Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I have a friend who is a religion and philosophy teacher at a local community college near his home. He has also been a senior pastor in the same church for the better part of twenty years. He had some great thoughts on value and the quest for universally applied standards in that area. Here are his words in response to my previous post.

“Russell… values, as a group, are not either universal or relative, they are both universal and relative. For example: we all value a cool drink on a hot day, (universal) but some would choose tea, others coke, or perhaps a Pepsi, or some juice (relative). There are primary values that meet a need, that we all share, and there are secondary values, that we develop according to our own physiological, psychological, spiritual, and experiential makeup. Value theory is an important area of debate in philosophy.”

Thanks Curt, those are good thoughts. They all-the-more affirm my convictions on the subject at hand. Generally speaking, within the American church and even more relevant and critical for our future, within the Kingdom of God, these matters had better get solved real soon or chaos will be so rampant we won’t know what to do with ourselves. Although a chaos of that nature could be prophetic by design; all according to the grace of our God given free will and His plan for the eschaton.

My niece’s husband posted some great words regarding Value, Motive and Reason. “Values we are instilled with and adhere to provide us with motive in what we do and how we do it, thereby inspiring our life's reason.” I think that’s pretty straight forward. Thanks Jordan! I love you man.

My dear sister Bonnie posted the following. “All of these subjects are missing from our current society (or if present, they are sadly distorted). They only can be found in true form in the Christian life.” Of which I wholeheartedly agree. She speaks from many years in the ministry. She’s a great pastors wife… or should I say the wife of a great pastor.

Yet all of these good thoughts continue to beg the question of Value, Motive and Reason (as far as I’m concerned and it’s my blog). What I mean is this; if your family was raised with slaking their thirst on a hot day with Pepsi… it’s likely you may assume a similar relative value for doing the same (entertainment, fashion, politics, religion and relationships pan out in a similar manner). All of which is very benign, unless Pepsi is thought of as something that can and will separate you from God and His best for your life (Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and the like… when I was a kid we drank Pepsi like Otis drank bourbon on Andy Griffith… daily).

And as Jordan pointed out, “Values… are instilled” and my question is this: how well is the “church” and the “Christian” family doing these days? Granted, we all develop differing convictions according to the Spirit’s leading, but somewhere along the line, it seems that we should all run into the same threshold of limitation and constraints according to God’s standard in the written Word and the Spirit’s leading. But that seems to be more and more up for grabs. And we seem pretty okay with that, as long as the offerings are still flowing. Maybe we’re just getting closer and closer to the truth?

I concur with my sister Bonnie that within the “true form” of “the Christian life” correct value, motive and reason, are established and produce life and life more abundantly, but again I pose the question: Where is the “true form” of “the Christian life”? All too often it’s not found in the church or the home.

I have yet to read Mark Batterson’s latest book Primal – A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, but my guess is, he may address some of this lost ground we’re experiencing within the Christian community. Okay, I take that back, I have read the free pdf download of the first chapter (it’s good). And it appears that’s where his journey will take us. Thanks Mark… I paced that same chapel balcony. Wish I had that balcony right now.

When we value what God values our motives change (our desires change). That’s right, the engine of our soul that keeps us moving in a positive God ordained direction, flows directly from the development of parallel values with God. And therein lays the path of God’s will for our lives. The thing I hope we all want. Or at least I hope so?

The challenge we face in this postmodern day and age is holding on to the things that God values. Simply put, we are bombarded by this message: “Value what we value”. Madison Avenue, Hollywood or even the Fox News Channel are all vying for market share. But if we consider the challenge facing the church today, the challenge of market share, we face the same thing. Value what we value. But boy is that hard to get across anymore.

Yet how many of us are spending our lives promoting the things that God values? If we can, by the Spirit’s leading, bring light to those in darkness and help them understand value from God’s perspective, we just might see some positive forward movement within the Kingdom of God in the American church.

If we can just be motivated by His will and not ours, if we can just find pure reason in all that we do, genuine hope might pay off. Not some campaign slogan that only works to get votes.

Immanuel Kant wrote, "Although all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it arises from experience" alone. With that I would agree. Based upon my belief that there is a God who seeks to influence humankind by conscience and providence, my life quest is to value what God values. I believe He will make those values self evident, if I’m willing to listen. Our problem is that God may not be sending MP3’s and MP4’s, and that’s all we’re formatted to receive.

I believe that long before the Bible was ever codified, individuals heard from God and were led in various and sundry manners of righteousness (and my friend Don the atheist, whom I love, will tell me in various and sundry manners of evil in the name of god – he’s right). All of which reflect the probable influence of the Imago Dei that Kant could have been suggesting existed prior to experience (or an awaking to God or Satan); a deep intuitive knowing that would tend to construct a civil thought process that would further construct a lifestyle that produces good behavior reflecting that internal presence I would call God.

Religion has historically screwed us up. Jesus has not. Church has historically drifted from biblical mandate. Jesus has not. The Assemblies of God within America has lost market share. Jesus has not.

While I was on holiday with my family up in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I took a brief pause to read an article in Christianity Today (the November issue I believe). This short article talked about the Southern Baptist’s alarm at ministers like Mark Driscoll (the cussing pastor – I think he drinks too) and their negative postmodern influence upon the established traditions of the church, namely the Southern Baptists. So I understand they made a resolution at their last national council meeting to ban all cussing and drinking pastors or at least limit their relationship with them. I guess that’s a good idea, unless the cussing and drinking pastors are the ones really hearing from God these days. And unless they are the ones that God is bringing fresh biblical revelation too. Remember Balaam’s ass?

Because our 19th century American Christianity was so influenced by the holiness movement, we have historically gotten our God “revelations” from those we’ve perceived as most holy. Or at least that’s how it appears at first glance. It’s kind of funny (in a tragic way) how we listen to and follow with wrapped attention the guys who can keep our attention in the name of God, all the while they are doing the “wild-thing” with someone other than their wife. Until they get caught.

I remember when it was considered really bad for ministers to look at porn or get involved sexually with anyone outside of their marriage (I still think it’s really bad… so does God). But somewhere in the last few decades that VALUE disappeared. Yes it did… and don’t argue with me about that, because values are measured by what we do, not by what we say. What we say can be of value, but most often what we say or write are only ideals. If purity in body and soul are of value, then behavior would dictate that. Blessed are those who are pure in heart, for they shall see God. Hmmm… it’s no wonder we have a generation that can’t seem to perceive (see) God in much these days. Have we lost our purity?

So who sets VALUE on anything but God? If I set it, it means squat. If my fellowship sets it, it means squat. That’s why we need to once again develop the ability to hear God’s voice. And further, if we VALUE Him, His voice will MOTIVATE us with pure REASON.

Otherwise, it’s just all “yada, yada, yada”! Did God say that? Right… and that’s my point. Who is shaping us? Jerry or Jesus?

Well… this is what lots of snow gets you… lot’s of blogging. I’m still simmering so the stew just might get more potent. Get a glass of milk… it will help.

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