Sunday, May 19, 2019

Inbox: Blaming the Buzzsaw

Concerning the judgment of the Egyptian firstborn in Exodus 12, Qman writes:

“I would say that many people would sort of be appalled at the fact that the Egyptian firstborn (mostly politically innocent; depending on age, this could be into young adulthood) had to bear the brunt of this whole affair. What would the conversation between God and that creature be when they met? God to firstborn: ‘Sorry I just had to kill you because your king had a major attitude.’ How would that go over?”

Good question.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (59)

To call Agur an obscure Old Testament character would not be out of line.

The first twenty-nine chapters of the book of Proverbs set out the compiled wisdom of Solomon. Obviously not all of it; we’re told he wrote 3,000 proverbs and an additional 1,005 songs, so this is the tip of a large iceberg. It’s a pretty impressive resume by any standard.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Cult of Personality

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

Sunny Shell no longer follows John Piper or any of his ministries, and she certainly doesn’t endorse them to her friends. Why? Well, Piper invited speakers to his Desiring God National Conferences whose character and practices Sunny finds highly questionable, and Piper publicly participated in a “mystical type exercise”. Sunny concludes that Piper has been in some ways “led away from sola scriptura”, and has effectively written him off.

Tom: Now, I’m not about to critique Sunny’s choices here, Immanuel Can. I have more than a few doctrinal quibbles with Mr. Piper myself. But her post brings up a significant issue.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Who’s Minding the Store?

I’m seeing more and more of those “self-checkout” units at the local stores. They always creep me out a bit. There just seems to be something really weird about the idea of walking up to a mechanical box, shuffling around my own transaction, and then leaving, going out of a store without passing by a person.

I feel as if I owe somebody some kind of explanation, like “Here’s my purchase, and here’s my money, and they match up; so don’t call the cops.” And then this person is supposed to give me the nod, like, “Okay, you’re alright this time; but when you come back, we’ll need to see each other again.”

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Hooks and Nooses

“[I]f you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”

We often have more than one reason for saying the things we say. God could have said, “If you serve their gods, I will be offended.” That would certainly have been true. He could also have said, “If you serve their gods, you will find it useless.” This too is true. Inanimate carvings of wood and stone have no power to protect or deliver. He could have said, “You don’t understand that serving their gods is really serving demons.” Once again, entirely true. He could even have said, “If you serve their gods, I will punish you severely.”

This was most definitely the case.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Olive Tree in Romans

Significant numbers of Christians over the years have had difficulty understanding the image of the olive tree the apostle Paul uses in Romans 11. If you doubt this, consult any combination of online commentaries. You’ll quickly see interpretations differ wildly.

For those who wonder why something like this matters enough to merit an entire blog post, bear in the mind that Romans 11 speaks of the future place in God’s purposes of his earthly people, the nation of Israel. An increasing number of Christians are convinced all God’s promises to Israel are fully realized in the Church, and that the “Israel” of which the Old Testament speaks is actually … well … us.

How you understand the olive tree is all tied up in that.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Anonymous Asks (39)

“How did dinosaurs exist if they are not found in the Bible?”

It’s next-to-impossible to determine for certain what really happened fifty years ago, let alone four thousand plus. Try internet-researching a moderately popular TV series from the late 1960s or early 1970s. A few are quite well preserved. For most, you’ll find a super-grainy, speedily deteriorating video clip of the opening and closing credits of a single, sorry episode, hastily digitized and uploaded to YouTube, and maybe a transcript of a TV Guide episode summary on one of the Wikis.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Religious Flesh

“It is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: ‘About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.’ ”

Fruit is often used both in the Bible and elsewhere as a metaphor for children, and with good reason. You don’t need to be a geneticist to observe that the fruit of a tree carries in it the nature of the tree on which it grows, and expresses that nature to the world in the next generation. Or at least it should. Real-world results with human beings vary, as we have all observed.

Turnabout being fair play, perhaps you will excuse me using children as a metaphor for fruit. Well, metaphorical fruit at least.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (58)

Three of these final nine Solomonic proverbs address masters and thieves.

