Showing posts with label Paul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul. Show all posts

Sunday, March 21, 2021

When the Holy Spirit is Silent

We love building narratives, don’t we.

Sometimes the tales we tell each other represent reality. Other times we are simply reading our own impressions, default assumptions and prejudices into the text of scripture.

I was in a conversational Bible study recently. Our subject was Acts 15 and the “sharp disagreement” between Paul and Barnabas over whether or not John Mark, who had previously deserted them in Pamphylia, should accompany them to encourage the believers in Asia where they had planted churches and preached Christ. The disagreement, if you recall, was sharp enough that Paul and Barnabas parted ways. Barnabas took Mark and went with him back to Cyprus. Paul chose Silas and went through Syria and Cilicia.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Indirect Evidence for Inspiration

In an era when not just politicians, lawyers and Muslims but average men and women increasingly play fast and loose with truth, one may forgive a little scepticism when someone makes a claim.

All scripture is breathed out by God”, Paul once wrote to Timothy.

That is a pretty significant assertion, and it is not one that can be substantiated by direct evidence. Christians cannot produce Polaroids of Paul or David in the process of writing the words of God surrounded by a nimbus or with an angel handing them a scroll. Nor can eyewitnesses confirm the presence of any Spirit Being overshadowing, indwelling, controlling or directing the authors of scripture. They are all long gone, if such witnesses ever existed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Calling a Spade a Spade

Popular science fiction author China Miéville is troubled by how the media refers to the … er … troubled.

When asked about the 2011 riots in London, England, his primary concern seems to be the language used to describe those who assaulted pensioners, burned people out of their homes and threw bricks at responding firefighters:

“For a long time I’ve been struck and horrified by the incredible cultural spite we’ve got in the UK towards young people. The constant use, for example, of the term ‘feral’ to describe troubled children should be a matter of utter shame: that our culture has normalised that adjective is an expression of our culture’s moral degradation, far more than children’s.”

In Miéville’s view, the moral degradation of modern British culture is epitomized in its failure to speak kindly of its most debased element.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Poking the Bear

“A soft answer turns away wrath”, says the writer of Proverbs. I learned that as a child, though I didn’t always use it to my advantage. Still, it’s a good bit of wisdom to have up your sleeve in a confrontation, and too few people today know much about how to de-escalate a conflict.

But what if it’s not your objective to defuse anger? What if you’re looking to provoke a strong emotional reaction?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Meaning of Life in Three Rounds

On paper, the apostle Paul vs. Solomon, king of Israel doesn’t add up to much of a fight.

If you get them both in their primes, Solomon has world class trainers and equipment and the most lavish possible facilities in which to prepare, along with all the wisdom in the world with which to strategize.

Paul, on the other hand, is almost guaranteed to be convalescing after any or all of a recent stoning, beating or flailing, as well as taking his regular buffeting from a messenger of Satan. There’s also an off chance he has not eaten recently or that he’ll miss a scheduled bout because he’s serving a jail sentence or pulling a Robinson Crusoe somewhere in the Mediterranean.

In short, on the physical plane Paul is a pushover (though he does have a disturbing tendency to beat a ten count when his opponents are sure he’s done and dusted).

On the spiritual plane, though, Solomon is fighting with both hands tied behind his back.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

When the Holy Spirit is Silent

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Indirect Evidence for Inspiration

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Meaning of Life in Three Rounds

A more current version of this post is available here.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Calling a Spade a Spade

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Debunking Heavenly Mythology VII: I Won’t Enjoy Heaven If So-and-So Isn’t There

There is a something about the generosity of spirit in this frequently-heard and more-frequently-unheard trope that I would hate to disparage.

After all, no less a friend of God than Moses once voiced something similar when God expressed a desire to wipe out Israel in the desert and “make a great nation” from the descendants of Moses. Some people might have been flattered at the compliment. Moses didn’t see it that way. He said to the Lord:
“Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin — but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” (Exodus 32:31-32)
He said, in effect, “If they’re going to be subject to your judgment, God, let me be subject to it with them”.

Generous, absolutely. Smart, maybe not so much. Not, perhaps, entire clear on what he was potentially letting himself in for. But we understand the sentiment, surely. I’ve felt like that about some people. Maybe you have too.

Fortunately for Moses, the Lord did not take him up on his offer.