Monthly Archives: August 2009

Bram-mergent


I noticed that if you want to be hip in the post-modern cool branch of Christianity you have to be in some kind of church that ends on ‘-mergent’.

Finally, after emergent, charismergent, presbymergent, baptimergentqueermergent and Ken silva’s newly proposed adultermergent -which may be hip and cool but yet not the best idea he has ever had…- I decided the time is ripe for something new now…

I’ll call it Bram-mergent.

so hereby I declare myself to be the Bram-mergent Church. And I’m sure it will put Belgium back on the map and be the next big thing!!  There is only one condition to join: you have to be me… so if you’re not me you’ll have to stay in your own church, or find some people to meet and start something new, or just pretend to me. But that last one is kinda hard…

But you can copy this picture and put it everywhere you like…

friend of bram-mergent

friend of bram-mergent

so please pray for me… It’s so hard being the next big thing all by yourself…

shalom

Bram

my first band


Once I had the inspiration to put a band together to play some of my songs.  We were called the contemporary Christian muzak collective, and my songs did never sound better live than with those guys… It was soms kind of lo-fi/indie/worship-noise style of music that is not easy to label. and now the first show ever (startforum festival 2005) is on youtube. Sorry for the bad quality.

the musicians:

Bram Cools: vocals, Guitar

Bram Beels: didgeridoo, vocals

Micha Milants: drums, vocals, harmonica

Dirk Banken: percussio, melodica, vocals, guitar

Nick Lauwerijssen: keys, vocals

check it out:

It’s a pity the last song is incomplete. It was so psychedelic…

I miss those days… thanks to Karel aerts for the recording!

shalom

Bram

postmodern origins-agnostic Creationism


Sometimes I am amazed how muc energy christians can put in ‘proving that the bible is right’, and ‘fighting the godless darwinism’ and other stuff. I’ve met people who saw the whole challenge of being a christian being summed up in the defense of ‘creation’ against ‘evolutionism’. so there was no time at all for the other 65 and a half books of the bible, or to try to follow Jesus and to try to love God above all, and our fellow humans as ourselves… such obsessions can be very unhealthy for christianity… But even by the unobsessed I’ve seen ideas circulating in evangelical circles about black or white, God or evolution, as if there are just 2 options….

I don’t buy the whole evolution-science dichotomy (and I always get tired of false dichotomies, must be my postmodern side…) The least we could say is that there is a continuum like the one on this chart:

continuum of evolution and creation

(it is stolen from steve martin, read the article here he has better alternatives than this chart)

But then still, I’m not really  on the chart.  My position on Creation may be called something like postmodern origins-agnostic Creationism or something like that.  Creationist, for surely I believe in the CReator who created all of this creation (and much more), and agnostic in the sense that we simply can not know how exactly the world was put into existence, so all our human storys fall short and will allways fall short to accurately descibe the how of creation…

The main thing is that I can’t believe that science (or even human languages and concepts) will ever be able to explain how the world was created, those things are bigger than all we can know and grasp and find traces off… Science is based op the parameters of the world now and language is based on concepts we can understand with what we can see and know in our 3D + one time dimension world… If Creation is bigger than anything our brains can understand, it is just a matter of logic the only thing we could have is an accomodation, like the creation poem in genesis. So in the end everything is an accomodation, the evolution model, the big bang, or any creation story is a way to say something that can not be said accurately.

The problems I have with Young earth Creationism (which I’ve believed in the first 20 years of my life or so) is firstly that I’ve encountered a lot of intelectual dishonesty and plain BS (look at our dear Dr dino…) and the idea that we have to prove (our modernist interpretation of) the bible to defend our faith is dangerous…

So to conclude: Creation is bigger than any story we can make out of it to explain it as humans… If science proves that the world is old and that there is some kind of evolution who am I to not believe that, but even then it will never be the whole story… The story is bigger and encompasses more than the material traces that it may or may not have left, so digging in the ground will never make us able to have all the details… I think in the original diagram with the continuum, I would be somewhere away from the diagonal black line but close to the red line. I’m closer than ever to being an ‘evolutionary creationsist’ right now; and I’m much more happy with that term than I ever was with the term theistic evolutionist, believing in Creation and the Creator comes before any idea how it might have happened..

