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Chris Criminger
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Hi John, As one who has been neck deep in apologetics, I have often found it counter-productive to defend so passionately what too often for me at least has been my own views of God or truth as if God and truth need me so bad :--) I know I need more faith, hope and love, but the greatest is love. So thanks for your love John.
Hi John, I thank you once again for your generous and thoughtful words John. I know you have been attacked and slandered over the years as N. T. Wright and others you have tried to defend and give more balanced responses too. I don't know anything of this debate or discussion but I find your approach sympathetic and not getting tangled up in the middle of it one way or the other. To be brutally honest, Geisler has been one who has been a very hard critic who at times I suspect has wondered too close to the mine-fields of slander and gossip and inuendo. So for Geisler to defend anyone, has some merit to me since he is usually one of the first to criticize others. So I too will take a 'sit back and see' approach but I wish more Christians would show more patience and grace when it comes to these kind of things. We are often more like cowboys willing to shoot our wounded rather than wounded healers offering healing medicine or doing the tough work or mutual repentance rather than simply trying to get a confession out of someone else! May God remove all slander, gossip and foolish words from my mouth. I have so much I see when I look in the mirror that I rarely have time to be focusing my gaze upon others when there is so much work that needs to happen in my own life. Should not the Church or Christian's response first be one of innocence until proven quilty? Does not faith disctate that we look at the glass half full rather than focusing on the glass half empty?
Hi John, Well, I am off to Canada for vacation. I just wanted to add my own missional-ecumenism moment. I wemt to a messianic Church where Jews and Gentiles worshipped side by side. This was a beautiful picture to me on the oneness and unity God desires for his people.
Hi John, GREAT STORY! I am off to the North American Christian Convention today in Indiapolis Indiana. There is a new book out called "Jesus the Fool" by Michael Frost. It reminds me like Bol that we will be fools for one kingdom or another, whose fool are you?
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2010 on A Fool for Christ at John H Armstrong
Hi John and all, John, I appreciate your reflective thoughts on this issue that brings many emotions, etc. Actually, I hope some other Catholics weigh in on this one since it seems to me that the first response seems more of a strain out a gnat response rather than dealing with some of the tough issues than John perceives in all this. Let us all beware lest all we end up having for supper is camel.
Hi John, I take it that Silouan wants us to be heavenly men and women on earth. What powerful words. I was reading a leading atheist a few weeks ago who said that if Christians would just read his book and listen to his arguments, they would abandon their faith. Catholics and Orthodox tell me they don't understand why I am not one of them. Oh, if all of us would follow your wise words John about being a faithful presence where God has placed us and practice the unity of the faith "in that place" on God's earth. Can we appreciate where God has other people on the journey even if it is not exactly like our own?
Toggle Commented Jun 6, 2010 on Wisdom From Mount Athos at John H Armstrong
Hi John, I don't diagree with your position but I do find some of your vocabulary and your own position different in some important aspects from some others who may hold to believers baptism. I find it strange that you describe believer's baptism as "adult baptism" and then seem to suggest there is no room for children. Really? All I can say is even though I agree with your overall position concerning infant baptism as acceptable (please hear that), I think people might ask why you equate believer's baptism with adult baptism? Nor would all believer's baptism people exclude all other kinds of baptisms (even though I know for example this would be true of many people from my tradition's background and Baptist background). I am simply saying that I don't think a sectarian view of believer's baptism has to go hand in hand. I like the early church's emphasis for example on baptism by immersion but they left the door open for other modes as well. Why not the same for some people who hold to believer's baptism? I know you are talking from your own experience but I am simply stating that there is much outside your experience too. I do love your heart for catholicity on this issue and I will say that the problem you list of sectarianism concerning this issue is a very real problem. On the other hand, I think it would be clearer to refer to infants or very small children than simply 'children.' But in the end, great thoughts and thanks for proding greater theological thinking from us!
Hi John, I was talking to a passionate brother for Christ today and as we discussed some things, I suddenly realized one of the most major conversions or ministry changes that has ever happened in my life took place about nine years ago. So here goes number seven. I did the Prayer of Jabez experient and asked God to enlarge my territory and suddenly out of no where I was suddenly thrust into our local area jail ministry. The greatest fruitfulness of ministry I have ever seen is from this area. The greatest moves of God I have experienced have been in these settings. The people God is putting in my life who are helping me now in ministry are people I worked with in jail. The incredible thing to me in all this is the church has been so supportive of ex-cons who lives have been touched by God to come into our local congregation. I am continually astounded and amazed in what God is doing. Next month we are opening a remodeled church building in a town close by to house men who are committed to a deeper life with Christ. Marantha!
Toggle Commented May 28, 2010 on My Three Conversions at John H Armstrong
Hi John, Well, as one who has watched every season of 24 except for the last one (I too can not stand commercials and will wait for the final season to come out on DVD). Two things from my perspective about Jack Bauer. One, Keifer Sutherland is probably one of the best actors on television. I think whatever he does he will do well (and I hope to see him in more movies as well). The second is I could never fully identify with Jack Bauer. He was too brutal and sadistic to me. It got so bad that when terrorists in later seasons were told by Jack that "they knew what he was capable of," they usually started singing like birds rather than go through the torture and eventually spill their guts anyway. Jack has always been an interesting character who could never hang onto relationships and was often a misunderstood, lonely, and yes, even tortured soul. For Christians who relish the thoughts of good triumphing over evil no matter what the means, Jack Bauer was the epitome of the means justifies the end. But if Christians looked a little closer, maybe they might, and I say 'might' hear Jesus words that those who live by the sword, eventually die by the sword in one way or the other.
