Extracurricular Activities 6.28.14 — False Teachers, Anselm & the Chinese, and Why Pastors Quit
It would be easy to assume that American evangelicals are the “strong” ones, standing up for our “weak” brothers and sisters imperiled around the world. In one sense, that’s obviously true. We can pressure the State Department to act. We can send relief to communities in peril. We can use information technology to alert the global community to what is happening to religious minorities (not only Christians) due to persecution.
But more and more American Christians are recognizing that we should not only advocate for our persecuted brothers and sisters; we should also learn from them how to live as Christians.
A few months ago I began a short series called “The False Teachers.” I wanted to look back through church history to meet some of the people who have undermined the church at various points...I wanted to reflect on some of what I’ve learned as I’ve spent time considering false teachers and false teaching. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from false teachers.
...there wasn’t just “one” moment that moved me from one place to another. It was more a culmination of many moments over many years–some feeling like a 2×4 over the head and others more a whisper.
Overall, as I continued to pay more and more attention to the details of the Bible, it became harder and harder to shake the feeling that Bible wasn’t behaving as I had always been told it most certainly does–needs to–behave.
What drove this home to me–one of these culminating “aha” moments– happened during my doctoral work and centered on just one verse: 1 Corinthians 10:4: “for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”
A recent article in Christianity Today about Confucianism and Christianity in China called to mind the time several years ago when I taught an introductory class on Christian theology to recent Chinese converts to Christianity...
One serendipitous moment was when we were discussing texts that dealt with righteousness and atonement. The Chinese translation rendered them into justice. On this basis, I launched into a discussion of Anselm’s notion of justice as a fittingness reflecting in God’s own being and the rational order of creation. Anselm’s participatory ontology corresponds to his understanding of society as a series of interlocking relations. This is how he fuses the feudalistic world of the late eleventh century with the Neoplatonic metaphysics he inherited from Augustine and Boethius, among others.
"What lies are you tempted to believe in ministry?”
Over the past several months, I’ve asked this question to dozens of pastors and Christian leaders. It’s a question that often goes unasked in religious leadership circles, but the resulting conversations have been honest, vulnerable, and revealing. Here are some of the common answers:
I have a small church, which makes me a bad and ineffective pastor.
My addiction has no effect on my congregation.
More speaking opportunities at ministry conferences means I’m a legitimate pastor.
The size of our buildings, budget, and attendance are the only viable way ministry success can be measured.
If I pastor better, God will love me more...
Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don't necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.
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