Archive | July, 2010

What Makes Two People Married or Divorced?

Kristie and I are married. We have the certificate to prove it. The state says we are married and so I believe it. So does my church. So do my church friends. We even wear wedding rings. We also tell people we are married. We have it all. We made our vows thirteen years ago and we are husband and wife.

I have performed the marriage ceremony for dozens of couples. I know the ropes. I have performed them at churches, chapels, by lakes, in a law office, and even on my back porch (twice!). There are some key ingredients I require. 1) A man and a woman. 2) A witness. 3) Vows with specific promises. 4) A marriage certificate. Once the man and woman are present, numbers 2 and 3 are easy for me to wing. However, I can’t do the certificate. The couple has to. It is an issue of the state.

One time I married a couple and forgot to put my “book” and “page” number on the certificate. Another time, we forgot the certificate all-together and had to sign it later in the week (I think after the honeymoon). Were they married? I timidly told the excited (but very nervous) couple not to worry about it. I explained that it was their commitment to each other between God and men that made them united in marriage in God’s sight. They were free to do what married couples do. They were relieved to say the least.

But was I right? How much say does the state really have in whether a couple is married or not? Conversely, how much say do they have if a couple is divorced?

There is no place in the Bible that speaks about the rules for getting married. Believe me, I have looked. No ceremony instructions. No mention of government regulations. No suggested vows. Nothing about a ring, a church, a white dress, a tux, or even someone to preside over the ceremony. The Bible seems to give much freedom to individuals and cultures to mandate these things as they will.

But what really makes two people married?

Here are some options:

1. Living together in a symbiotic relationship (mutual dependence).

2. Sexual intimacy.

3. Making vows of commitment.

4. The state certificate.

5. Self identification as being married.

6. Pronouncement of an officiant.

7. Having children together. Continue Reading →

Top Ten Biblical Discoveries in Archaeology – #6 Pontius Pilate Inscription

This post is a continuation of our Top Ten Biblical Discoveries in Archaeology series. To see the complete series please click here.

Pilate’s Role

Who is Jesus? You and I are sitting down in the Credo House, enjoying a delicious Luther Latte. We’re talking about the important questions of life and I lean forward asking you that simple question, “Who is Jesus?” What do you think about him? Is He everything the Bible communicates? Did He actually live, die for the sins of humanity, and rise from the dead? Do you consider Him your Lord? Is He the ultimate King of the Jews? Is He the King of Kings? These are important questions for all of mankind to consider.

One man, according to the Bible, was uniquely called upon to wrestle with the identity of Jesus. His name: Pontius Pilate. Pilate was the Prefect (governor) of the Roman province of Judea from 26-36 AD. The Jewish high priests at the time were unable to legally sentence a man to death. Most of the leading Jews wanted Jesus killed. In order for Jesus to be killed the death sentence had to be carried out under Roman law. The Jewish leaders needed Pontius Pilate to condemn Jesus to death. Early one morning a mob drives Jesus to Pilate. Pilate becomes responsible for deciding the fate of Jesus.

John 18 describes the scene:

So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:33-38)

Wow, what an amazing dialogue. Jesus forces Pilate to wrestle with his identity. Where does the conversation go from here? Pilate tells the crowd he believes Jesus to be innocent. The crowd finds a loop-hole in the system asking for a criminal, Barabbas, to be released from prison and for Jesus to be found guilty. Pilate appeases the crowd by sending Jesus away to be flogged. After experiencing the horror of flogging, the Bible tells us Jesus is sent back to Pilate. Pilate and Jesus have another conversation described in John 19:
Continue Reading →

Can a Divorced Christian be Remarried?

There has been some recent discussion about this issue in my part of the woods. As with some other issues, I am open to amending my theology, especially when it is in an area of great controversy such as this. In fact, I have nuanced and refined my stand on this issue since I last wrote on this. I know how much many Christians who love the Lord struggle with great distress concerning divorce, remarriage, and what is expected of the committed Christan.

