Thursday, March 23, 2023

Getting to the Truth

“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

— English Common Law
Oath of Testimony

The fight outside a club was broken up by police; but a man was stabbed. Inspector Thomas has been assigned to find the assailant.

When the perp fled, the crowd scattered, but four witnesses remain: a bouncer, the girlfriend, the bar manager and a local cabbie. Inspector Thomas knows procedure; that each must be interviewed separately in order to get a complete picture.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

No Half Measures

Tal Bachman is a 54-year old Canadian writer who had a cup of coffee with pop music success back in 1999, not all that surprising given he’s the son of legendary Guess Who guitarist and BTO-founder Randy Bachman. Since 2020, he mostly covers politics from a conservative perspective, but he’s written everything from a four-part analysis of the band U2’s influence on the political landscape to a brilliant 25-parter called “We Have Met the Enemy” that unearths the origins of the lucrative, transparently fraudulent, unbelievably evil and powerful transitioning industry. You can find his archive here, and it’s well worth it.

Tal is an ex-Mormon, the “ex” part being his rejection of the prophetic posturing of Joseph Smith. But his latest post at SteynOnline strongly suggests his belief in God and interest in what the Bible teaches about him did not get jettisoned along with his former confidence in the founder of the LDS Church.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (25)

Earlier this month Josh Butler wrote a post called “Sex Won’t Save You” for the Gospel Coalition site that stirred up something of a ruckus. The link above is to an archived version; yes, the ruckus was sufficient to get it deleted, to cause Butler to resign from his position as a fellow with the Keller Center, and to cancel his appearance at an upcoming Gospel Coalition event. Such are the times in which we live.

The status of Butler’s forthcoming Multnomah book Beautiful Union, from which the article was an excerpt, should probably be regarded as “formerly forthcoming”, at least from its original publisher.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Anonymous Asks (241)

“What happens if I miss the rapture?”

Last week was sort of a mini-rapturefest at the blog. I am involved in a home church gathering on Tuesday nights these days, and the rapture loomed large in last week’s study and became the subject of a couple posts here, as often happens with Bible passages I am wrestling my way through with friends.

In one of those posts I made reference to an ex-evangelical named Joshua Rivera who now writes for Slate.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

A Fair Chance to Fail

Sometimes I’m grateful there are limits to human knowledge.

Suppose you could see the future with reasonable certainty and could judge within a few minutes of conversing with friends, family members and acquaintances which of them will eventually be saved or how they really feel about you. Might you not be just a little inclined to change your behavior toward the ones you believe will never come to know the Lord, or toward the ones who bear hidden grudges or agendas, or simply don’t care about you as much as you care about them?

Oh, I don’t mean you might treat them differently in big, obvious ways. It wouldn’t be particularly Christian to snub, ignore or dismiss people; we wouldn’t do that. What I might be tempted to do would be a little subtler, and I’d probably rationalize it in the interests of time-stewardship: faced with an invitation to dinner with Person A or Person B, I’d probably opt to spend more time with the ones I judged closest to the kingdom or most in agreement with my own values.

To finite human beings, that would seem a reasonable way to proceed. After all, there are only so many hours in a day and only so many days in a lifetime. Why not use the moments you have to greatest effect?

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (6)

Consider the limitations the Law of Moses placed on Israel and Judah, had they chosen to follow it with any consistency.

The usury laws and the Jubilee would curtail the ability of merchants and profiteers to exploit the lack of financial sophistication among their fellow Israelites. Israel’s law forbade certain forms of lucrative trade: fortune telling, the manufacture of graven images, cult prostitution. The Sabbath laws would restrict commerce to six days a week rather than seven. Tithing obligations would take well over 10% of your income, and the law would permit, even encourage, the poor and the sojourner to help themselves to the excess of your fields and vineyards.

In short, when the provisions of Mosaic Law were observed and enforced, Israel was not the easiest place in the world of its day for profiteers and merchants to get rich quick. That said, it was a great place to live for normal, godly people.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Crashing and Burning

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

We’ve all seen it, and seen it many times: a Christian in the public eye crashes and burns. He (or she, recently) confesses to the commission of one sin or another, usually an affair of some sort, and follows the confession by taking a time-out from the affected area of service (or leaving it altogether), announcing that the family needs “healing time”, and so on and so forth.

