Showing posts with label Recycling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recycling. Show all posts

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Inbox: What’s Right with It?

In response to an earlier post on Christian moral issues in our weekly Too Hot to Handle post, David B. writes:

“I am always reminded of a question from a youth group speaker of years gone by when he said, ‘The question you should be asking isn’t what’s wrong with it, as in how close to the edge can I get, but what’s right with it and does it bring me closer to the Lord.’

Do you feel that’s a fair question, or does it just set you up for someone to say, ‘Well, you could make that argument about anything you choose to do or not’?”

Hmmm. A very good question, Dave.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: A Methodist to Their Madness

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

The Cottage Grove location of Minnesota’s Grove United Methodist Church, 30 years old this year, is closing for renovations. But it’s not the building that’s being renovated ... it’s the congregation.

Small, initially financially unstable and told by their denomination that they did not warrant a pastor’s salary, the church first merged with a larger Woodbury church in 2008, then switched to lay ministry a few years ago, and has settled in to a comfortable routine with somewhere between 25 and 35 regular worshipers. That’s not good enough for the Woodbury leadership, who have hired a church-starting specialist with $250,000 from the Methodist’s regional Annual Conference, and are planning to “reset” the Cottage Grove location to appeal to a younger audience — in the name of Christ, of course — and preferably without the thirty members currently meeting there.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Merged into the Mob

It’s kind of breathtaking watching the news these days, isn’t it? So much mass craziness in such a little time!

Of course, there’s the hysteria surrounding COVID-19. First, we were told it was all a racist plot, then that it was an international pandemic, then that we were all going to die, then that we all had to wear masks ... or not ... and then go back to work and school ... then not ... that there will be a cure ... then that all cures are poisons ... that the economy is collapsing ... then that it must collapse, so we can all stay safe.

Who do you believe? Which side do you choose? What do you support? What do you do?

Friday, May 10, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Days of Programs Past

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

Immanuel Can: The Young People’s group in my local church seems defunct. It wasn’t lack of leadership — they had a stellar, unselfish, thoughtful leader, who had had great success in the past, most recently with a large and active cohort that had just moved on to college / university / career plans. But when the older class graduated, nobody came in to fill the ranks. It seems that the new generation of early-teens were involved with other things: sports, computers, other programs. Not only that, when asked, their parents seemed to see no particular reason their kids ought to be meeting with other Christian kids for spiritual or social activities. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a generation of parents that isn’t totally convinced that getting their kids involved with other Christian young people is very important to their development.

So that’s new.

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Who’s Holding the Scales?

I have to admit I’m appalled by the debates flying around the Internet these days. More and more, they seem like merely the propaganda of angry factions, not the rational pronouncements of people who think things through.

And the sanctimony ... oh, the sanctimony! Every faction sees its perspective as not merely just, but as the only side a reasonable, compassionate, fair-minded, informed, civilized or decent person could ever be on.

Friday, May 03, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: The Rapture and the Wrath of God

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

Not too long ago a major news and commentary website complained about “evangelicals’ toxic obsession with the end times”. That sort of thing is to be expected from unbelievers. But more and more, I am seeing the same kind of dismissive language used by Christians.

Tom: “Rapture” is not a term we find in the Bible, but it may be reasonably applied to the events to which the apostle Paul refers in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Matthew Henry, whose eschatology was neither Pre-Millennial nor Pre-Tribulation, used the word “rapture” in his commentary on Thessalonians back in the early 1700s, long before J.N. Darby or others who articulated the Pre-Trib position in their own generations. For most critics of Pre-Tribulationism, the argument is not so much about whether the church will be “snatched up”, but when.

But whatever we may call it, Immanuel Can, it’s my sense that the teaching about a return of Christ for the church prior to the Great Tribulation has never been in greater disrepute among God’s people. Does that seem a fair statement?

Thursday, May 02, 2024

Fake News

The biggest news today is “fake news”.

What is “fake news”? Nobody seems to know. It could be the panicky blandishments of the liberal media. It could be the paranoid pronouncements of the extreme Right. But it could also be the confused babblings of the moderate centre. Nobody really seems to know. The only thing upon which all sides agree seems to be that there’s a lot of it out there somewhere.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: The Pagans Weigh In

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

You don’t have to spend much time in the company of Christians today before you start to hear questions like these:

“Wasn’t Easter a pagan holiday?”

