Wednesday, December 18, 2013

EMT ~ the Bible

Ephesians 6:17 says, "Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."  That sounds like the Bible ("the word of God") is supposed to be a weapon.  Rachel wrote:
"For as long as I can remember, the Bible has been compared to a weapon, and for as long as I can remember, it has been used as one" (p. 187).
Have you ever seen or experienced the Bible being used to clobber someone or cut someone down?  How do you feel about that?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

EMT ~ Judgment Day house

"Give 'em hellfire and damnation!" my Uncle Jeff said over the phone, when he learned about seminary and ordained ministry.  I replied that wasn't how I saw it.  He repeated himself, "Give 'em hellfire and damnation!"  Nope, never did, and now I'm retired.  I consider the dogma of hell as a place of eternal torment to be an appalling idea about a God whose main attribute is supposed to be love.  So I was totally floored by the idea of a Judgment Day house in chapter fifteen of Evolving in Monkey Town.
"Every October, as the days grow shorter and the hills light up with color, talk in East Tennessee revolves around two things:  football and soul-saving.  While communities across the region open corn mazes and host bluegrass festivals to draw tourists from the city, churches in Dayton and nearby towns prepare their annual Judgment Day houses.  In contrast to regular haunted houses designed to scare teenagers into one another's arms with trap doors, fake blood, and miorrored hallways, Judgment Day houses are designed for a higher purpose:  to scare people into getting saved" (p. 161).
What?!?  I live in East Tennessee — unless we say something odd, like Chattanooga is in SOUTH Tennessee — and I have never in my life heard of a Judgment Day house.
"Most Christians I know have had some kind of Judgment Day experience.  It might have been a skit at summer camp, a puppet show at vacation Bible school, or a dramatic encounter with someone ... in a chapel service or on a street corner" (p. 166).
Activities in this chapter seems grotesque to me, with the new "converts" soon getting bored because all that's left is to wait around until you die and go to heaven.  Just as I said above about a loving God, Rachel wrote:
"My own doubts about Christianity centered around conflicted feelings about heaven and hell as I struggled to reconcile God's goodness with his wrath" (p. 170).
So tell us your thoughts about this chapter or pick a question or two or three.
1.  What do you think about Judgment Day houses?  (pp. 161ff.)
2.  Is salvation something that kicks in after death?  (p. 173)
3.  Was Jesus "born to die"?  (p. 173)
4.  Was Jesus's purpose simply to alter the afterlife?  (p. 174)
5.  Do you agree with Rachel that "Jesus also lived to save us from our sins"?  (p. 175)
6.  What's the difference between that and "Jesus died to save us from our sins"?  (p. 175)