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Ebenezer — The Chapter

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you, he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea….”

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

It all started when . . . in a push to build mentoring relationships and in a series of Management Sessions in the Fall, 2005, we were exhorted to share with our students and colleagues what God was doing in our lives.

It all started when . . . in a Faculty Meeting in Spring, 2006, we were urged to come to the new administration with any suggestions we might have. I nudged Grant at that time and grinned, “There it is. There’s our opportunity.”

It all started when . . . I believed both those things — that they wanted us to talk horizontally about God’s work in our lives and they wanted us to talk vertically up the org chart about suggestions we had to bring the school back to its moorings.

God was still working in all that — in my naive optimism and their less-than-sincere exhortations. And when God works, it’s always good even if it is unsafe for systems, prejudices, organizations, and powers. And even if it feels unsafe for all of us wrapped in His arms, I have to keep reminding myself that God is good. Always.

In December, I signed the contract for Baylor to publish my dissertation. I had prayed about it. A lot. And I knew it was a good thing and a chance of a lifetime. I knew that it was good thing for a school seeking accreditation to actually have some peer-reviewed published scholars on the faculty. I knew that I’d kick myself if I dropped the ball — especially after only an idle threat from someone who hadn’t read it. If it’s publish and perish, so be it!

Now, in case you’re wondering and as a matter of record, I did talk to Jim Berg personally — his When Trouble Comes was the subject of my still-in-process chapter as of the October 16 meeting. I shared my concerns in a very casual fashion in the Summer of 2005. I don’t believe he remembers. Another colleague, in order to stimulate discussion, emailed my blog post on the subject to a group which included Jim. He emailed me personally saying, “You don’t really understand all the issues involved, and I hope you don’t share this with the students.” So even though I had no idea way back when that this would blossom into a full-blown chapter, open discussion was just not an option. That was clear. I was dismissed as uninformed and told to be silent. But . . . it’s my academic research. Why should I be quiet about that? Talking about research is how you improve it.

And long before signing any contract, I did communicate a “down and dirty” version of that chapter to the Powers that Be in March 2006 just before Gavin was born. It was much more pointed than the academic critique. My IU professors taught me well that the best rhetorical criticism is self-criticism. And if I didn’t actually submit that chapter or if I changed its purpose or focus, I wanted those concerns at the very least to be heard internally. My email was met with a very cordial and agreeable response. It seemed to me that we agreed. I even saw some subtle changes in focus during In-service that Fall, and one of my superiors asked me for a bibliography on the subject so that he could educate himself. I’m not kidding!! All was well.

But after that October Doomsday meeting, I was no longer the go-to-gal on such matters. That email to the Powers that Be was also discussed at length in that meeting, and I was again told how wrong I was: how I didn’t know my religious history (uh. . . . a Ph.D. minor in Religious Studies isn’t enough?), how I only studied religion at a secular school (What? I took 8 semesters at BJU just like the rest of us in this room!), and how I was just plain ignorant. Mind you, just a few months earlier, the leader of that meeting was coming to me for advice on how to inform himself. But something happened between the beginning of September and October 16th, and I was now considered dangerously ignorant.

And by February, I was getting some really icky vibes from those higher on the food chain. It was weird. Grant actually approached someone on his side of the building to ask if there was some move to edge me out. “We’re a team! You get both or neither of us!” he said. His contact understood but had heard nothing.

The vibes were so strong that I took the bull by the horns. I sent my more-edited-and-now-nearly-final manuscript to Gary Weier who was as high up the corporate ladder as I had influence. He agreed to read it, and I knew he would.

We met on February 16. Gary was very much a gentleman, and he treated me as a friend and a peer. He offered some constructive criticism overall which I was glad to have (scholars thrive on that). It was a good meeting, and I still appreciate his tone and his time.

But. . . . (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) There was the matter of that last chapter — the one I added after my dissertation defense. In sum, he said:

1) “There’s a different tone to that chapter.” Well, yeah. . . . I was all sweetness and light before. I’m kind of more pointed and, to be honest, more critical. So yeah. . . .

2) “We can’t have faculty criticizing Jim Berg’s theology.” Now, I objected to this one. I said, “I am not criticizing his theology. I have no room to criticize theology. That’s not my schtick. I’m criticizing his rhetoric. That’s what I do!” His response, “People won’t know the difference.” Okay. . . . maybe. But . . . so? I’m an academic. It’s not like I’m writing for the Times. This is really dull stuff.

