_o

Ok, so maybe I shouldn’t be too surprised by this assertion. Mars Hill Church (Driscoll edition) has carved out a niche of sorts hammering on and on about the necessity of a “godly” patriarchy (a view which I firmly disagree with). What surprised me, however, were the assumptions piled on top of one another.

“It was men that made this church come alive, and it was probably men who caused this church to die.” Probably? You don’t know? (I’m assuming not, because he reiterates that this is “probably” what happened at this church again at the 1:06 mark). Just my two cents, but you might want to do your homework and try to understand the actual reasons why this particular church died, before you launch into a solution.

I’m also saddened by a number of assumptions Patrick makes through the video:

1. Women are (apparently) a non-factor as it relates to the effectiveness and health of the local church.

2. Church dysfunction could be stopped if men in the church started “manning up” (i.e., move out of the house, get a union job, stop playing video games and stop masturbating).

3. Pastors are the actual root of the problem, because men take their identity cues from the pastors within their churches. So pastors, moreso than “regular joe’s,” need to man up (x2!).

All three of these assumptions are the classic “shame game” that evangelical churches are famous for. They sound “strong and bold,” but they are actually cowardly and weak. Transformation within churches will not happen through the words, “Shame on you!”

Is there a crisis of masculinity within the church? Undoubtedly! But Mars Hill Church (Driscoll edition) doesn’t offer a vision that comes close to a solution. At best (and I’m being very lenient here) it only offers a warrior archetype for masculine spirituality, which can be genuinely helpful for some men (especially adolescent males), but the warrior archetype is limited in its ability to propel men into deeper levels of genuine spiritual transformation, especially into the 40’s and beyond. I fear that all that’s being offered here is a Christianized version of “command and control” spirituality which Richard Rohr (a true master in the realm of masculine spirituality) actually believes to be the root of the masculinity crisis within churches. Ironically, Rohr believes an overemphasis on a “man up” theology will actually stunt the spiritual development of males, because the problem isn’t simply one of motivation.

Oh, and by the way–what does any of this have to do with church planting? Isn’t that what Patrick’s book is about? All I can say is I hope his book is going offer a lot more than a “wake up call” to men/pastors to plant churches on the foundation of “real men,” because I can think of a better Foundation for a church than that.

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Is faith irrational, sub-rational, or super-rational?

In scanning through some Youtube videos for a sermon a while back, I came across a channel produced by Word on Fire, a Catholic ministry spearheaded by a priest named Father Barron. I watched several of their videos, and really, really enjoyed them, especially the ones that took modern movies and explored their themes from a biblical perspective.

One of my favourite videos is Fr. Barron’s response to Bill Maher’s mockumentary “Religulous.” Actually, Fr. Baron doesn’t spend too much time cutting down the movie’s “arguments.” Instead, he focuses his efforts on exposing the problems with Bill Maher’s underlying assumption that religious belief is fundamentally irrational.

The entire video is worth watching, although it’s Fr. Barron’s reflections on the relationship between belief and reason (starting at 5:31) which are really rich and insightful.

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