Mere Fidelity And Christ And Pop Culture Plug: Blind Spots w/ Collin Hansen

This week on Mere Fidelity we had the pleasure of having Collin Hansen on to talk about his new book Blind SpotsDon’t worry, though, it’s not just a book plug episode. There was plenty of feistiness, charitable but substantial engagement, and, of course, me stumbling about trying to find something intelligent to say.

But really, I think Collin’s book raises a number of important issue and so does the conversation we have with him. I hope it challenges and encourages you.

blind spotsNow, while the conversation  wasn’t a plug, I did write one for the book for Christ and Pop Culture. Here’s the intro:

ne of the reasons I hated moving from my mid-size SUV down to an old sedan after my first car died was the fact that it was so short. I was used to riding up high, feeling like I could see most things, but now, in the smaller vehicle I felt exposed and off-kilter. Driving on the freeway was particularly annoying as I would frequently find myself being surprised by cars coming up on my sides. It appeared my blind spots had expanded. Now, fortunately, I knew what was going on and so I was able to correct for it.

But what about the blind spots you don’t know you have? Those are the most dangerous of all. And they can happen anywhere, can’t they? Not only on the road, but in our daily life of interpersonal interaction with friends, family, the broader culture, and even the Church. All too often, our conversations break down, our relationships fail, and even our unity is ruptured because we’re operating without an awareness of our blind spots–so we’re not prepared to correct for them. Collin Hansen’s new book, Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate, and Commissioned Church is aimed at helping the Church, which Crossway has graciously made available for free to Christ and Pop Culture members. In a nutshell, Hansen offers his readers a brief theology of the importance of respecting the diverse experiences within the Church for the sake of the Church’s ability to follow Jesus.

Many of you are probably not Christ and Pop Culture members, though you should be, but you can still read the rest of my comments here.

Soli Deo Gloria

“Does God Care if Your Favorite Football Team Wins?” and Other Theological Concerns

footballTheology is everywhere; even football players venture on theological territory. Witness Packers QB Aaron Rodgers’ response to a fan question after the Packers’ recent loss:

I always find it a little off-putting when athletes, actors and anybody says, “This is what God wanted,” or “I want to thank God for helping us win today,” anything along those lines when a game or award is won. I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the gist. Personally, with all the chaos in the world, I’m not sure God really cares about the outcome of a game or an awards show. What do you think of statements such as these? You’ve obviously got your faith. Does what happens on Sunday impact your relationship with God or your faith at all?

Rodgers’ response:

I agree with her. I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome. He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.

Of course, the puckish reply is, “Well, he did just lose.” At a deeper level, though, it’s fascinating to consider how sports reveals our theology of God’s will, providence, pleasure, and even the problem of evil. How we answer the question, “Does God care a whole lot about the outcome of football games?” reveals much about how we understand God’s love, sovereignty, and care for the world.

I don’t want to pick on Aaron Rodgers because, let’s be honest, he wasn’t trying to write a theological treatise on the subject. Also, he’s a professional football player, not a trained theologian. Still, I think it would be useful to think through in just what senses we might say that God does, or does not, care about who wins a football game.

You can read the rest of my analysis at Christ and Pop Culture.

Soli Deo Gloria

Huckabee and the Heresy of Americanism (CaPC)

Cross Spangled Banner Wallpaper“America is a unique nation.”

“America is exceptional.”

“America is specially blessed by God.”

“America has a particular purpose in God’s plan.”

If you’ve grown up in the US, especially her American churches, all of these are pretty common refrains you hear bandied about. They usually come up around election time, the Fourth of July, or on the National Day of Prayer, when we’re urged to pray for our nation’s “return” back to her God and her former holiness. Mike Huckabee recently released a free video entitled “One Nation Under God” in the “Learn our History” video series, promoting it on Facebook: “Sadly, not enough of our kids appreciate God’s love for America.”

Now, there are two different ways of taking these statements.

Over at Christ and Pop Culture (<—-link) I talk about how one of those two is basically a heresy.

Soli Deo Gloria

Why Should Evangelicals Care About Gungor’s Doubts? How Should They Talk About Them? (CaPC)

gungor-622x414Earlier this year, Jars of Clay’s Dan Haseltine caused a bit of an uproar after he tweeted some questioning things concerning same-sex marriage. Now it appears that Gungor is the latest popular evangelical musician to be caught in the middle of a theological controversy, thanks to some interview comments and his project with The Liturgists, a group that includes people that evangelicals often find controversial (e.g., Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans).

World Magazine sounded the alarm:

The band’s new ideas are more clearly set forth in a blog post titled, “What do we Believe?” Here the author chafes that a close friend no longer considers him a Christian: “Why? Not because my life looks like Jesus or doesn’t look like Jesus. But because of my lack of ability to nail down all the words and concepts of what I exactly BELIEVE.” Then he nails down exactly what he doesn’t believe—in Adam and Eve or the Flood. He has “no more ability to believe in these things then I do to believe in Santa Claus.”

