Candid Conversation with Future AG Bloggers


I hosted a “candid conversation” between my dad, who is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, and several young AG ministers. Four years ago, they started FutureAG.blogspot.com, which was controversial at the time. Anyway, I thought the conversation was interesting.

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Thursday, May 12, 2011


What is the gospel? Dallas Willard’s answer: “How to get into heaven before you die.”

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A Leap of Truth explores the relationship between Christian theology and evolutionary theory.

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Allen C. Guelzo asks, “Whither the Evangelical Colleges?” Hunter Baker replies with a thither.

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“Presbyterian Church to ordain gays as ministers.” The Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards, a Presbyterian minister, considers this a “moral awakening.”Mark Chaves, a sociologist of religion at Duke University, comments: “They’re making this change amid a larger cultural change. General public opinion on gay rights is trending pretty dramatically in the liberal direction.” On a (cor)related (but not necessarily caused) note, mainline church attendance is tanking. Perhaps this illustrates the truth of W. R. Inge’s comment that those who marry the spirit of the age will find themselves a widower in the next.

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“Catholic Church should reverse opposition to in vitro fertilization.” What’s interesting about this story is that the author, Sean Savage, and his wife, Carolyn, used IVF. Due to a lab mistake, she was implanted with the wrong embryo. Incredibly, she not only gave birth to the child but also gave the boy back to his biological parents. Sean and Carolyn tell their story in Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn’t Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift.

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Robert H. Gundry on “The Hopelessness of the Unevangelized.”

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Just what we need: Yet another English translation of the Bible. And does anyone else find it odd that a graduate school—my alma mater—prefers a translation “written at the seventh or eighth grade reading level”?

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“Scientology in Illinois’ public schools?” Only in Springfield would L. Ron Hubbard and Bart Simpson make common cause.

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“Adolescents, Identity and Spirituality.” Something for parents to keep in mind:

While adolescents may question or review their spirituality, it remains a critical aspect of adolescent stability. While research on spirituality and adolescence is limited, studies of religiosity have found a positive correlation with an adolescent sense of well-being, positive life attitudes, altruism, resiliency, school success, health and positive identity, as well as a negative correlation with alcohol and drug use, delinquency, depression, excessive risk-taking and early sexual activity.

In short, as adolescents develop, they will need to confront their own spirituality and incorporate it into their sense of identity. Continuing the dialog while respecting that process and acknowledging the quest may be difficult. Yet it really remains the only option.

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Is Buddhist pacifism a Western myth?

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Over at Patheos.com, J. E. Dyer pens these words in “Social Conservatism and the Quality of Mercy”:

The moral horizon of our society has been narrowing for some time to a closed equation featuring selfish vindication and death, and it is this process that only God and His concept of mercy can reverse. If Christians are “salt and light” in the earth, as Jesus said we would be, then we cannot do better, in the project of propagating God’s mercy, than to start by absorbing its meaning ourselves.

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“Black Preacher: Why I forgave George Wallace”: Because George Wallace needed forgiveness? According to the Rev. Kelvin Croom, “If a lot of us would forgive people, we could find healing. We could find peace.” Another path to peace would be if a lot of us would repent of our sins against others.

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A little bit of philosophical theology in closing: How do we reconcile the social ought with the personal good? Thaddeus J. Kozinski answers:

The phenomenological dialectic of right and good could be resolved if we could understand what is at the heart of human moral experience; but to understand this heart, we require more than what, unaided, human moral experience and purely philosophical speculation on this experience can provide. My argument for this conclusion is thus: What the duty aspect of moral experience suggests is the reality of justice, which is inherently relational and thus irreducible to any interpretation of morality as mere personal fulfillment. What the happiness aspect of moral experience suggests is the reality of desire-for-the-good, which is inherently personal and thus irreducible to an interpretation of morality as mere social or divine obligation. So, any explanation of the moral ought must include both others-related justice and self-related desire, and this is precisely what is provided by a theological ethics of creation and gift: If we are creatures, then we are inherently relational, with any actions related, above all, to our creator; and if creation is a gift, then we are supposed to enjoy creation as a good. And if God Himself, in essence, is a relation of three persons eternally bestowing upon each other and enjoying each other’s perfect divine goodness—God giving and receiving Himself—and if humans are made in the image and likeness of this Trinitarian gift-friendship, then we have the definitive—though still inexhaustibly mysterious—archetype in which the paradoxical human experience of simultaneous goodness and oughtness can ultimately be resolved.

You might also want to check out Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality by David Baggett and Jerry L. Walls.

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, May 11, 2011


In America, crazy people accuse the president of being foreign born. In Iran, crazy people charge Ahmadinejad allies with sorcery. In America, the crazy people are on the political fringe. In Iran, the crazy people are the ones in charge.

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“Is Osama bin Laden in heaven?” A thought experiment from Kyle Roberts.

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Do Tiger Mothers raise Black Swans? And more questions from Timothy Dalrymple:

What do we really want for our children: Perfect technical execution, or creative transcendence? Lives of mechanical achievement, or of rich passions and personalities? Do we encourage a healthy growth into sociality and sexuality, or stamp them out in order to focus our children on their professional pursuits? To what extent are our children liberated by our stories, and to what extent are they haunted by our own unfulfilled dreams? And when does the striving for perfection and achievement become less a vision that inspires a joyful labor than a Law that enslaves and drives us to self-loathing?

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“Leading atheist publishes secular Bible.” I think it’s safe to assume that The Good Book is neither inspired nor inerrant.

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“Is Heavenly Mother Making a Comeback in Mormonism?”

(a) I didn’t know Mormonism had a Heavenly Mother.

(2) Joanna Brooks, who authored this article, quotes Eliza R. Snow, who wrote a hymn with the lyric:

In the heavens are parents single?

No, the thought makes reason stare!

Truth is reason, truth eternal

Tells me I’ve a mother there.

Third, Eliza’s younger brother, Lorenzo Snow, was 5th president of the Latter Day Saints. He said: “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”

Interesting.

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“The allegations that religious Jews denigrate women or do not respect women in public office is a malicious slander and libel.” Then why did your paper PhotoShop the two women—and only them–out of that famous situation room photo.

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Church, state, and anti-Semitism: “In her captivating narrative [Sinners on Trial], [Magda] Teter has painstakingly documented how the body politic and the body of Christ were inextricably bound together through the early modern period, and how the Reformation not only failed to diminish the host-desecration calumny but, at least in Catholic Poland, gave it new energy.” This review is a good reminder of the ironies of history, for example, how a Jewish “sect” morphed into an [at times] anti-Semitic religion, and how the Protestant Reformation, rather than reforming this anti-Semitism, made it worse, at least in some places.

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“Navy plan to allow same-sex marriage on bases draws opposition.”

(a) Of course the Navy is the first service to do this. The Village People didn’t sing about the Army, after all.

(2) Joe Carter thinks “may” will become “must at some point.

Third, I’m reminded of Neuhaus’ Law: “Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.”

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To plant churches or to parent them? In the Assemblies of God, we do both, with generally good results.

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Over at Patheos.com, Mark D. Roberts has concluded a four-part series, “The Loneliness of Pastoring.”

  1. A pastor’s suicide points to how deeply lonely the pastoring experience can be
  2. Does the professionalization of ministry lead to pastoral loneliness?
  3. Pastoring is a lonely business. But pastors don’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — as lonely as they often are.
  4. What relationships are essential for every pastor?