The question is: Can there be remarriage after divorce for the committed Christian?

This is not an easy question to answer by any means. While I was on pastoral staff at Stonebriar Community Church, I could not dodge this issue by reducing it to some objective theological position as I would have liked. Practically speaking, it was always before me. I performed many marriages while I was at Stonebriar, so much that I was called the “marrying man.” In many of the marriages I performed, at least one of the two people had been through a divorce. Each pastor on staff had a different position concerning the issue of remarriage after divorce; I think mine was one of the most liberal (relatively speaking). Stonebriar gave us some freedom in our decisions of whom we would marry. If another pastor did not feel comfortable performing a ceremony, they would probably just say “I will send you to Michael, he will marry anyone!” (That is not really true, but there was only one1 that I turned down in my six years in the pastorate.)

As briefly as a blog will allow, I want to give you my current position on the matter and hope that you understand what a struggle this is. I am in no way dogmatic about this, but I do have some thoughts. Generally speaking, I believe that people are either too liberal or too rigid when it comes to this issue. I think that there needs to be a middle ground (as I do with many issues). I hesitate while I write this due to the fear that people will find in my view an excuse for divorce, which is the last thing I want or intend. Yet at the same time, I believe that if what I propose is true, it, like all truth, will always undergo the risk of misapplication. Continue Reading →

Top Ten Reasons the Evangelical Did Not Cross the Road

Top Ten Reasons why the Evangelical did not cross the road

10. Because there was not a tea party on the other side of the road.

9. Because he was not sure WWJD in any given road crossing situation.

8. He wanted to avoid the man begging for money on the other side. He just needs to get a job.

7. The road was named after Bill Clinton.

6. He did not read anything about crossing the road in Purpose Driven Life.  Continue Reading →

Theology Around the Web in 60 Seconds, 7.23.10

1. Here is a nice new blog that I found that looks promising: “Evangelical Monk

2. The house church movement makes headlines in Denver.

What do you think of house churches?

3. Here is a good post by Joe Carter on the different views concerning the End Times.

Although he did not include Progressive Dispensationalism which is the majority at Dallas Seminary now.

4. Went and saw “Salt” with Angelina Jolie today.

Ummm…the story sounded good. Is was much better than I expected. Clean good time. Thumbs up.

5. Note to self: Don’t rub eyes while gardening. Continue Reading →

Top Ten Reasons Why the Emerger Did Not Cross the Road?

I know. They don’t go by the name emerger anymore. But the attitude is still out there and they need representation on this issue.

10. Because he did not want to be labeled.

9. Because he was not absolutely certain that he could cross since in order to get to the other side, you would have to go half way, and in order to go half way, you would have to go half way to the half way, and in order to go half way to the half way, you would have to go half way, ad infinitum.

8. Because it was not a labyrinth shaped road.

7. Because only arrogant people cross roads. 

6. He was afriad it was the “Romans Road.” Continue Reading →

Top Eleven Reasons the Arminian Did Not Cross the Road

11. He is the one who is in charge. No one is going to make him do anything.

10. We are not sure if he will cross or not. No one knows. Not even God.

9. He has felt the draw of the other side of the road and has resisted thus far.

8. He heard someone yell at someone on the other side calling him a dork. He thought he said “Dordt.” It scared him.

7. Two guys named John and Ed were on the other side. It was too big of a risk (and they looked mean). Continue Reading →

Top Eleven Reasons Why the Reformed Theologian Did not Cross the Road

11. A woman already crossed. We don’t follow women.

10. We don’t believe the road is safe. It wasn’t built between 1500-1700 A.D.

9. We believe that “road crossing” ceased with the death of the last Apostle or the completion of the New Testament.

8. The crossing guard was only helping people cross from one side to the other, so we are suspicious. Is this a denial of double pre-destination?

7. Neither Romans 9 or John 6 say anything about crossing roads. Therefore, it is unbiblical.

6. The “Walk” sign was gender neutral. It made us mad.

5. The road was called Tiber Ave. Continue Reading →