Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pet Peeves

There was no real reason why I was inspired to do this blog but I guess it had something to do with the drive between my parents' house and mine: I hate it. So the combination of a lot of time to think and idiot drivers spawned this little list. Enjoy, and feel free to add on! (I dunno who this guy is, but man he looks peeved)
  1. Heelys (those roller-shoes) - kids have enough trouble keeping from running into adults/trashcans/lightbulb displays/woodland creatures/etc. in public, what sick freak came up with the brilliant idea to put these podiatrically challenged children on wheels?
  2. The one little black pebble that the vacuum refuses to pick up so you have to bend down and pick it up yourself. Kinda defeats the purpose.
  3. Traffic lights that aren't on sensors after 11 p.m. I swear the traffic engineers are watching us on cameras laughing their butts off as we sit for 15 minutes in the middle of nowhere staring hopelessly at a red light.
  4. LED headlights - these things I'm convinced, put out a number of lumens that rivals the sun itself. I'd rather stare straight into one of those red laser pointer things and have my retinas burned out than be approached by a car with those obnoxious beams.
  5. Taxes - not so much a pet peeve, I just really hate everything about them.
  6. Bad park jobs - I mean seriously, the spaces are clearly marked to guide us. These are the same people that never learned to color inside the lines in kindergarten.
  7. People that wait in line for 10 minutes and still don't know what they want when they get to the front.
  8. B.O. - With modern advances in the field of perspiration and odor contol, there's absolutely no excuse.
  9. People that wear their bluetooth cell phone ear things at inappropriate times, like while eating with other people - Yes, we all know you're very important, so much so that you have to be available AT ALL TIMES. But I'm pretty sure they world will keep on spinning if you disconnect for 3o minutes.
    1. Corollary to #8 - People that don't have the fancy bluetooth thing, but still have an earpiece, so they just walk around holding their cell phone in one hand and the tiny microphone in the other. For the cry eye, just put the stupid phone up to your ear and talk like a normal person!
  10. Slow-walkers at the mall - this also includes the people who suddenly stop and turn around, invariably causing you to run into them.
  11. Blogs about nothing. Doh!

Please don't take my inclusion of this clip as any kind of endorsement of Keystone Beer...I'm not sure it's even beer.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 what???

Today marks the end of my semester. Having just finished my last final, I'm confronted with the perennial question of grad students everywhere, "What do people actually do with their lives?" When one goes from spending a solid week getting an average of 3 hours of sleep nightly and eagerly awaiting that fateful day when all is finished, you can't help but feel a little let down by the anticlimatic nature of it all. By all reason I should be asleep right now, but that cursed andrenaline has me more wired than Princess Di's telephone.

So I try to think of "normal" things people do when they're not working. Anyone in the real world, I could use some insight here. I could watch TV I guess, or clean, or eat, or blog, or read (mmm, yeah right!), or bother my other roomates while they study for exams still pending (therein lies the double edged sword of finishing exams early: nobody to play with but TONS of people to annoy!). But the bummer of it all is that whatever I do for the next couple days, it'll be all by my lonesome!! [Cue tears of sympathy] Tomorrow will be the true test: I have no classes, no studying, no work, the first time in MONTHS I have absolutely NOTHING to do! The world's mine oyster (prize to anyone who can give me the origin of that quote without googling it). So I need some plans, ANY IDEAS????

Saturday, December 09, 2006

What the People Want

It has been brought to my attention that this time of year (finals time, not Christmas) requires that posts a) be not serious and b) provide a context for wasting time and distracting us from the inevitable. I totally agree. So based on my last post I came to the conclusion that what the people want is saltines, Jim Halpert, and nude campers (long story). Well, it took some doing, and countless hours of not studying, but I think the people will be happy...





Yeaaaah, the naked rambler. He made a goal of cruising the whole of England in the buff. I think he got arrested like 10 times or something. Michaela, I believe you're currently in the same part of the world as this phenom. What's going on over there? This was, by far, the most unpleasant part of compiling this blog, I really hope y'all are happy!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Meteors vs. Wolves

Have you ever wondered which would be more likely, being mauled by a wolf or being hit by a meteor? Well, my friend, you can now file that question away, as our trusted confidant, Dwight Schrute explains in this PSA.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Behold! You: Pregnant!

