Saturday, November 29, 2008

6 Literal Day Creation

picked this up from the blog of Glenn Hendrickson

Like Glenn, I'm not trying to make too much of a statement, but it is a healthy way to step back and look at the situation. Because really when God was creating the universe, what was a "day"?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Man Arrested For Stealing Communion Wafers

What have we become? This news article retells the story of a man who was arrested for stealing comminion wafers because he was hungry.

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. – Police in said they arrested a Connecticut man after he
tried to steal communion wafers during a church service. The Martin County
Sheriff's Office said 33-year-old John Samuel Ricci, of Canton, was cornered by
fellow churchgoers when he grabbed a handful of wafers from the priest during
communion services Saturday.
The Stuart News reported that Ricci was being
held down by six or seven offended parishioners when deputies arrived at St.
Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Jensen Beach. Police say two parishioners,
ages 82 and 61, received minor injuries in the scuffle.
Ricci was charged
with two counts of simple battery, theft and disruption of a religious assembly.
He was being held Tuesday on $2,000 bond at the Martin County Jail.

I understand the man did not go about getting some food in the proper manner, but is holding down a hungry man, and jailing him on battery, theft and disruption of a religious assembly the best way to share the love of Christ with him? Seriously, what example in scripture could they have used to justify their actions? While Jesus was holding a religious service some men cut a hole in the roof of the building, and dropped a man down the whole, disrupting the service. What was Jesus reaction?
And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are

He didn't get angry and start yelling at them for ruining the building. He didn't get mad they they had interrupted his sermon. No, the first thing out of his mouth is "Son your sins are forgiven." Jesus not only doesn't get upset, but he forgives the man of his sins. He then heals the man and sends him on his way. Why then do we think we can live our life so differently than that of Christ, and continue to say we are following his example. What would Christ's response been, had he been present at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church when this happened? I imagine he would have met the mans physical needs with the wafers, told him of bread in which he would never go hungry again, and forgiven the man of his sins. I only hope that these congregants will read the gospels and be convicted of their behavior.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Importance of Serving Your Wife

Todays blog is from the Desiring God Blog, It was written by David Mathis

The apostle Peter writes,

Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

This is strange at first glance. How does caring for your wife connect to having unhindered prayers?

Here’s Wayne Grudem’s challenging commentary:

So concerned is God that Christian husbands live in an understanding and loving way with their wives, that he “interrupts” his relationship with them when they are not doing so. No Christian husband should presume to think that any spiritual good will be accomplished by his life without an effective ministry of prayer. And no husband may expect an effective prayer life unless he lives with his wife “in an understanding way, bestowing honour” on her. To take the time to develop and maintain a good marriage is God’s will; it is serving God; it is a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight.” (1 Peter, 146)

Christian husbands shouldn’t feel that time given to their wives is “time away from the real ministry.” Time invested with our wives is time well spent. It’s God’s will—“a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight.”

So I encourage all who read this blog to spend some extra time with your wife. I know exactly what he means by saying that husbands may "feel that time given to their wives is 'time away from the real ministry.'” Soon after getting married, I started a new ministry and occasionally felt like this. When I became overwhelmed and realized I wasn't accomplishing much actual ministry without her by my side I realized how important this issue was. Remember that your family is your FIRST ministry, that why not having a good family life excludes one from eldership.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Church Sign Theology Thursday #4

I guess the theology you could pick up from this particular church sign all depends on if you listen to popular radio. If you had never heard of Katy Perry's song you may think kissing a girl will send you to Hell. The sign is obviously making reference to one of 2008 biggest pop songs "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It." by Katy Perry.

The interesting thing is that Katy claims to be a Christian. She actually got her start in her music career as a Christian musician. Both Perry's parents, Keith and Mary Hudson, work as ministers. Keith is a self proclaimed "prophet/evangelist" and "End Times Messenger." Katy's own mother stated "I can't even listen to that song. The first time I heard it I was in total shock. It promotes homosexuality and its message is shameful and disgusting. When it comes on the radio I bow my head and pray."

