Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Will 'Get What You Want' Leave A Cultural Gap?

Hi guys, lets talk a little about culture. Fragmented hyper-modern culture.

I heard the following story on NPR this morning about the loss of a cultural commonality using the contrast between Seinfeld in 1994 and American Idol in 2009. I thought it was a fascinating idea of increasingly fragmented, hyper-individualism. What do you think?

Will 'Get What You Want' Leave A Cultural Gap?
by Laura Sydell
December 29, 2009

Get what you want, when you want it. That's the phrase that has dominated the entertainment industry over the past decade. New technologies have given us access to countless channels for music, television and film — and we can sample them whenever we find it convenient. But as the options multiply, are we losing our sense of a common culture? …

… "In history, as far as we can tell, there have never been cultures or societies in which there weren't a very large set of shared ideas — norms, values, stories" and so on, says Nass. "We've just never seen that before."

As the monoculture fragments, social-media platforms and other wired and unwired communities are creating new kinds of connections — connections that are building bridges between people in ways that watching Seinfeld never could. But Nass says they're not likely to be the kinds of connections that will hold a nation together.

5 min. Audio version

Thursday, December 24, 2009


God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man (C.S. Lewis)

The mystery of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding (Martin Luther)

Infinite, and yet an infant. Eternal, and yet born of a woman. Almighty, and yet hanging on a woman’s breast. Supporting a universe, and yet needing to be carried in a mother’s arms. King of angels, and yet the reputed son of Joseph. Heir of all things, and yet the carpenter’s despised son. (Spurgeon)

Isaiah 7:14 (Amplified Bible)
14Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]

John 1:14 (New International Version)
14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[a] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Thoughts? Comments? I am more and more awed and impressed by the miracle and significance of the incarnation of God in Christ. Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thomas Aquinas and Christian realism

I found this Scot McKnight’s web site:


“Why study Thomas Aquinas? By almost everyone's admission Aquinas was the most important philosopher for almost 2,000 years between Aristotle and Descartes. But Peter Kreeft of Boston College has another answer: 'My personal answer is that I believe Aquinas was simply the wisest and most intelligent philosopher in history. And I want to show you why.'

In 14 CD's just released (2009), Peter Kreeft introduces listeners to the philosophy and theology of Thomas Aquinas
Peter Kreeft introduces listeners to the philosophy and theology of Thomas Aquinas

The CD's and accompanying Course Guide appears in a prestigeous series called "The Modern Scholar: Great Professors Teaching you!" by Recorded Books. Your local library likely has this series so its free to the public.

Some of Kreeft's lecture topics are: "Aquinas's Importance and a Short Biography," "Philosophy and Theology, Reason and Faith", "Can You Prove God's Existence?", "The Case Against Aquinas's God and Proofs" "Aquinas's Cosmology: Creation, providence and Free Will," "Aquinas's Metaphysics" and other enticing subjects.”


(Joseph) My personal favorite ‘believing’ philosophers of the twentieth century are French Catholics who drank deeply from the wells of St. Thomas and Aristotle: Jacques Maritain who authored Intregal Humanism in 1936 and Emmanuel Mounier, the author of the Personalist Manifesto in 1938. Both Maritain and Mounier had a huge influence in the Catholic student movements of the 1950s in the Caribbean and South America.

What do you know about Thomism? How might it provide a philosophical framework for believers in a postmodern age? I have invited Ray Ciervo to comment on this. He is more familiar with Thomism than most of us.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Voice for Sanity

Interesting perspective on the 'meltdown' of pentecostal-charismatic Christianity ...


'A Voice for Sanity'

This article gets the fire going in my bones ... we are presently in the early stages of a huge housecleaning of religous nonsense and 'Christian' narcisism ... was it Stokley Carmichael who said "burn baby burn" ?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

StrengthsFinders 2.0

While we are pondering what to say about God’s presence and anxiety (see below), let me mention a new tool for discovering the strengths of our personalities.

Deb and I are part of a couples group that include two former church planters, one current church planter/pastor, a prison chaplain and a retired pastor who is the regional overseer for the Dutch Reformed Church (eclectic group!). The group also includes a model, a former airline stewardess, a children’s book author, a psychoanalyst, a jazz pianist and a PhD student (that last would be me--it is a fun group).

The interesting thing about this group is that it was not started by the men but by our wives, with Dr. Sam’s wife Jane taking the lead. This means that rather than being task or agenda oriented, the group is much more relational with a focus on community.

Anyway, someone recently suggested that we take a personality profile test and mentioned “Strengthsfinders 2.0” by Tom Rath.

There is a web site associated with the book, and each new book contains a sealed access code which allows you to go to the web site and take a strengths profile to find what your five top “themes” are out of a total of 34 themes. Such things as Achiever, Activator, Adaptability, Analytical, Arranger, Belief, Command, Communication, Connectedness, Consistency, Context, Deliberative, Developer, Discipline, Empathy, Focus, Futuristic, Harmony, Ideation, Includer, Individualization, Input, Intellection, Learner, Maximizer, Positivity, Relator, Responsibility, Restorative, Self-Assurance, Significance, Strategic, etc.

It took me about 30 minutes to take the profile and I was amazed how accurately it nailed my personality.

Here is the home page:


Anyone who knows us care to take a wild guess at which characteristics were in my top five, or Debbie’s top five?

Monday, November 23, 2009

On becoming a God-defined, non-anxious presence

Robert Grant shared this phrase with us during his recent visit here. The phrase is not original with Robert; I believe it comes from his work with coaching/mentoring and leadership development, but perhaps he can speak to that more specifically. In any event, I have found it packed with layers of meaning. What would I be like if I were becoming increasingly a God-defined, non-anxious presence? What would the life and work of the church look like? How do I move from my "current reality" towards the kind of future reality that is God-defined, non-anxious, and fully present, to God and to the people I happen to be with?

