Category Archives: Grace and Spiritual Drift

On Hanegraaff and Orthodox Christianity: Or, a Church Service Worth Attending

Hank Hanegraaff, the “Bible Answer Man”, has recently converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity and apparently this is causing quite a stir in the evangelical community.

On returning from a trip to China several years ago, Hanegraaff remarked, “I saw Chinese Christians who were deeply in love with the Lord, and I learned that while they may not have had as much intellectual acumen or knowledge as I did, they had life. I was comparing my ability to communicate truth with their deep and abiding love for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Since that time,” he added, “I’ve been impacted by the whole idea of knowing Jesus Christ, experiencing Jesus Christ, and partaking of the graces of Jesus Christ through the Lord’s Table.”

One of the recent articles I read on the subject was from Ed Stetzer. Writing on Christianity Today’s website, the focus of his article was on the possible reasons why the Orthodox liturgy is so appealing to evangelicals today. One of the things he says is,

The early church was indeed more focused on the Eucharist and was more liturgical in structure, nature, and expression. There are things we can learn from that today, but we have to also acknowledge that much of what we see was, indeed, cultural. As a missiologist, I’m not drawn into early Christian cultural forms and am concerned that some are equating them with eternal truth.
The evangelical bent towards Western individualism has opened the door to an ‘every Bible for itself’ mentality where, combined with the digital age, rogue armchair theologians can be equipped with major influence without proper ecclesiological accountability. It’s a bit of a “me version” world of Bible translation. Lacking a central definition and protection of truth can cause (and has caused) much of evangelicalism’s problems.
In Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, that is not typically the case. In these church structures, there are tighter reigns on vetting truth and defining orthodox beliefs. Some see the Church organizationally as a means to preserve biblical truth from the changing tides of cultural waves.
The question I want to answer: Are we looking for the right things? Do we want to model with exactitude the cultural form of the early church? Is that the ultimate value?”

Personally, I’ve not been drawn toward the Orthodox faith, but I can see the appeal in a return to the “structure, nature, and expression” of the first century church (or the few centuries after). The difference as I see it though is Continue reading On Hanegraaff and Orthodox Christianity: Or, a Church Service Worth Attending

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Hi, My Name’s Kent and I’m a Snowflake….

snowflakeIn the past, I’ve been accused of this thing called “hypergrace”; of going overboard in such hot button areas as “acceptance” and “inclusion”. It was an accusation I backpedaled from for longer than I care to admit.

But now?
Now I gladly welcome the accusation.
Yes, I practice hypergrace. I suppose these days you’d call me a “snowflake”.

If I’m repeating myself, bear with me…I take this whole “love thy neighbor” thing pretty seriously, as if it were a scriptural truth or something.  Funny how that works.

I posted the above meme on my FB Author page a while ago, and I’ve seen it posted among several others.  I’ve also read some of the comments following these postings.

I’ve read the accusations of “not doing what’s best for our country”, and of “being selfish.”

And yet, since when did compassion become selfish?
When did courage or human rights become something other than the best for our country? Continue reading Hi, My Name’s Kent and I’m a Snowflake….

The Rebel God: Evangelicalism’s Two-Faced God

I have been interested in neuroplasticity for a few years now, especially as it relates to addiction, and in how our brains process emotion, reason, and the dichotomy between the two.  This is a fascinating article by Derek Flood that addresses a possible psychological basis for how white, Evangelical Christians can sing songs of the love of Jesus one minute, and “amen” to a sermon on the evils of ______________ (insert your minority, religion, lifestyle, etc. of choice).

“…it makes sense to think “There is just no way a person could experience love like that and be so angry and hurtful. They must experience God as angry and hurtful.” So when Mike said essentially this, my first reaction was to agree. Then the more “science-y” part of me began to kick in. The fact is, people are very capable of compartmentalizing and showing great inconsistency in different parts of their lives.”

Here’s the link. It’s a lengthy post, but one I feel is well worth the read: The Rebel God: Evangelicalism’s Two-Faced God

On “luuuv” and the Power of Words

I suppose, after writing books and blogs and other such things for over five years now, it shouldn’t surprise me the power of words.

But it does.

It shouldn’t surprise me, with “fake news”, alternative facts, and both the love and vitriol spread wide across social media, the influence—intentional and not—that our words can have.

