Honesty vs. Orthodoxy—A Response to John Cooper

Skillet (a rock band in case you aren’t familiar) frontman John Cooper recently shared a post on Facebook which has in turn been getting shared itself by others. It is apparently in response to a recent announcement by Joshua Harris and a since deleted post by Hillsong’s Marty Sampson. Since Cooper’s post has apparently resonated with some people and is being shared, I wanted to take a moment to respond.

After reading through it a few times, Cooper’s post significantly bothers me because it seems to promote a lot of what I think is wrong with Christianity and seems to demonstrate a lack of understanding in a number of ways. The paradigm behind Cooper’s post seems to be that there is a “truth box” (for lack of a better term—a set of Continue reading

Evangelical Idealism – Leader Announces Separation

Former evangelical pastor and author Joshua Harris and his wife recently announced their separation. This is sad because separation / divorce are always sad I think. We don’t get into and develop relationships with the hope or expectation that they will erode, degrade, fall apart, or even become hostile, harmful, and damaging. In a perfect world, I think that divorce or separation would probably not exist.

Harris’ separation is interesting though in that it is in a way symbolic. (I want to be clear that I am in no way gloating over their troubles.) Harris became well known for his book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, which is often one of the first things mentioned when someone talks about “purity culture”. One of the main ideas and Continue reading

Sex, God & the Conservative Church – Book Review

“Sex, God & the Conservative Church – Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy” is a book authored by therapist Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers. The first thing to know about this book is that it was written to therapists. This affects some sections of the book more than others, yet in either case, non-professionals can learn a lot from the book as well. The second thing to note is that couples counseling is mostly presumed, though Sellers frequently shares brief thoughts on counseling singles at the end of each section.

The book is well divided into chapters with clear themes. In the first chapter, Sellers describes the sexual problems and dysfunction she began to observer in her counseling of those who grew up in conservative Christian Continue reading

Sex in Conservative Evangelical Christianity

Here’s a deep thought to ponder: Jesus said there will not be marriage at the resurrection, but the Bible never says there won’t be sex in “heaven”. I imagine this thought may tweak a lot of evangelical minds. In evangelical thought, sex is so tied to marriage that I expect many might struggle to consider this. But I wonder, is this actually because our view of sex and marriage is so correct and Biblical? (I acknowledge that this article is imperfect; the following may just be my impression based on my experiences, and it may not accurately reflect conservative Christianity today. That said, I think there is still some potential value in what I share.)

I’ve heard it suggested that our western theology is significantly influenced by the Continue reading

Feelings, Thoughts, and Emotions

I’ve been considering the difference and interaction between feelings, emotions, and thoughts. At first I thought there may be a continuum between them rather than always being distinctly one as opposed to another. Now I’m thinking it may be more of a field between three points rather than a single line.

In my observation, we often don’t distinguish between these very well. For instance, I often say, “I feel like…” and then share a thought. And we typically use the words “feelings” and “emotions” interchangeably. However, let me trying to tease these apart.

Thoughts are an idea in our mind which we can often express verbally. We also may have impressions which may not be clear enough to express but I will still consider these Continue reading

Movie Review: Emanuel

My experience gives me the impression that it is very difficult to make a good documentary, perhaps even more difficult than making any other kind of film (not necessarily in the technical aspects, but in terms of writing and editing). In many ways, Emanuel was very well made, impressive even. Yet one of my first impressions after leaving the theater was that something was missing. Something felt unresolved.

The documentary begins by reviewing a bit of the racial history of Charleston, South Carolina, the scene of the events documented in this film. The bulk of the approximately 70 minutes is filled with a recounting of the events which happened (a young white man shot 9 blacks to death in a bible study), accounts of family and Continue reading

The Fear of Fundamentalism

In this article I continue with the theme of fear, describing how I see it in fundamentalism. Before I go further, the type of fundamentalism I have in mind is that within the Christian realm. In my mind, I see conservative evangelicalism, especially the best known branch of Southern Baptists, as being very closely related to if not fundamentalist. (I am not familiar enough to say what the distinction is or isn’t. I also don’t claim to have significant familiarity with specific denominations or movements labeled fundamentalist.)

The foundational paradigm or worldview of fundamentalism is, “We’re under attack! Those outside of fundamentalism, if they encounter it, are likely to be frustrated at their perceived lack of reasonableness. Continue reading

Kneeling and the Flag, Police and Race, Guns, etc. — Understanding What’s Behind the Controversies

Along the lines of my previous post, I share here my attempt to understand a certain perspective different from my own.

In the U.S., we’ve had quite a series of serious, deep controversies ongoing over the past several years. What has been most concerning about this to me is how it’s not just that different sides have different ideas about how to solve problems. Rather, it seems that the different sides have different beliefs about reality itself—massively different views about what is true about the world.

I always try to understand what is behind controversies. What is it that is motivating people? Why are they so concerned and passionate? I regret that so often all the endless banter only scratches the surface and usually seems Continue reading

More Effectively Engaging Controversial Issues

Perhaps the thing I hate most about controversial issues is this: it seems that most people, when they say something about one, implicitly or explicitly express the view that their way of seeing it is so clear and obvious while the other side is incomprehensible. But it usually goes no farther than this. So long as we continue to hold that those on “the other side” are stupid if not evil, little if any progress will be made. (People tend to think that the solution is for their side to become powerful enough to overcome the other side, but typically this doesn’t happen, rather it only leads to deeper divide.) Instead, the way forward begins with trying to understand why the other side thinks the way they do. This almost certainly involves Continue reading

The Need for the Church to Confess and Repent as Part of Evangelism

There have been some interesting things going on recently. Many people are excited, talking about revival, and reaching “the lost”. When a bunch of Christians gather, it doesn’t seem odd to celebrate and worship God. But it strikes me that when we start interacting with those who aren’t followers of Christ, it would be naive to expect them to share our enthusiasm. In fact, there are many people who will not feel even neutral, but instead have a negative view of Christians and Christianity.

This makes me think, as a group of Christians becomes more outward focused, one of the first things we should probably do is public, corporate confession and repentance. We must be aware that the church has often been known as having a posture of Continue reading