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Showing posts from July, 2006

Southern Baptism

I go to a Southern Baptist church. There is something self-deprecating in even admitting to that, where I work. I teach at a state college. If I said I was a Wiccan, I would probably get more interest in my faith. My colleagues change the subject if I bring up my faith or even my church involvement. It's actually kind of funny; it's tempting to do it just to make them uncomfortable or see their reaction. Since I have no fear of losing my position--they need me desperately, as people with my credentials are hard to find--I don't shy from doing it.

I have only attended a Southern Baptist church for less than three years. Before that, it was a Presbyterian Church of America congregation, which I preferred in terms of worship but decided to leave for complicated family reasons. I miss the mini-liturgy of the PCA. Before that it was more fundamentalist fellowships, and that is a story in itself. Being an ex-fundamentalist is like being a recovering alcoholic. Maybe I never reall…

Confronting Job IV

Tomorrow is my last day of teaching the book of Job to my tiny Sunday School class in a not-so-tiny Southern Baptist church. I hope I have an audience, because it's a good lesson. It has meant a lot to me. The lesson is supposed to cover the last five chapters of Job, which is easy to do if you ignore the poetry and cut to the chase, but I am in awe of these metaphors and word pictures. If I hadn't been a Bible-believing Christian before I read this, I would have to become one. I don't see a human mind from 4,000 or more years ago coming up with this on its own.

So can we extract any lessons from these chapters? The first lesson we extract is that Job really didn't. He doesn't show a bulleted PowerPoint slide of "take home points" here. He gets it, but what he really gets is that he doesn't get it. He understands his place in the universe, that it is not only unwise and bad philosophy to criticize God, but sinful as well, and that he was doing so in al…

Confronting Job IV

Tomorrow is my last day of teaching the book of Job to my tiny Sunday School class in a not-so-tiny Southern Baptist church. I hope I have an audience, because it's a good lesson. It has meant a lot to me. The lesson is supposed to cover the last five chapters of Job, which is easy to do if you ignore the poetry and cut to the chase, but I am in awe of these metaphors and word pictures. If I hadn't been a Bible-believing Christian before I read this, I would have to become one. I don't see a human mind from 4,000 or more years ago coming up with this on its own.

So can we extract any lessons from these chapters? The first lesson we extract is that Job really didn't. He doesn't show a bulleted PowerPoint slide of "take home points" here. He gets it, but what he really gets is that he doesn't get it. He understands his place in the universe, that it is not only unwise and bad philosophy to criticize God, but sinful as well, and that he was doing so in al…

Confronting Job III

Why do we portray Jesus, visually and verbally, the way we do? With so little regard for the realities of the texts of the gospels?

I wonder if other Christians struggle with getting rid of that white tunicked, blue-sashed, ethereal, sad-eyed, straight-haired, gently-gesturing Jesus who seems to block my way on the journey to know the real Jesus?

It’s all wrong, and I’m trying to get past it. Perhaps the mushy Jesus is a victim of one of the primary doctrines of Jesus’ life on earth, one that we misinterpret, leading us to come up with a Jesus who wasn’t totally in charge of His mission.

I speak of the suffering of Jesus. Evangelical Protestants don’t really focus on the suffering of Jesus, but the New Testament does. The writer of Hebrews states: "Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested" (Heb. 2:18). Right after the glory and approval of Christ’s baptism, we see Him cast out, driven into the desert to be tempted or,…