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Scott Jones

most excellent

Scott Jones

Adam, can I use this list of questions and issues in my Wednesday night youth Bible study tomorrow? We were scheduled this month to discuss God and the Problem of Evil (go figure).

Adam

Scott Jones,
Of course, that's not a problems at all. But I don't know if I would risk calling God a sadistic pussy at your youth study :)
So feel free to modify.

Phil

Somehow, I don't think they'd be the least bit fazed by 'Sadistic Pussy.' but, that's just me.

Scott Jones

Our Bible study went great tonight. Thanks for letting me use it.

Streak

a fabulous post.

clint

we are all sinners. God wants to forgive us. we just have to ask. do not be fooled by satan! he is very sneaky. i will pray that God gives you wisdom to see the truth. if you want, pray for this for yourself also. do not expect God to audibly talk to you. He knows the best way to reach you, you just have to be willing to listen. God knows what is in your heart, and he loves you. that is why he created all of us. please do not take my comments as judging you or "preaching" to you. i am just trying to help. feel free to e-mail me if you want. thanks--- clint

Leighton

Slacktivist this week has a good comment:

'[Person X] seems like a genuine example of the old description of an evangelist: "I'm just a beggar, telling other beggars where I found bread." That's a nice image, but the impression one gets from too many evangelists is that they don't really think of themselves as beggars at all. They're just sure that you are one -- a dirty, filthy beggar who needs to become more like them.'

http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2005/01/all_you_need_is.html

I'll give you three chances to guess why I think this observation is apropros.

Andy Zack

I really appreciateed the questions above. They challenge me in my faith. Tom Skinner wrote a book, "If Jesus is the Answer, what are the questions?" I want to supply answers for the real questions people are asking. I am a christian and believe everything God says about Himself in scripture. However, I didn't come to this conclusion because I'm smarter or more spiritual than others. You don't learn about, understand, or get close to God by observing the world HORIZONTALLY. You understand God by going to Him and letting Himself VERTICALLY reveal Himself to your heart. Read Psalm 73 in the Bible. The first 16 verses show the despair, hopelessness, and existentialism that happens when we interpret God by looking at the world. Verse 17 is the turning point because the writer "went into the sancturary of God, then I understood...". The rest of the Psalm is filled with faith, hope, and encouragement.
Jesus said,"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled".
To understand God, go to God and not this world!

Adam

"Sanctuary of God" Not sure what that means. I appreciate your sentiment but I'm having a hard time making anything out of what you are telling me.

Andy Zack

Hi Adam. Simply put, the answer to lifes questions come from the Creator of life. He can be known. He sent His Son Jesus to die so that we can know God and be with Him forever. We have all sinned, everyone of us (have you ever lied? stolen something? gossiped?). It is our sin that stands between us and God. That is why education, philosophy, religion, drugs, alcohol, etc do not provide the solution to our hearts cry. Jesus does. We must admit our sins, ask Him to forgive us, and give our lives to Him. Then we will not only understand, but we receive the gift of eternal life. Everything I've said to you is in the New Testament of the Bible

Leighton

I propose a new blog game: every time a hit-and-run evangelist shows up on somebody's blog and unleashes his (or her) sales pitch without first taking five minutes to figure out what's up, we have a contest to see who can correctly guess what fundamentalist group the witnesser belongs to. Between all of us, we ought to have a pretty good idea.

"(have you ever lied? stolen something? gossiped?)"

This sounds really familiar, but I can't place it. Definitely someplace that uses the sinner's prayer, but those groups aren't my strong suit. Can anybody help me out?

Oh, and comparing education to drugs and alcohol was quite simply classic. I must remember to frame that one.

Liz

Fantastic post, Adam.

'Oh, and comparing education to drugs and alcohol was quite simply classic. I must remember to frame that one.'

If the drugs in question were sleeping pills, then the analogy works ;).

I like the game idea. I suggest we could also play 'Evangelist Tally'. But then, who would win? The blogger with the most or least hit-and-runs?

Andy Zack

Concerning the above response, I was not "comparing education to drugs and alcohol"; simply stating that all people are searching for meaning and fulfillment in different ways. The analogy is sound. I read your previous statements and questions,(particularly concerning the "sanctuary of God) and endeavored to answer you in a respectful and from-the-heart response. Perhaps I cut a little to close to your heart, Adam. Your mockery of "Evangelists", placing me in a category rather than hearing an individual's own experience, something you would not want me to do to you, shows you don't want to deal with the real issue.

