Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 12/21 Edition

Christian Carnival is up at The Bible Archive. The theme this week, appropriately, is Christmas. Early commendations go to Eternal Revolution's post on fighting the wrong Christmas battle - a topic near and dear to my heart, which I'll touch on again below. Another early favorite is The Marshian Chronicles' look at the date of Christmas and its decidedly non-pagan roots (also discussed here). Some people think we are really just pagans dressing up as Christians at this time of year. Hogwash. Our symbols and holidays are what we make of them, and if we're not worshipping pagan gods, the date and trappings are not pagan. Ooooh...don't get me started on this one!
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Speaking of Christmas (oh, not the "speaking of" segues again...), much conversation has been held on the idea of churches being closed on Christmas day. I've appreciated posts by JollyBlogger, Rev Ed, Parableman, and (most of all) Ben Witherington (he posts again on it here.) I'm not going to rehash all the arguments pro/con, but I will say (sorry, Ed, it pains me to disagree with you) that I don't like the idea of cancelling Sunday services because they happen to fall on Christmas this year. We don't cancel Easter services, another holiday where we often build up with all sorts of fancy to-do's through the week, so why Christmas? I understand there are good motives for doing so, but I don't see how any of them supersede the gathering of saints for worship. No, such gatherings don't have to happen on a Sunday, but some of this just feels like accomodating to the culture to me.

That being said, I think we as Christians need to ensure such dialogue stays respectful. The decision to close a church impacts other churches nearby, the community nearby, and most of all the witness of the Christian church writ large. The MSM noticed that some churches were closing, and rightfully asked why. The ensuing discussion (well, the decisions themselves too) needs to take into account how this makes the church look in a society where the church is too often looked upon as either too accomondating to the culture (so there's no distinction) or too withdrawn from the culture. We're all brothers and sisters here, and our actions are being watched by those outside the family. Let's keep the dirty laundry airing civil and loving. (Oh, and those to whom I linked above do admirably in this regard and should be role models for civil discourse. I'd do well to listen to them more often myself.)
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I wish I could mindread as well as Hewitt, though in this case it's hard to see much difficulty in the task. Funny how the UN took credit for the Iraqi election of last week when they did something akin to diddly squat during the past few years (see also, relief, tsunami).
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John at Blogotional touches on sin, a topic of recent interest 'round these parts. I agree on his general thesis, but I have a slight issue with this comment:
"We need to move past the theological maxim "all sin is the same" and re-develop a reasonable set of ethics." Yes, we need to have reasonable ethics, and in our world we do need to make distinctions among sins. Murder is more damaging to society than, say, jaywalking. Human justice appropriately distinguishes severities of sin, and it is true that God does as well. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that as far as salvation goes, any sin, no matter how small in our eyes, is sufficient to bring condemnation in God's eyes. So yes, sins are different. Some are lesser, some are evil. But all are sufficient to bring condemnation, no matter how minute we may think they are from a human perspective. (And I'm not sure John would disagree.)
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Melinda at STR points out the utter folly of the argument saying that we are led to be more moral without a belief in the afterlife, because hey, we take this one more seriously. Ugh. No, people are better behaved (i.e. more moral) because they believe there are eternal consequences from this life. Remove that belief, and soon you have Lord of the Flies all over the place. People aren't inherently good, they're inherently sinful.
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Okay, yeah, Jesus is cool, but do we really want to take this route with marketing our faith? My answer: no.
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It's awards time, and The 2nd Annual Best of Blogs Awards are here. Nominations will be taken until 1/3/06.

A new portal has arrived, called the, Best of the GodBlogs. They're also soliciting nominations for daily highlights. (H/T: Evangelical Outpost.)
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I think I've hit my word limit (ha! like I have one of those!) so I'll end the trip here.

God bless!

3 comments:

John Schroeder said...

Ron: I do not contend that we should eliminate the theological concept. My turn of phrase was meant only to point out that so many people never think ethically beyond that concept.

R. Stewart said...

Hi John -
That's what I figured you meant. And you're right, some folks do tend towards that. I just am leery of losing the proper balance between our human perception of sin as having gradations, and God's perception of all sin as being absolutely unacceptable.

pastor mark said...

Thanks for mentioning our site, Best of the GodBlogs!