Archive | July, 2012

An Open Letter to Homo sapiens

Dear Homo sapiens,

This has been a rather unfortunate week for you. Since the world’s attention will turn to London next week with the Summer Olympics, I decided a voice must speak up to make next week more civilized.

A vile disease spread through your species this week. I don’t see it as frequently as in prior times and prior places but for some reason it struck twice this week. Please heed immediate caution. If you desire the Olympic games to go smoothly, do your best to eradicate the spread of this disease. If honesty continues to spread there will be no limit to its brutality.

It was brought to the attention of humankind, this week, that Dan Cathy is pro-family. The president of Chick-Fil-A opened his hate-filled mouth stating, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Unbelievable. Unconscionable. Who knew Chick-Fil-A was a Christian organization? Sure, they’ve always been closed on Sunday but wasn’t that because they are backwoods NFL and NASCAR fans? It turns out they are closed on Sundays to allow employees to go to church, be with their families, and observe the Sabbath. Cathy further added insult to injury stating God may know best how a family should operate. Can you believe a Christian would make such a ridiculous statement?

Where will this end? Will Atheists start telling people there is no God? Will my mortgage company tell me what I owe them? Will Apple store employees start making fun of Microsoft? If a Christian will honestly communicate orthodox Christian ideas, will honesty ever stop infecting Homo sapiens? We need to stop the madness. For the sake of humanity.

If one encounter with honesty was enough to ruin the week for the species, a second encounter hit the planet. An epidemic may be on the horizon. An NBC reporter asked Mitt Romney whether London was ready for the Olympic games. Romney questioned the readiness of London to host the games. Thankfully the British press quickly sought to eradicate this honesty coming from the lips of Romney.

Continue Reading →

Confessions of a Torn Dichotomist

(Lisa Robinson)

Our humanity matters. It matters to the Lord and it matters in our Christian walk. I have not always recognized this or believed it. Like most Christians, I have been taught through scripture and reinforced through teachers that Christianity meant being more Christ-like, more spiritual, more conformed to who I was called to be. It meant recognizing that I’m a new creature in Christ, redeemed, forgiven, transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God. It meant forgetting those things that were behind and pressing forward to grab hold of why the Lord grabbed hold of me. It meant learning, growing, serving, fellowshipping, giving, and maturing.

Now that’s all fine and good, certainly scriptural and commanded. We have the earnest intent to move forward in the Lord, that is until our humanity gets in the way. And even when it does, it is easy to spiritualize what ails us. It’s an attack of the enemy, a sin that needs removal, a lack of conformity to who we were called to be.  In order to be a good Christian, we keep moving in, keep pressing and holding on.  We rely on the Holy Spirit’s power, yet there is struggle, lots of struggle.  Depending on what kinds of things we are dealing with in our humanity, the struggle can be more severe for some than others. There is a reason for this.

I’ve come to learn that when life happens, things impact us.  The more bad life happens the more badly it impacts us. Try as we might to conform or in same cases, just perform, it can seem like an uphill battle.  But in order to walk fruitfully in our Christianity, the worst thing we can do is ignore the issues that plague our humanity. Why? It is who we are and how we have been impacted by life.

So when I speak of our humanity I think it’s important to make a distinction between a trichotomist and a dichotomist. The more I study and reflect on my position, I’m coming to a much firmer conviction that humans are made up two parts – body (material) and soul  (immaterial). This is the dichotomist position, which maintains that soul is interchangeable for spirit.  Trichotomy means humans are made up of three parts – body, soul, and spirit. Now the problem I have with this position is that it separates the part that is regenerated from our humanity.  Because that is what our soul is, the seat of how we think, feel, and make decisions. But when all the faculties that make up our soul are not in synch because of hits by life, it tears our soul. Continue Reading →

The Mistake of Leviticus

My daily Bible reading plan recently took me to the front door of Leviticus. Oh the venerable wasteland of Leviticus and its neighboring partner in crime Numbers. The battleground where so many great Bible reading intentions met their end. If someone is able to survive Leviticus the chronology of Numbers will surely put them out of their misery.

