Thursday, September 30, 2010

Celebrating Five Years of Blogging

Photo Credit: Dricker94
Five years ago today, I entered the world of blogging. A couple close friends of mine thought I had a unique perspective on some issues and that it might be beneficial to share those thoughts with others.  A special thanks to Shane Deike and Rob Williams for initially getting me up and running.

Now, over 500 blog posts later, I continue to enjoy the opportunity to provide insights to current issues from my vantage point.  Thank you to all of you that faithfully read Crocker Chronicle and for those of you that have sent along your encouraging feedback through comments, e-mails, Facebook messages and in personal interaction. 

It still humbles me when I come across someone that mentions they enjoy my writing and appreciate the things I have to say.  I know that my readership is fairly small compared to more popular blogs but I'm thankful that God has used some of my words to be helpful to a number of people.  My desire is to help challenge Christians to view the world through a different eyes than perhaps they normally do and for those that are not followers of Christ to consider his role in their lives as they contemplate the issues of our society.

Thanks again for reading and hopefully I'll be able to continue to bring you content that inspires, challenges, educates and informs.  God bless.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Michigan is Hit Hardest By the Recession

Photo Credit: aflcio
The current recession has affected all corners of the United States, but perhaps no other state has felt the weight of the financial downturn more than my home state of Michigan. According to the Detroit News, Michigan families have borne the brunt of the economy:
"Michigan families have been hit the hardest by the recession, with incomes plummeting and poverty rising at rates seen nowhere else in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau statistics released today.

Median household income for the state in 2009 was 21.3 percent below 2000 levels, the biggest drop in the nation and 6.5 percent lower than 2008. And the poverty rate, although not the highest in the nation at 16.2 percent, rose the fastest among all states since 2000, according to the U.S. Census.

With economists now saying the recession ended in 2009, it could be that the income drop seen last year will provide the bottom for the state. But a substantial bottom it is: The median household income was $42,255, more than $12,000 lower than the median was at in 2000 when adjusted for inflation.

Locally, Sterling Heights recorded the steepest income drop off all U.S. cities with a population of 65,000 or more, shedding more than $25,000 in annual income. The city had a 2009 median household income of $51,545, more than third lower than its $77,873 median income in 2000. Similar drops were recorded in Kalamazoo and Detroit.

Nationwide, median household income is down just 2.9 percent from 2008 and 6.6 percent from 2000. Michigan's national ranking during that time went from 16th in 2000 to 35th in 2009.

Much of the decline is attributed to the loss of hundreds of thousands of high-paying, yet lower-skill manufacturing job that once were the backbone of the state economy. As many of those jobs vanished, workers were forced to find alternative work in lower-paying industries.

The shakeout of the nation's manufacturing sector ravaged the Midwest, and the closest other states in terms of income loss are neighbors Indiana and Ohio, where median household income is down 15.1 percent and 13.9 percent, respectively."
In light of the current economic realities within the Great Lakes state, it should be no surprise that the housing market there has also suffered. A study by Coldwell-Banker was cited in a recent article in my hometown newspaper, The Times Herald, as saying that of the top ten cities in the country to find the cheapest house, three of them were from Michigan.  Detroit topped the list, Grayling was second and my hometown, Port Huron, was ninth on the list.

With some indicators pointing to economic recovery, hopefully the people of Michigan will be able to soon get on their feet.  In the meantime, we hope and pray for the best. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Following Jesus on the Narrow Road

Photo Credit: teachingsagittarian
Taken from Jon Walker's book, Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship:
"When Jesus calls you to follow him, he isn't asking you to become a nice person and to do your best at helping others. He didn't die so you could feel good about the things you've screwed-up or so you could carry a sentimental hope of being re-united beyond the grave with the people you love but who have died. His call is a command for you to comprehensively and absolutely walk away from the way you do life now so you can follow him down an exclusive path through the narrow gate that leads to the kingdom of heaven."
(h/t to Rick Warren)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Eddie Long & How to Respond When Pastors Fail

Photo Credit: bruckerrlb
The allegations directed towards Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of Georgia's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, have sent shock waves through the Christian community and raised all sorts of questions about the things he's been accused of doing.  As the pastor of one of the nation's largest churches, Bishop Long is a prominent figure in evangelical Christian circles and is one of the most recognized African American preachers around.

