Jesus the Stalker

I thought that this post (passed on by my ever-watchful girlfriend!) was most excellent, although the point may evade a lot of people. And I don’t mean excellent just for its humour — which it most certainly is — but excellent from an Evangelical Theological viewpoint.

The author diverges quite a bit, going into a long and often overwhelming rant against little figurines. However, while some people in the comments section seem to have missed the point the first time through, I got it pretty fast, when she stated:

So, seriously. I think it’s safe to say that Jesus isn’t going anywhere. Sure, there are plenty of people who don’t believe, but, and let’s really think about this, do you honestly think that making Jesus my homeslice is what’s going to make the difference between me believing in the Bible and not? What the people who are making these products fail to realize is that these things are not helping non-believers see the “light”. All they’re doing, really, is make believers look ridiculously corny. Like, you buy into this crap? Jesus on a Tobogganing trip? The fuck? What does this have to do with, well, anything? Does that answer the questions of hatred, war, famine, disease?

As an Evangelical Christian, I was raised in a church that relies heavily on this “homeslice” concept. Ask anyone what the key to salvation is, and their response will be “a personal relationship with Jesus.” Consider their children and youth ministries, and you will notice a heavy emphasis on the “Jesus on a Tobogganing Trip” concept — Jesus encourages playing games and enjoying yourself and he’salwayspresentsoyoushouldfeelhappy!!!

While I don’t think that this upbringing is entirely lacking in substance, I think it falls into the same snare that too many groups of Christians have: It humanizes our faith. To rephrase, I think that the typical Evangelical perspective takes the Gospel and interprets it based on our understanding of certain concepts, and renders it into a useless version of itself.

I can’t focus on every aspect of this, clearly. There are a number of underlying factors here, and many cultural values that have been loaded into this faith system. But the one aspect I would like to target is one of the most important messages in the Bible, and easily the most recurring topic: Love.

Interpreting the Bible with Love in mind is a valid perspective, by me. It’s safe to say that God wouldn’t have deliberately created humans without love as a factor; Omnipotent beings, as far as I can tell, don’t just poke around for fun and accidentally wind up creating a sentient race. Also, His continued devotion to the Israelites is only explainable through love, since He continuously denounces them for their sins, then turns around and hands them another chance. [add to this His omniscience, and one has to figure love must be a major factor, since He knows they're going to botch up again!] And the message of Christ is undeniably one of love, with the ultimate conclusion of a series of love-filled lessons being Christ’s loving sacrifice upon the cross in order to restore mankind.  The ultimate love story, as told by John: “For God so loved the world”… and you know the rest of the verse!

Simply put, as 1 John 4:16 puts it, God is love!

Now, perhaps I’m sounding a little too much like the people who made the Basketball statue in the post. And I’m glad. That’s the point. Too often, the word love in our society is equated with friendship, or companionship. This is the failing of the Evangelical church.

One could do a lifetime of studying on just what the Bible says love is. I’m not going to do that. But what I think is important for Christians to realize is that this interpretation of love is a) too simple and b) too relative. For eons, women and men were married out of necessity. They didn’t choose wedlock; Rather, the woman was given to a man, for political or familial reasons. Clearly a person in such a system would interpret the statement “Jesus loves you” differently than the typical Evangelical does. Love in an age of assigned marriage is about dedication, perseverance, and practicality.

I’m not arguing that their perspective is right; Rather, there’s a combination of both factors contained within the Bible. What I’m arguing is that Evangelicals too often get caught up in the idea that Jesus’ love for us is modern love, a love which is relationship-driven and quite “buddy-buddy.” Ideally, couples today joke with each other, flirt with each other, and have an overall chummy partnership.

And yet, the Bible teaches that God is Sovereign. He is, as the author of this post points out, God, not our next-door neighbour. Yes, he is omnipresent, and yes he loves us, but that does not necessarily combine to make playing basketball with God a Biblical necessity.

And, as Rockstar Mommy points out, there’s a practical implication behind this form of “advertising” Jesus. For rich, white [spoiled] kids,  sure, basketball is the epitome of a relationship. But for one starving in the streets of capitalist North America? Or for a child with AIDS in Africa? I don’t think that saying “Jesus wants to play keepaway with you” will capture the spirit of love for them.

And for the rest of us intellects, it just makes a good joke! :P

Mohler: Why Christians should care about Global Warming

One podcast I listen to regularly is done by Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In his most recent podcast, “Should Global Warming Matter to Evangelicals?”, Albert Mohler has an interesting argument to put forth.