But still it is all just fallible human theorie, like flatlanders in a 2D world discussing about the form my guitar…

All praises to the Creator of all things visible and invisible!!!

shalom

Bram

to read some more:

http://evanevodialogue.blogspot.com

http://biologos.org/

Scot McKnight and his regular guest blogger RJS  also have some interesting discussions about the subject, use the search function on http://www.beliefnet.com/Blogs/jesuscreed

fundamentalist dispensationalism


Some of the ideas circulating in evangelicalism really seem far off… The word ‘heresy’ may be much too strong (I sincerely hope it is) so is used only for the effect, but these thing would be the end of my faith if I’d buy into them, and the way I I’ve encountered them they lessen or they even make invalid the redical message of Jesus.

For the first one we go to the more fundamentalist camp and take a look at the so-called ‘dispensationalism’, a long and difficult word for a system of complicated schemes and weird detailed theologies… But some things that go under that name have crossed the line and may be far outside the lines of healthy christianity… And now I’m not even talking about the ‘left behind’ eschatology, I’m talking about something deeper and much more serious. (I do not at all believe in pre-trib rapture, maybe that’s for another time…)

so, what is dispensationalism? it’s a protestant theology from the last 2 centuries, mostly rooted in the ideas of John Nelson Darby, (1800 – 1882) in which the story of the bible bible is viewed as a chronology of different ‘dispensations’, in which God has a different covenant with people. I have no problem with that idea, in fact it may be quite similar to narrative postmodern theology if explained like that in one sentence. So God has different covenants with humans throughout history (which is, by the way, deterministicly written out from before the beginning of the world…) How much covenants there are throughout history is not agreed on, some say seven, but it can be more or less… And then you get something like all those complicated schemes you can find if you just google for pictures on the word dispensationalism. Mostly they don’t agree with each other, and if you look at the bible verses that are used for ‘prooftexting’ these schemes, sometimes you need a lot of imagination to even see the connection with the verse and the conclusions drawn from it… (which is also not exclusive to this movement, I had sometimes had the same when reading Rick Warren or John eldredge books…)

Anyway, according to most of the common schemes  we live now in the dispensation of the church, or the time of grace, or something like that. which means that the time of the apostles is long ago, so we don’t need any charismatic gifts, since they were only needed for starting up the church long ago. And what’s more important you have to see that the new testament in fact only begins by the death of Jesus, so everything before it (almost all of the four gospels) is irrelevant and it falls still under the time of the law. so the words of jesus as recorded in the 4 gospels were mostly just for the jews in the first century, and may be for the millenium somewhere in the future, but they are not for us to follow. I really had a discussion one time with a guy who tried to concvince me that we shouldn’t follow the gospels as christians, and that we shouldn’t pray the Lords prayer.  His theology was mostly based on Pauls epistles (minus eveything about charismatic gifts) and some of Johns gospel. I hope this is just a caricature, but I’ve seen same tendencies in more fundamentalist writings.

The bitter irony of this whole story is that some of those people will tell you how important it is to read the bible litterally, and then use their own weird logic and strange thought constructions to make some of the most important parts of the bibel invalid. when someone goes to far to say that the sermon of the mount and the Lords prayer are not meant for us christians, but for the jews of the first century, the line is crossed for me. This is no longer a healthy Christianity, au contraire. It has almost nothing left of Jesus, and maybe the word of heresy really could apply… But I’m not in a position to judge that. I believe that believing in Jesus cannot be separated from following Him and the red letters of the bible.

I believe in charismatic gifts (though some pentacostels can really exaggerate and be 100%  unbalanced about it) I believe discipelship and the following of jesus can not at all be separated from believing in Him and being saved. And I believe that we are still to preach the gospel of the kingdom, and that the sermon on the mount is something like our christian ‘constitution’  to live by…

God bless ya all

shalom

Bram

Jesus against the sexism of his time: Martha and Mary


Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42)

Two things here are remarkable that we can learn from in the light of the whole sexism-discusion.