“Isn’t the concept of a Christmas tree based on Odin’s sacred oak?”

“I read that the wedding ring originated in an old pagan superstition intended to protect a relationship from evil spirits. Should Christians really wear those sorts of symbols?”

Tom: Some of these concerns turn out to be baseless. Other accusations that a particular Christian symbol, practice or holiday actually had its origin in paganism are quite legitimate.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Now It’s Personal

“Go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

In church circles, my father was well-known. He lived a life of selfless service, teaching and counseling among the Lord’s people, was a help to many, and was consequently famous — in a modest sort of way.

Because of this, my brothers and I could go to no new town without running into Christians who knew him. We became used to the phrase, “Ah, so you’re HIS son.” We had an instant welcome and unearned favor wherever we happened to go. We used to joke that just dropping Dad’s name was good in any town for three free meals and the hand in marriage of a girl from the local church.

Dad’s name was “coin of the realm”, as they used to say.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Blessed are the Hated

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”

What? “Do not be surprised?”

Well, that is kind of surprising in our age. After all, we’re the “let’s get along” society. No culture in the history of the world has been so omnitolerant, so permissive, so inclusive and so welcoming of everyone and everything as modern, Western society. We are so morally earnest to make sure that nobody’s feelings get hurt, nobody gets excluded, nobody is marginalized or oppressed, that we bend over backward to accept absolutely everything.

And given that many Christians have also bought into the mindset that we must always be liked by our society and must do everything to be seeker-sensitive, welcoming, open, all-loving, and always, always of good social reputation, should it not surprise us if the world turns around and suddenly expresses hostility and hatred to us?

How could they do that? We’re so nice!

Friday, April 05, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: The Garment Stained by the Flesh

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

Tom: IC, it’s been a long time. I’ve been on the road, and so have you, and we’ve both had family stuff to deal with. The easiest way to handle the unexpected interruption in our schedules has been to recycle a bunch of four-year-old posts, some of which were genuinely worth revisiting. Even when I got back to my normal routine, I didn’t reach out for a while because I was looking for something certifiably hot that we could lob back and forth. And you know, I think I just may have found it.

So how about this: Should your local church host a small group for Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction? Pros and cons in one, two, three ...

Thursday, April 04, 2024

The Multicultural Road to Hell

I’ve got a simple message in this post. Simple, yes, but not the less needed for all that.

What have you done with the gospel, Christian? Where is your voice these days?

I’m not telling. I’m asking. I don’t know you, or what you’ve done, or where you’ve been. Really, this is a question only you can ask yourself, and only you can answer.

Well, you and God, of course, because that’s the urgent point. God knows what we’ve done with the gospel. He knows whether we’ve been living like we believe it, or only saying we do, and living another way. He knows.

I don’t.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Five Questions About the Next Generation

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

We’re getting older. We’re not done yet, Lord willing, but more and more I’m realizing that nearly all the really knowledgeable Bible teachers and leaders I knew as a teenager have gone to be with the Lord and even the very average pulpit-fillers of the seventies and eighties have mostly given up their responsibilities to younger men. The missionaries we used to pray for have died on the mission field or come home to retire, and I don’t recognize many of the names I see replacing them. Even the average, decent pew-sitting Christian of my day seems to be getting longer in the tooth and less able to do the things he or she used to do in the local church. Some independent local churches I knew have now hired pastors and others have affiliated themselves with denominations. The local church of today is in many ways less and less recognizable to me.

Tom: To top it off, Immanuel Can, I’m not sure I identify much with the coming generation. They are so different from the young people of my own day. I’m not sure I can picture what the average local church may look like in twenty or thirty years. And yet we have an obligation to those who seek to follow Christ in the days to come. What IS the right strategy to prepare Christian young people to take on the world?

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Not Fade Away

When I was a kid I listened to a lot of rock music.

Most of it I got off the radio. I owned a few albums of my own, but was never the avid collector some of my friends were. I had some favorites, and I tended to stay with them for as long as they pleased me, then move on.

One thing I noticed right away, both on my albums and on the radio, was the “fade-out”. At the end of a song it was customary for the artist or producer to reduce the sound level progressively until the music sort of seemed to dim out in the distance — as if the artist never actually stopped singing, but just happened to be traveling away from me. Then there would be short silence, and then the next song.

