William Willimon’s “The Culture is Overrated”

ronfurg:

Here is a very thoughtful article by William Willimon, Duke University’s Dean of Christian Ministry.

Originally posted on Musings and Observations by Vernon Caston:

William H. Willimon – Dean of chapel and professor of Christian ministry at Duke University.

When I recently asked a group of pastors what areas they wanted help with in their preaching, most replied, “To preach sermons that really hit my people where they live.”

At one time I would have agreed this was one of the primary purposes of Christian preaching—to relate the gospel to contemporary culture. Now I believe it is our weakness.

In leaning over to speak to the modern world, I fear we may have fallen in. Most of the preaching in my own denomination struggles to relate the gospel to the modern world. We sought to use our sermons to build a bridge from the old world of the Bible to the modern world; the traffic was always one way, with the modern world rummaging about in Scripture, saying things like, “This relates to me,”…

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Great literature

I love great literature. I mean the kind that speaks to your very soul. Prose that you feel in your innermost being. You can relate to it. You yourself have experienced sensations that resonate with what the author is communicating. Well, this morning Shirley will be driving me off to INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital. I’ve put this off beyond the 10-year recommended cycle but I’m finally giving in. HERE is a link to the great literature which describes nicely what I went through in preparation for this visit and what I will be experiencing this morning. RMF

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A Pope’s take on Creation and Science

I am certainly not intelligent enough to be able to sort out all the arguments regarding creation and evolution.  There are what appear to be powerful arguments both for and against special creation and what is presented as a more scientific explanation for how things came to be as they are.  I cannot conceive of a better explanation for how matter itself came into being than that provided in Genesis 1.  Likewise I don’t see how intelligence, the type represented by language such as the coded language in DNA, could arise from a non-intelligent source.  So, how things developed following creation are a mystery which I am delighted to let the scientists and theologians sort out as best they can.  [In this regard I take the same position as I do with the arguments between pre- and post-millennialists, i.e., I’m a pan-millennialist.  I believe it will all pan out.]  Still, how to make sense of the seeming gulf between the Biblical account of creation and the theories of modern science is a challenge and could certainly do damage to one’s faith.  Is it possible to reconcile them and to do so in a credible way that is both satisfying, rational, and intellectually honest?  The following article by Stacy Trasancos reports on an attempt to do so.  It appeared first at: The Integrated Catholic Life as: Pope Benedict XVI on Creation and Evolution: “Complementary Realities”.  Ms. Trasancos is a wife, mother of seven, and joyful convert to Catholicism. She has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Penn State University and a M.A. in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She worked as research chemist for DuPont before becoming a full-time homemaker in 2003, and has advanced knowledge in the fields of nano-meter scale materials, polymers, elastomeric fibers . . . cooking, dish-washing, and stain removal.  RMF

Pope Benedict XVI on Creation and Evolution: “Complementary Realities”

by Stacy Trasancos

Creation

 

 

Stacy Trasancos

Stacy Trasancos

In 1981, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, developed a catechesis for adults on the creation narratives because, he noted, creation catechesis was nearly absent from teaching, preaching, and theology. His catechesis was in the form of four Lenten homilies given in the cathedral of Munich. Later in 1986, and at the request of many people, he published the homilies in a short book, In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall.

In the third homily, he explored the creation of the human being, taken from the earth and made in the image of God. The homilies are theological, but a discussion of creation cannot be complete without a discussion of scientific progress in the twentieth century. Thus, the last section of this homily turns to evolution. Here he proposes the “inner unity” of creation and evolution and of faith and reason.  Continue reading

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The Christian in the Workplace

This is a brief article by Pat Furgerson which appeared first as: This is up for discussion — How Can We Be Christian Leaders at Work?  Pat is an Associate Minister, the “Utility Guy” at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA.  If you follow the link you’re invited to share your experience as a working Christian.  RMF

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How Can We Be Christian Leaders at Work?

Pat Furgerson

Pat Furgerson

The concept of being a Christian is a fairly easy idea to grasp when you are safe within the walls of the church sitting in a pew, listening to worship music. But what does it mean to be a Christian leader at your job? Topics such as; leading with integrity, holding to your Christian values, and even sharing the Gospel with co-workers are challenging.

When I worked at Perot Systems installing and maintaining computer networks, I faced these on a daily basis. The great news is the two main bosses I had were also Christians. Both set me up to succeed both in terms of “business” and in terms of living out my faith. The biggest challenge I had was when I traveled.

For about six months I worked in a suburb of Atlanta. Every Monday a team of us would fly down and every Friday we’d fly back. Often in the evenings, a group would head downtown to Buckhead. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but being a young guy at the time I thought it was wise for me to hang back with another couple guys at the hotel and pass on the “entertainment.” This saved me from being in many awkward positions. Not the least of which was when the group decided to go to places where lust was inevitable. Had I gone, I would have been stuck. We’re in a group. We’re sharing a car. I couldn’t just back out and head home easily. Fortunately, God protected me during that time. Sometimes it was because I made a good choice earlier in the day. Sometimes I’m sure God protected me from myself.   Continue reading

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Scientific challenges to faith

Christians, especially those who are new to the Christian faith, can easily become intimidated by atheists who sling charges that science has proven belief in the Bible and Christianity to be without merit.  The whole field of Christian apologetics deals with this type of claim and offers very compelling evidence that science has done no such thing.  Science is not the enemy of faith and faith has nothing against science.  They are not mutually exclusive.  The following article is just one little component of an apologetic, i.e., a defense, of faith in God and the inability of science to ever be able to substantiate a claim against God’s existence.  This article by Samuel James appeared at: Patheos.com  as: 4 Responses a Non-Scientist Christian Can Give to Science-Based Atheism.  RMF

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4 Responses a Non-Scientist Christian Can Give to Science-Based Atheism
by Samuel James

Samuel James

Samuel James

Lack of scientific knowledge can leave Christians feeling vulnerable when talking to unbelieving friends about why faith is superior to skepticism. Many college students discover atheism through science classes; students who enter university as Christians have their faith fiercely tested by their studies, and too many give up the fight merely because they assume that a biology professor must be correct about whether God exists. When a little bit of childlike faith meets a lot of studied atheism, fear can take control.

