Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Total Man: Jesus Christ

We study the life of Christ to understand Jesus' behavior as a man, and what we find is that a man keeps on growing in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and man. He keeps on developing mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.

Christian success is developing into a person of godly character, and satisfaction comes from being yourself while not disrespecting others. Manhood is not having or doing, but being Christ-like through developing your unique personality and skills.

Favor does not mean being well-liked, or popular. Rather it is that which cannot be successfully condemned (John 8:46). 

By the American standard, Christ was a failure. However, appearances and expectations can be deceptive. It is substance that matters. Because He was a man of substance, Christ had an inner peace and so can we regardless how it appears or what others expectations are.

In his book, The Total Man: The Way to Confidence and Fulfillment (1980), 

Dan Benson asks:

"How do we as men find and keep the important balance in personal fulfillment, family life and work? How do we distinguish between godly manhood & pseudo-masculinity?

Freedom in being a man is separating one's self from society's false standards of masculinity to a more relaxed, confident manhood."

He continues by contrasting society's standard of manhood with a more Christ like standard:

"It was a perceptive ad agency that conceived the Marlboro Man. There he stands, rugged and free. The sun glints off the ruddy crevices of his face. Behind him, a herd of galloping mustangs symbolize his strength, daring and hard masculinity."

"Those who created him knew that he would portray America's masculine dream—our subconscious symbol of the brooding, rugged independence that spells maleness."

"His image sums up what we strive for: freedom, success, and the ability to handle any situation that comes along--the strong, silent disposition that expresses nothing short of total manhood."

"Men. Look around. The American masculine dream is killing us."

Monday, September 21, 2015

5 Reasons Why Churches of Christ Are Not The Church You Read About in the Bible

A linchpin is a person or thing vital to an organization. Vitality is life. Without linchpins organizational life pulls apart.

The linchpins that hold together the organizational or institutional churches of Christ are centered more around things than people. This is why the church building, pulpit, and official positions, etc. are revered as the most important (necessary expedients) to a church's life.

The organization (something greater than yourself we are told) is more important than you and everybody else for that matter.

Ironically, this Industrial Age viewpoint in churches of Christ sacrifices the very people who the NT says is 'the church.' What is left is a veneered organization claiming to be the church that eats its young.

Veneer Churches of Christ (like most Western Churches) cover or disguise the true nature of the church you read about in the NT with an attractive appearance that does not actually help the Body of Christ, but serves the few competing to be heads of it.

When things (steps, acts, offices, positions) instead of the people are the linchpins of churches, this veneer must remain at all costs for it to hold together whether the actual people who are its substance do or not. The people are replaceable cogs in a machine supporting the linchpins. Some linchpins are more important than others, but below are what I believe are the main linchpins in order of importance and my reasons for why they need to be pulled.

The primary reaction by the status quo is to dismiss and demonize anything and everything that challenges its truthfulness.

As Noam Chomsky said,

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." I challenge that allowed spectrum.

Recently, I learned the mission of The Emerging Church,

According to Wikipedia:

The emerging church is a Christian movement of the late 20th and early 21st centuries that crosses a number of theological boundaries… Some attend local independent churches or house churches while others worship in traditional Christian denominations. Proponents believe the movement transcends such modernist labels of "conservative" and "liberal," calling the movement a "conversation" to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature, its vast range of standpoints, and its commitment to dialogue… What those involved in the conversation mostly agree on is their disillusionment with the organized and institutional church and their support for the deconstruction of modern Christian worship, modern evangelism, and the nature of modern Christian community.
The churches of Christ that I am familiar with would oppose TEC because it removes so many linchpins needed to survive. While I was pleasantly surprised to see many characteristics I agree with and were actually present in the first century church, my main purpose is to show that the churches of Christ today are not who they claim to be to the exclusion of all others. In fact, I am more "conservative" than they are if I must use that cultural term with my view of the first century church.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Breaking Free From The Chains of Shame: Forsaking Religious Rule Keeping For A Maturing Relationship

Here's a great link to 10 characteristics of ungodly, shame-based relationships contrasted with the 10 characteristics of godly, grace-based relationships:

Dale and Juanita Ryan write,

"Shame is a social experience. It is rooted in exchanges between people. It may grow out of experiences of public humiliation."

"It may result from experiences of being devalued. It may come from experiences of rejection. Many people learn shame early in life in their family-of-origin. Harsh criticism, neglect, lack of affirmation, humiliation, contempt and ridicule are not uncommon features of family life. Any of these experiences can contribute to shame in family members. The family is not, however, the only source of shaming experiences."

