The God who wants us to stay thirsty

cupid1Eros is an exasperatingly paradoxical kind of love. It is most fulfilled by being perpetually unfulfilled. It is a thirst that wants to stay thirsty. It is also a passion that is beyond our direct rational control, which is what gives it such a dangerous power to destroy the relationships to which we have committed ourselves. At the same time, eros perfectly channeled is nothing less than worshiping God with all of our hearts. It can be directed entirely to God like King David’s eros is in Psalm 42 or it can be directed to God by way of our longing for the intimate depth of another human person who radiates the image of God. What has killed eros in our time is the commodification of sexuality. To see others as “meat” to be consumed sexually is the opposite of true eros. Hear more from my September 22nd sermon:

C.S. Lewis on loving God through loving people

For our sermon series Love Actually, which we wrapped up this past weekend, we’ve been reading through C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves on the four types of love the Greeks identified: storge (affection), philia (friendship), eros (passion), and agape (charity). One of the anxious questions that comes up around agape is whether loving God amounts to turning away from our earthly loves. When we go to heaven, will we somehow stop caring about the people we cared about in this life because we’re completely focused on God? Lewis has an amazing passage in his agape chapter that I wanted to just read as part of my sermon yesterday until my sermon took a completely different direction. So I thought I would share it below. Continue reading

Why the dream has been deferred

King-Jr-Martin-LutherYou can’t say the N word anymore. You get sued if you racially discriminate in your hiring process. White kids grow up listening to rap music and (if they’re not too “Christian”) going to public school with the black kids. We have a black president. How dare you say that racism still exists in America? Right? White people are very defensive and paranoid about racism, which has come to mean little more than saying “politically incorrect” things when you’re drunk or otherwise off-guard and getting Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to bring their beloved TV cameras to your front door. This trivialization of racism as having to do with little more than “speaking correctly” is one of the reasons that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream has been deferred. But the main underlying problem is that the backlash against the civil rights movement that began in the early seventies has created a radically individualist moral vision in which Christ’s command to love your neighbor as yourself is basically meaningless.

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Does doctrine inspire love? (more fallout from @renovatuspastor’s sermon)

Well I got into a twitter argument with a young Calvinist named John following his response to some of my retweets of Jonathan Martin’s sermon “Playing God” this past Sunday. It was one of those petty affairs where I was nitpicking his “objections,” which I could have at least partly agreed with if I were listening charitably, because of my need to hear him concede a point to me without qualification. He said something that I trashed at the time which I wanted to consider more thoughtfully now: “If your doctrine is sound, you will love deeply.” So interrogating this statement is the focus of my second riff on morality, truth, Biblical interpretation, etc, in light of Genesis 3’s provocative claim that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is paradoxically the poisonous foundation for human sin. Continue reading

Is morality the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

apple on tree

This past weekend, I got to hear my favorite podcast preacher Jonathan Martin live for the first time at Renovatus Church, preaching a sermon about the Garden of Eden titled “Playing God.” He made a number of provocative claims, one of which was basically to say that morality is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Continue reading

Should women cover their heads in church?

headcovering

The latest movement in neo-patriarchal evangelicaldom is a call for women to return to covering their heads in worship per the instructions of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. The movement’s website features a quote from neo-Calvinist scholar R.C. Sproul: “The wearing of fabric head coverings in worship was universally the practice of Christian women until the twentieth century. What happened? Did we suddenly find some biblical truth to which the saints for thousands of years were blind? Or were our biblical views of women gradually eroded by the modern feminist movement that has infiltrated the Church…?” Do you think Sproul is right? If not, what would you say to Sproul and on what authority would you justify your response? Continue reading

Love is not love unless it becomes flesh

One of the things I acquired from growing up in evangelical youth groups and parachurch organizations was expertise on what love is and isn’t. I imagine it was a trickle-down from C.S. Lewis’s famous book on the Four Loves, which is about the four Greek words for love: agape, eros, philos, and storge. The main thing I remember having drilled into me is stuff like this: “The world says love is a feeling — that’s eros, romantic love, but the love in the Bible is agape, which is a choice.” “You don’t have to like everybody, but we’re called to love everybody.” Etc. I recently heard some words in a sermon at the Virginia annual conference from a Cambodian Methodist preacher named Romy del Rosario that defined what love is and isn’t in a very different way that actually contradicts the evangelical youth group definition. Continue reading