Category Archives: Q&A
Yesterday’s post, about the backwards rigidity of the Christian idea marketplace, took on a life of its own. I had hoped to have time to address some specific “pretty little boxes” that folks try to wedge me and my book into. Thus today’s Part II.
If you know me, you know I never went to a seminary or Bible college. I’m not ordained (whatever the heck that means), or a “licensed” minister. I’m just an everyday guy who was called by God into full-time ministry about 10 years ago. I’ve been blessed to walk the walk with Him, to have access to His written Word, and to sit under some great teachers. I guess you could say I’ve been to the same seminary as Peter, James and John — and to me, that’s the one that matters most.
That said, I often tell folks, when it comes to established “theology,” that I just fell off the turnip truck. I don’t know about all the -isms and other man-made boxes, pidgeonholes and subdivisions. I just know God.
This reminds me of a metaphor I’ve used many times: There are two ways to study a butterfly. You can pull off its wings and antenna, cut open its body, spread its insides on a slide, and look at it bit-by-bit under a microscope. Or, you can sit in the garden and watch it live. I’m sure there’s value in the slice and dice approach, but the fact is, if the butterfly on his lab table started to flap its wings, the scientist would have a heart attack.
To me, this metaphor applies perfectly to the whole idea of “theology.” By definition, this word means the scientific study of God — like biology is the scientific study of life, and geology is the scientific study of earth. The problem is, what God desires from us is not that we slice and dice Him, but that we have a real relationship with Him. If you wanted to grow your relationship with your wife, would you take out a clipboard, put on your lab jacket, and then sit back and study her every move? Sorta creepy if you ask me! Or, would you buy a bottle of wine, light some candles, put on some mood music, and have a romantic evening together? I sure hope you’d pick the latter!
My walk with God has focused more on getting to know Him personally — spending time with Him, sharing my heart, hearing His voice, trusting Him to lead the dance, step by step. During this time, I’ve learned incredible things about His Word and the truth of His promises. What I know about Him is more through first-hand experience than from book smarts. I’ve beheld the beauty of the butterfly.
As a result, the positions I take, including in my book UPRISING: Time for Christians to Stop Waiting and Start Winning, are fully deductive. Meaning, I’ve come to them through analysis of the evidence alone, instead of trying to piece together bits of evidence to support a pre-conceived notion.
Sadly, I’m afraid that the modern Christian idea market — by virtue of its being a structured, established, highly engineered old wineskin — is driven by inductive reasoning. The pretty little boxes are the pre-conceived notions — the pre-set theological categories – and writers who do not induce their experiences, insights and revelations into one of these boxes are not allowed in the big show.
Ok, this is starting to go a different direction once again. I set out to write about the pretty little boxes that gatekeepers of the Christian idea market have tried to force me into. So here goes…
Am I Charismatic? No, not in the traditional sense of the word. I relate well to those who claim this label, because I have first-hand seen miracles, felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, been a party to real-deal spiritual warfare and demonic deliverance, been used by God to utter words that are not a part of any human language, and have been somewhat comfortable in the Charismatic gatherings I’ve experienced. (My personal prefernce is worship that is a bit more thoughtful and orderly, but that’s just me.) However, to the extent that “Charismatic” has become a religious denomination — where certain loosey-goosey behaviors are expected, even if they’re merely the fruit of behaviorial conditioning and not of the Spirit, as is often the case – then I have a big problem with it.
Am I into “Dominion Theology”? The first time I was asked that, I had to look it up! While the name sounds great, the answer is a resounding no. Dominion Theology starts out good — adherents believe and pursue the dominion of the Body of Christ over the world — but it quickly goes the wrong direction. This theology advocates top-down takeover, including the political goal of establishing theocracy, and even allows for the use of force to reach this goal — and this is 100% counter to my position. I do believe in our dominion mandate – and ultimately, in complete takeover! — but I stand on the fact that the only way to accomplish this is as Jesus modeled: One heart at a time, through relationships and love. While our goal and belief in ultimate victory is the same, Dominion Theology calls for supply-side activism, whereas I call for demand-side ministry. And that’s a BIG difference.
Am I into “Kingdom Now” theology? From what I understand about this, it’s a subset of Dominion Theology, and as such, no, I’m not an adherent. Also, this teaching holds that Satan has had control over the earth and it’s our job to take it from him, and I don’t accept that at all. God didn’t give the world to Satan, and he had no power to take it. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything that’s in it” — and we are called to manifest that reality in the here and now.
Am I Reformed or Armenian? Had to look this one up, too. I’m Reformed. (But that’s a pretty darn big box.)
So … what label would I give myself? I don’t know. Just a follower of Jesus Christ, I guess.
If you know me or have read my bio, you probably know that I used to be very active in politics. In fact, I made my living in that arena for several years, first as a campaign consultant, and then as the founding editor of a prominent media source for “essential news and commentary about Texas politics.” During this time, I worked with campaigns up to the statewide level, and spoke regularly with folks like Karl Rove, Rick Perry, and even spent several hours in the governor’s office with George W. Bush.
A conservative Christian leader I knew back then recently saw a promo for my book and contacted me. It was good to reconnect with her. There are many fine Christian men and women called by God to serve in that battlefield, and she’s one of them.
Anyway, she asked me what I thought about the current political scene. This was my reply:
I felt the Lord call me out of politics, gosh, about 12 years ago, and into full-time ministry. (In fact, my latest blog post somewhat speaks to where He has me… http://christianuprising.org/2011/12/01/winning-strategies-supply-v-demand/). I still stay up-to-date as best I can, but for the last decade God has had me in the wilderness – literally – discipling our next generation of leaders, voters, husbands and fathers.