3) “You’re misunderstanding him. You need to talk to him.” I had. By this point, on two occasions. Intellectual dialogue about rhetorical nuance was not going to happen. We tried. And while I am an advocate of empathetic criticism, I’m not beholden to the approval of the rhetor. That’s just not the way it works in any critical method. And I appreciate that the author may not intend to say what he is saying, but I don’t have access to that. No rhetorical critic has access to intention (if you want to really discuss it, we rhetoricians would argue that even the producer of rhetoric may not know his own intentions. We don’t really care about intentions. That’s for a rhetor’s therapist, not for the critic.). We only have words (do we have to check with Lincoln before critiquing his “Gettysburg Address”?). But why all the defensiveness over Jim Berg’s writing? It’s a public offering; it should be able to withstand scrutiny. That’s the way it works! If the organization really wants to enter the academic fray — if fundamentalists really want to make scholars like they claim — then let’s do it!

Besides, I critique all sorts of people in the book. And none of them are upset. Why all the hullabaloo over this? Reminds me of another bad reaction to academic research from a closed community.

And I’m still baffled by the insistence that I keep my opinions to myself. We criticize other believer’s ideas all the time — John R. Rice, John MacArthur, John Piper are just a few that come to mind. The Body can improve with those criticisms because we all learn better how to edify each other. Iron sharpens iron. So . . . again, what’s the problem?

4) “He’s not speaking for the University. These are his own words, not the school’s.” Uh. . . . does Jim know that? Seriously though, I didn’t speak up about this at the time. But uh . . . the University publishes his book. The Bible faculty edit and endorse it. Students are required to read it at many crossroads. And it doesn’t speak for the University? I think that’s like some recent endorsements that don’t speak for the University either.

Also notice that while I, as a lone faculty member, do speak for the university in my critique, Jim Berg does not. The more I hear this argumentative trope, the more I realize that it really is an avoidance strategy — anything to avoid the scrutiny of the customers.

5) And lastly, “If you publish this last chapter, you will be fired.”

There it was. Well, at least Gary was blunt and to-the-point with me. That was a relief.

I said, “Okay. I appreciate your being honest with me. My real purpose in that chapter is to take Kenneth Burke to task. I think he gets it wrong, and I really want to talk about that.”

He responded with, “Well, he’s an agnostic, so, of course, he’s wrong.”

I ignored that comment because it was missing the whole point. “I’m not devoted to that particular representative anecdote to reveal Burke’s mistakes. Do you have any other ideas for BJU texts?”

We brainstormed a little, but my friend seemed somewhat reluctant. To me, he seemed to simply want to press the point that nothing had changed rhetorically for the organization. I knew that wasn’t the case since I had studied it intimately, and there were plainly not the same outreaches generated as there were prior to Campaign 2000. I understood then and now that it was very important to him as a member of the new administration that everything was the same as before.

I finally said, “Okay — if I can get that last chapter out, the rest is okay?”

“Yes.”

“Okay then. I will go call the publisher right now. And I will contact you as soon as I know something.”

I did have a fleeting thought at this point that made me chortle inside: “Do you really want me, Gary, to be . . . uh, independent?”

So I called the publisher. I was scared to death. I hate phones and I hate asking for favors. I braced myself for another brow-beating. Sigh. . . . But God took over. Here was this man down in Texas who didn’t know me in the least, and, I tell you, he treated me just like a Christian sister. I needed that. He put down his more official, professional tone and said, “Camille. . . . let me tell you. I’ve been there. Take my advice — don’t cross ’em. I remember being in a similar situation years ago, and I’ll never forget a man poking his boney finger in my chest and saying, ‘We will destroy you!’ It’s not worth it, Camille. It’s not. You and I know that you’ve written something with integrity. It’s a good thing. And it can still be good without that last chapter. It’s okay. We can take it out. It’ll delay things a little, but it’s okay. . . . I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Marty and I were just talking the other day about you and I said, ‘Does she really belong there?'”

I laughed. But surely it wasn’t as bad as all that, right? Nah. . . . that was his story. That’s not my story. These are still my buddies, right? This is still my home.

::crickets chirping::

Hello?

I did decide to drop the chapter. I assumed that those who needed to read it had already read it. Now I’m thinking that it will be the basis for another whole book.