The things that he has been accused of are certainly troubling but I am not going to speculate on what has or hasn't happened.  Ultimately, God knows what happened and the truth will eventually be brought into the light.  Whatever ends up happening, it is apparent that the name of Christ has once again been soiled.  Whether it has been tarnished by young men that are lying or by an unrighteous preacher, the stereotype of hypocritical Christian ministers that are out for financial gain and sexual conquests is played out again before a watching public.

For those that are not of the faith, it is very easy to believe that all pastors are insincere and only out for personal gain.  Sadly, there is a small segment of clergy where this is absolutely true but my hope is that Eddie Long does not fall into this category.  But what of the untold number of pastors leading small congregations who faithfully and humbly serve their members and their community year after year, often unnoticed and under appreciated? 

There are countless men and women of God who entered into the ministry because they loved God and what to see their lives be used by God to make a difference in the lives of others.  I would like to think I am one of them.  We don't lead mega-churches, we don't drive very nice cars and don't live in opulent homes.  But we do faithfully serve God and live lives of integrity.

Very simply, pastors are human.  We like to think of our spiritual leaders as being a cut above the rest of us and that they don't have the same kinds of struggles as the average man or woman.  The reality is that not only do clergy deal with the same kinds of temptations as everyone else, but often they have no one to turn to when dealing with the internal conflicts of the heart.

Spiritual leaders are commonly placed on a platform in the eyes of their followers and viewed as being capable of doing no wrong.  When taken to the extreme, I believe the reverence and awe that is demonstrated towards some pastors is akin to idol worship where the spiritually immature have replaced their worship of God with the man or woman that teaches them the Word on Sunday mornings. 

When we have an improper view of our spiritual leaders, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment when we learn that they are imperfect.  At times, we experience this when they don't meet certain expectations we have of them; at other times it comes when we learn that they have been living a secret lifestyle.  I say none of this to excuse unrighteous, sinful and, in certain cases, unlawful behavior.  When clergy sin they should be disciplined by their church and when they break the law, they should be prosecuted (whether they feel like God has forgiven them or not) and make appropriate restitution to their victims.

Spiritual leadership is a privilege.  It is not a right.  Through sin and disobedience, we can become disqualified from leading spiritually.  Just because someone we may possess certain oratorical skills or leadership gifts does not mean that character doesn't count.  It does.  When a person in a trusted position of spiritual leadership betrays that trust and does untold damage to others, it is not to be taken lightly. Over time, restoration can take place but it doesn't happen over night nor should the same level of ministry responsibilities in the future just be assumed.

A sincere man or woman of God will point people to Jesus and not to themselves.  They will walk in humility and extend the same type of grace to others that they have received from God.  They will lead with the gifts God has given them but will also admit when they are wrong.  They will not be in the ministry for themselves but for God and others.  

There are a lot of really great ministers out there.  Please don't let the public failings of a few (or allegations based in falsehoods) cause you to walk away from God.  Our eternal hope should be in Christ and not in man.  The gospel is for sinners and, yes, even clergy need the gospel every day.  I pray that in some way God will be glorified and more people will be drawn to him through this very unfortunate and unsettling situation.  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Did Moses Really Part the Red Sea?

Photo Credit: Rob Sheridan
Being a Christian who believes that the Bible is the Word of God may cause some to think I'm a little bit crazy. Some would say that science and faith are incompatible and that one has nothing to do with the other. In fact, there are many that would argue that the miracles that are spoken of in the Bible are unbelievable and could have never happened.

But since I believe that God created nature and science and that he remains in control of the universe, he can do that which is seemingly impossible. A case in point is the parting of the Red Sea, as outlined in Exodus 13 & 14. The Bible indicates that while being chased by Pharoah's army, the Israelites, who were led by the prophet Moses, were able to cross the Red Sea while it was parted by God. After the Israelites had crossed, the water returned to its normal state and drowned Pharoah's army. Impossible, right?

Some scientists think otherwise. Here's the story from
"The parting of the waters described in the book of Exodus that enabled Moses and the Israelites to escape the pharaoh's army is possible, computer simulations run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado at Boulder show.

To test the theory that the biblical account may have depicted actual events, the researchers studied maps of the region, archaeological records and satellite measurements to find a topographical feature where such an event might have been possible. They settled on an area south of the Mediterranean Sea where some oceanographers say a branch of the Nile River drained into what was called the Lake of Tanis, a coastal lagoon 3,000 years ago.