Firstly, I would like to note that quite often Mohler can be what I would call a “hard core” Baptist. He truly believes that not only Christianity, but Baptistism is the 100% correct faith system. While he goes as far as to admit that certain details are up to personal opinion, he always has reasons for why he believe what he does over other beliefs — something that is both impressive and somewhat frightening. I believe it’s critical to think through what you believe and why, and Mohler will never be faulted for the opposite. But sometimes, it’s a bit frightening to consider the tone of his voice when he says that Baptistism is the single way for him; it makes me almost feel like I’m wrong for figuring that Christians share a common bond of truth.

That aside, however, Mohler presents a very intriguing argument in his show on global warming, and one that, quite frankly, I never would have expected from him. Perhaps it’s my slight bias against American conservatives (who quite often can verge on fundamentalism), or perhaps it’s just that he is socially conservative on every other issue he has ever confronted (most of which I agree with, I may add…), but the fact that he believes that Christians should consider Global Warming as an issue was a pleasant surprise.

Mohler argues:

When it comes to the issue of global warming, here’s what I want to suggest to some Evangelicals. There were many evangelicals, many conservatives who woke up this morning and heard that the Swedish Nobel Committee had awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore, and they just thought “oh, here we go again.” Here we go again. Al Gore’s going to get more publicity about global warming, and this is going to receive more cultural attention and all the rest. I want to suggest to you that this could be, in the end, a good thing, if it leads to a sane discussion about some of this. I’ll let the Nobel Prize Committee worry about the Nobel Prize, but I just want to tell you that I think we should be unashamed and unhesitant to have this kind of discussion. It’s now an issue that is on the front-burner of our culture; that means it ought to have our attention as well! While all the people are adding their two cents to this issue, Christians need to be there to say, “You know, we have to respond to this out of a certain worldview. We have to respond to this out of certain presuppositions.” And our presuppositions mean that we’re not only looking to global warming on this earth, but we’re looking at how this fits with God’s purposes throughout eternity.

[...]

Let’s talk about the foundations of a Christian environmentalist, and let’s also talk about this with a background that we know that there are many people who have desecrated the earth. There are many people who have misused the earth. Let’s just name that as sin. It is sin to deliberately misuse what you are given as a gift. It is sin to deliberately misuse that which you have been given as a stewardship. And we have been given creation as a stewardship. In Genesis, Adam and Eve are given a responsibility to care for the earth, and to even subdue the Earth.

Now, the Liberal secular worldview says that we are to be stewards, but not to have dominion. Well, that’s not the way it works. In the scripture we are told to be stewards, we’re also told to have dominion. There is a Biblical warrant for eating, for tilling the ground, for toiling in the earth, for doing the type of things we do to make the earth yield forth it’s goodness for us. We dam up rivers in order to have electricity. There are a lot of things we do in subduing the earth, and a lot of these things have led to human happiness. I am one who is thankful that the human beings discovered carbon-based fuel. I am thankful that we discovered electricity and how to use it. But every one of these things comes with a trade-off.

And the interesting thing is, now that we have global warming — and I think it’s clear that most persons are at least convinced that there is something going on — now that we have it, the big question is “what then?” Well, if the Christian worldview says that we are to be stewards of the earth — that we’re to call it sin when someone deliberately desecrates the earth — then our responsibility is to be good stewards of what God has given, and to glorify God in the process, and to do so without believing that the earth is the point. In other words, we do not, in our motivation, seek to care for the earth because we care for the earth, we care for the earth because we care for the Creator, and it’s His. It’s like a garden that He’s allowing us to use; we need to return it to Him better than it was before.

I personally am all for his interpretation of the scriptures, in this case. It hinges, perhaps, on the idea that Genesis occurred as it is written. Therefore, as long as you accept that (which I do), then there should be no doubt about our stewardship of the world. That being said, even a more liberal Christian surely can accept that we are the dominant species on the earth, as is God’s will, and as such we should be caring for it even though it was not directly passed on from God to Adam.

One debate, I think, would be over the definition of stewardship. In this case, I think Mohler would be proud that I want to bring Jesus Himself into the equation, with one of his parables. Matthew 25:14-30, often referred to as the Parable of the Talents, places the onus on the steward to care for his possessions. Jesus states that “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” If indeed we are stewards of the earth, then how much more pivotal is it that we care for it than a few coins? To those who believe that having dominion over the earth involves no responsibility (and I have met those who do), then Jesus’ parable should be a strong cautioning.

Otherwise, I think it’s simply appreciable that there are arguments to sway the uber-conservatives. As he states in the show, there is a stereotype that liberals are the ones who care about global warming, while conservatives and evangelicals are considered to be against such movements. So get that, people… even Southern Baptists support the notion that we shouldn’t treat the earth carelessly!

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