Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Let Him Deny Himself

Yesterday, I proposed an alternative translation of Matthew 16:24-26 legitimized by Greek usage in the New Testament that applies a little more broadly than the standard interpretation of the passage. I’m not suggesting the “life/soul” distinction that most translators see as key to understanding what the Lord taught is incorrect. What I’m proposing is that we apply these few verses to a whole lot more of our lives than just the moment in which we are willing to die for the faith if called upon to do so.

After all, dying is relatively easy. You only have to do it once. Living for Christ requires dying to self every day and in every way.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Life, Soul and Self

The footnote to Matthew 16:25-26 in my ESV reads as follows:

“The same Greek word can mean either soul or life, depending on the context; twice in this verse and twice in verse 26.”

That’s probably as good an introduction to our subject as any. It’s certainly what got my attention.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Anonymous Asks (277)

“Will everyone in the lake of fire suffer to the same degree?”

Catholic theologians speak of mortal and venial sins, distinguishing between degrees of evil. Dante’s The Divine Comedy contemplated a hell divided into nine descending circles, with the worst sinners at the bottom, distinguishing between degrees of punishment in the afterlife. Greater sin in this life, greater punishment in eternity, or so goes the thinking.

“But much of Romanist theology has no basis in scripture,” you protest, “and Dante’s not the Bible.” Very true. If some Protestants view the lake of fire as a great equalizer, perhaps they are simply reacting to extra-biblical traditions proclaiming the opposite.

If the Catholics believe it, it must be wrong, right? Well, maybe not in this case.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

The Leader You Know You Can Be

Rachel Zegler on the version of Snow White in Disney’s latest remake of a classic:

“She’s not going to be saved by the prince and she will not be dreaming about true love. She’s dreaming about becoming the leader that she knows she can be.”

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the leader of them all”? Meh. I wouldn’t have been lining up to see it in any case. If I spend another second in my entire life watching strong, independent women self-actualize onscreen, it will be several decades too much.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Mining the Minors: Obadiah (5)

What will the Middle East look like during Christ’s millennial reign?

Obadiah tells us seven distinct facts about the future division of the former land of Israel and the territory around it. Considering their number, we should not expect them to be comprehensive. They supplement the more detailed tribal division of the land described in Ezekiel. If you notice, as I did, that these details harmonize better in some places than others, bear in mind that any map drawn today based on ancient place names is bound to have considerable wiggle room. Some ancient locations are well attested; others are mere speculations. As a result, no two maps of Ezekiel’s tribal division of the land square exactly.

Both passages agree future Israel will occupy considerably more territory than at any point in its previous history, expanding north, south, east and west.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: The Emperor’s New Clothes

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

Christopher Dummitt is an Associate Professor of History at Trent University, and he has a confession to make: “I basically just made it up.”

Tom: He’s not the first, and he’s probably not the worst, but Dummitt is keen on taking either credit or blame (it’s not always clear which) for successfully swaying Canadian public opinion about sex and gender. He used to tell his students and readers that gender is entirely a social construct, not a biological reality. Today, the vast majority of Canadians believe him.

Problem is he was misusing his authority to deceive the public. The Emperor would go out tonight, but he doesn’t have a stitch to wear. Likewise, Dummitt had no substantive evidence of any sort to offer for his ideology-based position. As he now admits, his so-called “proofs” may legitimately be interpreted any number of ways. He used rhetoric and the “appeal to authority” fallacy to patch the gaping holes in his argument.

But we knew that, didn’t we, IC?

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Youth Problems Part 1: Double Jeopardy

“I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today!”

I hear that a lot. And I suppose there’s something to it. It’s not easy going through those vulnerable transitional years today.

But then it’s never been.

It’s a really unnatural stage of life. Today, we may take it for granted; but we are losing touch with just how irregular, how unhealthy and how bizarre it really is. That’s because most of us were raised through a socialization process — including urban economic life, mass schooling, post-secondary training, late induction into adulthood, and so on — that took it for granted. We are out of touch with just how developmentally weird it really is.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Canadian Common Law and the Bible

Ancient laws didn’t come with definition sections.

When you see some of the lengthy, arbitrary and self-contradictory definitions in modern legal codes, this may at first seem like a feature rather than a bug, but it still leaves the modern reader of the Law of Moses struggling with certain ambiguities, not least the ones concerning marriage.

