Study of Mark: Mark 2:18-22
18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 19 And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins."
A little bit about the fasting: Jews in Christ's time were expected to fast twice each week. Old Testament law only established one fast day each year -- the Day of Atonement. Jesus didn't expect his disciples to follow the extra-biblical rules and regulations of the Pharisees. Fasting was commonly associated with mourning -- Jesus made the point that there was no reason to fast, since He was still with his disciples. There would come a time when He wasn't with them, and that would be the appropriate time to fast and mourn.
Jesus then teaches in two parables -- the cloth and the wineskins. The point of both parables is the same -- the Gospel cannot be associated with or tied to the self-righteousness and man-made traditions of the Pharisees. God's grace made any man-made attempts at pleasing God irrelevant, and in fact showed that any such attempts always fell short.
Old wineskins didn't have the elasticity to hold new wine as it fermented. In the same way, the traditions of men often hampered the spread of the Gospel, as Judaizers tried to keep believers bound to the letter of the law. as Christians, we must be careful that, while teaching believers that there is a lifestyle of holiness that we are called to, we do not make holiness a condition of salvation -- as many tend to do. Christ forgives us of our sins, and His righteousness is imputed to us -- it's nothing that we can do ourselves.
My Memorial Day
Memorial Day hasn't been the same for me for three years. Three years ago, on the last day of exams at the school I was teaching at, at 7:45 in the morning, I was told to call my mother. At the hospital.
My Dad always had high blood pressure, and was on a variety of medications at different times to try and control his arhythmia. On May 25, 2001, he lost the fight, and went home to be with the Lord.
My Dad was a member of the Air National Guard in Washington DC during the late 50s and early 60s, right before he and my Mom got married. For a while in the early 60s, he seriously thought he was going to be called up and deployed in West Germany. After leaving the Guard, he started working at the Defense Mapping Agency. In his career, he designed mapping specifications that made field maps much easier to read -- many of his specs are still in use today by the US armed forces as well as many NATO member nations.
We had never considered that his military service gave him the right to be burried at a National Cemetary until the day he died. We made the phone calls and found that he was entitled to a military burial. We knew that Dad would have loved that, and so we laid him to rest on May 29, 2001 at Barrancas National Cemetary onboard NAS Pensacola.
I get home close to Memorial Day each year. Today, when we went out to the cemetary to put the flowers, I was as impressed as always with the flags on each grave. I noticed this year that more poeple were there than had been previously -- I guess things are making people more mindful of the service that the military provides.
I wish sometimes that I could just celebrate the start of summer on Memorial Day. I'd love to just cook burgers and dogs, swim a little bit, and relax. After all, it's the first official day of that time of year all teachers love -- summer vacation. But I can't do that. My Dad's memory won't let me, and it won't let me forget the thousands and thousands of others who gave their lives in the service of this country -- and those who continue to do so daily in the Middle East.
Schedule note and more
I'm going to get back onto schedule this week. Mark study on monday night, and TiCH on Wednesday. Assuming this laptop behaves itself, that is ...
I've got a lot to do this week to get ready for school -- please be praying that I can get everything done.
I'm also working on a few things to post here -- one on music, one on Bible translation, and a few others. I'll try to spread them out, so there will be one or two a day for a while.
Today in Church History
May 30, 1416.
Today marks the death of a reformer, Jerome of Prague. Hevilly influenced by his friend and mentor, Jan Hus, Jerome brought John Wycliffe's teachings to Bohemia.
Jerome studied at Oxford in England for several years before leaving to spread the Lollard teachings throughout Europe. Eventually, he was arrested and charged with heresy. After imprisonment and abuse, he finally recanted, only to go back on it in public later on. He was finally burned at the stake, convicted of heresy.
Modern Christians, especially Protestants, tend to forget that the Reformation didn't happen overnight when Luther posted his 95 Theses. Reformation ideas had been spreading for over a hundred years -- as soon as people were able to read and study the Bible in their own language.
This was the basis of Wycliffe's teachings. He taught that people should be able to study Scriptures themselves, and be taught in their own language. When the monopoly on Scriptural literacy had been broken, people began to realize that what they had been taught was wrong, and they were outraged. In many cases, their reactions were worse than the offenses against them. It was only the political situation in England that kept Wycliffe from igniting the Reformation a hundred years earlier -- with people like Hus and Jerome helping to spread the word on the continent.
Study of Mark: Mark 2:13-17
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus takes on a controversial disciple in this passage. Tax collectors were NOT looked on with high regard; in fact, most of them were known to augment their salaries with extra taxes charged to people. And He catches some heat for it.
This happens a lot in the Church today. Hang out with fellow Christians and nobody has a problem. Start hanging around with "those people" and there will be trouble. Whether it's a bus route with underpriviledged kids, or simply people from a lower economic or social class, befriending people who are "below" us can result in a lot of complaints from the people of God.
We forget that none of us are righteous on our own. Our righteousness only comes from Christ -- and His righteousness can be imputed to anyone, even the worst of people in the worst of circumstances. Too often, in our zeal to show how good we are, we cause people who need Christ in their lives to ignore the message of Christ.
Christ reminds us why He came. NOT to call the righteous -- they should know their sins, and know that they need to confess. He has come to call the sinners -- the people who need Him the most. The people who we meet every day. It is our calling to reach out to these people, but we may lose our chance simply because they aren't "our kind" of people.
Christian Carnival is UP
Head over to Parablemania
for the Christian Carnival -- 15 Christian blogs that are outstanding reading!
(oh, and I forgot to mention in my previous post -- 100 posts!! WOO HOO!!!)
Back in a few!
We're headed out on a whitewater rafting expedition, so no posts tonight. Possibly tomorrow, then Thursday we head to Florida to see my Mom. I'm taking my laptop with me, but I don't know if I'll have a chance to post regularly. I WILL post some -- although I've left a few big ones for everyone to digest!
Here we go again ....
So, I'm trying out my new RSS reader, NewsDesk
(which is awesome, btw), and one of the blog feeds that comes pre-programmed in the software is Kuro5hin
. So I'm reading along, and I come across this article
Christian Reconstructionism. The Great Evil which Plagues American Politics (tm).
I wouldn't mind these articles if they got the information right. I wouldn't mind it if they didn't try to lump every evangelical Christian into the Reconstructionist camp. Newsflash, folks -- there are very few real Reconstructionists. Unfortunately, the differences are downplayed by everyone and his brother, to try to paint us all with a very broad brush.
I'm not going to rant about the intersection between Christianity and politics -- I've done that already today
. What I AM going to do is try to set a little of the record straight.
The problem seems to be where Reconstructionists agree with orthodox Christianity. All Christians believe that God should be the center of every Christian's life (another point I've discussed before
). This is the nature of faith. I don't know of many Christians (though I'm sure there are some) who don't believe in the return of Christ for His Church -- the Bible clearly teaches this. The point of contention is when
. Most Christians believe that the Bible is the Word of God. This is an ongoing debate between myself, Back of the Envelope
, and Parablemania
The thing that bugs me is when people say things like this:
Much of the modern conservative agenda ties in closely with Reconstructionist beliefs, and are frequently in lock-step with them.
Modern conservatism is based in a belief in small government -- something that is attractive to Reconstructionists. Simply going the same direction that someone else is doesn't imply a close tie with them.
