Archive for the 'Christianity' Category

22
Oct
08

A Coffeehouse Theology Brew

A few weeks back I mentioned a new read titled, “Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life” by Ed Cyzewski. For readers of this blog and any student of scripture I’d recommend you picking up this book.

Today the Coffeehouse Theology Blog Tour makes a stop at ABCpastor. What a privilege!

Theology is one of those words that seem to just belong to the professionals and the spiritual elite, not for the average person in the pews. The thought of doing theology could simply be intimidating to the average church-goer. Perhaps it’s the suffix –logy (the study of) that makes it seem like something you go to school for and major in or maybe it’s just the idea of studying something that makes people want to stand at a distance from. Oh well. Coffeehouse Theology as the title suggests helps us see that theology is really for everyone, anyone and is something we can and should do especially if we are seekers of God. Everyone has an opinion of God and live accordingly to what they know or believe. Instead of dialogue we’ve drawn lines that separate us. The question we need to ask is what has shaped our particular view of God and theology. Then moving forward what should shape it? As I was reading through this book as I read everything else I’m constantly looking for how this fits into my Asian-American context.

We must consider that we all have lenses for how we view the world and God. Arriving at this self awareness is not easy. I deeply appreciate Ed’s focus on adopting ‘Contextual Theology’ so we become aware of our unique perspectives as well as limitations due to culture. Many Christians may believe they’re not affected by it but we cannot escape culture. We’re shaped by it. I think this is where doing theology becomes dynamic connecting us with our personal history, the historic and global church as well as other spheres of life. Ed illustrates this interconnected dynamic more concretely with a contextual theology web diagram. With Ed’s permission I recreated it here to help you.

Theology requires great humility from us. For those who have long held onto their beliefs and convictions the task of theology requires their willingness to be pulled out from the comfortable warm water they have been wading in and squirm out in the wide open sea. As we discover the weight of God’s truth and glory, submit to his values and mission I believe we experience transformation. Theology is far reaching and much more influential than we may realize. It must serve the mission of God and not simply fill our heads with more knowledge or just satisfy our questions. Then we may begin to embrace those different from us, become a little less homogeneous. Perhaps less White, less Chinese, less middle class or what have you. Instead what gives way is a new humanity as Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2:15 to a diverse church comprised of traditional Jews and Gentiles. Consider also what we find throughout Acts on the tensions between these two groups and the Gospel renewal we see in and through the life journey of Paul the Apostle.

In considering the culture of the Chinese Church: Ken Fong, Sr. Pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church in LA once told a story that conveys what we often experience in the Chinese Church as he had confronted his parents in their expression (maybe even wishes) of their family as one big happy Chinese family. The thing is, Ken Fong is third-generation Chinese-American and he barely speaks any Chinese if any at all. Additionally the changing racial dynamics of his family necessitates that they can no longer call themselves a “Chinese” family. Likewise, at what point do you stop calling yourself a Chinese church when those who come are increasingly less Chinese in appearance and understanding? I understand the pride and sense of heritage but is culture shaping us more than our theology then?

Ed recounts a story of an encounter he had with an Asian seminary student discussing the difference in how they each relate to their pastors/elders. In the Asian church we just don’t spout off to our pastors/elders. He writes,

“…neither culture has a corner on respect for elders, but each culture will inevitably read the Bible through a different cultural lens. And both cultures present opportunities for sin. In extreme cases, the Asian approach could be used to ignore younger generations, while the American approach could be disrespectful to elders and leaders. This raises an important point about culture. Every culture has opportunities and challenges.” – Thanks Ed!

We need other voices to confront our blindspots. Ed makes a good point that we tend to think that our American theology is “theology” while we give every other form of theology a qualifier, such as “Latino theology” or “Asian theology”. Again we need to step outside of ourselves and swim out into unfamiliar waters. Ed consistently helps the reader consider other voices in the Global Church be it through his own experience or through some other source. This is such a critical component in theology and it will be ongoing as culture changes. What I find most fascinating about this is that theology becomes a communal activity. Other voices may help deepen our love for God and help us better navigate through our faith journey. Amen to that. BTW Charles Lee has a great post (Changing My Religion) about processing our faith journey. I love the discussion that is happening there.

As I mentioned before any book that contains the word “coffee” in the title should do remarkably well. It has an instant cool factor. Truthfully the cover is also pretty cool looking. There’s even napkin sketches. Praise for Coffeehouse Theology and Ed Cyzewski!

Links
Ed Cyzewski Blog
Ed Cyzewski Writing Blog

Introduction at the OOZE
Post on Emergent village
Blog Tour Schedule

29
Sep
08

Coffeehouse Theology

Just received my copy of a newly released book, Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life published by NavPress by my buddy Ed Cyzewski [inamirrordimly.com] from Biblical Theological Seminary. I heart Ed and you should too. I don’t deserve it but I get a nice little acknowledgment in it. Thanks Ed! And thanks Marla [coffeeshopjournal.com] for letting me know before I got my copy. Check out her blog for thoughts on third spaces.
I’ll be doing a review of Coffeehouse Theology soon. There will be a blogging tour of his book [link for schedule]. I think it’ll be a great resource to help the Christians apply theology to everyday life. Ed’s already written two study guides. Christians need to think or perhaps think harder but very often they don’t know how to when it comes to everyday issues.
Regardless anything containing the word “coffee” is cool and sells well.

I recommend picking up this book and reading it with a cup of fine coffee from onevillagecoffee.com, a socially conscious roasting company started by another abcpastor friend, Scott Hackman.

