The Essence of Christianity — Orthodox Style

The interview in Christianity Today with Bishop Kallistos Ware is an interesting read. Here is the bishop’s take (in a Q&A format) on the essence of Christianity:

If I were to meet you on a train and ask you, “What is the center of the Christian message?,” how would you succinctly put that?

I would answer, “I believe in a God who loves humankind so intensely, so totally, that he chose himself to become human. Therefore, I believe in Jesus Christ as fully and truly God, but also totally and unreservedly one of us, fully human.” And I would say to you, “The love of God is so great that Christ died for us on the cross. But love is stronger than death, and so the death of Jesus was followed by his resurrection. I am a Christian because I believe in the great love of God that led him to become incarnate, to die, and to rise again.” That’s my faith. All of this is made immediate to us through the continuing action of the Holy Spirit.

 

Evangelism — Orthodox and “Evangelical”

I have not been a fan of using church services alone to “evangelize.” A worship service is for…well… worship. It’s FOR Christ. Not us. But that’s just me. Obviously. 😉

This interview with Bishop Kallistos Ware (bishop of the Orthodox Church in England) is a good read. I like this exchange on “evangelism”:

To draw in the unchurched, evangelical churches often strip away things that might be mysterious or strange. But when you invite someone into an Orthodox liturgy, you hit them full-on with strange symbolism and unfamiliar words.

Yes, and let them understand what God gives them to understand. Throw them in at the deep end of the swimming pool and see what happens. That is very much our Orthodox approach. I would not want to offer a watered-down version of Orthodoxy.

The basic rules of Christianity, our relation to Christ, are very simple. Because they are simple they are also often difficult to understand.

On the other hand, we should not be content with a bare minimum. We should offer people the fullness of the faith in all its diversity and depth. I would wish people, when they come to the Orthodox liturgy, not to think that they understand everything the first time. I hope, rather, that they have an experience of mystery, a sense of awe and wonder. If we lose that from our worship, we have lost something very precious.

 

Do-Over

In an interview with Billy Graham, they asked if he could go back and do anything over, what would it be? His answer is interesting:

Yes, of course. I’d spend more time at home with my family, and I’d study more and preach less. I wouldn’t have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn’t really need to do—weddings and funerals and building dedications, things like that. Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.

I also would have steered clear of politics. I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.

The Gospel According to Jobs

This article should raise the ire of the Apple faithful. That would be something in which I would take a small pleasure. 🙂

Let the tirades roll like a Michigan fan calling for the head of Rich Rodriguez!

One small quote just to get it rolling:

Steve Jobs’s gospel is, in the end, a set of beautifully polished empty promises. But I look on my secular neighbors, millions of them, like sheep without a shepherd, who no longer believe in anything they cannot see, and I cannot help feeling compassion for them, and something like fear. When, not if, Steve Jobs departs the stage, will there be anyone left who can convince them to hope?

What I Want to be When I Grow Up!

A megachurch pastor!

Or a men’s ministries pastor in a megachurch!

Or a women’s ministries pastor in a megachurch!

Those salaries aren’t bad:

$139,000 Median salary for senior pastors at megachurches (2,000+ in weekly attendance).

$60,000 Median salary for men’s ministry pastors at megachurches.

$47,000 Median salary for women’s ministry pastors at megachurches.

More good stuff  HERE.

Religious

This column in Christianity Today is thought-provoking. Are you “religious” or “spiritual”? Careful how you answer!

The word religion comes from the Latin religare (re: “back,” and ligare: “to bind”), so the term is associated with being bound. In that sense, defining oneself as “spiritual, not religious” couldn’t be more apt, reflecting a desire to not be bound by any rules, community, or belief. Being spiritual but not religious is the perfect fit for people who don’t like the demands of religion but aren’t quite ready to say they have no soul.

Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft has noted that our culture’s fear “is not the fear of death, as it was for the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, nor is it the fear of hell,” as found in the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic societies of the medieval period. No, the fear of the age “is the fear of meaninglessness itself.”

Yet those who oppose organized religion may be missing out on some of the best tools for staving off meaninglessness.

I am bound, and gladly. I am so grateful for the faith delivered once for all to the saints. This is something I will be discussing on Wednesday nights in an adult study at our church. Join us!