Environmentalism - Obviously if you believe that a divine entity has given the Earth to you for you to use as you will, you will be angered at those who seek to stand in your way.
Actually, having a Diety give you responsibility (which is what the Old Testament concept of dominion entails) over the world demands that you use resources wisely (the basic point of stewardship). This is why many evangelical Christians are paying more attention to environmental issues.
Civil Liberties - Liberty and freedom are not terms that appear very frequently in Reconstructionist writings, since so much of Reconstructionism is in direct opposition to the principles of freedom.
On the contrary, the very basis of evangelical Christianity is the freedom we enjoy in Christ.
I'm not going to do a thorough fisking of the article -- suffice to say that the comments made about Reconstructionism show clearly that it is at odds with evangelical Christianity, and most flavors of fundamentalist Christianity. Any resemblence between actual policy from the Bush administration (or any other administration, for that matter) is more the result of coincidence than any direct influence that Reconstructionists have. Don't worry everyone -- if they try to create a theocracy, evangelical Christians will be on your side, opposing it.
Of course, everything I've said kinda spoils the stereotype of evangelical Christians, so I doubt anyone will pay a bit of attention to it. I'm finding out that nobody in the world really has any tolerance at all. Not that this surprises me or anything.
Ok, let me hear it
Tell me what you think of the new color for the side panels. I'm messing around with some combinations right now, and my wife will tell you that I stink at that.
I like the old color better, but I'm having trouble with the link colors -- unless I go with viewed links and active links as the same color. Let me know, and give me suggestions. If you want, you can email me at wkelly42 AT adelphia.net.
What is up with THIS?????
Click this link
, and see what I'm going on about. If this were a British sit-com (OR a Monty Python sketch), I'd be a gruff policeman coming up repeating "Right! What's all this, then?"
I read this article in the hopes that someone had gotten a late start on April Fool's Day -- or maybe Internet April Fool's Day is actually May 24, or something like that. But no -- these people
seem to be quite serious.
I've made my own opinions
on the topic of Christian politics
pretty clear before
, I think. But I really think that this needs to be addressed.
This is a stupid idea. Stupider than all Christians leaving public education
. No, this nation is not perfect -- far from it. Yes, we probably have a different idea about the Constitution than the founding fathers did. And society in general has really gone to the dogs, in spite of having Christians in government. So what we're going to do is -- create a Christian government. All of our own.
First of all, we've already got
Christians in government, and it isn't working!
What makes you think that a new government, run by Christians for Christians, will be able to do things better? Sure, you won't have abortions, you can put blue laws back in force, etc. So what happens the first time a Presbyterian wants to baptize a baby, and the local Baptist church gets mad because that's "un-Christian"? What about the Catholic church down the street that has organized gambling (bingo) to help fund it's activities? Gambling is a sin, after all -- at least it is in many churches.
Problem is -- whose version of Christian government do we implement? Baptists believe in a separation of Church and State -- no State-run religion for us, see what happened when Constantine did it? -- Government-organized councils deciding church doctrine! None of that for us! Or do you go with the liberal State that is giving to the poor and needy -- free health care, etc. -- Jesus said to do it for the least of these, right? And this is
a Christian government, right?
Can't be done -- unless you only let Christians of your particular denomination in. And if you're a Baptist, good luck. Put two Baptists in a room together, you'll have three opinions on everything. We're troublemakers -- that's our job. In the body of Christ, we are the Achilles tendon -- important, but if we get irritated, everything stops.
Let's look at the problems they have with the US:
* Abortion continues against the wishes of many States
* Children may not pray in our schools*
* The Bible is not welcome in schools except under strict FEDERAL guidelines
* The 10 Commandments remain banned from public display
* Sodomy is now legal AND celebrated as diversity rather than perversion
* Preaching Christianity will soon be outlawed as hate speech¹²
* Gay marriage will be foisted upon us in the very near future
Abortion continues -- there's a solution for this: teach kids about Jesus! Jesus changes lives! Jesus changes hearts!
Children may not pray in schools -- bull! Kids can pray anytime they want to, as long as a teacher isn't leading the prayer. With all the complaints about heathen in public education, do you really want
them teaching your kids to pray?? Not me -- I'm teaching my own to pray, and letting her know that nobody
can keep her from praying.
Bible not welcome? My wife kept hers on her desk all year long -- at a public school. Did her devotions during her planning period -- at a public school. Get a clue before you spew this garbage. There were kids all year long who read their Bible openly
at lunch, and nobody could stop them. It's the law, guys!
Preaching outlawed as hate speech? Doubtful. If they do it, they'll have to put me in jail, just like they did to the apostles. I won't run away from people who need the Gospel. Preaching is illegal in many parts of the world, and there are God-anointed people preaching in underground churches every day to throngs of believers. Run if you want to -- I'll stick around and do God's work.
Gay marriage? See my first point. Tell them about Jesus, and He can change them!
This stuff gets me fired up. I'm tired of American Christians whining about how terrible things are, and how rough it is to be a Christian. There are people in the world who would give everything they own to have things as "rough" as we do. We haven't had enough persecution, in my not-so-humble opinion. We've got too many Christians who are comfortable, and when their comfort zone is violated, they want to run away.
I'm not running. If they make it illegal to preach, who knows -- I may become a preacher after all. If they ban the Bible, I'll buy a press and start printing them. I'm not going to go off to some Christian Utopia and bury my head in the sand and let the rest of the nation go to Hell in a handbasket.
Happy Birthday, Nick!!
It's now Monday the 24th, and it's officially (by East Coast time, anyway) Nick Queen's birthday. So head over to the Patriot in Exile
, and sing Happy Birthday. I think he wants a new hosting service for his birthday -- someone help the guy out!!
What is Worship?
this month is devoted to worship. What is it? How do we do it? How don't
we do it?
I like their definition of worship. ". . . living a life that betrays a deep, inward belief in God and His promises". They take this from Romans 12:1 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."Romans 12:1 ESV
Worship is a lot more than singing catchy songs with your hands in the air. Worship is more than an hour every Sunday morning, an hour Sunday night, and then an hour Wednesday night. The very definition of the word worship in the New Testament is tied to the word service. The word latreuo
is translated variously as worship and service throughout the New Testament by the KJV, but almost always as worship by the ESV. The implication in Greek isn't just service, but service that is not compelled or forced. We worship God in what we do for others, not how we act in church!
Worship leaders: Are you showing your church how to serve God? Are you showing them how to live their lives as living sacrifices? Or are you leading a few catchy choruses and calling that worship?
In his Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes has this to say:
This is the offering which the apostle entreats the Romans to make: to devote themselves to God, as if they had no longer any claim on themselves; to be disposed of by him; to suffer and bear all that he might appoint; and to promote his honor in any way which he might command. This is the nature of true religion.
So our 'reasonable service' (KJV and NKJV), our 'spiritual worship' (ESV) is total, 100% devotion to God. We have no claim to our lives -- we belong to God. But do we live that way? When we do, we can truly say that we are worshipping God. Otherwise, we're just singing trite songs.
