Tears for Tiers

If you’re like me, you have a hard time keeping your thoughts to yourself…or simple…or short…or remotely uncontroversial…

If you’re like me, you’ve had painful experiences with others using them against you, twisting them, making false accusations…

And, if you’re like me, you’ve noticed these people often spew anger, hurtful accusations, and condemnations due to differences that really shouldn’t be that big of a deal. For instance, a friend was told he’s going to hell because he’s a theistic evolutionist. Not only is that hurtful and divisive, it also doesn’t make any darn sense. Bottom line: most differences just do not warrant the strong emotional responses they are often given, and I’m. So. Over. It. Continue reading “Tears for Tiers”

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How Conversations Kill

In group discussions on doctrinal differences, all too often group-think takes hold, and I despise where it usually goes. We’re usually either intrigued, engaged, and contemplative, or we’re defensive and accusatory. When the latter occurs, which is unfortunately often, these discussions become detrimental to the health of our community, and for two primary reasons: First, our language inaccurately reflects our thoughts. Second, our motivations are void of humility.

Let me give you an example: In one camp of Christians (Group A), biblical inspiration and inerrancy are established, indisputable facts. Most Christians are in Group A, so this group holds the most power to accuse and abuse. In one of many other camps (Group B), they accept divine inspiration, but reject inerrancy. Let’s say Group A learns of Group B’s beliefs and is thrown for a loop. In the ensuing discussions, Group A may ask, “How can they believe that?” One person may interpret this question as, “How is it logically possible to believe that?” But another may interpret it as, “How can people who claim to be Christians not trust the word of God?” See the dilemma? Continue reading “How Conversations Kill”

A Glimmer of Goodness: Lessons from Blatty’s Colonel Vlora

Dimiter by William Peter Blatty, 2010

I’m going to set aside the obvious connections to the biblical Paul that, well, pretty much set the foundation for this entire novel. Instead, let’s discuss the fictional character Vlora, and how the literary devices used in this book help us recognize the inherent goodness in the ugly other. I’m particularly addressing those Christians who believe lacking God = lacking goodness.

When evaluating the supposedly inherit evil-nature of a person, it is only just to consider the circumstances to which the person is subject, as it is these circumstances which foster a person’s psychological and moral development. According to the fictional version of Albert Einstein, “God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.” (Y’all that quote is totally a lie. Albie definitely never said that, but the idea is nice.)

Colonel Vlora, a man raised in and subjected to the paranoid, oppressive, and atheistic environment of mid-20th century Albania, cannot justly be considered an “evil” man. Just as when the sun is absent and darkness fills the night, we can still see glimmers of light from the stars, so too there is a glimmer of goodness in Vlora which is simply “out-shown” by the absence of God.  Continue reading “A Glimmer of Goodness: Lessons from Blatty’s Colonel Vlora”

Performance, Entrapment, & Princesses in Father-Daughter Purity Balls

PPPThis image, taken by photographer David Magnusson, was captured at a father-daughter purity ball in the US. It’s beautiful photography, but the subject…well, it’s creepy, right? Makes you feel kinda uncomfortable. This image is only the half of it. Father-daughter purity balls are rife with tensions and an eeriness that is difficult to describe…

Emergence of the Father-Daughter Purity Ball

The existence of purity culture as an independent arena of ethical formation, religious teaching, and spiritual testing is nothing new to the American evangelical church. However, the shift to purity-focused events as a sight of public spiritual and behavioral commitment to abstinence occurred only a few short decades ago, in 1993, with the founding of True Love Waits, an organization promoting abstinence education and dedication. With the founding of this organization arose an entirely new method of promoting purity in the form of pledges. Continue reading “Performance, Entrapment, & Princesses in Father-Daughter Purity Balls”

Wesleyan Quadrilateral for Beginners

What sources should Christians use to construct their own ethical theories? How should those sources relate to and inform one another? One very common and even more useful tool used by many Christians to tackle complex topics is the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, named after John Wesley. The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is just one of several methods of theological analysis and reflection, and consists of four parts: Scripture, Experience, Tradition, and Logic.


Scripture

Broadly speaking, Christians should first and foremost use scripture to construct their own ethical theories. Scripture is the word of God itself. However, the issue with only using scripture is that no matter how divinely-inspired it is, our interpretation of it is not always as “inspired”. Our understanding of scripture is incomplete, and will always be incomplete.
To build on scripture, commentaries are very helpful. They provide a more relatable understanding of the historical context of scripture, therefore the potential for application of it. They also often provide information on the original language used. It is by no means necessary for all Christians to understand Greek and Hebrew, but it is often very enlightening to read scripture in light of the meaning of the Greek terms used rather than according to our understanding of the English words chosen upon translation. Continue reading “Wesleyan Quadrilateral for Beginners”