Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dogs, Dafur, Death.

This Monday’s entry by Russell Moore in his commentary “Moore to the Point” caused me to think about a recent reflection I made when flipping through a slightly older copy of the magazine Moore derides in “Judas and the Decline of National Geographic.” I wasn't planning on posting what follows, so I don't have any documentation as to page numbers and other nonsense except to say that the quote below comes from National Geographic.

They “fill the streets and parks, the outdoor cafes and shops. They keep appointments with their masseurs and acupuncturists; they sit for portraits and for readings with their astrologers.” Neil Postman had us nailed; we are amusing ourselves to death. What’s worse, we’re taking our best friends down with us to the grave. Fifty years ago Lassie wouldn’t hesitate in yanking Timmy’s foot from the railroad track before the oncoming train could flatten the lad like a penny. Today, Lassie wouldn’t make it to the scene for two reasons: first, she finds it difficult to operate her blackberry without opposable thumbs and second, because it would interfere with her hair-styling appointment that she had to make over a month ago. The April edition of National Geographic provides no commentary when it describes in word and picture the zip code of San Francisco that has renovated animal shelters into animal condominiums, it doesn’t need commentary anymore than a photo of skeletal remains laying before a charred home in Dafur. To those who are only on-lookers both images are shocking. While it is in many respects unconscionable to continue to draw parallels between people who lavish gifts upon their pets as if they were Queen Sheba going before Solomon, and people, who acting far worse than animals, mount guns on helicopters to kill others unjustly and as carelessly as an early adolescent boy above an ant hill with a magnifying glass and a smirk. It is, in fact, regrettable that our English language allows a word like “shocking” to aptly describe the reaction to both scenarios. On the other hand, both images, both realities find their ancestral root in the same tragic event when in the garden Adam bestowed upon us all an inheritance that would in one generation give way to brother killing brother and would cause us to go about worshipping the created rather than the Creator. This in mind, it should not come as a surprise to see dogs heading into massage parlors, yet we know intuitively with Paul Harvey that this is not the rest of the story; we live for far greater reasons than to pamper our canine companions. It is no small wonder why those who take their pets in to get acupunctures would only look at the account of a dying king with thorns on his head to be a fool’s drama, but this in now way undermines their need of him. Will we, who know beyond the evidences of general revelation, only look at idolaters with disdain and scorn or will we direct them to the savior who created the dogs they venerate?

Friday, May 19, 2006

First Fuller Friday

Over at the blog of one of my "token" Southern Baptist friends, I joked that since he was going to take Mondays to consider what Brian McLaren has to say, I would in turn take Fridays to bring to light some of Andrew Fuller's work. So at the risk of posting two blogs in a row that are heavily dedicated to quoting Fuller, and at the risk of taking a slightly different approach on a day when all the good bloggers of the world are posting pictures and poetry, I submit without further ado: Fuller Fridays.

“It is owing in a great degree to this contentment with a superficial knowledge of things, without entering into the spirit of them, that we so often hear the truths of the gospel spoken with a tone of disgust, calling them ‘dry doctrines!' Whereas gospel truths, if preached in their native simplicity, and received with understanding and cordiality, are the grand source of all well-grounded consolation. We know of no consolation worth receiving but what arises from the influence of truth upon the mind. Christ’s words are spirit and life to them who hunger and thirst after them, or have a heart to live upon them; and could we but more thoroughly enter into this way of living, we should find the doctrines of the gospel, instead of being dry, to be what they were in the days of Moses, who declared, ‘My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew; as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass,’ Deut. xxxii. 2. O brethren, may it be our and your concern not to float upon the surface of Christianity, but to enter into the spirit of it!”

- excerpt from "Causes of Declension in Religion, and Means of Revial" para. 6

Monday, May 15, 2006

thoughts on "Creeds and Subscriptions" from another dead theologian

A Christian society, as well as an individual, is liable to err in judging what are the doctrines and precepts of Christ. Whatever articles of faith and practice, therefore, are introduced into a community, they ought, no doubt, to be open to correction or amendment, whenever those who subscribe them shall perceive their inconsistency with the will of Christ. - Andrew Fuller

I find Fuller’s words to be a helpful reminder to us as we consider a revision to the EFCA Statement of Faith. First of all, we are reminded of the fact that we can and do make mistakes when we establish doctrinal statements. Secondly, we are encouraged to make corrections when over the course of time we see problems with those statements we have established as our creed.

Given these realities I think we should have an established procedure for periodically reviewing our statement of faith. Obviously we would not want an annual review, because we would never be able to step away from our mirrors and out our front doors into the world. I also don’t think it would make much sense to try to review the statement of faith all at once since it may cause us to glaze over some issues because of some other more noticeable issues.

Allow me to connect the dots for you: Do I think we should review our statement of faith and make necessary changes? Yes and yes. Do I think we should attempt this endeavor all at once? No.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

you say you want a resolution? well...

No revision to the Statement of Faith will be presented at the National Leadership Conference this summer. Instead a resolution is being presented on the conference floor that will guide the future of the revising process. The following is the complete text of the resolution sent to the constituents of the EFCA:


A. Whereas the Conference has been informed of discussions under the auspices of the Board of Directors and Committee on Safeguarding the Spiritual Heritage about the on-going process for considering revisions to the EFCA Statement of Faith through the amendment of Article III of the EFCA Articles of Incorporation;

B. Whereas these discussions have resulted in the preparation of two drafts of possible revisions and explanatory notes that have been circulated and discussed within churches
and other constituencies of the EFCA (that is, within those groups that provide delegates to the Conference);

C. Whereas the amendment of the Articles of Incorporation formally requires introduction of the amendment at an Annual Meeting (Conference) and approval by a two-thirds vote at the next Annual Meeting (Conference); and

D. Whereas the Conference desires this process to be undertaken in a spirit of prayer and humility and with high regard for the convictions and opinions represented within the EFCA;

E. Therefore, in order to foster the communication and humble consideration it regards as important, the Conference resolves as follows:

1. The Conference requests that the Board of Directors ensure that reasonable efforts be made to keep churches and other constituencies of the EFCA informed of the progress of these discussions and work, until this matter is concluded.

2. The Conference requests that if the Board of Directors determines that an amendment of Article III of the Articles of Incorporation is not ready for formal introduction at the 2007 Conference, the Board ensure that a full report of progress is made at the 2007 Conference and at each subsequent Conference until this matter is concluded.

3. The Conference requests that if a proposed amendment of Article III of the Articles of Incorporation is brought to a future Conference for formal introduction, it be brought with a recommendation of a special rule of order that provides that if the proposed amendment is substantively amended at the next Conference, the amended proposal, absent unanimous consent, be regarded as reintroduced at that next Conference and final action be deferred until the following Conference, and so on at each subsequent Conference (with appropriate safeguards to be recommended by the Board of Directors to the appropriate Conferences to ensure that the process is not inappropriately prolonged or rushed).

4. The Conference requests that if a proposed amendment of Article III of the Articles of Incorporation is brought to a future Conference for formal introduction, it be brought with the recommendation of appropriate transitional guidelines to assist EFCA constituents, especially individual churches, if the Statement of Faith is revised.

5. The Conference recommends that all delegates to this Conference and future Conferences encourage prayerful and thoughtful discussion among EFCA churches and other constituencies of the issues raised by any proposed revision of the EFCA Statement of Faith.