The computer model shows a 63 mph east wind blowing across the area and its 6-feet-deep waters for 12 hours. In the scenario, the wind pushed back the waters into both the lake and the channel of the river, exposing a mud flat 2 to 2.5 miles long and 3 miles wide for four hours. As the winds died down, the waters quickly flowed back in and in theory would have drowned anyone on the mud flat.

"The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus," said Carl Drews of NCAR, the lead author of the study published in the online journal PLoS ONE.

"The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics. The wind moves the water in a way that’s in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in."
You can read the full study here.

Some Christians might argue that this experiment is seeking to explain away God's existence by proving that the divine is not needed in order for the apparently miraculous to occur.  But I think it proves the opposite.  Since some will say that they only will believe what science can prove than maybe this little experiment demonstrates that we don't always know as much as we think we do.  Many have mocked the Bible's claims of miracles for years only to find that there might even be a natural explanation.  Just because we think something is impossible doesn't always mean it is.

Since I believe in God's sovereignty and his control of the universe, I think he can use the laws of nature (or not) in order to accomplish his purposes.  He can part a sea, he can send a flood that covers the earth or even cause a man to be swallowed by a large fish (and live to tell about!)  I do not believe in a god that created the universe but passively sits back while things take on a life of their own.  The God that I believe in takes an active interest in our lives and in our world and is always at work to accomplish his purposes for his own glory.

If you are interested in learning more about this God, please follow this link

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alice Cooper on Faith, Sex and Marriage

Photo Credit:
Dena Flows
Alice Cooper is probably best known for his brand of "shock rock", theatrical concerts and hits "School's Out" and "No More Mr. Nice Guy."  But few know that Cooper publicly identifies himself as a Christian and claims to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ.  Having grown up in a family of faith, Cooper left behind his Christian upbringing during his teens and venture into rock and roll.  In a past interview with, he comments on the rediscovery of his faith later in life and his views on God and the Devil:
"I was pretty much convinced all my life that there was just one God and there was Jesus Christ and there was the Devil," he told "You couldn't believe in God without believing in the Devil. I always tell bands that the most dangerous thing you can do is to believe in the concept of the Devil or the concept of God, because you're not giving them full credit. When you believe in God, you've got to believe in the all-powerful God. He's not just God, He's the all-powerful God and He has total control over everyone's life. The Devil, on the other hand, is a real character that's trying his hardest to tear your life apart. If you believe that this is just mythology, you're a prime target because you know that's exactly what Satan wants: To be a myth. But he's not a myth, of this I'm totally convinced. More than anything in the world, I'm convinced of that."
As a popular entertainer in a profession known for its decadence and rebellion, Cooper possesses a remarkably refreshing perspective on relationships. Check out this video as Cooper shares his thoughts on sex and marriage. Please click here if the video player does not show up. (h/t to Tim Challies for the video link)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Do American Teens Have a Vibrant Christian Faith?

Photo Credit: telex
An article on published a few weeks ago says that most American Christian teens have a shallow faith that ultimately leads them to abandon Christianity later in life.  The article, entitled "More teens becoming 'fake' Christians", features the research of author Kendra Creasy Dean, as found in her new book, Almost Christian.

In interviews with over 3,000 Christians teens from a variety of Christan denominations, Dean found that most them were fairly ambivalent about their faith, few were active adherents to the tenets of their religious tradition and most had a difficult time expressing their beliefs to others. 

From the CNN feature:
"Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."

Some critics told Dean that most teenagers can't talk coherently about any deep subject, but Dean says abundant research shows that's not true.

"They have a lot to say," Dean says. "They can talk about money, sex and their family relationships with nuance. Most people who work with teenagers know that they are not naturally inarticulate."

In "Almost Christian," Dean talks to the teens who are articulate about their faith. Most come from Mormon and evangelical churches, which tend to do a better job of instilling religious passion in teens, she says.

No matter their background, Dean says committed Christian teens share four traits: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future.

"There are countless studies that show that religious teenagers do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high-risk behavior," she says. "They do a lot of things that parents pray for."

Dean, a United Methodist Church minister who says parents are the most important influence on their children's faith, places the ultimate blame for teens' religious apathy on adults.

Some adults don't expect much from youth pastors. They simply want them to keep their children off drugs and away from premarital sex.

Others practice a "gospel of niceness," where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says.

