Archives For Culture

Last October, a group of friends started gathering to start the adventure church planting. I’ve read some books and graduated from seminary, but one of my greatest inspirations for our new community is the Jimmy Fallon show.

Like most people, it took me a long time to warm up to Jimmy Fallon. His time on SNL swung violently between hilarious and obnoxious. When we started a Late Night show, I was just confused.

As he’s grown into the role, and mastered his unique approach, I find myself wishing that our new church planting efforts would eventually be described as “kind of like the Jimmy Fallon show, but for Jesus.” Continue Reading…

Last night, Senator Wendy Davis prevented an abortion law from passing in Texas by filibustering until midnight. It is being hailed as a momentous act. A demonstration of democracy at work.

It also demonstrates the reality of politics in the U.S., and the dangerous game that religio-political groups are playing.

For a follower of Jesus, I struggle with this at two points:

How can we “Love Thy Neighbor” in this political system?

Politics in America has devolved into a stalemate between two parties. The argument is over how a third party, “the government”, should act. The very word polis refers to the way WE organize ourselves as a community, not how IT should act.

As an American, I would rather celebrate the times we use politics to work together to build our society. As followers of Jesus, our highest calling in society is to “love thy neighbor”. When we buy into the “Us vs. Them” mentality, we’ll never be able to do that.

Who are we to rule?

Political groups that brand themselves as Christian are acting on the assumption that Christians should use government to enforce their ideals on the world around them. Jesus chose to embrace suffering at the hands of the empire rather than to embrace those who wanted to crown him king. Christians need to remember this as they approach their interaction with government.

I’m not sure this fight is about what the two sides say it is. Let me be clear that I am no fan of abortion. Nor do I think politics can be totally avoided. But there has to be a better way.

Are your celebrating or mourning after last night? Or have you found a Third Way?

Americans love Gatsby. We love the idea of a mystery man from nowhere. We want to believe, like Gatsby, that we can invent a persona to fit into our culture.

Gatsby is a story about the lengths we will go to because of shame. Gatsby’s great secret is that there is no Gatsby. An impoverished teenage boy, ashamed of his upbringing and family, invented the character of Jay Gatsby. He then spent his life lying, cheating and stealing to create Gatsby.

Churches often force people to do the same.

Continue Reading…

More and more Americans are either supporting gay marriage or believe that it is inevitable. This shift means that it is no longer enough to view gay marriage as a moral issue, but that it is time to start thinking of gay marriage as a cultural phenomenon.

The time-honored approach to thinking about culture comes from H. Richard Niebuhr’s 1951 classic Christ and Culture. This post will outline Niebuhr’s five categories and how Christians can choose to relate to this phenomenon. It is by no means a statement of my own personal opinion.

Christ Against Culture
“…affirms the sole authority of Christ over culture and resolutely rejects culture’s claims to loyalty…”
The Church actively opposes culture, and therefore, stands in opposition to gay marriage. This could mean actively preaching against it or picketing. It might also mean using the church’s position on gay marriage to actively exclude others.

Christ of Culture
“…they interpret Christ through culture, selecting from his teaching that which best harmonizes with the best in civilization…”
The Church actively embraces culture, and therefore, actively works to promote gay marriage. This could mean carrying out civil unions and gay marriage ceremonies. It might also mean actively advertising the church as “open and affirming.”

Christ above Culture
“They cannot separate the works of human culture from the grace of God…”
The Church sees culture as the outworking of God’s relationship with man. This might lead to acceptance of gay marriage is a natural outworking of God’s interaction with the world.

Christ and Culture in Paradox
“…loyalty to Christ and responsibility for culture…”
The Church holds in tension their responsibility to be a separate Christ-shaped community with their responsibility to be a blessing to the larger culture. This could mean creating opportunities for dialogue and healing between the church and the LGBTQ+ community, while better defining it’s own sexual ethic.

Christ, the Transformer of Culture
“…a hopeful view toward culture…”
The Church recognizes the goodness of human beings made in the image of God, and the legitimacy of any self-sacrificial love. This might mean abandoning picketing for opportunities to serve alongside secular organizations, no matter what their sexual politics. It could also mean promoting healthy marriages rather than focusing on politics.

Is this a fair representation of Niebuhr’s views? Which of these is most appealing to you?

(Keep it civil. Snarky and hurtful statements will be deleted.)

Why We Need Everyday Theology

Chris —  September 4, 2012

In the Middle Ages, Theology was named “Queen of the Sciences.”  It was a noble idea, that the study of God is the greatest of all studies.  The problem is, this puts theology on a pedestal far away from where we live our lives.

I think that this problem is painfully apparent in our modern life.  These days we’re convinced life can be boiled down to information to be quantified and experiences to be bought and sold.  That is, until we are stuck alone in a quiet room with our own thoughts, or tragedy shakes us from our futile busyness.


What if placing theology on a pedestal actually killed it?  Being a queen means no longer walking among the base.  Maybe the reason “men lead lives of quiet desperation” is that we can an find no depth, or purpose in our day to day.

Everyday Theology isn’t that different from what Jesus did when he strode through the streets of ancient Palestine.  He took God from heaven to earth.  A theology modeled after Jesus will take our ideas God and eternity and push them through the sieve of daily life.

My friend John Chandler has organized a get together of compadres from Ecclesia Network, Missio Alliance and a few “off the map” communities of Jesus people from around Texas.  Dr. Roger Olson, of Truett Theological Seminary and the Missio Alliance, will kick things off. He will be followed by 13 practitioners, from 13 different church communities, telling their stories of how theology shapes our activities and our thinking, not just on Sunday, but Monday through Saturday as well.

I’m thrilled that John’s going to let me help MC, and that we’re hosting at my home away from home Space12.

I hope you can join us.