Sunday, August 01, 2021

Bible Study 03 — Comparison [Part 3]

Another instalment in the re-presentation of our 2013-2014 series about studying the Bible using methods deduced from the Bible itself. The series introduction can be found here and the first post here.

The first Bible study tool we are discussing is comparison, specifically the comparison of words and phrases in the original language. The last post on this subject dealt with the limitations of word study.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Mining the Minors: Amos (26)

In Genesis 3, when God cursed the ground on account of Adam, he assured Adam — and all those to be born of Adam — that under this new order of affairs which man had brought upon the world, his efforts to feed himself and his family would for the foreseeable future be accompanied by pain and sweat.

Naturally, being what he is, fallen man has spent the better part of the next six millennia trying to find ways to do an end-around God’s edict.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: See You in Court, Brother

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

Wow. Christians going to court with one another.

You’d think this issue would be put to bed speedily by even the most cursory glance at Matthew 5:25-26 or 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. But no, believers are keeping their lawyers on speed-dial in significant numbers. It used to be the primary reason was child abuse, but last year it was something new: property rights.

Tom: Here I thought we’d all be meeting in cell groups in homes sooner than later as a result of lawfare trial balloons from the transgender, feminist or gay lobbies. But no, this is even stranger: we’re doing it to ourselves, Immanuel Can; not just as individuals, but whole congregations. And most of it involves issues related to church buildings.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Worldviews: Question 2 — Endings

“… so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

“… we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

“… These [godless people] will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord.”

Okay, we’re now on step two of my posts on Worldview Analysis. This is actually the third post on the subject, since the first was a general introduction. Before reading any further, may I suggest you return to the first such post and pick up the thread of thought, if you have not been with us all along. If you don’t, I’m afraid you could find what I say a bit out of context.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Bible Study 02 — Comparison [Part 2]

Another instalment in the re-presentation of our 2013-2014 series about studying the Bible using methods deduced from the Bible itself. The series introduction can be found here and the previous post here.

Last post I concluded with the idea that the best interpreter of scripture is more scripture, as opposed to culture, history, political correctness and other external sources of meaning that we are often tempted to impose on the word of God. Our first Bible study tool is comparison.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Bible Study 01 — Comparison [Part 1]

This is the first instalment in the re-presentation of our series about studying the Bible using methods deduced from the Bible itself. The series introduction can be found here.

Looking for Answers

A group of Sadducees once tried to convince Jesus by the use of an absurd hypothetical that resurrection of the dead is impossible. The Lord didn’t simply give them a lecture on his personal opinion or fall into the trap of answering their silly question. Instead, he referred them right back to the Old Testament that they professed to believe in order to correct their misunderstanding:

“Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.’ ”

“Have you not read what was said to you by God?” he asked, and proceeded to astonish them with a conclusion drawn from the use of the tense of the Hebrew equivalent of the verb “to be” in the book of Exodus.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Anonymous Asks (155)

“What is the difference between an archangel and a cherub?”

Whether we are talking about Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy or even the cults, religious tradition has plenty to say about the more powerful angelic entities, their roles, descriptions, names and history. Most of what is written is conjectural. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all wrong, but even accurate speculation is still just speculation. It has no authority for Christians.

So then, I will try to stick pretty close to the scripture on this one …

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Bible Study 00 — Introduction

Studying the Bible is good for you.

Forgive me for stating the obvious. The late Christopher Hitchens would probably have disagreed, famously insisting “Religion poisons everything.” I could bob and weave and insist that Christianity isn’t really a religion properly speaking, but Christianity was certainly one of the targets, if not the main focus, of Mr. Hitchens’ ire.

But Christianity, properly understood and practised, doesn’t poison anything at all.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Mining the Minors: Amos (25)

One attitude that seems to characterize nations on the brink of being judged, conquered and dispersed in scripture is an all-but-universal denial of the inevitable.

Jesus himself prophesied judgment on Israel. And yet the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 was the direct result of the First Jewish Revolt against Roman rule, which had begun four years earlier. Large numbers of Jews simply couldn’t imagine losing to Rome despite the long odds. They were in absolute denial of reality. So the rebels gambled with the lives of their friends and families and lost, setting the stage for centuries of Jewish diaspora.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: ‘Apostles’ and ‘Prophets’

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

Everybody’s looking for greater certainty these days it seems, even Christians. Our own Immanuel Can has written at length about how the resurgence of Calvinism is evidence of it, and I’ve recently done some reflecting on how Christians often speak about the “call of God” to bolster their confidence in what in most cases are just their own decisions.

Tom: This, though, might take the cake, IC. A new and rapidly-growing charismatic movement mostly off the radar of other Protestants. Independent Network Charismatics (or “INC Christians”) find their certainty in alleged “prophetic” voices and the pronouncements of “super-apostles”.

It’s big-bucks too. Christianity Today notes that the Asuza Now conference in the LA Coliseum drew 50,000 people in the rain, and almost nobody knew about it outside the INC movement.

How’d you like to have the apostles and prophets back, IC?

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Worldviews: Question 1 — Origins

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth … God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

In my last post, I promised to say something further about worldviews. I noted that a thing called “Worldview Analysis” is gaining currency in Christian circles and well beyond. I said that I’ve found it a very helpful way of looking at life: one that provides some key answers to profound questions that all people have.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Purpose-Built

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Remember pet rocks? Five million of those useless things were sold in 1975-76. They were marketed to people with a droll sense of humor and no time or energy to devote to a real pet. Like any fad they quickly disappeared, but for a brief period of time the pet rock craze made the people who came up with the idea some serious money.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Language of the Debate (4)

Professional magicians refer to the art of misdirection as “attention management”. I like that. The basic idea is to direct the eyes of one’s audience to one thing so they do not notice another.

That pretty much sums up how the word antisemitism is being used today. It has become the favorite attention management device of con artists and people with unsavory agendas.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Anonymous Asks (154)

“What is a reprobate mind?”

The phrase “reprobate mind” comes from the old English translation of Romans 1:28, where Paul declares that when men and women reject the knowledge of God and refuse to honor and give thanks to him, God gives them up to a “reprobate mind”.

The Greek word underlying the translation is adokimos, which means literally “not approved”, and refers to something that does not meet objective standards of acceptability; for example, a counterfeit coin, a metal alloy which doesn’t hold up when subjected to stress, or soil that looks normal but in which nothing can grow.