For the thief, there is a certain excitement and freedom from the moral strictures others are required to observe, but these come with the potential hazard of arrest, prosecution and punishment. Flaunting society’s rules always brings with it the possibility of eventual payback. And while it is certainly a better lot in life overall to be master rather than servant, that role brings with it responsibilities, decisions and difficulties neither slave nor employee really has to trouble themselves about.

Though very different, neither master nor thief is always a desirable role to play.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Sexuality and Public Education

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

[Editor’s note: This post is almost four years old, and the Ontario government that implemented these curriculum changes is long gone, thank the Lord. But don’t think they (or others like them) won’t be back in short order. Sadly, these issues will be part of our lives until the Lord returns.]

In the news this week: the sex education curriculum for the Ontario public school system will now be implemented starting in Grade 4. That’s correct: if you live in Ontario, your eight-year-old will be discussing sex in class come September.

And not just the usual stuff we were embarrassed to listen to in high school.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

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, May 08, 2019

When God Says Things He Doesn’t Mean

Forget pancakes. Here’s a stack of problem verses to chew on instead:

“Take your … only son Isaac, and offer him … as a burnt offering.”

“ ‘Rise, go with them’ … But God’s anger was kindled because he went.”

Let me alone, that I may destroy them and … I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they.”

Sometimes God says things he doesn’t really mean. Think about that a bit.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

That Wacky Old Testament (12)

“Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck.”

Well, that seems a little brutal, doesn’t it? “Hello, baby donkey. Nice to see you in the world. SNAP!”

What on earth is THAT all about?

Good question. Glad you asked.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Anonymous Asks (38)

“Can ghosts and evil things get me?”

Let’s see. There are indeed “ghosts” in the Bible.

The King James Version uses the word 109 times, though not in any sense that should keep us up at night. All occur in one of two expressions: “Holy Ghost” (an antiquated way of referring to the Holy Spirit) or “give up the ghost” (which just means dying).

In modern translations the word is used whenever superstitious people saw something they couldn’t explain, and wrongly assumed they were being visited by spirits. The disciples saw Jesus walking on the water and cried, “It is a ghost!

Like most reported ghost sightings, it wasn’t.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Persecution and Wrath

A great number of Christians believe the Church will go through the Great Tribulation.

Reasons for this vary. For some it’s all about heavenly trumpets: how many there are, and when they sound. For others, the teaching of the apostle Paul that the godly “shall suffer persecution” and the words of the Lord himself that “in the world you will have tribulation” tip the scales in favor of a Church that will suffer through the end times along with the world. Others compare the order of events in John’s Revelation visions with the future described by the Lord Jesus in the gospels, leading them to anticipate martyrdom like so many of our fellow believers throughout history. Still others believe the doctrine of the Rapture originated in the 16th century counter-reformation teaching of Papal Rome, and therefore consider it discredited.

All these are arguments from detail.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (57)

Who are you? Who am I really? Good questions.

Well, we are the sum of any numbers of things, including but not limited to what we think, what we do, and — by far the most important — who we are in God’s eyes.

What do we really feel in our hearts when we’re under intense emotional pressure, and how would we react if everyone could see that on full display? What do we allow ourselves to engage in for the sake of polity or social acceptance, and is that consistent with what we claim to believe? How does God distinguish between us? What are his metrics?

Three consecutive proverbs contribute to the discussion.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: A Lack of Leadership

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

Is a good man always hard to find?
Immanuel Can: Tom, we need a new generation of spiritual leaders in our congregations. But they don’t seem to be appearing in most places, and not nearly fast enough for the rising need.

What can we do?

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Anonymous Asks Again

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

You asked, “Why does school suck?”

Yep, It Does

When I was young, there was a pop song called Kodachrome that began with the words, “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school / It’s a wonder I can think at all.” I think a lot of people feel like that: when they think about what their teachers forced them to learn, they can’t imagine what the real purpose of it all was. I was like that. In fact, I eventually dropped out, though I did go back later.

So I get your point.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Wagging the Dog

“It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Trudy Smith of the Huffington Post asks, “Was Jesus racist?” Her answer, of course, is yes.

That’s hardly surprising. The HuffPost is the online poster-rag for the New American Left. In their exceedingly well-defined and ideologically-pristine PC world, even the Son of God takes the knee before the official progressive racial narrative.