Through the BlogRoll
Just really quickly, a few things of note from my blogroll that you all might have missed:
has a great post about different translations of the Bible
that is must reading. He takes a rather complex subject and makes it pretty easy to understand. And I agree with him, for the most part -- I'm still torn as far as the Byzantine Text vs. Alexandrian Text arguement (and it's NOT because I think that everything that comes out of Egypt is evil -- a typical KJVO arguement). My two main Bible translations are the ESV and the NKJV -- one modern and one TR. I'll probably be out of seminary before I get this issue finally resolved in my mind. I just wish more people would educate themselves on this subject -- it would eliminate a lot of confusion and conflict.
Over at Patriot Paradox In Exile
, the judging for the first round of King of the Blogs
is in: I came in fourth, but it was a CLOSE fourth. I'll do this again in a few months.
has a great article about Al Mohler's idea of theological triage
. I think I need to start reading Mohler's blog regularly; but if I don't, I know I can read Jollyblogger and get the good stuff.
One of my favorites, and something I'm going to talk about a bit later, maybe Monday or Tuesday if I don't get it finished tonight, is from Dialog:Breaking the Bubble
. It's from more than a week ago, but I really think that every "godblogger" should sit back and think about it. I'm not talking about bloggers who just happen to be Christians, but Christians who write Christian blogs. What are we writing them for? More exactly, who
are we writing them for? I'll give you my answer as soon as I figure out what it is, exactly. In the meantime, go check out Michelle's blog -- she's got some interesting stuff there.
I Can't Stop Laughing!!!
Finally go over to Holy Observer
-- the new issue came out about a week ago.
For the CCM haters out there, the people who think that CCM needs to have more theologically deep lyrics, check out this article
particularly. And PLEASE download the MP3. I'm burning this to a CD and cranking it up next time I go cruising ....
They also weigh in on the Jesus Merchandising Trend
(tm), which is getting to be a pet peeve of mine as well. Especially after I saw the merchandising for The Passion
I could go on, but then you wouldn't have to go there, so go there, read, and come back!
Somebody Agrees With Me!! (Sort of)
Rev. Jim West has authored a resolution for presentation
at the Southern Baptist National Convention that is pro-public school. I am especially encourages by West's statement that "We're supposed to minister to the world, not be afraid of it."
Now, I don't think that Southern Baptists fear the world. There are things we don't like about it, but we're not afraid, and I'm not sure that this resolution
, the one that prompted Rev. West's resolution as well as my article from May 15
, was made out of fear of the world. I think that the intentions were good -- eliminate a bad influence from our kids. I just don't think that pulling Christians out of public schools is the answer.
As I said before, there are a lot of Christians in public education. We are as vocal as we can be -- and you'd be surprised at what we're allowed to do. Any questions we're asked, we can answer. None of my students were surprised to see me filling out paperwork for Southern while they were taking a test a few months ago. It comes down to knowing your rights, and being willing to defend them.
In a discussion on another forum, I was told about a student who was threatened with suspension for reading his Bible during silent reading time. I was told this was an example of how bad public education is. It is actually an example of how little people understand the rights of Christian students in public schools, because this was patently illegal. It's something that I've wished happened to a kid at my school -- I'd love to be in on that kind of battle. I think even the ACLU
would back us up on that one, the law is that clear. I was told that the parent didn't want to make waves.
That's the problem. We'd rather be comfortable. We don't want to have to answer any tough questions. If the going gets tough, we'd rather jump ship. I have no problem at all with Christian education, or homeschooling -- we've considered both for our daughter, because she won't
be going to public schools if we're still living here when she starts school. NOT because of poor influences, or 'secular humanism', or anything like that. Because I want her to learn something, and the elementary schools around here are pathetic. There were seventh graders this year in junior high who couldn't read. Eighth graders who couldn't tell time. And they were passed on, because otherwise their self esteem would be hurt. These kids don't know what 'self esteem' means!!! And we have to make sure they can pass a graduation test that none of them can read. That's No Child Left Behind. But that's another rant for another day.
I'm glad that someone in the SBC has stepped up to defend Christians in public education. I'd love to be at the Convention this year -- it should be an interesting fight.
Patriot Paradox In Exile
Just got this email from Nick Queen at Patriot Paradox:
As many of you probably know by now my site, Patriot Paradox went down
recently due to bandwidth issues. It will re-open at www.patriot-paradox.com on June 1st, but until then I have opened
a site up, in exile, at s88888536.onlinehome.us.
Stop by and let him know you heard about it HERE!!!
Today in Church History
March 20, 325.
312 bishops of the newly-legalized Christian Church meet in Nicea at the behest of the Emperor of the Roman Empire himself. Their task? To determine, once and for all, what the Church believes about the nature of Christ -- was He God, Man, or both?
The conflict started because of a teacher named Arius. Arius claimed that Jesus was simply a creation of God. He was the first creature, but only a creature. Hi substance and nature were not the same as God's, and there was a time when He did not exist.
In the other corner was Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. He was appauled at the suggestion that Christ was less than God. The dispute caused conflicts all over the Empire, and Emperor Constantine wanted it stopped -- quickly.
Many of the bishops present had suffered greatly under the rule of Diocletian. They had risked their lives for the faith, and for Christ. They couldn't stand to see this man Arius make Christ into a simple man -- He was God incarnate! When a bishop rose to defend Arius, they tore the speach from his hands. The conflict threatened the unity of the Church.
After much debate and arguement (and there IS a difference between the two!), the issue was finally resolved. God and Christ were the same substance (in Greek, homoousion
). Christ was co-eternal with God. But in many ways, Nicea only started the theological ball rolling. Later councils would argue about the nature of Christ, the virgin birth, and other Christological concerns. But without the Council of Nicea, there would have been no starting point at all.
Ok, here are the results from the poll
. It was my first poll, and I may or may not do more. Results were interesting:
NKJV -- 40%
NASB -- 20%
RSV and NLT -- 10% each
Other got 20% of the 10 votes I received, but only one person told me what their other was -- the NRSV.
None of my KJVO buddies from the Fundamentalist Forums showed up, obviously. Interesting that the top two are two of the three main versions I use -- the ESV being the third. I'm using that one more and more lately.
BTW -- I WILL have the TiCH (Today in Church History) post up later. I apologize for not doing it yesterday -- we had a death in my wife's family, so we were getting ready to have company descend on us. I'll have it up shortly.
The Truth Is Out There
I had to call Illuminati Central about this post
. I worried that it gave away too much of our plans.
They said not to worry -- it sounded sarcastic enough that people wouldn't believe it. And I THINK that Kate is in on it all, anyway. Good job!
My Life: The Movie?????
Deep in the heart of Southern Ohio, a conversation is taking place ....
Him: I called that guy from Hollywood back this afternoon. You won't believe what he wanted to talk about?
Her: Let me guess -- View From the Pew: The Movie?
Him: Nope. ME
: The Movie.
Him: My thoughts exactly. Apparantly, there's interest in the lives of seminarian/bloggers. Somewhere.
Her(chuckling obnoxiously under her breath): So what kind of movie is it going to be?
Him: Good question. Problem is, my life isn't consistant enough for a movie. It could be a drama about a loving husband and father who has to spend time away from home to get his education. Could be a comedy about some of the stupid things that father has gotten himself into.
Her: Really!! Remember that time ...
Him: No, I don't. It could also be a buddy movie.
Her: You don't have any friends.
