Category Archives: Theology

Dear Christians, Please Stick with the Facts

 

With a rise in the number of people who have the corona virus (COVID-19) comes an increase in panic and desperate actions aimed at protecting one’s self from the illness.

I’m not sure about where you live, but in my small corner of the world people have taken to stockpiling large amounts of toilet paper in response to their fear of catching the virus. So far, no reputable health organizations have mentioned the need for toilet paper as a precautionary measure against catching this virus. Instead, they have been constantly reminding people to wash their hands as the best form of prevention.

The slightest cough or sniffle has sent people into a state of worry. Those wearing facial masks in public have been looked at with suspicion and fear.

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What disappoints me most about the myths and rumours surrounding COVID-19 is the number of Christians I’ve seen who are taking part in sharing misinformation on social media. As Christians we should be known as people who are credible; people who take the time to check facts and are aware of their sources. It would be unrealistic to think that we will be 100% correct every time we share information, but in our eagerness to share with others it is important to take the time to stop and consider why we are sharing posts and Tweets?

It’s good to ask yourself if you are sharing something that is helpful or harmful? But most importantly, question if you are sharing something that is true.

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I have seen Christians share posts misinforming others that things like garlic, holy oil and water, and all sorts of snake oil products will prevent catching COVID-19. During times of panic we as Christians are called to bring a sense of calm. Jesus was not a man who panicked. It was always the others around him that were filled with anxiety, worry, fear, and desperate actions. When Jesus encountered people in fear, he reminded them to call on God to bring a sense of inner peace. We are not called to do the opposite either – ignoring serious situations or going into a state of denial; instead, we are to pray for wisdom and knowledge when faced with unpleasant situations.

Pray to God and ask him to guide you to speak words and share information that is meant for the health and benefit of others.

For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

 

 

Christmas Season, Take It Easy

This year, the first of December marks the beginning of the Advent season. This marks a time of spiritual preparation before Christmas. The lights of advent remind us that we are called to be light amid darkness and that we are people of faith, hope, love, joy, and peace.

One of the best ways to be the light in the midst of darkness that we are called to be,

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:24-16

I will admit that I have not always been light amidst the darkness, in fact I know I’ve instead been the darkness. When I look back I’m able to see that one of the main reasons for my being moody, overly anxious, impatient, and less than cheerful has been a result of being overwhelmed with the holiday season. Too many Christmas potlucks, too many persons to purchase gifts for, too many get togethers, and way too much decadent foods that leave me with sugar crashes and fatigue.

Tired Eleves
Copyright: Spoonful of Science

During December it can be easy to forget that we can and maybe need to take some time for rest and solitude. We don’t have to RSVP “yes” to every invitation, especially if it comes from someone you see regularly throughout the year. We don’t have to give a gift to everyone we know. And we don’t need to send a physical gift to all the names on our lists. If you feel stretched for time, a great “present” is gift cards. They are available online and you can also grab some quickly while at the grocery store or gas station.

People love to invite others to Christmas parties that are actually potlucks. If you want to go but dread having to slave away in the kitchen multiple times during the month of celebration, then consider picking up a fruit tray from the grocery store, or a few dips like a seven-layer dip. You can even bring nachos and salsa; these are party snack foods that people love all year round.  Don’t know how to bake, but you’ve been assigned to bring a dessert? Make use of local bakeries, let them do the work, they love it and appreciate your business.

Thomas Kinkade
Thomas Kinkade, artist.

Jesus hasn’t called us to be fatigued, tired, and overwhelmed when it comes to getting together with others. He knows that we need times of rest and rejuvenation.

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” Mark 6:30-32

 

Enjoy the festivities of the season, but remember, the one of the best things you can do for yourself and others is to be aware of how much you can handle.

 

 

You Are Not a Jesus Feminist Pt 2

You are not a Jesus Feminist Part 2

 

In this current political climate feminist is a word that is used by women to let the world know that they stand up for the rights of women and seek equalization with men. Unfortunately, not all feminists are interested in fighting for the rights of ALL WOMEN. They have some how made a mental, sometimes unconscious list in their mind of which women are worthy and which one’s aren’t.

The most selective feminists have deemed women who are poor, of colour, not formally educated, hold a criminal record, are “too religious” or whatever qualifier they have decided is worthless, to not be females worth fighting for. Unapologetically, they exclude the women who have made it onto their list of undesirables.

I’ve read articles where Christians have labeled Jesus a feminist. I think that’s a slippery slope and it’s best to avoid attaching political labels to Jesus. It is no different than saying Jesus is a Democrat, Republican, environmentalist or a union supporter.  I’ve even listened to people who claim that Jesus was a vegetarian, and yes, this is even though we read of Jesus fishing and eating with his disciples.

Based on scriptures in the bible, I have no doubt that Jesus cared about the environment; the earth is God’s creation. And we know that Jesus cared about the poor, the widows, children, and women based on his teachings. The issue is not the values, but the labels. Jesus never labeled himself. Yes, he was a Jew born into the Pharisee tradition, and he came from a town that was part of his identity; but other than that, he didn’t give himself labels, especially political ones.

We as Christians can have labels, we can either assign them to our self, or whether we like it or not, one will be assigned to us by society, government, employers, and strangers on the internet. Your first identity is as a Christian, a follower of Christ, a child of God, and on this foundation is where the other identities grow from. No person has a single identity, we wear many hats and have multiple roles in our lifetime.

