Then sings my soul???

What if the majority of American Christianity was heretical?  Should we address it?  Should we find every single opportunity to correct and refine and redefine our faith?  Or should we ignore it? 

Now perhaps that is too bold of a statement to make.  I may in fact be mistaken that the “majority” of American Christianity is heretical, but I am afraid that the numbers may be higher than we think…especially when we look at the more fundamental denominations in our faith.

So what is the heresy?  What is heresy?  Heresy is a belief or opinion contrary to Christian doctrine.  Almost of all of the major heresies in the church were determined in the first few hundred years of our existence as great ecumenical councils came together to wrestle with this new type of faith.  One such heresy that has been around from the times of the Gospels is Gnosticism. 

Gnosticism essentially said that people are actually souls trapped in these terrible bodies of flesh.  Our bodies are broken and sinful and diseases ridden and they exist in a world of filth, corruption and pollution.  The “real me” has nothing to do with my body…the “real me” is trapped inside this body longing to get out.  And to get out, all a person needs is the correct knowledge (or gnosis).  If we want to escape this terrible world and become ourselves without our broken bodies anymore, all we need is to see the light and know the right stuff. 

Have you ever heard a message like that in a church?  This world’s not our home…our bodies have nothing to offer…just pray this prayer; believe this way; have this knowledge…and know that one day you will be home (i.e. your soul will be in heaven…).  Have you ever really listened and thought about some of the old gospel songs we sing:

This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore

     – from “This world is not my home” by Jim Reeves

Too many churches and pastors have unknowingly taken their theology lessons from Plato instead of our Gospels…especially the Gospel of John!  The word became flesh….flesh…body…This was written to combat the ideas of Gnosticism.  This was written to remind everyone of who we are as people.  This was written because if Gnosticism was allowed to run rampant what would happen?

Bodies don’t matter anymore…As Wendell Berry has said, “while the body goes about its business of destroying the earth, the soul is supposed to wait for Sunday…while the body exploits other bodies, the soul stands aloof, free from sin, crying… ‘I am not enjoying it.’”  Why should the body of Christ matter if we are just souls waiting on a transport?  Why should our bodies or creation matter if they’re just evil anyway?  What if it was this hatred for our bodies that paved the way to hate other bodies?  Why not then hate the bodies of slaves or women or animals or the earth?  Sound familiar?  Seen the news recently?

What if we were called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice not to appease and pave the way for our souls, but to offer all of ourselves to the transformative grace of God? 

Discipline Is All About The Small Things

samsonThoughts on Judges 13-16

 Discipline is about everyday battles. It is really about the small things. We do not avoid slipping up only by jumping over the big pitfalls. Moreover, while one success is a victory, it takes many grace-fueled successes each day to move forward in sanctification. For example, we do not avoid weight gain by avoiding one desert. It is a daily struggle of fighting many battles in which we have choices to make. We do not avoid being out of shape by avoiding one lazy afternoon. No, we fight against the desire to avoid work each day as we lace up our shoes to go to the gym or out for a run. Continue reading

I have a dream, you have a dream, God has a dream

IMG_2029I have a dream. You have a dream. I presume that our wives, husbands, children, friends, and neighbors have dreams. Dr. King had a dream. This week we were reminded of Dr. King’s dream as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of his historical speech which he projected from the shadow of the towering Lincoln Memorial. I wonder, though, have you ever considered if God has a dream?

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How Can We Be Sure This Life Matters in Light of Eternity?

ResurrectionLast Friday’s post opened us up to a question: “Do we believe that when all is said and done in terms of this life that the sum of its value will be based on the amount of pleasure we each were able to collect, or is there more to our individual worth than shallow, worldly pursuits?” The answer to this question somewhat depends on worldview and attitude. As for worldview, this is obvious: Belief in an afterlife or not has a large impact upon how we value life in general. But, then again, it is not all that simple. Attitude certainly has a lot of impact. Continue reading

Does Death Ultimately Trump Healthy Living?

SickleOver and over again, we have argued that pursuing health is an ethical decision: We must learn to be stewards of all that God gives, including our bodies. Having said this, we must notice the real difference between the “pursuit” of health and “being” healthy. They are not one and the same, and the realization of this fact has led some to give up on the whole idea altogether, but does this have to be the case?

 Much of the time, good health is the good result of a thoughtful lifestyle, full of proper diet and exercise; however, even the healthiest lifestyle does not guarantee good health. This is a difficult reality to accept, but, when healthy-living people fall ill, they must be able to process such realities without falling prey to unnecessary guilt and disappointment. Continue reading

Developing Our Christian Ethic: Breaking Free From the Norm.

Kodiak_Island_bisonAt the core of what we do here at The Echo Life is our Christian ethic. We would not be promoting a holistic Christian life if we merely saw it as a good idea. No. The reason we preach what we preach is because we feel an ethical sense of duty to promote Christianity as a faith that speaks to the deepest areas of our life. More to the point, we see our faith as something that penetrates every area of life, from the extraordinary to the most ordinary. We have to be able to open our hearts and our faith to the reality that Christianity is bigger than we often allow it to be. For the Christian, it should be everything, but we have often used it only when we think we need it, only when we think our morality needs to be introduced to the situation. In everything else, we simply follow the heard. Continue reading

Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right (Pt. 2)

Part Two: Antinomianism

 While there is no new heresy under the sun, the heresy of antinomianism had its biggest hay day in rather recent history, namely right after the Reformation. It has always had its adherents, perhaps not calling it by name, and it continues explicitly or implicitly in the minds of many Christians today. But the Reformers had the biggest battle with persons trying to pervert their message so as to have their cake and eat it too.

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Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right (Part One)

The First Wrong: Gnosticism

In the second century AD, the church fought a fight for the faith that would decide its trajectory forever. Granted, God’s guarantee that the church would survive means that the early church fathers victory was inevitable, but this does not mean that they did not have to fight as if the fate of Christianity depended upon it. Ultimate victory does not negate the fact that decisive action is best. The church could have suffered much more than it did, even while having a guarantee of victory, if the Fathers did not fight as they did. We see this sort of truth in Israel’s history. While God always proved faithful to Israel, when Israel did not prove faithful to God, they suffered. This is a real possibility for the church as well, and I believe we have seen examples of such suffering in our own history. Continue reading

The Virtue and Desire of Wanting to Live

The ethics of death and dying and the ethics of wellness are certainly not opposed to each other, yet, at certain points in our lives, one has to take precedence over the other. At times, we must be willing to lay down our lives, if need be, for that which is greater. While we might want for a full life, we have to know that some things are worth giving our lives to and for. But, we live in a society obsessed with longevity.

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Food For Thought…(1/2/12…New Year’s Resolutions)

Food for thoughtBack in November we released an article, “Think Your Way To A Leaner Body.” While the title might seem to reflect some new meditating technique, titles are often never what they seem on The Echo Life. Instead of meditation, this article explored more of an ethical issue, rather than a physical one. In the end, the argument was made that we cannot just “do” things to change. We must “be” or at least “become,” by the power of grace, what we wish to be before we can do what we wish to be. Continue reading