Book mentioned in Anderson's talk

Michael mentioned The Enemy Within by Kris Lungaard. It's a very readable and helpful treatment of John Owen's doctrine of sin. The chapters are short, the paragraphs are short, but the ideas are huge and the language is fresh. You could read the book on an hour bus trip from Oxford to London or over the course of a term (I know from experience). :)

Help for application

So, if you think at all like me, you might be wondering how to take this conversation about formula and relationship and apply it. That shouldn't be our first response, but it needs to happen at some point. So, here are some suggestions..

4. Read the Bible - "Oh great. This is going to be one of those kinds of lists." We all know that we're supposed to read the Bible, that it's the primary means that God uses to communicate with us. So, why do I bother to mention it? Well, it's really easy to get into the habit when you read the Bible of going straight to the "What does God want me to do?" question. And you need to get there eventually, but if you go straight to that question, you get stuck in formula. Try reading and asking "What is God doing? What is God revealing about himself? What does God love and value?" That's a small change that can make a big difference.

3. Pray - "Again. You've got to be kidding me." Rather than going straight to confession or supplication (prayers that are great, but tend to focus on us or on our immediate surroundings), try contemplative prayer or journaling.

2. Risk - When you step out in risk for the Lord, it can help you see him as living and active. I am so aware of Jesus' reality and presence whenever I share the gospel with a friend. One of the reasons our religious formulae hurt our relationship with God is that we learn to depend on them rather than on Him. When you're sticking your neck out, it's easier to see that you need a real, living God and not a real, heavy book of rules.

1. Communion - Jesus said to do this to remember him (1 Cor 11:24). It's easy for our performance of this sacrament to be as stale as the bread it includes, but there's a lot of potential here. View it as God inviting you to share a meal with him, to spend time with him, to remember him. Every time I make my Grandmother's arroz con pollo, I remember her. In those moments, she's not just a relative in my official geneology, she's my family. Experience the living God through Communion: he is the God of bread and wine, of life not of dead religion.

Formula vs. Relationship

Chris gave an excellent talk this past Sunday from John 3. If you missed it, you missed a great one. (For those of you who do not know him, Chris is a Junior this year and is coordinating our Large Group meetings for GCF this year)

As he was sharing, he made some excellent comments about a theme we have been touching on over and over again in GCF. So often in the Christian life, when we encounter God, we expect our primary interaction with him to involve him giving us a moral system. And Christianity does eventually provide you with a moral system; as one theologian said - Any religion that does not tell you what to do with your genitals and pots and pans cannot be interesting. But a moral system is not primarily what we receive from Jesus.

I use the word primarily here very intentionally, hoping to call up the many angles the word implies. A moral system is neither the first thing, nor the main thing that Jesus offers us. He offers us himself. He always offers us his very life, the depths and the riches of God. And this offering leads us away from the formulae of elder religiousity and into the life of God - Relationship. And what a difference this makes.

Doing the right things for the wrong reasons...

...eventually leads you to doing the wrong things.

This is what I feel that the Lord has been trying to remind me over the last week as I have been thinking about and attempting to apply Prof. Morels talk on the intersection between faith and politics. Id blog more about this, but my computer died and Im having to type on Amys laptop, which is missing the g, h, backspace, apostrophe and quotation marks keys (yes, all the gs and hs have been copied and pasted).

To see this idea played out, check out this article by my favorite Duke ethicist: Dr. Hauerwas talks about Abortion

The articles by Budziszewski

Last night, Lucas referred to a couple of articles by Prof. Budziszewski: "The Problem with Conservativism" and "The Problem with Liberalism". I would highly recommend them, although I am afraid that I need to read through them a few more times to really understand all that Budziszewski had to say.

Quotes from last night

Lucas presented an excellent talk last night on the intersection of faith and politics. Enjoy these quotes as you reflect on his talk:

The purpose of Christianity is not to provide useful rules for living or organizational schemes.  From the perspective of salvation, how the world is organized is not of major importance.  Of course it is fine for human beings to organize the world, but this is a fallen world and redemption is not tied to our organization of it.  Consequently God’s work, which is from the beginning the work of redemption, cannot in any detail be expressed by social, economic or other worldly organization.  We cannot extract any system from God’s revelation without twisting the texts and coming up with unwarranted conclusions because redemption is not a system.
Jacques Ellul, Money & Power

I am afraid that the more faithful we are to our identity in Christ, the less reliable they will find us even as occasional allies; and we must be honest with them.
J. Budziszewski “The Problem with Conservatism,”
First Things

To get you ready for tomorrow...

Tomorrow night, Professor Morel is going to be speaking about Christianity and Politics. He is so insightful and so humble. It's always amazing to hear him speak.

Here are some quotes to get you prepared for his talk...

"Jesus concerns himself hardly at all with the solution of worldly problems. When he is asked to do so His answer is remarkably evasive (Matt 22:15ff; Luke 12:13). Indeed He scarcely ever replies to men's questions directly, but answers rather from a quite different plane. His word is not an answer to human questions and problems; it is the answer of God to the question of God to man." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Ethics

"Who actually tells us that all worldly problems are to be and can be solved? Perhaps the unsolved state of these problems is of more importance to God than their solution, for it may serve to call attention to the fall of man and to the divine redemption." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer from Ethics

"Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says: we are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party. We are looking for an ally where we are offered either a Master or a Judge." - C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity

A little poetry

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

- "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

A FLOCK of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky;—

I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie
Sleepless; and soon the small birds’ melodies
Must hear, first utter’d from my orchard trees,
And the first cuckoo’s melancholy cry.

Even thus last night, and two nights more I lay,
And could not win thee, Sleep! by any stealth:
So do not let me wear to-night away:

Without Thee what is all the morning’s wealth?
Come, bless├ęd barrier between day and day,
Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health!

- "To Sleep" by William Wordsworth