30 June 2008

Something to do with my free time.

Build a bike!

Why not, all the cool kids are buying/finding old 10 speed frames and converting them into single speed/fixed gear cruising bikes.

So I got myself a Bridgestone Kabuki - it just needed wheels, cranks, gears, tires, a better seat, brakes (maybe). I am trying to make it with all used parts - as much as possible. Certain things are a little harder to find. Any ways - I guess I should take some pictures.

I have learned a lot about fixing/maintaining bikes just this weekend, and it has been a blast. I can now clean and repack the bearings in a bottom bracket.

23 June 2008

Four Spiritual Laws vs. The 12 Steps

I have made it clear that I don't believe that the 4 spiritual laws are the most helpful way to be introduced to the story of God. If you haven't heard of the "4 spiritual laws," before you may just think that it is how Christianity works. Here is the basic story:
1. God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life. (John 3:16, John 10:10)
2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life. (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23)
3. Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. (Romans 5:8, I Corinthians 15:3-6, John 14:6)
4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives. (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8,9, John 3:1~8, Revelation 3:20)

Many people think that this is the way to understand salvation that was announced by Jesus Christ. One thing to understand is that these "laws" were put together in 1965 - and are not some centuries old way of understanding the Good News.

Whether you believe these 4 Spiritual Laws true or not, I believe that there are several very severe flaws in using this as an evangelical too. One example is that speaking to a non-believer about Jesus and using the Bible to back you up won't get you very far in 2008. Many people also don't believe in Heaven or Hell - so this may be another dead end path.

That being said, the 12 steps are based on something very similar to the 4 Laws. These steps show prodigious results in both saving people from horrible demises in life from alcohol/drugs/sex/food/etc., and in bringing them into passionate relationships with God (as each person understands them - Jesus for many in the programs). Here are the steps (Taken from Alcoholics Anonymous):
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

So what is the difference that one produces dramatic change for many who would turn away from the 4 Laws but are caught up in the mystery of the 12 Steps? And what can we Christians learn about evangelism from the 12 Steps that is missing from the 4 Laws?

For me what jumps out is the practical and observable truth of the 12 Steps. For some one in the midst of an addiction it is painfully obvious that step one is true. Life is out of control. Most addiction councelors will say that a complete failure will bring a person to start a program of recovery. It is pretty hard to convince some one who doesn't believe in the Bible or Heaven or Hell that there is a desparate need to change their lifestyle. The 12 Steps also offer an ongoing change in a person's life. The 12 Steps require a life changing faith. The 4 Laws seem to only require an intellectual belief.

This is one of my largest criticisms of Christianity as I see it: People read the creeds, and "adhere" to statements of faith (if you are a Baptist - because they don't believer in creeds), but this faith has no real daily impact. The 12 Steps outline an entirely new way of life for the person. While I may believe in the virgin birth and the theory of "penal substitutionary atonement" it may not impact my daily life - not the way that my belief in gravity effects my life. With the 4 Laws, a simple prayer/statement fulfills your obligation to God, and the 12 Steps require a changed life.

Though one is harder, it is far more understandable how it could make a meaningful difference in my life today.