Him: You're not helping!! It could even be a sports movie -- life has sure thrown me a lot of curves, but I've hit a few out of the park.
Her: You don't even LIKE baseball!!!
Him: Could be a LOT of different movies. Maybe I should talk to him about a miniseries. Or sequals.
Her: Can you do a sequal about a life story? Wouldn't that be the after
Him: Very funny. We did decide on one thing, though.
Her: What's that?
Him: Matthew Broderick plays me. Ever since that girl at college said I looked like Ferris Beuhler, I've thought he should play me. And he needs the movie work.
Her: To capture the real you
, it would have to be an animated movie. They could re-use the artwork from Toy Story
-- you look a LOT like Woody.
Christian Carnival is Up!!!
Head on over to Back of the Envelope for this week's Christian Carnival
. I've got to say, every time I read one of these, I find new blogs to read. Pretty soon, I won't have time to do anything but read blogs and write mine.
What Kind of Pray-er Are YOU??
is proving to me that I need to read it daily. Read this post
, and ask yourself -- what kind of pray-er am I?
Rebecca St. James is "sad" for Britney
This article on CNN
pretty much says it all.
I feel sorry for Britney. She's marketed herself based on pure sexuality -- how long can that last? Of course, I don't feel TOO sorry for her -- by the time that marketing scheme stops working, she'll be filthy stinking rich. Then she can retire and campaign for feminist causes, bemoaning the plight of American women who are treated like sex objects.
I'm glad that RSJ spoke her mind. Of course, there's always the "she had to know that every news source in the world would pick up on this interview, and run with it. Is she just after publicity?" And I'm cynical enough to have thought that at first. It won't get her new fans, since her "target demographic" are usually Britney's big fans. It won't make her more popular in Christian circles -- she's already huge there. And the statements are VERY consistant with her lifestyle, and her associations with groups like The Silver Ring Thing
Britney Spears is stuck. She is too far down this road to go back if she wants to have a career. Maybe RSJ's statements will make young girls think about a few things, though. There IS another way, and it's working all over the world.
Study of Mark: Mark 2:1-12
Mark 2:1-12 ESV And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. (2) And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. (3) And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. (4) And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. (5) And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." (6) Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, (7) "Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (8) And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question these things in your hearts? (9) Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk'? (10) But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the paralytic -- (11) "I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home." (12) And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"
People are still bringing the sick to see Jesus -- he's nothing more than a healer to many. I love the story of the paralytic whose friends brought him to see Jesus -- they knew that Jesus could help their friend, and they got him to Jesus however they could!
They got something rather unexpected. Instead of healing, Jesus forgave the man's sins. People were in shock. They knew
what Jesus was claiming, even then! It amazes me that people claim Jesus never said He was God -- right here, He is claiming a power that God alone has -- the power to forgive sins. He doesn't say "God has forgiven you". He doesn't say "Be good and you'll be OK". He actually, right then and there, forgives the man's sin. And then confronts the people around Him with their own thoughts!
Which is easier to say? Neither one is particularly difficult to pronounce, so that isn't Jesus' point. I can walk around all day and say to people "Your sins are forgiven", and it means nothing. I can still say it, though. Nobody will know I'm lying until they stand before God and He informs them that they were deceived. How do you show authority? How do you show people that you are
the One who can forgive sin? Jesus shows them. He has power over illness and disability.
He also shows us why
He did the healing miracles. It wasn't just to make people well -- I'm sure there were many people in Israel at that time who never received healing. He wasn't doing it because people aren't supposed to be sick, or that believers aren't supposed to be sick. He did it so that the people would know that He had the authority from God to forgive sins. It was a calling card, so to speak. To emphasize His point, He heals the paralytic, who walks out of the house praising God.
I've noticed that repeatedly, the people who Christ heals leave Him praising God. They knew Who had healed them. These Jews, who had never worshipped anyone but God, left praising the God who had healed them. Maybe they thought that Jesus was merely His instrument. That all changed that day in Capernaum. Jesus laid claim to the authority to forgive sins, and His ministry was never the same. People had to decide to follow Him NOT based on His healing, but based on who He said He was.
We have to make the same choice today. Do we simply follow Christ because we wnat to have the 'Get Out of Hell Free' card? Because Jesus is "the Good Guy"? Or do we follow Him because we believe His claims to be God. We accept Who He is, and we have faith in what He did for us, and trust only in that for our eternal salvation. Following a God that is simply a cosmic gumball machine
is not an option. That god is not the God of the Bible, or of Christianity. I'm not really sure that god is worth worshipping at all. Thankfully, my God is much more than that.
Christian Carnival Alert!!
Yeah, you. Sitting there eating Fritos and writing your blog. You want fame? You want fortune?
Then get a real job. You want people to read your blog? Then send it in!!!
This week, the Christian Carnival is hosted at Back of the Envelope
-- the first blog I read every day (and I'd say that even if my blogroll wasn't
in alphabetical order! Send an email to him at email@example.com
, including the following information:
Title of your Blog
URL of your Blog
Title of your post
URL linking to that post
Description of the Post
Do that, and before you know it the blogosphere will be singing your praises .... well, they'll know who you are, anyway. Hey, it's a start! So get writing, and send it in!
MGM -- Do They Really Get It??
MGM has a new movie coming out called "Saved!"
. The movie is about a Christian teen (Jena Malone), attending a stereotypical Baptist high school, who becomes pregnant when she tries to "convert" her gay boyfriend by having sex with him. Of course, she instantly becomes an outcast at her school -- the "good kids" don't like her anymore since she's now a dirty, rotten sinner. The essential plot of the movie, as near aas I can tell, is that Christians aren't tolerant, they don't love sinners, and you'd better watch out or they're gonna get you.
In and of itself, I have no real issue with the movie. I've known Christians who treated pregnant classmates in just that way. I know far more, though, who treated everyone with compassion, just as Christ did. I am, of course, used to Hollywood trying to tweek Christians, and it seems that this movie just capitalizes on the current trend of Christian-bashing. I don't really expect anything more out of Hollywood -- that's why I can be pleasantly surprised with things like The Passion of the Christ
The problem I have is that MGM is apparantly hoping that Christians will like this movie
. I am a former marketing major. I have always enjoyed advertising and marketing -- and if I may brag for a minute, I was pretty good at it. I would love to meet the marketing idiots who saw this movie and said, "Hmmm. Christian kids beat down the poor pregnant girl. The whole high school is Baptist, and they're hypocrites. The conservative Christians should love
this one. Lets market it to them!". If I were in charge of production at MGM, I'd have an entirely new marketing department by the end of this week.
Reading some reviews
of the film, one thing becomes obvious -- the filmmakers don't know anything about the evangelical "subculture". The movie is lettered with stereotypes, right down to the preacher, who has an affair with one of the kid's parents. It would be nice if Hollywood would actually do their research when they make a movie about us, but I guess that's hoping a little too much.
I'm not sure how offensive the movie would be -- I have to agree that there are Christian kids who act just like the kids in the movie; uncaring, unsympathetic, comdemning, etc. Of course, that describes just about any group of teenagers that I've ever been associated with, Christian or not. And maybe, in the end, that will be the salvation of this movie's box office. It will give the non-Christian kids someone to point at and say "I may not be a Christian, but at least I'm not as bad as they are! Look at me -- I'm tolerant!".
