Old Stuff – Confessing Corporate Sin

Here’s number two in the Old Stuff:


Here is Round #2 with respect to some theological/church wanderings of my mind…

Recently, Nehemiah 1 has been the source of some intense thought for me, and although I haven’t developed the thought to its end, I thought I would share where God has been leading me. The primary challenge for me has been “what does it look like to be a man who confesses the sins of a generation or a people?” I have pretty much been utterly wrecked by this revelation of my own part in corporate sin and corporate identity through Nehemiah’s prayer on behalf of Israel.

Are we willing as a church to accept the sins of our parents and grandparents generation, rather than looking back at them in knee-jerk fashion and saying “we won’t be like them”?  By and large the response of our generation has been reactionary in nature, but I see something utterly different in Nehemiah’s prayer, and I hope begins to saturate my life.  This idea I think is the essence of headship, which is a thought I need to develop more at length sometime soon.

A corrollary to this concept of corporate confession for me has been understanding that part of the churches job is the redefinition and redemption of not just individuality, but of corporate identity. In my mind, this influences how we as a church are responsible for healing and recreating the utterly destroyed social fabric of American culture. This was really born out of a conversation with Stew over church planting, and how to make the things we learn from the rapid spread of the Gospel in Africa, India, and China applicable to the US. The common vehicle for the spread of the Gospel in those places was a strong social fabric originating with the family, which is fairly non-existent in our fluid, anti-commitment society. This thought also takes an interesting turn when thinking strategically about the spreading of the Gospel in the US, and where these social fabrics currently exist.

Ironically enough, the only place I could think of was that of where strong social networks are already in place was a college campus, and it made me exceedingly excited to be in the position of leading college ministry.  I pray that students at UT and other campuses here in Austin would be a generation who seeks God’s face, and accepts the sins of not only themselves, but also the preceding generation, and like Nehemiah does amazing things in advancing the Kingdom of God.  I pray they would have the desire for long, enduring obedience and God would give them visions for establishing patterns of righteousness for the generations following them.


Old Stuff – Subjecting Logic to Scripture

I found some old posts from the family blog that I thought I would re-run here, so here’s the first from April of 2007.


As I have continued to engage Systematic Theology, I have realized how my questioning of the process of salvation, or any other doctrinal matter, tends to be from an attitude of skepticism over Scriptural authority, not out of confidence in it. Confident acceptance of biblical authority leads to questions of understanding the mechanics of what is presented in Scripture and teasing out ideas first gleaned from the Word. Prideful skepticism challenges the statements found within Scripture to be proven true, and ultimately holds the logic of man as the highest authority. If it doesn’t make sense to me, how can it be true? The better question is, this is true, how can I make sense of it? This is probably a revelation that many people I am around have at a much earlier time, but I guess I’m just a little behind the curve.

I think the impetus for my approach of skepticism is somewhat ingrained in our generational culture’s psyche.  We’ve been trained in the Postmodern age to approach everything from a hermeneutic of doubt, as opposed to the hermeneutic of trust of our parents’ generation.  I think the balance lies somewhere in the middle, while at the same time remaining utterly confident in the faithfulness and truth of God.  The process for me consists of rooting out the unfaithfulness in my heart which leads to doubt in God’s revealed Word, whereas some others need to be impelled to critically examine doctrine that it might lead to heart change.

Another revelation that has become painfully obvious through my study and teaching of the subject is our woeful lack of biblical knowledge as an American church.  With the resources a layman has at his or her fingertips, it is almost deplorable the level of ignorance which exists, of which I am a chief example.  I am perfectly well trained to explain the finer details of Quantum Theory, Chemical Reaction Kinetics, and other such things, but only competent in the rudimentary basics of biblical exposition and theological discourse.  I wonder if both culturally and personally, two things are at work here: 1. Due to the extraordinary proliferation and availability of information, our/my actual comprehension of Scripture and Theological material has declined because “Google can find it” and we/I have become lazy as a result of the extraordinary tools available, and 2.  Teaching sound doctrine has become so devalued that we don’t even know what it is any more.  I’m learning to repent of my ingnorance and indolence daily.