What does Katy have to say? From Blender
A total unknown working with the biggest names, Perry must have talent to burn. “No, I’ve just got really big boobs,” she says. “And my sweater gets tighter every week…”

This post isn't about the problems of the pastor who posted the sign, or even of a young girl who seems to have issues with identity and sexual experimentation, but rather on the problems associated with CCM. I honestly think there is an utter breakdown in the Christian music industry. Its like I discussed before, you just can't use Christian as adjective. The hypocrisy and theological error in the Christian music world was so apparent to me as I ran a music venue that regularly had "Christian" artists. Many are young and inexperienced, and they are out on the road with no spiritual leadership. Others get into labeling themselves as a Christian band, just to get easy gigs at Churches and Christian music festivals. Even those that seem very grounded need help. Those kind are often very zealous and harsh in their speaking to non-Christians. I actually had the hardest time with this group. This was the reason we had a no preaching rule, because you had no idea what kind of crazy things these kids would start saying.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cast The Vision

So you have a sneaking suspicion that you can see better than your Armenian friends. You may be on to something, you should at least be able to see better than your nonreligious friends. For some reason I don't think this is what my Christian Leadership professor was talking about when He said "Cast the vision." The following is from courtesy of the Riddleblog.

It might be clichéd to say that religious people see the world differently, but new research finds that Dutch Calvinists notice embedded visual patterns quicker than their atheist compatriots.

Culture has long been known to distort visual perception, says Bernhard Hommel, a psychologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands who led the new study.

For example, one previous experiment found that Asians tend to dart their eyes around a photograph, while North Americans fix on specific people.

To see if religious differences might skew perception, Hommel's team tested 40 Dutch atheist and Calvinist university students, who, religion aside, had similar cultural backgrounds.

Looking inwards

On a computer screen, Hommel's team showed participants a large triangle or square made of either smaller triangles or squares. The volunteers had to focus on either the big object or its component shapes, and indicate whether they were square or triangular.

Both groups recognised the large shapes more quickly than small, embedded ones, but the Calvinists picked out the smaller shapes 30 milliseconds faster than atheists, on average - a small, but significant, difference.

This could reflect a greater focus on self than external distractions for Calvinists, says Hommel.

He suggests it may even be a cognitive consequence of their religion and speculates that Calvinists might be more inward looking than atheists because they have lived their whole lives with an emphasis on minding their own business.

In the future, Hommel plans to give the same test to Catholics, as well as Muslims and Jews, but he must first figure out how to eliminate other cultural differences that could mask any insights. "It doesn't make any sense to compare Iranian Muslims with Dutch atheists," he says.

"This is a thought-provoking study," says Ara Norenzayan, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia. "Their finding is consistent with the literature on cross-cultural cognition - that cultural traditions involving independent view of the self, such as Calvinism, encourage a more feature-based processing style."

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Visual Guide to the Financial Crisis


A great illustration for anyone wondering "What happed to our economy, and why are we paying for it?"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Question of Biblical Inerrancy

One of the biggest mistakes I see evangelicals make concerning the Bible is over the issue of inerrancy. Most who make this mistake seem to have no real understanding of what inerrancy means, and the error falls on both sides of the fence. Christian Liberals often make the mistake of assuming the Bible is inerrant on issues like historical facts and other details. Christian Conservatives often make the mistake of assuming every letter of the current English translation they have is the inerrant word or God.

Problems associated with the Conservative Christian's stance.
Most of the conservatives problem centers around a misunderstanding of what inerrancy means. One of the most common misunderstandings is which scripture is inerrant. The conservative will usually interject "All scripture is God-breathed, and free from error!" But what is he really implying. Does he really think that his NIV translation is free from error. If it is, then why is it different from other translations? This is where the only-KJV argument comes in. This die-hard will say that only the "Authorised" King James Bible is the inerrant word of God, and all other English translations are bastardized. Can this really be true? Was the King James Bible really free of error. Study into the King James Bible history will reveal this to be a falsehood. I've already talked about how the KJV translators inserted the idea of the mythical cockatrice into scripture, but there are many other examples. For instance, the regular fundamental Christian will say only the 66 books of the Holy Bible are the inerrant word of God, but the 1611 translation of the KJV included the Apocrypha, and was only taken out more than a century later because of pressure from protestants and the tightening cost of printing Bibles. The fact is only the original autographs, the original letter penned by the Biblical author, is guaranteed to be free from error. There is no Biblical promise that later manuscripts, translations or copies would equally be inerrant or free from error. In fact we know of many copy errors and variant manuscript readings that exist.