And in the end, nothing changes. More people to look down their noses at Christians -- none of whom actually act anything like the people in the movie. Another stereotype, so that people don't have to be bothered to actually find out what other people are really like. Sounds like more of that tolerance stuff to me. The more tolerance I see, the more I realize that Christians have it down pretty well -- in fact, the Spanish Inquisition was probably more tolerant than anyone in the last hundred years.
Just What the Heck is a Fundamentalist, Realy, Anyway
I could have subtitled this "Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism part 100", and I promise that I'll get off this soapbox very soon. I found this
over at the Fundamentalist Forums, and thought I'd share. Be sure to read the whole thread -- and I'm going out looking for Jerry Sutton's book
i'm going off to bed now -- I'll have some more commentary on this later on Sunday.
Just a quick note
I don't know how much I'm going to write tonight. We're on the road again, and the Internet access is limited. Also, I'm finding out that the caps keys on this laptop stick, so I'm going to have to do some editing when I get home to the real computer.
I've also got a template redesign in the works -- I'll put a sample up somewhere so everyone can see it and comment on it when I get it finished. Possibly by Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how much I can do while my kids are taking finals next week. It will address some issues that people have brought to my attention, but that I haven't really known what to do about until now (I'm learning to use style sheets, so I can correct some of the messy HTML code I've written here).
Well, I'm off looking through my blogroll to see if something inspires me. If not -- more Mark study tomorrow -- we start Chapter 2!
Christians and Public Education
I've been hearing a lot about this article
lately, so I figured I'd throw my two cents out there for everyone to read. You can also go here
to read a running debate I've had with someone (I am phoenix, so you know). AND there's a good discussion of the topic here
First of all, there ARE Christians in public schools -- my wife and I both teach in a public school. In fact, my wife took a LOT of flack over her decision to not teach in a Christian school -- she views it as a mission field, and I know that this year she has had an impact on several students. Christians are fighting for the soul of American public education.
There are also always going to be Christian kids in public schools. Let's ignore the kids who just can't afford the tuition. What about the kids whose parents are not Christians? What are they going to do? These are questions that I'm not sure have been answered -- at least not anywhere I'm reading.
Should we simply abandon public education to the Enemy? That's what we're doing. We're throwing up our hands and saying "There's nothing more we can do". We are doing the same thing that the fundamentalists did in the 70s and 80s when they abandoned the Southern Baptist convention. It's taken almost 20 years for conservatives to win that fight. We don't have 20 years to reclaim public education.
I am all for Christian schools, and even home schooling -- for the right reasons. If the public schools in your area do a lousy job of preparing your kids for life after graduation, then it's your duty to put your kids somewhere else. But if you are concerned about the moral decay of public schools, think about trying to help solve the problem. If you shelter your kids from what is happening in public schools (and I teach in one -- I know what is happening in them), what is their reaction going to be when they have to function in the real world? Will they be able to deal with people who are ideologically opposed to them, when they have never faced that opposition before?
Who is going to train them? Parents. Like Jen says over at blogs4god -- if you have enough time to be able to commit to homeschooling, you have enough time to be involved in your child's public school education. Know the teachers, and make sure they know you. Find out where potential problems may lie. Work out solutions before the problems happen. Make sure your child knows WHY they believe the way they do -- not just what they believe. Make sure they understand what is being thrown at them in school, and why people believe the way they do. Let them know how to interact with people who oppose their beliefs -- so that they can have an impact on their classmates.
And remember that there are Christian teachers out there who are going to be there for your kids -- a support group, if you will. You might not even know who they are -- after all, Ezekiel didn't know there were 10,000 followers of God in the nation; he thought he was the only one.
Most Popular Translations
I'm doing this partly to promote my poll
(I REALLY want to find this out, and so far I only have 6 votes -- I KNOW there are more than six of you out there!!!)
Ellison Research did a study on what Bible versions were preferred
by various denominations. There are some surprising results -- including the fact that there are a LOT of new, modern translations that the ministers polled were not familiar with.
One of the nice things about e-Sword
is that you get a TON of different translations. I don't use them all -- I tend to stick with the MKJV, the KJV, and the ESV for English. But I have access to many of the newer translations, so I can at least evaluate them, and let people know the strengths and weaknesses of each. It was interesting to see that the ministers polled also were willing to recommend translations based off different text forms (Alexandrian vs. Byzantine, mainly).
Everyone has their favorites. I tend to favor more formal equivalent or literal translations over dynamic equivalent. But I'm not going to condemn people who disagree with me. I may criticise their choice of translations if I think that it's an especially weak one, but for the most part, I'm glad to see people reading God's Word -- whatever translation they choose.
Let's Hear It for the ...... ACLU??
It IS the American Civil Liberties Union. And in this case, an American's civil liberties were violated
. But since it was a Christian kid's rights, I guess a lot of people thought it wasn't going to matter to the ACLU (popularly referred to as the Atheists, Communists and Liberal's Union). Thankfully, they were wrong.
The ACLU seems to be trying to show that it is not a biased organization, in spite of a track record that would indicate just that. And I LIKE the fact that everyone is getting an education about what exactly is legal when it comes to religious speech.
I had kids tell me last year that they weren't allowed to read their Bibles for silent reading in class. I told them the teacher was wrong, and that if they wanted to read the Bible nobody could stop them. Turns out, the teacher hadn't said anything -- the kids assumed that they couldn't do it because of the whole "freedom from religion" nonsense. I think we need to make sure that teachers and students understand the idea that "free exercise" means just that -- we are free to exercise our religious beliefs, as long as they don't interfere with anyone else's. Kids pray every day in school -- I see kids asking the blessing at lunch tables every day. If the ACLU can help educate people, and let them know what they CAN and CANNOT do, then I say, "Welcome Aboard!"
What took you so long?
Today in Church History
(Actually, this is more like yesterday in Church History.)
May 11, 1816. New York. 28 different local Bible Societies gathered together to form an organization that would help them to work together more efficiently. May 11 marks the day that they voted to form the American Bible Society
. By years end, 41 different regional groups had joined it in it's effort to "encourage the wider circulation of the Holy Scriptures throughout the world". Interestingly, they were committed to distribute Bibles with no commentary or footnotes in them at all.
Since then, the Society has pushed to make sure that Bibles are available throughout the world -- a goal they have since been joined in by the Gideons. They have produced Bibles in thousands of foreign languages, and have been influential in the spread of the Gospel internationally.
Err America -- Liberal Talk Radio at it's best
My third all political post -- but this one DOES have some religious tie-ins, so it doesn't really count.
I just finished skimming this NY Daily News article
. I wish I could say I was shocked, or disappointed, or even surprised. I can't.
They don't like us. At all. And they aren't very good at differentiating between liberals and conservatives when it comes to Christians. I can't think of very many devout (or even semi-devout) Christians who wouldn't be offended by what was aired. I've said it before -- this must be that "tolerance" thing that I hear so much about. I can do that, too -- but I won't stoop to that level of ignorance.
I say let them have their radio station. Make sure it's broadcast all over the country. I want people to hear what these idiots actually have to say -- that's the best way to make sure that they are marginalized into obscurity. Which is exactly where they belong.