But it does.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that this was one of the main reasons I hesitated to say anything amongst all the storm and rage of this past political and politically religious season. First, because I wasn’t sure what to say, And second, I wasn’t sure, even if I did speak up, how it would be received. And yes, it got to the point where I had written my “last” Spiritual Drift post (which I’ve obviously reconsidered), and closed up shop on my personal Facebook page.

It was only when I did those things, closing the door on the blog, pulling the plug on social media, that I found my voice, and more importantly, found the resolve, to say something, to say anything.

Both the voice and resolve came from this…

Hypocrisy.

Not “their” hypocrisy, mine, as I said in “A Christian Without a Religion”:

It’s not them, it’s me.  My own hypocrisy is in continuing to sit there. Numb. Dumb. Mute. Confused and angered. Unable or unwilling (fearful actually) to speak out.  Because apparently I’m the weird one.

The hypocrisy I felt was in my silent assent to all that was going on around me. I may not have been agreeing with what was happening, what was being said, what was being done, who it was being done to, and why, but in my silence it gave the appearance that I was.

I was agreeing.

I was complicit.

I was approving, conforming, like-minded.

This wasn’t right. It didn’t feel right. It wasn’t true.

And once again I was struck by the power of words. And the hidden power of not saying them. The realization shouldn’t have surprised me.

But it did.

So I’m beginning to speak out.

First though, I wanted to thank everyone who commented or private messaged me with their words of encouragement. That meant, and continues to mean, a lot.

Secondly, I want to say that I am not leaving the church or my faith as some were fearful I might have decided.

I’m not.

Yes, I’m done with “religion”. But this is one of the most freeing decisions anyone of faith can ultimately make. At least in my mind.
I’m not following a pastor.
I’m not following a church.
I’m not following a doctrine.
I’ve chosen to follow the Way of a brown-skinned Middle Eastern refugee.

And let me clarify something else. If the Spirit does move me to leave a particular church, or pastor, or doctrine, it is not, nor will it ever be, out of anger, frustration, or selfish motives (“I’m not getting fed”, “I don’t like the music/message/coffee creamer/carpet color.”)

I also won’t stand to be accused of “church hopping”, as I have heard time and time again from the pulpit.

Over the last twenty years, my wife and I have attended three different churches; each move facilitated by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Literally, it was time to move on, and God made that abundantly clear. And, if that time comes again, I will listen and obey.

Hear me on this: I love the people of my life/home group. I have made some cherished friendships within the church.

And yet these were also factors that weighed heavily on why I was fearful to speak out. Why I sat in my hypocrisy for so long.

I didn’t want to rock the boat.

It is only recently that I figured out that I am not, in fact, rocking the boat. I’m stepping out onto the water; mindful of the waves, mindful of the storm, but keeping my eyes affixed on the brown-skinned Middle Eastern refugee in whom I’ve placed my trust.

It reminds me of the words of Frederick Buechner:

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do—to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst—is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed.  –From “The Sacred Journey”

And those of John Eldredge:

The reason we fear to step out is because we know that it might not go well. We have a history of wounds screaming at us to play it safe. We feel so deeply that if it doesn’t go well, if we are not received well, the reaction becomes the verdict on our lives, on our very beings, on our hearts. We fear that our deepest doubts about ourselves will be confirmed. Again. That we will hear yet again the message of our wounds, the piercing negative answers to our Questions. That is why we can only risk stepping out when we are resting in the love of God. –From “Captivating” by John and Stasi Eldredge (emphasis mine).

That is why it’s been hard to sit quietly in church as a pastor mocks those who feel the gospel is “all about luuuuv, luuuuv, luuuv” with hands placed gingerly on swaying hips as scorn lines his face.

Umm, he’s talking about me.
Because, umm, it is all about love.

God is love. (1John 4:8)
God is in Christ. (John 17:23)
And Christ is in me. (Col 1:27, 2Cor 13:5, Gal 2:20, to name but a few)

Therefore, if I am in Christ and He is in me and God is in Him, I am love.

I am resting in that. Almost like it’s a peace that passes understanding.

You see, a one-way ticket to heaven is the by-product of why I believe, not the sole reason. My faith is manifest in how I choose to live my life here and now. Eternity doesn’t begin “some fine day, when this life is o’er”. It has already begun. It has always been.

I am an eternal being.
I am in an eternal being, and He is in me.
I am luuuv!  Proudly!