Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

2015’s Cultural Battleground – Gordon’s Account

EDITOR’S NOTE: We end this year by each taking a look back and picking our five best posts, explaining both their importance to us and to the world we currently live in.  Clicking the banner images will link you to each post, so as 2015 comes to a close join us in remembering how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.

unnamed4Somewhere in our collective history someone decided to depict God as a bearded, old human, dwelling in the clouds above. The trend caught on and has been going strong for the past couple millennia. As ubiquitous as this portrayal of the almighty has become, we argue that this imagery is the root of some of the worst theology (and art, music, and video) out there today, and how problematic it’s become for both the believer and non-believer alike.

unnamedFew images have so perfectly captured the abject and hellish misery of war than this year’s photograph of the body of Aylan Kurdi- only 3 years old. A would-be refugee from the ongoing conflict in Syria, Aylan and his brother drowned after an overcrowded boat capsized during a desperate attempt to reach Europe. The photograph evokes the deepest feelings of sadness for the dead and sympathy for the living- but crucially missing from the emotional equation is anger. Read on to discover why pity for refugees simply doesn’t cut it. Continue reading

Advertisements

Fame Day: Liberation Theology (Can the Church be a Force for Social Justice?)

I grew up as an Evangelical Christian. There are many wonderful people I love who strongly associate with that title, but at this point in my life I no longer consider myself one. As I’ve struggled with certain tenants of the Evangelical movement over the last few years I’ve also struggled with the urge to write off Christianity entirely.

As I’ve gotten older and moved away from my previous home and (wonderful) community, I’ve started to realize that the “brand” of Christianity I was raised with is certainly not the only one out there. I also discovered that the emphasized conversion message that I was brought up in is actually a relatively new aspect of Christianity. While this method had a real heyday in the 80-90’s (think altar calls), here in North America things seem to be evolving yet again.

While I’d love to share more about what I’ve been learning regarding the evolution of Christianity sometime soon, for this post I want to focus on a branch of theology that I didn’t even realize existed until pretty recently: Liberation Theology. Continue reading

The Problem with Purity (When Christian Values Distract from the Message)

I wore a purity ring throughout my teens. It was pretty easy to honour the contract I associated with that ring because I only dated once during that time and pretty well never saw my boyfriend outside of a group setting.

When I started having more complex relationships in my 20’s I suddenly began to realize that “purity” was a more complex idea than I first thought. At what point was I “giving myself away”? Did I need to Kiss Dating Goodbye if I wanted to hold to this contract ( a topic Evan has touched on in previous posts)? Or did I just push the line as far as I could, as long as I could “technically” tell people I was still a virgin (a practice Elisa critiqued in a past post)?

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to a couple different conclusions about the purity culture trend than what I first believed. I don’t want to make it seem like all sexual restraint needs to be thrown out the window. I do, however, want to take a look at some unpleasant consequences of the purity movement, and consider why they came about.

Continue reading

Indiana Jones and the Religious Implications

First and foremost, apologies about the state of the blog next week. E&GT was postponed ’till tomorrow due me forgetting about it completely and watching a movie/drinking with my cousins last night. This morning’s replacement was delayed due to my being sick all day today.

The following contains spoilers to films you should’ve seen by now.

Moving forward- I watched one of the Honest Trailers videos on YouTube, this one about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and it got me thinking . . . what kind of world does Indy live in?

The first and third films in the franchise concerned the Ark of the Convenant and the Holy Grail, respectively. Both are Judeo-Christian relics, and both are shown to have a great deal of power in the series; the former melts the face off of a bunch of Nazis and the latter brings Henry Jones Sr. [Sean Connery] back to full health from grievous wounds. Which is great.

Then take into account the second film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The Hindu goddess Kali is introduced, who is pretty into human sacrifice. This movie’s relic is actually five relics, sacred Sankara stones that do . . . something. All I’m really sure of is that Indy says things and they get super hot and burn the guy who says “kali ma shakti de” and pulls out another dude’s heart.

The first three movies of the franchise make a lot of sense in context with the protagonist’s profession, that of archaeologist. The main issue here is that the Holy Grail and Ark of the Covenant are shown to draw their powers from the Judeo-Christian God, father of Jesus Christ, et cetera. High priest Mola Ram [Mr. Kali Ma] finds his supernatural abilities in Kali, I assume. This can be explained away with the following-

“Kali” and the source of her powers originate in the demonic. This resolves the idea of an actual healing Holy Grail existing in the same universe as magical burning stones. God and Kali are essentially just opposite sides of the same coin, the divine and the diabolic. Which is great. We’ve reconciled the two, fantastic.

