Saturday, October 24, 2009

Internet Christianity

I am a member of a number of email "chat" groups. They are all related to the faith. As I participate, and observe the nature of the discourse, I have begun to formulate an assessment.

Internet Christianity is not confessional, nor does it advance confessional thinking, generally. What it advances is personal kind of faith, a highly idiosyncratic theology. People start by asking questions, which is good, but soon the discourse turns to a discussion which floats heavily in the direction of "I think so-and-so," of "I feel thus and so about this or that."

Confessional theology is grounded in truth, an objective, outside-of-me truth. The Lutheran Confessions provide just such a framework on the topics that they address. Internet Christianity becomes very individual and not shaped so much by an external truth but by an internal monologue.

Faith has always been personal and internal, but it needs to be grounded in reality which is not open to personal modification. Scriptures provide that, to some extent, although most people are comfortable doing what they refer to as "interpretation". By that they generally mean that they dismiss what they are uncomfortable with and redefine terms in parts so that what it means to them is often contrary to the literal sense of the text.

Theology which is highly personal and, as I defined it above, idiosyncratic, is not a strength for the church. It may start innocently enough, but it can lead quite easily to the sort of denial and redefinition that one might observe in the Emerging Church Movement.

Aside from the "I believe what I like" sort of excess encouraged in Internet Christianity, we find it possesses an atomizing effect. The Church is a unity, a common confession of truth, and a body of shared experience. The individual sitting alone behind their computer screen determining for themselves what seems right and feels right and does not offend their sense of religion provides only half of the experience of the church. Everyone has always made those sorts of assessments in the privacy of their own thoughts, but historically in the church, people were forced to do this in the context of the constant presence of the body of the believers around them for worship, for the teaching ministry of the church, and for the fellowship of the saints. They were simultaneously being homogenized with the confession of the church around them and wandering freely in their own judgments. Either half of this process without the other is unhealthy.

There is no un-ringing of this bell. The contents of this 'pandora's box' cannot be forced back into the container. Internet Christianity is here to stay. This is just a caution for those who engage in it. Do not allow this process to become a fractionalizing experience in the church. It will not serve the Church, her mission, or you personally, well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You Don't Own Me

The one perspective I have yet to hear on the news is that the nanny-state health care being proposed for our nation overlooks one thing, the citizen is not a possession of the state. The government in America is supposed to be of the people, for the people, and by the people. The government has absolutely no business trying to decide who should or must have health insurance.

It is none of their business! I am not a ward of or the property of the state. It is supposed to be my servant as a citizen.

The state has no business telling me what I can eat, or what activities I can or cannot indulge in. It may limit activities by law that infringe on others, but what I do that does not involve others is none of their business.

This new none-dare-call-it-socialism is simply the unlawful removal of the basic rights and freedoms of American citizens. Get out of my business, and do your own job, government! Protect our nation's sovereignty, defend our freedoms, help the states co-operate in things that they must co-operate in for peace and prosperity, enforce our laws, but get out of my pocket, and out of my life where I am not threatening any one else's rights or freedom.

The state simply has no business telling me that I must be healthy, or do things the way someone else likes them done - at least not in my private life.

This used to be America, but, as the the security guard in the video that went viral on the web said, "it ain't no more!"

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Theology is the art of making distinctions, at least in one sense. I like defining things, so that they makes sense, at least to me.

A Politician:

A person who will say anything, true or not, in order to be permitted to do (or get away with having done) whatever they desire.

For illustrations, look to Congress, or any state governing body (or elected government figure), i.e. Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel, Harry Reid, President Obama, etc..

Thursday, July 02, 2009

This Is Why

People wonder why the leaders of this nation do not appear to be overly concerned with the troubles that the citizens seem to be enduring. The answer is very simple, they are Humanists.

These people are humanists of the stripe of those who produced the Humanist Manifestoes in the last century. They stand in stark contrast to Christians and other theistic religions which generally have a code of ethics and compassion. It is sadly true that not every religionist has always lived up to their religous confessions. There is a simple reason for that. It is called, "SIN". Humanity, as a species, is sinful by nature, and tends to fail when it comes to keeping moral commitments. Some failures are small, and some are quite large. Some don't matter to anyone except the one who fails, and some matter a great deal to many people. But fail or not, these people who practice religion based on the Bible have a code of compassion toward others, and tend to be concerned about how the other guy is doing.

Humanists do not. They will use the distress of others to motivate people to support them, or to empower their agenda for change, but they do not care about people, precisely because they are humanists. Read the Humanaist Manifesto II. It boldly asserts that there is no deity out there, caring about us, motivating our caring about one another, saving anyone. When they list the great destructive pressures of human society, "vulgarization, commercialization, bureaucratization, and dehumanization", they offer no solution. They simply tell us to pursue life's enrichment "despite [these] debasing forces". The traumas and terrors of human life are merely the evolutionary pressures which are to be endured and overcome by those fit enough to survive.