"If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation," wrote Dean, a professor of youth and church culture at Princeton Theological Seminary."
These are some disconcerting findings and offer some compelling cautions for parents and those who work with youth. To read the rest of the CNN article click here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Christian Unity in the Midst of Political Differences

Photo Credit: Frerieke
Chris Williamson, pastor of Strong Tower Bible Church in Franklin, Tennessee and author of the new book, One But Not the Same, was recently interviewed on and offers a challenging perspective on the importance that Christians should place on their political affiliations versus the broader kingdom of God.  Pastor Williamson shares:
"At the risk of sounding like a cliché, Christians need to talk less about their respective political parties and candidates and speak more about the Christ and His kingdom. Dividing over politics should no longer be tolerated between Christians, but the truth is we divide over how to best interpret the Bible. We major on the minors and miss the majors. Many Christians have long since aligned Jesus with either a Democratic or a Republican platform, as if Jesus rode the campaign buses of either party. Politics have become the head for many Christians and unity in the body of Christ has become the tail.

We all know that no political party or platform fully represents the kingdom agenda of God and neither should they try. In addition, Christians need to stop looking for political messiahs and moral deliverance through the horses and chariots of Washington, D.C. Christians keep talking about the church being the answer for the world today and not the government. Well, it's past time to live like we believe that. We shouldn't all have to vote the same way in order to be unified. We can be one without being the same. Once we learn that the beauty and the tension are in the balance, we'll be able to work together once we come out of the voting booths. Have you ever noticed how politicians and pastors are often very similar? You wonder if they are really in office for the people or for themselves. Our creed should be to help people in need and not use people to feed our greed."
To read the complete interview click here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Black Male Graduation Rates & Hope for the Future

Photo Credit:
Seattle Municipal Archives
A new study from the Schott Foundation for Public Education paints a disturbing picture on recent graduation rates for young black males.  According to the research, less than half (47%) of black males that started high school in 2003 had obtained a diploma in 2008.

NPR picks up the story:
"John Jackson, the foundation's president and CEO, tells NPR's Guy Raz that those numbers are dismal largely because of the lack of resources in schools with high black populations. He says that when young black men are given opportunities to learn in schools with more resources, they perform well.

Detroit had one of the worst black male graduation rates for any city: 27 percent. But the graduation rate for young white men was even worse, at 19 percent. Jackson says those numbers prove that a lack of resources affects everyone — not just one racial group. "What makes it a race and ethnicity issue is that more black males are in poorly resourced schools and have less access to the types of resources needed to learn," Jackson says.

There's hope in the story of New Jersey. In 2003, black male students there were graduating at a rate of 48 percent. Just five years later, that rate had soared to 75 percent. Jackson attributes New Jersey's turnaround to the changes made because of a court case, Abbott v. Burke. Parents sued, and a judge found that the state spent less in schools with two-thirds African-American enrollment. He ordered the state to spend the same across the board.

Jackson says the state decided to fund areas that education experts have shown to be effective, such as early childhood education and hiring high-quality teachers. "And in there, we know there is a need for extended-day learning," Jackson says, "perhaps even year-round schooling for those who are behind to recover."

Unless other states follow the lead of New Jersey, Jackson says, the new study is a harbinger of worse things to come. He says low graduation rates are connected to high unemployment and incarceration rates among black men. Black males make up 40 percent of the U.S. prison population, he says, but only 6 percent of the country's overall population.

"So our country, economically, is paying on two ends," Jackson says. "The consequences are across the board."
Quite simply, if young children are not afforded fair opportunities in order to receive a quality education, there is little that bodes well for their future. If they are given access to resources and enjoy broad parental and teacher involvement, their chances for success increase dramatically.  School districts and places of worship must invest in the younger generation if we are to have hope for a better future.

(h/t to Racialicious for the link)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What Are the Best Cities for College Students?

Photo Credit: myoldpostcards
In order to help young adults select the best communities for college students, the American Institute for Economic Research has selected its top 75 cities for college students.

Cities throughout the United States were graded on a variety of criteria focused on a city's overall academic environment, its quality of living and professional opportunities for graduates.  The cities were grouped by their size (major metro areas of over 2.5 million residents; mid-size metros of 1-2.5 million; small cities of 250,000 to 1 million; and college towns of under 250,000) and ranked according to other cities of a similar population.

