I am tempted to use this space at this time to talk about some of the interesting things going on this week. On Tuesday the Supreme Court decided to hear cases involving the religious rights of corporations. As a budding church-state scholar this is right in my wheelhouse and a fascinating and complex religio-political issue.
Recently I sat through a sermon about the evils of jewelry. The principle of modesty is well-established in Adventism and for many years this meant that no jewelry should be worn. It is only in my lifetime that even wedding bands have been accepted. I believe in the principle of modesty. However, I do not believe that the Bible specifically calls for believers to abstain from wearing jewelry. I know many conservative Adventists would disagree, as did the speaker that day.
Lately I have been fascinated by questions about Christianity that are foundational but that very few ever seem to address in any substantive manner. When these questions do get discussed I generally find that we talk about them in ways that are not helpful to people that have just discovered faith in Jesus, and they reinforce misguided ideas amongst those of us who have been in the faith for a long time. Many Evangelical Protestants (including Adventism) consider themselves people of the book. The cry since the Reformation has been sola scriptura!
Recently I have been thinking about some of the most basic questions about Christianity that we often gloss over. For example, “What does it mean to be like Jesus?” We talk about this a lot, and rightly so. As disciples of Christ, it is of the most important questions that we should answer. For over 20 years the questioning phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” has been used and overused in Christian circles. But what does it really mean to be like Jesus?
In the sports world over the last month, one of the biggest stories in the world of sports was NBA center Jason Collins coming out of the closet and revealing that he is gay. As I reflect on his revelation, and some of the criticism he received, I am reminded of the beginning of the Adventist Church. The SDA Church began as an outgrowth of what is now called The Great Disappointment.
170 years ago, Soren Kierkegaard wrote Fear and Trembling. Ten years ago, I read it for the first time and it changed my life. In it Kierkegaard outlines principles for living the life of faith by looking at Abraham, who he deems the knight of faith. Kierkegaard identifies five requirements to be a knight of faith. I do not consider these requirements to be hard and fast rules (in fact I will challenge at least one of them), but I do think that these are good things to think about if we are going to live a life of faith.
Over the last couple of days many around the country have been focused on the arguments on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 (Prop 8) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), taking place in the Supreme Court. It doesn’t make sense in this forum to give a summary or even a major analysis. There are good analyses out there. (I found Mother Jones and SCOTUSblog helpful), but there are some things that I want to highlight in reference to the arguments we have seen this week.
The Barna Group, a non-partisan research group focused on the intersection of religion and culture, recently published some interesting findings on how we perceive the current state of religious liberty in America. Overall, a majority of Americans expressed some level of concern that religious freedom would become more restricted over the next five years.