So please weigh in on this. What does "God-defined" do for you, or where does it take you? Any connections to make between anxiety levels and what is defining you? We're not hunting for some kind of "right answer," but want to see what kinds of conversations this phrase kicks up for us.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deep Church IV: Worship

Belcher writes that, when it comes to their understanding and practice of worship:

"... the emerging and traditional churches have the same Achilles heel--a faulty view of tradition. Both are committed to the same low-church view of church tradition ["no book but the Bible, no creed but Christ"]. This has locked them into a model of worship that is dated and severely influenced by the Enlightenment. They are handcuffed by a style of worship contextualized during the Reformation that no longer connects with postmodern people. The goal is not to simply contextualize or become more like the surrounding culture, but to first adopt church tradition that would give them the resources to connect with the culture without becoming syncretistic.

"Even though the emerging church's views allows them to adopt some ancient practices, this is done in a way that is cut off from the Great Tradition that birthed them. It is as if the emerging churches want the fruit but not the roots from which it came. So in their attempt to be culturally relevant (which they are doing very well), their traditions are not strong enough, I fear, to resist being absorbed by the surrounding culture" (p. 133).

Remember that, in the above quote, Belcher is critiquing both traditional and emerging worship. What do you think of his analysis, and, more broadly... what do you think about the "art and science" of worship?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Deep Church III: Belonging and Believing

Traditionalist churches tend to emphasize believing before belonging, and use doctrinal agreement as a gatekeeper to identify who's "in" and who is "not yet in" (also known in some circles as "out"). Emerging churches tend to emphasize "belonging before believing," partly for missional reasons (postmodern folk need to experience the reality of a community before they can embrace membership in it) and partly because they feel that this approach tracks more closely with what we see in the NT. Belcher describes an interesting situation in his own church. In the following quote, he refers to Joe, an openly gay man who has been attending Belcher's church regularly for two or three years:

So simply declaring that belonging precedes belief is not always helpful. What should I say to Joe tomorrow when he asks about membership? Can he officially join the church even if he can't subscribe to our four basic requirements for membership? What about the Lord's Supper? If he can't become a member because of his lifestyle, should he be able to participate in the Lord's Supper? How do I communicate our views? I want him to be increasingly drawn to the Well [i.e., to Jesus himself]. But I want to follow my conscience on biblical matters. I struggle with what to say. [Belcher, p. 97]

Belcher never makes clear how his subsequent conversations with Joe went. How would you have responded--or how have you in fact responded--to folks like Joe (not necessarily around the issue of homosexuality, but more broadly with a 'community member' whose life is either significantly heterodox or heteroprax [wrong belief and/or wrong living])?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Deep Church II

One of Belcher's proposals for a way forward out of the impasse between "traditionalists" and "emerging church" is to restore the three great ecumenical creeds (Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian) to the center of what "orthodoxy" means and looks like. He does not intend these to be walls keeping people out, but rather doors and windows into full participation in the people of God. In the debate between "believing before belonging" (more of the traditionalist posture) and "belonging before believing" (emerging), Belcher isn't settling for either pole, but rather attempts to clarify what is to be believed in order to belong, without determining the order in which they are to happen. How do you see this proposal possibly being fruitful... or misguided?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Deep Church I

We begin our discussion of Jim Belcher's new book, "Deep Church." In the first part of his book, Belcher describes the current impasses or areas of significant disagreement between evangelical "traditionalists" and members of the "emerging" church movement. He also describes his personal quest to find a "third way" between these two perspectives, a way that maintains the strengths that each has to offer, while avoiding their inherent weaknesses.

So, what struck you as either insightful or off-base or otherwise worthy of discussion? It will help if you could be specific to Belcher's text--we're obviously hoping that you have read/are reading the actual book along with this discussion about it!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Uncomfortable Ideas

What's an idea that makes you uncomfortable? (We're trying to be serious here, OK?) We all tend to prefer the company and conversation of people and ideas that affirm or support what we already think and believe, but some of our best steps forward can come through interaction with ideas and perspectives that call some of our cherished convictions into question. So what's rockin' your boat and rattlin' your cage these days? Or what's an example from your past of how a significant forward step emerged out of a shaking or even shattering of what you thought you knew?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

McKnight on the most "influential books"

Hi: I'm not posting this to necesarily to start a conversation -- I just thought you might find McKnight's discussion of the most influential books in his life interesting. After you watch this, we can return to the previous thread about influencing culture. McKnight is a voracious reader as well as prolific writer.

... By-the-way, McKnight started out teaching at a seminary, but decided to move to a liberal arts college in order to have greater influence on unchurched young people ... a good example of what we were talking about in the previous thread.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One-by-one or Aim for the Top?

I heard a presentation a while back during which the presenter called into question our usual approach of seeking to extend the kingdom one person at a time. His point was that, by failing to significantly engage with the "culture-formers" of our world, we always end up being "behind the cultural curve"--the culture's effectiveness at "making disciples" outstrips the church's more one-by-one approach.

OK, OK, nobody's saying it has to be either/or, and nobody's arguing that most of us will generally enjoy ready access to culture-makers. But from a strategic point of view, have we put ourselves at a significant disadvantage by failing to engage our culture at its formative levels (e.g., schools and universities, the media, the arts, government [uh oh]... and what else do you see as primary culture-makers/culture-shapers)? Are you aware of good examples of Christ's people entering into this kind of engagement? Do you think the presenter I referenced was missing The Point (and, if so, what might The Point be)?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What About Women?

No disrespect intended in the post title. How are you thinking about "gender roles," "women in leadership" and related issues? Are those who argue for equality/mutuality (e.g., evangelical "egalitarians") in roles simply aping, or conforming to, the culture? Does "in Christ there is neither... male nor female" nevertheless encompass role distinctions based, solely or primarily, on gender (more of the "complementarian" or "traditonalist" position)? Does any kind of "flexing" on gender roles--e.g., having women preach/teach (including preaching/teaching to men) represent a "slippery slope" that will ineluctably lead towards endorsing homosexual behavior or a denial of the uniqueness of Christ in salvation? Is this an area in which "the church" (however we understand it) is called to take an unpopular, counter-cultural stance (which would clearly be the case for those who argue for traditional gender roles)... or would we be shooting ourselves in the foot, from a missional perspective, by insisting on traditional gender role distinctions?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor day prayers

Lectionary Readings from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer

Ps 41, 52 * 44; 1 Kings 13:1-10; Philippians 1:1-11

Mark 15:40-47. ...waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God.

