I recently discovered this quote from Tozer that I think is priceless. What do you think he is saying?
“It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that.”
In a recent interview with La Civilta Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit magazine, Pope Francis expresses his concern that the Catholic Church, at least as it pertains to its moral credibility, might “fall like a house of cards” unless the church finds a balance between its dogmatic declaration of truth and its love for people. That sounds like the voice of wisdom and maturity. I would say that it reflects a naiveté, but I really think it more reflects bad doctrine.
For one thing, the Pope’s idea that we have to “heal” the wounds of a person before we can speak to him is fine unless the wounds are the sin. There is no healing the wounds of homosexuality while at the same time accepting the homosexuality. There is no healing of the sin of abortion unless the acceptance of abortion is dealt with.
Now, I am not Catholic, nor am I reformed. I am a Pentecostal evangelical. So, I reject any idea of compromising with sin for the sake of relationship. That’s not the same as saying that there can be no relationship with a sinner. It just means that relationship must be grounded in truth and transparency. You can always find someone who decries the sermon against sin in favor of a kinder, gentler, more embracing Christianity. And I am all for that unless the kindness and gentleness requires one to look the other way and compromise Scripture.
Third, the reason we have to talk about abortion and homosexuality is because that there are massive special interest groups pressing for them to be normative. The church should address all sins and preach the balanced word of God but there are no special interest groups trying to legislate the acceptance of lying or adultery.
Finally, the church and the culture must come to grips with the truth that while the church is against homosexuality it can be so and still love the homosexual. But we will not be showing love by winking at the sin. When Lou Giglio was “uninvited” to participate in the Inaugural festivities earlier this year, I felt like he missed an opportunity to say to the nation, “It is possible to be against homosexuality and not hate the homosexual.”
In one of his sermons titled, “The God of All Creation,” which I assume was given near the end of his ministry but before he published The Knowledge of the Holy, A. W. Tozer shares his desire to leave behind a legacy of thinking loftily about God:
“I want you to pray about something for me will you do this? I don’t often introduce personal matters but I want you to pray about something. I wish you’d pray that God would help me and let me live long enough to write a book on the attributes of God devotionally considered. I have that in my mind and I want to do it . . . . I’d like to do this; I’d like to leave to this generation an elevated and large conception of the great God Almighty in His three persons. I’d like to die and let the world say not “Wasn’t Tozer smart! Wasn’t he eloquent! Wasn’t he witty!” but to have them say, “We praise the O, God! We acknowledge thee to be the Lord! . . . . It’s this that I want to do. I want to leave behind me a flavor of God. . . .”
We would do well in this hour of heresy and compromise to listen to men of the past like Tozer who drank deeply of the Spirit of God and whom God used to articulate a vision of His greatness, and who also encouraged the Church to elevate its view of God.
I am now a veteran of two Socrates in the City events. (I was there for John Lennox—Oxford scholar and professor and former student of C. S. Lewis!—earlier this year, and last Thursday night for Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, founder of the Discovery Institute and who some are calling the father of the modern Intelligent Design movement.) If you have never heard of Socrates in the City,don’t panic. I will tell you enough here to aide you in getting your Socrates on for the next go round.
What is it?
Socrates in the City (which could be shortened to SITC but won’t be here because I like saying Socrates in the City) is at the very least a forum where important authors dealing with important subjects can come and promote (and sell) their important books, or “move product” as Eric Metaxas, the founder, jokingly says. But lest I hack the description, let me give it to you as it is found on the Socrates in the City website:
The Greek philosopher Socrates famously said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Taking this as a starting point, Eric Metaxas thought it would be valuable to create a forum that might encourage busy and successful professionals in thinking about the bigger questions in life. Thus Socrates In The City: Conversations on the Examined Life was born.
Every month or so Socrates In The City sponsors an event in which people can begin a dialogue on “Life, God, and other small topics” by hearing a notable thinker and writer such as Dr. Francis Collins, Sir John Polkinghorne, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, N.T. Wright, Os Guinness, Peter Kreeft, or George Weigel. Topics have included “Making Sense Out of Suffering,” “The Concept of Evil after 9-11,” and “Can a Scientist Pray?” No question is too big—in fact, the bigger the better. These events are meant to be both thought-provoking and entertaining, because nowhere is it written that finding answers to life’s biggest questions shouldn’t be exciting and even, perhaps, fun.1
And fun it is! Metaxas sees to that. If you have had no exposure to him, you are in for a treat. He is funny and hilariously so, particularly in moments when he is not supposed to be. He was so witty last Thursday that, at one point, Dr. Meyer lost his train of thought! At the end of the evening Meyer was heard to say “I enjoyed playing the straight man!” At one point, Metaxas, whose delivery is normally dry and dead pan, said something (I forget the line) that even he couldn’t help but laugh about after the moment had passed! But lest I leave the impression that it is all fun and games at Socrates in the City, rest assured it is not.