I always thought that was weird.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Positively Negative

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

Karen Wolff at Christian Books for Women gives some tips for the Christian on maintaining an upbeat attitude that are almost generic enough pass for the musings of whatever secular positivity guru happens to trending on the shelves in Chapters this week. She says obeying Paul’s injunction to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” involved purposefully replacing any negative thoughts we have with positive ones.

Tom: Such a thing is not always easily done, and I’m not even sure we have a scriptural warrant to pursue it. Certainly Wolff provides none, simply assuming the validity of her own premise. But her thoughts on the subject are similar to other believers I’ve encountered over the years.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Vision, Inspiration and Leadership

“Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ ”

What makes a person give up everything in order to follow Christ?

What motivates a lifetime of obedience and service?

What makes men into real men, spiritual men, dedicated men, godly men, and what makes women into women of substance?

Well, let’s see what the Bible says about that.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: The Discipline of Discipline

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

Immanuel Can: The only verse in the Bible that everyone today seems to know is “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Tom: Sounds about right.

IC: Okay, so that verse seems to people to be conveying something important. Maybe it needs some closer examination.

Tom: Fair enough. Well, it seems to me there’s an obvious incentive on the part of those who use it to rebut any potential critique of their own behaviors — or the behaviors of those for whom they choose to be advocates. I mean, quoting a verse to an unbeliever would carry no weight at all, so it’s clearly a device to disqualify dissenting Christian opinion and shut down any debate before it begins.

It’s saying to you and me, “Aha, see, you’re not allowed to have a view on this.”

Thursday, March 14, 2024

The Mercy of Fire

“Some bells cannot be unrung.”

So goes the saying when something has been done that cannot be undone. The ink has been spilled, the glass has been shattered, the clock cannot be rewound, the world has moved on. The arrow has flown, the words said cannot be recalled to the mouth, and “send” has been pressed. There is no going back, no fixing things “as they were”, or maybe “as they should have been”.

From now on, for good or for ill, things can never be the same.

Friday, March 08, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Majoring on the Majors

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

Tom: There’s a line I keep hearing these days that goes something like this:

“We should keep unity for the sake of the gospel. Major on the majors, and not on the minors. We shouldn’t fight over secondary issues.”

Immanuel Can, some things are worth fighting over. Jude urges his readers, who appear to be a very general believing audience, to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints”.

So what’s really worth contending for, and what should be set aside for the sake of unity? In short, what makes something “major” or “minor”?

Immanuel Can: Ah. What do I mean, or what do most other people I meet seem to mean? Can you clarify?

Tom: I take it there’s a significant difference then.

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Let’s Get Together and …

“They said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name…’ ”

I’m going to write today as briefly, as bluntly and yet as informatively as I can.

I will do this because I feel we are dangling presently on a precipice of a major social crisis. The Christian position in this must be made clear, and made clear now, if Christian choices are to be well made.

Friday, March 01, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Making Merchandise

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

As long as there has been a people of God in the world, there have been those who looked to take advantage of them. The Israelites had their false prophets, and Peter warns the young church to expect their share of false teachers. He says, as the translators of the King James Version so eloquently put it, “Through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.”

Tom: But of course the trick is always identifying such people, isn’t it, Immanuel Can? I mean, what does that look like in the real world?

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Even More Offensive

In my previous post, “Offensive Christianity”, I argued that many of us misunderstand the choice we have in facing Christ: we think it’s between faith and doubt — but in scripture, it is between faith and being offended.

Everybody struggles with doubt. And perhaps we tend to think that when we do, it signals something very, very bad. Maybe it means our faith has failed. Maybe it means we were never sincere in the first place. Maybe it means we’re lost.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Biocentrism and Reality

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

The soul: it’s a heavy topic, and one that not everyone agrees about. Dr. Robert Lanza is a biologist who says that consciousness creates the universe rather than the other way around. He’s what is called a “biocentrist”. His is a relatively new theory, having come into play around 2007. The fundamental notion behind it is that the much sought-after “Theory of Everything” scientists are looking for cannot be found until biology is placed at the head of the sciences.

Tom: It’s interesting, Immanuel Can, to see the spiritual dimension of life acquiring some scientific credibility. Do you want to take a shot at explaining Dr. Lanza’s theory?

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Offensive Christianity

“It has been customary to employ the category ‘doubt’ where one ought to speak of ‘offense.’ The relationship … to Christ is not either to doubt or to believe, but either to be offended or to believe.”

