Sunday, January 27, 2013

Theology Produces Doxology (simple doctrinal test)

To follow up my thoughts about Neil Cole’s dichotomy involving a "Theology of SAFE" vs. a "Theology of DEATH," here is one more thing to consider about theology. I think I heard this from someone back in college and I have yet to find it contradicted. The statement is this: Theology produces doxology.

Basically, theology consists of what we know and say about God. Doxology can be described as praise and adoration of God. Simply, what we know/believe about God should lead to praise and awe if it is right.

This is a simple test. If I ever wonder if I am theologically correct (i.e. have the right view of God), then I can ask myself if my belief leads to greater worship, awe, and reverence for Him. Good, true theology always will.

If I am given two options about God, then I tend to go with the one that is more amazing and awe-inspiring. For example, did God really do all the miracles attributed to Jesus? Like healing people, walking on water, calming storms, raising the dead, etc.?? Or were they only parables and analogies to point us to a "good man" and greater wisdom?? Well, obviously the more remarkable, magnificent thing to believe would be that God can actually have that kind of control over natural things and that He did indeed exercise that miraculous power! It creates a sense of wonder and mystery and desire to praise Him. Thus, theology produces doxology.

I believe the reverse is also true. If I have a belief that causes me to be able to explain God, limit God, or somehow manipulate Him, then I can likely bet it is bad theology.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I am very intrigued by a brilliant analysis that I heard from Neil Cole. He referred to it as the "theology of SAFE." I am struck by how right on this is! If you think about it, this philosophy or approach to Christianity is, in large part, why we have "Christian" everything. Christian music. Christian radio. Christian TV. Christian schools. Christian bookstores. Christian businesses. If you can think of it, there is probably a "Christian" version of it! And by "Christian," I mean safe! How often do I hear the slogan, "safe for the whole family" whenever I listen to a Christian radio station. The implication, then, is that it must be God-honoring.

Every aspect of this SAFE acronym resonates with me personally. I have embraced it far too often and far too long in and out of "formal ministry" settings.

Safe theology looks like this:

Self-preservation = our mission
Avoidance of the world and risk = wisdom
Financial security = responsible faith
Education = maturity

Cole contrasts the above system with another. He wisely contends that the more accurate Biblical worldview would be characterized as a “theology of DEATH.” This constitutes the authentic Christian life. And oh man, is it uncomfortable! None of it seems appealing using human wisdom. I guess that's the point!
This is what a theology of death looks like…
Die daily to who we are
Empowerment of others (not self) is our life
Acceptance of risk is normative
Theology is not just knowledge, but practice
Hold tight to Christ with an open hand for everything else.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

SCMR - Ordinary Folks Making an Extraordinary Difference

SCMR - Simple Church Meeting Reflections - Jan. 13, 2013

Today's focus of our simple church gathering was Acts 4:11-12:

11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

(The first part is actually a quote taken from Psalm 118:22.) We spent some time reflecting on the context of the entire Acts 4 passage.

 A Real Story about Real People

I love how Scripture blends enormous, supernatural truths with the authentic and raw humanity of real people. The central focus of Acts 4 is the point that Jesus is the Healer and Savior, but this truth isn't presented in a vacuum. We learn it in the midst of genuine human circumstances and feelings.

It is good to continually be reminded that God will not fit in our boxes. In this passage, I notice that it is the religious leaders that are "greatly disturbed" by the teaching that there is resurrection of the dead in Jesus (verse 2). The people who spent their careers defining God had no clue about Him at all! But the best part is in verse 13, when the realization strikes the priests that the miracle workers of God are "unschooled, ordinary men." It leaves the observers astonished. The only prerequisite that qualified Peter and John for their ministry was that "these men had been with Jesus."

One of my concerns about Bible study and preaching today is how often people move from description to prescription in cases where it is not warranted. They see something happen in biblical history, and therefore, conclude it must be a mandate for everyone at all times. In this case, here is a description of an event where the learned, religious leaders were astonished not only at what God did through ordinary, unschooled men, but also by the fact that He would use these kinds of folks at all. The neat thing about the New Testament is that this is just one of many stories where Jesus operates this way. While this one case is just one event described in the Bible, there is enough of a pattern to see that this is a prescription for how God interacts with the human race. He consistently uses the weaker, less popular, alienated, poorer, and less trained people to carry out the greatest parts of His plan to redeem the world!

Sure, there are cases where God uses those in power to bring about change for holy purposes, but His MO of working with and through ordinary people of all ages, races, sizes, and backgrounds gives us all hope of being "participants in the divine nature." It is glorious! It is Good News!

