Amos 5:21-24 from The Message

A university student from my church recently shared with me a passage from the book of Amos that struck me because it relates so well with today’s church.

Amos 5:21-24 from The Message (MSG)

“I can’t stand your religious meetings.
I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That’s what I want. That’s all I want”

How’s that for relevancy?

Good sermon passage.  It should strike people pretty hard. I think I may be preaching on this in the near future.

Is church membership important anymore?

Joel OsteenIn some churches,  50% of those in attendance might not be official members of the church.  In some evangelical mega-churches, and in many cases in large church, there are many attendees who are not members. What could this mean?  …that some go church-hopping and never become an official member of that church?  …that there’s a lot of seekers in attendance?… or that the pastors do not stress on the importance of membership.

In some other churches (e.g., mainline churches (e.g., Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, etc.; and even the Southern Baptist Convention), it’s quite the opposite.  The church membership roster might be twice or 3x greater than the actual attendance.  What could this mean?  that people have just stopped coming to church, period?  Or that they switched to different churches or denominations?  Or that they stopped coming to church the day after they got baptized or became a member?

In either case, church membership doesn’t seem very important to more and more people today, especially to the Millennial generation.  Why isn’t it important anymore?

A Christian’s “Allah”?

Have Christians ever referred to God as “Allah”?  The answer is “Yes”.  In the past, bible translators have translated the Christian God as Allah (see interview with Wayne Johnson).

In Hebrew, God is rendered as El, Aloha (northern Semitic languages)
In Arabic, God is rendered as Al, Allah (southern Semitic languages)

Interesting.  Our society in the western world have been shaped by the word “God”.  But in other non-Muslim nations, they have been using “Allah” to refer to our Christian God for hundreds of years before it got banned by Muslim governments in order to root-out non-Muslim religions.

Would it be too difficult for us Christians in the west to return to using “Allah” in reference to our Christian God?

[ Hat tip to Wayne Leman at Better Bibles Blog. ]

Teen wearing Jesus T-shirt banned and suspended from school

Teens can wear T-Shirts to school saying: “Hail Satan” but the principal of one school in Nova Scotia, Canada bans a teen from wearing a T-shirt with “Life is wasted without Jesus”?!!! (plus a 5-day suspension) Wear is our society going? Is this T-shirt offensive?  I don’t see how?  Christians have been wearing T-shirts and pasting bumper stickers on cars for decades.  Is it confused about our citizens’ Constitutional rights concerning freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, or what? What’s next, banning people from pasting Christian bumper stickers on their cars?!

This is an excerpt from the National Post dated today, Friday, May 4, 2012:

For the past six months, a yellow T-shirt with the slogan “Life is Wasted Without Jesus” has been just another shirt in William Swinimer’s wardrobe.

Lately, the 19-year-old Nova Scotian has worn it every single day since the vice-principal at his high school told him he couldn’t, that it was considered offensive, that it spewed, in his own words, “hate talk.”

Instead of peeling the shirt off like they wanted him to, Mr. Swinimer continued to wear it — straight through a series of in-school suspensions and straight through the five-day at-home suspension he’s currently serving. (read rest in National Post…)

Here’s what our  Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 15, states about our individual equality and protection under the law:

15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability. (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 15)

Where has our Constitutional rights gone to? It has been blatantly violated.  I think it is people like this school principal at Forest Height Community School in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia is the one who needs a lesson on our rights and freedoms… not Mr Swinimer.  We are living in a society that’s in utter confusion about what is freedom of religion, and we have put to shame those who fought and defended and died for our freedoms.

Was the world’s first Baptist church Arminian or Calvinist?

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of Calvinism within Baptist churches (e.g., John Piper, Albert Mohler, including hipper and younger Baptists like Mark Driscoll).  When I read and hear Baptists describing “true evangelical” doctrine as  Calvinist in doctrine, this makes me scratch my head and wonder.

When I was reading up on Baptist history, I found something very interesting.  Thomas Helwys (along with John Smyth), two fathers of the Baptist movement, fled to Holland together with other Puritan/Separatist followers to escape the persecution of King James.  Helwys later returned to England and started the first Baptist church at Spitalsfield in 1612.  This was the first Baptist church recorded in history.

What theology did this Baptist church hold to?  Historians describe this as a General Baptist type of church which held to an Arminian belief of free-will (as opposed to a Calvinist doctrine of predestination).  So should Calvinistic Baptists continue claiming what is “truly evangelical”?