Archive | February, 2009

Twenty-One Ways You Might Be an Evangelical

Help me out here folks . . . Let’s have some fun and for those (like me) who are Evangelical, don’t take yourself too seriously. (Take note, I am talking about pop-evangelicalism).

I will start.

1. If you are asked about the history of the church and you give the history of your local building campaign, you might be an Evangelical.

2. Believe that hell is going to be populated by Catholics (except for Mel Gibson), the Clintons, Mormons (with a special dispensation for Glen Beck), the staff of New York Times (all of them), Rosie Odonnell, all of the people from the East coast and West coast (with a special hot spot for Hollywood), Brian McLaren, and all Liberals, you might be an Evangelical.

3. If you ask someone how their spiritual life is going and you really mean “Have you been doing your morning daily devotionals,” you might be an Evangelical.

4. If your favorite vacation spot is Branson MO, you might be an Evangelical.

5. If you think Kurt Cameron should get the academy award for best actor in Fire Proof, you might be an Evangelical. Continue Reading →

Biblical Contradiction? How Would You Respond?

I just got an email from someone who has been involved in The Theology Program. They were concerned about the apparent contradictions in the Scripture. She brought up the often referred to discrepancies involved in the morning of the resurrection.

I wanted to share it with you so that I could inquire as to how you would handle this issue. I am curious. Notice, I did not say “solve” this for that would be rather assumptive and more than what I am asking. I am not saying that this is not able to be “solved” but I am more interested in how you would “handle” this, the solving might be included.

Here it is:

The Morning of the Resurrection:

Matthew 28:1-8:
A. Two women went down to the tomb. Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary.”
B. They went before sunup.
C. There was an earthquake and an angel rolled away the stone, and there were trembling guards watching.
D. The angel sat on the stone.
E. The angel invited the two women into the tomb and told them to inform the disciples that he would be showing up in Galilee.
F. The women ran away and didn’t tell anyone. Continue Reading →

A Couple of Important Announcements

I need your help, and I have something to update you on. First, your help…

1. As you all know, the Credo House is approaching its final days of the build out. Things are moving along nicely, but it is now time to get creative. I informed everyone recently about how one of the tables in the Credo House will have Luther’s “This is my body” from his meeting with Zwingli etched into it. This is not to express agreement or disagreement with Luther, but to creatively represent an important piece of Church history.

Other ideas that we have:

  • We will have a fire place with a mantle and a bookcase built around it. This will be filled with a library of theological and biblical material that is available to everyone. This will also serve as a filming background for all futher course and seminar production.
  • Around this arched book case going around the fireplace will (maybe) be a series of bricks (not sure what kind) that will have the history of the church etched into them. The lowest bricks will be of the early church fathers (names and dates) and build toward the top which will be more contemproary. On the left side will be the Western church on the right side will be the Eastern church. It will come together and have the Protestant church represented.
  • We will get some of the marbles that were used for the Jesus Seminar and mold those into a table. Again, most certainly, not to agree with what they did, but to represent a significant event in the history of Christianity.

What I need from you is ideas. Ideas that are creative and helpful in what we are doing. Think of a theological museum. I want the Credo house to be a place that people can come and learn just by looking at the walls, floors, tables, and decor. I want these to be illustrative of the history of theology and systematic theology in everything. I want children to learn by visual representation when we hold childrens theology events. I want people to come to the Credo House just to look. Whether it is the KIND of paint we use, or the KIND of wood that we use on the mantle. Help me out here. Get creative.

(Please, don’t simply give me biblical history. As important as this is, I want it to be theological in nature. In other words, I don’t want gopher wood for the trim becuase it was used on Noah’s Ark.)

For more info on the Credo House and designs, go here.

2. For those of you who have been wondering, we will be starting back up with Theology Unplugged and Converse with Scholars once the Credo House is complete in six weeks.

Thanks for your help.

What Do You Mean When You Say God is Sovereign?

Believing in the sovereignty of God is not an option of yes, no, or maybe within the Christian context. If the Bible is our authoritative guide, one must believe that God is sovereign. It is not unlike the issue of predestination. That God predestines people to salvation is not up for debate, what is up for debate is what it means that God predestines.

Both Calvinists and Arminians agree that God is sovereign, but they will often disagree as to what this means.

Here are the four primary options:

1. Meticulous sovereignty: God is the instrumental cause behind every action and reaction there has ever been. In other words, you chose white socks instead of the black socks because God caused it to happen. You have an itch on your eyebrow right now because God is actively causing it. In other words, every molecule that bounces into another is a result of God active agency in being the first and instrumental cause to the action.