Here are the top five cities in each of the four categories:

Major Metros:
1. San Francisco, CA
2. New York, NY
3. Washington, DC
4. Boston, MA
5. Seattle, WA

Mid-Size Metros:
1. San Jose, CA
2. Austin, TX
3. Raleigh, NC
4. Hartford, CT
5. Portland, OR

Small Cities:
1. Boulder, CO
2. Ann Arbor, MI
3. Bridgeport, CT
4. Trenton-Ewing, NJ
5. Gainesville, FL

College Towns:
1. Ithaca, NY
2. State College, PA
3. Iowa City, IA
4. Ames, IA
5. Champaign-Urbana, IL

For a complete list of the rankings, visit the College Destinations Index here.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Qur'an Burnings, Porn Stars & WWJD

Photo Credit: Tobey_Cat
Several years ago a popular trend swept through modern Christian circles as a number of people began sporting simple cloth bracelets with four initials imprinted upon them -- WWJD ("What Would Jesus Do?"). The bracelets were inspired by Charles Sheldon's 1896 book, In His Steps, in which members of a fictional town committed to not do anything for a year without first asking themselves what Jesus would do in the same situation.  Although the bracelets have waned in popularity, I think present events dictate that the question still needs to be asked.  What would Jesus do?

A little-known pastor with a fairly small congregation in Gainesville, Florida has ignited a media firestorm over his plans to hold a public burning of the Qur'an, the holy book of the Muslim faith.  Although Rev. Terry Jones has said that he believes he is following God's will, a number of Christians and public officials have condemned his plans.  Just as many Christians have expected Muslim clerics to publicly condemn acts of terrorism and hatred, we Christians should let it be known that we oppose the actions of those that act in the name of our God, yet do so contrary to our faith.

To burn a book that Muslims revere will only inflame the tensions between Christians and Muslims around the world and make genuine dialogue more difficult.  It is true that Muslims and Christians have many disagreements.  We do not view Christ in the same way, we have different views on the Bible and the Qur'an and we do not see salvation in the same manner.  But book burning never changed a heart and insults only make things more difficult.  California pastor Rick Warren said this about the matter on his Twitter account, ""Book burning is a cowardly act by those afraid their beliefs aren't strong enough to attract if people are allowed a choice."

If Pastor Jones were genuinely sincere in his desire to see Muslims come to the Christian faith, there are better ways for him to see that happen.  He could look to the example of Craig Gross, the founder of, a Christian ministry founded to help deliver people from the bondage of pornography and sexual sin.  Gross recently wrote a provocative piece for entitled "Jesus loves porn stars", in which he shares how he has built a genuine friendship with Ron Jeremy, a well-known figure in the adult entertainment industry.

Since he's opposed to the porn industry, Gross could destroy porn DVD's, try to shut down websites and protest at industry conventions.  But he's taken a much different approach.  Gross has gotten to know Jeremy through a nationwide tour that they have done together on college campuses as they have debated the place of pornography in our culture.  Naturally, Gross has received a lot of flack from a number of folks in Christian circles that feel uncomfortable talking about sex and some look down upon him because he's actually friends with a porn star.  But Gross is in good company.  Jesus himself was derided as a "friend of sinners" and although others called him that in contempt, it is an accurate description.

Jesus hung with those that were considered the scourge of his society (the prostitutes and tax collectors) but he loved them just the same.  Craig Gross has a challenging perspective on his relationship with Ron Jeremy:
"We are opponents on stage but off stage we are great friends. That's really what this is about. Jesus dined with tax collectors and befriended prostitutes. I don't want to be known as the guy who debates Ron, I'd rather be known as the guy who loves Ron."
Gross pulls no punches in his views on pornography. He feels it is evil and destroys lives. He hates porn. But he loves porn stars.  I wonder if Terry Jones took a different approach to Islam if things might turn out differently.  He wouldn't generate worldwide media coverage but inviting a local imam to dinner might be more effective than the approach he's currently planning on taking.  But I get the feeling that he's probably not interested in that.  He seems more concerned with expressing his disdain for Islam rather than God's love for Muslims.

So what would Jesus do?  It's certainly a good question to ask ourselves...