Monday, January 14, 2013

My White Chair Story

I just finished the 22-Day Challenge from I Am Second. It is definitely worth checking out! I really like the simplicity of the videos and the principles behind the ministry, especially the small group component. The basic format for the videos involves individuals sitting in a white chair telling their story, illustrating how Jesus is first and they are second. (I guess one could make an argument that it should be called "I Am Last," but you get the point.)

The Challenge's last question was, "What is your white chair story?"

Well, here's mine.

I remember pulling in to the empty Post Office parking lot with my dad on that weekend afternoon. He told me that he needed to tell me something. Then, he shared that he would be leaving our family. He said, "I love you, but I can't stay." I did not know how to express or label it until later in life, but it was at that moment that I stopped trusting people.

From my parents' divorce at age 10 to subsequent family ruptures, I went through my teens with a greater sense of loss than gain. Living with bitterness was all that I was really good at. The one exception was the refuge I found on the basketball court.

At the end of my teenage years, I had sabotaged the only relationship I deeply cared about, failed out of college, and had no job. Anger had evolved into rage and continued to grow. I was mad. Selfish. Immature. Irresponsible.

One day, during a summer men's league basketball game, it came to a head. Within the first minute of the game, in an odd circumstance, an opposing player stepped on my shoelace and it came untied but knotted at the same time. I frustratingly knelt down, attempting to undo the knot while cussing under my breath. After a few moments, the referee asked me to sit on the side and fix my shoe while someone took my place. Everyone wanted to get on with the game.

Everything ugly about bitterness rose up in that instant from deep inside me. I unleashed a torrent of profanity on that official. When  even my teammates suggested I calm down, I turned my wrath on them. I yelled at the referee, the players, and everybody who could hear me. The official issued me technical fouls, kicked me out of the game, the gym, and the building.  While storming out, I hit the door and continued spewing out garbage.

Seconds later, I was behind the building and all alone. It was the most depressing and hopeless time in my life. I was out of control. No plan. No future. I could act tough in front of others, but not in front of myself. I already knew how weak I really was.

I sat down against the wall, buried my head in my hands, and I cried. And I kept crying.

One week later, I found myself with a group of guys, including my ex-girlfriend's father, on a trip to Denton, Texas for a Promise Keepers conference. I reluctantly agreed to join them, thinking it might be a way to get back in the good graces of my ex-girlfriend. Frankly, I could not care less about Jesus and the faith they all shared. The whole point of the conference was to worship and honor him. It sounded like a boring waste of time, but I had nothing better to do.

We arrived a little late. As we entered, I will never forget the moment I reached the top of the ramp leading to the stands and being able to look out across the stadium for the first time. I saw and heard tens of thousands of men singing in unison, praising God together. It was one of the most beautiful and powerful scenes I had ever taken in. All colors, all ages, all backgrounds. Sufficed to say, they had my attention.

When the first speaker came to the stage, he asked the crowd, "How far do you think you can throw a football?" People from all over the stands shouted. The presenter played on their egos. "40 yards?" "50...60...70 yards?" Cheering and boasting filled the air. The numbers climbed. He said we could give it a try, turned and retrieved an item from the back of the stage. He stepped back to the front of the stage and exclaimed, "Okay, here you go!"

He held up a football.

...A football that was flat as a pancake. No air inside!

I immediately became unsettled. I felt like my insides were shaking.

Now it wasn't the men that had my attention. It was God. The only other words I remember hearing the speaker say were, "You can never be what you were designed to be if you have nothing or the wrong thing inside you." My emptiness became suddenly apparent.

In that same instant, God was real. God was true. God was big! And for the first time ever in my eyes, God was love.

I surrendered my life to Christ that day. It's a silly expression, really. Surrendering is an act that should only be reserved for an enemy. Before then, though, that is what I thought God was. Since then, not even the word friend is good enough for Him.

It was June 12, 1994.

Over the years since that start of a new life, God has been the perfect Father. I haven't always liked what I've had to face, but His faithfulness is amazing! His peace is indescribable. His grace is enough. Knowing Him, by itself, would be a remarkable story of victory.

But God has done more. The ex-girlfriend is now my wife of 13 years. She is my soulmate. We have two fabulous and precious daughters. I earned three college degrees, volunteered and worked as a pastor and teacher. Currently, I am an educator. I am blessed by living close to most of my family and having positive relationships with them, and I have reconciled with my father and we now talk often.

Jesus teaches me all the time. He is full of truth, hope, and love. He never leaves me.

My name is Marc Scott, and I am second.

What is your "white chair" story?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Re-publishing Old Posts

I will be resuming the blogging thing soon.

In the meantime, I will be "re-posting" some of my older writings that are focused on faith, Jesus, and church.

I welcome your comments.