Author Archive

Christmas is Coming!

2012-12-03 by waxeagle. 0 comments

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Brace yourselves, Christmas is coming.

Jokes aside, I’m sure you noticed back in October that your local retailer had lights, trees, ornaments, and the other sure signs that another Christmas season is upon us. While Santa Claus and presents are great, let’s not forget why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

We here at Eschewmenical would like to take the time this month to celebrate the season of Advent, an Anglicization of the Latin word adventus which means coming. This is the season where churches that observe the liturgical calendar (and others that only incorporate liturgy occasionally) celebrate the four Sundays prior to Christmas with special readings and lighting candles. Each Candle has a special meaning and a reading commonly associated with it.

This month our authors are going to take a break from their normal argumentative style and present the reading and a blog based on the typical theme for Advent.

One of the things we want to be aware of is that A. not all Christian traditions celebrate Advent, and B. that not all Christian traditions observe Christmas. I’d like to extend an invitation to either of these traditions to contribute a blog post this month. I don’t believe we have a current author from either of these traditions but we’d welcome one to come and contribute. Please get in touch with us in our Blog Room to contribute.

Without further ado, I’ll turn the floor over to our authors. This is Eschewmnical!

Church and State. Separate or Same?

2012-11-05 by waxeagle. 0 comments

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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” – First Amendment, Constitution of the United States
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. – Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father in a letter to Danbury Baptists

What Jefferson meant in his letter is much talked about, but the concept of the separation of Church and State is much larger than any one man or one country. The church and the state are often at odds, but they also work in conjunction.

This month on Eschewmenical we are back to our monthly topic series where we get authors from a variety of different positions to chime in on all kinds of topics.

This month’s topic is relevant with the election going on in the United States this week and at least some of the focus will be on issues the church takes very seriously.

Some questions that will (or at least should) get answered are: “What is the church’s role in politics?”, “What authority does the government have for Christians and the church?”, and “Should Christians take any kind of active interest in politics at all?”.

Without further ado, I’ll step aside and cede the floor to our authors. First up is Jon Ericson.

Crossing the Jordan

2012-10-02 by waxeagle. 5 comments

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Our sermon this past week was about Joshua and Israel. It’s a triumphant moment, but it had to be one that Joshua met with at least a small amount of trepidation. The scene is an interesting one. All of Israel (The Bible lists 40,000 fighting men, so figure at least 3-4 times that total) is arrayed on one bank of the Jordan, with the promised land on the other side. However, the Jordan is at flood stage; it’s overflowed its banks. A risky crossing or waiting until the river recedes appear to be the only options.

However, God has a different plan. He tells Joshua to have the priests take the Ark of the Covenant into the Jordan. When the priests set foot in the river the rushing waters of the river are held and Israel crosses the river on dry land.

My Jordan wasn’t a river, but I find the metaphor apt. This is the story of being on the banks of the river and having the waters recede as we move forward. This is the story of something hard, that could have drowned us, but did not because of grace and God’s providence.

It started in the spring of 2010. My wife and I had just become pregnant with our second child. Although Mrs. Eagle had a bit of a bad feeling about the pregnancy everything seemed normal and we had begun thinking about what life would be like with our new arrival. We were anticipating but not really buying much in anticipation. We knew that the 20 week anatomy scan would be the time when things really started to get going, we could start working on the nursery etc. Only something happened.

At about 18 weeks we went in for our anatomy scan. It was clear from the beginning that things weren’t quite right. The tech began doing some tests and measurements we hadn’t seen before and the resolution on the scan wasn’t very good. There was not enough fluid in Mrs. Eagle’s uterus. Something had gone wrong.

We came back two weeks later and nothing had changed. The baby still did not have enough fluid. The banks of our Jordan were rising. The doctor mentioned Potter’s Syndrome (bilateral renal agenesis if you like big medical terms) and said that it was still early enough to abort if that was what we wanted to consider.

A specialist confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis. Our baby did not have kidneys and this would lead to low to no lung development. While in the womb our baby was fine, but when she was born she would be unable to breathe.

Our Jordan river had hit flood stage. This was devastating (although not unexpected) news. Many around us prayed for a miracle, for our baby to be healed. This was something that we hoped for, prayed for even, but to us the medical evidence was clear. Yes God could do it, but that did not mean he would and the blind confidence of some was not something that we could let ourselves embrace. Instead we asked for the strength to deal with the path that lay ahead of us. If he chose to heal our little one Praise Be To God. If he did not, then Praise Be To God.

The next several months were very difficult. Mrs. Eagle became more and more pregnant as the baby grew, but every few weeks we had a doctor’s visit or specialist visit and each of these just served as a reminder of what was coming.

