"And so, as the pastor exhorted us this morning, Christians must have a “least of these” mindset. Like Jesus, who came to proclaim good news to the poor, release to prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed (Luke 4:18), even so his followers must humble themselves to reach out to the neediest of our neighbors and serve them with the Savior’s love.
This passage is so stirring, so stimulating to the imagination, so sobering in its implications, that one cannot help but pause to take stock of one’s own life in its light.
Except that I am convinced we have it all wrong."
I'm still chewing on the alternate interpretation that iMonk's guest blogger gives here. A commenter on this post notes that NT Wright holds much the same view… again, interesting.
"Liberal democracy offers religious believers a bargain. Accept, as a price of citizenship, that you may never impose your convictions on your neighbor, or use state power to compel belief. In return, you will be free to practice your own faith as you see fit — and free, as well, to compete with other believers (and nonbelievers) in the marketplace of ideas.
That’s the theory. In practice, the admirable principle that nobody should be persecuted for their beliefs often blurs into the more illiberal idea that nobody should ever publicly criticize another religion. Or champion one’s own faith as an alternative. Or say anything whatsoever about religion, outside the privacy of church, synagogue or home.
A week ago, Brit Hume broke all three rules at once. "
Ross Douthat is quickly becoming my favorite NYT columnist, and this whole column is worth reading.
"More disturbing is the willingness to take a bristling, irrational stance toward homosexuality, an issue that the church—with a few notable exceptions—has already failed to address with any sort of grace. I have resisted the bullying characterization of all gay marriage opponents as bigoted yahoos, but to take a religiously conservative stand on the issue requires almost superhuman amounts of love, humility and nuance. The firebrand tone of these fundraising letters is exactly the opposite; it is openly comfortable with capitalizing financially on unfounded fear of the men and women next door. Regardless of where you stand on the politics of gay marriage, we can all agree that making up wild tales of a government-assisted invasion by people God has commanded you to love is an egregious perversion of the Christian gospel."
A thoughtful piece, worth reading the whole thing.
"Somehow I wish that the presence of a cohabitating couple in the midst of a church could be a reminder that while our fellowship is with Christ, our human reality is the predictable human mess and the movement Jesus gave us is a constant, but uneven, journey by real sinners towards the Kingdom of God. We’re a stopping place for pilgrims who are at lots of different places in the journey. Our commonality is going after Christ. We all have some things to learn and a lot of Gospel to apply."
Good piece from iMonk.
"The Culture War makes sense to Christians who have little or no idea how to be Christians in this culture except to oppose liberals and fight for a conservative political and social agenda- an agenda often less than completely examined in the light of scripture, reason, tradition and experience. Those evangelicals- like Greg Boyd- who have challenged or broken the identification with the political right can testify to how they are immediately viewed. Dissenting evangelicals are labeled as pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and pro- Democrat instantly. The rhetoric of the culture warriors is relentless in associating dissenting evangelicals of every kind with the issues of abortion and homosexuality. No one could be blamed for believing that evangelicalism was a modestly spiritual movement with the goal of banning abortion and gay marriage."
Challenging stuff from the iMonk. Really, read the whole thing.