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September 16, 2005



Can you grow a bitchin' beard like Ken Ham? That would be so sweet.

Seriously, I hope the service goes well.


Gotta go with a whale, man. Then you can argue that taxonomists who group whales as mammals rather than fish only do it because they hate God.


Jonah 3:7-8 affords you an opportunity to preach on the need for animals to repent. My dog needs an altar call.

Preach the word, however you do it.


You could also mention the gender issues of Jonah's fish, being a masculine noun in one verse then suddenly feminine in another. All kinds of fun can be had with that!

Prayers for you all tonight.

Trav the Okie Vegan


confession of a liberal at an orthodox (small o, of course) service:

Your sermon tonight was excellent; I quite enjoyed it and even, happily, learned a little something. It was, however, strange for me to find myself in a Nazarene church, a church filled with people who believe in a personal God, who believe that Jesus of Nazareth really and truly was/is one and the same as the omnipotent, infinite creator of the universe, who believe all sorts of interesting things which I find as incredible as Grimm’s fairy tales or the idea that Santa Claus delivers presents to children the world over on Christmas Eve. There I was. Man, it was uncomfortable.

I consider myself a Christian—a practicing Christian: I’m practicing, i.e. trying, to be more Christ-like, but I cannot accept all the metaphysical beliefs of those traditional Nazarene Christians. So, when I’m surrounded by people who believe what to me is (and forgive the language here, but I really intend no offense) antiquated superstition, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable.

What really bothers me is that I tend to feel superior to such Christians simply because of what they believe, which is very unChristian of me. I am also bothered by the fact that I presume to know what these complete strangers believe simply because they are attending a Nazarene church. I loathe stereotyping in others, and yet I am completely guilty of it here myself. I’m no better (on average) than any of those Nazarenes, and there is a chance that I could be wrong and they right about all the metaphysical beliefs. So why do I look down on them simply for maintaining their deeply held beliefs, beliefs which most of them have never even thought to question? I don’t know. I really want to be more humble, less supercilious. If only there were a goddess who could grant me the strength to be more humble . . .


Trav - You might be surprised at the number of folks within that particular congregation who have the same doubts/questions about issues of faith that you have expressed here. I include myself in that group. Not all of us are as blindingly simpleminded as you might think.


Trav - if you feel uncomfortable in a crowd like that, let me advise against ever hanging out in an evangelical church "on the mission field." I don't care how "liberal" a denomination is in the states, its converts around the globe are painfully conservative.

I struggle in congregations in the states, but I've learned enough theology to play around with creedal type statements. For instance, you mentioned the simplicity of anyone who could actually believe that, "Jesus of Nazareth really and truly was/is one and the same as the omnipotent, infinite creator of the universe." Yet you've fallen victim to the same assumption as they when you assume that the statement "Jesus is God" has any metaphysical meaning behind it. The copula is used in many ways, and least often is it metaphysical. Sadly this point is often missed...

But those little tricks to get past the absurdity of conservative doctrine don't get around the belief's commonly found out 'in the field'. I'm living with a guy who keeps wanting me to read "End Times" with him - some publication from the US that reads "World events from a Biblical Perspective." I've refused to read the rag, but I'm confident their biblical perspective is decidedly different than mine.

Which leads to questions about evangelism, but I won't raise them here.

Have fun in crackerland ;-)

Trav the Okie Vegan


My apologies if I were sounded as if I believe that sincere evangelical believers are simple-minded. I don't, and many of them are not (and many doubters are simple-minded).


I appreciate your comments, and I have no problems interpreting statements about Christ's divintiy in a highly metaphorical (for me, in a Tillichian) manner; the problem which arises is one of candor: if I merely tell a good evangelical that I believe that Jesus is God and that I believe the truth of the classical creeds (which I can honestly affirm, but my affirmation of those creeds is far from an affirmation of the literal meaning of those words), then what that evangelical hears is that I believe the same things that she/he does, which is simply not the case. In making such a statement, I am being deceptive and hyprocritical, which is far from being Christ-like. Thus arises my dilemma: I want to be a part of community of faith which affirms the message of Christ, and as one whose background is in evangelical Christianity, I would be most delighted were it possible for the community of faith to be an evangelical church, but I know that the overwhelming majority of evangelicals, even the most open-minded among them, cannot accept a non-theist as a brother in Christ. That is why I found myself so uncomfortable.

Scott in Houston

There's a lot of love on this blog... we're turning into a bunch of softies, especially when we're not talking about Joel Osteen.


Trav: I completely understand what you're saying. I've gotten to the point where I often can't sing the hymns at church (let alone the choruses!). The words support theologies that I simply cannot participate in.

However, when speaking of theological moves I tell myself to get through a service (or to just have fellowship with certain evangelical friends), I'm not so much speaking of lying to myself, as trying to understand what it means for them to say "Jesus is God." I suspect it rarely means anything metaphysical, even to those who most ardently support the metaphysical meaning.

Anyway just keep struggling through. It wouldn't be fun otherwise ;-)


Funny, I am teaching through Jonah w/ my MS and HS youth, and they're really enjoying it. I'm leaning pretty heavy on the "mercy" theme. So, tonight, an elder reminded me that the Bible isn't just about a merciful God, but that God was called a "consuming fire". He gave me NO CHANCE to respond...just whispered it to me and fled. Probably good for me that he did.

I wanted to tell him the God of the Bible is a complete contradiction to begin with so saying he's absolutely anything is wrong to begin with. I do find it interesting though, that if we preach about God burning people no one get's too crazy...but start talking about God forgiving people because He pities them...or feels sorry for them...or w/e...get too "merciful" and people have to remind you of the God who is a consuming fire!

As long as God burns someones ass we're okay with him, but let him be compassionate to people and we get nervous.

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