A Pastor, a writer, a dreamer, and occasionally a beer brewer. My contract with the Green Bay Packers is pending…I swear next year will be my year.
There are probably more than a few balks at the title of this blog, especially coming from the Pastor of a mainline church. I understand that. I balk with you. But that’s kind of the point. Because, you see, I’m a Christian…reluctantly. Not because I don’t want to be, but rather because I do want to be. The message is life-giving. The attention to the sacredness of existence is endless. The total transformation that happens when we see the world through the vision of love laid out by Jesus of Nazareth is necessary in this world.
But…there are discontents. Discontents revolving around many a number of things: orthodoxy, dogmatics, apologetics, militant theism, militant atheism…discontents.
This blog is meant to celebrate the life of the mind, and specifically the life of the Christian mind, and draw into focus many of these discontents. Open for conversation? Sure. Open for criticism? It wouldn’t be published if it weren’t.
But I’m not interested in arguments. I’ve argued enough for two life times, and it has never brought a clearer picture of Truth, only a clearer picture of animosity.
As Martin Luther wrote on his dying bed, “We are all beggars; this is true”.
Beggars for Truth. I have given up the need to be “correct.” That was the most freeing thing I’ve ever given up. And instead of plunging me headlong into relativity, it has indeed opened me up to Truth in ways I could not have imagined.
Whatever your belief system: theism, deism, atheism, anti-theism…you’re welcome here.
I really appreciate this post. So many people are either lemmings or using religious rightiousness to justify their actions, positions or feelings of superiority.
A few years ago we had a pastor whom I greatly miss. He sometimes took unpopular stands. He told us not to have more children than we could provide for, and that meant both materially and the responsibility to raise the child properly. He specifically said “don’t just sit back and say that God will provide. God did provide…he provided you with the ability to go forward, work hard and earn what you need”. He also said that “it’s not my table, but Gods. I only serve at this table, it’s not my place to dictate who is served”. This was in response to the parishioners complaints that he’d provided communion to anyone (including people who were gay, divorced, etc).
I do hope that the ability to evaluate one’s own beliefs and act with personal integrity will catch on! We could use a lot more of it in this world.
Thanks, Bringmycoffee! I appreciate your words. I also appreciate coffee.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
Wonderful–Another critical thinker who has not gone off his rocker. I’m there, too, shaking my head at many people who think they are Christians. They might be; I don’t know. Only God knows.
i haven’t been to a church since my youth, but i must say, this blog is exactly the type of thought-provoking inquiry that could re-engage me. thank you for contextualizing the complexity of our human lives within spirit- we are complex things, we people! in our love, in our faith, in our experience and our need to be open to the presence of divinity. complex and beautiful, and made that way by our creator.
Thanks, Misti! Exactly what I hope we can do.
(it seems that all too frequently churches ask or require of us that we be very two-dimensional, simplified versions of ourselves- your views are refreshing to me. thanks again!)
Beautifully said, Misti. Thank you 🙂
I just wanted to thank you. I walked away from the church because I tired of all the hypocrisy, intolerance, deceit, and just downright meanspiritedness I saw in so many people professing to be good Christians who knew how I was supposed to live my life, yet never seemed to understand the message in the bible, that substituted hatred for love and peace, judgement and bigotry for caring and compassion. It is refreshing to see a Christian that actually seems to promote what I thought Christianity was all about as a child. If more Christians were like you, I think fewer people would leave the church and there would be less animosity by many atheists. When I hear people complain about pastors that spew hatred (e.g. some currently notorious North Carolina pastors), I finally have someone I can point to and say they aren’t all that way. You’re not the only one, but you have a web presence I can easily point people towards, which makes a big difference.
Hey JD, thanks so much! And thanks for sharing your story.
I’m so sorry you had that experience, JD. I understand. I’m glad you found this Christian and you are right–he’s not the only one. I pray God lead you to others of us who are about His love and grace.
I really like this blog. Thank you.