This was not a problem for the people who lived under the Law of Moses in ancient times. They understood the sociocultural environment in which the law was given well enough to obey God’s commands without the need for the endless paragraphs of legalese modern lawyers generate like spiderwebs.

The bad news is that understanding the background of the law wasn’t their problem; keeping it was.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

When You Can’t Step Down

The secular world doesn’t require moral authority to lead. It helps, sure, but it’s not a stopper if you can’t manage to project it; more of a “nice to have”, really. Luck, slickness, charisma, raw power, a media propaganda machine, a dad with name recognition, or some combination thereof will generally get you into a leadership position even if you’re otherwise horribly unqualified.

Ask Mr. Biden if you doubt that one. If soundness of mind and coherent speech are not obligatory to serve as President of the United States, I doubt self-restraint is anywhere near the list.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Anonymous Asks (276)

“Should a Christian listen to secular music?”

Wow. I am SO the wrong guy to ask that question. Maybe IC will take a second crack at this one next week and do better.

I love the old hymns, by which I mean pre-1940. (There was a rah-rah kind of self-involved lyric-writing popular after WWII that I cannot stand, epitomized in the Gaither style that dominated the new hymnology from the mid-fifties on.)

From then on, in my humble estimation, popular Christian music has only gotten worse.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

A Bulwark Never Failing

Around 1052 B.C., King David conquered a Jebusite stronghold in the hills and made it the capital of his kingdom. He repaired and built up the city that has come to be known as Jerusalem, Zion, the City of David and Ariel. His son Solomon enhanced it and made it truly world class, and the later kings of Judah supplemented and strengthened it. It has been attacked by history’s greatest empires, razed repeatedly but always rebuilt, and unlike many ancient cities of the East, it’s still there today.

The Sons of Korah called Zion “the city of our God”.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Mining the Minors: Obadiah (4)

History teaches many lessons … if we are paying attention.

The children of Esau treated the children of Jacob despicably. Their traitorous disloyalty to their brothers would come back to haunt them; this is the burden of Obadiah’s prophecy. But the judgment of Edom would also serve as a cautionary tale for other nations that had either mistreated Israel or would go on to do so. God made an example of Edom to teach others not to do what they had done.

It’s not as if Edom had not been put on notice. God promised Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse.” When Jacob obtained the birthright and the blessing from Esau, this promise and protection became his. Esau knew it, but apparently his distant descendants had forgotten it.

That’s one of those lessons it’s unwise to forget.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Nothing to Complain About

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

Monty Python’s Eric Idle on their movie Life of Brian:

“Our movie is a kind of parody of a Hollywood biblical epic. And we realized we couldn’t really write about JC, because there’s nothing you can complain about. The man said, you know, ‘Blessed are the poor,’ ‘Feed and help people ...’ There was something more interesting about exploring what followers of a religion do, both to the religion and to the people they follow, and how unhealthy that becomes.”

Tom: Now, if we really wanted to be critical, IC, we could probably carp about Idle misquoting the Sermon on the Mount or being a bit flippant, but I found the point he was inadvertently making here much more interesting, and that is this: a troupe of comedians legendary for fearlessly spoofing everything under the sun drew a line in the sand at trying to make fun of Jesus Christ. And they did it themselves, not out of fear or respect, apparently, or even because of economic considerations, but rather because they came to the conclusion there were no legitimate laughs to be had at Christ’s expense. There really is nothing you can complain about in the life and character of God’s beloved Son.

Immanuel Can: No, indeed. It’s interesting that the Lord always seems to get a reaction nobody else ever gets, isn’t it?

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Divorce: What We Don’t Know

I’ve been thankful to see a few posts from Tom on the subject of divorce, and I’ve been encouraging him to research and write more. We, in the church, need information about this.

I’m afraid we’re not very wise on this. Time was when divorces were rare. Back then, what tended to happen is that if a person got divorced, they just left the church — end of story. Maybe one of the partners hung around … especially if he or she was presumed “innocent” in the event. But for the most part, divorce was just an uncomfortable subject, a Pandora’s Box that churches just didn’t want to open.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

When Nobody was Standing Around

Orthodox Christian faith declares our Lord was fully man and fully God. We can say we believe that, but getting our heads around it is another story. Speculating about the finer details of how his two natures operated together in specific moments of the Savior’s earthly experience can take us into perilous theological territory if we are inattentive to all that the scriptures say about him.

The apostle John writes that Jesus “knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man”.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The People Standing Around

“I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around.”

