Posts Tagged christianity
I want to be a Whole Christian.
I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength, and be part of a worshipping community with others who do.
I want to love my brothers and sisters the way Christ loves me,
my neighbor as myself,
and my enemies.
Especially my enemies. For I have discovered that I only see the log in my own eye after I find grace for the speck in someone else’s.
Christianity has been practically defined by our divisions and labels since at least Acts 6, if not Mark 9. I myself have enjoyed many such labels over the years. Protestant. Fundamentalist. Conservative. Evangelical. Reformed. Orthodox. Charismatic. Postmodern. Missional.
I continue to honor and cherish those traditions, even as I critique them. But I no longer want to be defined by them. Especially since they are largely defined by what (and who) they are not.
I want to embrace all of Christianity. Not just the Catholics, liberals, and traditionalists who disagree with me on doctrine and practice. But everybody and everything that has been part of Christian tradition — the good, the bad, and the ugly. The heretics and the persecutors. Torquemada and televangelists. Crusaders and Conquistadors. Pedophile priests and southern slaveholders.
I don’t agree with them. I have serious doubts about whether I’ll see some of them in heaven. But I am content to let Jesus sort the wheat from the tares at the end of the age.
Because all of them are my people. Their sins are my sins. Their failures are my failures.
For only by embracing their failure can I hope to transcend it; instead of repeat it.
My goal for this summer is to turn my 36-week Bible study “Growing Church Leaders” into a three-volume series of picture books for my preschoolers. Here’s my first cut at text for the first one, “Think Biblically”, written one tweet at a time:
- God is the One who made everything. He made you for a special purpose. He wants everyone to know how He loves them.
- God is three persons: a Father who sends us, Jesus the Son who rescues us, and a Spirit who helps us.
- God wants us to love Him and other people as much as we love ourself. Sin is when we disobey God’s good purpose for us.
- Sin makes it hard for us to know, want or do what is right. Jesus came to earth, died, and rose again to destroy sin.
- Following Jesus means believing He loves us more than we love ourself, which means obeying Him will make us the most happy.
- God gives us parents, the Bible, church and His Spirit to show us how to love people and be happy His way.
- Jesus went to heaven, but will come back to create and rule a new heaven & earth for all who want to live His way.
- Until Jesus returns, our job is to show how wonderful it is to live and love the way God wants.
The Nerd Bible (pdf) started with my sermon notes from 1985 at Park Street Church in Boston, where I was an MIT sophomore. Our college pastor Tony DeOrio used phrases like “integrating faith into our lives” and “love should differentiate Christians from the world.” Being intrinsically lazy — not to mention nerdly — I wrote those phrases down using calculus (#7 and #9).
When MIT made available a new-fangled Postscript printer capable of math symbols, I decided to learn the formatting language LaTeX to try it out. Just for the fun of it, I started with my sermon notes, then added other verses which used the different math functions available (#2, #3, #6 and #8). The Fourier transform (#6) is the only formula not recognizable by most first-year calculus students, but it makes such a beautiful mathematical/theological statement I feel it is worth the confusion it causes.
In the fall of 1986, I was studying cultural contextualization in the “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” missions class. I realized my equations formed something pretty close to a gospel outline in math. To fill in the holes, I came up with several theological and Christological statements (#1, #4,and #5). “Lamb’ de God” probably represents the pinnacle of my efforts at combining bad puns and good theology.
The final touch (#10) was based on a challenge my lab partner Scott Beasley issued after seeing my first draft. “Yeah, but could you ever represent the Song of Solomon in calculus?” You be the judge.
Update: Also available as a T-shirt.
My friend Leland Brown recently found an amazing mathematical theory book called Optimal State Estimation: Kalman, H_infinity, and Nonlinear Approaches, by Dan Simon. In addition to being a great resource for a math problem Leland is working on, Appendix C turns out to have some fascinating meditations on the Christian Life — inspired by math! See below for some excerpts.
As I’ve been meditating on the idea of “Comprehensive Theology“, I’ve begun to realize that it’s main difference from systematic theology isn’t merely (or even primarily) the content. Rather, it is whole pedagogy associated with traditional theological instruction I am reacting against. I might characterize (caricature?) the traditional model as:
The purpose of Academic Theological Education [ATE] is to indoctrinate students into an intellectual understanding of, and belief in, the central truths of their religious tradition.
As contrasted with:
The purpose of Comprehensive Theological Education [CTE] is to equip leaders for a lifelong journey of bringing their “whole selves” (heart, soul, mind & strength) and “whole worlds” (family, church, community & marketplace) into ever-increasing alignment with God’s purpose (redemption, kingdom & glory).
My original thought was “ATE bad, CTE good” — but that actually is not the case. Read more for details…