The Christian Carnival is up over at Spare Change
. I've never read Spare Change before, but that may have to change (no pun intended!) -- it's a great, well-written blog. There are some great entries over there -- including several from blogs on my blogroll! My article on Fundamentalists and Evangelicals from the 6th is up over there, so tell your friends (or your enemies, I'm not picky!), and head over there and read some great stuff from around the blogosphere!
Don't forget the POLL!!!!
Poll right here
!! It will be up until the 17th, so get in on it now!
The Fundamentals and Inerrancy
has a copy of chapter 21 of The Fundamentals
, which discusses the idea of inspiration, and defends the idea of verbal inspiration. A lot has been said
on this subject
already throughout the blogosphere
, so I decided it was time to add my two cents.
Does inspiration automatically lead to inerrancy? If we hold to the doctrine of inspiration, that is, that the Scriptures are inspired (literally theopneustos
, or God-breathed) by God, can we believe that these Scriptures contain mistakes? Many people point to apparent contradictions in Scripture as evidence that it is not inherently. Many more people have researched the contradictions and found that there are reasonable, logical explanations for them, and that inerrancy is not affected one bit by any of them.
I like the word theopneustos
-- 2 Timothy 3:16 is the only place it occurs in the Bible. The idea of something being breathed out by God is fascinating to me. How did it happen? Did God come down like He did on Sinai, and carve the words into stone? Did He prompt the writer, telling him what to include and what to leave out? Did He simply monitor what the author was writing, and nudge the writer in the correct direction? Or was it something different -- something that is so totally different from anything we can experience that we cannot really know how it was done until we see Jesus in Heaven?
Inerrancy, to me, is very important. If the Bible is not inerrant -- if it isn't free from error, trustworthy in all it's claims -- how can we use it as the final authority for our faith? To me, sola scriptura
relies on a Bible that is dependable, reliable, and free from error. If an error is possible, how can we be sure that e are following the part that is error-free? When we say that All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God -- how do we know that that part
is one of the correct parts?
One of the things I am learning in reading on this subject (and I'm just getting started on it) is that when we interpret Biblical passages, we have to understand the genre
that they are written in. When quoting a Psalm, for example, we must remember that we are quoting poetry, and treat it accordingly. We must also remember that Hebrew poetry is different from American poetry, and we must take that into account, too. If God inspired the writers, didn't He also inspire the method, the genre, of writing? Otherwise, why do we have poetry, apocalyptic writing, history, prophecy, biography, and epistles? Why not just one long narrative? There is a reason
for each style of writing in the Bible, and we need to learn that reason. When we do that, we can understand why some numbers are different in different accounts of events, and why some figures of speech are used, etc.
I believe that the Bible is inspired by God, and that it is free from errors -- unless that error is an error of interpretation. The fault is then ours, not God's.
I really have nothing to say ...
... about the beheading in Iraq.
I've tried to think of the words, and I can't. Jared over at Exultate Justi
, however, has found words. Good words. Words that need to be heard.
Go here and read.
You are Romans.
Which book of the Bible are you? brought to you by Quizilla
Thanks to The Great Separation
(which you need to read, if you don't already!) for this quiz.
Study of Mark: Mark 1:40-44
Mark 1:40-45 ESV
(40) And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean."
(41) Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean."
(42) And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.
(43) And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once,
(44) and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them."
(45) But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
Look at the faith of this leper! He knows
that Jesus can make him clean. He has heard of the miracles that Jesus has been doing, and he knows that the same can happen to him. On the other hand, we usually have faith that something isn't
going to happen. We follow a Saviour who defeated death -- we should expect Him to perform miracles. But we should expect them to be for His glory -- not ours.
Jesus touches the man. This doesn't seem like much to us, but to the people of Christ's time, it was a major deal. By touching the leper, Jesus made Himself ritually unclean, by the standards of the Pharisees. This is a great picture of what He did for us at Calvary -- "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.(2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)".
And still, Jesus doesn't want to draw attention to Himself because of the healing. He commands the man to tell nobody what happened, but to present himself to the priests, so that he could be declared clean. He doesn't want a horde of people following Him trying to see what new trick He's going to do -- He wants people to follow Him because they believe in His teachings, and know Him for who He is. He wants them to understand the mission of the Messiah.
As before, when the news gets out, Jesus doesn't capitalize on it. Instead, he goes out alone, to wait for the buzz to die down so that He can get on with the business that His Father has planned for Him.
We spend a lot of time trying to put on a show. We want people to notice us, to pay attention to us. We even write blogs thinking that people all over the world want to read what we have to say. We need to remember our mission -- to go into all the world, to preach the Gospel, to baptise, to disciple. Some of us are better at certain parts of that than others, but we all need to remember that it's not only the Great Commission. It is (if I can go all Star Trek nerdy on you for a minute) the Christian's Prime Directive. Our continuing mission. And we don't do it for our own glory -- we do it to give honor and glory to God, who has chosen to allow us
to take part in His plan.
That finishes up Chapter 1 of Mark. Next Monday, we go on to Chapter 2, and I'll start using bigger sections of Scripture than I have been so far. Otherwise, this study will take a LOOOONG time to finish.
Yes, I've been cruising the Net trying to find cool new things to do to my blog, and this poll is one of them!! The poll will be valid for one week -- you will only be able to respond one time in that week. I'm curious about this, and I hope I get a good response.
By the Way
I'm using FeedBurner now for syndication. If you want to keep track of the blog, and not have to actually surf here, you can point your news reader to this link
. If you have any problems, let me know -- I'm kinda new to this syndication thing.
Study of Mark: Mark 1:35-39
Mark 1:35-39 ESV
(35) And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
(36) And Simon and those who were with him searched for him,
(37) and they found him and said to him, "Everyone is looking for you."
(38) And he said to them, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out."
(39) And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
In verse 35, Jesus is setting the example we are all to follow -- pray. Things are going GREAT for Him right now -- His popularity is increasing, He's making an impact on people, He's healing and casting out demons -- and He stops to pray.
Not like us. We don't pray until we hit a speed bump. People often wonder why bad things happen to Christians -- I think that many times, they happen because God wants us to talk to Him, and He knows the only time we'll pray is when something bad happens. I DON'T think that only good things happen to us when we're doing what God wants us to do -- the Bible teaches that Satan will be against us when we are doing what we're supposed to do -- but I DO think that we open ourselves up for more abuse, more bad things, when we don't pray.
The second thing I notice is Jesus' reaction to His popularity. Peter comes running to Him, saying "What are you DOING out here all alone?? Don't you realize there are people LOOKING for you? You are in demand!! We need to take advantage of this -- we can have this whole town behind us! Nothing could stop us!!".
Jesus looks up at him and says, "We're leaving. We've got more towns to preach in -- that's what I'm here for."
It would have been easy to just stay there. Jesus knew what was ahead; He knew what people were going to do to Him. He knew that the arguements with the Pharisees were coming. He knew that people would be calling for His death. He could have stuck around where people liked Him, and taken His time. But He didn't.
He knew God's timetable. He knew that the Father knew best. And maybe He knew that some of the people who were looking for him, who thought He was the best thing ever to happen to their town, were some of the people who would, in just three years, be calling for His death. He got back to business, no matter what.