Anyway, these are just a few random wanderings of my mind, feel free to leave a comment…


pine cove fun

we spent new years at pine cove’s woods camp, and it has been an excellent way to ring in 2009. i’ve been able to make some headway on j i packer’s knowing god (thought provoking), reflect on marriage over the last year, and have some excellent family time while making new friends. all in all, pretty great stuff…


unChristian 4

Chapter 4 in unChristian–titled “Get Saved”–processes through the outsiders’ perception that Christians are far more preoccupied with saving souls than caring for people.

  1. “Only one-third of young outsiders believe that Christians genuinely care about them (34 percent)…showing genuine interest in someone is hard to fake” ~Page 69

    The path to genuine care for an individual is rooted in prayer for that person.  A heart that cares like Christ can only be found in Him, and it necessitates that our hearts are being changed by Him.  Prayer is the means by which Christ will give us His heart for an individual.

  2. “…most young people come to Christ because of people they know very well, usually in the context of “everyday” interaction.” ~Page 71

    Based on their research, 71 percent of young believers responded that they came to faith through relationship, not event driven ministry.  This should definitely shape our priority in resources as we consider effective ministry to this generation.  Toward that end, missional community has been our method of choice.

  3. “…the vast majority of outsiders in this country, particularly among young generations, are actually de-churched individuals.” ~Page 74

    I believe this statement has drastic implications for missiology, especially in the context of desiring to see a church planting movement in a western context.  Many people who are adapting missionary principles from movements seen outside of western culture tend to ignore this very important piece of the puzzle.  We simply do not live in a non-Christian country, but are progressively becoming de-churched.  I firmly believe this must be taken into consideration when thinking through ministry strategy in our current context, and why I believe, in conjunction with the radical individualism of our culture, why church planting movements will require some different strategies before we see effective multiplication.

  4. “Our [the American church’s] enthusiasm for evangelism is not matched by our passion for and patience with discipleship and faith formation.” ~Page 77

    Any college student can tell you this is absolutely true…many adults are willing to invest a little time and energy in an event focused on a campus, but where are the older generations who are willing and capable of walking through this time of life with them?

  5. “The middle ground between these extremes [not evangelizing and being “in your face”] suggests that we focus on cultivating relationships with people and developing environments that facilitate deep spiritual transformation.” ~Page 84

    Missional Community is key toward realizing this middle ground.  A gospel-centered small group of individuals cultivating a contextually appropriate environment for spiritual transformation to take place is essential in reaching campus and transforming it for the glory of God.  Missional community is both internally focused and externally focused, not simply one or the other.  Secondly, I believe a biblical understanding of the gospel that retains the simplicity of 1 Corinthians 15, and yet understands the complexity and depth of the gospel of the kingdom (click here for a good discussion of this idea), and sees the gospel not as ABC but the A through Z of Christian life, must be recovered in our ministry.

On the whole, this chapter calls us to a transformative faith, to which I give a hearty amen.

christianity church theology

Cultural Mandate and Renewal

I enjoyed these challenging thoughts from the 9Marks blog on the Cultural Mandate specifically as they pertain to the Christian’s and the Church’s engagement in culture making/redemption.  As a result of The Austin Stone’s Fall 2008 Vision Series, I have been wrestling a lot with these concepts, and have enjoyed learning a variety of different perspectives.

Give it a read:

Thoughts on the Cultural Mandate from 9Marks

On the whole, I think the evangelical “culture” camps tend toward a few different streams of emphasis, all which offer necessary insights:

  1. Cultural Exegesis – Studying and understanding your culture to effective minister in it.  This is what I would consider the hallmark of the Acts 29 types, as well as many people influenced by cross-cultural church planting.
  2. Individual Cultural Engagement – Participating as believers in culture making areas to provide a common ground and avenue for the Gospel.  This seems to be the idea that this particular blog is trying to think through
  3. Holistic Cultural Renewal – Participating as churches and believers in holistic ministry aimed most often at city renewal.  This is expressed in a few different ways through a few different streams of church.  I’ve had the most exposure to the “urban ministry” (social justice focus in the city) and more “emerging” (artistic cultural engagement) type churches.

This is far from a comprehensive list, but I am a categorizer and it helps me to think through things.  Any other thoughts?