— Søren Kierkegaard,
Training In Christianity

I have said this before, and I’ll say it again: the opposite of faith is not doubt.

Doubt dwells with faith, just as stress dwells with growth. Growth of muscles happens by straining them. Growth of skills happens by them being tested. We become by overcoming. Faith needs stress, needs tests, needs stretching into new areas, needs maturing — and where this process is happening, doubt will be present as well. It is the thing faith needs to conquer.

The uncertainties of life are the gymnasium of the soul.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Speaking Out of Turn

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

If the quotation in this Breitbart article is even close to accurate, the head of the Roman Catholic church has just thrown one of the most important principles of first century Christian faith under the bus:

“The last thing I should do is to try to convince an unbeliever. Never. The last thing I should do is speak.”

Tom: So now the most revered figure in one of the world’s biggest branches of Christianity insists all testimony to Christ must be non-verbal. What do you think of that, IC?

Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Heights of Accommodation and the Depths of Evil

“Well, you know, many roads lead up the mountain …”

So he said to me.

People say stuff like that all the time when they want to avoid facing God. “I can do it my way,” they say, hoping that saying it strongly enough will make it true. Or, they say, “Everybody’s got a piece of the truth, but nobody’s got it all,” like the story of the blind men and the elephant (if you know that little tale).

Friday, February 09, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: What’s the Point?

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

Some people market Christianity like fire insurance, and others buy into it in fear of judgment. Then there are the folks like Joel Osteen who tell us being a believer will make us powerful and successful. Others who claim to represent Christ tell us that knowing Jesus will make us better human beings, improve our relationships or help us cope in bad times. Intellectual believers may say that in their search for truth, the Christian worldview best explains things about which they have always wondered.

Tom: Immanuel Can, there is a certain amount of rationality in most of these motives, but do they really get to the core of the Christian message?

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Stuck in the Middle with You

“Clowns to the left of me,
  Jokers to the right,
  Here I am
  Stuck in the middle with you.”

— Stealers Wheel, 1972

Doesn’t it seem these days like the world has divided right down the middle? We’ve got Conservatives and Liberals, Democrats and Republicans, Brexiters and Europhiles, open borders advocates and controlled immigration people, social justice warriors and free speech advocates, the politically correct and the deliberately controversial, individualists and collectivists … and on, and on, and on.

Iron and clay, maybe.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Contradictions and Contradistinctions

Yesterday I was listening to a secular scholar again. (Okay, it was JP.)

He was speaking about the Bible, its value as a text and its importance in human history. At the same time, he was expressing disbelief about how it had persisted. It’s a “strange old book”, he said. It’s “contradictory” and “cobbled together”. He puzzled over how it was possible it could ever have “such an unbelievable impact on civilization”. But at the same time, he concluded, “However educated you are, you are not educated enough to discuss the typological significance of the biblical stories.”

And then he went on to try.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Sexual Morality and Civilization

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

A friend recently sent me a link to this Kirk Dunston blog post on the importance of sexual morality to civilization. Dunston was struck by the relevance of Joseph Unwin’s research to our particular moment in time, as summarized in his 1934 book Sex and Culture.

Tom: Being a philosophy bug, I thought you might find this interesting, IC. I had certainly never come across Unwin’s research before. It sounds fascinating. Basically, as Dunston puts it, he “examines the data from 86 societies and civilizations to see if there is a relationship between sexual freedom and the flourishing of cultures”.

Few would attempt to argue our culture is currently flourishing.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Smeagol on a Leash

The title?

Ah, yes. Well, to get that, you’ll have to have seen the blockbuster film Lord of the Rings, or have read J.R.R. Tolkien’s original trilogy. There’s a scene in there involving a loathsome little creature named Gollum or Smeagol. He’s a kind of nasty little creature of the dark, a sinister and malevolent little dwarf, who is taken captive by two of the adventure’s heroes, as an alternative to having to kill the homicidal little maniac on the spot.

Smeagol doesn’t take well to being ‘rescued’ in this fashion; and his obstinacy and treachery compel the heroes to put a rope around his neck and lead him where he is bound and determined not to go. The subsequent convulsions of wheedling and drama are truly magnificent. You can see his performance right here.