Sometimes Jesus said things he didn’t need to say. Sometimes he asked questions to which he already knew the answer, or asked to be given things he didn’t require. Once, he even went through a baptism of repentance when he had nothing whatsoever for which to repent.

He had to, on account of the people standing around.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Anonymous Asks (275)

“Should a couple be financially stable before getting married?”

Anybody who reads here regularly probably knows I have repeatedly encouraged young men to get their financial house in order not just prior to marriage, but prior to getting into any serious relationship with a young woman. The reason should be obvious: if you find yourself without sufficient self-control and employability to manage your own finances, what business do you have inviting someone else to share your life with you?

And that’s before we even consider the cost of bringing children into the world and raising them together.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

In Which I Equivocate

Your local church is dull.

To be fair, they probably can’t help it. They wouldn’t know how to be any other way. It’s who they are: older, more traditional, kind of set in their ways, and it seems to suit them. Sure, the Bible teaching is sound and Christ-centered, but the singing is dreary and antiquated. You’re not looking for charismatic excess, but a little genuine emotion once in a while would be nice.

Shouldn’t true faith transform the heart as well as the head?

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Mining the Minors: Obadiah (3)

When we read Bible history or doctrine, we take for granted that the tenses used by the writers are important. “Don’t do it” is different from “You did it”. However, when we come to Bible prophecy, that ordinary rule of thumb goes right out the window. Prophetic tenses are all over the place.

Even secular observers can’t miss this odd feature of the genre.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: These Things Break Bones

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

In sharing Christ with others it is not unusual to come across an unsaved person who is honest, self-aware or willing to disclose where he is in his thinking. What is rare is to find all three in the same person.

Tom: I recently watched David Berlinski in a lengthy interview with Peter Robinson doing a very fine job of exposing the flaws in Darwin’s theory of evolution. The exchange prompted a whole train of thought on how subtle self-deception can be, and how easy it is to sidestep the most important questions a human being can ever ask.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Two Glories

It’ll soon be Sunday again.

Time to go and meet with the Lord’s people and think about him.

That’s good work, really. It’s just about the best thing we really ever do. The works we do here on earth end when the Lord returns. But some things continue into eternity. Paramount among those things is worship. It’s one of the few things we do that lasts forever. I think that makes it worth getting up for.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

The Real Real Restoration of Israel

In yesterday’s post, we discussed Matt Littlefield’s view that the largely unbelieving Jewish nation occupying Israel today is not the fulfillment of Bible prophecy concerning the restoration of Israel that we are led to expect by Paul’s teaching in Romans 11 and corresponding OT passages. Unlike some students of scripture, Matt is not an abrogationist. He believes the promised restoration of God’s earthly people will indeed occur, only not until Messiah returns.

That would be fine so far as it goes, except it leads him to conclude that any return of Jews to Israel prior to the Second Coming of Christ (such as the one that occurred after WWII and continues apace) is therefore a cheat, a fake, a false fulfillment, an exercise in fleshly effort and/or a lie of the devil. He worries that Christians are being deceived by it.

I think that’s going too far, and I have tried to set out my own position concerning the largely secular Jewish presence in Israel. I believe we are looking at prophetic fulfillment in progress, just not yet fully realized. Only time will tell.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

End Products and Works in Progress

Lately, like almost every other Christian I know, Australian pastor Matt Littlefield has been occupied with affairs in the Middle East. Premillennialists may find two of his recent posts worth a read for that reason. Both show evidence of a more nuanced position on modern Israel and its prophetic prospects than some evangelicals have historically taken, but while I find myself agreeing with much of what he has to say, I believe some of Matt’s conclusions are either doubtful or flat out wrong.

There are no end of opinions out there, and it doesn’t hurt for believers to get our ducks in a row about Israel. If you are out there engaging with either the church or the world, the subject is likely to come up.

Monday, November 06, 2023

Anonymous Asks (274)

“Are democracy and Christianity compatible?”

“Many forms of Government have been tried,” said Winston Churchill in the British House of Commons in 1947. He continued, “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time …”

It’s admittedly backhanded, but that’s still a pretty strong commendation, and I’ve had it quoted to me by Christians when I complain about modern democracies and their failings.

I’m not sure I believe it anymore.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Jungles and Gardens

There is a big difference between a jungle and a garden.