Well . . . I’ve kind of been a tease about this, haven’t I? Okay. I won’t build it up any further. You can read it for yourself. Here’s the chapter: “Just Two Choices on the Shelf: Growing Grace or Killing Self.”

Ebenezer — The Chapter
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17 thoughts on “Ebenezer — The Chapter

  • March 6, 2008 at 8:05 am
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    Re-reading that final chapter, and having both the luxury of hindsight and the freedom to speak exactly what I’m thinking, it’s plain to me that NO ONE who read either your book or the final chapter had any idea of what you were talking about. There was no one qualified to offer any criticism of any substance, and at BJU, the thought that no one was qualified to speak substantively about some aspect of religion is utterly unthinkable. They had to do something. After several inept and ineffective starts, they eventually settled on marginalizing you by pushing you into your corner, threatening you, and telling you to shut up. Didn’t work, did it? Their strongarm attempts to plug the rhetorical leak only resulted in your thoughts being propelled with more force, reaching farther than they ever would have otherwise. D’oh!

    To quote Morley, “You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.” One of these days I pray that BJU’s institutional bumblings will bring them face to face with the stark realization that the grace they read of in Scripture really does have direct application to their institutional life. Until they do, they’ll continue to lurch and cavort across the cultural landscape, engendering the same kind of sideways glances from the rest of the world as they always have. They’re convinced that people are staring in admiration. But in reality, people are just staring.

    • September 2, 2009 at 2:28 pm
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      Grant, I know that stare. I learned what that was when I was an Academy student ! I lived in town and though BJones kept telling us how ‘admired’ we were, those of us who actually rubbed shoulders with the town’s folk knew better. I was waitressing to pay my tuition and I heard NEARLY every night about BJones from the Black guys I worked with and the other waitresses. I tried to defend my attendance (it was a parental injuction) and distance myself from the things Jr was saying publicly. Not only was I defending and covering to my co-workers, but I also heard regularly about BJones and their antics from the customers. And on and on…. Suffice to say, it did not endear me to the school ~ ELL

  • March 6, 2008 at 11:32 am
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    Wow, reading your treatment of WTC and CIHI is so refreshing. Finally, someone who sees those books as I do (except you express it so much more eloquently than I ever could)! How enslaving they are. Being reminded of all the things Keswick theology and these books say I must DO to be good Christian–struggle with the flesh, resist myself, mortify my humanity–it makes me long for Someone to come and undertake that burden for me, on my behalf, as my substitiute. What’s that you say? Someone has already done that? Someone has died to set me free? He did it because of His Grace? Freedom, what a crazy idea! πŸ™‚

  • March 6, 2008 at 1:23 pm
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    I just skimmed through your chapter–it’s so well-argued and beautifully written (which doesn’t always happen in academic prose!).

    I loved this line in reference to one of the authors you discussed: “Cleanliness is not closer to godliness; loving the castaway is.”

  • March 6, 2008 at 1:46 pm
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    I clicked on the link for that final chapter, and about 50 or 60 web pages came up all at once. Have the old “powers that be” hacked into your site to keep that final chapter from getting out? (How’s that for a conspiracy theory) πŸ™‚

  • March 6, 2008 at 3:04 pm
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    WOW! I just read the chapter and have several random thoughts:

    Has Jim Berg ever read Job? Ever? Bad stuff happens. It’s called life (or, at least, part of life). Sometimes there are no answers, only more questions.

    I used to think BJU was full of very smart, very warped people. Now I can remove the smart.

    As a devotee of Wink’s “Third Way,” I think we have to find a new way of presenting the Gospel. While the story doesn’t change, our perceptions, like our societies do.

  • March 6, 2008 at 3:12 pm
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    Excellent critique.

    I now understand why you were fired.

    Somewhere in the first half of the chapter you mention how separatists stay away from the “unclean” to avoid being defiled. I’ve been reading Leviticus recently and have been blown away by the entrance of Jesus into this world of clean and unclean categories. In Christ, everything became clean–there is no record of Jesus purifying himself after touching lepers, the blind, the dead, the woman with the issue of blood, etc. It flips the story on its head from a tragedy to a comic romance, just like you’ve said. Great, great stuff!

  • March 6, 2008 at 10:08 pm
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    Oh, my. . . feeling giddy here. . . after having hints about The-Chapter-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named, I get to read it. (Though, I feel like I’m cheating since I’m only on chapter 2 or 3 of the published book. . . I’m a slow reader these days.)

