September 02, 2014

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Reflections on Religious Freedom From A Christian Immigrant Perspective I don’t want to take sides. I don’t want to stir up controversy. I don’t want to weigh in ‘just because…’ But I think it’s worth saying that religious liberties are nothing to sneer at or treat lightly. I get the disdain for culture wars. Decades of trying to achieve religious agendas through contentious public discourse have left a bad taste for any Christian dialogue in the public square. I get it. I believe deeply and try to live out the “Jesus Way”—the quieter, counter-cultural ethic that only makes sense if we believe in a God who raises the dead. I have been shaped by Hauerwas and his imagination of the Church as an alternate society. I think embodying the Gospel is the Church’s mission, not boycotting culture. I don’t even think we need to “take a stand for Jesus.” I get it. I understand where my peers—and dare I say now, the younger generation emerging behind me—are coming from. But…religious freedoms are precious. Can the Gospel thrive without them? Certainly. And it has. But let us not be quick to overlook how much the Gospel has been helped (insert the *) by political conditions that were favourable to its spread—from Constantine’s edict to Luther’s “godly princes”. Do I think this was all a good thing? Certainly not. I am not ignorant of the dangers of a ‘civil religion’, and the confusion that ensues when a Christian identity is confused with a national one. I had my church history classes in seminary where we had to grapple with the good, the bad, and the downright ugly parts of the relationship between church and state in Western Christianity. And yet…we must not dismiss religious freedom as a trivial thing. God does not work in a social or political vacuum. God works...
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Why a Doctorate, Why Durham? WARNING: This is a post for nerds like me. :) In all seriousness, this won't be of interest to everyone, but several of you have asked why I'm doing a doctorate and why I've chosen Durham University, England. I've answered these questions before, but I realize that my answers have been inadequate. For one, I am still learning to understand my own heart and motivattions. And, what's more, I had some incorrect information about this particular program at Durham. So, in order to understand myself and to communicate more clearly for those interested in post-graduate studies, I thought I'd write about it. (Actually, this is always why I write: to help me understand my own thoughts, and to be of some help to others.) ------------------------- Why a Doctorate? As best as I can know my own heart-- and this is tricky business-- this is what I would say: To make the most of the gifts which have been entrusted to me for the glory of God and the good of the Church. This is not Christianese to me. When I was a little boy, my mum used to say to me, "Glenn, if you can achieve (x), then don't settle for (y)." This wasn't said in a performance-ish, pressured sort of way. This was said with utmost love. It came out of her deep belief in who God had made me to be. And it wasn't unrealistic stuff. (She never said this about my dreams of being the next Michael Jordan, for example.) She-- and my dad-- saw things in my sister and me as they prayed over us and talked with us. And they wouldn't let us stop short because of laziness or apathy. I'm reminded of this quote from the late John Stott about ambition: Ambitions for God,...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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