Friday, October 27, 2006

separation of religion and faith

This week, upon asking a group of young people how important religion was to them, I had one young man answer, “not very”. But then, upon asking who they would most like to have dinner with, that same young man answered, “God”. Amazing.

I am surrounded, more and more, by people who consider “religion” to be the world’s greatest problem. They look at the mess in the middle east and see a conflict of religions. They look at the conflict between the west and the middle east and see a conflict of religions. They see people, all over world, who lost their lands, their inheritance, and even their race, by people who were there to introduce religion. Not too hard to come to the conclusion, then, that religion might be the world’s greatest problem.

But what does that mean for us? Can faith and religion be separated? Is it possible to be a part of a community of believers, who aren’t religious, yet are faithful to Christ? Do we even know what the word “religion” means?

I think, for a lot of people, the word “religion” means faith. I think for others it means ritual. seems to boil it down to both a specific set of beliefs and observances or practices, which is odd because I think that most of us would agree that all protestant and even catholic churches would fall under the umbrella of the “Christian” religion, yet many, many different beliefs and observances are practiced throughout.

So can we separate religion and faith? Are people like Moby and Bono as serious about their faith as people who practice weekly rituals involved with their religion?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

outside observations

The following comment was left on a blog called Decaf. I realize that many would like this conversation to simply fade away but I’ll continue to say that to not deal with injustice in our church is wrong. The following is an important read from an outside observer named Nibb.

Hi folks,apologies, Im not in the SA, but have shared in many a worship with our local corps in Bolton. Chick preached at our own church this Sunday just gone (1th October 2006). My father in law has known the Yuill's for some time, his wife having worked at the local SA in an auxillary capacity some years ago.

He expressed great surprise and concern that Chich had 'resigned', and I said I would attempt to find out why.

The WWW is my stock and trade, there tends to be little I cannot find and I know how to use search engines better than most people. I found the link to this blog after quite a lot of mysterious 'dead ends'. Pages that were live to search engines mere weeks or days ago, now removed, or dead. Which was puzzling, I began to assume the resignation had occured some time ago and all had been swept under the carpet and laid to rest.

A great surprise to read through your comments on the board then, its all fresh, and bubbling and looks to be fairly representative of the undercurrent of concern, anger, fear, and confusion within your own church.

I said 'apologies', because from a certain point of view you could all turn around and tell others - outside of your faternity - to mind their own business. But, evangelism wears no uniform, it does not, or alas, should not I should say, limit itself to within a certain set four walls every Sunday. Chick (and others) have performed a powerful ministry far outside your own walls, and a concerned international Christian community looks on without explanation and with similar confusion to yourselves about the what and why and where of it all. Silence can only be damaging.

I have read much of the oft heated polemic here, and to be brutally honest, at the moment I see less defendable in what has happened at your upper echelons that others of you who by your very uniform are perhaps more entitles to comment.

Purely by way of illustration, and by no means an intention of comparison of person, consider this.... leaders who take action without recourse to oversight, check, are dangerous, or at least potentially so. I would agree that Christ very well would walk into the office and turn the tables over because much appears to be done 'In His Name' when its really been 'What I Think'.

You could argue the toss for hours. Far simpler, better for all surely, and open and above board - for your General to put the cards on the table and explain. It is not good enough for any leader (save Christ) to act without clarification on such matters. And no, simply again, it is not sufficient to say as followers that a leader is Under Authority of the Church or God and blindly accept and agree to all that the demand or assume. God gifts us with many gifts, and amongst the greatest is Decernment. If what has been done can lead to such an arguement alone as has been seen on just this board (and that surely a pale reflection of what carries on in your ranks and in the quiet behind closed doors) - then surely, surely, you need some accountability before the damage done turns into rot, and your organisation with all its great works and emmense value to the world wide Church and society as a whole starts to fall apart and become factionalised.

Don't let it happen. If you can ask the questions here, be brave, pray, and take your concerns higher. Show your public support or your public concern. The watching world will be far more understanding of a community that honestly questions rather than one that hides away.

And a clarification, LIBEL is not questioning someone under authority, it is the defamation of a living person by any means other than the verbal. There is no such excuse allowed by sneaking the word 'authority' in there.

best wishes, and God guide you all

By the way, I have also been concerned (read disgusted) about those dead links.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the heart of injustice

Like the battle against terrorism, I recognize that some tough choices have to be made when it comes to school shootings and safety. Locker checks and metal detectors are just some of those choices. But, like the war in the middle east, there are things that we could have done to prevent them, and things that we can still do to prevent them in the future.

America just suffered three more school shootings and one near miss over the past two weeks and, like the Columbine shootings, these new events have led many to wonder “how could this happen?” Personally I’m flabbergasted every time I hear somebody ask that question because all you have to do is ask somebody who has ever been bullied to find out the answer. If you’ve ever been bullied, you know what it’s like to lay in bed at night and wish for revenge. Maybe even pray for it. You might even know the feeling of wishing you could “kill that guy!” Yet every school and youth group has bullies, every school and youth group has those who are being bullied, and every school and youth group has adults that stand around and do nothing about it. Maybe the adults are intimidated themselves. Maybe they simply want to fit in. Or maybe the adults themselves are a part of the bullying. After all, bullying isn’t just physical abuse, it’s also emotional abuse and often simply comes in the form of teasing, put downs, or intimidation.

Two Sundays ago the Salvation Army was asked to focus on human trafficking, a huge problem across the world and one that the church could help to stop if it got half as involved as it has been on abortion. But justice starts at home and at the root of all injustice is bullying. Those who would enslave a human and then force them into labor camps or the sex industry are nothing more than bullies who have taken their craft beyond the school yard, or youth group, or even office space, and gone global. And yet, many of us who talk about human trafficking, and fair trade, and dictatorship, and watershed campaigns, and child pornography, and child abuse aren’t even prepared to stand up to the bullies on our own playgrounds, places of business, or churches. We do our best to look noble, talking and advertising for global issues, all while we allow and sometimes are even the cause of people being bruised and battered all around us.

Justice starts at home. Bullying is bullying. Stand up to the bullies in your own back yard and you’ll have the tools to stand up to them on a global scale.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

tough questions 2

I’m going to struggle to write this post and, to not only “vocalize” the questions in my own head, but also to identify the questions that should even be asked in relation to the topic. But if I were to try and summarize the questions that are rolling around in my head today, I would do it with just this one; Is it possible to reform politely?

Can an organization change slowly, or will a slow change lose those who would actually bring about that change?

When an organization’s system and structure are “set in the stones of time” (I stole that line from a guy named Davidson Walton), and so many within its ranks actually make up that foundation, can an organization change without some rebellion?

Can an organization experience wide sweeping changes without losing people?

Can wide sweeping changes be brought about in an organization without people who are willing to risk it all to see those changes brought about?

For those who believe in the need for change, should their loyalty lie with the organization, or with the philosophy that is calling on change? Now, that one will be translated poorly by many, so let me be more specific: Is there any place for “loyalty” when it comes to any one denomination, or should our loyalty be to Jesus and the church at large? Is it even appropriate to suggest that our loyalty rests with any one denomination or even local body?

I think many of us who wish for change in our church assume that it can happen simply by voicing our displeasure within the safety of like minded friends. Many also are counting on the ability to outlast those who want things to remain the same. After all, we will most likely live longer than they will. But will there be anything left by the time that power has been relinquished?

While it may appear that I already have my own personal beliefs concerning the above questions, I am sincerely seeking other’s wisdom and experience. Do we have anything to go on here? Do we know of other examples where entire organizations or denominations experienced successful, wide sweeping changes?