Problems associated with the Liberal Christian's stance.
The Liberal Christians belief the Bible is not free from error, usually stems from the previous finding. They are perplexed that if the Bible has variant readings, then how could we possibly consider it inerrant? Again I must remind them that it is the original autographs that were free from error. Yet we can study and apply textual criticism to try to remain as close to the original autographs as possible. I implore those Christians who believe the Bible to includede error to contemplate this quote:
"If Jesus taught biblical inerrancy, either He knew it to be true, or He knew it to be false but catered to the ignorance of his hearers, or He was limited and held to something that was not true but He did not know it." - Harold Lindsell
So, should we view Jesus as all-knowing God, guilty of deception, or having a limited understanding of truth? The only alternative that leaves us with our Christology intact is that Jesus knew the scripture to be inerrant and that His knowledge was correct.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Does It All Mean?

I've been made a major focus change in the blog to cover more theology, and to try and weave that with how it fits into our culture and life. I regularly read and submit articles to Digg and Reddit, and have noticed, as anyone else who uses those sites, the number of anti-Christian posts. Of course it comes with the territory, and doesn't bother me much, as I feel most attacks are about stupid things Christian have done. I agree Christians do very stupid things, but I want to focus on how that does not reflect the doctrine of Christianity, but rather problems within the Christian subculture. For instance their are many ignorant Americans, who do stupid things everyday. There are even many political leaders in the United States who seem to lack even a basic understanding of the United States Constitution. I do not feel however, that those people should be a poor reflection on the ideas laid out in the Constitution. Much like I feel ignorant "Christians" should not be used as an example to claim error in Christianity. So I have decided to focus on some basic Hermeneutics, the principles and process of Biblical Interpretation, for the next few days. I feel most peoples problem with Christianity stems from an incomplete understanding of the Bible, so I want to share the correct way to study and interpret scripture.

To start I want to focus on one of the biggest problems I have with many Evangelicals. Many evangelicals say "I take the Bible Literally." To that I say "As apposed to what?" By saying one takes the Bible literally, they are actually saying "Others don't take the Bible literally, and they are wrong." So what do they mean by not taking it literally?

There are three ways scripture can be interpreted
  1. Literal
  2. Figurative
  3. Symbolic
These three ways are not an all or nothing way of interpreting scripture, but rather all three must be used for different parts of scripture. For instance When Jesus said "Take and Eat; this is my body." did he mean for his disciples to be cannibals? Of course not, and this even has to be explained later, because some people did take it literally. It should be taken figuratively. What about Revelation 12:1 "And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." Should we then take this passage to mean there will be a women literally clothed with the sun, standing on the moon, and flaming balls of gas on her head? NO! This is an example of symbolic language.

Many of the examples that I come into contact of scripture that must prove the Bible is irrelevant to today fits into this example. It is figurative of symbolic literature, that someone took literal. There are more complex issues on which type of literature certain passages are, such as the creation account in Genesis. There are so many Christians who are afraid of science because it seems to conflict this creation account. I'm not going to say one way or the other, but Christianity does not rest upon if the creation account was a literal six day period.

(BTW, If you are propagating things like this Coloring book,
please READ A BIBLE.")

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Is it impossible to live like the Bible says?

A.J. Jacobs spent an entire year trying to follow the 600 laws found in the Old Testament, and has concluded that it is impossible. Thats the whole point of this article and Jacobs book "The Year of Living Biblically", though it should be called "The Year of Living Torashly." You see agnostic writer for Esquire, A.J. Jacobs, decided to live by the Old Testament laws for a year. This is not living "Biblically" since it only includes half of the Bible. That would be like saying you are a Supreme Court Judge, but only follow the Bill of Rights, and throw away the Constitution. It can also not be said that he was trying to live as a Jew, because he did not follow the interpretion of the Law as found in the Talmud and Midrash. The book is written as comedy and seems light-hearted. Jacobs comes to the following conclusion:

Well, shouldn't we just act that way spontaneously, anyway? "It's a lot easier to do good if you put your faith in a book that requires you to do good," muses Jacobs, intriguingly linking that faith to the book rather than to its alleged author.

