May 30, 2014
Should I Leave My Church?
I belong to an Anglican parish in Wheaton, Illinois, that has witnessed a number of members become Roman Catholic, and others Orthodox. I understand the attraction. One night about 15 years ago, I had just finished reading about the gospel of poverty of Francis of Assisi and Pope John Paul II's profound theological encyclical "The Splendor of Truth." I was deeply moved by the breadth of Catholicism, and I daresay, had a priest showed up in my house that night, I would have bent the knee to Rome.
Since then, I've thought about why one would leave a tradition. Cleary I've decided to stay, and many of the reasons for doing so have been nicely summarized by Peter Leithart. Leithart has spoken very sympathetically about things Catholic, so his essay on "Staying Put: In the Presbyterian Church" carries a little more weight.
Moving from the ecumenical to the parochial: A debate is raging in Reformed/Lutheran circles about sanctification, or more precisely, how and why we become holy in Christ. I'm adding my voice to the conversation by looking at when we become holy. It seems to me that timing makes all the difference.
Wheel of Misfortune
This week's long read is about something we all wish for: winning the lottery. Ah, think again. We might paraphrase Lord Acton's famous phrase about power and say, "Money corrupts, and absolute money corrupts absolutely," even when in the hands of the devout. As Pentecostal Billie Bob Harrell Jr. told his financial adviser, "Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me."
How Do You Know If It's God
Many people today say they experience God while singing in worship; others while on a walk in a field; others (my favorite) while making love. (Just kidding!) In any event, I often wonder, "So, how do they know it's God and not just some fluttery feeling caused by electrical impulses in the brain?"
Jonathan Edwards, often called America's greatest theologian, saw people having extraordinary experiences during the Great Awakening. He wondered as I do, but he came up with a wise list of signs that suggest when the experience is genuinely divine. And a list of when it is not. For example, if the experience raises religious emotions to a high level, and if it comes with "bodily effects" (i.e., tongues), and if it prompts the subject to quote Scripture—these are not clear signs of an experience with God!
Humor Is No Laughing Matter
"Funny or Die: How your sense of humor can improve your health, get you pregnant, and even save your life." How can you not read that? But for those who make others laugh, all is not good news.
Until next week, grace and peace,