Finally the due date approached. This was going to be a new and different experience, a different hospital from where we had our first baby, somewhere completely unfamiliar.

Out of the blue Mrs. Eagle gets a phone call, its a coordinator at the local hospital where we are planning to deliver, she sets up meetings for us with the hospital’s grief counselor, a neonatologist and gives us a tour of the maternity wing. She even briefs the medical staff at the hospital to let them know who we are and what our situation is. She apologizes that we had slipped through the cracks but mentions that she had gotten an email from another nurse at the hospital apprising her of our situation (we still don’t know who).

In a lot of ways that phone call was the beginning of our Jordan parting. Mrs. Eagle went into labor just three days later. Her labor was much easier than with our first child. At our meeting with the neonatologist we had discussed and made the decision not to attempt any life saving care for our little one (it would have been futile anyways) so we were able to spend her entire life holding and loving her. She lived for about an hour unable to breathe, but very precious.

The hospital had a photographer from an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep come in and take pictures of our little one with all of us (myself, Mrs. Eagle, and our son). These photos, while hard to look at are very much cherished by both myself and Mrs. Eagle.

The next morning our doctor came in and something he said helped us realize just how gracious God had been to us. Our little girl looked perfect physically; she had all her fingers, all her toes, no exterior deformities. Had she been born before routine sonograms we would have been completely unaware of anything wrong until she was born and would not breathe. Our Jordan had been parted. Little did we know that this parting had taken place before the waters had even begun to rise.

Almost two years later we’ve gained some perspective. The ~20 weeks that we were able to prepare for and mourn for our child made the aftermath of her death significantly easier (although still very hard). The hour that we were able to spend with her alive was and will always be one of the most cherished hours of my life. I will always be most thankful for the person who emailed the hospital coordinator and told her about us.

I was sitting in church this past week, to some degree wondering what I’d say in this post. How I could tell you about one of the most tragic, miraculous, and beautiful things that had ever happened to me and how God worked to show himself in a bad situation, even when he did not choose to heal the afflicted?

Miracles aren’t about healing the sick, giving sight to the blind or hearing to the deaf. They are about showing God’s power. I believe he did that in this situation. He showed himself to my wife and I, not by healing our daughter, but by putting the right people in our path, preventing the devastation of a sudden loss, and by giving us even just an hour with our beautiful baby girl.

Testimonistack! Story time with the Stack

2012-09-10 by waxeagle. 3 comments

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For the next two months we are going to try something a bit different here on Eschewmenical. To give our regular authors a bit of a break (Y’all have done great, keep up the good work!), we’re going to run two months of testimonials from several of our users (we’re hoping to get 8 full weeks, but may still have spaces available, come by Eschewmenical chat to find out).

A testimony is just a story, in Christian parlance it is usually the story of how you came to the faith. However, a testimony can also go much deeper than that. This month we are going to hear from people who both have always been Christians and also those who have converted later in life. We will hear their stories of how they came to the faith, or how they grew in their faith.

Testimonies serve a very important purpose to me. They remind us that God is real and that he is working in people’s lives, even if we don’t see it right in the thick of things, we can often take a step back and see him orchestrating things for his purposes. Hearing these stories from others can sometimes illuminate things in our lives that we have heretofore thought of as obstacles, problems, or detriments and make it more obvious how God is working in these difficult situations for our betterment.

These two months we are going to take a break from our normal 4 perspective style, but we are still aiming for a post every Monday (or when we remember to post them). However, I’m sure that we will have plenty of different perspectives all the same. We are a fairly diverse community and the types of testimonies that we give should bear out some of that diversity.

Because we have so many authors and I’m not completely clear on the schedule yet (and if you haven’t signed up but want to participate leave an answer here), I won’t be posting a schedule this month. Instead I will add the posts as they go live to this section.

As always, please feel free to comment interact or debate our authors in the comments, or in the Eschewmenical chat room. This is Eschewmenical!

Respect My Authoritah! Biblical Authority Discussion.

2012-08-06 by waxeagle. 0 comments

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It’s a new month and that means a new topic for our authors to debate here on Eschewmenical. This month we will be tackling the question of Biblical Authority.

The question of how we should read the Bible and how much pull it should have on our daily lives is certainly a contentious one. Different Christian groups maintain that the Bible (and even certain passages within the Bible) have varying degrees of authority in the past and now. There are a variety of reasons for these beliefs and our authors will hopefully cover a good portion of this spectrum. If there is something they don’t cover, feel free to chime in about it in the comments, or by asking questions on Christianity.SE

Authority Has been a much discussed topic on Christianity Stack Exchange and I’m sure this month will spark even more discussion on the subject. So let’s get to it. Our Authors for the month are:

  • 8/6 Bruce (United Methodist—Putting the Bible in Its Place)
  • 8/13 Peter (Catholic – Paine and Providence)
  • 8/20 Jon (Evangelical—How tradition gave us our Bible)
  • 8/27 ?