Leighton

Andy,

If you pay attention to the last line of the comments, you'll notice that the comment you're responding to is mine, not Adam's. Adam hasn't replied to you since the first time you dropped in. It's extraordinarily difficult to explain the motivation for my comment without sounding mean, but a good approximation is that people who go to other people's blogs to witness [this may or may not include you] often have very little idea of how many times their audiences have heard their spiels in precisely the same ways, despite the fact that the stories are supposed to be deeply personal. There are a couple of related discussions over at Badchristian here--

http://blog.badchristian.com/blogs/index.php/2005/02/09/wycliffe_i_have_a_favor_to_ask

and here--

http://blog.badchristian.com/blogs/index.php/2005/02/11/street_evangelism

(the comments in particular are relevant) that will probably give you a good idea of where we're coming from. If you're hoping to share a very personal story, I hope you're also willing to listen to some. It's only fair.

Cheers,
Leighton

Andy Zack

Hi Leighton

Thank you for your response. I reached "The Pub" by accident and was responding to the "...what's the deal". I apologize for sensitivity in my last response. I actually tried to go back and change it after I posted to no avail. Yes, I will listen to your story as well as others.

Andy

Andy

Well, I've looked at this site many times to see if the above discussion would be continued - if there could be intelligent conversation about the initiated conversations above. I was challenged by Leigh to cease my "speil" and listen to what others were saying - something I have been more than willing to do. So, with great anticipation I have looked for the personal stories of the burned-out, the fed-up, the disillusioned lives of those who have been hurt by the church or just see life differently. I have waited two whole months So, where is the meaningful, heartfelt thoughts of the young and discontented?
Somebody shares their story of finding the reality of the love of One who died on a cross as perhaps an answer to some of the seemingly deeply expressed questions above, and it is called a "sales pitch', "hit-and-run evangelist". Hmmmmm
Interestingly, whenever someone challenges the verbal vomiting of those who dismiss the existence and/or love of a true Creator, these self-proclaimed promoters of free thought run to the hills (or is it another discussion blog?). It only proves what Paul Little said over 20 years ago; "the problem with many is not that they can't believe, but that they refuse to believe" no matter what the evidence is.
I don't know everything, but do know this for sure, that real faith and meaning is not a matter of the head but a matter of the heart. I believe there is real evidence (scientific, biological, historical) not only to God's existence but His involvement in our lives. This is true, even for those who profess atheism or agnosticism - who probably don't believe because of some incident in their lives - some prayer not answered, some hurt by a family member or romantic involvement. Or perhaps it's just that our lives are so full of ourselves, our goals, our stuff. Or more so, we feel guilty and unclean and the thought of God makes us hide from Him. Then again, it could just be rebellion, that opposition inside all of us, the understanding that if we acknowledge God, that this makes us responsible to Him. Whatever it is, I truly hope and pray for this website that each of you will truly open your hearts. Before you reject what you feel is undue influence from some "fundamentalist group" remember that all of us are influenced by some group or someone. Who influences you?

Leighton

Andy,

So far as I know, I'm the only atheist here, and everyone else is Christian rather than (e.g.) agnostic. If you want to say something to me, take it over to my blog and don't bother Adam with it.

The reason I personally don't care about your story at the moment is that you haven't given anyone any reason to care about it. These things are best shared in the context of interpersonal relations, not as rhetorical tools in arguments. If it's thought you want, you'll find it here if you look, but also check out Outchurched that shares a lot of the same commenters. That might be the sort of thing you're looking for.

Leighton

Incidentally, if I gave the impression earlier that I or anyone else would share our stories, I apologize: I misspoke. What I meant, and ought to have said more clearly, was that personal testimony from strangers is usually more relevant when you know the people you're talking to, and when the people who you're talking to know you. Intimacy doesn't happen at the drop of a hat. I personally referred to your earlier posts as a "sales pitch" because they're indistinguishable from any of fifty other "personal" testimonies I've seen from people I don't know, and I have no idea except in the vaguest, most unspecific terms who you are or what your statements mean to you. Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking you to explain it, since I'm concerned that you might be overinvested in some response from us; what I'm saying is an explanation of why I interpreted as impersonal and irrelevant what you seem to view as personal and deeply relevant. I hope this makes some sense.

matt

I just made an interesting connection. Well, it is interesting to me at least. If I bore you, STOP READING!

