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No Blog is an Island – 6.3.11


Links, links, links; I owe you all some links.

Chaplain Mike starts us off with a good overview of the different church traditions and their doctrines of baptism

At the risk of starting a bar fight, I thought it would be a good time to have a discussion on Internet Monk about the various views of baptism which our readers hold. In order to give us some solid material as a basis for discussion, I am including statements from some of the major traditions that set forth their position on the sacrament (or ordinance).

I ask that you remain civil and respectful in the discussion. You may be passionate about your viewpoint, and that’s ok. But let’s not be questioning another’s salvation or casting stones of judgment. This is a discussion, and I hope it will be among friends.

I’ll follow this up with my own stone of judgment to cast in the form of this funny video of Mark and Paul realizing that they’ve mistakenly given everyone the impression that baptism is just a symbol undergone by mature believers:

Jeff Dunn explores the culture of changing churches, which is a phenomenon (along with consumer culture and hypermobility) that fascinates me.

I had dinner recently with the head of a large denomination, and I asked him why he thinks people find it so easy to change churches. He blames it partially on the “seeker” movement of the 1990s.

‘We told people when then came to church they didn’t have to do anything,’ he said. ‘They could just listen to others sing. They didn’t have to give. They didn’t have to respond to the message in any way. And now we wonder why they aren’t committed to the church. It’s because we trained them not to be.’

Kevin DeYoung talks about mixing worship and patriotism, the theology of Memorial Day and Independence Day-themed church services.  I once witnessed a service of this type at my local megachurch, which was a strong reason why I don’t still go there.

In some parts of the church, every hint of patriotism makes you a jingoistic idolater. You are allowed to love every country except your own. But in other parts of the church, true religion blends too comfortably into civil religion. You are allowed to worship in our services as long as you love America as much as we do. I don’t claim to have arrived at the golden mean, but I imagine many churches could stand to think more carefully about their theology of God and country. Churches should be glad to have their members celebrate Memorial Day with gusto this Monday. We should be less sanguine about celebrating it with pomp and circumstance on Sunday.

Charles Mann has a great article in the latest National Geographic that confirms what Chesterton has said: religion/morality does not grow out of a converging civilization’s desire to regulate behavior; rather, civilization grows out of people coming together to worship the same God.

Anthropologists have assumed that organized religion began as a way of salving the tensions that inevitably arose when hunter-gatherers settled down, became farmers, and developed large societies.


Göbekli Tepe, to Schmidt’s way of thinking, suggests a reversal of that scenario: The construction of a massive temple by a group of foragers is evidence that organized religion could have come before the rise of agriculture and other aspects of civilization.

Chaplain Mike can finish us where we started, this time in his answer to a reader who wonders about staying in a ‘mainline’ denomination and worshipping in a great community there while still feeling uncomfortable with what’s going on at the denominational leadership level (think relativism and ‘lefty’ politics).

One of the practices that I find so unappealing about the politically-charged atmosphere that has corrupted evangelical churches and bound them to the culture war agenda is that people get so worked up about concerns that have relatively little impact on their daily lives and the lives of their neighbors. We argue, complain, spout our opinions, and take our stands with regard to “big” issues and national political matters, but fail to build relationships with our neighbors, visit the sick and elderly, get involved in community activities outside the church, and see our daily vocations as ways through which God shows his care for the world. The “big issues” are not unimportant, but too often we let media and the pundits (including religious pundits) set the agenda for us and we don’t give adequate attention to the local, the personal, the daily.



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