Tuesday, February 22, 2011


It's time for another hiatus, a longer one this time. Although I have more ideas than I know what to do with, I don't have time to shape them into posts.

But don't worry, I'll be back!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Placing and removing block

What is a stumbling block? There are many kinds. Hatred and evil in the name of Christ, demanding adherence to a very particular set of beliefs, etc.

But what about questioning a belief? Is that a stumbling block? It could be. Maybe the person we are questioning is not ready for the idea. Or maybe we are the ones who are wrong and our questioning introduces a doubt that will grow and fester. But questioning a belief could be what removes a stumbling block. It could be what sweeps away a misconception. It could be what shines a light into the darkness.

How to proceed? Is a hard conversation placing a stumbling block or chipping away at one? There is no hard and fast rule. But I think we have guidelines which will help us err less often.

Our words must come from a place of humility and love. Humility helps us to keep in mind that we may be the ones who are wrong. Neither we nor the person we are talking to actually knows who is right when it comes to the ultimate mystery. Love ensures that we have these conversations out of a sincere belief to find the truth, not out of a desire to prove ourselves right.

But love and humility are not enough. Someone can come into a conversation with love and humility and still put a stumbling block in front of their fellow traveler. We must also listen. Sometimes the words we say will fail to help because the other person does not understand those words the same way we do. To truly avoid hindering others, we must pay attention and watch. When we say something, are they drawing back? Reacting with exasperation, boredom, or anger? Then, despite our best intentions, we are failing to communicate. If they express interest, then there is hope. But without listening, we cannot tell the difference.

What other guidelines can help us keep from placing stumbling blocks in front of others?

Related posts:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Is God responsible for evil?

Is God responsible for evil?

Well, yes, in so far as God is responsible for everything, in so far as He has the knowledge and power to stop evil.

But is evil God's will?

That is a much more interesting question. Evil, human evil at least*, is mainly God's responsibility in so far as he gave us free will. God lets evil exist. We cannot deny that. Blaming Satan or demons (not that I believe in those literally) just pushes the problem back another level because if they exist, it is also by God's leave.

So evil exists by God's leave, but is it his will?

As with all questions of this nature, we cannot know. For all that we know, God could have created us because he likes to see suffering. But I believe is that evil is not God's will. Evil is God's concession to the reality that growth cannot happen in a static universe, growth cannot happen without suffering. Ultimately, God wants us to grow. Thus, God lets us be and suffer from evil.

Is there more suffering than is necessary for growth? Probably. But if God were to hold us back so that we experienced just enough evil then we would not be growing.

* Natural evils, or rather, the natural events we call evil, fall under a different discussion.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guiding words

I have been thinking a bit about how I want to organize this blog. This brought me to a wider point: what is the theme of this blog?

In some ways, there is no theme. I want a place where I can wonder and explore, search and share. Yet some ideas keep coming up in my thoughts. The ideas that fascinate me are

Saturday, January 29, 2011


12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
The verses above are familiar to anyone who has thought about unity in the church. Paul tells us we should be unified. That part everyone agrees upon.

But how does he think we should be unified? Like a body! A body with lots of different parts and sometimes contrary goals, but a body nonetheless unified in suffering and in success.

Paul compares the parts of the body to people with different roles within the church, but I believe this metaphor can be applied more widely.

All of the different denominations, can be seen as different body parts. Because of their different capabilities and positions, they see the world in different ways. And this is valuable,

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 
It is good to have different churches with different goals and different points of view. But we should never lose site of the fact that we are all part of the same church. We should love and honor and support each other even as we disagree.

A lofty goal, but over and over again the Bible stresses love over division and unity within diversity. To be God's people, we must journey towards this ideal.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The journey

What is more important, the beliefs you hold, or the journey of coming to a deeper understanding?

We should focus on the journey and God's ability to lead us along the path we need to be led along. Many of the things I believe about God, Jesus, eternity, salvation, and the universe are certainly wrong. I plan to change my mind many times before I die. It would be a pity if my salvation depended on whether I died at just the right time.

Some Christians say that I must hold the right beliefs to be saved. But specific beliefs do not matter. Getting into heaven is not a matter of passing an exam. There are no essay questions or scantron sheets. What matters is that we go on the challenging journey that grows our soul towards God. 

The challenge of the journey is, perhaps, what drives people into the error of believing in the answers instead of the journey. It is easy to say "I have the right beliefs, now I am done." It is hard to say, "Never in this earthly life will I be the person God wants me to be, but the only way for me to become that person is to continue my struggle."

I will continue to struggle and to grasp the journey, wherever God may lead me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

With God every day

I want to live a life where I am truly with God every day. I try to reach out to God everyday, but it's rare that I feel that I can see God's revelation in the world around me. So often I let me stress and anger block my vision. More often, I am overwhelmed by life's little distractions.

Lord, I pray that I may see the many ways you answer me and reach out to me everywhere, everyday.