"How can these ethically advanced rules and these bizarre decrees be found in the same book?" he wonders. "And not just the same book. Sometimes the same page. The prohibition against mixing wool and linen comes right after the command to love your neighbor. It's not like the Bible has a section called 'And Now for Some Crazy Laws.' They're all jumbled up like a chopped salad."

I can't help bu think that if Jacobs had focused on both the Old and New Testament, he may have had a different revelation. A year of following the OT Law can make one a better person, it can keep you from lying, killing, and stealing, but it will likely leave you feeling like an utter failure and disillusioned. You see the whole point of the Old Testament is to show God's standard, and how humans cannot achieve that standard. If Jacobs had included the New Testament he likely would have noticed Jesus departure from these traditions, even though he makes many of them harder to follow. The Bible shows us the unreachable standard of God, but shows us the grace shown to humankind through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The justification of the sacrifice of Jesus pays for the sins of man. The very definition of the Hebrew word we call "sin" shows the point of the OT, it means "to miss the mark."

Jacobs also seems to not make up his mind as to how he want to go about his social experiment. At first he sticks to following the 600+ laws of the OT, but later he begins to add some Christian influence minus Christian scripture. He attends Jerry Falwell's church, visits a creationist museum, and a gay/Christian group among other various organizations. I'm confused on why he would add these fundamentalist Christian group into his seemingly Jewish experiment, save for their humor aspect. Obviously this is his point, and he's really not striving to live out the scripture as laid out in its original context, but to produce a humorous book which he can sell great quantities. I say had he been more consistent in his experiment, it would make a better read.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pro-life, What does it really mean?

The pro-life argument is one that drives many elections. This previous election was obviously not immune to that argument. Many politicians use the pro-life stance to get the conservative, Christian vote, and many churches push pro-life as the defining issue in elections. But what is pro-life really? Does that stance really mean one is for all life, or just for the life of unborn babies. Does that then mean that our fight for the life of people should end at birth. This seems to be a big difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives say life begins at conception and ends at birth, liberals say life doesn't begin until birth, but continues through ones entire life.

We need to embrace both parts of this.
I agree that life begins at conception, but we need to fight for the lives of all people, even after they are born. So what does this look like? I think it means supporting groups like Charity Water that build clean water wells, and groups like Compassion International and Samaritans Purse. I think it also means not supporting war or terrorism. The killing and suppresion of people is always just that. If we are pro-life, then how can we be pro-war?

So should we support pro-life candidates?
My friend Sam said
How does one hold fast their convictions? Well, for me as an individual with a “pro-life” conviction, I held to my convictions by 1) not having an abortion, which is not hard for a guy, and 2) voting for “pro-life” candidates. I never picketed an abortion clinic or handed out pro-life literature or went to any kind of “pro-life” rally. So basically, I voted.
I too have voted pro-life, not in this election because I abstained from voting, but thats a different story. I have become frustrated with pro-life candidates though. While I know that there has been legislation passed to limit abortions, I feel ripped off by these candidates. It seems every time they promise, if elected, that abortion will become illegal. So we elect these people for this sole reason, while all the time our government is turning to pot. Instead of focusing on issues that may actually be changed in our government, the republicans side track us with this issue.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

Sam also said
But after further reflection I came to two conclusions: 1) while President-elect Obama wouldn’t be doing anything to decrease the number of abortions in our country, he isn’t exactly forcing ladies into having abortions and 2) the best way to serve the unborn is by putting my money where my mouth is (and my time) and serving moms with unplanned pregnancies rather than simply trying to legislate against their “choices”.
And this is where I encourage you to support your pro-life stance. Like he said, put you money where you mouth is, get in the trenches, and instead of picketing abortion clinics show love and support to scared pregnant women. This is what I feel Christ would do. He would show love to the weak and struggling; help them carry their burdens. I posted this after the election because I didn't want to get too political, but focus on how we should live our values. If your are pro-life, think about how that affects your whole life, not just election day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Churches turned into inter-faith centers in UK

As churches in England continue to dwindle in their numbers, many churches are abandoned or listed on the market. Many are seeking to use these buildings now for secular purposes. I must say its a sad turn of events. I'm not against turning unused churches into community buildings or business, but it is disturbing to see a building once used to glorify God be changed into a "space for inter-faith learning" I do think they would be great libraries or concert halls, and if used to help build communities, we can hardly protest them being used rather than sit vacant. Still we can always hope for something better, right?