Andy makes a statement above (April 28) in which he writes that he belives that everyone knows that God exists and is active in our lives, some just refuse to believe it. Pretty standard evangelical stuff these days, right? I get that a whole lot.

As far as history of doctrine goes, however, this is also a view found in some obscure German dude named Friedrich Schleiermacher. He spoke of the universal feeling of absolute dependence as part of human consciousness. Everyone had a God-consciousness, but some could not (or would not) refine it and live from it. See his "The Christian Faith" or "Speeches on Religion to its Cultured Despisers".

Anyways, to make a long story short, (and if you are still reading you should get a medal), Schleiermacher is now known as the father of Protestant liberalism. Let me say again LIBERALISM.

All I have got so far is *guilt* by association. But after spending a semsester reading Schleiermacher, I am convinced that most of today's more conservative evangelicals take their cues from the granddaddy of all liberals.

I may have more to say on my blog about this during the summer. For now, I have to finish that paper on Schleiermacher...

cheek

Matt,
As much as it would please me, I'm not sure how much of a connection you could establish between Schleiermacher and current evangelicals. I think the better connection is to secular pragmatism. They haven't officially abandonned appeals to absolute truths, but there ideas are largely empty of any real Christ-like idealism. Take a look at the hostile take over of the SBC by fundamentalists in the 80's to see an example.

And Andy, I think that one of the points RA has been trying to make to you is that if you knew Adam you would know that his concerns did not come from a place of disbelief. As a close friend who has struggled through many of the same concerns with him, I can tell you that the questions that initiated this discussion are born out of a desire to maintain some sort of belief rather than a desire to free ourselves of it. I'm not sure what evidence you speak of as being available to us all, but it can hardly be seen as being any stronger than starving children, raped women, enforced labor, widows, orphans, etc. We all think a great deal of the life and message of Christ, but it's hard to reconcile the loving intervention that is seen in him with the creation of a world that would need it. Why did God have to create the world the way he did? If he wanted to demonstrate his love to us, why not do it in the safety of heaven. Why invest us with a nature that doesn't allow us to love as he does or appreciate that love? I don't ask these things from a place of disbelief but from a deep desire to believe in the beautiful vision I see in Christ. These questions can't be answered by the Roman Road or the Sinner's Prayer. Most of us here have walked aisles and prayed prayers and heard every sermon you could preach. I respect your belief, but I'd like for you, before you expect any of us to adopt it, to be willing to actually deal with the tough questions that need answering.
Peace,
Cheek

matt

Cheek,
Yes, I know evangelicals may be "secular pragmatists". But I also do not accuse Schleiermacher of abandoning "absolutes". He did much to redefine many of those "absolutes", but he never abandoned them either. His followers may have done that, but not him.

What I am trying to point out is that evangelicals claim to have a rational religion par excellence, and also say that it is part of everyone's experience. However, few will admit it. Schleiermacher sets out to rationally define the limits of theology, and he ends up making a similar claim. The differences are also there, of course. For one, Schleiermacher was much more humble.

Maybe I should be more clear next time. It seems to me that Scleiermacher's "turn to the subject" in theology has led to this fundamentalist/liberal split. I only believe evangelicals have walked this road on accident. If they ever DID theology, they might realize it. But just pick up some Max Lucado and you will see what I mean.

cheek

I don't disagree with you regarding the connection in content between their beliefs. I just don't see that they are derived in similar ways. I think that Schleiermacher derives the universality of faith impulse to bridge the gaps between ideologies and open the disourse of Christian theology to other perspectives whereas fundamentalist evangelicals take it as an assumption based on the primary assumption that they are right about everything. "I am right that God exists in the way I conceive him. If he exists in this way, then everyone should be aware of his existence. Therefore everyone is aware of his existence." It seems more like the most brazen case of begging the question to me than anything else. But it is effective for some reason, which fits with the link to pragmatism.

matt

I have a hunch that Schleiermacher is not aiming for universalism as much as he is just trying to avoid Kant. You will never catch Schleiermacher talking about "Christ-principles" or "universal religion". There is only the particular. And his particular Christianity is grounded in the experience of redemption in Christ. Those who came after him did the whole universalism thing. He may have left the door open to it, but I do not think he ever walked through.

In the same way, perhaps evangelicals are aiming for a historical religion without having to use Kant. They are trying to preserve some concept of revelation while being as reasonable as possible.

Adam

I find it odd that people are trying so hard to avoid or follow Kant and nobody really understands a damn thing the guy said.

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