Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sin is the Enemy, Not Religion

There has been a significant movement in the Christian sub-culture to do away with or downplay the term "religion." Unfortunately, the zeal is misplaced.

"It's not a religion, it's a relationship," is the motto of this group (although some are too cool for that phrase and just opt for a more blunt 'I hate religion' or something similar). The problem with that statement is that it assumes a non-existent dichotomy. Religion and relationship are not opposites; in fact, they exist simultaneously in Christianity. A Christian has a relationship with Christ and simultaneously subscribes to a religion.

Religion seeks to ask major questions that life poses concerning the purpose of life, what the future holds, and the like. Christianity does this by referencing one fixed point in history: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through this event we interpret our current and future existence. Religion, therefore, is the vehicle by which we experience the relationship that we have with Christ.

Religion is a means. We don't disregard it. We believe that God works providentially, that is, within natural laws and systems. Religion was created by God with the intent that he would operate within that structure to orchestrate the one true religion. In the same stream of thought, books function as an example. God created books with the intention that he would, at one point, directly reveal his word to his servants for them to record. Books were a structure set up by God so that he could use that means to communicate all that we need to know about him.

I think what people are trying to say when the talk about how much religion sucks, is that sin drives people to do dumb things. The quest for worldly power--which tends to be the motivation for the formation of a man-made religion--is a sinful pursuit and results in a work-based religion. Religion is manipulated by sinful men who desire to expand their borders and use it as a justification to attack an adjacent country. Religion is used to prove the "good enough" mentality that causes people to believe that heaven is in their future. The point is that religion is a tool, not the problem; the problem is the sin embedded in the hearts of men.

But when we as Christians fix our eyes on the cross of Christ and enjoy God for all that he is for us in Christ, then it becomes apparent that we have a true relationship with him and the result is the outpouring of true religion, mainly, love for others (James 1:27).  

As Christians, God saved us. But he used means. He uses sinful vessels all of the time to awaken the dead to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Religion can be twisted by sinful people to achieve a goal other than God's glory, but that does not mean we disregard it. We seek to show God's intention for it as we point out the sinfulness of those who have manipulated it. And then we show the hope that only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 15, 2010

True Grit

Forty-one years after the Duke starred in the original, the Cohen brothers have set out to remake True Grit and it looks great. Even with the first installment of the final Harry Potter film coming out, I think I am more excited for this film than any other this holiday season.

If you have not read the novel, do it before you see the movie. I was pretty young when picked it up, but I think that it is the best Western I have ever read. Why? Rooster Cogburn, a fantastic anti-hero.

Here's the trailer:

Oh, and I'm not much of a Johnny Cash fan, but did you hear that song right at the end of the trailer? It might be my favorite of his work, God's Gonna Cut You Down, which is a rendition of an American folk song. Good stuff.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

52 Books in 52 Weeks: Aug/Sep Report

So, I put off updating you on my progress for a couple of months since I had not really finished any books at the end of August. But now I'm good. I'm going to be crunched to get all 52 in by the end of the year, but I should get close. Hopefully.

    Fletcher's biography of Bill Wallace is a decent read. Not the first biography I would pick up if I were in a biography mood though.

    In contrast, Bainton's treatment of the life of Martin Luther may be the best biography that I have ever read. I would pick this biography up if I were in a biography mood.

    The Story of Christianity is a simple, readable, two volume set of church history books. If you are interested in church history I would recommend the set. Gonzalez is a liberal which shines through at some points, but overall his treatment is endorsed by the faculty here at Southern.

    Perspectives on Family Ministry is an unhelpful attack-fest by three people who want their individual family ministry model to be the coolest. If you are interested in family ministry types, don't read this book; the dialogue format does not do any of the models justice.

    C.J. Mahaney's Humility is a quick read. It is very beneficial in thinking through exactly what "true greatness" is according to Scripture. I highly recommend it and I think that it would make an excellent book study or teaching opportunity.

    Finally, Peacemaking for Families contains helpful information that is slightly disconnected from reality in its application. I would read it with that in mind.

    So with these six books the count stands at thirty-five. Here are the books I have read not including the ones mentioned above.

    Monday, October 04, 2010

    Hypocritical Povertery

    If you read David Platt's Radical and want to pretend like it impacted you, these items are for you.


    Friday, October 01, 2010

    Google Voice Transcription

    I pocket dialed a friend the other day while listening to the radio. He has Google Voice which transcribes voice mail messages. The transcription function is in its infancy and therefore not that accurate. Just see for yourself:

    What I mean for me if i wanna talk to you because tobacco sheet of paper cost of the key. But I need to pay higher taxes and work starts this is only 2 things are going to do. And in the valley in states across the country couple of both the were more I think the the state level. In the last fiscal year at the neck. I've been in the 20 everything. I'll talk to you for the pastor at the pretty funny. I'll print it out most of them.
    A call. Hey Pat. Very. Thank you, and expert in municipal finance. 3. It, You Can. Thanks to always say that I'm like it, so if you wake up the phone. It's a M in-state almost always find a way to pay off. The Devil support that's the kind of assurance, we had before the financial crisis. It's all this good reason to worry. Did somewhere along the line. If you could will. At. Speak not be able to pay their bill. Hey there, but hold of a good step of the But for now it's important note here at all at the love to speak. We have a chance that they'll at first, but he's from 8. For the federal government. Well, it certainly make a lead, Local officials happy. I think my now there's bill at 88 at their own problem. It's unlikely to meet the Washington will have the rest of the length of stay, local governments that have. At the at the minister Peres, here are lots of money if they're trapped it alright. I have for a while.
    David bustle of The Wall Street Journal. I think that package. And things like wouldn't business news That's. That. Socialite, and I was Eastern first hoping to catch Brett Palmer or anything. How you think that's crazy. You Know. I hope it apparently took out I'm trademark of before HI it's about. 7. So if you have to talk to you legal dramas finally come to my home right now. You have to do the big deal. So. There's no no word about the person. So, okay x 2, it's been sorry for FedEx is not what it is with the our I'm.
    Stevens I'm, archer, hey. Morning Edition. I just left the house. I just wanna call me on the BBC to distribute. I think call you 3. Hey this is. I'm off to the European today. Hello single completion pre I simply okay. Can you tell. Okay bye. I'm coming up on you. Ciao, the P D please give me a stock okay. Yeah. Bye bye. I'll be on the next on point before they'll anything ciao. Bye. More. Bye bye, looking forward to coming. For going coming up next. On. Ohh So I think that the some of the day Tuesday at 3 on on You 89.3 hello.