This position holds little or no tension with regards to the human will and the divine will.

God is actively controlling everything.

Adherents: Hyper-Calvinists and some Calvinists

2. Providential sovereignty: While God is bringing about his will in everything (Eph 1:11), his will is not the instrumental cause of all that happens. God’s will plays a providential role in “causing” all things. In other words, all that happens happens because God did in some sense will it, but secondary causes are usually the instrumental cause behind the action. In the case of your socks, you chose them because you decided to, but it was also part of God’s will. God allows evil as it is part of his imperfect will to bring about a perfect end, but he is not the instrumental cause of evil. Continue Reading →

New York Post’s Racist(?) Cartoon

Editor’s note: Dan originally posted this essay on Feb 19, but had second thoughts on how he had worded some things.

In the Feb 18 issue of the New York Post, there is a cartoon depicting two policemen standing over a rabid chimp that one of them had just riddled with bullets. As it lay dying in its own pool of blood, the other officer quipped, “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.”

The cartoon plays off of the shooting of a chimpanzee in Stamford, Connecticut on Monday, after it had mauled a woman and nearly ripped her face off.

Of course, political cartoons always imbibe in satire and they often use current events as a metaphor to make their point. This one seemed to be no exception.

The first thing I thought of when I saw the cartoon was that this was intended to be a racial slur against the president. Even worse, the fact that the chimp had been killed seemed to suggest assassination. And frankly, I was sickened and horrified at the possibility that these were intended implications. As I read some of the early reactions to the cartoon, I noticed that some saw the same thing I saw while others did not. Some said that the monkey was just a monkey and that there was no symbolism intended, and certainly not a visual slander on the president. But as the news circulated, it seemed that people began to take up polar positions: either the cartoon was intentionally racist and mean-spirited (to say the least) or that “a monkey is just a monkey” and no symbolism should be read into the cartoon. The editor at the NY Post said that the dead ape did not represent the president but simply represented the stimulus package and its defenders in general. Continue Reading →

14 Examples of Really Bad Apologetics

I am perfectly aware that apologetics as an intellectual enterprise does not produce faith. I am neither Pelagian nor Semi-Pelagian. I recognize the limitations of the human mind and, more importantly, the human will to understand and accept God outside of the sovereign movements of the Holy Spirit.

Having said this, I am a firm believer in the necessity of apologetics as an intellectual defense of the faith. I agree with Os Guinness who says that we don’t have any right to the culture if we cannot intellectually defend our faith. I believe that God often uses apologetics as a means to bring someone to the faith just as he uses the words of men to proclaim the Gospel. God does not really need either, but He uses both. I think it was Aquinas who said, “God has not only chosen the ends, but also the means of salvation.”

Therefore, I strongly believe that you and I are to be clear when we present the Gospel and intellectually compelling when we defend it. Apologetic sloppiness and intellectual laziness is not an option for the Christian. Continue Reading →

God Bless the Broken Road

As Valentine’s Day was approaching, naturally the atmosphere was thick with merchandise marketing and sentimental expressions befitting the spirit of the day.  So it was no wonder that as I was driving into school the other day, the radio station that was tuned in to my car, hosted callers telling of their significant others, the meaningfulness of their relationship and the proclamation of their love for the other.  One person has been happily married for 22 years, another 30 years and another 14 years, all indicating how glad they were to have so many years together.  I thought it was nice, even though I am mindful that we never know what goes on behind the scenes.  Still, the fact that they would get on radio for these declarations is telling enough. Even better, the fact that is was a Christian station, I would like to believe that these were marriages centered in Christ. Continue Reading →

Doing Theology is About Pursuing Truth, Not Prejudice

How hard it is to avoid the innate desire that we all have to confirm our prejudices through our studies. Our pursuit of truth, more times than not, resembles an exercise of a passionate search for evidences that fit our presupposed conclusions. In other words, we know what we know, then we seek to confirm what we know.

It is always more comfortable to be than to become.

Becoming involves humility which calls for change. Change is not really on the agenda for most of us. Yes, we may call ourselves sinners and express the need to change, but when change presents its resume, we reject it, contriving a long list of excuses. It does not matter whether it has to do with theology or an argument with your spouse, we believe we are right and we will do everything to present our case in the best possible light. It is a fearful thing to even consider that we might be wrong.

I believe that this methodology is dishonoring to God, no matter what you are trying to defend—even if it is the truth. This methodology is sin. Better: we use this methodology because we are sinners Continue Reading →