Tom: I bring this up because it’s happened again, IC. I’m not going to mention the name; the details are unimportant and likely unprofitable to pore over. But you and I have discussed the situation a little, and I wondered about your thoughts on how such things should be handled biblically. There aren’t many apostolic scandals recorded for us in the New Testament, are there …

Immanuel Can: No, there aren’t.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Somebody Else’s Lamb

A few days ago, I was talking with an atheist.

Yeah, I know …

Courting Disaster

The conversation came around to the Great Judgment. Of course, he doesn’t believe in it. But I asked him a question I’ve found useful in sorting out how people are thinking about God.

I said, “Well, whether you believe it or not, one day you’re going to face God. And if he were to ask you why he should accept you, what would you say?”

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Standing Up for Objective Reality

We live in interesting times.

Back in 2021, ideologically motivated onlookers in Leeds, West Yorkshire reported a forty-two year old street preacher to the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, resulting in his arrest. The Daily Mail did not specify the offenses with which David McConnell was charged and for which he was eventually convicted, but made reference to “harassment” and “illegally espousing an extreme point of view”. I missed the story at the time, but McConnell appealed his conviction last week, putting him back on the front pages for a moment.

What did this Christian “extremist” do? According to witnesses, McConnell quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 in the presence of a man dressed up as a woman, and repeatedly referred to him as “this gentleman” and “a man in woman’s clothing”, which the gentleman in question apparently found distressing.

In short, McConnell stood up for objective reality. That shouldn’t be such a hard sell, should it?

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Evidence for the Rapture in Revelation [2]

People who haven’t read the Bible tend to think the doctrine of the rapture is based on the prophetic visions of John in Revelation. This is not actually the case; the rapture as an event is taught explicitly only in 1 Thessalonians, while the mechanics of the believers’ translation into glorified bodies during that same event are discussed in 1 Corinthians. In fact, we don’t find the rapture taught in Revelation at all; its truth is simply assumed.

However, what we do find in Revelation is very much consistent with Paul’s teaching in 1 Thessalonians which, if we believe in the inspiration of scripture, should not surprise us in the least. Since even Christians increasingly reject the Bible’s teaching about the rapture, I thought it might be a good time to have a look at the evidence we find in Revelation for the rapture of the church, some of which even points to a pre-tribulation rapture.

There is plenty of that, as we began to discover in Sunday’s post. You may find it useful to read that one first if you haven’t already.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Anonymous Asks (240)

“What does it mean that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath?”

The Sabbath was a weekly day of rest for the people of Israel instituted by God through Moses at Mount Sinai. Keeping it is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. Its basis is the creation week of Genesis 1-2: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Evidence for the Rapture in Revelation [1]

Oddly, as we approach the end of our present age, the Bible’s teaching about the rapture of the church is increasingly falling into disrepute among believers. Some call it false teaching, others ridicule it as a scare tactic, still others claim Paul never taught a “rapture” at all. Some reject it because it clashes with their established eschatological beliefs, others because they are ignorant of the scriptures that teach it, still others because they dislike the idea of Christians getting to view the end of the world from the press box instead of from down on the playing field where (they believe) we belong.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Mining the Minors: Nahum (5)

By 616 B.C., Nabopolassar had ruled Babylon for a decade. He had spent those ten years profitably, rebelling against the Assyrians and successfully expelling their forces from Babylonia. Civil wars between major Assyrian cities and the general decrepitude of the empire confirmed his belief that the time had come to transfer the seat of Mesopotamian power from Nineveh to Babylon. Gathering his own Chaldean army, along with allies from Media, Persia, Cimmeria and Scythia, Nabopolassar marched on the capital city of Nineveh in May of 612 B.C.

Resistance was fierce, but they took the city within three months. What Nabopolassar probably didn’t know was that a Judean prophet had accurately describe his sacking of Nineveh as many as thirty years prior to it. Still less did the king of Babylon understand that he was doing the work of Judah’s God when he went about his business.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Eternity In Their Hearts

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

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon makes the argument that God has put a longing for the eternal into the human heart, yet seems to have provided less revelation about eternity than some of us might wish. And notwithstanding the fact that we’ve had plenty more prophetic revelation since the book of Ecclesiastes was written, we still have a tendency to speculate about what lies in store for us at the end of history as we move into eternity.

Tom: We’re discussing a recent Todd Billings post at Christianity Today entitled “The New View of Heaven Is Too Small”. What was your last point, IC?

Immanuel Can: Serious Christians need some kind of counter to the common misconception that the eternal state involves a lot of unrelenting, undifferentiated, disembodied, white-clad, purposeless hanging about on clouds …