Gardens have gardeners. Jungles do not. In the jungle, vines and weeds grow everywhere, sometimes strangling new growth and keeping desirable plants from blooming. Trees you don’t want block the sun from reaching those you do want. The root systems of vegetation that produces nothing useful suck up water needed by fruit-bearing growth. If you want a garden and not a jungle, it won’t happen naturally. Somebody has to tend it.

Eden was a garden, not a jungle. Those “somebodies” were Adam and Eve.

Saturday, November 04, 2023

Mining the Minors: Obadiah (2)

C.S. Lewis called pride “the essential vice, the utmost evil … the complete anti-God state of mind”. Solomon wrote, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.”

Obadiah is the shortest book in the Hebrew Bible, so it doesn’t take the prophet more than two verses to get to Edom’s problem. Yes, it’s pride. Pride that metastasized into hatred of their brothers. Pride that pulled the wool over their own eyes and made the Edomites believe they were untouchable. Pride that convinced them they could put one over on the God who had decreed “the older will serve the younger”. “Not so,” said Edom.

It was the word of God. Of course they were wrong.

Friday, November 03, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: A Sticky Situation

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

Tom: A couple of posts back, Immanuel Can made this comment:

“I don’t think most people understand what ‘situational ethics’ means. What I find when I ask them is they have no idea of the theory, or even of who Joseph Fletcher was, let alone what he said: they just think that whatever it is, it allows them to do as they please, and still claim to be ‘ethical’ in doing it.”

I haven’t heard the term in a few years, but I remember it was regularly referenced when I was growing up. 83% of atheists claim to believe all ethics are situational. What does that mean exactly, IC? Maybe some of the atheists hurling the term around don’t know much more than your first year philosophy students ...

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Old Guy with the Ponytail

I saw an episode of The Fresh Prince of Belair recently.

Don’t ask.

Man, remember that show? At one time it was all the rage. The jokes seemed so clever, so cutting-edge. It seemed like suddenly every kid on the playground was sliding his pants down, turning his ball cap around, and trying to talk like Will Smith.

“Yo, yo, Homes … whaddup? How you gonna play me?”

** Cringe **

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

The Problem with Progress

The thesis of Glen Scrivener’s most recent book The Air We Breathe is that Western societies have absorbed Christian values by osmosis. He suggests that even if we haven’t noticed it yet, our collective convictions about the importance of equality, compassion, consent, enlightenment, science, freedom and progress all come originally from the Bible and are a radical departure from both pre-first century views and those of most non-Westerners today.

Few of us Westerners are Christians, yet the faith of our fathers has subversively Christianized society in some respects at least. Even those who object fervently to the Christian faith often object for reasons only the Christian faith itself could ever supply.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Glen Scrivener on Equality

A Church of England minister and evangelist, author, speaker and filmmaker, Glen Scrivener has an unusual knack for making the things of heaven relatable in today’s culture. I picked up his most recent book The Air We Breathe: How We All Came to Believe in Freedom, Kindness, Progress and Equality after watching a YouTube interview with John Anderson about its thesis. Scrivener contends that a number of core Western values have their basis in the Christian faith of our forefathers. Our societies, he argues, have absorbed these values by osmosis. Most of us don’t know why we believe these things, but we believe them all the same.

In general, I think he has a valid point to make. When you get down to specifics, however, it’s another story.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Anonymous Asks (273)

“What does the Bible say about women’s rights?”

Many people have strong opinions about how things should be, some of which are better and more biblical than others. Graduating from mere personal opinion to a “right” requires two things: (1) collective agreement about what any group’s entitlements actually are; and (2) a means of enforcement when disagreements arise.

When a society is functioning properly, its laws have both these properties.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

The Impossible Problem

When Jarred Cinman wrote an opinion piece for his blog in 2015 entitled “The five best reasons not to believe in God”, I doubt he imagined he was breaking new ground in the ongoing debate over whether the world would be better off without religion. He couldn’t have. After all, he quoted Stephen Fry, whose own swipes at God have prompted the occasional comment in this space.

Unbelief is hardly a novel concept.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Mining the Minors: Obadiah (1)

“Two nations are in your womb,” the Lord told Rebekah, and “the older shall serve the younger.” The story is so well known that I hardly need tell you the older brother’s name was Esau and the younger Jacob. Jacob became the father of the nation of Israel, Esau the father of Edom, and God set about fulfilling his word to their mother (with some minor, totally unnecessary assistance from mom and a notwithstanding a less successful effort to thwart it from dad).