Commentary on Anglican lectionary readings

Daily Meditation from Henri Nouwen:

Living in the End-Time

We are living in the end-time! This does not mean that creation will soon come to its end, but it does mean that all the signs of the end of time that Jesus mentions are already with us: wars and revolutions, conflicts between nations and between kingdoms, earthquakes, plagues, famines, and persecutions (see Luke 21:9-12). Jesus describes the events of our world as announcements that this world is not our final dwelling place, but that the Son of Man will come to bring us our full freedom. "When these things begin to take place," Jesus says, "stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand" (Luke 21:28). The terrible events surrounding us must be lived as ways to make us ready for our final liberation.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Finding Faith by Flory and Miller.

I took a break from doing heavy lifting with history books and read a 2008 book on dominant trends within current evangelicalism based on a study by two sociologists of religion, Richard Flory and Donald E. Miller. Their book is called Finding Faith: The Spiritual Quest of the Post-Boomer Generation. They are specifically interested in finding the religious or spiritual trends among the under 40 crowd. To do so, they spent two years interviewing 100 people and visiting a dozen significant congregations around the country.

They build their analysis around 4 types of trends or styles that they see among evangelicalism: what they call Innovators, Appropriators, Resisters, and Reclaimers. The innovators are represented by people like Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet, and, according to the authors, prefer smaller congregations with a high level of engagement with the larger community and social issues. The Appropriators are the large Mall type mega churches that offer hundreds of programming choices to the religious consumer. The Resisters are those who are critical of postmodernism and resistant to any accommodation to current cultural changes and who keep a strong focus on rational faith and careful exegesis of the scriptures and ultimately desire to move young people back to a rational, text-based faith. Finally the Reclaimers are those evangelicals who are leaving evangelical churches in order to associate with strongly liturgical churches such as the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Anglican. They are reclaiming the ancient traditions of worship of the early or Patristic church.

What do you think of these four types of response? Are there any responses that you might feel that they left out? Which response do you most identify with?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Searching" and "Seeking"

Search engines, bots, apps, information... information overload. Is there an app for seeking God? We go a little nuts if we can't get google to display what we're really looking for... ever seeking but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. How do search technologies shape the way we think about, or don't think about, seeking God? How can digital technologies help us seek and find God, and how can they get in the way? With so many access points into our lives--cell phones, social networks, pings and pokes, and on and on--how do we create time and space for God to find us, and us to find him?

Monday, July 27, 2009


New topic. This below is taken from Charles Simpson’s June 2009 letter. You can find it online at http://www.csmpublishing.com/pastoral.php.


When the Holy Spirit begins to lift the intensity of revival, our own misunderstanding of what He is doing can lead to burn out, disappointment, and burned over fields. How do we know that the Lord is saying the revival season is over? Here are some signs:

-Real Revival usually comes suddenly in power and spontaneity. When that electric sense of spontaneity ceases or subsides and attendance at special gatherings declines, it’s over.

-Real Revival brings dramatic testimonies. When testimonies are more forced and less significant, it’s over.

-When leaders have to work harder to get a response, it’s over.

-When leaders try to export or duplicate the experience, it is probably over.

-When leaders fail to exercise discernment and allow obvious moral problems, excessive displays, or unbiblical error, it will soon be over.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mixing Metaphors

As we think about this entity we call "church," we have several metaphors operating in our minds and imaginations. We begin with Scripture: church as body of Christ, as people of God, as branches of the vine, as the living temple of the living God, etc. These are foundational; my purpose here is not to call them into question, but to ask if there are some additional, contemporary metaphors that might get us "seeing" in a different way, or from a different point of view. I'm particularly interested in missional metaphors (whatever you think that means!). So do some imagining, and then do some writing!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Reading list

ok, this thread still has a little life in it. John Meadows asked who recommended which books and who wrote the annotations. I got most of the annotations from reviews on amazon because only Laurel and Brian actually sent me annotations?

Here you go … do any of you lurkers want to add any book suggestions?

Brian Emmet:
Wright, N. T. Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009.
David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale UP, 2009)

Robert Grant
Finke, Roger, The Churching of America, 1776-2005; Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005.
Tickle, Phyllis. The Great Emergence. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008.
Lencioni, Patrick. Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable. About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Books, 2004.
------. The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (and Their Employees). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Books, 2007.
Noll, Mark A. The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2009.

Laurel Long
Durant, Will and Ariel. “The Reformation.” The Story of Civilization, Vol. VI. Great NecK, N.Y., 1935.
Hayek, Fredrick A. The Road to Serfdom. Edited by Bruce Caldwell. 2007. The University of Chicago Press, 1944.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Traditional Pedagogy in peril?

Traditional Pedagogy in peril?

this is from Scot McKnight's blog today, Jesuscreed.org... regarding the future of universities as learning styles and the knowledge base are changing.

"Meanwhile on campus, there is fundamental challenge to the foundational modus operandi of the University -- the model of pedagogy. Specifically, there is a widening gap between the model of learning offered by many big universities and the natural way that young people who have grown up digital best learn.

The old-style lecture, with the professor standing at the podium in front of a large group of students, is still a fixture of university life on many campuses. It's a model that is teacher-focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all and the student is isolated in the learning process. Yet the students, who have grown up in an interactive digital world, learn differently. Schooled on Google and Wikipedia, they want to inquire, not rely on the professor for a detailed roadmap. They want an animated conversation, not a lecture. They want an interactive education, not a broadcast one that might have been perfectly fine for the Industrial Age, or even for boomers. These students are making new demands of universities, and if the universities try to ignore them, they will do so at their peril."


to me, the "The old-style lecture" and traditional pedagogy sound a little like a Protestant church service. In our weekly God-parties, I found it true that non-churched secular young people want "animated conversation, not a lecture."

so ... as we look at books like the "Great Emergence" and such themes as the collapse of the Evangelical church and possibly even the "great falling away" as young people abandon church services, what implications does the above information have for the task of reproducing the faith in a new generation?