  • March 7, 2008 at 5:44 am
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    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was in a very dark and lonely place; I picked up “Transformed” and was dropped into the abyss. You put into well-crafted words what I could only feel at the time.

  • March 7, 2008 at 10:36 am
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    Grant is right: people aren’t staring in admiration. They are just staring.

    Avoiding critique and/or seeking to silence it does not create an intellectually vigorous environment. Things become rather stale and the end result is a stance(s)that is culturally irrelevant.

    Thanks for sharing. Good thoughts!

  • March 9, 2008 at 7:19 am
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    Yours must be the fifth recommendation to read God’s Politics. I’m thinking it’s a sign and I need to go ahead and buy a copy.

    In the spirit of point number 3… πŸ™‚

    1) Responding to #2 above… In the situation you’re describing (using Kenneth Burke’s allegorical linking between rhetoric and theology), an attack on a person’s rhetoric is achieved via an attack on a certain theology. And vice versa. You’re just quilting the other direction. So it seems disingenuous to say “I’m not attacking Berg’s theology, I’m attacking his rhetoric.” You’re attacking Berg’s theology to attack Burke’s rhetoric. And, given the tone of the chapter, I would say you’re actually attacking Burke’s rhetoric to attack Berg’s theology. Maybe Berg’s theology needs to be attacked (in an academic sense). I’m still trying to grind that question through the biblical mill. But I don’t think there’s any doubt (especially seeing people’s comments here) that your guns were trained on Berg.

    2) There seems to be some confusion between differing types of image. (bottom of p.217ff) We are created in the image of God (Genesis 2) but we are also to be continually transformed into the image of God (I Corinthians 3). I think Berg specifically references I Corinthians 3:18 in Changed into His Image as where he got the title from.

    3) When discussing Berg’s terms, you refer to “the flesh” as “the corporeal body,” and therefore “being human”. This seems like an inaccurate depiction of Berg’s definition of “flesh.” He defined it as “an indwelling sin principle that remains in a believer.” It seems reductionistic to say he means “the corporeal body.” (p.218) This also leads to shifting definitions later when you say “We do not know where legitimate flesh-feeding is apt or where it is sinful.” (bottom of p.219ff) If “flesh” is left as Berg’s definition, then “legitimate flesh-feeding” isn’t subjective; it’s an oxymoron.

    ** As an aside, I would be very interested to hear your definition of “flesh” as used in Romans 7-8 or in Galatians 5. I’ve been reading and re-reading these passages and thinking that if you don’t use Berg’s definition, then it DOES refer to the corporeal body and we’re left with sin equaling being human. So I’m wondering what your “third way” is in this case. πŸ˜‰ **

    I remember our quick blog conversation back in late October about some of these issues… and I must say my head’s not much clearer. Colossians 3 is still proving a stone in the road to my embracing what you’re talking about… Paul’s very clear that he’s talking about Christians and since that’s the case, they should put to death what is earthly in them (there’s no possibility of pre-/post-conversion confusion here like in Romans 7-8). Then he lists a bunch of things to put to death (v.5), some of which are things you defined as “being human.” Paul says: But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, evil speech, lying. Why does Paul say we must put to death what is earthly here in Colossians 3, and in Galatians 5 say that believers have crucified the flesh?

    There are a lot of places where you could go either way with Paul saying “since you HAVE put off the old man and since you ARE being renewed in the Spirit of your mind and since you HAVE put on the new man, then stop walking the way the Gentiles walk.” You could say this is a pattern for how we should change. Or this is not the pattern; it’s the past fact that allows us to change. But in Colossians 3, the put off > renew > put on sequence comes in the middle of numerous calls to put off evil and put on goodness.

    Arg. I’m getting brain cramps. Trying to overcome my tendencies that “I don’t wanna know if the answer’s not easy.”

  • March 9, 2008 at 4:53 pm
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    Hey, Jeff!!

    (using Kenneth Burke’s allegorical linking between rhetoric and theology), an attack on a person’s rhetoric is achieved via an attack on a certain theology. And vice versa.

    First of all, no “attack” anywhere. Too violent. Critique? Yes. Attack? No. πŸ™‚

    Oh no, not really. Burke would say that theology is a rhetoric. He would see no difference. But Burke does tend to think that everything which exists fits into the rhetoricians’ purview.