"Shame learned in families is often reinforced by experiences in other relationships and in other systems, such as schools and work settings. And shame is sometimes fostered as well by experiences in the Christian community. Experiences of public exposure, judgment and rejection sometimes happen in the name of Christ."

"Whatever the source, shame is a very painful emotional experience. Shame hurts at a fundamental level. While shame is rooted in social experiences, it is also easily internalized. If people experience humiliation often enough, or intensely enough, or consistently enough, they may come to the conclusion that they ought to be humiliated. When shame becomes internalized in this way it poses a fundamental threat to a person's identity."

"There is an important difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is part of recognizing that I have done something wrong. Guilt is a painful emotion. It can, however, be a helpful emotion because it alerts us to a violation of our values and ideals. Guilt can be the first step in a process which leads to growth and change, to repentance and recovery. Shame, on the other hand, is not part of such a healthy process."

"Shame does not open a person to the possibility of change. Instead, shame is experienced as a flaw so fundamental that no hope for recovery seems possible. Shame causes people to see themselves as unlovable, unworthy and irreparable."

"Perhaps the most difficult tenet of the Christian gospel to believe is that no matter how badly damaged you may seem to yourself, God sees you as valuable. No matter how unlovable you may seem to yourself, God loves you. No matter how pessimistic you may be about the possibility of recovering from shame, God is eager to bring healing. Because shame damages a person so deeply, recovery from shame will require deep healing. This kind of healing requires time and the help of others who love you."

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Unseen Branches & False Constants: The 10 Dogmas of Modern Science

Modern science is based on the principle: "Give us one free miracle and we'll explain the rest."--Terence McKenna

"... And the one free miracle is that all the matter and energy in the universe and all the laws that govern it came from nothing in a single instance."--Rupert Sheldrake

Tom Huston writes,

"TED's Chris Anderson censored Rupert Sheldrake and removed this video from the TEDx YouTube channel. They dared question the Scientistic Orthodoxy, and for that they have been publicly castigated and defamed."

BIO: "Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D. (born 28 June 1942) is a biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and ten books. A former Research Fellow of the Royal Society, he studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, where he was a Scholar of Clare College, took a double first class honours degree and was awarded the University Botany Prize."

TEDx Talk: The Science Delusion
"He then studied philosophy and history of science at Harvard University, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow, before returning to Cambridge, where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry."

"He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, where he was Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology. As the Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society, he carried out research on the development of plants and the ageing of cells in the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge University."

"From 2005-2010 he was the Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project funded from Trinity College,Cambridge. He is a Fellow of Schumacher College , in Dartington, Devon, a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences near San Francisco, and a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut."

Monday, September 7, 2015

Usurping the Authority of Husbands

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Nietzsche

The separate class of elders and gospel preachers in churches of Christ usurps the God-given authority of husbands over their own wives. When power is hedged away from husbands, their options become severely limited to join that peer group, be dependent on it, or leave.

Control over the man-made pulpit and man-created church treasury by a plain-clothed clergy usurps the authority God gave to husbands by misinterpreting the husband-wife contexts of 1 Cor. 11:1ff, 14:34-35, Gen. 3:16 and 1 Tim. 2:8-15 as "man-woman" rather than "husband-wife."

If husbands and wives decide what to do with their own private treasuries as Paul instructs (1 Cor. 16:2) and the husbands are the teacher-preachers, then what becomes of the organizational-institutional view of "church?" It is rendered impotent and is exposed for the unnecessary entity that it is.

My point is to show that from the very beginning, Bible context is often misinterpreted generically as "man-woman" rather than "husband-wife," and the former interpretation sustains a pernicious, superior class of Christians that unnecessarily comes between husbands and wives much like they unnecessarily come between Christians and God.

At best, the man-woman interpretation creates a dysfunctional democracy of husbands attempting to counter the clerical class by majority vote.

Neither of which is NT Christianity.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

How To Live With Another Person

A healthy relationship is tough.

Like a worn out paperback cover, those involved can be used, bent, creased and flattened back out, maybe even a chunk taken out.

And while wounds come with relationships, "biting and devouring one another," as Paul puts it in Galatians 5:15, and "consuming one another" is relational cannibalism.

I doubt there's any cure for those who desire to be that way.

However, if you are like me, and honestly desire to understand for yourself and do what is good and true, then David Viscott's book may be an enjoyable and relief-filled read for you, too.

I gave 25 cents for my copy about 10 years ago before Laura and I got married, but I recently reread it in hope of finding another "profound and life changing" book. Whether this book is profound for you, you must decide, but I was pleasantly satisfied. At least I am through the first 50 pages.