If you wonder why they campaign on the troubles oflife, as though they were going to resolve them, if elected, but never seem to actually fix the problems, it is because they never intended to fix them. The troubles are easy handles to motivation for getting people to vote for them. Solving the problems would make the elected officials less important and less necessary. Besides, they expect you to either survive or not, pretty much on your own. These problems are viewed as the evolutionary forces necessary to cull the herd of the unfit. It helps to remember, when dealing with committed evolutionists, that evolution does not care about the individual. Evolution is scarcely conscious of the individual. It focuses on populations, and is really about the species as a group, without a concern for any specific member of the group -excluding themselves, of course.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A New World

President Obama proudly proclaims that the United States is not a Christian nation. Sadly, this is only too true.

But now he tells the Muslim world that we are a Muslim nation - Now it is getting spooky!

Monday, May 25, 2009


I read daily about the dust-up in the Republican party between the "moderates" and the "conservatives". Clearly this is a debate by people so deeply entrenched in the world of Washington politics that they have lost all sight of reality.

First, who is Colon Powell to be lecturing on what is or is not a Republican? He went public in support of the Democrat candidate long before the vote, and he has given no evidence that his opinion has been altered by the mismanagement of the government by Obama since. If he is still a Republican, then so is Obama.

Second, political parties are supposed to offer alternative ideas, not simply different groups of men and women to enact the same ideas. If the "big tent" is so big that social progressives fit in and should have a significant voice in guiding the party, where do those who disagree go to find representation? How do we challenge the status quo and the mindless assault on our prosperity and liberties? The Republican party is not just "our team". It is supposed to be the champion of a set of principles and ideas distinct from the Democrats. It is supposed to offer real choice, not just more of the same in a different color wrapper.

Because the two national parties have abandoned the business of offering real choices, the political landscape is becoming fragmented to a significant degree. I imagine that we will see the sort of multiple-party electioneering that we see in Europe in the none-too-distant future, right here is America.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Something Old, Something New . . .

I saw it in the newsletter of a congregation I was once a member of.  It is called "Natural Church Development".  I was curious.  The few comments about the program indicated that they had gotten the materials from somewhere official.  The program information suggested it was similar to a host of "church growth" programs.  I wondered where it had come from and who was behind it.  That sort of information often speaks volumes about things - church programs in particular.

So, I "googled" it.  I discovered that it was a program of the Seventh-Day Adventists.  As I read the materials available on-line, I found that it was pretty much a rehashing of the same-old church growth stuff.  It claimed that it was not, and that it was all about allowing the Word of God and the Power of God to cause the church to grow all by itself.  The only problem was that it identified concern over things such as sound doctrine as "legalism" which was detrimental to the growth of the church and of the eight characteristics of a "healthy" church.

The materials quoted by the pastor of the congregation focus on depending on the Word to work all by itself (which is a special phrase in NCD, they call it the "all by itself" principle).  The other materials talk about being "scientific" about things.  The Holy Spirit is the only one who can make the church grow, but if we get out of the way of the Holy Spirit (by doing things as they ought to be done properly) the church will grow.

The materials tell us that the purpose of the NCD program is not numerical growth or increased money in the coffers.  But then the materials go on to say that those churches that have used three or more surveys by the group - and their 'coaches', of course - have a track record of 51% growth in those areas.

I don't want to repeat the eight points of the program.  You can search that out for yourself.  But a "healthy" church, they report, does not care about "right doctrine".  Spiritual worship is "fun" and filled with laughter.  And small groups are very important (not "cells", mind you), but their focus is not supposed to be about teaching what the Word of God says.  No, "holistic groups . . . go beyond just discussing Bible passages to applying its message to daily life" - whatever that may mean.  And the "holistic" group is really focused on reaching out to those who do not belong to the church.  "The meaning of the term "discipleship" becomes practical in the context of holistic small groups: the transfer of life, not rote learning of abstract concepts."

Oh, yes, and Evangelism is about meeting needs.  "Need-oriented evangelism intentionally cultivates relationships with pre-Christian people".  It is to be need-centered, not message centered.  "Using appropriate ministries and authentic relationships, believers can guide others into the family of God."

The congregation in whose newsletter I noticed this program is always facing a financial challenge.  They operate a day school, K thru 8 -- and it is a good school!  I also noticed that the starter kit for this program is $175.  Never let an opportunity to make some money slip by!

The program is church growth warmed over and dressed in scientific respectability.  It is about butts in the pew and cash in the coffers, not about church or salvation at all.  It is like yogurt, you can flavor it any way you want so that it can seem Lutheran, for example, but it is fundamentally guided by those surveys and how your church is or is not meeting the goals and fitting the paradigm of a "healthy" congregation.

