Fundamentalists & Atheists Are Both Half Right

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May 212012
 

There is one dominant criticism of Christianity.

I hear a lot about hypocrisy, but that’s a red herring. Hypocrisy, as a basis for criticism, varies based on what you are being hypocritical about. If, for instance, Christians espoused eating babies, but were hypocrites who failed to eat babies, no one would complain that we were hypocrites. They would be glad we weren’t eating babies, not upset that we were hypocrites.

The other red herring is that it’s about our belief in God. I hear that some, but it’s not what most atheists complain about. If it was, they would vilify liberal and Fundamentalist Christians alike, but they don’t. Instead, atheists mostly tolerate liberal Christians, and they crucify fundamentalists.  Why? Why are Fundamentalists skewered so readily, and liberals left alone?

Because the main criticism atheists throw at Christianity is about the values of Fundamentalist Christianity. Most of the critics of Christianity value loving others, caring for others, serving others, and they let Fundamentalists have it when they fail to do that. That’s their real complaint. The rest is really just fuel added to the fire.

The irony, of course, is that those values atheists hold so dear come out of Christianity. Before Christianity became the dominant religion, these values weren’t valued at all. It wasn’t until Jesus came along that love, joy, peace and kindness were adopted as virtues. What atheists miss, though, is that Jesus didn’t teach them as values by themselves. They existed within the context of a relationship with God. Establishing those values were not Jesus’s goal or his point. Jesus taught people to love both God and  neighbor. That was the point. So if a Fundamentalist loves God but not their neighbor, they’re only half right. If an atheist loves their neighbor but not God, they too are only half right.  Both groups are half right.

No wonder they can’t stand each other.

Sermon Podcast: Delighting in God

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May 202012
 

Is worship “one more thing” on your list? Do you only talk to God when you need something? This weekend we hear the power and the beauty that comes from just delighting in God’s presence, both in worship and beyond. Based on Psalm 92:1-10.

Sunrise at Thacher Park, near where I grew up outside Albany, NY

May 142012
 

Not only did one of my quotes recently appear in a movie trailer, now I am also quoted on the back of a book! Both are quotes that tell you how good the book or movie is, and in both cases I mean it, but I must admit that I never really though my opinion could possibly make someone else want to buy something someone else wrote. It’s hard enough believing that having my name attached to something that I wrote myself would make someone want to buy it, but to think that my name could also make a difference for others is, well, rather astonishing.

The book is called Given Moments, and it’s written by my friend Marie Duquette  and her friend Tracy Lawson.  It’s a collection of stories of sixty one people who were blessed by unexpected events. Some of those events were terrible, which makes the blessings even more stunning. One of those sixty one people might even be someone you know (hint hint).

Not only do I highly recommend you pick up a copy and read it, but I also recommend you turn it over and take a look at the back cover and take a look at my quote. The first time I saw it, I felt like Steve Martin in “The Jerk” when he saw his name in the phone book. Take a look:

Well, enough about me. Congratulations to Marie and Tracy! Now go buy this great book!

May 132012
 

There are a lot of rules in the bible, and even today there are groups of Jews and Christians who try to follow them all. Most, though, choose to follow some, but not others.? What is the role of the bible’s rules in our lives? And why? That, and more, are discussed in this sermon podcast based on John 15:9-17.