Enter Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The relic: the skull of a genuine extraterrestrial. The source of its powers: genuine extraterrestrials. Which leaves us- where?

As an audience we’re left to believe that a divine Jesus Christ, death goddess Kali, and aliens all co-exist on some level. The addition of that last source of otherworldly power really throws a wrench into the works.

Sure, I guess we could say that the source of both the divine [for both Judeo-Christian and Hindu faiths] is in the extraterrestrial, that these aliens seeded the world with their technology or power or however else you want to say it, but really? There’s a definite stretch to suspend disbelief on the part of the audience. I mean, sure, we can accept face-melting Arks, but aliens?

And that’s the problem that, I personally, have with the fourth Indiana Jones movie.

Does Billy Graham Think Mormonism Is A Cult?

Yesterday a friend of mine posted a link to an article on the TIME website titillatingly titled “Billy Graham No Longer Thinks Mormonism Is a Cult.”

For those of you who don’t know, Billy Graham’s name has long been synonymous with “famous Christian guy.” To put that into more quantitative terms, he has been spiritual adviser to US presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, and  as of 2008 has had an estimated lifetime audience of 2.2 billion. Christians the world over  look to him to be a powerful representative of their faith.

Roughly two weeks ago US presidential candidate, and Mormon, Mitt Romney visited Graham at his home. At some point during their time together, the 93-year-old Evangelist told him, “I will do all I can to help you.

Shortly after this the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association [BGEA] took down a reference to Mormonism as a cult on its website.

This has, as most any action in the political sphere, provoked all sorts of public outcry, some of it mild, some of it extreme to the point that Graham’s whole ministry has been dubbed “a sham.” Basically your typical response to an event that combines two of the conversation topics you’re not allowed to bring up at the dinner table.

The viewpoint of Mormonism by mainstream Christianity aside, what’s truly important is what the man himself believes. While on the BGEA website I found an actual answer by Billy Graham, undated, to the question “What is your definition of a cult, and how do cults differ from Christianity?” His answer is as follows:

Cults differ widely from each other, of course, but they often have several characteristics in common. (Your local Christian bookstore can suggest some books that describe cults in more detail.)

One characteristic is that cults reject the basic beliefs of the Christian faith—beliefs that Christians have held in common for almost 2,000 years. Instead, they say they alone have a full understanding of the truth about God, and the only way to know the truth is to be part of their group. Many cults have their own writings also, which they either substitute for the Bible or add to the Bible.

Cults also often have a strong leader—one who demands total obedience, and actually claims to speak for God. This is very dangerous, of course, because he or she may lead others into disaster. Remember: Only Christ is worthy of our allegiance, for only He is God’s Son. The Bible says, “Through him you believe in God … so your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:21).

Pray for your brother and ask God to help you share Christ’s love with him. Cult members are often very resistant to outsiders, but pray that in time he will see this group’s false claims. Most of all, may his experience challenge you and your family to a deeper commitment to Christ.

Let’s break down his definition in regards to the Mormon faith.

———

  • Cults reject the basic beliefs of the Christian faith.

When it comes down to the bare basics, and concentrating on the personhood and divinity of Jesus Christ, they’re pretty spot on. “Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God. He is our Redeemer.” Judging by this singular belief I suppose Mormonism would not be considered a cult.

  • Many cults have their own writings also, which they either substitute for the Bible or add to the Bible.

The Book of Mormon. People know about this because it is also the name of a popular Broadway musical. From their website it is apparently viewed as an addition, not a substitution, to the Bible. It is also a book which “contains the history and God’s dealings with the people who lived in the Americas between approximately 600 BC and 400 AD.”

  • Cults also often have a strong leader—one who demands total obedience, and actually claims to speak for God.

The head of the Church of Latter-Day Saints is known as the President of the Church. According to their Doctrine and Covenants, this man is the only one empowered to receive revelation for the entire church and clarify doctrine. Presidents can also correct or change any previous teachings.

———

Judging by the qualities of cults that Billy Graham lists, Mormonism hits two out of three. Why is it then that his organization took down the reference to the Church of Latter-Day Saints as a cult?

Ken Barun, the organization’s chief of staff, is quoted as as saying: “We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign.”

Have politics, then, trumped religion in this case? A debate on faith is avoided in order to bypass a possible issue of contention with a presidential candidate, one that Graham directly endorses. Cults are described as groups that espouse “false claims,” but apparently that can be ignored in light of Romney’s campaign.

While it is unfair to cite the holy life Billy Graham has lived as invalid in light of his recent actions, his decision should nonetheless be viewed for what it is: a sign of weakness in prioritizing the politics of this world over a commitment to spiritual truth.