PS: if you want to contribute some books to the summer reading list (annotated bibliography) please send them to me with a paragraph or two describing the book at josenmiami@yahoo.com

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Reading List

summer is almost here... tell us what you are planning to read this summer and why. If possible, rank your book selection by priority.

I~ll have to contribute my list after I arrive back in Miami on Wednesday.

ok Laurel: go! You too Biiilly....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

500-Year Rummage Sale

Ok, lets try to rewind this conversation again and refocus using Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence. I heard about this book from Robert Grant, and then saw a series of reviews on Scot Mcknight’s blog, I tried to be satisfied with following Mcknight’s reviews but finally had to break down and buy it. I thought it was an excellent book, although I was a little dissatisfied with the last chapter. She tried to indicate Calvary Chaple and Vineyard as “emerging” or postmodern churches, which I really don’t buy into.

Which of you have the book already? Has anyone already finished it?

Her basic thesis is that about once every 500 years, the church holds a rummage sale and reorients itself to whatever current cultural condition it finds itself in. She believes were are approaching one of those 500-year junctures and that the rummage sale has begun. This is similar to what others such as Bob Mumford have said.

What do you think? Shall we read the book together?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spiritual Heritage Part 2: "The Church Holds a Rummage Sale"

Lets start fresh with our discussion of Spiritual Heritage. Here are a couple of highlights from John Meadows that kicked off our discussion in the first place:

“But what we're trying to do is to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit in this moment, in this era of social, cultural and political history, with events that come at us as like a fire hose. In the late '60's and early '70's God was moving sovereignly. I am so grateful to have been caught up in that move. But many of those leaders are dead (including three of our five teachers), and the others are in their 70's and 80's.

Of the two who are living, neither Charles nor Bob are doing what they were doing in the '70's and '80's. Both have continued to move with the Spirit. And when you hear them speak these days, they are still fresh and relevant. I was amazed at the prophetic insight that Bob still carries (not of a by-gone era; reminiscing about the good old days, but of our present context). When he spoke at ACM a couple years ago, he was totally up to date on current trends, theological and social movements -- probably more so than most of the rest of us in the room.

Most of us are attempting to maintain and value our historic relationships without trying to continue, restore or duplicate the past. No one can "go back", we can only move ahead. "What is God saying and doing now?" is our question.
On a more popular level, we're all theologians if we're interested at all in God, and knowing him. Here's how dictionary.com defines theology: "The field of study and analysis that treats of God and of God's attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth." So with that definition, you and I are also "theologians", although without letters.

I love the ancient Orthodox definition of a theologian, "He who prays is a true theologian."

And speaking of "Fathers of the Faith", Christendom as we know it would not exist without the theologians who hashed out the creeds and endured much hardship and suffering. We can deconstruct them and see their failings and clay feet, just like our own brothers, but we can't forget that we are here because of them and their struggles and scarifies to follow our God the best they knew how in the age and context in which they lived -- to serve God's purpose for their generation.”

And this from Brian: The church of Jesus Christ, as happens from time to time, gets confused. When confused, she tends to hold a big rummage sale, putting both her treasures and her accumulated junk on the block for bargain prices. (Well, they're bargains if they are truly treasures!) So here we are, sorting through the piles and piles of ... stuff. What will we gladly pay top dollar for? What are we willing to let go to the recycle facility?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Our Spiritual Heritage

John Meadows wrote a personal email letter to one of our blog friends about his appreciation for his spiritual heritage, but also affirming the need to “follow the cloud” today. When the apostle Paul said that he was “forgetting what lies behind” was he including forgetting good things in the past as well as the bad?

John’s thoughtful letter can be accessed here as a google doc. What do you think about the points he is making?

Robert Grant has also pointed out the need to appreciate our heritage, not only as Reformation Protestants going back 500 years, but also our ENTIRE spiritual heritage going back to the patristic age and the early church.

How do we combine the tension of remembering and cherishing our history and heritage (including learning form the mistakes of history) in dynamic tension with the apostolic example of “forgetting that which lies behind, and pressing on”?

By the way, here is the link to the excellent interview with Richard Foster and Dallas Willard that John M. mentioned near the end of our last discussion:

Where is the “upward call of God” leading us to press on toward now? Why is important to let go of the past in order to receive the future? How can we “let go of the past” without forgetting our heritage?

What aspects of your heritage do you appreciate?

John’s letter about his spiritual heritage can be accessed here on google docs

PS: by-the-way, please lift up Brian Emmet in your prayers. His father past away 9 weeks ago, and last week his mother went home to be with Brian’s father. That is a lot to process in the space of two months.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New book by Dallas Willard

In my humble opinion, one of the true spiritual giants in our time has been Dallas Willard. Not only does he have a profound biblical message for the church in our generation, he has grown and developed his character and thinking outside of church ministry, in a philosophy department of a secular university. I sincerely hope there are some young men and women coming up in university settings that will replace him when he is gone.

Have any of you read his newest book yet? I have not, I just became aware of it this morning when I went to Scot McKnight’s web site and saw this overview of the book.

I believe that the greatest weakness of the current church in the United States is the underdeveloped spiritual formation. Dallas Williard picked up where Robert Coleman (Master Plan of Evangelism) left off, and has been calling followers of Christ and the church to in-depth discipleship to Jesus for a generation –.
he has been a voice in the wilderness, crying out to the church to prepare the way of the Lord through spiritual disciplines and spiritual formation.