The values associated with feminists, Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, NDP, environmentalists, etc. have changed over time and will continue to be fluid; therefore, it is never a good idea to associate Jesus with a political label. When you say that Jesus is a ________ (fill in the blank) you assume that Jesus agrees with everything a group or organization does. The truth is we don’t know if he would. Jesus never gave easy answers or explanations; even bible scholars, philosophers, and theologians have different interpretations of his parables, actions, and purpose.

Go ahead and be a feminist, a member of a political party, and an advocate. Keep your choices rooted in the values and commandments that God has called us to live; but please don’t assume that Jesus would be a card carrying member or financial donor of any group or organization. God has given you strength, wisdom, a conscience, and skills to fight the good fight and seek justice rooted in mercy, grace, and repentance; this is what you need. Associate Jesus with values, attributes, and things that fall into alignment with the will of God instead of a political label.

As my friend used to say, ‘Labels are for jars’.

You Are Not a Jesus Feminist. Part 1

Jesus-Feminist-definition

May 2019 was not a good month for North American Christian women on social media and in the news. We experienced the loss of Christian author, speaker, and thought provoker Rachel Held Evans. Following that we witnessed epic verbal and moral attacks against Christian author, bible study teacher, prayer warrior, speaker (don’t say preacher), and energetic storyteller Beth Moore.

The unexpected death of Rachel was shocking and difficult for the many people who had been touched by her work. The ministry of Rachel was one where she asked us to think long, hard, and constantly about what we believe, why believe it, and how those beliefs are manifested in our actions. She provided safer spaces for people to freely question themselves, God, and society. It was her heart’s work to help us stand in front of the spiritual mirror and ask, does what I believe bring me closer to God and closer to others, or does it push me and those I encounter further away from the loving, grace-filled, and redemptive arms of Christ.

The more she spoke, and the more she wrote, the more her haters attacked. I have heard, seen, and read many nasty things directed at women within Christian communities, but I will say, some of the worst seemed to have been slung straight at her. Despite the heart breaking reality that her death had left a husband and their two very young children behind, it didn’t seem to spur her most fervid opponents to call a cease fire on personal attacks. This type of behaviour is what happens when people are so attached to their doctrine and dogma that they have no tolerance for extending emotional understanding or compassion towards those who are hurting and in need.

I was never a “fan” of Rachel Held Evans in the same way that I am not a fan of my parish priest and the clergy team. I saw her as a woman who fulfilled her calling in life. No one has to agree with her, I certainly didn’t agree with everything she said, and I don’t think she ever expected people to. Instead she encouraged people to do the work of self-reflection, communicating with God, revisiting the bible and being open to new understandings and ways of interpreting what we have been traditionally taught, and following God’s commandment to love others.

When I saw that these same people turned their spiritual venom towards Beth Moore I was disappointed, but not shocked. I consider Beth Moore to be an Evangelical fundamentalist.  I have completed over 10 of her bible studies, and she had a major impact on my life and my faith. Each one of her studies has brought me close to God and taught me the importance and benefits of going deep into the word of God.

As with Rachel Held Evans, I don’t agree with everything Moore teaches, and I also don’t believe she expects us to. She has provided us with the tools to dig deeper into a topic and it is up to us to understand why we believe what we do and how we came to those decisions.

After reading some of the online attacks against Beth Moore I finally accepted that the issue really isn’t about women and preaching; it is about the deep seated hatred and dislike that some people have for women. Some of the most passionate opponents of Moore happen to be women. They are active gatekeepers of patriarchy in the church.

To quote Anne Graham Lotz (Crosswalk.com)

“The very first person to be commissioned was a woman. And she was commissioned to go to men to share her testimony…and then also to give His Word. I know there are some people who will draw a line and say I can give a testimony, but I can’t share the Scripture. But Jesus didn’t make that distinction. He gave Mary Magdalene both commissions, to share her testimony and to give out His word.”

Could you imagine if Jesus gave post-resurrection instructions to the women and they responded by saying, ‘I’m sorry Lord, but I can’t share the good news I’m a woman; that’s not the role father God has given me. But we can go back and find some women to tell the good news to, cook for the men, and by then you will have announced your resurrection to them directly and we can all celebrate together.”

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it. Instead of falling back on man made instructions Mary Magdalene and the other women listened to Jesus, who clearly stated that he speaks as God  instructs him to.

Beth Moore I am

Jesus comforted the women and told them, “Do not be afraid” (Matt 28:10) and he tells us women the same thing today. Do not be afraid to choose the commandments of Jesus over the commandments of men.

While the women were on their way to share the good news of the resurrection, and to share the truth, a group of men (the guards) were busy being prepped for telling lies about why the tomb was empty and Jesus was gone (Matt 28: 11-15).

The Great Commission
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matt 28:16-20)

The passage above is one of the reasons I don’t need to call myself a Jesus Feminist. There is nothing wrong with doing so, it’s a personal choice, but I want people to know why I won’t give myself that title. I’m a follower of Jesus, that’s who I am. Whatever contemporary titles you give yourself, remember to keep them rooted in God, his word, his son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit of wisdom which has been given to us.