Later, God would tell his prophet Malachi, “I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated.” Paul quoted that much-misunderstood line in Romans 9 to the delight of determinists everywhere.

More on that later. Much later.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Not Even Once Through

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

Immanuel Can: I recently came across this quote, which might be worth a little back-and-forth:

“My wife and I are both voracious readers (two to three books a week), so there is little of intellectual interest that I do not enjoy. And of course, the Bible is perhaps the single most interesting book ever written, though it's not really ‘a’ book, is it? I have long been bewildered by the fact that so many people claim the Bible as their authority, but have never bothered to read, much less study it, even once, all the way through. Doesn’t that amaze you?”

Tom: Doesn’t that amaze me? Well, it does and it doesn’t ...

Thursday, October 26, 2023

On Being Taken In

“ ‘You see,’ said Aslan, ‘they will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.’ ”

— C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

“You are not going to fool me with that religion stuff.”

That seems to be the position of many people in our modern world. There are many religions, they observe, and they disagree about all kinds of really basic things, like who God is, what morality should be, and what the point of life itself is. And since they all disagree, there’s got to be a lot of tommyrot and humbug out there.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Disqualifying Dad (An Unlikely Defense of John Piper)

John Piper is a well-known 77-year old Minnesota pastor and media presence with four sons, three of whom currently do not rock his spiritual boat. Barnabas is a pastor in Nashville, Benjamin a construction worker and Karsten a college English teacher. If either of the latter two are not believers in good standing at their local churches, we certainly never hear about it.

Yay for good parenting doing what it is supposed to do.

Abraham Piper is another story. The man even has his own Wikipedia entry and a TikTok following of over two million for his two pages, self-described as “a smidge of sacrilege” and peppered with salty language. Not a believer, and not only out and proud of it, but formally excommunicated to boot, and dedicated to taking shots at the faith and publicly mocking his father’s beliefs.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Taking Sides

A humorous video on YouTube depicts a flummoxed actor trying desperately to come up with the “right take” on the ongoing situation in Israel. As we all know, actors are expected to comment on every serious issue in the news, presumably because popularity = expertise (a questionable assumption at best). Naturally, this actor is looking to express an opinion that will meet with universal approval, and he recognizes that publicly embracing either Israel or Palestine will infuriate ±50% of his fan base.

Whatever to do?

Monday, October 23, 2023

Anonymous Asks (272)

“How would you describe a relationship with God to an unsaved person?”

There are probably more ways to talk about a relationship with God than most unsaved people really want to hear, so I tend to try to keep my descriptions short and in the plainest language I can come up with, always hoping they may lead to further questions.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Love and Conditions

I have a friend in a bad family situation.

Actually, I have a large number of these. Most of you probably do too. No physical abuse, only a little occasional verbal nastiness, but the relationship is not a Christian marriage and the children are not growing up immersed in or even exposed to the training and instruction of the Lord. The biblical authority structure is not there and, at least from the outside, all the love appears to be flowing in one direction only.

My friend proposes to fix the situation by loving the family unconditionally, perhaps because so often we hear that is the way that God loves us.

Does he really? Maybe we need to explore that idea a little.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Mining the Minors: Joel (10)

Of all the Minor Prophets to date, the New Testament’s writers arguably quote Joel the most. I say “arguably”, because some of the language used by Joel is so similar to that of other prophets, especially Isaiah, that in several cases it’s not certain whether the NT writer was thinking of one passage or the other, or perhaps had both in mind. Many of these occur in the book of Revelation.

For anyone interested in deeper study of the end times, I’ve included all possible references in each of the Minor and Major Prophets at the end of each section. There are too many of these to quote them all in full here.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Atheism by the Numbers

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

A short list of statistical data about atheists compiled by Pew Research Center:

94% approve of LGBTQ lifestyles
91% believe in evolution
87% approve of abortion
83% believe ethics are situational
78% are white
78% have no children
69% vote Democrat
68% are men
65% never discuss religion
54% feel wonder at the universe
43% have a college degree (vs. 27% general public)
40% are ages 18-29
40% have never married
  9% proselytize weekly

Tom: Some of these things I knew, some I didn’t. Anything you find surprising there, IC? I’ll admit to raising an eyebrow over the claim that only 9% are out there regularly commending their view of the universe to others. It sure seems higher than that online.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Mouth Almighty

Mouth almighty, that is what I’ve got,
 Mouth almighty, telling you
    what’s what.
 Mouth almighty.
 I wish I’d never opened my mouth
    almighty …

— Elvis Costello (1983)

Some years ago, I was working at a Christian summer camp.

