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Tag: Faith

Hull it Out

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision establishing gay “marriage”– I remain mindful of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s response to my question 23 years ago, “What’s a Christian minister to do in a situation where almost no one agrees that Jesus is the Truth?” With fist raised, “Resist! Resist! Resist! Resist! Resist!” was his answer. I get tired, but that is still the right answer. The Church has always gone forward in the midst of storms and temptations. Why should our day be any different? “Hull it out.” “It is well with us, if we can ride out a storm at anchor; that is, lie still and expect, and surrender ourselves to God, and anchor in that confidence, till the storm blow over.…

Faith Absent Experience

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29) Thomas is the patron saint of the sensual — that is, all of us. Experiences are a growth industry. Entertainment is one of the few sectors of the economy where the balance of payments still favors us over the Chinese. We could call it the Disneyfication of world culture. By logical extension, a church in my neighborhood offers “worship experiences” at 9 and 11. Another, like Starbucks, offers “modern”, “traditional”, and “mixed” or “blended” worship experiences — whatever spirituality niche you might occupy. It wouldn’t surprise me if their communion bread was banana nut muffins. Yum. If not, I could recommend that in the follow up survey. My Quaker…

Died Still Climbing

The Christian story is not one watershed experience (or two for Wesleyans) (or three for some Pentecostals) followed by coasting downhill to the grave. Father Angelus Shaughnessy tells a story of the monks (inventors of the St. Bernard rescue dog) who guard the dangerous St. Bernard Pass through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland. The monks once discovered a traveler frozen in the snow with one leg raised as though still climbing. With no other identification, the monks buried him, with the epitaph “died still climbing.” Often I hear this term of dismissal applied to churches, “it was all old people,” as though old people are useless and expendable. (The mentality that terminates unwanted life in the womb, should be…

Grace’s Supply

Counting mine, four generations of Sellecks have been Kansans. The prophet Isaiah’s great affirmations to Judah’s returning exiles have long resounded on the Great Plains. As a child, one of the brightest moments for me, in an otherwise austere small Quaker church existence, was when the Haviland Bible College choir visited us. They always marched in to a rousing rendition of “How Firm a Foundation”. It still moves me to think of it more than 50 years later. My great-great grandfather’s generation were among the first settlers of Emporia, Kansas. In 1912, one of those early settlers, M. (Kirkendall) Picket, reflected on the move to Emporia in 1862, 50 years earlier. They sold all their property in Van Buren County,…

Not Good on My Own

This Brennan Manning quote has become a common claim: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Never mind that he was living a double life himself of an alcoholic when he said this, giving his popular lectures and getting drunk, until it ruined his marriage and killed him – it is false on its own. It implies that if Christians were just more Christlike, the world would embrace the Church. That would mean being better than Jesus who told his relatives “the world cannot hate you” because you are indistinguishable…