10 Reasons Christians Shouldn’t Read The Patristic Fathers #TBT

10. They’re boring. They don’t talk about anything interesting. Ever. And they are polite and never ever disagree with each other.

9. People were baptized naked. Yup. Naked. Oh my victorian/evangelical sensibilities!

8. What do you mean there were women in leadership in the early church?! Church Mothers? Desert Mothers? Everyone knows that the only biblical model for women is one where the woman is at home in high heels and has supper in the oven.

7. We may have our view of communion challenged. What do you mean they celebrated communion weekly? Everybody knows you should only celebrate it monthly otherwise it becomes stale and rote.

6. The Reformers read the Church Fathers and look at how badly that turned out for Christianity.

5. They wrote in Greek (which is too hard to learn) and Latin (which is a dead language).

4. If we read the Patristics we may come to find that the heroes weren’t always noble and honourable and the villains (heretics) weren’t always the bad guys.

3. Everyone knows that “communion of saints” only refers to this current generation.

2. Their issues are in no way our issues today. All of our issues theological and ecclesiological are brand new and have never been experienced by any other generation of Christians.

1. Karl Barth was heavily influenced by the Church Fathers and everyone knows that if Barth liked it it must be wrong!


This post was originally published 5/11/12 and is re-posted as part of #TBT (Throwback Thursday).

10 Reasons Books are Better Than People

When I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a Fark.com account (rather than just lurking and reading), ask I had to come up with a Fark handle. The first thing I thought of was “Books are better than people.” And so, sildenafil my fark handle was created.

Having lived with that moniker now for a while, patient I can’t believe how true that name is.

Here are the top 10 reasons books are better than people.

10. Books make a great alternative to wallpaper. There’s nothing better than a wall lined with shelves of books. If I hung people on my wall, it would be kind of messy.
9. I can throw books across the room when they frustrate me. If I threw people across the room as often as I throw books, I’d have a date with officer Taylor on a regular basis.
8. Books are there at 3am when the lone wolf of insomnia beckons. People don’t often appreciate phone calls at 3am.
7. Re-reading a book can be an entirely new experience. Having the same conversation over again is just repetitive.
6. It’s really fun to buy books. Buying people is illegal.
5. I can double my library without doubling my grocery budget.
4. I can write, highlight and underline in books. The only way I could do that to people would be to become a tattoo artist.
3. Books don’t get jealous if I read other books.
2. Books don’t judge me, but they are really, really good at convicting me.
1. When I pick up a book I am transported to a different world with a multitude of adventures awaiting me. People, in general, are, by comparison, boring.

Academics in the Church

One of the questions that I was asked at the panel discussion on women in academia was ‘how has your education shaped your spiritual growth?’ I think surprised most of the audience with my answer, unhealthy but my answer was, ‘if it wasn’t for my academic pursuits I wouldn’t still be in the church.’

My experience over the last decade and a half of being in the church has been that the goal is to keep everything simple. The simplest simple is ‘everyone get along, play nice, and don’t challenge anyone.’

If all I needed was a social gathering of people getting along and being friendly with each other, I could join a community group. I could rejoin my bowling league. But being in seminary has plugged me into 2,000 years of theology, 2,000 years of wrestling and thinking, 2,000 years of debate and inquiry.

In January Gerald Hiestand wrote an article for First Things about the exodus of theologians from the church to the hallowed halls of academia:

But since the nineteenth-century (in North America, at least) the center of theological reflection has shifted from the parish to the university. The pastoral community is no longer called upon—as a matter of vocation—to construct theology for those beyond their congregations. Instead, our present context views the academy as the proper home for those with theological gifts. Those with shepherding gifts are directed toward the pastorate. And those who are gifted in both areas? Well, they’ll have to choose. But can this be right? Do we really mean to suggest that the proper home of a theologian is in the academy, disconnected from the pastoral vocation?
The drain of our wider theologians from the pastorate to the academy has resulted in a two-fold problem. First, the theological water-level of our local parishes has dropped considerably. Inasmuch as the pastoral vocation is no longer seen as a theological vocation, pastors no longer bring a strong theological presence to their local parishes. The net effect (particularly in the evangelical tradition in which I reside) is a truncated understanding of theology and its import among the laity. Theology has largely left the local church.