By all evidence, it had been an excellent year — many children’s lives touched, many young people growing in knowing God, good friendships formed, spiritual growth on every side, and a safe and successful physical program.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Spirit of Adoption

Jews pray to God generically, though they sometimes write his name “G-d”. Muslims pray to God generically; that’s what “Allah” means. The devout men and women of the Old Testament addressed their prayers to God generically: “O God” (or, more frequently, “O Lord” and sometimes “O Lord God”).

But they never prayed “O Father”. Not once.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Quote of the Day (45)

As we have worked our way through the Minor Prophets in our Saturday studies, we have noted repeatedly the problem of communication that the Holy Spirit had to resolve when speaking through Hebrew seers two to three thousand years ago about events still to take place. I mention the Holy Spirit particularly, because the prophets themselves may not always have understood the communication barriers involved, though the Spirit of God was well aware of what was going on as he carried them along.

After all, in many cases the prophets had no idea when God would bring about the fulfillment of the events they described, let alone all the things that would happen to the nations and peoples they mentioned in the interval.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Anonymous Asks (271)

“Does the Bible promote multiculturalism?”

For our purposes, we may define multiculturalism as the political policy of promoting the settlement of large numbers from diverse ethnocultural backgrounds in the same geographic space on the assumption they can coexist peacefully, profitably and permanently. Most Western countries are increasingly multicultural these days, the developing world much less so.

Is that a good thing? Does multiculturalism originate in biblical thinking?

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Minds and Hearts

You’ll never change anyone’s mind about God,” wrote Greg Koukl over at Stand to Reason recently. I completely agree with him. Even the most formidable apologists for the Christian faith never save anyone. It’s the Lord who opens blinded eyes and stopped ears. It’s the Holy Spirit of God who testifies along with our testimony. Without his work in the hearts of unbelievers, Christians are powerless to accomplish anything of eternal value. We are utterly dependent on him.

Let me give you a perfect example.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Mining the Minors: Joel (9)

The Christian who reads the last few verses of Joel 3 immediately says to himself, “Aha, that’s about the return of the Lord.” No Judean of Joel’s day would ever have thought such a thing, at least not if he only had Joel’s prophecy to go by; after all, you can hardly speak of a second advent when you have yet to distinguish it from the first, and both are still far in the future.

Nevertheless, that’s what this is all about. The Second Coming. Christ’s victorious return to reign over planet Earth.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Five Bad Reasons (2)

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

Liberal Christian blogger Benjamin Corey claims more believers — especially older ones — are becoming “LGBTQ-affirming”, and this Pew poll appears to back him up. Whether this is due to social pressure, a fear of being thought intolerant or just plain old battle fatigue remains to be seen.

Tom: Corey lists five reasons he believes Christians are changing their minds about homosexuality. Immanuel Can and I are fisking his arguments for orthodoxy. We’re not finding much ...

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Perfect Confidence

We were talking in a previous post about the goal of perfection.

Christians sometimes expect this of themselves, and some even claim to have attained it. And we have to admit that since we serve a perfect God, it is most natural to jump to the conclusion that he expects perfection of us. And in a sense, he does: no one who is not perfect is fit for fellowship with God. But we ended on a hopeful note (I hope), since we saw that the work of making us perfect is not ours but God’s … and to him be the glory for it.

However, a question surely remains: If God’s going to do it, just how? Surely he expects some effort from me — he doesn’t want me to go on sinning like a wretch, while blithely waiting for him to sort me out in spite of myself; or worse, just presuming that because perfecting me is his work, and salvation is forever, I can live like a complete moral wreck and imagine God is obligated to take me in whatever state I end up. That can’t be the upshot.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Crux of Our Affairs

Brad Torgersen is a science fiction writer and a devout Mormon. He also supports a woman’s right to choose in the matter of abortion. Most Mormons don’t, as Brad admits on his blog. I don’t either, as even the most occasional reader here has probably figured out in short order. Torgersen’s rationale for supporting abortion rights is one I’ve never run into before. It’s scripture-based but logically faulty and biblically inconsistent, and worth a few minutes to consider.

It revolves around the matter of agency, one of my favorite subjects.