Genesis 16:11 - "Hineich harah" Believe it or not, these are the literal words of the Holy Scriptures, the words of the Angel of the Lord proclaiming to Hagar that she was pregnant with Ishmael. English could learn a thing or two from the simplicity of Hebrew. Note the complete lack of verbs and syntax, there aren't even any nouns in this proclamation, yet it gets the job done. Thus, Hebrew is not unlike the language of Cro-magnon man, a certain divine "booga-booga" language...Tarzan would be a quick learner, I think...Stallone too...and maybe Ali-G.

So let's take a look at some ways this could be applied to English. Instead of saying, "The cheese is old and moldy. Where is the bathroom?" we could just say, "Behold, cramps, toilet!" Or perhaps applied to our theological arenas we could do away with the complex jargon altogether. Let us consider the quote so popular it should be a song title, "Calvin obviated all manner of subordinationism by giving full weight to the absolute equal ultimacy of each of the distinct hypostases of the ontological Trinity." This, in Hebrew-talk would simply be, "Behold, one God. Three."

We see this at work in other languages too. Check out my main man Snub-nosed's reflections on "All your Amos are belong to us". You'll have to excuse the randomness of this post: it's almost midnight, I've been studying Hebrew for way too long already and see no end in sight. Or, in Hebrew that last phrase would be "This substance time is 30 and 5 (minutes) upon new day. I have studied exceedingly greatly, (waw consecutive imperfect) I see little of completion yet."

Well, enough procrastinating...all my grade are belong to Dr. Enns.

Monday, December 04, 2006

When the World Shrinks

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Sometimes the idols of our hearts are evidenced by the amount of time we spend thinking about them. For me, my most notable idols are the ones that make my world shrink, and nothing else is worthy of my thoughts but that thing. So when happiness is not achieved from that thing, my entire existence is contained by that shrunken, darkened world. "The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply."

But in that dark night, by God's grace, I begin wondering what happened to the light I used to know. I cling to a vague recollection of joy unfettered and find myself curious as to what the source was. When I read this psalm, David's words remind me where that joy comes from. It is the result of having God where He belongs: "at my right hand." With my Savior at my right hand He instructs my heart and gives me counsel, such that even in darkness I am fed. And there I see my blessed inheritance. My idols darken my soul, but in the presence of my Lord "there is fullness of joy."

"You hold my lot." I have two options here: I can use it to blame God for my situation or I can use it to be comforted in it. Where I go depends on where my God is. If He's at my right hand, I will recognize my blessed inheritance; but if I have replaced Him with some other god, I will be quick to blame Him for my pain. Where is God when the world doesn't make sense? This psalm doesn't so much address that question as it does the question behind it: what joy do we have in that confusion? With God Almighty at our right hand, over our life, we have pleasures forevermore.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Families

I know, it's been a while, hopefully I haven't completely lost my reader base! My apologies for the temporary hiatus...

Currently I am a member of three families: my biological family, my church family, and my Westminster family. While there are obvious differences between the three, there are also striking similiarities, especially when it comes to how we (Christian brothers and sisters) interact with one another. What makes our families different from others? It can't be a lack of dissension, that's impossible; and it can't be unconditional love, even non-Christian families often exhibit that. So what makes the Christian family different? Originally I wrote my reflections below for my biological family, so things like "screaming toddlers" of course don't apply to the other familial spheres, but you get the idea! My hope is that this will serve as a call to all my families (my Westminster family in particular at the moment) to love one another with reckless abandon:

My family is real. From the screaming toddlers to the tobacco-obsessed men, from the embarrassing childhood stories and the subsequent bellows of laughter to the pre-dinner prayers of blessing; we live and love, we fight and hurt, we want to love and be loved, we seek comfort and are sometimes left wanting. But my family is real, and by “real” I mean “not synthetic,” not man-made, but rather God-made. It's as real as the ocean's ebb and tide, and sometimes just as volatile. It's as real as the blustering wind, and often just as unpredictable. There's blood and guts in my family: when we fight we mean it but when we love it consumes us.

