Monday, August 16, 2010

John M. Perkins

i am trying to get back in touch with contemporary music. Somewhere along-the-line i became satisfied with listening to the music i grew up with and lost touch with nearly anything modern.

So i decided to check out the top 100 lists. i found this song by Switchfoot called "'The Sound' (John M. Perkins' Blues)", which caught my attention because John M. Perkins is someone i just met a few months ago. He is an inspirational man who was active in the civil rights movement and continues to be active in restorative ministries today. i was able to visit him recently with a group from my denomination.

If you've never heard of John Perkins or haven't read his writings, i encourage you to do so. He recently co-authored a book with Shane Claiborne called "Follow me to Freedom".

Unfortunately i've found that i'm not terribly keen on most of the music on the top of the charts. There were a few songs i liked, but this was not one of them. i'm sure the message is great though!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Beyond Belief Part 2 or 3 or 4...

i've hit upon this theme of 'beyond belief' numerous times over the past five years. It is the idea that Christianity must be more than a set of correct beliefs. There is something shallow about the idea that what separates so many human beings is merely whether or not we believe the right things about certain historical events with present/future implications.

Though i certainly do realize that belief is a part of Christianity. i suppose i see belief as a means to end, rather than the end itself.

As i study the Gospel of Matthew with my congregation, which we've been doing for the last two + years, all sorts of new questions come to mind. Questions i've been seeking, but didn't know to ask.

In fact, i said i was 'seeking the question' (rather than the answer) because it seems that before you can find the answer you need to know what the question is.

Anyhow...i remember being handed down a Christianity that was mostly about believing the right things. Salvation was by grace through faith for those who believed rightly. That is, you were saved so long as you believed you were a sinner, a Virgin named Mary gave birth to a son who was divine and without sin, he died for us/in place of us for our sin, was buried and resurrected and will come again. If you believe this, then you're in. Oh, and if you don't drink, smoke, dance, clap your hands, go to movies, play cards, or kiss before you're married.

While i believe much i've what i've written above, i no longer believe this is the goal of Christianity; the outcome; the conclusion; the main point; etc.

i mean, after all, Adam & Eve couldn't have believed any of those things before the Fall because none of that stuff was true at that point in time. Yet, before the fall everything was just as God had intended it. Humanity was in perfect relationship with God, each other, and creation. No body needed to believe any of those 'not yet historical facts' to enjoy God, others, and creation.

So if Christ has come to "restore", "reclaim", "redeem"...then it seems like his purpose must go beyond such things as giving intellectual assent to historical events with present/future implications.

In fact, with all his talk about establishing a "Kingdom" [a society?] it seems like he emphasizes proper relationships (with God, others, creation) more than right belief about historical events with present/future implications. Though one could say that he insists on proper beliefs about relationships (with God, others, creation), and that those beliefs are to be realized in proper action (toward God, others, creation).

Is this why most of his teachings have little to do with believing the right things about what he has done(or will do), and almost entirely to do with living in right relationship with God, others, and creation?

Parables that emphasize hospitality, proper treatment of others, and use of resources?

Maybe the kingdom is less about 'believing' and more about 'living', unless of course it is about the kind of believing that leads to great living (with God, others, and creation).