Toggle Commented May 24, 2010 on A Fond Farewell to Jack Bauer at John H Armstrong
Hi John, This is the first time I have heard of the 'Dream Act" and it sounds good to me. There is a discussion going on Scot McKnight's blog (The Jesus Creed) about an 21 year old girl who got caught driving who was in her last year of college. The court has decided to let her finish her last year and then she will have to go through the judicial process. I hear two sides talking past each other. One side says when she became 18, she should have moved back to Mexico or face the full penalty of the law. The other side says that there should be no borders and therefore no illegal aliens. There is so much emotion and rhetoric that goes on from both sides that I find troubling. All I know is we need REAL reform in this important issue. On the one hand, living in a world with terrorism, etc., I don't know how we can just have open borders and let anyone and everyone in this country? Maybe I am missing something but most other countries have borders and restrictions. I am not sure how wisdom really dictates this course? On the other hand, I don't know how we can punish people for coming over to this country indefinitely. We have common law marriages even if people do not get "legally" married. What about common law citizenship after someone has been living here for a certain amount of time as well as trying to work with the system and making it possibly more difficult (but not impossible) for those who simply working around the system? Some day, this country's population will be a Hispanic majority. We better start thinking and acting in ways more mercifully than what I see going on today.
Hi John, I love hearing your conversion stories. I would also love to hear from others as well. Here are six I came up with: 1. My conversion to Christ when I was 14 years old. Baptism at this age was also a significant spiritual rite for me as a Southern Baptist. 2. Almost 18 years old (3 1/2 years later), I sensed a call to Christian ministry and to be a minister. This was quite shocking to me since I had made fun of one of my best friends who told me he was going into the ministry. 3. Age 21 (little over 3 years later), I made a huge shift from the Baptist Church to the Christian Church. I no longer believed in once saved, always saved but I have also seen something work similar in the Christian Church like once baptized always baptized. The issue for both of these was discipleship and living out the faith which I witnessed many people in both church traditions not doing. 4. At age 33, I received what charismatics or Pentecostals might call the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual gifts, angels and demons, and the Kingdom of God on earth became much bigger issues for me experientially. 5. The first clergy Promise Keepers (12 years ago?) opened me up to racial reconciliation, a heart for Israel, and reading the Scriptures in a new way (non-supersessionistic ways). 6. An Emmaus Walk ten years ago led me into a more sacramental life and one that focused on the catholicity of the church. I have sensed my calling to be a bridge builder between charismatics and non-carismatics, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox.
Toggle Commented May 18, 2010 on My Three Conversions at John H Armstrong
Hey John, Thanks for sharing on some issues that touch all of us in one way or another. Here are a few of my impressions on all this: 1. John Stackhouse wrote an article several years ago where he says the terms "liberal" and "conservative" are not really meaningful anymore and they produce a very political, polarized kind of Christianity. I have certainly observed this too but I still don't have any problems with the terms if people want to use them (I really don't care one way or the other). 2. Whether we like it or not, I think confessional Christians by definition will get pigeoned holed as conservative (that includes you John and me and many people on this list) if for no other reason that the Evangelical center and Christianity in America continues to lean and move towards the left. I still remember a conversation I had with Joseph Stowell when he was the President of Moody Bible College in 1991. Evangelicals were in crises and were losing their influence and identity way back then. They chose at the 'Evangelical Affirmations' conference two roads for the future of Evangelicalism. 1. The first was to be 'big tent Evangelicals' and put the focus on size and inclusivity. 2. The second was nobody wanted to be associated with Fundamentalists or fundamentalism so cultural mandates for being relevant, successful, and reasonable (scientific and culturally respectable) became the calling cards of the day. Joseph Stowell said back then that if this is the direction that Evangelicalism is going to go, some of us are probably better off calling ourselves fundamentalists because tommorows fundamentalists are todays Evangelicals and todays liberals are tommorows Evangelicals.
Toggle Commented May 15, 2010 on So What Are You? at John H Armstrong
Hi John, Thanks for the good summaries. Two thoughts occured to me in all this: 1. I have a friend who used to be both politically and theologically conservative. He is now theologically liberal and still politically conservative (usually the change over goes with both). One does wonder how political views can remain unchanging while religous ones are greatly revised? He was taught doctrine and presuppositional conservative orthodox Christianity. He will also tell you that he has never really experienced God in his life. This kind of dissonance will surely lead to a crises of faith at times! So maybe liberal Christianity does have a point about Christian experience. 2. On the theological level, I feel much closer to conservative Catholics and Eastern Orthodox than I do to liberal Protestants. I think there is great possibility when confessional Christians do affirm both Scripture and the great ecumenical creeds of the church.
Toggle Commented May 14, 2010 on The Response of Conservatism at John H Armstrong
Hi John, As one who has been a conservative my whole life, I have always had HUGE problems with liberalism. After saying that, I have come to the place where "prophetic preaching" by both conservatives and liberals seems very often to be shaped more by the narrative of liberal democratic American ideals than the narrative of Israel, Jesus, and the church. Worse, the issues chosen are often so selective and polarizing that one can line them up more with a political party's agenda than with an agenda set by Scripture. So, at the end of the day, it seems to me that so much of what passes for real Christianity more looks like a cultural phenomena (and none of us can totally get away from culture for sure) than one that is truly defined by the gospel. Conservative Christianity may be more theologically correct than its more liberal counterpart but both seem to be immersed in carnality and worldliness.
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May 13, 2010