What makes it my family is each individual. Should one of us be absent, the absence is noted. In my family there is no such thing as “fitting in” even when one ends up being the sole-possessor of a particular opinion. Why? Because it isn't conformity of thought that binds us. It isn't having similar personalities, or liking boxed wine or sharing taste in clothes; it is by mere virtue of partaking of the same Covenant. We did not choose each other, and since this is so, it must not be expected that we will always get along. But rather God chose us to be a family, to support one another, to disagree with one another, but in dissension saying with our eyes (if not with our lips), “I love you.” For in the ways we love each other we manifest how we love God. If our love is conditional, we are saying we must be right with God for Him to love us, or that all must be right in our world for us to love Him. If we withhold forgiveness, we are giving God license to do the same with us. And when we fall on our faces before each other seeking forgiveness, it reflects us falling before our Maker.

My family is not perfect, but it is my family. My family is not perfect, but it was perfectly planned since the foundations of the earth for us to be the family that we are, with all our strengths and weaknesses, all our tears and all our laughter; and therein lies our bond. I love them for their love, and I love them in the midst of our collective, corporate pain. It may not always seem like it, but when one of us hurts, we all hurt, as in the groans of childbirth, as when the whole world cries out in its sin-brokenness. We are a covenant family, seeking to honor our God not just in our joy, but also in our pain. And no number of flaming arrows of Satan can rend that bond; it is eternal, even if our bodies are not.

This is my family.

Friday, November 10, 2006


About a year and a half ago I returned from a two-year mission term in Ecuador. Among other things, my time there was one of frequent turmoil, a constant battleground for control of my heart. Often times I didn't know who I was battling, since I spent considerable time fighting both God and my own sinful nature. Below is a poem I wrote while in the field. It is a story that I think many of us experience in faith. If you think you're alone in your doubts and fear, you may find it to be true that we all come through this wilderness at times. But my hope is that the progression to redemption I've tried to express will also mirror how God might be calling you. It is written unabashedly, admitting crippling doubt and exhaustion. But in the end, it is not I who fights to win, but God who never lets go of His child.

“High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.”

Redemption by Michael P. Van Gilst

Desire no more for that which can save,
Strength no more to resist the grave,
Faith no more to strengthen my bones;
To give me desire; abandon my groans.

Beaten and battered and torn down in shame,
Ready and willing to give up this game.
Knowing that this is just what I can’t do
For living is fighting and taming that shrew.

What option awaits then, in days yet to come?
I hear the beat pounding: the enemy’s drum.
Rolling and rumbling, grumbling thump
Louder and closer and ready to jump.

Stormy horizon and thunder close by
Foretell of a no-longer-cloudless night sky.
I with my satchel and naught else to fight
‘Gainst rain clouds and drumbeats that smother my light.

No where but not here a hiding place be
For here is just wasteland: a planar Hades.
The enemy sees me and knows I’m afraid.
Contemptuous laughter, a bloodthirsty blade.

Yet somehow in past years I’ve conquered this foe
I’ve relit my lamp and heard the cock crow.
I’ve stood in the presence of darkness and hate
And lived on to tell of my enemy’s fate.

But here in the midst of my fear and my doubt
I look to the heavens and holler and shout.
With no other weapon I’m forced to rely
On that which I know is my only ally.

Tears of frustration, exhaustion and pain
Stream from a body too weak to restrain
There in the downpour I cease to resist
And lay down the satchel that’s clenched in my fist.

The lines of the faces of enemies near
Jagged teeth, sneering sneers beckoning fear
The ringing and pounding! the drums will not cease!
Cacophonous symphony screaming, “Decease!”
From whence cometh help? I see nothing above
Abandoned and helpless, collapsed in the mud.
Grip of death strikes me, so seized by the dark
Yet softly I whisper a song from my heart:

“Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O power of my power!”

