Saturday, August 25, 2012

Don't worry about the big E.

The idea that evolution might be proved strikes fear in many Christians' hearts. But not so. If evolution were conclusively demonstrated, the only thing that would really change is that we might have to take the Genesis account less literally. So what. Assuming that it's completely proved, what would we have? A phenomenon of gradually improving life over billions of years. That's all it would be. A phenomenon. A feature of our mysterious universe that can tell us nothing about how it came to exist. A feature void of interpretation. The interpretation is still up to you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Worldview with a Hole

Houston, we have a problem.

Back in the early days of the 'third wave' charismatic renewal (OK, to be more precise, the Vineyard) there was a new paradigm, a new worldview that asserted itself to correct what we of the western materialist bent had believed all our lives. Materialism says there is nothing, and no cause but that which is material, physical, empirical. It's the prevalent view in many countries and we Christians have largely unthinkingly accepted it and tacked on our idea of God on to it. It was this worldview that gave us a basically non-miraculous, functionally deistic lifestyle. After all, the thinking goes, why would God want dirty his hands messing about with the material world he created to run a certain way. The paradigm shift we experienced back in the day, taught us that this materialism plus God wordview had a major component missing. That component is what is generally referred to as the 'Spiritual Realm.' It contains the whole gamut of angels, demons and of course God in the person of the Holy Spirit, and once you include it in your worldview you can allow for and experience miracles like never before, because you can start to grasp the idea of  multitudinous forces exerting pressure on the physical, empirical reality -- forces you don't understand, that naturally need prayer and the constant interaction from our Father who reigns in that realm as in all realms.

So what's the problem? Well it looks to me that materialism has largely reasserted itself, and we have ceased to be aware of the spiritual in our day to day lives. Now I grant you this has not happened in a vacuum. We have been in reaction. We don't like to be people who see "a demon behind every bush." We have found that people really do have chemical imbalances in their brains, which may or may not be demonically influenced. The medical profession has made great strides even in our life time to solve problems that in the past would have needed a major miracle. I think we also find physical factors and causes less scary and every time we have been able to attribute something to the physical there's been a false sense of comfort. But above all, there has been a dearth of the gift of discernment in the church by which all spiritual entities are perceived. Have we marginalized discerners? Have we in our reaction, made it unattractive to discern spirits, angels, demons? Maybe. But it looks like we are flying blind. The spiritual realm hasn't gone anywhere, for all our eyes are shut. It's time to pray for the gift of discernment. It scares the heck out of me, but I think it's something we need. Again.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Polish - A personal red flag

Ever think that something is just too good to be true? I seem to be plagued with this thought all the time. Especially in the Christian realm. When something, anything, worship music, teaching, website, is produced with too much polish, I have a hard time believing it. Some months ago, I saw a video of a worship time produced from Bethel Church of Redding, CA. It was amazing, if you could believe what you saw. I was ambivalent. Yes it seemed authentic, except that the video production and the facial expressions were so perfect as the camera passed, it was hard to imagine that 1) the thing hadn't been rehearsed like any other music video, although it purported spontaneity and 2) that the performers and non performers were unaware of moments when they were in view.

Several years back there was a movement on for Christians to perfect their art and not be 'mediocre.' I don't know whether this ties in to this or not, but I hope that the result of this hasn't been more polish. This pilgrim doesn't handle polish well.