So now you’ve got an idea of my central metaphor for the day.*

Friday, January 05, 2024

Too Hot to Handle: Friendship and Testimony

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

Earlier this season, TV host Ellen Degeneres took some serious flack for sitting side by side with former U.S. President George Bush at an NFL game in Dallas, especially because she and Bush appeared to be having a good time with one another. Twitter promptly erupted into the usual outrage-fest, with commenters calling Bush a “war criminal” and so on, obliging Degeneres to defend herself:

“I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different.”

Tom: No shortage of Christians expressed approval of Degeneres’ comments.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Hope, and the Problem with People

Last week we were talking about hope. I hope you found it hopeful.

Our key text was 1 Corinthians 13:7: “Love hopes all things.” And we were pondering the exposition given to it by the Danish Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. If you didn’t read that one, I really encourage you to go back and read it before forging ahead. Some of what I will say depends heavily upon it.

The big realization with which we left off was this: Christian hope is not ever to fail. It is to persist all the way to its fulfillment in eternity. We are to hope until we see the object of our hope, the blessing, the justice and the righteousness guaranteed to us by God, in eternity. All of life is to be lived in hope.

Now, let me mess that up.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Nonsense That Remains Nonsense

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

Tom: C.S. Lewis has a line I love. He says, “Nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.” It applies nicely to lots of religious words and concepts.

I felt a little like that reading the Moody Publishers piece you sent me this week, Immanuel Can. The author of “Worship Leaders: We Are Not Rock Stars”, Stephen Miller, has written a short promotional piece entitled “Worship Leaders are Theologians”, in which he uses one extra-scriptural term to define another. My head is spinning trying to sort out all the modern church-speak.

How far away are we getting from the New Testament here, IC?

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Quitting Before the Final Whistle

“It’s not over ’til it’s over” — so goes the famous saying in the world of sport. Pity the poor competitor who thought his team had secured victory, began celebrating, and forgot the last-ditch home run, the injury-time goal, the buzzer-beating long shot, or didn’t quite get into the end zone before spiking the ball. Apparent victory suddenly turns to horror and shame.

Who would choose to be that man?

In scripture, we find this observation: “Love hopes all things.” A hundred times, perhaps, I have seen and heard this phrase … from the pulpit, on plaques, on the radio, and of course, in every wedding ceremony since Adam. Never have I thought much about what it means.

“Love hopes all things.” Sounds nice. So what?

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Harking the Herald Angels

“So this is Christmas,” sang John Lennon, “and what have you done?”

That Lennon — never one to get a point.

Whatever Christmas means, you can trust me: it’s not about what you’ve done. When you get stock-taking at the end of the year, you can easily get more than a little depressed. How has the year worked out? Did you achieve all the goals you set for yourself? Did you always live up to the mark, always do your best, and always win what you hoped? How’s it all been going?

Merry, merry Christmas indeed!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Diluting the Faith

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

Salvation Army founder William Booth once said, “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be: Religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, politics without God, and Heaven without Hell.”

Author Daniel Sweet believes American Christianity is already there. One of the problems Sweet identifies is the dilution of the faith almost exactly the way Booth described.

Tom: What do you think, IC? Any of Booth’s formulations ring true to you? I’d argue politics was always without God, but other than that …

Thursday, December 21, 2023

A Dose of Worldliness

What does it really mean to think or to speak “like a Christian”?

Does it mean to be able to make inside spiritual jokes, or to speak bluntly about the human situation? Does it mean to think only from individual experience, or to have a view of the world? Does it mean always to have tidy answers, or to be willing to speak unflinchingly about difficult questions? Does it mean presenting oneself as the self-satisfied fount of all knowledge, or as an earnest learner, a work-in-progress still growing into new answers?

Here are two sets of song lyrics from the same year. One song is nominally Christian and the other is not. Can you guess which is which?

Friday, December 15, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: The New Social Engineers

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

In this four minute YouTube video on the subject of gender, race and identity, Douglas Murray has a word to the wise about Google, Facebook and Twitter: Big Social is actively trying to change how you think about these issues through a variety of means, including the results you see when you use a search engine online. Spoiler alert: corporations do not have your best interests at heart.

Tom: It’s rarely an effective strategy to announce to your audience, “Here’s a big plateful of tedious propaganda. Chow down.” Our would-be societal engineers are a little smarter than that, aren’t they, IC?