With final breath drawn and prepared to depart,
Expecting the blade to cut straight through the heart
I notice the deafening silence around
No hand upon me, nor blade can be found.

For out of the canopied rain-stricken gloom
Descends a white dove with the brightness of noon.
I lay there bewildered and barely aware
That now the drum beating is something more fair.

Softly yet gradually bolder with time
Announcing the feat, the change of the tide,
The clearing of trumpets triumphantly sound
For once what was lost in death has now been found.

Slowly I look up and see face to face
My ally behind me in radiant grace.
No where but elsewhere my enemy be
For darkness has fled me and now I can see.

I have not my satchel yet care not for this
For that which is useless is not to be missed.
All that is needed is faith to go on
Knowing the Ally is never far-gone.

-Excerpts taken from “Be Thou My Vision” (translation by Mary Elizabeth Byrne)

El puesto del sol desde la terraza de mi departamento en Ecuador (Sunset from the terraza of my apartment in Ecuador)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Faith through a child

This was a post from my sister Heidi, in response to my post "Great Is Your Faithfulness." Among the myriads of lessons to be learned from children (including having faith like one), God uses children to bring us back to that time before cynicism and pessimism, and shows us that there was a time that we too wondered unhindered at His creation, and that we can do so still. Thank you Heidi, for insights that only a mother could have.

I never realized that I had "lost the wonder" of God's creation until I had children. Fall has always been my favorite season because of the changing of the leaves and realizing that only our God could make "death" a beautiful thing; that is into a promise of Spring. However, until I had children I didn't realize that the "magic" of it all had dissipated somewhat. In the busyness of life we don't "stop to smell the roses" (or play in the leaves). We let the season fly by and forget what it is all there for: a reminder of who God is and His faithfulness to us. I am truly grateful that every time we step outside of the house or the car I have a 3 1/2 year old who gasps in true amazement at the color of the leaves and how they have now fallen out of the tree just for her to play in and enjoy. I even asked my husband not to mow the front lawn, so that my daughter could enjoy the leaves a little longer, and I could find the child-like wonder again. Thanks, Mike.

Friday, November 03, 2006

By way of update...

When I decided to create a blog, I wanted to cover the broad spectrum of Christian life, issues we face whether they be theological, social, emotional, practical, gastro-intestinal, what-have-you. But I also simply wanted to keep those I love up-to-date concerning what's going on here, my "day-to-day" to use yet-another-hyphenated-phrase-in-the-same-paragraph.

So, what is going on here? Well, we've crossed the midterm mark in the semester and are officially in the final stretch before finals. That basically means professors have one month to squeeze as much information as possible into 2 and 3 hour classes. I'll be finishing up my formal education in the Biblical languages this semester, after which the real language learning begins as we use it all in our classes. Call me a language geek, I'm thinking of doing an independent study in Greek, possibly translating Romans and doing some exegetical stuff. Although, I may hold off on that till next winter.

It looks like I'm going to be quitting Starbucks (much to the chagrin of my roomate who benefits most from my free lbs of coffee), and perhaps getting certififed as a lifeguard and working at a fitness center somewhere.

I've stepped down from youth ministry at my church to be able to focus more time on an opportunity that is presenting itself on campus as the president of the Student Association (gradually taking over for the current fellow who's graduating in May). I'll be more involved in that capacity next semester.

I think that's about it, kinda boring I know, but all the interesting stuff that goes on inbetween will probably be blogged on other posts. Like the time I accidentally stuck the lit end of a cigar in my mouth...or maybe the time I laughed with brownies in my mouth and shot them a good 5 feet across a table all over my friend, Tim. Or the time I had to go to the ER because of some awful stomach cramps...

a sojourner

ps: since this wasn't a thought-provoking post per se, I'd challenge you to meditate on the video below, presented here for your viewing pleasure...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Great Is Your Faithfulness

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

Lamentations 3:22-24

There are precious few better places in the world than Pennsylvania to witness the majesty of this time of year. And to many, what happens among the trees is simply a spectacle to behold, a lovely sight to enjoy. To others it is evidence of a natural phenomenon signaling death and life, resulting from a cessation of water to the leaf and a lack of chlorophyll to keep the leaf green.

