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Biography is Our Theology

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How do you learn to lay bricks? Watch someone lay bricks.
How do you learn to change a tire? Watch someone change a tire.
How do you learn to live a good life? Watch someone live a good life.

And that is the meaning of All Saints Sunday.

The reason we need saints is that we need examples- we need stories about how life is to be lived. We need to watch and see, we need to learn from one another.

Baptist theologian Jim McClendon said it this way: biography is our theology. Ours is not a faith of bullet points and doctrines and teachings. Ours is a faith that is embodied, lived, watched, practiced and passed on. Passed on through the lives of the saints.

We celebrate All Saints Day this Sunday, November 6. As is our tradition, we will read the names of Northside Drive members who have passed away this year.

Join us for this important service as we reflect on the saints of Northside Drive.

 

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Baptists in the Reformation

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Beyond candy, skeletons, and witches, October 31 is also Reformation Day

Baptists have a unique place in the Protestant Reformation.

We could actually say that historically Baptists are not Protestants. Rather, Baptists belong to a third waythe radical reformation.

While Martin Luther was leading reformation in Germany and John Calvin in Geneva, the early Baptists (called Anabaptists at this point) were not content with either movement. They felt that the burgeoning reformation did not go far enough. The Anabaptists (literally "rebaptizers," a pejorative title given by their enemies) were disjointed groups throughout central Europe that desired full freedom of the church from state control. Figures like Conrad Grebel, Balthasar Hubmaier, and Michael Sattler insisted that following Jesus could not be compelled either by government or even by family (in the case of infant baptism). Regeneration, they believed, only took place when the Spirit of God called an individual and that individual made a commitment of faith. Such views made them heretics, not just to Roman Catholics but also to the Protestant reformers.

Heretics who were regularly put to death.

Today this distinction is largely lost. Baptists are popularly understood as the largest Protestant denomination in America, and many Baptists are more than happy to acquiesce to government power. As we approach Reformation Sunday, let us consider what was at stake for these early Anabaptists. What could it mean to find a ‘third way’ today? What could it mean to recover the historical sense of Baptists and stand in the tradition of the radical reformation?

 

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Theology of Halloween

Halloween is one of my children’s favorite holiday.

What’s not to love? Dressing up and candy. It’s just fun.

I’m excited for Trunk or Treat this Sunday (October 23) from 4:00 -6:00. There will be decorated trunks, lots of candy, music and hot dogs. I’m making plans to decorate my trunk. You won’t want to miss it!

Many churches these days are moving away from Halloween celebrations. They call them, instead, ‘harvest festivals’ or something similar. The concern seems to center on the darker themes of Halloween. Churches struggle to reconcile the celebration of death with the gospel. But Halloween isn’t actually about celebrating death, rather, it is about mocking death. And mocking death is actually the point of the gospel. In Jesus, we do not fear the power of death. Death itself has been overcome by Jesus. As Paul said, “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

Countless Christian martyrs faced persecution and death, some by literally laughing in the face of death.

There is certainly no need to justify the fun of Halloween with our theological reasoning. But if it helps, there is something profoundly Christian about Halloween. Death has no power over us. Therefore we are free (encouraged actually) to mock deathand get a little candy out of it too!

Happy Halloween!

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