His new book is called Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge

Here is a brief selection from today’s post on Jesuscreed:

The third part of the book, which shifts slightly in style to less philosophical argument and more to Christian exposition, concerns knowledge of Christ in the spiritual life -- and here he enters into what for many of us is the classical style of Willard's form of a more mystically-shaped Christian life. The seventh chp enters into a spirited but reasonable form of Christian inclusivism, which he calls Christian pluralism where final redemption is ultimately shaped by whether or not a person -- Christian religion or not -- has a heart that is properly oriented toward God.

Finally, he has a chp in which he expands the meaning of "pastor" and argues that it is pastors who have the responsibility of making this "knowledge of Christ" known today

Which book by Willard has been your favorite? What do you get out of his writings as the central theme?

The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives.(1988). San Francisco: Harper and Row, ISBN 0-06-069442-4 (you can buy this for as cheap as $3.75 online now)

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God (1998). San Francisco: Harper, ISBN 0-06-069333-9

Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship With God (1999). Intervarsity Press (USA), ISBN 0-8308-2226-7

Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ (2002). Colorado Springs: NavPress, ISBN 1-57683-296-1

The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship" (2006). San Francisco: Harper, ISBN 0-06-088243-3

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The role of the Spirit in salvation

Here is a possible topic for conversation. What exactly is the role of the Holy Spirit in the work of salvation? Is anyone aware of any theological works on this subject? I know that this is one of the significant differences between Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology -- I'm guessing that Protestantism is more "Western" having thrown out a lot of 'pre-modern' Catholic tradition but did not add back in a profound theology of the Spirit -- at least not until the rise of pneumacentric protestantism (Pentecostal and Charismatic) in the twentieth century.

Deb was reading to me this morning from Matthew 12 and I was struck by a passage I have read many times, but had not heard before in The Message version:

Matt 12: 31-32 "There's nothing done or said that can't be forgiven. But if you deliberately persist in your slanders against God's Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives. If you reject the Son of Man out of some misunderstanding, the Holy Spirit can forgive you, but when you reject the Holy Spirit, you're sawing off the branch on which you're sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.

What struck me in this is the part about someone rejecting the Son of Man. Such a one can be forgiven. Hmmm…. What does that mean?

However, if someone rejects the Holy Spirit, how can they be forgiven? By rejecting the Holy Spirit, they are rejecting the dynamic active agent of God … the one who draws them, convicts them of sin, imparts faith to them and teaches them the things of Christ. The one who gives the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Holy One of God (Peter, the Rock) The one that is the active executor of forgiveness of sins.

Does this mean that an honest Hindu or Muslim with a good heart, who rejects or neglects the divinity of Christ out of “some cultural misunderstanding” but who continues to respond affirmatively to the inner workings of the Spirit can be saved? (through the redemptive work of Christ of course, but perhaps in cognitive ignorance of that work). It is certainly worth considering and discussing.

More to the point, in my own dealings with agnostics and deists in our weekly god-party, most of them do not affirm the divinity of Christ, but they keep coming to our hang-out, and in a couple of cases, I see unmistakable traces of the work of the Spirit in their lives. So is it more important that I work to overcome their intellectual resistance to acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ?, or rather should I set that aside (temporarily) to affirm the work of the Spirit in them and to extend the ‘friendship’ of Christ in me the hope of Glory to them? In the second approach, I choose not to try to persuade them to believe a set of propositions about Christ, but instead I attempt to facilitate the work of the Spirit in them until they reach the point that St. Peter did, where the Spirit reveals the truth about Jesus to them.

What do you think? Is this a possible area that needs some theological re-formation?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Justification and New Perspective

Scot McKnight posted a topic about some current theological debate regarding justification and atonement on his jesuscreed blog today. Some of it revolves around something called the “new perspective on Paul” and includes a debate between John Piper and Tom Wright.

My apologies to those of you that do not like substantial theological discussion but let’s talk about this. Brian and I have been chatting off and on about various perspectives of the atonement and this post by McKnight makes a good springboard into that discussion. For the more activist oriented, you can check out of this and go to skunklings.com and participate in some possibility thinking for mission.

I am pasting in some of McKnight post. To read the entire post or to participate in the discussion on jesuscreed click here. Even if you are not very familiar with 20th century theologians, if you click on the links below you can get a quick overview of the development of this area of Pauline studies.


…How do you understand the "new perspective on Paul"? What do you think is its primary contribution? Which of the new perspective writers do you read the most and why and what do you like about them? How significant do you think this debate is?

First, there is no such thing as the new perspective if one think it refers to some body of doctrine. The New Perspective, therefore, deserves a brief sketch as to how it arose and what it means.

….McKnight gives a brief historiography here of the development of the new perspective leading up to N.T. Wright….

Then along came, and only then did along he come, N.T. Wright. Wright built upon Sanders and Dunn, to be sure, but he paved his own ground -- building in important ways upon C.H. Dodd and GB Caird -- by pursuing the "end of exile" themes in his early Pauline studies and then his Jesus studies, and then returned to Paul when the New Perspective had taken hold -- and he added to it, supplemented it, and has taken much of the heat by the critics. Wright has refashioned justification less in terms of personal conversion and more in terms of "who is in the people of God." And he has now added to all of this a new dimension, an anti-imperial reading of Paul and earliest Christianity -- and that had little to do with either Sanders or Dunn.

But at the bottom of these folks is a belief that Christians have misunderstood Judaism as a works religion and at stake is a profound (changed) orientation to the human problem in much of Reformed and Lutheran thinking: namely, that humans want to earn their place before God, that their fundamental problem is the attempt to establish themselves before God. The New Perspective, in one way or another, does not see this as the problem Paul himself faced and therefore to read Paul in light of this problem misreads Paul in important ways. I call this traditional reading the Augustinian approach to Paul, and I wish more of the critics of the New Perspective would give this Augustinian basis, which most of them think is actually Pauline, more attention. The New Perspective says, "well, yes, perhaps" but that is not what Paul was going on about when he was engaged with his opponents. The issue was not anthropological but both salvation-historical (more Sanders) and ecclesial (both Dunn and Wright). That's how I see things.