And both these perspectives are true, but they are lacking true wonder. Donald Miller says in his book Blue Like Jazz, "I don't think there is any better worship than wonder." So what are we wondering at? The same things that we take for granted every day, the sun rising and setting, the oceans and all their life being contained and sustained, the mind-boggling myriads of stars and galaxies all being held in His hand; sometimes we think about these things, most times we don't, and even fewer times do we let them remind us of God's sovereignty over His creation. It still amazes me that this time every year in this part of the world, it gets a little colder, a little breezier, in exactly the same way that it has for centuries. I guess you could say I'm easily pleased, but I don't consider that to be a naive characteristic, in fact it is this "naivete" that balances out my otherwise cynical outlook.

But given the sovereignty of God exhibited in creation, am I willing (and able) to say "The Lord is my portion"? What does that mean? What does it look like to put our every fiber of being in the hands of the Lord? Well first of all, like Donald Miller shows, it means wondering at His incomprehensibility. There is mystery in what we believe, Paul admitted it, we shouldn't be afraid to either. That might seem ridiculous to outsiders, but they're not seeing the same stars we are. And from the outflow of wonder and love in our hearts to the God who does this is a life that characterizes His calling. By virtue of our position this means humility unbounded.

So what say you, theological student of reformed theology? Over the years we've gained an unprecedented reputation for criticism and judgmentalism. Is this not the antithesis to our calling and what we claim to rule our hearts??? To be fair, criticism is necessary and good; it is the building up of God's kingdom. But how we do that is the key. It is very easy to tear apart a book that a brother has written because you're interacting with mere words. Words you can distort, words you can misrepresent, words you can destroy and not feel the slightest ping of conscience in doing so. But what about the brother behind those words? What arrogance has seeped into our hearts that keeps us from recognizing Christ's child behind the ideas that do not conform to ours? Instead we retreat to the comforts of our studies and lambast perspectives that frighten us...the kind of behavior that would inspire someone to boycott a conference on a very prevalent phenomenon in the church today.

Have we lost the wonder? And if so, has that void been filled by a spiritual inferiority complex that requires us to protect our doctrine at all costs, even the unity of the Church? Again, I'm not saying (nor do I wish to even imply) that reformed scholastic criticism is unwarranted. Not being critical would be unfaithful to the Scriptures as well. But after each of our criticisms, if we can not praise God for the diversity of His Church and embrace our brother or sister who differs from us, the point has been missed and God has not been glorified. That in essence, is the key, is it not? " it all for the glory of God." In that statement is an implied "and not for your glory."

This, of course, does not simply apply to those of us in formal theological training. This notion applies to every one of us: husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, parents and children, friends. If you're not seeking to glorify God even in your disagreements, the glory that could be to God in the midst of it will be lost.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning." Can we say the same of ourselves??

A sojourner

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pumpkin Immodesty

Ok, so this has nothing to do with the EM (many of you may be relieved about that). But today I'd like to turn my attention to another social and spiritual issue, one that is very serious and demands our full attention as well as a well-deliberated response. That issue is pumpkin porn. Today more than ever pumpkins are being carved and arranged in risque manners to depict the unmentionables of the human anatomy. With recent advances in pumpkin-carving technology, mankind in all its debased wretchedness has taken that new knowledge and combined it with the worst of his imagination to show pumpkins not as a vegetable the way God intended (or is it a fruit?) but rather as a a person's hindquarters. I, for one, am aghast.

So people, what are we going to do about it? What happened to the good ol' days when the only thing you could carve into a pumpkin were triangle eyes, a nose and perhaps some semblance of what could only be called a gingivitis-ridden mouth? With the onset of this monstrosity, who know what tomorrow will hold? We're coming upon winter; I shudder at the implications this has for the hundreds of thousands of snowmen that will be constructed this year. Modesty, people, is the key.

