Tuesday, March 8, 2011

But Seriously, How'd Christianity Become so Popular?

It wasn't always popular, after all. But people have never stopped flocking to the Good News.

People have made the Cross into a kitchy jewelry icon,
The cross. A symbol of wealth and success.
Christmas has been turned back into a pagan holiday,
Does not make me think of Jesus.

and Christians take the blame for everything that ever happened, even when there's nothing to be blamed for

But it's an easy way to endear yourself to your followers
 You will know them by their fruit.

....face it, many people nowadays like to give off the appearance of Christianity in order to make people like them more. Christianity is easy to believe, novel, romantic (for those who care about the story at all), helpful to one's social standing, economically appealing in order to get a large consumer base, and a source of good stuff to quote to make yourself sound wise and good.

Wait, what?

On the other hand, those who dislike Christianity assert that it's intolerant, sexist, an attractive myth, etc etc.

Stop, stop it now!

Nothing is right about these views. Neither one. Christianity may have been morphed in the public perception into a convenient fairytale, or alternately an oppressive theofascism, but this is not Christianity, and it was NOT easy to attract converts in the beginning.

How hard is Christianity to believe? We live at a different time and place than 1st century Greece, Rome, Jerusalem, etc. It's conceivable that if Christianity as it is currently understood started today, it would easily catch on for reasons easily thought of. But would it's message really have been easy to believe for the people that the Word went out to in the early days of the church?

The goal of this post is to highlight key points of disagreement about Christian Doctrine that would have ensured that it would NEVER have caught on, much less lasted thousands of years, long enough to become as popularized and romanticized as it is today, unless there was something tangible behind the claims made.

Why is Christianity so Popular?

This is not a naive question; it is actually quite profound when you think of it.

There are 2.1 billion estimated people who would claim adherence to Christianity in the world. The runners-up of note are Islam at 1.5 billion, secularists at 1.1 billion, Hinduism at 900 million, Buddhism with 376 million, Sikhism (the original Chrislam) at 23 million, and the children of Israel coming in with a poky 14 million. I'd be really curious to see if these statistics changed greatly as of the most recent census.

Wow, looks like Christianity's really popular! And with a world population somewhere between 6 and 7 billion (probably much closer to 7), that means Jesus' got a 30% approval rating! That's better than President Obama's rating, and probably most other presidents (not going to bother looking up that statistic).

So why is the world so messed up? You'd think two vs. 5 would be pretty good odds, especially when not all nonChristians are actively causing chaos. We're all made in God's image, after all, so one would expect that even those who reject God would behave somewhat morally, having The Law written on their hearts (Romans 2:14-15).

Then whence cometh evil?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Inspirational Poems

I'm moving these over here from the facebook notes I originally posted them as. I originally encountered each of these, if I recall, in a pamphlet (1 inch thick or so) entitled "The Scoutmaster's Handbook," which I bought at the trading post at Broad Creek (a summer camp for Boy Scouts) in 2007. Most of them will be after the jump. I think these are all very inspirational--enjoy!


A man doesn't whine at his losses.
A man doesn't whimper and fret,
Or rail at the weight of his crosses
And ask life to rear him a pet.

A man doesn't grudgingly labor
Or look upon toil as a blight;
A man doesn't sneer at his neighbor
Or sneak from a cause that is right.

A man doesn't sulk when another
Succeeds where his efforts have failed;
Doesn't keep all his praise for the brother
Whose glory is publicly hailed;

And pass by the weak and the humble
As though they were not of his clay;
A man doesn't ceaselessly grumble
When things are not going his way.

A man looks on woman as tender
And gentle, and stands at her side
At all times to guard and defend her,
And never to scorn or deride.

A man looks on life as a mission.
To serve, just so far as he can;
A man holds his noblest ambition
On earth is to live as a man.

~Edgar A. Guest

 An old man going a lone highway
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and wide and steep,
With waters rolling cold and deep.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream held no fears for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here.
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way.
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide—
Why build you this bridge at eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head.
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.
The river which was as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He too must cross in the twilight dim—
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

Original Poem by Will Allen Dromgoole

ΙΧΘΥΣ : the "Jesus Fish"

 Image Credit

From Wikipedia, ΙΧΘΥΣ is an acrostic of the word (meaning 'fish' in Greek), which would spell out:
"Jesus Christ God's son Savior" in ancient Greek "Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ", Iēsous Christos, Theou Huios, Sōtēr.
  • Iota (i) is the first letter of Iēsous (Ἰησοῦς), Greek for "Jesus".
  • Chi (ch) is the first letter of Christos (Χριστός), Greek for "anointed".
  • Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (Θεοῦ), Greek for "God's", the genitive case of Θεóς, Theos, Greek for "God".
  • Upsilon (u) is the first letter of huios (Υἱός), Greek for "Son".
  • Sigma (s) is the first letter of sōtēr (Σωτήρ), Greek for "Savior".

I'm going to spare repetition about symbolic significance, aside from one major point, which was the inspiration for my choice of title for this blog: the ΙΧΘΥΣ symbol was a secret way of identifying friend from foe, and declaring one's faith in Jesus Christ, while under persecution.

Wild at Heart

I'm currently reading this book. It reads nothing like a self-help book at all, but rather offers several key insights about a man's heart and how we are called to live our lives unto God. I was actually recommended this book by a friend who lent it to me yesterday, and I'm already almost finished it. It is geared toward men, so keep the audience in mind. If I recall, the author (or his wife?) has written a book just like it, but for the woman's heart, and in my reading of Wild at Heart I can tell you that I'm becoming very interested in reading Captivating for what I imagine will be valuable perspective, that of a woman's soul.

I'm not finished reading, but I enthusiastically recommend this book to all men and boys, particularly young men, teenagers, and fathers.


Hello World

Jesus Christ saved me from a life of violence, drunkenness, drug abuse, sexual immorality, lies, rape, thievery, arson and murder....... What a blessing I never truly had the chance to do any of those things, at least as they are commonly imagined in the mind of sinful man. My story is not a dramatic, rescued-from-destitution glorious tale of redemption from a street corner in a large city, abandoned by all, helpless and without anywhere to turn to for help. Except maybe the helpless and without anywhere to turn to for help part. See, none of us can do anything without the sustaining power and grace of Almighty God (Acts 17:28a: for in Him we live and move and have our being). While all indications are that Salvation happens at a single instant, becoming Christian--a little Christ-imitator--is a continuing process of being remade into the image of God. I have grown much in my understanding in the intervening year since I exited a period of intense doubt in my life, and while I won't pretend that I have nothing to contend with now, I have come to know the will of the Father through reading His Word deeply enough that I have a newfound confidence in taking a stand for Truth. I decided to create this blog as part of my journey to be the salt of the earth and to let my light shine before men, that they may see my good deeds and praise my Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). There are many parts of the Body of Christ, and there is plenty of room for preachers, teachers, evangelists, etc. These are distinct, and I'll go into detail (1 Corinthians 12) about gifts of the Spirit in a later post. I believe that I have a natural inclination to be a leader, based on my experience in the Boy Scouts, and also the yearning in my heart that I now feel. I'll be trying out my wings on this blog site, to see whether I soar best as a teacher, evangelist, preacher, or other man of God.