Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am an avid reader and have always been (ever since that first time reading Go, Dogs, Go all by myself). I can't remember a time when I didn't like to read (though there was a time in seminary when I was reading an assigned book in a doctor's waiting room and someone asked me what I was reading and I told her that I was reading Ben Witherington's "The Christology of Jesus" and quipped that it was "a chore."

She misunderstood me and answered back brightly, "Honey, any book about Jesus is a joy!"

That put me in my place - it was a joy to be able to attend seminary and grow closer in my walk with Jesus and to better understand who He is, and I didn't have any right to complain.

Anyway, here's what I've been reading and am currently reading. I just finished David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons' unChristian, a book about their research about Christians and our behavior and our reputation.

This is an extremely important book for any (every) American Christian leader to read to help us all examine how to minister to a culture which is increasingly turned off by Christians and our unChristian reputation.

I have just started reading Adam Hamilton's book, "Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White" as he spoke at the Change the World Conference (about which I blogged earlier this week). I bought a package deal of each of the conference speakers' new books, and I decided I'd start with Hamilton's (as he was the first speaker of the conference).

In the second chapter, Hamilton talks about how sometimes we "strain gnats" (taken from Jesus' harangue at the Pharisees in Matthew 23:24, where He accuses them of "straining out a gnat but swallowing a camel"). He makes his point by remembering smashing his Beatles records after listening to a preacher tell him of the evils of rock-n-roll music (I wonder if it was someone like this guy) - and, as Hamilton puts it, "on the day the preacher was telling me that God wanted me to throw away my Beatles albums, thirty-two thousand people around the world died of starvation and malnutrition-related diseases!"

Unfortunately, his example brings a certain natural reaction with it. Why did you trash those Beatles albums? They would have been worth something today (I know that full well; I sold some original Beatles albums to a used bookstore, and the proprietor practically drooled as he offered me a low ball price for them, a price which was far more than they were worth to me), and they weren't offensive in any way (he makes it clear that these were of the "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah!" variety).

The problem I have with his story and the way he tells it is this: what exactly constitutes "straining gnats" and what "camels" are we swallowing? Does holy living (which includes ridding oneself of distractions from living a holy life, possibly including culling one's music selections) have to keep one from caring about world hunger? Are keeping right doctrine and working for justice mutually exclusive?

I say no; and I believe the church should do both. We should call people to personal holiness and to living it out. We should be calling people to relationship with Jesus Christ, and allowing His love for them to transform them into loving people, people who go out and live the Truth...

1 comment:

Rudy said...

Bait and switch, red herring, cloak and dagger, are favorites in the religious community. It demonstrates that leaders in the church are no longer intelligent enough to tackle philosophy and critical thinking. I am no scholar, and I know when someone else isn't one as well.