Theologians are being pushed out of the church today. What we need, they say, is more practical training. What we need, they say, is more relevance. Which, has somehow meant that rock bands and strobe lights are more helpful to the church than theology.

My gifting, my calling, my heart is to be a teacher in the church. Whether that means I end up teaching in a college setting, challenging the next generation of ministry workers, or actually going back into the pastorate, my desire is to get people excited about Scripture and to help them jump into the raging river of 2,000 years of Christian thought.

Well… I learned today that my calling is bogus. Educators have been the downfall of the church. The fact that Jesus and Paul were teachers doesn’t matter. What matters is that the disciples were ordinary men, fishermen, with no educational training.

Donald Miller has an article up today that argues that the problem with the church today is that it is too academic. The church is led by educators rather than ordinary folks. And that the Reformation happened because two academics got into a petty squabble!

In the great commission, Jesus graduated his first group of students. He pushed them into the world and said, you don’t know everything, but you know enough. You’ll have a guide and that guide will be with you always. Go and teach the world to obey my commands. Because they were fishermen and tax gatherers, they went and did it. I wonder what they would have done if they had been professional scholars?

If they had been professional scholars? Well, then, I’m pretty sure we would have seen some of them in Athens engaging in public debates with Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. Oh wait. That happened.

It looks like the push to get academics out of the church continues.

Update: Check out Chuck’s reflection on this issue here.

2010 in Review — Top Motivational Posters

Every Monday I post de-motivational posters. Some of them I have found on the internet, cheap some have been sent to me, but most of them are the product of the warped brain here at Cheese-Wearing Theology. Here are the top five motivational posters of 2010 based on hits.

5. Of course Chuck Norris made it to the top 5.

4. This is my top Babylon 5 poster of the year.

3. Gotta love the Buffy motivational posters!

2. This one is number two based on the sheer number of google search terms for an image of hopelessness.

1. Thanks to a shout-out from Whedonesque this became my top motivational poster.

2010 in Review — How to Find My Blog

One of the features of WordPress is it will tell you how people get to your blog. They may click a link from another blog’s blogroll, generic or from someone linking to a particular article.

The other way is to use a search engine. WordPress tells me what phrases people typed in their search engine to find my blog.

Here are the top 10 wackiest ways people found my blog using a search engine in 2010:

10. Cheese. People have found my blog by typing in a variety of “cheese” themes: Cheese wearing clothes; Christianity and cheese; Horrible cheese; novelty cheese; sci-fi cheese; psychology of cheese.

9. Sarcastic inspirational posters. This doesn’t surprise me, given that I post demotivational posters every Monday. But someone really typed that in a search engine?

8. Examples of spineless people. I’m pretty sure that they landed on this post when they used that phrase; it’s probably not what they were looking for.

7. Should a Christian be wimpy? Again, it probably led them to the post in number 8.

6. Erotic humiliation. This was very much a “what the heck” moment when I saw this. But, they probably hit the main page on a day when I quoted from the Christian Humanist blog that used the word ‘erotic’, and further down the main page was a buffy motivational poster with the word ‘humiliation’ on it. For a PG-13 blog, the fact that they found this blog using that search query is mind-boggling.

5. Never worked in a church going to seminary. Hmmmm. Best guess is they hit on my Training Up Pastors — Going to Seminary post. Just for the record, I have worked in a church and yes I’m going to seminary.

4. Riker Beard. This one made me laugh. But I did in fact write about the famous Riker Beard.

3. Cthulhu Christmas. This obviously led to the motivational poster. But people are actually googling for “Cthulhu Christmas”?

2. how canada churchs can helps me imagrate to canada. Yup. Spelled just like that. Wow. Just wow.

1. She wants to be worshipped. I have NO idea how this phrase managed to find my blog.