Category Archives: culture

The Place of Ritual

prayingMy recent guest appearance on The Techology Show left me wondering if I presented my church as stuck in the past with regard to worship as we discussed ritual as part of worship. In fact, our worship is contemporary, but I believe that ancient ritual is relevant for today. A recent article titled “Researchers: ‘Ritiual’ Atheists and Agnostics Could Be Sitting Next to You in Church” by Jeff Schapiro in The Christian Post illustrates this point. Schapiro states: Continue reading The Place of Ritual

Ross Douthat’s Slippery Slope

I felt one proposition of Ross Douthat’s Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, deserved its own post aside from my book review.

At the last Wesleyan General Conference (GenCon12), the North Michigan District offered a memorial (#79) to amend The Discipline, putting in a stronger statement against abortion and to actively work to protect the life of unborn children. This memorial did not come to the General Conference recommended for passage. I was not a delegate to GenCon12, but followed the proceedings as closely as I could. I admit, reading memorial #79 made me wearily remember the 1980s, when this debate seemed more fierce. Continue reading Ross Douthat’s Slippery Slope

Culture Influenced Christianity part 2: Individualism

The Bible speaks both of salvation and judgement coming to groups of people, such as the people of God, as well as the reward or judgement of the individual. Various traditions tend to emphasize one over the other. Cyprian of Carthage’s phrase extra Ecclesiam nulla salus “outside the church there is no salvation” reflects strongly in the Roman Catholic tradition, among others. The Wesleyan-Arminian holds that the Church is chosen in Jesus,1 yet as part of Evangelicalism in the United State we are also influenced by the teaching of individual election by God. A biblical case may be made for either position, with ramifications throughout our doctrine of salvation, but in my opinion, the flow of Scripture does not move from corporate to individual accountability and salvation, but both threads move throughout. Continue reading Culture Influenced Christianity part 2: Individualism

Culture Influenced Christianity part 1: Society going downhill

As a Christian and pastor, I strive to not only increase the depth of my relationship with God, but also in my knowledge of Christianity as a religion, the cultures in which it exists, and the cultures it creates within itself. Life has provided me opportunities to study outside my own denominational traditions, and recently I have  gained a more acute awareness of how our cultural positions (Christian culture/doctrinal positions and our larger national culture) affect our day to day Christian practice in society. (By “doctrinal positions” I do not mean the core Christian beliefs, such as The Apostle’s Creed, which orthodox Christians affirm, but instead I mean the theological systems which we construct around our core beliefs.) Emerson’s & Smith’s (2000) Divided by Faith sparked some of these thoughts. For this first post I will consider premillennialism. Continue reading Culture Influenced Christianity part 1: Society going downhill

When Evangelism Is Not Enough

In Divided by Faith, Emerson and Smith (2000) make a case, supported by U.S. history, that Evangelicals generally work within culture to spread the gospel, and, for some (perhaps many), taking action that is counter-cultural would expend energy and resources that could better be used spreading the good news of Jesus. Evangelicals, according to Emerson and Smith, take this stand because evangelism and discipleship are the first priority of the Church, a position that is difficult to argue against when one considers the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Continue reading When Evangelism Is Not Enough

The Broken American Family

I am becoming convinced that there is a systemic dichotomy in African-American family culture. First, let me state that when I refer to “African-Americans” I am specifically referring to those of us who are descendants of the North American slave population, not all dark-skinned North-Americans nor modern immigrants from African countries. Here is the dichotomy: African-Americans highly value family relationships, yet we have adapted to a culture that systemically breaks our families apart. Continue reading The Broken American Family

Simplicity with Media

One thing I learned about myself during my seminary spiritual formation classes was that I needed to take time to unplug. Between online classes, being a teleworker, personal entertainment, and communication, I was jacked into the internet most of my waking hours. When an assignment called for a fast, it was more beneficial and more difficult for me to refrain from media than food. Recently, my wife and I reviewed our budget, and decided to cut some costs. The two cuts relevant to this discussion were the cell phone data plan and cable television. Continue reading Simplicity with Media