Now we would never say this out loud (we are all too churchy for that), but the Book of Leviticus seems to be a mistake. The Israelites, they needed Leviticus to help them get everything up-and-running after the Exodus from Egypt, but do we in the 21st century really need this book? Has it been a waste of time, energy, ink and perfectly good sheep skin to preserve this book for over 3,000 years? Is Leviticus a mistake?

As I stood staring once again at the front door of Leviticus I considered three options. Option #1: Skip it. Keep my momentum going and move on over to Deuteronomy. Option #2: Open the door and read it with my nose plugged. I know it’s going to taste bad, I’ve been here before, but I’m going to take it anyway. Option #3: Read it again and hopefully not hate it.

In the last year I’ve taught many times about the Bible. I frequently mention 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Whenever I teach through these two verses I always emphasize a few key points. First, I always lay heavy into the word “All.” I usually say something like, “All does not mean just the New Testament; All does not mean everything except the Minor Prophets; All means All. All, every bit, of Scripture is intentionally breathed out by God.” I then eventually spend time hovering around the words “competent” and “equipped.” I have some faithful jokes I usually insert at this time giving the idea that no person grows up hoping to become incompetent and ill-equipped. We all want to be competent people. In order to all be competent we need all of the Bible.

Which of the three options did I take with Leviticus? Taking a deep I need to practice what I preach sigh I chose Option #3: Read it again and hopefully not hate it.

Continue Reading →

Theology Unplugged: Problem Passages 14 – What was Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh?

Join Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley and Sam Storms as they discuss Paul’s thorn in the flesh? Was it something specific that we can know about, or was this just a way of saying “pain in the neck”? Find out here.

Why Am I Excited About the Problem of Evil?

To “excite” something is to arouse or to stir up. At least, that is the connotation I am using here. What I mean in saying we are excited about the problem of evil is that we bring it reality or recognition. Another good word is to exacerbate. Yes, that is it. We are exacerbating the problem of evil. Let me try some other synonyms (hang with me please!): In our society today, the problem of evil is accelerated, agitated, amazed, aroused, awakened, electrified, energized, incited, inflamed, irritated, kindled, provoked, quickened, roused, stimulated, taunted, and vexed. Finally, the problem of evil is maddened. Forget exacerbated . . . maddened works better.

We have all been overwhelmed by the news of the shooting in Colorado. At 12:06am last night, I was overwhelmed with excitement as I was sitting in the theater at AMC waiting for the last Batman installment to begin. While I was soaking in joy, others were running in fear from evil incarnate  – a madman bent on ending people’s lives. This is a burden that we have all had to bear as we tremble once again at the reality of the darkness housed in humanity. Beyond this event, the local news has no lack of bad news. On top of the shooting in Colorado, there was a brutal stabbing. The details were gruesome; one person was stabbed over seventy times. There was a young girl kidnapped, with no significant leads. My heart sank as I looked at her parents’ faces as they pled with the kidnappers to return their little girl. A young teen died in a car crash as he was racing one of his schoolmates. Then there were the updates on unresolved crimes and tragedies of the past few weeks.  These were all in my home town. When I turned to Fox News, it did not get any better. The burdens continue to mount. A shooting that took place in another state just off the highway with no leads. The continuing coverage of a tragic shooting where several young girls were shot by a disturbed father who then shot himself. (I have two girls who are in school. What do I do?). Financial pressures across the world are just getting worse. Then there is the continual fear of other nations acquiring nuclear weapons.

All the news is bad news. Not only this, but it is bad news about people I do not know and will likely never meet. At my local church (where I do know the people), there was more bad news. Not too long ago a twelve year old girl hung herself—twelve years old. Her parents are heavily involved in our church. We also had many other funerals within a short period. Then, in my Sunday school class, there were more needs. A prayer request about a mother who has an aneurysm, a father who has cancer, and a baby who was in danger of being born prematurely. My own family has troubles of its own that we add to the list. My mother never recovered from her stroke. Her left side is completely flaccid. Four days ago, she was in a car wreck while riding with my niece. She broke her knee . . . her only good knee. Now we can’t even change her diaper as she has no way to stand at all. My wife’s mom is going through many health problems. Many in my family are very depressed from the heaviness of my mother’s situation and lingering pain of my sister’s death. Not to mention my friends who need salvation, relocation decisions, loss of businesses, and various other issues.