One final housekeeping note. If you are interested in contributing to our Testimony Time series we are doing it in September and October (and possibly November if we have interest). We are looking for at least 2 more authors. Please sign up on Meta. All are welcome to contribute no matter your religious background or perspective. We want people’s stories.

With that, I’ll get out of the way and leave the floor to our authors. This is Eschewmenical!

It’s not about me. And boy am I glad.

2012-07-23 by waxeagle. 6 comments

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> 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:8-10)

I have a confession to make. I’m a sinner. Completely and utterly helpless. If you aren’t convinced by me telling you, you’re more than welcome to ask my wife. Thankfully, my salvation is not dependant on anything I have done, or will do, because, quite frankly, I would be incapable of doing any such thing. It is only by the grace of God that I have been saved, and it is only by his grace that I am capable of good works.

Ephesians 2 is quite clear. I can’t have a hand in my salvation, because if I did, I’d be a complete jerk about it. This actually lines up quite nicely with the New Testament accounts of the Pharisees and the Sadducees who took an extreme amount of pride in their ability to follow the Law (in their minds completely). Jesus countered this mentality with statements like Mat 5:20 “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.“ Meaning that even all of their perceived perfection just wasn’t enough. There were not enough works that they could do in the world that would be effective to actually save them. It was this very philosophy that Hebrews confronted in its famous chapter 11: “1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.“ Emphasizing the fact that it was the faith of the Old Testament saints, not their works, that saved them.

The fact that when Christ came he was drawn to the sinful, the weak and the broken people of the world is no coincidence. He came to these folks, because these people were painfully aware of their need for a savior and salvation. They knew that they could not do it on their own. They knew how bad off they were and how much they needed, and when it was freely offered they partook.

My local church is fond of the following saying: “You a far worse off than you’ve ever imagined, but you are far more loved, than you ever dared dream.” The meaning is quite simple, our sin and the burden of it, is greater than even what we are aware of. However, the love Christ bears us, and the sacrifice he gave, is more than sufficient to forgive all of it, past, present, and future.

Now, just because we’ve established that good works are not necessary to salvation, does not mean that they are not important. Sometimes it is mistakenly communicated that Calvinism and other elements of the reformed faith preach some kind of “Couch Christianity” or other inactive or even hedonistic form of Christianity wherein one can be saved and continue either doing nothing, or continuing in a lifestyle of sin. We must remember that faith is the beginning of regeneration which leads to sanctification.

The fact of the matter is that faith is the first element of a new lifestyle. Paul in Romans 6 pretty clearly lays this out: “1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” We are supposed to die to sin. James (2) is also clear on the subject.

> 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

The fact of the matter is that “by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matt 7:16) means something. If one truly is regenerate, and in the process of becoming sanctified, they will be producing fruit.

So to wrap it up, why am I glad I have nothing to do with my salvation? Because I know that I am incapable of “righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees” and acknowledge that I am even worse than I am aware of. This is the heart of the gospel; we are incapable of even being aware of our need for salvation without Christ softening our hearts and preparing us for him. We don’t deserve it, and when we begin to think that we have done something it is just a continuation of our sinful pride. However, faith is not the end; works must follow faith as fruit grows from a tree. But faith itself, it’s not about me, and boy am I glad for that.

Eschewmenical Presents: “Faith vs Works – The Showdown”

2012-07-02 by waxeagle. 1 comments

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Hello, and welcome to July on Eschewmencial.

Every month we choose a new topic and present several different doctrinal perspectives on the same theme. We encourage debate and discussion of these ideas and desire to provide an open forum for such.

This month’s topic is the age old showdown between Faith and Works. Not to rub salt in old wounds, but this debate was one of the primary drivers of the reformation and the great church schism that has risen out of that event. It’s also been an ever present topic on Christianity Stackexchange. In fact this question and this question attempt to find the proof on each side of the issue.

A search through the scripture will also find what seem like mixed messages, including lines like “by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph 2:8) and “faith without deeds is useless.” (James 2:20) What conclusions and views will our author’s draw? Find out this month as we explore the centuries old debate of Salvation by Faith or Works.

  • 7/2 Jon (Evangelical—Salvation is what God does for us)
  • 7/9 Bruce (Arminian/Wesleyan – Running to Win the Prize)
  • 7/16 Peter (Catholic – Faith, Works, God’s the Guy with Gun)
  • 7/23 Wax (Reformed – Irresistible)
  • 7/30 Jas 3.11 (Jasian – A Beautiful Partnership)

Again thanks for reading. This is Eschewmenical!

