Saturday, April 09, 2005

Funamentals of Faith

There are many words in the American vocabulary that spark different ideas (good or bad) depending on your point of view. During the saturation bombing ad campaign Bush launched against us last election, the word "liberal" was used with as much venom as the word "terrorist" or even "communist". Quickly, a word that had meant "tolerance" and "open-mindedness" began to take on a new meaning.

There is another word, or more of a label, that has also become misused in America: Christian. The word itself came from Antioch, Syria, to refer to those who followed the "Christ", which in Greek means "Annointed One". To some, a christian is someone born into a christian-practicing home. To others, a christian is a person who follows (or tries their best to follow) a long list of rules - a few selected from obscure passages in the Old Testiment of the Bible, and a laundry list of others made by the leaders of the denomination. Still others believe to be a christian, you simply try your best to live a life like Jesus - be kind to others, don't lie, don't steal, etc.

Read more!

In order for these different views of christianity to remain distinct from one another, additional labels are affixed to the term. On one side is that favorite panic word of Karl Rove - "liberal", and on the other, the equally frightening "fundamentalist". I myself was raised under the shadow of the later, in one of the most powerful "fundamentalist" churches in America.

I searched for the definition of the word "fundamentalist" online (courtesy of Google). Oddly enough, the definitions that came back seemed rather biased - "anti-modern", "rabid Islamist" (?), "refers to Mormons who believe ..." - but none of the online definitions pointed to christianity. It's hard to believe that these "fundamental" christians would want to be associated with Mormons or "rabid" Muslims (no disrespect is intended on my part, I only use the word "rabid" to point out the irrational fear, and non-tolerant behavior of some).

Fundamentalism hold very tightly to a select few of the laws in the Old Testament book of Leviticus (those laws that apply to others, not themselves), and then wraps itself in the tight blanket of Capitalism/Conservatism. "God helps those who help themselves" is the unwritten golden rule which is applied to the American poor. Since there is so much opportunity in this county, if someone's poor, it must be their own fault, right?

Please keep in mind, I am not referring to any particular fundamentalist christian, nor am I saying that every fundamentalist christian hates the American poor. I believe strongly that God can work any situation for good, and strong and faithful Christians can come from either the fundamentalist or liberal side of the street.

On the other side of the Christian spectrum are the liberal christians. Liberal christians tend to focus on the actions of the Christ, especially his attitude towards the poor and downcast, and try to live their lives to emulate Jesus. I've heard of the distinction between these two extremes as "the church of law" (fundamentalism) and "the church of love".

Yet for me, there is one sticking point for me with the liberal church - most of the liberal churches I have found do not believe in the Bible, or the divinity of the Christ. For me, the whole concept of Christianity falls apart without the Bible, or the divinity of Jesus. Where is the foundation of faith?

For me, I have chosen to believe that the Bible is the word of God, and that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God, by which all men must be saved. These two points are the fundamentals of my faith. Does that make me a "fundamentalist" in the general sense of the term? I sincerely hope not. I'd prefer the label "Biblical Christian". I would much rather the world consider me a member of the "church of love", than the "church of law".

Friday, April 08, 2005

Caz in Duluth

Duluth Harbor from Skyline Drive

My Buddy Caz sent this to me, bringing back memories of Duluth. One of the coolest things in the spring is all the ice that typically piles up on the shore.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Goodbye, Ice!

Ice on Jensen Lake in Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Taken Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

More photos from Jensen Lake

Pete's New Blog

This is my new blog!

I've seen them, I've read them, but I've never published one before.

So, what will be here?

Most likely, I'll use this spot to talk about my interests:

  • Java / Web Development
  • Hiking / Camping
  • Politics (uh-oh!)
  • Faith