UPDATE: Apparently Pastor Terry Jones has had a change of heart and has canceled his planned Qur'an burning.  While this is certainly an answer to prayer, his condition of doing so is based on a change plans of the proposed "Ground Zero" mosque in New York.  Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The River of Life

Photo Credit: Al_HikesAZ
From Oswald Chambers's devotional, "My Utmost For His Highest":
"A river is victoriously persistent, overcoming all barriers. For a while it goes steadily on its course, but then comes to an obstacle. And for a while it is blocked, yet it soon makes a pathway around the obstacle. Or a river will drop out of sight for miles, only later to emerge again even broader and greater than ever. Do you see God using the lives of others, but an obstacle has come into your life and you do not seem to be of any use to God? Then keep paying attention to the Source, and God will either take you around the obstacle or remove it. The river of the Spirit of God overcomes all obstacles. Never focus your eyes on the obstacle or the difficulty. The obstacle will be a matter of total indifference to the river that will flow steadily through you if you will simply remember to stay focused on the Source. Never allow anything to come between you and Jesus Christ— not emotion nor experience— nothing must keep you from the one great sovereign Source."

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mark Charles on Immigration Reform

Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue
My friend, Mark Charles, offers an intriguing perspective on the topic of immigration reform. Mark, who is a member of the Navajo tribe, has some compelling insights on the role that Native Americans can (and should) play in the national dialogue on comprehensive immigration reform.

Here's what he has to say:
"One of the buzz phrases I have heard in many social justice circles regarding the issue of immigration reform is “Comprehensive and Just Immigration Reform”. But I have taken a slight twist on that idea and have used it to advocate for our Native American communities by pointing out that “immigration reform will be neither comprehensive nor just unless it includes the voices and perspectives of the Native American peoples.

Right now I am not even advocating for any specific policy or stance. Instead I am merely observing that the voices of Native American are largely absent from this conversation. And so I am trying to speak to two separate audiences.

To our Native American communities I want to communicate that this is an important and historic dialogue for our country and our land and that we, as indigenous peoples, can offer a unique and invaluable perspective. We are the original inhabitants of this land and for the first time in centuries we have an opportunity to shape the dialogue regarding who should and should not be allowed to be here. So I want to encourage our people to step up and take our place in this conversation.

And to non-Native communities I am trying to point out the irony of trying to reform a policy on immigration without the indigenous inhabitants of the land participating in the conversation. I have witnessed and am convicted that merely our presence at the table where immigration reform is being discussed fundamentally effects and alters the conversation. This is because our Native American community is a visual reminder of our country’s unjust history regarding immigration policy, and that is even before we begin speaking and offering our distinct perspectives on the land and our relationship to it. And so I want our country and our leaders to pause, and notice that the Native American community is not actively a part of this conversation and then to intentionally invite us to the table.

I do not believe that either community can resolve this issue alone. And even together we are not going to get it perfect. But both voices are necessary if we want this reform to be more comprehensive and more just than our current policy is now."
To learn about some of Mark's upcoming speaking opportunities and to read more of his thoughts, you can visit his blog here.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Scot McKnight on Fundamentalism

Photo Credit: Curtis Gregory Perry
Scot McKnight, who writes at the Jesus Creed blog, offers his take on fundamentalists and anti-fundamentalists:
"One the best things about growing up fundamentalist is that we absolutely knew we were on God’s side or perhaps it is better to say that God was on our side. Knowing God is on your side breeds confidence as well as other things … and I want to have a conversation today about those other things. I’m not concerned today about what a fundamentalist believes. Facts clearly show that fundamentalists and evangelicals and Catholics and orthodox Christians believe many of the same things. What I’ve tried a number of times to do is to think my way into why it is that many get upset with fundamentalists. What is it?

Zeal, too much of it. Relentless zeal. Imposing zeal. Absolute confidence in everything they think is important.

Here’s what I have observed: my experience shows that former and anti-fundamentalists can be just as fundamentalistic — zealous and absolute — about their anti-fundamentalism and new-found beliefs. In other words, they [are] absolutely confident liberalism is another form of fundamentalism.

These anti-fundamentalists (and anti-evangelicals) can be just as confident and cocky that they’ve got it all figured out. That they stand high above the rest in their perceptions of truth. They can be just as zealous for their new convictions, some of them petty. Once they saw all non-fundamentalists in danger of perdition, now they find everyone who doesn’t fight for the cause they believe in as hopeless or apathetic or non-Christian. I call this fundamentalist flop-flipping, from being a pro-fundamentalist fundamentalist to being an anti-fundamentalist fundamentalist.

There’s some good news here. I don’t believe we need to say “once a fundamentalist always a fundamentalist.” No, God mercifully grants us grace to find a different way, a third way, the way of grace and love that can hold firmly to one’s viewpoint and yet treat the other with respect and dignity."
You can read the rest of Scot's post here.