Posts Tagged ‘theology’

   I grew-up in church. A good church even. A little white Southern Baptist Church in a town of 600 people, located right next to the train tracks. I learned so much in that church. It essentially set the framework for my theology from a young age.

   Through various circumstances, the details of which I’m not entirely clear on, my family and I left that church and joined a church just up the road. It was billed simply as a Christian church, presumably of the independent variety; which as a rule, are loosely associated with either the Church of Christ or the Disciples of Christ. Either way, they maintain a more liberal theology than the SBC.

   Near the end of my almost sixteen year run with the aforementioned church, the theology of my wife and I began to charge (or perhaps evolve) and so did that of the church. As they began adopting some of the teachings of the Emergent movement of that time (specifically from Rob Bell and his Nooma video series), we began to take hold of a very Calvinistic view of Scripture. The two views clashed quite violently and we ended-up back at the SBC church I’d left years before (which coincidentally, was non-Calvinistic).

   So, what am I apologizing for, as per this post’s title? During the early days of our foray into Reformed theology, we (specifically me) fell headlong into the ditch of Calvinistic elitism. We believed that  because we had what we felt was a deeper understanding of the person of God that we were in some way superior to our Arminian brethren. I picked many, many fights and honestly, was a real jerk. Unfortunately, being a jerk seems to be the rule more than the exception amongst Reformed believers.

   So, for all the people I was a complete schmuck to, I’m sorry. To anyone I was a theological bully to, I’m sorry. To anyone who’s spiritual walk I questioned or assaulted, I’m sorry. I’ve done a lot of growing since that time. Please forgive me.

   So, where does that leave my theology?

   Oh, make no mistake, I’m still very much Reformed. Although maybe not enough to really consider myself a Calvinist anymore, at least not in the 5-point sense. I’ve just chosen to no longer make that fact the hill I die on or the standard by which I gauge someone else’s salvation. I am completely over viewing Christianity as a divided camp. We’re either in it or we’re out. Division amongst Christians does nothing but cause a weakened defense against the enemy, and we need all the fortification we can get!

   If we can agree on the essentials of the faith (which we’ll address another time), the rest will work itself out and you are my brother or sister in Christ.

   Say goodnight, Gracie.

 

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   Seminary, while not inherently necessary, is in many ways beneficial. Moreover, seminary is egregiously expensive. So, so, so very expensive. As such, one would perceive that it would be in one’s best interest to get one’s money’s worth and pay vigilant attention to class lectures and content.

   However, what happens when your brain doesn’t work quite like that of most people? Amazing things, that’s what! Mind you, amazing does not necessarily mean beneficial.

   In most cases I find matters of theology interesting enough that they retain my attention. Although it may be presumed that because I’m doodling or typing or some other such thing, I’m not paying attention. I am. I assure you. These things actually helps me focus. But I digress…

   Non-theological classes don’t tend to hold my attention nearly as well. I try. I really do. Problematically though, my brain allows me about 3 minutes of undivided attention per hour. Once that threshold is crossed my brain floods with imagery of food I desire to consume in mass quantities, episodes of Doctor Who, or random song lyrics from the 1980’s. I find myself pondering issues such as why the thumbs always snapped off of my G.I. Joe action figures, why occasionally you can still find people sporting a mullet, and other such random tomfoolery. I’m gone. Lost in the woods. It’s as though my brain has fled my body for more adequate stimuli.

   What makes matters worse is that the harder I try to pay attention, the more vivid and preposterous my thoughts and daydreams become. Is it that I should be heavily medicated? Is it that I am actually just that disinterested in non-theological classes? Is it that I was exposed to water with trace amounts of radiation and/or lead? I just don’t know.

   How do you focus? What’s your best tool against mind-numbing boredom when confronted with matters of syntax, algebra, or the daily monotony? What do you do to help absorb and retain information? Let me know. In the meantime, I see something shiny over there…

   Good night and good luck.

 

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   As a seminary student and eventual church planter/pastor/etc., I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the men who most inluence[ed] my thinking, my theology, and my standard for preaching. Below is my Top 10 living, breathing, and mostly functional preachers in order of the influence they’ve had on my Christian life.

1. Paul Washer

   Washer is the Founder/Director & Missions Coordinator of HeartCry Missionary Society and also a Southern Baptist itinerant preacher/evangelist.

   At a time where I was really needing to develop a passion for Christ and His gospel after years of spinning my wheels as a casual church-goer, it was this man’s emotional, raw, fire and brimstone preaching that painted such a vivid picture of Christ to me that I could no longer ignore Him.

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2. John Piper

   Piper is the founder of Desiring God Ministries as well as having served as Pastor for Preaching and Vision of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 33 years.

   Around the same time I discovered Paul Washer, I also discovered a number of Reformed preachers, including John Piper. Through his bizarre quirkiness and passionate delivery, I found Piper almost impossible to pass-up on my weeknight walks with my preaching podcasts.

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3. Greg Laurie

   Once hailed as the “next Billy Graham”, Laurie serves as Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California and Harvest Orange County in Irvine, California. He also heads-up several large-scale evangelical gatherings each years known as Harvest Crusades.

   Greg Laurie just appeals to me. It’s as simple as that. He speaks in a simple, relatable way that people from every walk of life can easily understand. He’s also a former hippie and illustrator.

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4. Todd Friel

   Friel is the host of both WRETCHED Radio and WRETCHED TV, as well as the former host of Way of the Master Radio.

   Through these programs Todd Friel helped to refine my theology. He’s also super amusing as both a former stand-up comedian and massive germaphobe.

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5. Mark Driscoll

   Driscoll is the founder and current preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, co-founder of Churches Helping Churches and the Acts 29 Network.

   Often viewed as controversial, Driscoll is far from perfect. But darn it, his preaching is really good! Maybe I’m a jerk, but I relate to the guy. We need some macho men.

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6. Matt Chandler

   Chandler is the lead pastor of teaching at The Village Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and the President of the Acts 29 Network.

   What’s not to love about Matt Chandler? He’s sound, he’s witty, and he’s completely ADHD. If he could harness the energy in his hands he could power the entire Dallas/Ft. Worth are weeks.

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7. John MacArthur

   MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, the founder of the radio ministry Grace To You, and president of The Master’s College in Newhall, California and The Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California.

   Odds are, Johnny Mac makes everybody’s list. In recent times he’s appealed slightly less to me, but no one can argue his influence and accomplishments in evangelicalism.

   On a side note, I was a little disappointed to find out how short he is. I always assumed he was massive for some reason. Probably because he’s the Evangelical Pope.

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8. Ray Comfort

   Comfort is the founder of Living Waters Publications and The Way of the Master. He is also known to be one of today’s boldest street evangelists.

   Ray has guts. That’s why I like Ray Comfort. He’s got a cool accent, nerves of steel, and knows his Bible. He also hangs out with Kirk Cameron.

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9. Billy Graham

   C’mon… really? I’m pretty sure you know who Billy Graham is. Whether you or I agree with his theology, one thing is certain. God used him throughout his ministry in a powerful way!

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10. Pancho Juarez

   Juarez is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Montebello in California and the founder of On the Level Media.

   You’ve never heard of him, I know. But the guy call peel apart layers of scripture like few can. Not bad for a man who for a former God-hating, schizophrenic tattoo artist.

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   What about you? Amongst living preachers/pastors/evangelists, who has most help shape your theology? Comment and let me know!

   Goodbye, goodbye, good friends, goodbye, ’cause now it’s time to go. But, hey, I say, well, that’s okay, ’cause we’ll see you very soon, I know.