Friday, July 31, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: My Favourite Atheist

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

Pat Condell*
Tom: My favourite atheist is a cranky Irish comedian named Pat Condell. He’s fearlessly pro-Israel, anti-Islam … and, sadly, more than a little ignorant about what the gospels actually say.

Here’s a sample of what he thinks about Jesus, for instance:

“I don’t reject Jesus, I reject religion … the early church capitalized on [supernatural nonsense about Jesus] and exploited it enthusiastically because they needed Jesus to be a god so that they could use him to generate fear — which, of course, is the only level they know how to operate on — and also so that they could claim supernatural authority through him, which is the best kind of authority to have when you’re bluffing. As a mere man, Jesus was almost useless to them. All he could offer were words of compassion and wisdom, and what earthly good would they be to the men who run the church?”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Faith, Identity and Growing Up Christian

Nobody should have to be a pastor’s kid. And nobody should ever be called a PK.

If that sounds a little cranky, be advised there are Christians reviewing Barnabas Piper’s book “The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity” on Amazon who agree with me. Because that’s got to carry some weight, right?

My disdain for the “PK” (pastor’s kid, preacher’s kid) and “MK” (missionary’s kid) abbreviations goes way, way back to the days in which I was two of the three. I’m not sure I could tell you why I disliked them so much; to the best of my recollection nobody ever used either designation to describe me. I don’t recall hearing them from my Christian friends. In fact I suspect I only ever encountered PKs and MKs in the magazine rack next to our couch in publications like Christianity Today or in those hokey teen novels in Christian bookstores.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Living Under the Blade

The most current version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Leadership: It’s a Dog’s Life

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Help! They Changed My Bible!

Bible translations have a way of changing over time, and it can make some Christians quite frantic.

Textual criticism is a discipline about which many believers know very little. The average regular churchgoer can probably tell you that the Bible was written primarily in Greek and Hebrew, not English (and the average reasonably intelligent person might simply assume it), but beyond that basic piece of information, how our Bibles came to us is not all that widely understood.

Given the quality of history courses in the average high school since 1970, fewer still know that when we speak of “the originals”, they are not sitting in some airless, climate-controlled museum display case. Would they be shocked to discover such manuscripts no longer exist and have not existed for centuries? Probably not, with a few seconds consideration.

But no, they don’t exist so far as we know. Some people are fine with that idea.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Crazy Uncle

Normally, I’d leave something like this alone. It is, after all, the Huffington Post, and anything they have to say on the subject of Christianity is almost guaranteed to be dismissive, frivolous and poorly informed.

But hey, it provides a useful lead-in to something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

In an article entitled “3 Reasons Why Apostle Paul Is the Crazy Uncle No One Wants to Talk About”, Pete Enns argues that “Paul’s handling of his Bible makes him look like the crazy uncle you make excuses for or avoid entirely”.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: Let’s Make Sure They Hate Us Enough

A more current version of this post is available here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Vain Salvation

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Too Much for Sunday School

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

“My Church Believes …”

What does your church believe?

“Oh, you mean like a creed, or a statement of faith?”

Not really. I’m thinking more generally. A statement of faith usually attempts to be concise, whether it’s eleven paragraphs or seven pages. It may cover only basic theology or it may go into detail about home life and personal conduct. But it cannot possibly include everything the New Testament teaches. It cannot tell you all that a church really believes, though it may set off spiritual alarm bells by what it does or does not contain.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Doing It the Hard Way

The Wailing Wall: Last vestige of Herod’s temple
How much does the church matter to the Lord?

When we look at the condition of most local churches today and compare them to Christ’s original intention as laid out in the epistles and patterned for us by believers in the first century, we might well wonder why the Lord continues to bother with the church at all.

Most of us do not really understand why we’re here and what we’re supposed to be doing. Great numbers of professing Christians atrophy in the pews, putting in an hour or two a week listening to a lecture and going home to a largely secular existence into which God is only allowed to intrude when things have gone disastrously wrong.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Failure to Choose is a Choice Too

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fulfilling or Destroying

A couple of days ago I posted some thoughts on the place of the Law of Moses in the life of the Christian.

Most Christians who have read Romans or Galatians understand that we are not under law but under grace. However, because the teaching of the Lord Jesus is traditionally bundled with our New Testament, some believers have difficulty recognizing that things like the Sermon on the Mount are really addressed to people living under and seeking to obey the rules of the Old Covenant.

Confusion on this subject leads to inconsistent interpretation and maybe even inconsistent living. It’s worth a careful and prayerful look.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: Diluting the Faith

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Progressive Revelation and Paradigm Shifts

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Authentic Me

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Forgive or Die

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dispensing With Dispensations

If you are the average, practical Christian just looking to apply practical Christian principles practically to your life, feel free to tune out here.

This post will not help you much.

If, on the other hand, you are keen on understanding the whys and wherefores in scripture, being able to make distinctions in the way God has behaved towards mankind throughout history has helped me tremendously, and has made a lot of things clear that would otherwise be terribly foggy. I’ll give you a very real-life example of that tomorrow.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Recommend-a-blog (10)

William Lane Craig has one of the better-reasoned takes I have come across on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that has redefined marriage.

Like Roe v. Wade, this is a seismic event for the U.S. and the consequences for Christians who seek to follow scripture will be significant. Craig’s analysis and advice to believers is eminently more sensible than David Brooks’ column in last week’s New York Times, which may as well have been entitled “Resistance is Futile”. (My thoughts on Brooks’ advice may be found here.)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Enemy Territory

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: American Laodicea

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Ezekiel and the Future of Palestine

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

It Ain’t Personal

 The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Culture War and Surrender

Someone recently recommended this David Brooks column in the New York Times as the “correct true Christian response” to the ongoing culture war.

For those unfamiliar with the name, Wikipedia refers to Brooks as a “non-observant” Jew and “conservative political and cultural commentator” — in other words, not exactly a leading spokesman for the Christian faith. Having read his op-eds on occasion, I was pretty sure what I’d be in for.

Still, my morbid curiosity won out, as it often does. Brooks starts with the obvious: the decline of Christianity in the United States, the decreasing percentage of the electorate made up of evangelical voters, millennial disinterest in institutional religion, etc., etc.

Short version: “Christians, you’re losing”.

Monday, July 06, 2015

You Worship WHAT?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Media and the Gospel

The most current version of this post is available here.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

A Hill to Die On

Lately I have begun to suspect that the notorious “mark of the beast” is not a literal number 666 tattooed on one’s forehead or hand, but rather an ideology.

Kidding, of course. I know full well that the social justice grievance mongers currently monopolizing the media with their view of the ideal society are not the fulfillment of New Testament prophecy.

You know the prophecy I mean. It’s made its way into popular culture.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: Spirit and Truth

A more current version of this post is available here.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Change Is Gonna Do Us Good

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Binary Thinking

The most recent version of this post is available here.