Though the night is certainly fun, enjoyable, classy, and sophisticated, an important agenda is being put forward. Metaxas is serious about what he is doing. I get the sense that he runs a tight ship and that he is as passionate about worldview as “the next Chuck Colson” (as some are calling him) should be! He is a man of Christian faith and values which, as far as I can tell, he makes no effort to hide. (The reader should note that I have never had a conversation with Mr. Metaxas, nor have I studied him in any great detail. I am simply sharing the impressions I have gained through two Socrates in the City events, his Bonhoeffer Tour, and some research). Yet, he is no “Falwell-style” Evangelical either. In fact, many average Evangelicals would be uncomfortable with some of the people Metaxas has conversations with, not because he is in some way compromising his faith or that the names of those whom he is in contact with would suggest compromise (except maybe for Woody Allen), but because he is willing to have conversations that require an open mind and the ability to critically reflect on information, and because Evangelicals aren’t necessarily known for wanting to have conversations. (The two events I attended would raise eyebrows for Creationists, at least ones who have closed up shop and are no longer willing to consider other hermeneutical approaches.) Frequently, Christians who are broad minded, interdenominational, and intellectual get branded by Evangelicals as liberal. I think that description would miss its mark here. Metaxas is conservative in his beliefs, though he does not appear to operate within typical evangelical boundary lines.
The Socrates in the City (New York) event itself is delightful. Held at theUnion League Club of New York, at 38 E 37th Street, the atmosphere is appropriately intimidating. The evening places a common person like me in an atmosphere surrounded by people whose collective social status is far different than his or her own. There are plenty of big hairdos and strings of pearls to gawk at (and that’s just the men!), and people who are comfortable in a high society kind of atmosphere. But as I sit there, I do not feel out of place. I feel perfectly comfortable knowing that I “belong” there because one does not have to be wealthy or socially elite to think, read, and appreciate the value of what is shared by Mr. Metaxas and his guests.
When you arrive (in business attire) you can check your hats and bags, (and perhaps your baggage) at the door, enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres (not an event designed for the Bible Belt obviously), in a historic venue, peruse and purchase the important books pertaining to the evening at the resource table, and then settle in for an evening rich in content, and humor, all for the low, low price of $35!
All joking aside, the event is particularly well done, the Socrates in the City personnel are friendly and helpful (my only contact with them has been at check in and around the resource tables). Now That I have discovered it, Socrates in the City is a priority for me.
The Next Event
The only legitimate complaint someone could have about Socrates in the City, other than that the evening does not last long enough, is that there is no real calendar to speak of on the website; no way to tell what is coming next. You have to watch the website, get on the email list in order to stay abreast of what is going on. (The website is a great resource though, for video, etc. of past events!) So, while I can’t tell you when the next event will be or who will be the guest, I can guarantee that, if you are interested in the next guest, it will be well worth your while to attend! And I will very likely see you there!
By now most people have heard of The Color Run. The Color Run company is a “for profit” venture though the runs I have been aware of have been connected with charity as well. The Color Run is a “five-kilometer, un-timed race in which thousands of participants are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer.”1 Then, at the finish line there is a “Finish Festival” where even more colored powder is applied “to create happiness and lasting memories.”2 I’ve seen the pictures and it looks like a lot of fun.
What you may not know is that The Color Run looks a lot like what happens at the Hindu Holi Festival where people are covered in the same colors with the same results. Here’s a description of the Hindu festival:
The festival has many purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring. Originally, it was a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colours and saying farewell to winter. It also has a religious purpose, commemorating events present in Hinduism. During this event, participants hold a bonfire, throw coloured powder at each other, and celebrate wildly. . . . The main day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, or Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing scented powder and perfume at each other. Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Kacy Dahan (burning of Kacy) or Little Holi, after which Kacy dahan prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlada accomplished when Demoness Kacy, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Kacy was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his devotion. Like Kacy Dahan, Kama Dahanam is celebrated in India.3
So, as you can see, Holi is not simply some celebration of color!
Now, yes I am a Pentecostal, Evangelical pastor so I am always trying alert somebody about something. But I am not the only one whose eyebrows are raised over this connection. Here’s an excerpt from a blogger perturbed that The Color Run is white-washing Holi:
The race is supposed to end in something called a “Color Festival” (actually in quotes on the website as well). Sounds an awful lot like a digestible name for Holi. Sorta like how white people call Diwali the “Festival of Lights” even though this is a major over-simplification—I don’t think we just light a whole bunch of candles and call it a night. Nope, we tell stories from the Ramayana, share sweets and gifts, say prayers, and welcome the New Year. And at Holi, we don’t simply throw colors in each other’s faces—it’s a place to play with people you love and revel in the vibrancy of spring. One of our favorite and most colorful holidays is being, pun intended, white-washed. And it’s like we’ve been completely eradicated from this event as nowhere on the Color Run™ website is there mention of India, Holi, Krishna, or even spring. Apparently this is a completely organic creation of the Color Run™ head honchos. And they’re making loads of money off of it.4
This writer is incorrect when she says there is no mention of Holi on The Color Run website. Here is an excerpt from the FAQ page on The Color Run website:
What is the inspiration behind The Color Run™?
The Color Run 5k is the first paint race of its kind and was inspired by several awesome events, including Disney’s World of Color, Paint Parties, Mud Runs, and Festivals throughout the world such as Holi. We wanted to create a less stressful and untimed running environment that is more about health and happiness!5
So, what should Christians do? Here’s what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8 concerning meat offered to idols:
4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 7 But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
The purpose of this article? I think as we participate with non-Christians out in the world we should at least know what we are endorsing or taking part in. If you say The Color Run is not about Hinduism, the people quoted in this article suggest otherwise. At any rate, armed with this information, the Christians I know will find some way to use it as an evangelistic tool.