A very concerned sojourner (me, not the guy below...but he looks like a sojourner too)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Emergent Revisited

My oh my, where do I begin? What an amazing blessing this conference has been! This post could very well be 20 pages in length if I were to adequately respond to all that has gone on here in the last 48 hours. As expected, my opinion has altered slightly since my last post, although "nuanced" is perhaps a better word. I was corrected in my critique of cohorts, and am planning on attending one soon. There was so much great dialogue on both sides of the debate, so much that I want to address, but I'll restrain myself from "being in the judge's seat" as TallSkinnyKiwi put it. I accept that criticism from him knowing how my brothers and sisters can be at WTS, but as Mark Traphagen noted, there are many of us here who are simpathetic to much of the EM and I for one am excited to see how the evangelical church can assume what I consider to be invaluable assets of this movement. For me this would, of course, attempt to maintain the Reformed theology while incorporating the missiology and cultural sensitivity so prevalent in the EM (I don't consider this to be an impossible task!)

One issue that my friend and fellow student Keely raised concerning all this is one I found to be of great importance. It seems that all the current leaders of the EM are all very theologically educated in various backgrounds (again, I can't say this is universally true, but it is for all the leaders I've encountered so far). TallSkinnyKiwi even notes his appreciation of being able to step back and look objectively upon his Reformed history. This, brothers and sisters, is an invaluable gift. We must all look upon our past traditions with scrutiny and constantly measure that against the unchanging truths of Scripture. But what about the people who come to Christ under the EM? What objectivity do they have? I'm afraid the next generation of EM will find itself ignorant of the rich heritage of the variuos historical traditions and simply avoidant of anything dogmatic. To put it metaphorically, I see them being raised on whipped cream by men and women who were fed with beef but didn't like the plate on which it was served. Is this a fair observation? I'd love to hear some thoughts from the EM folk on this.

All that said, I simultaneously feel a great bond in Christ by mere virtue of the Missio Dei, what God is doing globally through the EM as well as the traditional church. I thank God for all the diversity of His Church and the fact the we are all brothers and sisters in Christ with actively passionate hearts for serving Him. My hope is that here iron shall sharpen iron and we will seek to draw upon the rich assets of our respective approaches to missiology, ecclesiology and what it means to be in the world but not of the world. My goodness, what better theme to discuss on a site dedicated to the life of the sojourner! May God bless us all in our sincere endeavors to make it all about Him and not about us.

A Sojourner

Thursday, October 26, 2006

An Emerging Mistake?

This weekend Westminster Theological Seminary is hosting its annual theological conference. This year's theme is the Emerging Church. As for me, apart from what I found out on Wikipedia, this is my first real taste of this sweeping phenomenon. And so far, I gotta say I'm not impressed. No movement can survive by stressing one small aspect (or even several aspects) of what the Church is called to be completely. For the Emerging Church those aspects seem to be the following: missiology and ecclesiology. Noticeably missing from this list is theology. Admittedly so, the EM (Emerging Movement) stresses praxis, but not theology. In practice then, you can have several churches that aline themselves with the EM, yet have polemically opposing doctrines. This seems to be an attempt at catering to the post-modern resistance to metanarratives; the speaker today, Scot McKnight, even claimed the EM to be "post-systematic theology".

Now I can understand and even appreciate the recognition of the need for reform in evangelical circles, but I don't think this is a healthy approach. First of all, it isn't sustainable. To be an Emerging Church, the body must agree with the goal and vision of the EM (hmmm, this doesn't sound very post-modern). But if you have several churches claiming to be the same thing (whatever that "thing" is), sharing a goal and vision yet preaching whatever they want, there is only one eventual certainty: self-destruction. This is actually already happening within the EM circles as one leader has even gone as far as calling another's teachings heretical. Of course the same thing could happen in a denomination like the PCA (oh, by the way, EM doesn't have denominations, they have "cohorts" which is just a post-modern name for denominations; change the name of somthing and all of a sudden its new and exciting). Yet there is a system in place for such eventualities, and at least when a person goes to a PCA church, he/she has a pretty good idea of what to expect from the pulpit.