Thursday, December 14, 2023

The Beautiful and the Not-So-Good

All over the Christianity Today website are logos for something called “Beautiful Orthodoxy”. It’s their new flagship cause, and their main web page features a major link to a series of sparkling-toothed testimonials from people on how wonderful this is. And they’ve got a conference, organizational partners, and even churches on board.

Some well-known Christian leaders have signed on, it seems: Harold Smith, Katelyn Beaty, Sam Rodriguez, Joni Eareckson Tada … a whole list. Below the testimonials are articles declaring “The world is yearning for Beautiful Orthodoxy”, “Why we need a Beautiful Orthodoxy”, “Why We Champion Beautiful Orthodoxy” and that it’s “A Beautiful Calling”. The page ends with a wide click-on banner proclaiming “Join the Cause”.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Politeness vs. Goodness, and Other Observations

A few unasked-for observations triggered by watching Christians attempt to edify one another on social media:

Observation 1: The frequency with which the words “That’s not very Christ-like” are employed is inversely proportional to the speaker’s grasp of what being like Christ actually involves.

Hey, I’m all for the occasional stern rebuke, having benefited from quite a few of them over the years, but for a word of correction to carry real moral authority, it kinda has to, well ... ring true. Lies, misrepresentations and insults don’t prick the conscience; the Holy Spirit does.

If you have never read the Gospels or have only managed to commit to memory the well-known bits about love and forgiveness, drawing an unfavorable comparison to Someone you don’t actually know very much about is probably not your best go-to line.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Price of Proximity

God is holy.

Not a new thought, I know, but one that, in the opinion of the Holy Spirit, merits mention three times in the nine verses of Psalm 99: “Holy is he! Holy is he! The Lord our God is holy!”

Amen. In fact, he’s so holy that in the Old Testament, those closest to God tended to pay a price for their proximity.

Friday, December 08, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: American Laodicea

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

In a blog post entitled “The 10 Biggest Issues Christian Americans Are Facing Today”, author Daniel Sweet maintains American Christianity is Laodicean in character. Sweet reads the Lord’s condemnation of the church at Laodicea and says this:

“Yes, that’s America. With atheists becoming more strategic in championing their godless worldview, the increasing reticence of Christians to engage in faith-oriented conversations assumes heightened significance. Why would a Christian be reticent about living and sharing his faith in Jesus Christ? Could it be because neither the Word nor the Lord is real to them? And could that be because the doctrine presented to most Christians is illogical, self-contradictory, confusing, bland or unmotivating?”

Tom: That’s pretty harsh, Immanuel Can. Do you think it’s accurate?

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Christian, or just ‘christiany’?

When I was a kid, the local fast food place used to sell a little box of cookies as a sort of quick dessert once we had loaded up on their high-calorie burgers.

One day I was eating out with a friend and happened to notice that on the packet of these little items it said “Chocolaty Chip Cookies”. Not chocolate, “chocolat-y”.

“Why does it say that? What the heck is ‘chocolaty’?” I asked.

“Oh,” said my friend, “it’s not actually chocolate. It’s some kind of chocolate-like thing, and they can’t legally call it chocolate. So they stick the ‘y’ on the end to cover themselves.”

Friday, December 01, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Upside-Down World

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

Two weeks ago, a British court ruled that transgender fantasies now officially trump the word of God in at least one Western state.

Tom: Here’s the wacky ruling in a nutshell:

“Belief in Genesis 1:27, lack of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights of others, specifically here, transgender individuals ... in so far as those beliefs form part of his wider faith, his wider faith also does not satisfy the requirement of being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not in conflict with the fundamental rights of others.”

Well, here we are, IC, “not worthy of respect”. How will we look at ourselves in the mirror?

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Youth Problems Part 2: Life in Suspended Animation

I grew up a Trekkie.

You remember that word? It was a nerd word. A “trekkie” was a person who loved the television show Star Trek. My daily ritual was to get home and plop myself down in front of the telly and catch whatever rerun was on that day. I think I saw most episodes of the original show a half dozen times or more.

I remember one episode called Space Seed, in which the crew of the Starship Enterprise discovers a ship loaded with sleeping men and women. They’re all in what’s called suspended animation: alive, but asleep and on life support, so that they can endure a lengthy trip through space. The crew revives one named Khan, and he turns out to be a kind of wild superman they’re unable to control. He’s more than a little agitated that he and his people have become the rejects of planet Earth.

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.

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”.

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?