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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Teaching Christian Mimicry
As I munched on cereal for breakfast this morning I casually examined a shiny new children's book that someone had left upon the kitchen table. It was written by some lady - a doctor, and was just one in a series of children's books intended to teach biblical virtues to toddlers. This particular tome was focused on thankfulness.

It was illustrated in soft pastels, the text was large and simple, and notably focused on thankfulness to God, as opposed to thankfulness in general. By and large, I think most Christians would consider this one of the better toddler books. After all, given the choice of reading a book to your child whose theme is based on some popular children's show or reading one whose theme is a biblical virtue, the latter is probably the wiser choice.

Or is it?

Can I share a peeve of mine? I get frustrated (and a little bit angry!) whenever I hear a sermon wherein the preacher takes pains to prescribe a litany of activities that every good and healthy Christian ought to be doing. We should be loving our neighbours, we should be doing good deeds, we should be loving God above all else, we should be providing for the needy, we should sharing the gospel with a lost world, etc. etc. I agree that we should be doing these things, but I contend that a healthy Christian will be doing these things when his or her life is focused on God and not self. I am convinced that telling a believer what he or she should be doing something is somewhat naive and consequently, misguided. Perhaps what we ought to be telling them is that this shopping list of virtuous behaviour describes what Christian health looks like - the life of Christ flowing out of you. It looks that way, not because you have a list of things that Christians should be doing and in your zeal you are struggling to conform yourself to the list.

You may have heard me argue that the Christian ought not to pray for patience, since patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and no one can have that kind of patience without the Spirit, and no one who is walking in the Spirit can lack that kind of patience. What we ought to be doing is walking in the Spirit, and not asking to have the fruit of the Spirit in the absence of the Spirit.

It is the same sort of wrong-headed thinking that I am talking about, the kind that says, here is what godliness looks like, now make yourself look like that. No one, believer or otherwise can become godly by acting godly.

Which is where my beef with this children's book comes in. Teaching children to act thankful or to try and be thankful, apart from God is setting them up from the very beginning to not only try to look the part, but to imagine that looking the part is what it is all about. How many of us, in our adult faith, have to de-program ourselves because we were taught (to use a metaphor) to act married rather than to be married. That is, we were told what godliness looks like, then led to believe that godliness happens when we determine to act in accord with what it looks like. We never stop to think that we are trying to be godly in order to be with God, when it actually works the other way, when we resting in God, we are naturally godly.

Such it was with this book. I mean, sure, we need to teach our children what thankfulness looks like - but not in order that they say thank you to God when they are not walking in the Spirit, that is, it is not in order that they might learn to mimic the Christian walk by aping the sort of behaviour that flows from walking in the Spirit; rather it is so that they will know that thankfulness flows from living in the Spirit, and that a lack of thankfulness indicates that we are not living in the Spirit.

I am willing to assume that a lot of people couldn't care less about the distinctions I am making. We all want thankful children, and they need to learn the concept of thankfulness before they can apply that concept to their own abundance or lack - my concern is that we put off teaching the truth until well after we have established the habit of "godly" mimicry.

What are your thoughts?


posted by Daniel @ 8:42 AM  
  • At 11:05 AM, August 27, 2010, Blogger M.A.C. said…

    Hi Daniel

    Your post definitely lines up with my thoughts on living the word. In fact I wrote a rap in one of my songs for a show I do called the "Bad Christian Project" here are those words;

    I'm the A and the B the C to the D to correlate the accountability of my future tense agree-ability that derails your insensitivity.

    Appearance is not all that you can see or what it's actually made to be. Especially when you fail to see the plank in your own eye.

    It's blocking the view you cant see the whole, dragging you down to become a judgment clown. Pharisee, Sadducee, how does it feel stealing life from another?

    To become just another righteous hypocrite where you talk the talk but don't walk the walk. If only you could look the part, act the part pretend your real.

    Quick they're looking, fake it till you make it adoring your kind from nine to nine with your new you hip replacement play, forgetting that Jesus is the only way.

    So c'mon and Live The Word


  • At 9:02 PM, September 11, 2010, Blogger Chris Krycho said…

    Insightful, and very much in line with things I've been chewing on (albeit without posting about them) for quite some time now. J.D. Greear recently preached a sermon to his congregation on generosity, in which he noted that if people aren't generous, he's concerned about their faith. He clarified carefully: the solution is not to try to be more generous. It's to get the gospel itself, with all its gritty truth, worked down deeper in our hearts. How can we ever be generous if we don't truly understand God's generosity toward us? And that, as with everything of salvation and sanctification, is a work of the Spirit.

    I like your stuff. I'll be reading (as long as I can keep up).

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