    But Burke’s encyclopedic scope aside, the way to critique a theology is totally different than critiquing a rhetoric. There’s a different set of sources, vocabularies, and methods. Sure — there’s overlap; there’s always overlap. I am trained in critiquing religious rhetoric. I can’t judge to see if he is X, Y, or Z in the theological framework. But I can judge a good rhetoric.

    I’m still trying to grind that question through the biblical mill. But I don’t think there’s any doubt (especially seeing people’s comments here) that your guns were trained on Berg.

    No. That’s just not a fair or correct assessment. If you read it in the whole of the book, that’s just not accurate. He takes up very little space in the whole scheme of things. I didn’t write a book about Jim Berg’s rhetoric. I wrote a book about how religious separatists talk in the public sphere with Bob Jones University being the representative anecdote (Burke term).

    There seems to be some confusion between differing types of image. (bottom of p.217ff) We are created in the image of God (Genesis 2) but we are also to be continually transformed into the image of God (I Corinthians 3). I think Berg specifically references I Corinthians 3:18 in Changed into His Image as where he got the title from.

    Are you sure that’s the Text for the title? I’m honestly asking (i.e. that’s not a rhetorical question. πŸ˜‰ ). Because if that were the case, it would be “Building on Christ’s Foundation.” Which has another whole trajectory.

    When discussing Berg’s terms, you refer to “the flesh” as “the corporeal body,” and therefore “being human”. This seems like an inaccurate depiction of Berg’s definition of “flesh.” He defined it as “an indwelling sin principle that remains in a believer.” It seems reductionistic to say he means “the corporeal body.” (p.218) This also leads to shifting definitions later when you say “We do not know where legitimate flesh-feeding is apt or where it is sinful.” (bottom of p.219ff) If “flesh” is left as Berg’s definition, then “legitimate flesh-feeding” isn’t subjective; it’s an oxymoron.

    If you check out critiques of Chaferianism/Keswick theology, there is continuous confusion between humanity and sin. It’s very nearly gnostic in its confusion. Yes, Berg knows (and I’ve had this conversation with him personally) how to define the “sin nature” or the “flesh.” He knows that he’s supposed to respond with “the indwelling sin principle.” But when you see how that works itself out — where he describes things as sin that are not sin!! — you see a completely different picture. Read Changed Into His Image. In there he says that, for instance, sleeping in is a sin. And we all know (all too well) that chewing gum can be a sin, cutting your hair with a too narrow clip is a sin. . . .

    As an aside, I would be very interested to hear your definition of “flesh” as used in Romans 7-8 or in Galatians 5. I’ve been reading and re-reading these passages and thinking that if you don’t use Berg’s definition, then it DOES refer to the corporeal body and we’re left with sin equaling being human. So I’m wondering what your “third way” is in this case. πŸ˜‰

    We are full of sin like the Heidelberg Confession says. We do have a tendency to go our own way. I totally agree with that. But here’s the ultimate irony in the whole thing — “going our own way” means building ziggurats to try to reach God, not being sad or being sleepy. It means trying to parse out our own spiritual success in man-made rules.

    We have a sinful nature. We don’t have two natures that war against each other. We don’t have a clone of Satan in us (Berg counters my objection to this by saying that it was merely literary flourish. Perhaps. . . . but it’s in every book!! That reveals that it’s more than a writer’s gush.)! It’s not black-dog-v-white-dog. We were dead in our trespasses and sins and Christ made us alive. We are redeemed!!

    You know, it’s funny. . . . Every single person I’ve had this identical conversation with over the last two years has concluded exactly as you: so what’s sin then if it isn’t the flesh? There’s a trap in the thinking in which we’ve been raised that doesn’t let us see the passages for what they are worth.

    It’s not that we have to perpetually kill the black dog and feed the white dog. The black dog is dead — STOP FEEDING THE BLACK DOG! πŸ˜€

    I remember our quick blog conversation back in late October about some of these issues… and I must say my head’s not much clearer. Colossians 3 is still proving a stone in the road to my embracing what you’re talking about… Paul’s very clear that he’s talking about Christians and since that’s the case, they should put to death what is earthly in them (there’s no possibility of pre-/post-conversion confusion here like in Romans 7-8). Then he lists a bunch of things to put to death (v.5), some of which are things you defined as “being human.” Paul says: But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, evil speech, lying. Why does Paul say we must put to death what is earthly here in Colossians 3, and in Galatians 5 say that believers have crucified the flesh?

