Friday, July 28, 2006

To Be Or Not To Be?

Scott posted some questions on his blog concerning the liberal-conservative Christian divide. I started to comment and it got too long, so I posted it here instead! If you're interested you should check out Scott's post first.

The problem with the definitions Scott uses is that when they are used in Christian circles as adjectives they define a particular generally definable Christian view. The definitions he uses are general definitions and don't really help define "liberal and conservative Christians." Of course thats part of the problem with the way these labels are thrown around - no one wants to be conservative! But is liberal all good either?!

Liberal Christians are hard to define because they are by definition retreading orthodox Christianity. Liberal Christianity is often characterised by the following features:

> internal diversity of opinion

> an embracing of stronger criticism of the Bible with a corresponding willingness to question supernatural elements of biblical stories (e.g. the resurrection, the virgin birth)

> the rejection of biblical literalism and the inerrancy of the Bible

> the freedom to construct different views of God

> broader views on salvation than those held by conservative Christians, including universalist beliefs (which flow to some extent from the frequent rejection of Christ's resurrection)

> an emphasis on inclusive fellowship and community, often applied in recent years to racial minorities, women, and lesbian, gay and bi-sexual people.

> a willingness to consider and adopt viewpoints which have their roots outside of Christianity (e.g. other faith/philosophical traditions)

> a willingness to combine theology with modern scientific theories

> a commitment to the social gospel that fuels a high level of involvement in charitable, medical, educational, and relief work, such as adoption agencies, crisis pregnancy centres, shelters, food banks, medical clinics, things like Auckland City Mission etc

So its liberal in that its open. But, in my opinion, fatally misguided in that it tends to reject orthodox Christian starting points.

Conservative Christianity on the other hand does not necessarily mean that its closed (although it often does!) Conservative Christianity is often characterised by the following features:

> A belief in the authority of the Bible and a belief that it is an incontrovertible source of God's revelation to humankind.

> Bible prophecy and Bible inerrancy are typically affirmed.

> The resurrection of Christ is seen as a historical event

> A central focus on Christ's redeeming work on the cross as the means for salvation and the forgiveness of sins and an accompanying acceptance of his divinity

> Encouragement of evangelism - sharing one's belief in salvation through Jesus Christ with others - through both organised missionary work and personal evangelism.

> Traditional views on a literal heaven and hell.

> A high level of involvement in charitable, medical, educational, and relief work, such as adoption agencies, crisis pregnancy centres, shelters, food banks, medical clinics, things like Auckland City Mission etc

So its conservative in that its mostly orthodox, but often misguided in that it adopts a siege mentality.

I think I am more conservative in my beliefs, but more liberal in the way I process the world. But I reject either of those labels as getting even close in defining my faith. And that's the problem the conservatives have - they often can't handle that - you're either conservative or you're liberal - well welcome to the world, its a lot bigger than they think! As for liberal Christianity it falls into 2 camps for me: those that maintain a belief in the divinity and humanity of Christ, including his death and physical resurrection, and those who don't. For me, the second group are not Christian in belief. In fact I have heard some describe themselves as post-Christians, which is about right - post-Christ. Of course among the 2 or 3 readers of this blog there may be those who don't feel adequately described by my descriptions - I'm not trying to be exhaustive, just somewhat descriptive.

One of the reasons I am attracted to the emerging church conversation is because it tends to be orthodox in its foundations but asks questions of the established order that I think are healthy. But I think there is a danger for the emerging church in becoming seduced down a liberal theological path. It is possible to follow Christ and be neither liberal or conservative.

In fact I'd say its essential.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Police Prostitutes

The latest furore concerning the Police woman turned prostitute reveals the huge double standard that exists now in New Zealand society. Police bosses deemed the woman's secondary employment as "incompatible with policing". Why? If prostitution is now legal, then the right to be employed as a prostitute should be no different than the selling of any personal services. All personal services, from cosmetic surgeon to masseur, shoeshining to podiatry, would seem to be captured by this incompatibility. Surely this is a significant breach of the police woman's rights to be employed in a legally sanctioned place of work?

Or maybe its not just the policewoman who has no clothes...

Friday, July 14, 2006


We were sitting at the lights yesterday waiting to turn right. The straight ahead lane light turned from red to green. The right hand turn arrow remained red. The car at the front of our queue instinctively powered into the intersection turning right...into the path of oncoming traffic. Fortunately there was only one car and a collision was narrowly avoided. Fortunate for the 3 kids in the back. School holidays and all.