The issue then is how to read Paul in his historical context. This is the Protestant approach and many of us think that far too many of the critics of the New Perspective, instead of re-examining the Bible in its historical context, have appealed instead to the Tradition as established by Luther and Calvin. This leads me to another point...

1976, Krister Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentile.
1979, E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion.
1982, James Dun, Jesus, Paul and the Law.
.....................Paul Among Jews and Gentile.
Tom Wright, Justification: God's Plan & Paul's Vision.
John Piper, The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dave Dunbar "Everything Changes"

Dave Dunbar, president of Biblical Seminary in Pennsylvania, publishes an excellent ezine called “Missional Journal.” Biblical Seminary seems to have a mission to integrate mission and theology in a way that helps to shape and engage culture. There is a great article called “Everything Changes” about the paradigm change that a ‘missional’ outlook brings to a local church or church association. It listed under 2009, vol 3, no. 2. Below are some key paragraphs from the article:

"…But in reality the church in the West has not always been concerned for missions, or for The Mission. In fact when we focus on The Mission our perspective on many things changes. Let me give some illustrations…

"…What is crucial here is that mission is not first and foremost a job description for the church, but a reference to what God is up to in the world--God is on a mission! So the Father sends the Son, and subsequently both send the Spirit to empower Jesus' disciples to join in the world-wide mission. The church is sent into a harvest that God has already initiated.

“…The critical point here is that mission is not an after-thought in the divine agenda, and so it cannot be an after-thought in the church's agenda. It is not something we try to get to once we are finished with the real business of "doing church." As someone cleverly put it, "God's church does not have a mission in the world; rather, God's mission has a church in the world!" Think about it--there are far-reaching implications to this. So we say this in our convictions statement, "...the mission of God should constitute the unifying motif of theological education."

"…A missional approach to the church reminds us that God is already at work outside the building. It emphasizes that the kingdom is larger than the church and it invites us to look outside the walls and ask: How we can join God in his mission? This question leads to others..."
(Dave Dunbar, 2009, vol. 3, n.3).

ok - if you agree with Dunbar (don't forget to read the original article) what do you think are the other questions that he refers to? If the question is "how we can join God in his mission?" what other questions do we need to ask ourselves?

Also, don't forget Brian's "Skunk works" creative project: 63 comments/ideas so far!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Bono on Easter: "It’s 2009. Do You Know Where Your Soul Is?"

hi: John Meadows sent me this article from the New York Times, written by Bono with some reflections on the significance of Easter in our current cultural context.

I AM in Midtown Manhattan, where drivers still play their car horns as if they were musical instruments and shouting in restaurants is sport.

I am a long way from the warm breeze of voices I heard a week ago on Easter Sunday.
“Glorify your name,” the island women sang, as they swayed in a cut sandstone church. I was overwhelmed by a riot of color, an emotional swell that carried me to sea.

Christianity, it turns out, has a rhythm — and it crescendos this time of year. The rumba of Carnival gives way to the slow march of Lent, then to the staccato hymnals of the Easter parade. From revelry to reverie. After 40 days in the desert, sort of ...

Carnival — rock stars are good at that.

“Carne” is flesh; “Carne-val,” its goodbye party. I’ve been to many. Brazilians say they’ve done it longest; they certainly do it best. You can’t help but contract the fever. You’ve got no choice but to join the ravers as they swell up the streets bursting like the banks of a river in a flood of fun set to rhythm. This is a Joy that cannot be conjured. This is life force. This is the heart full and spilling over with gratitude. The choice is yours ...

It’s Lent I’ve always had issues with. I gave it up ... self-denial is where I come a cropper. My idea of discipline is simple — hard work — but of course that’s another indulgence.

Then comes the dying and the living that is Easter.

It’s a transcendent moment for me — a rebirth I always seem to need. Never more so than a few years ago, when my father died. I recall the embarrassment and relief of hot tears as I knelt in a chapel in a village in France and repented my prodigal nature — repented for fighting my father for so many years and wasting so many opportunities to know him better. I remember the feeling of “a peace that passes understanding” as a load lifted. Of all the Christian festivals, it is the Easter parade that demands the most faith — pushing you past reverence for creation, through bewilderment at the idea of a virgin birth, and into the far-fetched and far-reaching idea that death is not the end. The cross as crossroads. Whatever your religious or nonreligious views, the chance to begin again is a compelling idea.

For the rest of the article, click here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Church must stop trivialising Easter

One of my favorite theologians these days is Anglican bishop Tom Wright. I found this article that he recently wrote in the Times Online about the importance of faith in the physical resurrection of Jesus. What do you think? Do you argee with him? I am posting a paragraph from the article below ... to read the entire article, go here. JH.

Christians must keep their nerve: the Resurrection isn’t a metaphor, it’s a physical fact
Tom Wright

Private Eye ran a cartoon some years ago of St Peter standing in front of Jesus's Cross and saying to the other Disciples: “It's time to put this behind us now and move on.” It was a satire not on Christian belief, but on politicians and counsellors, and their trivialising mantras. It depended on Jesus's death being not just an odd, forgettable event - and that it was His Resurrection, rather than a shoulder- shrugging desire to “move on”, that got the early Christians going.

Easter was the pilot project. What God did for Jesus that explosive morning is what He intends to do for the whole creation. We who live in the interval between Jesus's Resurrection and the final rescue and transformation of the whole world are called to be new-creation people here and now. That is the hidden meaning of the greatest festival Christians have.

This true meaning has remained hidden because the Church has trivialised it and the world has rubbished it. The Church has turned Jesus's Resurrection into a “happy ending” after the dark and messy story of Good Friday, often scaling it down so that “resurrection” becomes a fancy way of saying “He went to Heaven”. Easter then means: “There really is life after death”. The world shrugs its shoulders. We may or may not believe in life after death, but we reach that conclusion independently of Jesus, of odd stories about risen bodies and empty tombs.

