Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Sermons

I enjoyed the sermon portion of the semester very much. It was interesting for me to see how writing with a "religious" mindset could change what I had to say or, at least, how I ended up saying it. In general, my paper/sermon was politically driven with various inserts relating to the Bible woven into the piece to give it a more Christian vibe. Finding out that even with a religious mindset I still was able to be truthful really made me rethink the role that religion could have in politics - that it could be positive too.

Fortunately for everyone who is not a morning person, the sermons were fun to listen to and a couple of them were able to persuade me into agreeing with their statements. Learning about which elements need to be included into a (protestant) sermon and how to reach specific goals in the piece was a worth-while experience.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The purpose of a sermon

Our most recent assignment and also the past few readings have made me wonder what exactly the purpose of a sermon is. What do people look a for once a week on Sunday? I used to always think that a sermon was a sort of weekly "spiritual renewal" - a chance to reflect on God in this time taken out of the busy week. But I don't think this was always the case - church on Sunday wasn't always the exception - I think religion used to be a much larger part of Christians' day to day lives. Has the purpose of the sermon shifted since people's relationship to religion has shifted? I think that at one time, the sermon may have been more about teaching than about consolation or renewal.

In any case, how does scripture relate to the purpose of a sermon? What's interesting is that I think scripture can function in a sermon in these different ways and others. Scripture, in this case the Old and New Testaments, encompass so many ideas that it can be used from purposes of teaching to purposes of consolation.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Politics and Religion

I would like to clear up my position from class:

I agree, to an extent, and find it reasonable that a person of faith, or a person of no faith, would have their political opinions influenced by whatever their level of spirituality is. However, people need to realize that their faith and beliefs are not grounds for law, their customs and religious rules are not grounds for law, and any aspects or beliefs of their faith are not evidence for law. It's understandable that a Christian would be pro-life, but for that person to claim that abortion is wrong because it "sends a soul to hell," is a statement that will not be taken seriously and would only fall on deaf ears for any non-Christian (and many practicing Christians as well).

I also find it rather arrogant that some politicians would claim God or Jesus told them to do something. When there is no evidence to verify any authenticity in religiously motivated decisions then it is as if we are shaping the lives of others blindly instead of looking to facts, science and universal rights. I have no problem with mixing faith and politics as long as people are respectful and not assume that their faith is logical reasoning for policy, they need to find real logical reasons that can be proven and justified. Unfortunately, we are unable to justify biblical events from thousands of years ago, so religious convictions rightfully should not be used to resolve the current issues of today. In an ideal society, sure, religion and politics could be fine together, but in our world religion is, more often than not, used as an exploitative and manipulative tool in the political sphere.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What kind of book is the Bible?

Richard Mouw’s The Bible in Twentieth-Century Protestantism was very interesting. However, what struck me the most was not the fact that certain groups within Christianity have different opinions on the bible; it was the fact that ONLY 48 percent of Protestants and 41 percent of Catholic believed that “the Bible is the word of God and is not mistaken in its statements and teachings”
I understand that every Christian has his or her opinion about “what kind of book the Bible is”; whether they are doctrinalists, pietists, moralists/legalists, or culturalists, every Christian has distinctive opinion on the Bible.
Some might say it is a source that talks everything about God, some might say it is a bridge that connects to God, some might say it is a guideline which tells us how to live the moral life, and some might say it is a handbook which tells us how to survive in this world.

Yet, I just don’t understand that 52 percent of Protestants and 59 percent of Catholic do not believe that “the Bible is the word of God, thus it is absolute”.
Christianity I know is not only accepting Jesus Christ as the only Son of God (who had come to die and suffer for salvation of humanity), but also accepting the Bible as the word of God, the absolute TRUTH.
It is wrong to “WORSHIP” the bible, but I do not believe that it is right to accept the Bible merely as a source, bridge, guideline, or handbook.

How could Christians say that the Bible contains mistakes while believing that the Bible tells about everything about God? How could Christians say that the Bible is not the word of God while reading them in order to connect to God, and find the moral guidelines and tips to survive in this world? If they do not believe that the Bible is not the word of God thus absolute, why do they even bring the Bible to the church?

I mean, if the Bible is not the word of God, why do we even care what kind of book the Bible is?

God’s will and Free will

I believe that God has a plan for me, and I also believe that everything happens according to His plan. I know what God wants me to do, and I am going to follow His will whether I like it or not, because I do trust that ONLY GOD knows what is best for me.
God had created me not because He was bored, but because He had a plan for me. He had to personalize me specifically not because he was creative, but because He had a specific plan for me.
I do know that I do not necessarily need to follow His will. God has given me free will that I can always do whatever I want to do.
However, I cannot disobey His will, because God has given me free will only to love and respect him “willingly”.
God did not have to give me free will; He could have simply created me to do whatever He wants me to do. Yet, He did not create me as a robot, because He wanted to “see” if I could respect and love Him back “willingly.”
I can prove to Him that I do love and respect him only by following His will or living my life according to His plan. I know that God will love and wait for me no matter how far I run away from Him through disobeying His will. Yet, why would I do that knowing that disobeying God will only break His heart as well as mine?


We know what our parents want us to do (or what they want us NOT to do). Yet, it is OUR CHOICE whether we follow their wills or not. Parents will love us no matter what we do, but can we be truly happy knowing that what we are doing is making them sad?

Class in the Chapel

When we were talking about the ideas of free will and if god really does have a set plan for all of us i realized that that is one of my fundamental issues with christianity. I have found myself slowly becoming more and more interested in christianity but i keep wondering about the whole role of god. I mean so many people believe that either god has plans for everyone or than he doesnt and that we have free will but god watches over us. I sorta like both those ideas but i want something more concrete almost. I just want to know what really is the deal with god? Does he have a plan for us all or is it more a rough draft and we are the ones the edit it to make the final version and when we die and supposedly go to heaven is it then that god gives us a grade on our final life draft? Just some things i have been pondering.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fasting

I also thought the reading in JCM was interesting, particularly the section on fasting. I'm surprised that the ritual still continues to this day and is "inseperable" for most Christians with prayer. I personally don't believe that through fasting demons will be expelled or our sins will be forgiven. If a murderer fasts, is he/she forgiven for his/her sins then? Another idea that struck me was the statement, "fasting was believed to heighten the soul's power to concentrate on prayer, since it helped to distance it from the demands of the body." When I read this, the first religion that came to mind was Buddhism. In Professor Timm's "Engaged Buddhism" class we learned that Theravadin Buddhists, in partucular fast as a method of purification and as a means of freeing the mind.