Sometimes, I get preoccupied with where I'm going. The lure of the destination seduces me into carelessness with the process of arriving. It becomes second nature to rush when waiting is the wiser choice. To take a short cut to maintain the illusion of faster progress. So far, I've been able to avoid a head-on, but its not a smart way to drive.

I get distracted by those who ask, "Are we there yet?" In those moments its tempting to understate the remaining journey, "No, not far now." This does not serve them well, nor me - if its not far now, then more speed, more speed. And we're still arriving for some time yet...

There are those around me who sound a warning from time to time. Its tempting to ignore the horn blasts: what red light? Its easy to misinterpret warnings as criticism - 90% of people believe they are above average drivers...mostly its down to them that I've stayed safe. Its a good thing for all of us that we have each other.

The guy second in line wasn't watching the lights either - he was watching the car in front, and blindly followed into the intersection and the oncoming...makes you think.


Monday, July 10, 2006

cessioncommunity blog

Check out my post over at cession community's blog...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rockstar Excess

Alright, here's where I admit a huge character flaw. Last time I discovered one was in 1986. Here it is: I watched Rockstar INXS and I will watch Rockstar Supernova...

Even if only for the best unsigned...houseband in the world - awesome band!

Anyways, I won't be voting but I have picked my top 6 after watching week 1. I will be very disappointed if the majority don't make it through to the business end of the show. My top 6 in order of rating so far are:


Sweet, soul voice with wild intonation - the talent oozes - will be interesting to see how versatility shapes up

Excellent voice with great stage presence

Intense, feral, unique

Ryan (Where did the photo go?)
Demonstrated multi-dimensional intensity within one song


Superb vocal - out-idolled Billy - weird weasel boy


A lot of voice - a bit frilly round the edges but could make it to the last few

Watch for the goof from Iceland to go first...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

In Memorium

This is always a funny week for me. Its a kind of worlds-colliding week, not bad, just interesting and cause for reflection.

Monday 3 July was the 4th anniversary of my late wife's Claire's death. It seems forever ago and just like yesterday all at the same time. This year I have been too pressed to make my annual pilgrammage to Cockle Bay, the beach where we were married and where Claire's ashes were scattered. I guess thats what happens when an anniversary falls on a week day (unlike the past few years). I'll still go - I'm not sentimental (OCD?) about doing things on the exact days.

But its been fun recalling our life together, remembering little turns of phrase she had that have been popping up in my vocab this week - Claire loved the word "jaunty" for example and would use it with a slightly clipped, affected voice that made it very funny. Just a week or 2 ago, I was watching a DVD at cell and found myself asking the question in response to a situation where a woman lost her husband, "How would I cope with that?" Except I already did. That was a strange moment.

On the other hand, yesterday was 4 July and we celebrate that today (its 4 July in the USA now) as a family every year. This has only become more important to us with Rhys around. The new life has fresh patterns of its own.

Anyways, nothing particularly deep to say - just aware of the seasons of life this week - the bitter-sweet moments - the memories and creation of memories - traditions and recollections.

Its good.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Israel Connundrum

A week or so ago, the locals Christian Leaders gathering for the area I pastor in, was visited by a Jewish gentleman. When I say Jewish I mean 2 things: first I mean it ethnically. Second I mean he was a true Jew, one who has recognised Christ as the Messiah. These people are commonly referred to as Messianic Jews.

Anyway, the guy works with a Messianic church in Israel and they do a great job helping Jews find Jesus as Messiah. I always find that stuff interesting.

But the reason for his visit was something different. He was there to convince us that if we really want to be blessed as pastors and churches then we need to support Israel as the modern nation which is the continuation of the Israel talked about in the Old Testament: God's chosen people. Bible believing people will understand this as truth. Now this raises many issues, some of which were pointed out to the gentleman! Not least was his lack of any knowledge on other legitimate biblical views ie he didn't have the tools to even discuss other views. Thats another story...

The point for me is this: I can't help thinking about the certainty of this man's claims as I watch the scenes unfold on TV this week. The Israeli sledgehammer cracking the peanut of a small terrorist cell. All the while the innocent casualties, people and infrastructure, mount.

I know the Jews left a trail of destruction behind them in the OT, but I just can't help but think that this is not the way God's chosen people should really behave...just a thought.