The ELCA is all over this program.  And now, it seems that the Missouri Synod is awakening to it, too.  Pastors beware!

Friday, February 13, 2009

An Old Question Answered

They asked the question, "How could all those reasonable people have permitted Hitler and the Nazi's to do the atrocious things they did?"  Of course, that question has been asked of all of those societies that permitted monstrous evil to walk the streets unchallenged.

Our society is answering that question with a living demonstration.  The news media, once responsible, is now demonizing everything they disagree with in the most extreme and irrational ways.  Conservative Christianity is caricatured as the cause for the loss of faith.  Conservative thought is seriously described as a form of insanity.  Conservative religion is styled as "extreme" and "fundamentalistic".  Advocates for liberal agendas openly assault institutions that they see as standing in their way - illustrated for us by gay activists interrupting worship services to throw literature and condoms around, and shout epithets at the worshipers.

Because 53 percent of the voters selected a candidate who was openly associated with the cause of  the social progressives, those who identify with that cause feel empowered and emboldened to spew their opinions publicly, and the media is reporting it all as though it were important news.

When the extremists have control of the political, and the media give voice only to them and their ilk, you end up with a society doing monstrous things, and pretending it is all so very reasonable.  Big Brother has finally arrived, he just got here twenty-five years behind schedule.

God help us, the inmates have taken over the asylum.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Don't Get It

My puny portfolio has taken a beating.  The value of my home has dropped by approximately 20% -- according to the reports on the financial sites.  Jobs are vanishing with a swiftness not seen for seventy-plus years.  Things don't look good, and the news media is saying positively that things are bad.

Then I go to the gas station, and although I watch on the internet as crude oil drops day-by-day, my local gas station prices just went up a nickle per.  I go to the stores and prices are up for everything.  Walmart's prices are up.  Even the Subway in Walmart is now charging $1.60 for the bag of popcorn that was just recently one dollar even.

My taxes are bound to go up, seeing as how the new president is doubling down on Mr. Bush's unwise and ineffective approach to the economic woes.  Local government is cutting back on services and putting the hourly help on shorter hours (but paying the commissioners and the salaried people - the supervisors - the same money!).

If we are in a recession, shouldn't something other than my income and my investments recede? 

Hey business guys!  If you want more business from a shrinking money pool, raising your prices is the wrong approach.  Try charging less.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sounding Eerily Familiar

Drudge Report has a headline story about Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi holding forth on how birth control will help the economy.

It has been clear that the pro-choice lobby is anti-human, and anti-life, but now one of the leading democrats has taken the position that people are a problem, and has come one step closer to government mandated birth control. It is a small step from pointing out how extra children are disadvantageous to the economy and regulating the number of permissible children in a family - as China has done, for example.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Here We Go!

We have the first signs. The President refuses to answer reporters' questions. His surrogates decline to answer certain questions. The "drive-by" media scarcely takes notice.

Now we have 'The Media' uncritically accepting false claims because they target the right. Right Here. We have a difficult time ahead when the watchdogs are not only asleep, but are helping those they are supposed to be watching.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Welcome to the New World

I avoided the coverage of the inauguration.  I wasn't able to totally avoid it, but most of it passed me by silently.  Since then, the little news I have permitted into my world has confirmed my suspicions that what was once called "The News Media" is now simply a propaganda apparatus frantically trying to hide the truth and disguise reality.

I have read several comments about how the election of Obama was the fulfillment of the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., that a man would be judged by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin.  Senator Clair McCaskill of Missouri - a member of the Obama campaign team - even stated that it was denigrating the president to focus on his color or ethnicity.  He was elected because of who he is and because of his ideas.  Well, at least that was her take on it.

And it was egregiously dishonest.  Obama was not elected on the basis of the content of his character.  The media did all that it could to hide what little about Obama and his character leaked out.  Far from denigrating the president, Obama's identity and chief campaign issue was his race.  No one else talked about it, but he was campaigning constantly on the claim that everyone else would talk about it, point to it and try to make the public uneasy.  Any debate surrounding the few words that slipped out of Obama's mouth during the campaign was attacked as "racist" by his shills in the party and in the main-stream media.

Everybody says, "give him a chance".  Honestly, we don't have any choice there.  He is the president.  He has at least four years.  The first two will be with the most partisan and least rational Democrat majorities in both houses of congress.  We will see what he will be.  Everyone hopes that he is good for the country - for the economy, for our national security, for our future.  I share that hope.

But the man has promised to do things I believe will not work well for our economy, or for our national security, or for our future.  My fondest hope is that when Obama has finished his work, the United States is still a free nation, and not a newly minted third-world country with a struggling economy and gravely distressed national security.

Here's to our 44th president, Barack Hussein Obama.  God help us, and give him wisdom.