Thursday, April 26, 2018

If There Were No Christians

Nag, Nag, Nag …

My friend WiC has been after me for some time to publish a list of the things Christians have achieved for modern, Western society and for the world in general. I think he has the idea that it would be handy for many of us to have easy access to such a list. And I have stalled as long as I can. Lest he wear me out with his insistent asking, I am now capitulating to his request. I trust his conviction that many of you will find it helpful will prove true.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Breaks in the Pattern

I was talking to my son the other morning about the parts of the Bible that are hard to wade through. You know, the repetitive bits, or the ones that contain such an excess of specific detail that they should by all rights be of interest to few people other than architects and historians.

The chapters you find yourself skimming rather than reading carefully.

I reminded him that while “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable …” it is not all equally profitable. It is also not all equally relevant to your current circumstances or mine.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Not With A Ten-Foot Pole

You can tell a fair bit about where modern evangelical culture is headed by the sorts of questions it asks and answers, and perhaps even more about it from those it doesn’t.

There are verses of scripture with which nearly everyone engages. Google-search a question related to one of these and you come up with pages and pages of links to discussions of the subject; more than anyone would ever have time to read. For example, the question “What is the sin unto death?” returns hundreds of possible answers based on what must be thousands of hours of Bible study.

Which is great if you’re concerned you might not yet have committed it and wish to avoid doing so.

Monday, April 23, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (3)

How many ways can you ruin your life, or at very least dig yourself a hole so deep that climbing out of it affects the rest of your days?

I suspect the number is large, and the book of Proverbs is full of too many to list. You could have an affair, be chronically lazy, refuse to listen to good advice, marry the wrong sort of woman, make a practice of telling lies, turn your home into a war zone, talk too much or be characteristically proud. All of these things, we are advised, tend to bring about varying degrees of destruction and ruin. Simple observation of the world around us demonstrates their essential truth.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

On the Mount (27)

They say you’re either a cat person or a dog person. Or neither, I suppose.

I’m the former, I think, but dogs are just fine with me too. A little more work, perhaps, and a little less intelligent than a feline, but a worthy beast when trained in some basic ways and when living in harmony with man. Huskies will pull sleds, sheepdogs will tend sheep, and many other breeds have uses both practical and otherwise pleasing.

So when the Lord refers to someone as a dog, and it’s inarguably an insult, one has to stop and ask, “In what way?” What qualities of doghood are so very undesirable?

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Fatherhood Expounded

In a previous post, I pointed out that very little is said in the Old Testament about the fatherhood of God. It took the coming of the Son to fully expound the ways in which God’s relationship to believers is paternal.

Or perhaps we have that the wrong way round. Perhaps instead we should say something like this: The human father/child relationship was designed by God to illustrate how he relates to his creations and his creations to him. In other words, we can expect that human fatherhood done right will be “Godly” in character. I don’t think that’s too much to assume.

Either way, until the Son came and made the Father known — not simply as God but in his role as Father — only a very small number of the faithful understood God’s parental care for his people, and only in the most limited of ways.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: Billy Graham Regrets …

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Evangelist Billy Graham, in a 1977 interview with Christianity Today:

“One of my great regrets is that I have not studied enough. I wish I had studied more and preached less. People have pressured me into speaking to groups when I should have been studying and preparing. Donald Barnhouse said that if he knew the Lord was coming in three years he would spend two of them studying and one preaching. I’m trying to make it up.”

Tom: Does that quote surprise you at all, IC?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Magination Run Wild

Ah, liberal Christians.

How they do let their Maginations run wild sometimes.

You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

First, a little history ...

Lining Things Up

The Maginot Line was a massive French fortification that ran 943 miles between the Alps and the English Channel. The brainchild of Minister of War André Maginot, it was designed to repel attacks from Germany. The horrors of the trench warfare in the first “War to End All Wars” had persuaded the French of the need for better national defenses. The Maginot Line had everything going for it: super thick concrete, steel-wedge gun turrets that were impervious to bombardment, large, air-conditioned living areas for troops, supply storehouses, its own railway …

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Fatherhood Foreshadowed

How many times in your life have you started a prayer with the word “Father”?

For me it’s thousands upon thousands. Tens of thousands, perhaps. I can’t even begin to guess. In fact, it is fairly common for Christians to address God as their father, though I know many whose prayers customarily begin with “Dear God”, which, when you think about it, is a little perplexing.

How many of us think much about the fact that the family relationship with God into which we have been brought through faith in Jesus Christ is not only intimate but also unprecedented?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How Not to Crash and Burn (2)

Just who is Solomon talking to in Proverbs anyway? Ever wondered?

“Well, that’s easy,” says the Bible student. “He’s talking to his son. Look at verse 8.”

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”

Now, the Bible student might well be right, but before we agree with him, let’s address the herd of elephants in the room.

Monday, April 16, 2018

New F A Q

In response to recent queries about why we do things the way we do them, we’ve posted a series of answers to Frequently Asked Questions here.

A Bit Too Welcoming

A recent post here touched briefly on the perceived need for churches to be more welcoming. Alan Shlemon addresses the same subject in a post entitled “Doing Church Biblically Can Be Messy”, which turns out to be rather a mess of its own.

Shlemon has written usefully on a number of subjects, but his take on a church that welcomed and loved a lesbian couple even though its pastor declined to officiate their ‘wedding’ ... well, let’s just say it’s not his finest hour. (Comments on the thread are now closed, but that seems to be the case with a number of other STR posts, so if you happen to follow the link to Shlemon’s post, don’t read too much into that. I suspect the liberal element would have little to scold him about in this instance.)

Helpful hint: when you’re talking about doing church ‘biblically’, it might be useful to indicate which bits of the Bible you’re actually referring to.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

On the Mount (26)

“Quit judging me,” squeaks the millennial blogger, her nose out of joint because someone dares to offer hard data demonstrating that her bloviations in no way reflect reality.

“How dare you judge me!” shouts the young homosexual, incensed that his parents have regretfully informed him they cannot in good conscience attend his ‘wedding’.

Of all the commands Jesus ever gave his disciples, “Judge not” is one of the most comprehensively misunderstood and poorest explained.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Commentariat Speaks (12)

Gary McBride, a northern Ontario Bible teacher and author, posts a thought on the subject of corporate testimony:

“… in 1 Peter 2 we are a ‘royal priesthood’ bearing witness. Priesthood is a collective noun and is only demonstrated when believers gather.”

Having enjoyed Gary’s useful commentary on 1 Thessalonians, I know he chooses his words carefully, so I will try to do likewise.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: The Virtual Soapbox

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

IC and I watched a video the other day. Not in the same room, because we live many miles apart and can’t get together as often as we’d like. But we share many interests and tend to bounce links back and forth, and this was one of them.

I’d like to think we could learn something from it.

Tom: IC, I think we might be better off leaving out the names of the principals, because I’m going to be blunt about issues that have to do with body language and manner, as opposed to the content of a man’s argument, and since ‘the internet is forever’, I’d rather not go on record with those sorts of criticisms of people whose overall Christian testimony and handling of the word of God I respect and value. Cool?