Thursday, December 30, 2010

Response to Four Recommended Articles

My senior pastor sends articles my way, as do other friends. Usually I read them.

Today I quickly read 4, and I thought I'd respond to them.

"Deeds Done in Darkness" reports the recent imprisonment and torture in Afghanistan of Afghan Sayed Mossa (or Said Musa). Imprisoned in May for conversion to Christianity, no amount of international pressure of any kind has brought about any change in his situation, until Sayed got a letter out. Now he's in a "safer" prison, at least. Our brother in Christ, 45, needs our prayers, as do his wife and 6 kids. He is not alone; the Lord is with him.

Brilliant author, mathematician, and agnostic Jew, David Berlinski responds to questions in "My Life, So Far," an article in Outreach Magazine that I can't seem to locate online. While most of his statements are cogent and logical, I fail to see why "Even if I was persuaded of the truth of [God as Creator and Jesus as His Son], I couldn't break that historical tradition [of being committed to the suffering body of Jewish people]." I though reason was his guiding mechanism, but apparently tradition occasionally slips into that role.

In "Sam Harris Believes in God," Sam Harris, one of the "new atheists," apparently believes in some kind of religious experience and self-consciousness. But he does not believe in the Christian God, whatever the title may mislead one to believe. For all this article's excitement about its find, Harris's beliefs seem little more than Eastern mysticism, which isn't too surprising since he spent much time in India and Nepal to study with Hindu and Buddhist teachers.

Finally, John Ortberg ("Tis the Season to Be Attentive") thinks Dallas Willard is on to something when he suggests that much of what pastors do is actually counter-productive to what their goal is, the spiritual formation of their congregations. Maybe, Ortberg suggests, if we would put less time and effort into services and planning, and more time and effort into hanging out with people, that would do the trick. Perhaps. But I grow increasingly wary of calls to chuck corporate worship, or to chuck anything that might have the smell of tradition on it, in favor of something new and innovative. There's probably a middle ground here.

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