Eschewmenical Presents: “The Workplace”

2012-06-01 by waxeagle. 0 comments

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Welcome once again to a new month on Eschewmenical, the blog of Christianity Stackexchange. The purpose of this blog is to choose an issue and highlight different doctrinal perspectives on that issue. This month’s issue is “Christian Conscience in the workplace.” This is an incredibly – and intentionally – broad subject. Because of this we are not even making an attempt to cover every aspect. Authors have been asked to share some thoughts and basically just choose their own adventure on this topic this month. However, it is a subject we are likely to revisit in a narrower capacity both in Q&A on the site and also through more focused treatment on this blog. The workplace also happens to be the theme of one of the newest stack exchange betas. Now on to introduce the topic:

So you’ve grown up a Christian, or maybe you found Christ in college, or maybe even only recently came to know him. Regardless of when or how you met Christ, if you’re an adult, you are likely to be working. Being a Christian and working raises an excellent series of questions:

These are just a few of the questions that are likely on our minds as we enter – or continue – in the workplace as Christians, and (no guarantees here) some of them may get tackled in this series. Others might make excellent posts on the site (if they aren’t there already).

Let’s set our schedule and introduce our authors (note: this schedule is subject to change due to post availability):

  • 6/4 Affable Geek (Episcopal- Jesus is Lord, and Other Hobbies)
  • 6/11 Peter (Catholic—Sins of omission and sins of commission)
  • 6/18 Bruce (United Methodist—justice and dignity in the workplace)
  • 6/25 Jon (Evangelical)

Remember this is Eschewmenical; you don’t have to agree with the authors. In fact you are encouraged to disagree with them (we are eschewing ecumenicism here). Please feel free to post your disagreements or angry rants in the comments or join the authors in our blog chat room.

Eschewmenical Presents “What is the Church?”

2012-05-01 by waxeagle. 2 comments

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Every week millions of people gather, usually on Sunday (or Saturday, or maybe even another day), usually in the same place. What they do varies, but it usually consists of singing and then listening to someone talk for a bit. Sometimes they gather again midweek, sometimes they go every single day. It’s church, sometimes we go because we want to, sometimes we go because we need to, sometimes we don’t go at all. But how often do we actually think about what it is and why we go?

This month in Eschewmenical we are going to explore the question “What is the church?” This is a rather ponderous question and several facets likely deserve their own entire month of treatment on this blog. However, this month is the general overview.

The church is a relatively common topic on Christianity.SE with several tags devoted to it including “church”, “church-local”, and “church-universal” among others.

What exactly is the church and who it consists of, and how to “do” church are all up for debate in this month’s blog. This month’s contributors are:

  • 5/7 Peter (Catholic—One, holy, catholic, apostolic)
  • 5/14 Chaos Gamer (Berean—What churches everyday should be)
  • 5/21 Jon (Evangelical—The Church struggle)
  • 5/28 Bruce (United Methodist—Walking worthy of the vocation to which we have been called)

So Saturday or Sunday, traditional or modern, universal, local or visible, this month we ask “What is the church?”

Eschewmenical Presents: Easter!

2012-04-01 by waxeagle. 3 comments

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Welcome to another month on Eschewmenical. This month’s topic is Easter. Culturally associated with eggs decorated lavishly in pastels, bunnies, chicks and delicious sugar coated marshmallows shaped like the aforementioned bunnies and chicks, Easter is the time we as Christians remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Easter is an odd holiday as the date that it is celebrated varies widely from year to year. The decision to move Easter was made out of an attempt to line the day up with the Jewish celebration of Passover. According to Wikipedia, it is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere Source.

Celebrations of Easter range from the 50 day celebration of the Catholics to the almost complete ignoring of the day by people who consider it to be a continuation of a tradition of paganism.

We’ve handled several Easter questions on Christianity.StackExchange and covered a range of issues from how long Jesus was in the tomb to how we determine the date it’s celebrated.

This month’s authors and topics are:

  • 4/2: Bruce Alderman (United Methodist—Holy Week: From Palm Sunday to Easter)
  • 4/9: Jon Ericson (Evangelical—Easter as a historical event)
  • 4/16 Peter Turner (Catholic—pro-Easter (as a 50 day celebration))
  • 4/23: Michael Hollinger (aka Affable Geek) (Episcopalian — Why we need Good Friday)
  • 4/30: Dan O’Day (The Eastern Perspective)

Please keep in mind that we are here in the spirit of Eschewmenism; we’ve agreed to disagree.