The problem of evil is excited beyond belief. Why do we have so many burdens to carry? Continue Reading →

The Rise of the Roman Catholic Church in a Nutshell

Here is what I taught last Tuesday at the Credo House.

In order to be a good Protestant, you must be a good anti-Catholic. I am not Catholic. I am Protestant. There are many doctrines of the Roman Catholic church that I am against, but there are many things that I appreciate about them.

Both Protestants and Roman Catholics have our lineage in the catholic church. Yes, I just said that. I am catholic, but not Roman Catholic. I’ve got some info for you: If you are a Christian, you are catholic too. This differentiation between catholic and Roman Catholic is part of a solid Protestant polemic against Roman Catholicism. It normally drives Roman Catholic apologists crazy, since it undermines their belief that they are the one true church. But it is true; Protestants are catholic Christians, but not Roman Catholic Christians. The word “catholic” was used very early to describe the church. It simply meant “universal,” describing the church’s universality. The church is not exclusive to Gentiles, Jews, Greeks, Romans, those in the East, or those in the West. The church that Christ built is universal, or “catholic.”

However, there was an institutional arm of the catholic church that eventually became known as the Roman Catholic church, complete with its own hierarchy, doctrines, and liturgical distinctives. The type of institutionalization that eventually characterized the Roman Catholic church is one of the major issues the Protestants battled against, believing that it had corrupted the catholic church to the core, even obscuring the Gospel itself. We now call it the Roman Catholic church due to its identification with the “seat of Rome.” This seat, according to the Roman Catholics, is the perpetual seat of ultimate authority that Peter passed on. It is known today as the papacy, which is the office of the Pope. The Pope sits in the seat of Rome, having the infallible authority to guide and direct the church in matters of faith and practice. He, along with the magisterium, form the institution and can, through “ordinary” or “extraordinary” means, intervene in church life and doctrine in a binding way. If a heresy arises in the church, the institution can condemn it, thus securing the faith of the church. Intervention rarely takes place (though this is debated), but this infallible safeguard  can theoretically step in at any time and protect the church from corruption.

How did this come into being? Protestants are right to point out that this institution is not biblical. If this is the truth, and this system is not biblical, how did such an institution come into being?

The answer is very complex, but let me attempt to give you a bird’s eye view by means of some charts!

Apostolic Succession

First, let’s get introduced to a concept called “apostolic succession.” This is not simply a Roman Catholic concept. As we will see, in its uncorrupted and ideal state, apostolic succession is very important for the church, Roman Catholic or not. Notice the chart. It starts with Jesus. Jesus handed his teaching over to twelve Apostles. The Apostles were authorities in the early church. When they spoke, people listened. Why? Because they were trained by Christ. They were witnesses of his death, burial, and resurrection. They carried unique authority in the establishment of the church. Continue Reading →

Jeremiah 29:11 As a Life Verse?

(Lisa Robinson)

As a follow to this post on life verses, I’ve been reminded that Jeremiah 29:11 is a fairly common one claimed as a personal, individual promise. But is Jeremiah 29:11 a promise for us today or was it related to a particular situation at a particular time? Was it an individual promise or a corporate promise?  Voddie Baucham has some interesting things to say in this 6 minute clip. (Although I wish he would have left out the God killing part given controversy over recent statements).

Examining vs 11 in context of the entirety of what Jeremiah tells a different story than how the verse has been claimed. It’s why I wrote here that we have to careful when turning narrative or prophetic discourse into a personal prescription for today. As Baucham points out, it can have very harmful consequences.

What do you think? I would be interested to hear a defense for using it today.

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