Category Archives: DOCTRINAL STUFF

Opening to New Experiences (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 9)

Summer Water Drop WaLP tangledwing

“Do not measure yourself by how much road you have covered thus far; rather measure with your eyes set on how much more there is in front of you.” (Jeanne Guyon wrote this to her cousin François Fénelon)

For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about things that influence our spiritual depth: a sense of wonder, widening the parameters of what we believe, letting go of the familiar, assessing the actual “spiritual” nature of our faith as opposed to “soulish,” etc. Here I’d like to propose that…

To go deeper in God we have to be open to new experiences with God.

Fear is not a good reason to stay in the shallow end of your faith. Remember how you feared to even try the water at first? Thank God you overcame your fear and took the risk. Now I encourage you to venture out into deeper water and let the Spirit teach you how to swim. Continue reading

Advertisements

Just Wondering (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 8) 

 wondering

“God himself works in our souls, in their deepest depths, taking increasing control as we are progressively willing to be prepared for his wonder.” Thomas Kelly

Speaking of “wonder,” I wonder a lot––mostly about God. I used to wonder if he existed, but since I got that settled to my complete satisfaction forty-five years ago, my wonder is now of a different sort.

“Wonder” itself has a number of connotations. There’s the wonder that involves frustration, another is more of a curious sort, and then there’s the kind that connotes unreserved marvel. My wondering about God includes all three at different times. Continue reading

Widening our Doctrinal Definitions (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 7) 

is-christianity-too-narrow_article_header 

“Theological reflection is a pilgrimage in which change should be celebrated, not feared.” Clark Pinnock

We’ve been talking about deepening our walk with the Almighty, and certain attitudes we must cultivate if we want to explore “the deep things of God.” (See at the bottom of this post links to previous ones on the subject.) Here’s my next recommendation to that end:

To go deeper we have to be willing to expand our doctrinal definitions

I realize that considering making revisions about what they believe is frightening for some people. For many, their entire relationship with him is wrapped around their doctrinal statement, that list of irreducible minimum beliefs that identify them as “true Christians.”

Don’t get me wrong, there are non-negotiables in our faith, and I wouldn’t think of trying to wrest any of them out of your white-knuckle grip. I’m not recommending that you toss everything out and start over. What I propose is that if you haven’t ventured into deeper waters for quite a while, you might want to take a fresh look at the width, if not the length, of the things you believe. Is it possible that your list of givens is too short or too long or too narrow or too wide to take you to a more profound place in Jesus?

Could it be that what you believe is fundamentally correct in and of itself, yet you’re not flexible enough in your thinking to tweak it if the Spirit were to bring fresh revelation to light? If the very thought of adjusting your theology makes you hyperventilate, you probably suffer from a fixation, if not a mild addiction, to the strictures of your spiritual beliefs. If you wish to have a more profound experience with him, you might do well to ask yourself if you love your beliefs about God more than you love God! Continue reading

Way(s) to God?

Smiling EsmeAria in snow

There’s a difference between different ways to get to God and the different ways God uses to get to us.

Since God has many ways to manifest himself to humans––none of which are on equal par with Jesus, who is The Way––we should learn how to affirm those manifestations wherever we find them and build on them to help people find Jesus.

Whenever I’m asked––and a lot of times when nobody’s asking––I show as many photos to friend or foe of one of my phenomenal granddaughters as they can stand. (Feast your eyes on Esme Davi and Aria Joy above! You’re welcome.)

Of course these pix come with narration as I tell them about how she crawls on the floor, giggles when I tickle her, and snores when she sleeps deeply. When they fail to show signs of spellbound astonishment I figure, either they’re ignorant dolts or it has to do with the limitation of two-dimensional photography to show her superior persona. A picture may worth a thousand words, but it’s not the same as meeting this wonderful little human being in the flesh. Continue reading

The Weaponized Bible

weaponizedbible

“…the letter kills but the Spirit gives life…” 2 Corinthians 3:6

“Weaponize” is a newly coined verb that means, “to convert for use as a weapon.”

A “Weaponized Bible” is a dangerous book used to justify many destructive and deadly practices.

  • They weaponized the Bible in order to initiate and perpetuate the crusades
  • They weaponized the Bible so they could in good conscience justify slavery
  • They weaponized the Bible to support Jim Crow laws
  • They weaponized the Bible to justify anti-Semitism (to the point of the Holocaust)
  • They weaponized the Bible to villainize Irish Catholics immigrating to the U.S.
  • They weaponize the Bible today to engender hate against gays, Muslims, Mexicans, and all the other “others”

Continue reading

The “Jesus Bus”

jesus-busDo all roads lead to God? “No,” says William Paul Young, “but God is willing to travel any road to find you.”

My friend and I were meeting at the baseball stadium to watch my San Francisco Giants play. Parking costs as much as the ticket, so I decided to take public transportation. From my house there isn’t one bus that takes me directly there, so I had to take one bus and transfer to another, which dropped me off right in front of the ballpark.

Though I believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father, there might well be a number of ways to Jesus. Creation, conscience, culture, crises and even some aspects of creed (religion) are like those buses that lead people to — the “Jesus Bus!” They can serve as vehicles that can bring us to The Vehicle that brings us to God. It’s necessary for devotees of other religions to “transfer” from their former way to The Way in order to get all the way to the Father. How and when they make this transfer, and even what the process of transfer looks like is so far above my pay grade that I can only speculate. Continue reading

Is the Bible Outdated? (Part 2 of 2)

worn-out-bibleLast time we talked about how the Bible is a more reliable source of self-identification than one’s culture.

When we define ourselves based on our desires rather than on something as unchanging as the Word of God we’re either being dishonest or unaware of how our current culture affects our sense of who we think we are. For example when someone today says: “I have same sex desires, therefore that’s who I am. I’m gay.” Keller, using the same two issues above (turn the other cheek and homosexuality), proposes the following contrasting scenario.

Take an Anglo Saxon warrior from the shame and honor culture in the year AD 1200. This particular warrior has two strong impulses. The first is to kill people who are a threat to him. His culture says that might is right! The man with the bloodiest sword is the best man in the territory. To be aggressive is to survive. So when he has the urge inside to cut off the heads of his enemies and display them on stakes he’s acting in such a way that his culture applauds. He self-identifies as a man of honor. “That’s me. That’s who I am. I’m a warrior!” Continue reading