How often are we content to stay where we are, rather than go where God wants us? I was pretty content three or four years ago -- decent job, decent benefits, teaching in a school district that was building new schools every day, so there was always a chance to get a better position, the works. Then God started telling me that I wasn't quite where He wanted me, and that I'd need to step out on faith and head off to school again. I didn't want to do it. I argued. He won. I start seminary this summer.
We like to have things our own way. We want God to work on our terms, rather than being willing to work on His. God's way isn't the easy way -- ask Christ. God's way isn't the popular way. But it IS the right way. We need to follow it.
What a DAY!!!!!! (AND the Schedule!)
We drove to Columbus last night, because my wife was judging the Ohio History Day Performance competition -- part of National History Day. So my daughter and I went Mothers Day shopping today while she was judging, then we took her out to dinner a day early (I'm cooking tomorrow -- don't yell at me! She's not doing ANY cooking on Mothers Day). So we JUST got home. I am exhausted, so I'll post more tomorrow.
Wanted to let everyone know that AS OF RIGHT NOW, the Mark Bible study is going to be updated on Mondays (though I plan on doing one tomorrow, since it's been a while), and the Today in Church History articles are going to be done on Wednesdays. I'm busiest those two days, so that will help me keep to my posting schedule -- I WANT to post something every day. So stay tuned!!
Moore or Less ....
Ok, a rare political blog with no religious under or overtones. But there's a really good reason for this:
I can't stand Michael Moore.
has a great take on Moore -- and corrects his errors in fact rather well. But you don't have to go there for the latest outrage.
has an outstanding article about Moore and Disney. In spite of his outrage over having Disney refuse to distribute his movie at the last moment (he told his supporters that he only learned of the plan on Monday), it turns out that he knew a year or more ago.
Maybe Al Franken's next book about liars should include Moore. Or maybe Moore should admit that his documentaries are very short on fact, and long on staged events designed to gain him sympathy.
(Thanks to Joyfulchristian
for the heads-up on this story).
Fundamentalists and Evangelicals
A LOT of pixels have given their lives in this discussion. My own post of April 28
(though I doubt too many of the others writing about this have read that one), multiple posts
at Back of the Envelope
this week, and a post at Doc Rampage
as well -- the discussion is getting interesting. All because of the Guardian, and their "fundagelical" article
As I said before, there are seven things that, if you believe in them, you are a fundamentalist. Pre-tribulational eschatology didn't make the list 100 years ago, and it doesn't make my list now. If it makes yours, you aren't defining fundamentalism in anything close to an historic manner. The way I see it, the people who coined the term fundamentalist should be the authority in defining what it actually is.
Inerrancy of Scripture does make that list. I haven't met very many evangelicals who deny the inerrancy of Scripture, although some confine that to the original autographs. The Second Coming (tm) of Christ does make the list, also, though no specifications exist about when He's coming back. As I mentioned, most of the people who wrote the book had disagreements about eschatlogy, as do many today.
Maybe the problem is my definition of evangelical. I'd define them in the context of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
and it's statements of faith
. If you prefer, you can look at the National Association of Evangelicals' statement
There are many areas where evangelicals and fundamentalists differ -- especially if you look at modern, rather than historic, fundamentalists. Modern fundamentalism had become a haven for legalism and anti-intellectualism. Modern fundamentalists typically hold very dogmatically to a rather rigid set of beliefs, and often pride themselves in who they have 'separated from' -- carrying the Biblical injunction to separate from heresey to degrees never envisioned in Scripture.
The differences between evangelicals and historic
fundamentalists are slight. The differences between modern
fundamentalists and evangelicals are huge, and getting bigger every day. As modern Fundamentalism has slipped into KJVOnlyism, second, third, and fourth degree separation, and other such doctrinal abberations, the gulf will grow even bigger. This is the reason I stopped calling myself a fundamentalist -- I don't like what the name has come to represent. I am
, and always will be, an historic fundamentalist.
AND an evangelical, too.
Another find in the Blogosphere
Most of you have probably already seen this
, since Instapundit
linked to it, but I figured I'd post a link here anyway, since it ties in to what I was talking about last week -- fundamentalists and evangelicals. I think Donald's definition of evangelical is probably a little bit wider than mine, and his definition of fundamentalist might be a little narrower, but he hits the nail firmly on the head. I guess it's the Southern Baptist thing -- we must think a little alike.
I haven't tried to post anything extensive today, simply because of modem problems here. I've tried to post on a few message boards that I read frequently, only to have my cable modem lose connection before I could post. It's working now (of course -- a tech is coming tomorrow afternoon), so I'm putting a few things up tonight, but the Mark study will have to wait until tomorrow.
I'm trying to set up a schedule for the Mark study and the Today in Church History postings, since a lot of people seem to really enjoy them. When I work something out, I will let you know. It may end up being TiCH on Mondays (golf league night), and Mark study on Wednesday (church night), but I WILL let everyone know when I figure anything out for sure.
Of course, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't stop by every day! You never know what I might rant about......
The Will of God
I was going to write something about God's will, what it is, and what it isn't, in response to a LOT of blogging about the subject -- especially of knowing God's will.
THEN I read Rebecca's article
, and I figured it would be a lot easier to just tell you go read that -- she's done an outstanding job with the whole issue. Maybe someday, I'll write one, but I think she's got the issue summed up well.
The Christian Carnival
is up over at Parablemania
. My first article about The Jesus Factor
is included, along with some outstanding entries from all over the blogosphere. Check it out!
Those Clever Lefties
The British paper, The Guardian, has coined a new term for us
-- fundagelicals. Fundagelism, it says, "oppose ... Gay marriage, abortion, gun control, taxes, the UN (and the currently top-rated candidate for anti-Christ, Kofi Annan), withdrawal from Iraq, Michael Moore, Janet Jackson's left breast". We believe in "Christian values and the future as foretold in the Book of Revelation".
Wow. I didn't realize that we were so simplistic. Never mind that there are, at last count, at LEAST six different interpretations of Revelation among American evangelical Christians, and that even Fundamentalists (in the historic sense of the word
) don't even totally agree. Never mind that to many who call themselves fundamentalist, the term 'evangelical' is an abomination, akin to calling an Ohio State supporter a Wolverine.
I'm always amused at the simplistic ways that outsiders try to categorize Christian beliefs. I guess if you can find one segment of the population and exaggerate their beliefs to the point of absurdity, you don't really have to deal with their opposition to you in any rational form at all. Funny, I always thought that was what Christians were accused of doing.
Today in Church History
Taking a Stand.
On this day in 1873, a Catholic priest known simply as Father Damien purposed in his heart that he would not take the easy way out -- he would, almost literally, enter hell to witness to the people there.
Father Damien was a missionary to Hawaii. I met some missionaries to Hawaii while in college; I expected lots of pictures of people on the beach, accounts of Christian luaus, the works. What I saw shamed me. Poverty, disease, things that the tourist board doesn't want people to know about. And above all, lost souls hungering for Christ.
Father Damien faced similar conditions in Hawaii, specifically in the leper colonies that he went to. Leperous men attacked young girls whose condition had not yet deteriorated. Living conditions that rival the worst third-world nation today, huts filled with filth -- this is what Father Damien faced as he began his ministry to the lepers.
He was given opportunities to give up and leave, but he refused. He managed to get fresh water to the settlement. He taught the people there how to farm, and helped set up many farms there. He helped build new houses, tearing down the hovels that were there.