Hear I would like to insert a disclaimer that I have not actually attended a church that is part of the EM and my opinion as of now is flawed at best. I have no doubt that my view will change with that experience, but yet the flexibility that I described above concerning theology is still probably better labled "weakness" and that as much as our post-modern world cries out for flexibility, at the end of the day, what it wants and what it needs are quite different. I think of 2-year-old screaming to get his way, but what he's really screaming for is to have guidelines, some sort of rigidity with which he can know, "Ok, this is permissible to do, but this is not."

Does the post-modern context call for us to respond differently with the gospel than we have been? Most certainly. But I do not think this requires us to smack systematic theology over the head with a shovel and throw it in the river. EM claims to be "post-systematic". That term was never really fleshed out, and I'm not quite sure what that means, but it certainly does imply a divorce and more importantly the idea that the new conception is more enlightened than the old (this, you may recognize is a stalwart of post-modern thinking). One must always be cautious when treading in those waters: to promote something new (or emergent), one should be very certain that what is new is changing the inadequate parts of what was old and not simply responding to the demands of the secular society in which he lives.

Which brings me to the 2nd reason why EM isn't a healthy approach: it's superficial. They've done away with doctrine (theoretically, but not practically; even non-denominational churches adhere to a very particular doctrine), or at least calling it doctrine since post-moderns seem to shiver at the mere mention of the word. But here is where I find something extremely insightful on their part, something that we as evangelicals need to incorporate into our ecclesiology: creative worship. EM is all about incorporating the arts and involving all the senses in worship. God gave us all our senses, why not use them? Amen, brothers! But putting me in a low-lit room and sitting me in front of a bunch of candles at a "worship station" (the video atop is an example of this) isn't really going to cut it. I give post-moderns more credit than that. They may suspect metanarratives and be wary of traditional doctrine, but they're not superficial. It's like the youth group sunday school rooms we all know and love: on the walls are posters of the greatest Christian rock bands like Petra and D.C. Talk taped up crooked because that'll make all this God-stuff relevant to the crazy teens. We can't sacrifice sound doctrine or a solid foundation for relevance. Their focus on missiology, ecclesiology, social justice and involved worship are quite warranted; we as evangelicals need to wake up and see the needs (both spiritual AND physical) of the world around us. Yet it is my opinion that this approach will draw in a great and curious crowd, but after a while the crowd will find itself malnourished and sucking on dust.

A Sojourner

Below is Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Church in NYC, speaking on the EM.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Round 2

Well, this is my second attempt at getting "with it"; my first atttempt at blogging was ill-fated and met its demise shortly after it began. Hopefully this will last a little longer. As you may or may not be able to assume from the title of my blog, "Strangers in a Strange Land," this site is dedicated to the life of the believer in this world, specifically about my experiences, both past and present. The overwhelming feeling of all my experiences has been exactly that: there is a feeling that I don't quite belong here, that I shouldn't get too comfortable, and that I'm really seeking after Canaan. As a Christian I always feel a bit like a social misfit, even called to be so, yet in the world just the same. Never has this reality made itself so manifest as in my time in Ecuador; a 6'5" ghastly white blonde guy hasn't much hope to blend in with Ecuadorians. Yet lessons learned there about what it means to live as a sojourner will stay with me all the days of my life. Surely these lessons will be the themes of future blogposts. I hope this blog will serve to inform my loved-ones of the going-ons of my life as well as generate thought and dialogue concerning issues related to our pilgrimmage on this terrestrial ball. For now I'll leave you with this incomplete yet provocative quote from C.S. Lewis' A Grief Observed,

"It doesn't really matter if you grip the arms of the dentist's chair or let your arms lie in your lap; the drill drills on."

I've purposefully left this quote out of its context to see how people respond to it, for in its context Lewis is making a very profound assertion about suffering and grief. May this be a blessing to your heart as well as mine.

A Sojourner