Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Have Spoken Too Harshly

“Martin Luther, are you the author of these writings?”

“I am.”

“Do you recant what you have written here?”

“I cannot renounce all of my works because they are not all the same. First are those books in which I have described Christian faith and life so simply that even my opponents have admitted that these works are useful. To renounce these writings would be unthinkable, for that would be to renounce accepted Christian truths.”

“He is not here to make speeches, only to answer.”

“The second group of my work is directed against the foul doctrine and evil living of the Popes, past and present. Through the laws of the Pope and the doctrines of men, the consciences of the faithful have been miserably vexed and flayed. If I recant these books I will do nothing but add strength to tyranny and open not just the windows but also the doors to this great ungodliness.”

“He has condemned himself.”

“In the third group, I have written against private persons and individuals who uphold Roman tyranny and have attacked my own efforts to encourage piety to Christ. I confess…that I have written too harshly. I am but a man and I can err. Only let my errors be proven by Scripture and I will revoke my work and throw my books into the fire.”

These are a few lines from the movie Luther (2003) when he was under trial in Germany. In his passion for what he saw was wrong Luther frequently spoke harshly. In fact, we know from letters we still have today that Erasmus, who also saw the need for change in the church, often wrote to Luther about how abrasive and harsh Luther was. Erasmus was a great man who sought to have the church change with as little damage as possible being done while Luther demanded the truth be taught at any risk for the sake of those who were being greatly harmed by the current state of the church.

The real Luther had some doctrine that wasn’t quite right, but this quote from the movie really grabbed my attention. Particularly when he said, “I confess…that I have written too harshly. I am but a man and I can err. Only let my errors be proven by Scripture and I will revoke my work and throw my books into the fire.” That’s powerful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Getting Married In A Few Days

Sarah and I have been busy at work and we’re not alone. So many have been hard at work. Family and friends have been coming down and visiting. Tonight Sarah and I hosted 6 of the Hendersons at my place, what is soon to be our place for Sarah and I. More and more the signs are becoming clear that this will be “our” place. Everything is reorganized, a few changes to what hangs on the walls (mostly additions), and it’s a lot cleaner (something I’m sure her parents would be rather shocked at). I’m can’t believe how much moving her stuff to my place and organizing everything would drain me.

In less than 3 days Sarah and I will be married. I’m learning more and more of how much I have left to learn. I look ahead and see all that Sarah and I hope for in our life together. More than anything I see our life of ministry together and I’m filled with excitement. I see the challenges that are ahead of us; places in our character that need to be reshaped, our finances by which we must discipline ourselves to retiring (and hopefully will have the income to retire sooner than later), learning to balance ministry and family. I see areas in which I alone need to grow and be more giving, like understanding Sarah’s love language better. All of this is exciting and I can’t wait to begin this life with Sarah.

Over the past week I have entered into so many conversations with friends, family, and acquaintances. Many of these conversations have left me thinking about how much God has reshaped and changed me over the past year. So much has happened to me, including sending me a woman that has been such a blessing. God has reshaped how I think about ministry. He’s reshaped my understanding of communication that really reaches your audience (even though the results have already been more than what I could ever hope for I strongly feel God is still teaching me in this area). God has been reshaping my understanding of family (thank you Sarah and other Lawrensons).

I’m getting married and my life is changing. God is moving and working in me and it is exciting! In a short time I’ll be marrying a woman unlike any I’ve met before and I know she was sent to me to help change my life, some of which I’m resistant and quite possibly will need to resist (I can hear Gail saying, “stand your ground Terry”), but I know Sarah and I will sharpen each other greatly and she is the most wonderful part of this amazing thing God is doing in my life.

Praise God for the marvelous ways He tells us how much He loves us, through His hand reshaping us and sending us blessed gifts!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Christianity, Denominations, and Cults

I’ve had thoughts swarming over and over in my head concerning the various denominations of Christianity. Bare with me as I roam through my logic to get you to the point.

My degree was on religions and I studied denominations of Christianity, yet I once again find myself puzzling over an issue that makes me examine some denominations. Take, for example, the LDS, the church of Latter Day Saints (also known as Mormons). They call themselves Christian yet conservative Christians call them a cult. Why? Because there is something foundationally cracked in who they believe God is, who they believe Jesus is, who they believe the Holy Spirit is, who they believe we are, and how salvation is obtained. Who they say God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are does not match up with mainstream Christianity so they’re a cult.

Now I would agree with this. While at East Carolina University I spend a good portion of my time targeting Mormons (especially Mormon missionaries who were easily spotted) to share my faith with. It was a challenge because they believe they were Christians and that all other Christians were the ones following a flawed belief system. Nonetheless, I was able to leave those conversations helping them see that who we say God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are is vastly different from what they say they are. The personalities, goals, functions, etc. are all different.

Now, getting to my point, what I’ve been having a hard time with is Charismatic groups. Those who believe in the use of Tongues. Just to be clear, it’s not the use of Tongues that bothers me, but rather what always seems to accompany the usage of Tongues: teaching people how to pray in Tongues, believing a person must be Baptized by the Holy Spirit a second time, and a whole lot more that is very questionable. How did such a group ever get labeled as a denomination and not a cult? Sure they use similar “church” language that we use, but so do Mormons. Don’t these Tongue groups have a tendecy to also misrepresent the Holy Spirit and his function. What’s makes them so different from the Mormons in that regard?

Now I’m not saying lets go to war and make it clear Charismatics are not Christian. I’m just laying my personal thoughts out there for all to see.