He made a difference in the lives of people. He showed that he cared, and the people saw Christ in him. His evangelism efforts saw much fruit. The authorities on the island tried to get him to leave, even making up stories about him. He stayed, until he finally became one of the lepers that he was ministering to. He was dead four years after contracting the disease.
But his testimony lives on, an example for us to follow.
Spirituality and Real Life
One thing that The Jesus Factor
has done is prompt a discussion about spirituality, and how much impact it has, and should have, on daily life. Over at The Corpus Callosum
, there's been an ongoing discussion of the show -- I linked to one post there before.
, a response in part to mine, gave me a lot of food for thought, and I think that the main point of the discussion, or what the main point should be, was summed up in this quote:
Let's get back to the main point, that of the question: should spirituality strictly determine any aspect of a person's life? An important variant of this is the question: If the fundamental source of knowledge in a spiritual system is incomplete, or at least cannot be proven to be complete; if the translations are debatable; and if the ethical question at hand did not even exist when the source material was written, is it valid for a person to direct or judge the actions of another person, relying only on those ancient writings?
I'm not sure how debatable the translations of the Bible are -- we have existant texts that extend back into the third century AD, and external references to most of the Bible from patristic writings as well. Textual criticism, however, is an ongoing process (at least until we find those original autographs that everyone is dying to see), so I'm willing to concede part of the point. Most Christians believe that the Bible is reliable, and have really been given little reason to believe otherwise.
I do think, though, that even if the ethical question in particular was not in existance at the time of the text in question (whether the Bible or any other writing), there are guidelines that indicate "ethical behavior" contained in the text. To continue the stem cell illustration -- the Bible teaches that life has value. If someone believes that life begins at conception, they must logically believe that it is wrong to take that life. For them not to take this into account in a debate about harvesting stem cells would be inconsistant to their beliefs. The issue at hand in this case is when, exactly, does life begin. Here is where there is debate begins, and there are good Christians on both sides of the debate.
I would argue that it is not proper to do so. I would say that people are free to consider those writings, and perhaps even consider them to be the best source of inspiration on the subject at hand. But part of morality involves a careful consideration of all sources of information, prior to making an important decision. Different source of information can be given different relative weights, depending on the authority of the source. Taking only one source, such as one's spiritual belief, is to discard relevant information. That is not what morality is about. No matter what the book says, no matter what your spiritual leader says, if you have an important decision to make, it is up to you to gather the necessary information, process it thoughtfully, consult with others if you can, and make your own decision.
I agree with just about all of this. I always try to take all available resources into consideration when making a decision -- I'm especially careful about this when studying history, since all history is written from a biased perspective. And I wish more Christians were willing to study the issues and make therir own decisions, rather than parrot what is said to them on Sunday mornings. The bottom line has to be, though, that you accept the authority of the most reliable resource. In questions of ethics and morality, Christians will always turn to the Bible for this authority -- sometimes unconsciously.
Many times, I find myself wishing that President Bush would pay more attention to what the Bible actually teaches about some things. I grow tired of him justifying actions that are politically expedient by appealing to his faith. I sometimes wonder how convenient his faith was -- whether he is sincere, or simply using the Religious Right to gain and stay in office. I, and many other Christians, are uncomfortable with some of his expressions of faith -- many times, they seem out of place. As far as the "God wants me to be president" quote, I'd remind my fellow Christians on both sides of the political spectrum that the Bible teaches that all
of our leaders are ordained by God. So it's true -- if God didn't want him in office, he wouldn't be there.
Just remember, Bill Clinton was in office for 8 years. God put him
Check the Blogroll!!
I've added a few blogs to the Blogroll over on the right side of the page.
is an interesting blog. I don't always agree, but I always come away with something to think about, which is why I read it.
I've been reading Ian's Messy Desk
for a little while, and I've finally gotten around to putting it in my Blogroll. I like the Quote of the Day especially.
is another thought-provoking blog. Tim also shares my love of Christian music -- he has a lot of news and opinion over there!
The Gray Monk
gives me a bit of British perspective on many issues -- and I've found some awesome pictures over there!!
Check these out, and cruise through the rest of the 'roll, too! You won't be disappointed!
Frontline and The Jesus Factor
I have to start off by saying that I missed this one. I'm feeding off the reactions I have read elsewhere in the blogosphere, so I'm not really addressing the show -- I'm addressing what others have had to say.
The overwhelming opinion
seems to be that the President's religious beliefs shouldn't have anything to do with his political decisions, or anything outside his spiritual life. Personally, I find this rather amusing, and it shows a total lack of understanding about spirituality. True spirituality, whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Confucian, Hindu, or what, will
effect every part
of an adherant's life.
My Christianity is not a suit I put on Sunday morning, then take off when I interact with anyone else. It is more like my body, and the things I do every day are the clothing. You may see more of my bodyy when I wear some clothing than you do when I wear other clothing (a bathing suit vs. a ski outfit, for example), but the way my body looks has an impact on what the clothes look like -- my body would NOT look very good in Speedos, I promise you. In the same way, my faith may not always be the most obvious thing about me (more obvious in church, less obvious at a hockey game, for example), but it still influences what I do, and the way I act when I am doing different activities. It also influences the activities I do, and those I stay away from -- just like my body determines what I will wear or won't wear. I cannot stop being a Christian just because I am at work. If President Bush's faith is sincere, he cannot stop being a Christian simply because he is in public office.
I find the arguements that the President is trying to usher in the End of the World (tm) comical. I'm not sure of the Methodist Church's stand on eschatology, but from what I remember, it's NOT a pre-tribulational one. And a slight majority of evangelical Christians do NOT hold to the theology of the Left Behind
books, so to characterize all of us as radical nutcases who are trying to get Jesus to come faster is incredibly naive, and offensive. Anyone who has studied pre-trib eschatology knows that one of the key elements is that nobody knows when it's going to happen
. In ther words, we can't make it happen faster
. Nothing we do will change the day that Christ returns -- Christians are simply commanded to be ready. Besides, real pre-trib Christians don't believe that we'll be around for Armageddon, anyway, so Bush isn't trying to bring that
battle on. That happens when Christ returns physically to earth.
In short, the arguements that the President's policy in Iraq is fueled by his evangelical faith are incredibly misinformed, at best. They show an ignorance of Christian eschatology and the President's beliefs, and are highly offensive to most Christians, evangelical or not. If you disagree with President Bush, fine. There are better reasons to do that than by perpetuating the myth that he is in the pocket of the "Christian Right". Besides, many conservative Christians are pretty upset with him, as well
. (note -- I simply provide this link as a resource. I find myself in disagreement with a lot of what they have to say, and am honestly VERY concerned with several of the party's platform planks. I won't be voting Constitutional this election.)
I'm Still Here!!
Just a quick note to let everyone know I haven't vanished off the face of the earth!
Spent Friday and Saturday in Beckley, WV, playing golf and generally having fun. Didn't realize until too late that my Internet connection wouldn't work at the motel, so I didn't get anything posted. And NOW, I'm tired. So tomorrow afternoon/evening, I'll be posting. Promise.
BTW, if you ever make it to Beckley, you have to check out this course
. I had a blast, and didn't even play that well!!! Be sure and take your camera -- it's a beautiful course!