19
Jun
08

NT Wright on The Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert Surprised By Hope

First of all, I love Stephen Colbert. It has become a nightly ritual for me and the missus to watch The Colbert Report in our zombie-like state before we haul ourselves up a flight of stairs to our bedroom.
Colbert with sharp wit portrays an ultra-conservative pundit. He has great guests as well. Tonight, NT Wright, the Bishop of Durham who served as the Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey. He talked about his new book, “Surprised by Hope, Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.” Colbert made this comment that Hillary Clinton was thinking along the same lines for her next book also… I was rolling. Yesterday I was delightfully surprised by Wright’s appearance. But the whole episode was one of the best Colbert reports ever.

Wright is one of the most important theologians of the 21st Century and he is funny. His new book really addresses having a truncated eschatology particularly in the Western church a theme we’ve been trying to wrestle through in my message series, “Heaven On Earth.” Most Christians have an inadequate and incomplete view of heaven, that it’s merely a future happening or simply what happens after you die. That deeply affects the way we live out the mission of the church as well. Wright’s response is that heaven is God’s “kingdom” that has already been inaugurated by Jesus and that the Church needs to live the resurrection now joining God in his re-creative work.

Links
Check out the full streaming episode here.
Episodes are available the day after they air.

Jake Bouma has posted the entire transcript of the interview on his well-designed site.

02
May
08

Are You A Jerk?

Are you a jerk?

Here’s some weekend goodness. This made my week. Sometimes I’m a complete @$$.
Thanks Dave!
[NextGenerAsianChurch.com]

19
Feb
08

Pastoral Confessions: I Pee Sitting Down.

Now when I’ve got to go I’m faced with some critical decision making or at least I can’t go without thinking about Pastor Anderson’s exhortation. After all, there are 6 references of this in Scripture! It used to be so easy, standing up or sitting down was just a matter of what’s more convenient at the moment. Not once have I ever considered how I should obey God in this area of my life…except perhaps the few times walking around street in NYC and the urge comes upon me.
I will never be the same again.
And what am I teaching my son about biblical manhood?

A lot of bloggers are having fun with this one. If you want a more thoughtful view of this passage read Bo Lim’s post. If you want to see something irreverent see Eugene Cho’s post.

I do want to do a series of posts on pastoral confessions. Perhaps this is a good way to start.
Obviously, pastors are fallible creatures.
Seriously I can’t pee without thinking about this now.

10
Jan
08

White Stone Gallery

The White Stone Gallery (formerly Lime Street Gallery) is a new deal in Manayunk featuring “Biblical Fine Art” or modern art with scriptural meaning according to their website. During January 11 – February 24 the gallery will exhibit a collection from various international artists under “Faith”. ABCPastor favorite, Makoto Fujimura, is among the featured artists. And the work is also available for sale from what I can tell on the site. Not sure if there is an opening reception tomorrow for the artists but I’m very curious about this whole set-up.
So if you’re in Philly…

Last month they had an interesting Nativity Exhibition that included an artist from China utilizing Chinese silk embroidery.

Nativity Exhibit

WHITE STONE GALLERY
4219 Main Street [Manayunk]
Philadelphia, PA 19127

or if your idea of Christian Art is more in line with VeggieTales, the new movie, “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” also opens in theaters tomorrow.

10
Jan
08

God Without The Fuss

Joel Osteen, GOOD Magazine
I’m surprised that there hasn’t been much talk about this article in the blogosphere. What I’m referring to is an interesting piece of writing from GOOD Magazine (Dec Issue) on America’s favorite pastor with the pearly whites. [link: “God Without The Fuss“] It’s titled so appropriately. Isn’t that what people really want? God without the fuss? Well they’re getting plenty of it because America is in no short supply of Jesus junk. Osteen is American Christianity at its best. What I find interesting is how a non-faith-based magazine is able to point out what’s missing from America’s most mega megachurch.

“He’s so careful not to offend that he won’t…discuss whether or not his non-Christian followers – and there are many – will make it into Heaven. ’I feel like it can almost divide the audience I’m trying to reach,’ he says.”

“Missing from Osteen’s message, however, is Christianity’s darker side: Heaven and Hell, sin and salvation, suffering and sacrifice.” – Thomas Golianopoulos

For as long as I can remember pastors, leaders, and church folk in general around me have always wondered about this fellow without directly calling him out. They’ve watched his aired programs and some have gone all the way to Houston, Texas to observe him live. It’s not what he says as much as what he doesn’t say and this article calls him out on that.

He appears to do all the right things. He’s charismatic. He does appear to be having his “Best Life Now” with a picture perfect family and a successful church.

Enough about the smiling pastor and his megachurch. However we may judge we must also ask ourselves, what are the messages and values that we communicate from our pulpits? What do we teach our congregations through the songs that we sing? Are we really all that different from the Osteen way?

Quite often today it seems like we don’t deal quite adequately enough with Christianity’s “darker side”. More importantly we don’t talk enough or at all about the way of the cross – discipleship, sin, restoration, forgiveness and mercy. We don’t address the issues of sex, money, power in our lives honestly nor frequently enough.

Going to church ought to mean the place and people we exercise faith thinking and living through and with. Leaving a church does not involve unmet needs or desires but rather about calling and being missional. Jesus didn’t promise that we will be without troubles on this side of heaven. BTW, Jesus doesn’t just love you.

God without the fuss is just prozac.




abcpastor
[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
[i]
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
[ii]
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
[iii]
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.

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