But “resurrection” to 1st-century Jews wasn't about “going to Heaven”: it was about the physically dead being physically alive again. Some Jews (not all) believed that God would do this for all people in the end. Nobody, including Jesus's followers, was expecting one person to be bodily raised from the dead in the middle of history. The stories of the Resurrection are certainly not “wish-fulfilments” or the result of what dodgy social science calls “cognitive dissonance”. First-century Jews who followed would-be messiahs knew that if your leader got killed by the authorities, it meant you had backed the wrong man. You then had a choice: give up the revolution or get yourself a new leader. Going around saying that he'd been raised from the dead wasn't an option.

To read the entire article, click here

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Decline And Fall Of Christian America... Yes... but No.

the article that we posted previously from newsweek about the decline of Christianity in America is coming out on the cover of Newsweek. Dan Kimball wrote a very positive and uplifting response on his blog:

Vintage Faith

I am posting some highlights from Dan's blog below:
[Dan Kimball]
I just read the cover story article of Newsweek which is coming out on the 13th. It is titled " The decline and fall of Christian America The cover looks gloomy almost like a horror film with an all black background and red letters.

So I think maybe there is a decline of a certain shape and sub-culture(s) of "Christian America" as the article states. But at the same time, there is a rising and surging of missional church leaders, church planters, and Christians who have already recognized that we are in a "post-Christian" America as the article states. But that recognition has simply fueled creativity, prayer and passion for mission and because God is God, people are coming to a saving faith in Jesus.

I am so optimistic for the future and have great hope. Yes, there is a "decline and fall" as the article states of certain types of "Christianity" and church perhaps. But there is also a rising and churches and Christians who are rethinking what it means to be "be the church" and to be the church on mission.
Perhaps in 5 years or 10 years we will see another article "The Rise of Rebirthing of The Church In America". A different kind of church perhaps. But oh my, what wonderful, crazy and hopeful times we are actually in.

Go here to read the entire post by Kimball

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The End of Christian America?

An interesting article was published in Newsweek about the apparent decline of Christianity in America. You can access the article at the link below:

Newsweek: The End of Christian America

Below are insightful email comments from pastors Dennis C., Michael M., and occasional troublemaker John M. regarding the significance of the demographic trends:

[Dennis C.] I found in it a lot of confirmation regarding the thrust of our conversations over the past weeks. Her understanding of the church/state separation issue and the religion/politics integration issue is important. She really has a grasp of the issue in American history since the colonial era and up through the founding and the reason for the thought that went into the first amendment. I find her analysis of the current dilemma in the evangelical world and the recent history of getting into bed with a political party to be very persuasive also. By reaching back to Augustine, Paul and Jesus she is really promoting a kingdom perspective re: the mission of the church throughout the ages.

[John M.] Below are a couple quotes that stood out to me:
"The American culture of religious liberty helped create a busy free market of faith: by disestablishing churches, the nation made religion more popular, not less."
"Let the religious take their stand in the arena of politics and ideas on their own, and fight for their views on equal footing with all other interests."

For me the fact that fewer Americans are claiming a specific religious affiliatioin and tend to identify more with "spirituality" than "religion" is actually encouraging. Ultimately, truth will stand in the "free market of faith".
Also, the survey results can be interpreted in more than one way. It may depress Dr. Mohler, but it also means that the harvest is ripe and getting riper. The last time I filled out one of those forms regarding religious preference I gripped to my wife that I could not find a category that I fit into. I was very tempted to put "no religion". Apparently, I'm not the only one...

[Michael M.] John & Dennis, Hearty “Amen” to both of your observations, I could not agree more. [This is one of the better articles I have read commenting on the Survey.] Perhaps another “need” illustrated by the study is the lack of historical understanding both within and without the church. [I know, a real surprise opinion coming from a historian.] I believe it illustrates that along with our call to develop, teach and implement an “orthodox-relational-practical-cross filled” theology, we should probably add “historical.” Doing so will produce believers who understand that his kingdom comes, his will is done regardless of the friendliness of either our culture or government. In fact, we have ample illustrations (China?) of the faith exploding even when governments attempt to stifle the market place of ideas. Michael M

ok, so what do you think? Is this troubling or encouraging? How can or should we respond?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Did You Know 3.0

Ya gotta watch this video ... this is something we need to be talking about, especially in the light of the massive generation and religious changes taking place right now and in the next 10 years.

taking this information along with the article on the collapse of the evangelical church, where do we go from here? Church planting will simply fall further and further behind (assuming we were even doing it). A friend of mine talks about the need for an explosion of some new kind of air-born "Jesus-virus". What do you think? are we sufficiently infected to be contagious?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Covenant Skunklings

hey guys,

Brian had a "God-idea" about starting an innovative group to come up with some fresh ideas and new initiatives to reach out to the younger generation. It is called the "skunk group" or the Covenant Skunklings -- I'll let him explain why. Go to this url to read his post and contribute ideas ... anyone with really GOOD ideas and faithful participation MIGHT get a trip to Boston ...

While this forum will continue to be more oriented around theological discussion, the Covenant Skunklings will be more oriented around practical ideas for outreach to youth and the young adult generation. ALL IDEAS ARE WELCOME!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Blibcal Approach to Economics?

NOTE: I found an excellent theological analysis of our current economic mess written by Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggeman, professor emeritus of Columbia Theological Seminary. I am pasting in the first part of the article below. You can access the entire article HERE.
So far as I know, the Bible says nothing explicit about subprime loans and the financial implications of such risky economic practice. There is a great deal, nonetheless, that the Bible has to say about such a crisis as we now face. I will comment in turn on a biblical perspective of an analysis of the crisis and a biblical perspective for an alternative economic practice.