That’s unnecessary. You don’t have to have a degree in science to have something to say to those with scientific objections to faith. Here are four simple responses to those who say that science has either disproved God or has made belief in God unnecessary:  Continue reading

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Fatherhood

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Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 5.04.32 PM  Last Father’s day I was honored to be asked to sit as part of a panel discussion on fatherhood at our church, New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. Our senior pastor, Brett Andrews, was the moderator and other panel members were David Edwards, Dale Spaulding, and Pat Furgerson. It was a fun experience but at the same time a bit daunting. While I have learned a great deal about fatherhood over the years, both as a father, grandfather, and great grandfather, my experience has taught me what a flawed father I have been and how many mistakes I have made. Still, God has blessed me richly and I am without words to adequately express my gratitude to the perfect Father God for all He has done. With that said, I decided that sharing a bit of what I’ve learned and experienced might be helpful to someone.  I’ll do this by just remarking on the topics that were addressed by the panel.  So, here goes:

St. Pat's Day at Dogfish Head Alehouse

Father’s Day Panel at New Life
5/15/14

Q. How do you adjust to the individualism of sons?
– Get rid of your own expectations of what your children will or should be as far as their individual personalities, likes and dislikes, interests, skills, etc.   My sons, Thatcher and Patrick, had very little interest in participating in sports, although that was a major component of my life as a boy.  And I just expected, or assumed, that they would have the same interest and that we would play a ton of sports together. That didn’t happen.  And that was ok – but not what I expected.
– Concentrate on meeting them where they are and showing love and godly acceptance.
– As much as possible join with them in their interests.  For example, if they aren’t particularly interested in sports but are fascinated with electronics, find something you can do together in that area.  One of my best memories as a father is the  time Thatcher and I built a color TV set together from scratch.  I had thought Thatcher and Pat might be interested in a military career since I had enjoyed my service in the Navy so much.  But, they had zero interest in the military, but loved computers.  So, I found pleasure in helping them pursue careers along those lines.  I believe that going out of your way in helping your children pursue their interests and passions is probably one of the best ways possible to maintain a strong bond with them as they approach adulthood.  Help them with their interests, whatever they might be, e.g.,  music lessons, Young Life clubs and church youth groups, part-time employment, sports, etc.  Continue reading

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Who’s to Say Who is a Christian — or Whatever

The intersection of faith and politics is certainly curious.  For example, the question of President Obama’s faith was headlined last week, not because of anything the President had done or said, but because of the response of a presidential hopeful to the issue.  This is a bit different.  First, the President has clearly on a number of occasions stated that he is a Christian and avowed  how important it is to him.  He also points to his baptism in the United Church of Christ  as evidence of his Christian faith.  Meanwhile, there are     Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 8.42.02 PM  claims beyond number by his critics that it is all a ploy and that he is in fact a Muslim. However, as the following article points out, a determination is not so easy.  So, is self-identification sufficient?  Or should we ask the oft repeated question: “If he were indicted  for being a Christian would there be enough evidence for a conviction?”   I’m reminded once again of Oscar Wilde’s quote  that the truth is rarely pure and never simple.   This Samual James article really does a super job of examining the question, not only regarding the President’s faith but the whole way we view belief systems.  The article appeared at: www.Patheos.com  as: Scott Walker Doesn’t Know if Obama Is a Christian.  RMF

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Scott Walker Doesn’t Know if Obama Is a Christian (And Neither Do I)
by Samuel James

Samuel James

Samuel James

Governor and Republican Presidential hopeful Scott Walker says he doesn’t know if President Obama is a Christian. I, for one, believe him. Why is it so hard for some to accept his answer?
The President says he is a Christian. This is, as Ross Douthat points out, an indisputable fact of public record. There’s no need to assume the governor was unaware of this when asked the question (he came close to implying as much, though, stretching credulity). By the same token, there’s no need to assume that the person who posed the question to Walker was unaware of this either.
So here’s the scenario: A reporter asks a politician to give his opinion on a matter, the facts of which are widely known as a matter of public record to almost everyone in the room and certainly to both the interviewer and the interviewee. You don’t have to be a politico to know what kind of question this is, and why it would be asked. In the words of Admiral Ackbar, it’s a trap. And it’s a trap because the “facts” of the question aren’t nearly as factual as they might seem.

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 5.41.15 PM President Obama identifies as a Christian. To some, that fact alone renders irresponsible any answer to this question other than a quick and unequivocal “Yes.” By this line of thinking, a person’s religion is a matter of self-identification. If they say what they believe, that’s what they believe, and that’s what we should say they believe. If the President says “I’m a Christian,” then, because religion is a matter of personal decision and conviction, there’s no right to challenge that identification. Obama says it, we believe it, that settles it.  Continue reading

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