Regarding the current political situation, I believe our nation, in general, is simply reaping what it’s sowed. The problem with a democracy (which we’ve become) versus a constitutional republic (which is how we were founded) is that we’re stuck with mob rule. As someone once said, in a democracy you get exactly the government you deserve.
One thing I realized in politics is that even the best elected official or public policy is simply the tail of the dog, and a band-aid on the ills of society. Our problems don’t come from bad policy, they all come from individual people making bad choices. As James Madison said, if men were angels, we’d need no government. As Locke and Hobbs and others pointed out, government is simply a counterweight to individual selfish (sinful) choices. Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand; the less responsible the people, the less freedom they can handle and still function.
The only way to really change the world is one heart at a time. And the only way to truly change hearts is by leading people to a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Conservatism calls for liberty and limited government. Those are great things, but in truth they’re only a reflection of the righteousness of the people. As de Toqueville pointed out, “America is great because she is good….” I don’t think that could be said about us today, by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. Yes, there are pockets of good, and plenty of good people. And there are still some residual “good” characteristics in our collective system. But, dare I say this?, the primary beef that Bin Laden had against America – that we inflict our cultural filth (pornography, greed, secularism, abortion, etc.) wherever we trod – is dead on. We are no longer a great nation because we are no longer a righteous nation – and we have exactly the government we deserve. The majority of voters elected Obama; it’s that simple. Sure, these same brain-dead, superficial, self-serving voters may be cajoled and manipulated into casting a vote for someone who is more “righteous” than Obama. And sure, that may give us some temporary relief. But the fact is, it’s a band-aid at best, because underlying it all is the same electorate, the same culture, the same moral filth.
No, the path to liberty and limited government is not through electoral campaigns, it’s through evangelism and discipleship. Our government will shrink as we once again become a nation of Christ followers. Our liberty will grow with our righteousness; our greatness with our goodness. Sure, God calls SOME folks to be active in the political arena – I’m thankful that He does, and they should do it with all their strength. We’re in a leaky boat, and someone has to bail water! But the real solution, and where we should put our emphasis as a movement, is found through fulfillment of the Great Commission, right here in our own backyard.
So, what do you think? Is the cure for our societial ills found in wholesale political campaigns, or through personal discipleship? Can a population be legislated into righteousness, or are stricter laws simply a counterweight to unrighteousness? Is there any real solution other than turning hearts to Christ, one at a time? I’d value your thoughts.
– You are the salt of the world. Stay salty, my friends!
Not long ago, I was able to share the message of the Kingdom with a fellow, who received it with joy. “This is what I’ve been waiting for!,” he said. He plugged into a weekly Bible study and was very excited, as he’d been quite tired of sitting in a pew and fed the line that we’re powerless in the face of the enemy.
After a few months, he moved away. I didn’t hear from him for quite a while, and then he called. He said that he was beginning to question the word of the Kingdom. “When I look at how screwed up we are in the church, I just don’t see how we’ll ever get our act together,” is what he said.
This is in line with what Jesus predicted. In the parable of the sower, He told His disciples that the seed we’re supposed to plant is the message of the Kingdom — the truth of our victorious identity, purpose and destiny. He said that some folks won’t get it, and some folks will embrace it and fall away because of persecution. Then He said some folks will get it, embrace it, receive it with joy — then the cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches will drown it out. That’s exactly what happened with this guy: the cares of the world — waaa! It’s too hard! — snatched away the seed that had been planted in his heart. Here’s the reply I emailed to him. Please join me in praying for this fellow…
There is one thing I’d like to speak to, if I may be so bold, and that is your statement about the message of the Kingdom. I would urge you not to look at the world today to base your view of God’s will, and instead look at God’s will to base your view of the world. I agree that the “church” today, as a whole, is in sorry shape. That is no reason to accept that as the way things must always be. The message of the Bride of Christ arising victorious is paramount and consistent throughout scripture, without any room for doubt. We are called to a higher level.
Seven times in a row, Jesus said that our eternal inheritance is stored up only for those who conquer the world. Seven times in the Bible it says Jesus is seated in heavenly places, WAITING for His enemies to be made His footstool. Paul said that gifts are being given to men UNTIL we – the Body, the Church — arise in unity and maturity “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” who is “above every name, in this age and the age to come.” In the Revelation, it says that at the end, the angels rejoice because “the Bride has made herself ready.” Every man and group in the Bible held up for our example were more than conquerors, like we’re called to be. I implore you, don’t give in to mediocrity, or resign to a dim view of our future.
I believe this generation is on the banks of the Jordan River, afraid to cross over into all that God has for us. We are camped over a valley, as the enemy’s champion heckles and insults the hunkered-down army of God. Thank God for Joshua leading the Israelites with boldness, in faith! Thank God for David killing Goliath, and inspiring the army to rise up and gain the victory! Christians are called to be champions, not chumps. Jesus is coming to rule with winners, not rescue losers. We need motivation! We need some tough talk! Today, more than ever before, we need men like you can be (like Joshua and David) – bold, outspoken, honest and admired – to call the Body to a higher level, to raise the banner of the Kingdom, to trumpet the supremacy of Christ from the rooftops, to lead the charge to victory.
Please, don’t lose hope, or count the Body of Christ down for the count. Don’t let the enemy snatch away, or cares of the world snuff out, the seed of the Kingdom that at first you received with joy. The Body and Bride of the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, is destined for greatness, not mediocrity or defeat – regardless of what we see in the world today. Victory IS up to us, and the end won’t come until we are done – this is undeniably clear throughout scripture, regardless of what we see in the flesh. I beg you, let the Spirit speak to you to confirm what I’m saying, and don’t base your view on the disappointment we both have in the organized church today. See the world through His eyes, listen to His heartbeat, and that will change everything.