Monday, December 17, 2007

Today in Blogworld 12/17

The first article I read this morning is probably the most sad. Dr. Mohler addresses a new agenda-filled T-shirt worn by toddlers. The T-shirt reads "My Daddy's name is Donor". No, that's not Donner, one of the 8 reindeer; it is a reference to a sperm donor. What is communicated to this little guy is that his daddy does not matter. Mohler sites Catherine Bruton of The Times in London who says: The T-shirt is offered by a company called Family Evolutions, founded by a lesbian couple whose son modelled the shirt. The co-founder, Stacey Harris, says that the T-shirt is empowering. "We want to lift the taboo surrounding donor conception so that kids don't feel that their coming into the world is a shameful secret," she says. "Kids who are empowered will grow up well-adjusted." Despite my concern over the political agenda behind this, I am most pained for this little child and the host of other little boys. What does it communicate to a male child when he is told that daddy doesn't matter? It means men do not matter. It means your masculinity does not matter. Truly sad.

John Piper reminds us that we need to feel homesick: "The likelihood of dying because you are a Christian is closer than it used to be for Americans. The freedom from such threats has generally existed in this country for a tiny portion of history (about 400 years). We have gotten used to it. It seems like the way things must be. So our first reaction to the threat that things might be otherwise is often anger. But that anger may be a sign that we have lost our sense of being aliens and exiles (“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles . . .” 1 Peter 2:11). Perhaps we have settled in too much to this world and this country in particular. We don't feel as homesick for Christ as Paul did..." Continue reading

In Acts29/MBC news, Founders has posted an interview with Kevin Larson. Larson is one of the 3 churches that will be deeply affected by this decision. The St. Louis Post has ran an article as well. My friend Sam of Believers Church, also deeply impacted by this decision, was interview for this article. My only regret is that in the Post article the author refers to these churches as "Emerging". That is not helpful to the discussion.

Josh Harris has parts two and three now posted on his affluenza series.

Pulpit Magazine attempts to answer a very good question about being unequally yoked: Question: Some people have told me that being unequally yoked is talking exclusively about marriage. Others have said that it applies also to business partnerships and other situations. Could you please expand on this? What does it mean to be unequally yoked and what type of a guideline should I have if it is okay for me to have a business partnership with a non-believer? Read the answer here.

And finally Thabiti Anyabwile, from Pure Church, tackles the Satan (I mean Santa) Claus debate. I am hoping that my friend Will accepts my invite to begin writing on this blog. If he does I would love to see him address this issue--I appreciate his stance on Christmas. As for Thabiti he says Down with Santa Claus. Here is his conclusion: "I'm not arguing a dogmatic causality here. I'm simply asking the question, "Why include Santa Claus at all?" Is the imagined upside of following the culture here worth what we think it's worth? And are our justifications helping us to point our children to Christ or masking the reality that we may be pointing our children away from Him? Personally, I doubt Santa Claus is worth it, and pointing our kids away from Jesus at Christmas may be the worst form of child neglect I can imagine."


  1. Hello all; thanks for the inivite, Mike (this is Will).
    I have a friend who tells his kids that Santa Claus is "pretend, and it's okay to play pretend, just like you pretend you're spider-man, we can pretend Santa's real." My wife and I have pretty much adopted this one.
    One argument that Thaibiti doesn't address is one that I would actually offer: participating in traditional Christmas symbols helps us be culturally relevant, especially when we use those symbols to communicate the gospel. I don't know that I like that argument, especially when "culturally relevant" so often means "watered-down gospel." That's not for what I'm arguing, but rather, why can't we use the symbols of Christmas to communicate the gospel: the ever-green tree communicates the everlasting life that the Messiah brings; we use a gold and red color scheme in our ornaments - admittedly, mainly b/c my wife found those colors most appealing - and I think I'm going to use those colors to explain that Jesus was King of Kings, and He came to die to ransom those who killed him, and those who would offend His rule - us. It's interesting that Santa Claus, a symbol of generosity, is currently used as a symbol of selfish-ism and capitalism; can't Christians reform that? It's pretty sweet to remember a guy who works year-round to give to people; isn't that similar to what we're called to do?
    I'm sure that Santa Claus is unnecessary for a good Christmas (we're probably also going to include the birthday-cake to Jesus tradition; that sounds sweet!), but I'm not sure that the symbol of fat jolly St. Nick can't be used to the ends of sharing the gospel, both to my children and to others' children. Feel free to push back on this, anyone.

  2. Hey Will,

    Good thoughts, bro. You raise some good points. So, this isn't as much a "push back" as thinking with you out loud. For the record, I do think we can make traditional Christmas symbols more gospel-related and "culturally relevant" (like you, I don't think that's a good term). I'm certain there are folks out there doing that to good effect. And may their tribe increase!

    But this would be my question. If Christmas is about Jesus, and the gospel is about Jesus, why not just focus on Jesus and the gospel instead of first voluntarily adopting and working to redefine otherwise unrelated symbols and then dragging people to gospel conversations (often against there desire)?

    Here's a place where we may be most relevant by actually being counter-cultural, providing an alternative grounded in the simplicity of the gospel itself.

    It seems to me that if our focus is on Jesus and the gospel, andthe world notices taht focus as distinct from its own, then we're a long ways down the road we want to be on without the detours of trees, St. Nick, etc.

    Just a thought. Grace and peace,

  3. Nice interaction. Just thought that this quote by Os Guinness seemed "relevant":

    "By our uncritical pursuit of relevance we have actually courted irrelevance; by our breathless chase after relevance without a matching commitment to faithfulness, we have become not only unfaithful but irrelevant; by our determined efforts to redefine ourselves in ways that are more compelling tot he modern world than are faithful to Christ, we have lost not only our identity but our authority and our relevance. Our crying need is to be faithful as well as relevant".

    Now knowing Will, and having read much by Thabiti, I am pretty sure that both would agree with that quote. The question then is whether or not we engage the culture with Santa Claus. Will, I apprecaite your heart in wanting to redeem the secular to preach the gospel to your daughter! Thabiti, I appreciate your point about just focusing on Jesus and being counter-cultural. Great've both got me thinking!

  4. I appreciate the challenging comments, brothers, and I'm inclined to agree with you, Thabiti. I think I was trying to "overspiritualize" Santa, thinking we could bring the symbol back more towards the real, historical, St. Nick, rather than the capitalist symbol of me-ism we have today. Even if that were possible, I think I'd only be convincing myself, and wasting much time in the process.
    Focusing on Jesus throughout Christmas is definitely the more faithful way to go; we're still going to have a Christmas tree in our home, so we'll still remain relevant with that symbol - and the tree still culturally might hold some of the symbolism it did in ages before. And we're still going to allow our girl to "pretend" Santa's real, much like she'd pretend she's some Disney character or something, if she likes it; because it can be fun.
    Perhaps this is looking at the Christmas symbols not as things to be reformed (per my previous comment), but instead, as things to be lightly absorbed, but mostly pushed aside for the simplicity of the Gospel, the coming of the Messiah, at Christmas.
    Oh, I appreciated the Oz quote, too, Mike. Grace and peace, Will



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