The excerpt that I would like to share is from chapter two on "Everyone's Basic Rights."

Our present day, highly charged, political culture is certainly not at a loss for opinions on what is a legitimate right and what is not, but I think that what Dr. Viscott explains is agreeable to all. If not, I would like to hear your opinion. Perhaps we can all benefit from an increased understanding. The principles outlined by Dr. Viscott are written primarily for couples, but I think that they are universally applicable to any relationship: friends, family, coworkers, social groups, and especially between God and man.

David Viscott writes:

"ANY relationship which does not respect the rights of its individual members equally cannot be based on an understanding that goes very deep. A relationship should be a place where each member regards the others' rights and feelings as he would his own. Usually two people come to accept each others rights by trial and error and by argument and misunderstanding. Each couple must decide for itself what is acceptable in its relationship. This may take years and involve periods of disenchantment, self-accusation and feelings of isolation and betrayal. The course of all relationships is occasionally stormy, even if the partners never seem to argue."

"We are all human and that simple fact makes us heir to the noblest aspirations, the basest instincts, an attraction to what is beautiful, a potential for angry retaliation and the capacity for love and self sacrifice. We are each a story and no one's story is completed until his death, no matter how hopeless the opening chapters seem to be or how limited their future development appears. Neither is a happy outcome a certainty no matter how great and promising one's beginnings are. We are all becoming and none of us can be sure what it is s/he will finally become. The process from beginning to end is hard work. The times are always uncertain. Our greatest strength comes from protecting our rights."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Reclaiming the Lord's Supper From the Auditorium: House Churches Together in One City

From the Supper Table...
"Together" (epi to auto)

Contrary to the mandate that a church must meet in "one place" to be Scriptural based on the KJV translation of 1 Cor. 11:20:

Eugene LaVerdiere writes:

“In 1 Corinthians 11:20, Paul places the expression epi to auto "together" parallel to the expression en ekklesia, meaning "as a church" (11:18)."

"... After Pentecost, when the community grew to more than three thousand (Acts 2:41), it was not possible to assemble in one place. As we read later in the first major summary, "every day they devoted breaking bread in their homes" (2:46)."

"That presumes that the community not only lived, but assembled to break bread in a number of homes. That, however, did not take away from their koinonia (fellowship). Nor did it prevent them from sharing life with one another and sharing their possessions with those who were needy."

He continues:

Apostasy:To The Government Lecture Hall (basilica)...
"...Referring to the community as a whole, Acts 2:44 uses the Greek expression epi to auto. In the Septuagint, the expression appears very frequently, always as the translation for the Hebrew word yahdau, meaning "together." In the New Testament, however, the expression epi to auto has a quasi-technical meaning, designating the community as such and stressing the koinonia (fellowship, common-union) of its members."

"The expression epi to auto, therefore, does not mean that they lived or assembled "in one place" or "together," as it meant in the Septuagint. It means that they met "as a body" (Acts 1:15; 2:1), and after Pentecost, "as a church"--as a community of believers who were one in Christ. That was true whether they assembled in the same place or in various places."

"A good translation for 2:44, therefore, would be, "All who believed were united as a church" or "common-union" epi to auto. A good translation for 2:47 would be, "And everyday, the Lord added those being saved to their common-union (epi to auto)."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Confirmation Bias & Overconfidence in Pattern Worship

Authoritarian Teaching Model
So, I do a Google search of "Pattern Worship" and this article is at the top of the list: The Divine Pattern of Acceptable Worship.

I am very familiar with the interpretations of the author, since he is certainly not the only preacher from (southern) churches of Christ who fully believes that content.

Since I have written extensive articles over the last four years on the various contents found in his article, I would simply like to point out the seeming disconnect that it takes to even title the article. What makes any one person think that he knows the "divine pattern" of "acceptable" worship?

From my view, it comes from being born into a belief system such as the author was in Tennessee, being brought up in only that authoritarian tradition, and therefore, never really considering anything else. This isolation, reinforced by confirmation bias and from being vested in tradition, seems to originate from being indoctrinated from birth that one has the truth and must never consider that what he has been taught may be wrong or that a differing interpretation may be more valid. Terms like "faithfulness" and "sound" are attached to this indoctrination and so to consider anything differently is viewed as infidelity to God.

The reinforcing nature of the interpretation style goes like this: The isolationism causes one to disconnect from his own interpretations. An innocence in the mind of the believer that he is not interpreting anything. All he is doing is telling us what "God said" and that "God's word" is "truth." So, for him, he genuinely cannot understand why everyone else cannot see what he sees. Yet, his own inability to see information that may invalidate his conclusions remains elusive to him.