While the specifics of the current market collapse are peculiarly modern, biblical perspectives are pertinent because the fundamental issues of economics are constant from ancient to contemporary time, constants such as credit and debt, loans and interest, and the endless tension between haves and have-nots.
We may identify three dimensions of the theological-moral foundations of the current economic crisis:

AUTONOMY. A sense of the isolated, self-sufficient economic individual is deeply rooted in modern rationality and comes to full expression in U.S. “individualism” that resists communitarian connectedness and imagines the individual person to be the primary unit of social reality. Such an individual is completely autonomous, owes no one anything, is accountable to no one, and can rely on no one except himself or herself.

Such a self (perceived almost exclusively as an economic self) is without restraint and is self-authorized to enact Promethean energy to organize life around one’s own needs, issues, and purposes. The autonomous, self-sufficient self takes as the proper venue for life “the market” and understands the market as a place of self-advancement at the expense of all others who are perceived either as rivals and competitors or as usable commodities.

This same autonomy is articulated in the Bible under the rubric of “the fool” who says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). The capacity to live without the gift or summons of God has immediate practical implications, for autonomy sets the fool over against the neighbor, most especially the poor neighbor. The one who says in Psalm 10:4 “There is no God” is the one who seeks out neighbors for exploitation: “They lurk that they may seize the poor; they seize the poor and drag them off in their net. They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might. They think in their heart, ‘God has forgotten, He has hidden his face, he will never see it’” (Psalm 10:9-11).

.... continued at www.wondercafe.ca

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Youth Ministry 3.0?

Scot McKnight started a discussion about youth ministry, called Youth Ministry 3.0, today along with a brief intro to a book by a guy named Marko. It seemes like an appropriate focus for discussion considering recent emails about the coming collapse (or decline?) of contemporary evangelical church.

Here is the post:

I sat down the other day with a youth pastor and asked a direct question that I've asked a number of youth leaders: "What percentage of your youth become adult, mature Christians?"

His response: "You want the truth?"

I said, "Of course."

His answer: "About 25%."

We both sat there, fumbling our coffee cups, looking at one another, nothing said and nothing to be said. In grief and wonder we searched for what we might do together to change the course of the church. His numbers are about average for evangelical churches. I wonder if some youth pastors would sit down, think for 15 minutes or so over the last few years and what has become of their youth. What "worked" and what "didn't work"? Listen to these ruggedly honest words from Mark Oestreicher:

"The way we're doing things is already not working. We're failing at our calling. And deep down, most of us know it. This is why we need an epochal shift in our assumptions, approaches, models, and methods."

The book the quote is taken from is called:

Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We've Been, Where We Are & Where We Need to Go.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dead and Gone

This post has been re-written from a different angle and moved to UNCHURCHED

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mannin' Up II

What does it mean to "be a man" and how do you get there? Is there any truth to the idea that "real men love Jesus and hate church?" If men (together with women) are called to "rule," and if Jesus is the way God accomplishes things, what does "masculine" ruling look like... and what helps men to get there?

Monday, March 2, 2009

THE SHACK: Heresy or an inspired metaphor?

hi friends, we continue to have a great discussion on masculinity in the previous thread below ... however, several people were interested in discussing the merits and the theological content of the recent best seller, The Shack. We invite you to bring the discussion to this thread.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Man Up!

On a previous thread, Patrick asked, "What makes a man a 'man'? What are the defining characteristics of masculinity? Of a godly man? How does that differ from what the American society would define as a man? This is an important issue for me, as I am coming into 'manhood' (marriage, responsibility, etc.). In your journeys, what are some of the walls and battles that you have had to overcome and conquer? And how did you do it?"

So let's have at it! And yes, any women listening in should feel free to contribute!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why Jacob?

This is in the now-for-something-completely-different category... a "Bible study" question. Why are God's covenant people named after Jacob/Israel? Why not after Abraham, who after all, is the father of the faithful; or after Isaac, who is the "son of promise"? There's not a whole lot about Jacob that is... exemplary. What is it about Jacob... or perhaps better, what is it about God?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Learning From Our Friends, and Their Friends

From the abstract and theoretical and argumentative, to the practical and lived: as we think about the "friends, and friends of friends" model/paradigm, what have you learned? How have your interactions with various folks who don't neatly/nicely fit into current christian paradigms taught you some things that you think are important for ministry in the world we actually live in? No need to be any kind of expert about this--we're more interested in learning from one another's "field notes."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friends, Friends of Friends, Friends of Jesus

Jesus has called us his friends; he was known also as "the friend of sinners." Friendship seems to be something we take for granted but don't really understand. What roles do you think friendship can play in the life and work of Christ's people? Please read through the article [linked here]--thanks to Patrick Currie for finding it and bringing it to us--and then share what you think of the author's analysis and prescription.

Monday, January 19, 2009

thinkling and camping in the Florida Keys

hi guys

We have just returned from our weekend of camping in the Florida Keys. This weekend grew out of a blog conversation we had a year ago about the importance of building our relationships around non-agenda-driven and unstructured time together. Jamie Johnson pointed out the shortcomings of building relationships around ‘conferencing’ … so we planned an inexpensive ‘unconference’ with no speaker, no meetings, no agenda – only fellowship around meals and a campfire.

Here is the question for those of you who attended: did we succeed? Did you enjoy the fellowship? Did you learn anything? What were the conversations that were most meaningful. Those of you who were unable to be there, please jump in with comments or questions.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Parakeet Practice

McKnight identifies "blue parakeets" as those sections of Scripture that don't seem to fit into our [personal, denominational, churchly, etc] organizing schema for the Bible. Of course, the identity of a "blue parakeet" can vary by observer! For some, the violent OT passages where God judges the Canaanites in the harshest possible terms are blue parakeets; for others, passages that [appear to?] teach female subordination are blue parakeets; for still others, passages that teach God's intention to save everyone (various kinds of universalism) are parakeets, just as graphic descriptions of hell are parakeets for others.
So let's try a case study together: consider these lines from Psalm 8: "What is man that thou are mindful of him, the son of man that you care about him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor." Let's set these lines alongside Job's complaint, "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment" (Job 7:17-18, but it's a good idea to read all of chapter 7 to get the flow).
Question: which passage [if either] is the blue parakeet for you? Why?