C'mon. You can't even make this kind of stuff up. Here's just a small sampling...
Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, who has worked for decades to involve conservative Christians in politics, said Sunday the debate over global warming is a tool of Satan being used to distract churches from their primary focus of preaching the gospel.
"If I decide here as the pastor and our deacons decide that we're going to get caught up in the global warming thing, we're not going to be able to reach the masses of souls for Christ, because our attention will be elsewhere, " Falwell said in Sunday's sermon at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va. "That's pretty wise for Satan to concoct."
[Sigh.] Once again, one prominant voice makes the rest of Christianity look foolish.
Earlier this week I had breakfast with a good friend Mike, who seriously called me out. In essence, Mike said, "Bro, I read the blog everyday. I'm getting a little tired of just the quotes. I need to hear what you think about the quotes." So, in loving response to Mike, I offer the following...
There was something that Rob Bell said at the Everything is Spiritual tour stop that has sat with me since then. He refered to and used Edwin Abbott's book Flatland to help paint a picture of the dimension that God operates in and the use of "faith" type language to describe that dimension. It was brilliant. The concept kept banging around inside my head, so being the book addict I am, I ordered the book within the next week or so.
The story is simple, yet wonderfully profound. It recounts the adventures of a two dimension character, a square, who lives in Flatland, a two dimensional world. The book opens with the square explaing to the reader what Flatland is, how it operates, and the "laws of nature" that govern the people of Flatland. [There is quite a bit of irony here as he is dealing with some serious social critique of the Victorian era]. The book then launches into what can only be described as the awakening of our two dimensional character to the larger reality outside of his own - the third dimension. He is visited by a sphere, a citizen of Spaceland, a three dimensional world - and this is where the fun begins.
The sphere tries various lines of reasoning to get the square to embrace the reality of Spaceland and the third dimension. I won't ruin the plot line [it's a short read, well worth looking into], but the book got me thinking...
The book presents this amazingly visual understanding of the incarnation and message of Jesus. The sphere comes to Flatland from "the beyond", Spaceland with a message about the reality of how things truly are. He was trying to enlighten the heart of those embraced a "this is all there is" understanding of life. There was something larger, bigger, more beautiful than a two dimensional view of the world could ever contain. The third dimension was not only a reality, but a haunting sense of it filled the two dimensional world. He tries to explain the reality of the third dimension using the language that a two dimensional world could grasp, yet the entire time to you get this feeling that the sphere is on the boundary of what language could contain - so ultimately he chooses to show the two dimensional creature the third dimensional world. Brilliant.
And the square is never the same again.
Jesus comes to awaken us to something so much larger and more beautiful than we ever could imagine. He comes to tell us that this is not all there is, there is something more. What we have sensed - that this world is somehow not operating as God intended it to - is true. What we have dreamed of - a world that is filled with love and mercy, of grace and generosity - is a reality, and is breaking into this world. Just as the sphere came to announce to the square that the third dimension was a reality, one that could be sensed in this two dimensional world, so Jesus comes to tell us that the kingdom kind of life is colliding into this reality. He tries to explain the kingdom using stories and images that connect with the people of his day - yet the whole time you get this feeling that words just cannot fully convey the beauty and scope of the kingdom. So he resorts to showing us the kingdom - by how he lived and the miralces he performed. These are the ways of the kingdom, where peace rules, where wholeness rules, where the blind see, the poor are cared for, and those who are "outside" are welcomed and embraced as "insiders".
And this world was never the same again.
The book closes with the square being so changed by what he has encountered that he cannot help but "proclaim the gospel of the Third Dimension", however counter-cultural or revolutionary it may be. His mantra as he lives in the middle of this new reality is "upward, but northward."
I want to be a part of the movement of people who are living fully awake - pursuing that which we have tasted and experienced. There truly is something larger and more beautiful than we ever imagined, and it is assuredly invading this world. May we live it, putting it on display for others to see. This is the gospel of the Kingdom.