Here is the original article.

Mr Burnham said while it was important to preserve the architectural beauty of some of the churches, many of which have listed status, they may serve the community better by becoming secular.

His comments follow his suggestion earlier this month that libraries could benefit from being modernised with coffee bars and abolishing the silence rule.

Mr Burnham said if the UK could not preserve its churches: "We need to find new purposes with the support of the local community and we need to increase secular interest in our church heritage."

He used the example of the recent multi-million pound renovation of All Souls Church in Bolton, an Anglican church which has "found a new multi-faith, multi-racial community to serve."

He added: "My department worked with The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) to save All Souls.

"The CCT came up with a brilliant solution. The community did not need a museum piece but they did need somewhere to meet. They needed a gym, a health centre, space for community education and space for inter-faith learning."

He also used an example of a former church, St Peter's in Liverpool, which had been turned into a themed restaurant and bar called Alma De Cuba in 2005.

"My mum said the last time she set foot in the building was 40 years ago for confession," he said, adding "Not everyone will be happy with that transformation. Part of me was uneasy but to her credit, my mum, a good Scouse Catholic, shrugged and raised a glass."

A Church of England spokesman said Mr Burnham's suggestion would only apply to a minority of its 10,000 churches now deemed redundant - about 30 a year.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jesus Wants His Name Off Your Car

Man, this car astounds me. I can not begin to explain how much I loathe "Christian" bumper stickers. Seriously, whats the purpose? Do the drivers of these cars really think people are going to pull up next to them at a stop light and ask them how to receive eternal life? Certainly people aren't going to be swayed to the gospel by being cutoff by someone in a car covered with Christian and Republican stickers. Perhaps they'll see you pulled over on the side of the road and think you are witnessing to a police officer. I think its funny that the person has a sticker that says "Obama does not support our flag" and another that says "America bless God" superimposed over an upside down flag. Doesn't seem like they're supporting the flag either, but I guess they're exempt since their middle name isn't Hussein. By the way, I would tell this person, while the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, it is not the summation of knowledge. Perhaps its time to put away the Zionist literature and Chic tracks and pick up some works by Luther, Calvin or Spurgeon.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mythological Creature in Scripture

The Cockatrice
In yesterday's post I mentioned the cockatrice. I made reference that it was only found in the King James Version and left it at that. The Cockatrice is a mythological creature with the body of a rooster, and the tail of a serpent. The cockatrice was first described late in the twelfth century, based on an entry in Pliny's natural history. It was a duplicate of the basilisk, but with wings, and a bit reversed in the process of how it was formed.

The question is if the cockatrice wasn't imagined until the 12 century AD, how did it find itself in the stories of Isaiah and Jeremiah written thousands of years before. It is most likely that the writers of the King James Bible got the idea from the LXX, which translates the Hebrew word צפﬠוני as basiliskos. The Hebrew word צפﬠוני, according to Holladay's Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon refers to a poisonous snake or an Aegean viper. The Greek word basiliskos likely also refers to a poisonous snake rather than the basilisk of the middle ages. This is where it is easy to see how the writes of the King James Bible made their mistake in the 17th century. They followed the trend set by John Wyclif, who had translated from the LXX and called the created a basilisk.

It is interesting to note the word צפﬠ, most commonly used in its form צפﬠוני, is used five times in the Hebrew text Isaiah 14:29, 11:8, 59:5, Jeremiah 8:17, and Psalm 23:32. The word is translated "cockatrice" 4 times in the KJV, but in Psalm 23:32 it is translated as "adder." So even the KJV translators were not consistent in their translation of the term.

The ESV translates the term as adder in all cases, and the NIV translates it as viper. The original term therefor meant a poisonous snake, the KJV writers were confused by a similar term in their day which referred to a mythological creature, and newer translations such as the ESV and NASB have corrected such error.