Thanks so much for your thoughts. I’m sure that I’m not the only reader that begins to get frustrated when you go longer than a month without posting in this blog! 🙂 But, alas, as a fellow church-worker (youth minister), I know all to well the demands and stress placed on a minister by his/her people! God’s Peace and Grace to you!
Thanks! I’ll get back in the saddle in a bit, perhaps even tonight. Something is percolating…
In the meantime we had a baby boy. Hence the delay. Blessings on your work!
I have no idea how I stumbled across this blog, but thank the Lord! Your words have been my thoughts on numerous occasions! Thanks for sharing!
Tim: I discovered your blog via. Living Lutheran and it is the most refreshing thing I have read in years. At age 75, I’m a “retired” ELCA pastor, former professor and college president, who grew up in a pietistic Lutheran tradition, but somehow never exposed to fundamentalism. Hence: I resonate with your “take” on many things; pleased to find someone has many of the same questions I have. I like your description of being a reluctant Xtian; I have described myself for years since reading Weatherhead’s book, a “Christian Atheist.” Keep writing; I plan to keep reading!
Thanks, Carl! Many blessings to you today!
Love your blog, look forward to updates, you make me smile, think, challenge me and share wisdom Thanks for sharing with the world – Have nominated ye for a Liebster Award – Check out the post here -http://thatstorygirl.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/that-liebster-award-post/
Thanks story girl! I appreciate the support.
I love your blog. 🙂
Thank you sir
I’ve always believed that it’s not the word that is used that makes it a curse word, it’s the meaning behind it. Many curse words have been substituted with milder sounding words, but the meaning is the same. The word “fudge” comes to mind. What it comes down to is how people judge you.
What are you teaching if you aren’t striving to shepherd people in the correct direction? How can one claim to follow Christ if he/she doesn’t even know or care if what is written in the Bible true. The Bible claims to be infallible and inspired by God. You can not just cut and paste the parts that you personally agree with. Correct exists.
We are naturally born wanting to do things that are contrary to what God commands. Perfection is God’s standard, which we all fall short of. None of us are perfect. If God let something imperfect into His perfect heaven (lowered his standard), would he still be a God? That would make God himself imperfect. Man cannot enter heaven by his own merit.
Jesus Christ is God. Jesus lowered Himself to the point of becoming a human. He lived a perfect and innocent life (something that no one else has ever done). People hated him. They felt threatened by him. They knew that he was better than them. So they killed Him. It was the murder of the only perfect human (also God) that effectively paid the debt and took the incomprehensible wrath of God for the sins of all who accept Him. His resurrection shows us that Christ has power over death and gives us assurance regarding our own deaths, that Christians have a life in heaven after death.
There is no legalistic system that allows us to enter heaven. There is no saving law that, if followed, gives you admittance. It is only through God granting a soul faith in Christ’s saving work on the cross, that one is saved. He who has that faith will make Jesus Lord of their life and, out of gratitude, will follow what is set forth in the Bible.
Legalism never saved anyone, it only condemns people as hypocritical sinners. It is only the Grace of God as seen through the work of Christ that saves people from eternal hell.
That is the foundation of Christianity and I would die to defend it as correct.
On the subject of hypocrisy: You are sadly correct, many Christians today are legalistic and hypocritical. In some cases, these people have not truly come to salvation in Christ, and in other cases, Christians are just sinful. See, we all are sinners, Christian or not. What should set the Christian life apart is that it has been empowered by God to change (slow as it may be) and emulate the person of Christ. This process is not instantaneous and will not be fully accomplished until we are in heaven. Until then, there are still (sometimes large) bits and pieces of the natural sinner we all were born as, that pop up in our life. When sin does pop up in the life of a Christian, it is just as wrong, if not more so, than the unbeliever’s sin, because we are reflecting poorly on the God who we love.
“Would he still be a God?” should be “Would He still be God?”
We do agree, though. No legalism leads to salvation.
But we do agree on one thing: legalism cannot save us.