    There are a lot of places where you could go either way with Paul saying “since you HAVE put off the old man and since you ARE being renewed in the Spirit of your mind and since you HAVE put on the new man, then stop walking the way the Gentiles walk.” You could say this is a pattern for how we should change. Or this is not the pattern; it’s the past fact that allows us to change. But in Colossians 3, the put off > renew > put on sequence comes in the middle of numerous calls to put off evil and put on goodness.

    One of the problems with our previous life is that it severely mishears the same biblical or historically Protestant vocabulary but applies another meaning. They do that with Total Depravity (It doesn’t mean that I’m evil through and through. It means that I’m totally unable to save myself.). And they even do it with the Christian life. The fundamentalist perspective on salvation is like this:

    At salvation, Christ moves in (Berg does use this metaphor of Christ moving into your house). He cleans up a little, but for the most part, He sits in the formal dining room and waits for you to join him. He has a cup of tea and waits quietly and patiently. Satan, on the other hand, has a raucous party in the rumpus room. It sounds great!! And at every moment, you must choose. Are you going to sit with Jesus or are you going to indulge yourself and party with the Devil?

    What Paul presents is something very different.

    At salvation, Christ doesn’t just move in; He performs an extreme makeover! He kicks Satan to the curb. And He renovates everything. It’s all new!! Sure, sure — Satan still lurks outside. And you can be foolish enough to go hang out with Satan. But when you do that, you’re doing exactly the opposite of what God has plumbed you to do. It may feel good because it’s familiar, but it’s not where you belong. It’s not acting like Whose you are!

    Another way of looking at it. . . . for the fundamentalist:

    After salvation, every moment in your Christian life is a meal. At the meal on one end of the table sits Christ with His very healthy, but tasteless kelp-and-flax-seed smoothie. At the other end? Satan walks in with fresh, hot McDonald’s french fries — supersize — and a Big Mac. Every moment you must choose. Are you going to pick the healthy but yucky thing? Or the artery-clogging but yummy thing? Feed the flesh or the soul?

    Again — that’s not the picture we see from Paul (I found this in Classic Christianity:

    Before salvation, we’re all driven to dumpster diving for our meals. We’re good at it, and we’ve acquired a taste for garbage actually. Christ owns the finest restaurant where we like to find our scraps. And one day, He comes out and says, “Honey!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING??” And He grabs us and drags us kicking and screaming into His place. He cleans us up and feeds us a feast! Now, we COULD go for the scrap bucket under the sink. That’s what we know. But that’s not His best for us.

    The fundy POV makes sin looks great. It actually, I would argue, fetishizes it. This is neither the Reformed perspective (that sin is the perversion of God’s intended wholeness for the world) nor the Wesleyan (intentional disobedience of God’s Law). It’s something else entirely that looks more like Eastern mysticism than Christianity.

    The Christian life is not this perpetual, percarious choice-making — that’s pretty lousy Good News, if it is. We’re not walking on a tightrope to get across to our spiritual success. Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light. We do the right thing out of gratitude for the Grace He’s already given us, not in order to “get” the Grace we want.

    It’s a completely different story.

    • May 5, 2011 at 8:24 pm
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      Wow, wow, wow. Thank you for putting into words and helping me to realize what it is that I don’t like about “Changed Into His Image.” πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  • March 12, 2008 at 7:48 pm
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    Let me get this straight. They threatened to fire you if you published a chapter that essentially would have been beneficial to the institution?

  • March 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm
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    Well, Fred, they obviously didn’t think it was beneficial. I thought it was. Or I wouldn’t have written it.

  • March 14, 2008 at 9:48 am
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    I think the refusal to even consider whether your critique could be helpful shows that they are more concerned with keeping the institution going regardless. It also shows an arrogance – “We hold the Truth, and ther is no need to change.”

  • September 23, 2010 at 12:57 am
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    I knew it! (says the guy who found out two years after The Sixth Sense made its box-office debut that Bruce Willis’s character isn’t actually alive)

    And it kind of explains why I found a copy of that book in the basement of the office of my former employer.

    Maybe.

    Actually I’m still wondering how his book got there. No one at that church has any knowledge of my alma mater. Unless someone was keeping a secret from me. . .

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