This theological ambivalence is on display on Gungor’s latest project—a collection of EPs released under the name The Liturgists. Working with Pastor Rob Bell—author of Love Wins—and various poets, Gungor creates ambient music to accompany spoken word poems on religious themes.

Predictably, the conservative Internet blew up. Tweets were tweeted, tears were shed, and sad/angry farewells were bid. Also, from the other side, mournful recriminations against the narrow-mindedness of the aforementioned were issued as well.

I suppose I should have seen it coming. Gungor’s been buddies with Bell and recommending his books for a while, and when I saw The Liturgists’ God Our Mother EP a while back, I thought “Well, that’s just asking for some sort of reaction.” Still, despite the lack of surprise I’m feeling, it seems appropriate to reflect on some of the institutional and pastoral realities that these incidents reveal.

You can go read them at Christ and Pop Culture.

Soli Deo Gloria

Delicate Tastes (TGC)

gluttonyI can think of maybe one sermon I’ve heard on the subject of gluttony. Whether for fear of shaming portlier parishioners, or because our pastors have noticed how much closer the pulpit has moved to their own waistlines, it’s not a subject we address much in church. Yet precisely for that reason our thinking on the issue has become so shallow and one-dimensional, leaving the church, especially our affluent, North American congregations, exposed to a much less obvious, and all the more deceptive form of the temptation.

I have to admit that I struggle with gluttony. Yet those who know me probably wouldn’t suspect it. Indeed, I’m tempted to deny it myself because I don’t tend to have a weight issue, nor do I find myself eating to excess regularly—well, not since the holidays at least. All the same, this is a sin I’m beginning to realize I need to be increasingly watchful against.

Of course, that confession only makes sense when you understand that there’s more than one way of being a glutton. I’ll let C. S. Lewis explain what I mean.

Please go read the rest of the article HERE at the Gospel Coalition.

Soli Deo Gloria

CaPC Podcast: Rob Bell Gets an Oprah Show

Rob Bell

“Captivating stuff”–Bell on this Podcast

So, I was on the Christ and Pop Culture Podcast again this week. If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and subscribe to it iTunes. Though I’m not on it every time, it’s always good stuff.

On this episode “Managing Editor Alan Noble is joined by staff writers Derek RishmawyKevin McLenithan andWade Bearden to discuss hoping for the best from Rob Bell’s new show, whether Christian films as a genre are a bad idea, and if moviegoers are starting to favor storytelling over special effects.”

I’m the point guy on the Rob Bell getting a TV Show on Oprah Winfrey Network thing. I’ll say that I may have been a bit cranky as I recorded.

So, you can go listen to that here: CLICK ON THIS LINK.

Beyond that, you can go read my review of Rob Bell’s last book:

So does God keep up with the modern world? Bell thinks so, and I’m inclined to agree. The question remains how does God do so? Is it by trading in our rusty old concept of God, and wheeling out the new, shiny one, finely-tuned to fit postmodern sensibilities, that Bell presents us with?

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s by dusting off the broad tradition of reflection about God’s self-revelation we find in the Fathers, the Medieval Doctors, and Reformation scholars who gave us a God both “with” and “above,” both “for” and, yes, complexly “against,” both “ahead” and yet “before.” Just a thought.

Also, this is the excerpt from the interview with Rob Bell and Oprah that increased my sense of dread about the show:

Oprah: What is the soul?
Bell: It’s the thing that keeps telling you there’s more.

Oprah: Your definition of God?
Bell: Like a song you hear in another room, and you think, “wow, that sounds beautiful but I can only hear a little bit.”

Oprah: What does prayer mean to you?
Bell: Prayer to me is usually one word, which is, “Yes. I’m open. What’s next?” That’s what it is.

Oprah: What’s the lesson that’s taken you longest to learn?
Bell: There’s nothing to prove … All that’s left to do is enjoy.

Oprah: What do you know for sure?
Bell: That you can say “yes” to this moment, and you can experience a joy that can’t be put into words.

Oprah: The world needs…
Bell: … All of us to wake up.

Oprah: I believe…
Bell: … That we’re all going to be fine.

So, there you go.

Soli Deo Gloria

Are We Losing a Generation? (CaPC Podcast with @dandarling)

capcThis week at the Together for the Gospel conference I had a chance to hang out with my editor Richard Clark and connect with Dan Darling of the Ethic and Religious Liberty Commission to do a little podcast for Christ and Pop Culture. We chatted evangelism, the new cultural situation we find ourselves in, and whether or not we’re “losing a generation.” It was a good time.

You can go listen to it here at the Christ an Pop Culture site.

You can also go check out Dan Darling’s CNN article on the same subject here.

Soli Deo Gloria