Thanks for commenting.
To be clear, I am striving to shepherd people. I’m just not claiming to have all the answers tied nicely in problem/solution bows. Such dichotomies don’t reflect truth, I’d say.
Suffice to say you’ve summed up a popular view of Gods work in the world here. Unfortunately it’s not the only Christian view, just the most dominant. And I think such clear cut answers have shoved people away from faith.
Finally, the Bible doesn’t claim to be inerrant or infallible. It can’t. It’s only a cohesive whole since the 300’s (with the New Testament), and to make such a broad sweeping claim about a number of texts written by a number of authors is not possible. I comment about how popular Christianity has replaced God with the Bible on a blog piece. I go more in depth there.
Thanks for reading. I know the Christian tent is large enough for us both, and our flocks.
I SO wish you were located closer to me. I would totally come. 🙂
As an ‘agnostic seeker’ (heh) I appreciate your blog. They’re helping me see that Christianity isn’t all like the Duggars and the televangelists I’ve watched. It’s nice to know that even believers have questions and don’t have all the answers. While you might not manage to convert me, you are at least opening my mind a little bit. 🙂
Thanks for this! Blessings today!
This blog (and in turn the author, and in turn his church) might be the first thing that has ever placed a desire in my heart to move to Chicago. 🙂 You make sense, which is a sadly rare commodity and a true blessing.
Pingback: Monday February 24th | public theology
Hi Pastor Tim! I enjoy your blog and have been following for a few weeks, now! I recently created a FB group called BlogSpirit – I’d be ecstatic if you joined and possibly posted some of your blog entries to the group?? I’d really like to gather spiritually minded bloggers together and create a safe space for sharing faith and learning about how faith impacts our every-day lives. I am a believer in Christ, however the group is open to adherents of all faiths. I do hope you’ll join!! Keep up the great writing here! 🙂
Your emails in my inbox are such a breathe of fresh air for me! I feel like I have finally found someone who speaks my faith language – and it makes so much sense! I find myself feeling frustrated and angered daily by those around me who “talk the talk” but rarely “walk the walk”. In my adult life, I have struggled to find a place where my ideals and beliefs fit. Thanks for helping me see there are others out there who believe like me – it gives me hope!
Thanks, Jeannine! Many blessings this night to you. Your words bless me tonight, too.
Love your open-mindedness.
I have enjoyed the thread on the RFRA, but have mostly tried to stay out of the fray. Otherwise I would spend all of Holy Week in sad arguments about what is sin, what is homosexuality, what is God saying right now. I appreciate your perseverance in responding to the internet bullies who slam progressive beliefs, but claim that we are the intolerant ones when we respond to their tactics. I’m always puzzled when people say the Bible clearly says homosexuality is a sin, when it is a word and concept that formed in the 19th century. I’d say the context of Paul’s letters is extremely important, as I believe it was the participation of husbands and wives in sexual practices outside the societal norms for marriage that was drawing Paul’s concern in both Rome and Corinth. A good pastor friend of mine has a gay son who wanted to settle down with a partner, and my friend asked him how he would do so consistent with his Christian faith. His son said he would be faithful, monogamous and committed. Would it be so for all marriages!
I am a commissioned pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Thank you for your efforts, and may God bless your ministry!
Thanks, acory! Blessed Holy Week to you, too!
Just came across this blog today, October 17th. Very impressed by the thoughtful critique of todays church. St Francis of Assisi said that we should preach the Gospel always, and sometime use words. In America today it is mainly words, which is why the Church is dying. If you spend time, as I have, in places like Romania, Uganda or India, you will see preaching with more than just words. And, no surprise, a growing Church, despite significant roadblocks and at times, outright persecution.
Thank you for your blog. If more Lutheran pastors were like you, I would not be considering leaving the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod). Thank you for putting into words what I think in my head.
it’s nice that you stick to what you believe in, not many chritians can do that and it is very hard.
You might consider updating the last sentence, even if only to change “I’m” to “I was”.