* The complete denial of the traditional man and woman roles of the Jewish society: There were strong roles for man and woman in Jesus’ world. It was expected from a woman to take care of the household, like Martha did. That was the normal order. It was also not expected for a woman to become disciple and learn at a rabbi’s feet, which is what Mary did. What she did was against the whole sex segregation of the jewish community: Rabbis didn’t talk with women. Jesus reverses all stereotypes, and praises the odd behaviour of the femminist-avant-la-lettre Mary who sat at her feet to learn from him. which must have been totallyb revolutionary for the people at the time…

*Also noteworthy is that the type of crosss-gender friendship that Jesus has with the 2 women (and with other women throughout the bible) Jesus treats women as every other human, unlike most of his contemporaries. This should also make us think…

shalom

Bram

Christianity should not at all be sexist…


Christianity should not at all be sexist.

Sexism goes against anything Jesus stood for!

I’ll say more: All sexism in Christianity is synchretism. It’s christianity mingled with men’s traditions. Most of them have nothing to do with the bible though they try to read the bible through their own grid and justify it with pulling texts out of context. Trying to force the woman/man roles of the first century on people from this age wouldn’t work at all. Call it what you like, but some things that go with the name ‘biblical complementarianism’ are just sexist and synchretism with some kind of american conservatie tradition. Which I as a belgian know nothing about, and which can seem as alien to me as the world of the first century, even though some people here try to copy it…

The core of biblical equality lies in Paul saying that in christ there is no greek or jew, no man or woman. These differences may be substantial in our society, they shouldn’t in our churches, for they are meaningless in the Kingdom, the transnational Kingdom of God that trancends all borders and biological differences. We are one in christ. God created the humans in his image as man and woman. all good characteristics of both sexes come from God, and He is not male, but trancending both sexes…

Women were considered second rate civilians by much people in the old days, even bij the rabinic jews of Jesus’ time. Jesus didn’t care about that. He broke all social taboos when he sat next to the samaritan woman at the well. Het let the unclean woman touch Him. Het let the sinful woman wash his feat with expensive oil and her own tears. He didn’t say to Mary to go help her sister with the work, but he affirmed her in coming to listen to her. and a woman listening to a rabbi was simply not done. Jesus treated women as equals, as human beings, as friends, and that in a society with sex segregation. Could it be any more revolutionary anti-sexist???

The same with Paul if you read him properly in the cultural context: In normal Greek and Roman literature women and slaves were never addressed, it was written for a male-only audience, and their roles are talked about by those free males. The very fact that Paul addressed women, slaves and children, who were not considered real people, in his letters was totally revolutionary and subversive. By writing to women and slaves, and by addressing them first, he was giving status to those without status and he was giving worth to the worthless. How on earth did we manage to turn that into sexism and the oppression of women???

Yes, Paul may say wives should submit to their husbands, but he also says we all should submit to each other…  (read a great article about that topic here)

We should not allow anyone to hurt our sisters in christ by putting them under some strange laws which are wrong contextualisations of bible verses taken terribly out of context. We should love our neigbor, male or female, as ourselves. And together try to follow Christ in the way He has Chosen us. I’ve seen women with a calling doing great things in the Kingdom, and you have to be an indoctrinated autistic without a heart to write that off as unbiblical… Then you should erase the deaconess Phoebe, the female aposte Junia, and the judge Debora also from your bible… Or the good housewife from proverbs 31 who is mora like a manager than anything else…

God bless ya all sisters and brothers…

shalom

Bram

the romans 13 all autorities game…


Look at this ‘paraphrase’ by steve Kippel… And then do your own version. Do it with the belgian and european govenrment, president obama, the german opressor here in the early forties, Adolf Hitler himself, Pol Pott, the Taliban, Kim Jong II, and any leader you like or do not like at all…

And then the questions come… don’t they?

shalom

Bram