Archive | July, 2014

How to Blow Any Theological Conversation?

A Tale of Two Book Reviews

First, read this excerpt from a book review about a person who claimed to have a near-death experience.

“I have never heard such a stupid claim. The author is not the slightest bit informed on the subject of truth. There is not a single doubt in my mind that she is being intentionally deceptive. Everyone knows that near-death experiences are completely made-up. The Scriptures are clear and unmistakable. People do not become angels.”

What stands out to you? Now read this:

“I, personally, have a hard time believing this. It would seem that our understanding of the Bible is much different. Maybe she is being deceptive, or perhaps she’s self-deceived. Who can say for sure? Near-death experiences are fraught with many difficulties due to their subjectivity. However, it does seem clear that the Scriptures teach that people do not become angels.”

Notice the difference? Both are essentially saying the same thing in two different ways. That’s the reality of most situations. There are usually (at least) two ways we could respond (see graphic). 2 Ways to Handle a Conversation

My Attitude Was Tempered

As I’ve been reviewing books and blogs over the years, my attitude has changed. This was not an overnight change. I began to see people with integrity. I began to see intellectual honesty.

I saw humility and a true desire to engage the issues. I saw people who were seeking truth more than they were seeking to justify their emotional prejudice.  These people talked different than others. They handled others differently. Their swing, swagger, and argumentative gait was so cool and compelling.

They seemed to really believe what they claimed to believe. And, to my surprise, this was novel. I am now attempting to become more intentional in my engagement with others when I discuss theology. From teaching The Theology Program in a formal classroom setting to a laid back evening for Coffee and Theology while sipping a Luther Latte, my goal now is not simply to sharpen what I believe and why, but how I handle this belief in conversation more responsibly and effectively. There are issues of attitude and form at play. Issues of attitude tap me on the shoulder and really grab my attention.

Issues of Attitude

  • Overstatement
  • Unqualified Superlatives
  • Non-Contingent Propositions

This probably isn’t the list you expected. Hang with me. I’ll explain. Many of your lists might include: Continue Reading →

The Mark of the Beast – What Does the Bible Say?

The Mark of the Beast

Dr. Mark Hitchcock (of Faith Bible Church) recently stopped by the Credo House to teach a course on the book of Revelation. Because Dr. Hitchcock’s class was a 27-part seminary-level course he talked a lot about every facet of Revelation, including defining some crucial terms for us.

This is the third in a series of videos where Dr Hitchcock helps us get a basic understanding of some of the special terminology associated with Revelation. In his previous two videos Mark addressed: What is Eschatology, What is Armageddon.

Video Transcript

Well the Mark of the Beast, probably people who don’t know anything about Bible prophecy, that’s probably the one thing they’ve heard of before.

It’s associated with the number 666.

It’s mentioned in Revelation chapter 13 verses 16-18, the Mark of the Beast.

And the Mark there it says is the number of a man’s name.

Continue Reading →

4 Gospels or 4 Forgeries

4 Gospels or 4 Forgeries

4 Gospels or 4 Forgeries?

My name doesn’t carry much weight. I’m not that big of a deal in popularity or authority. There is no need for a press release when the words “by C. Michael Patton” appear on a post.

Because of my lackluster, I could have tried to manipulate things in order to ensure that you read this post. I could have said John Piper wrote it. After all, I do have control of the admin panel and could create Dr. Piper as an author. He’s so busy, he’d probably never know.

Dr Piper is so busy. He’d probably never know.

I might do that because my name doesn’t have as much weight as John Piper’s. I might have thrown out a broader net and said this post was by Billy Graham. Or I could have gone for a whole different audience, if I said it was by Pope Benedict XVI. In any case, were I to pull off such deception, my message would (in theory) be held in higher esteem. Now, I am a Christian. While sinning is something I (unfortunately) practice, I don’t think I could ever stoop to such a low place, even if it gave me more credibility (at least initially).

Free Video – Session 1 from the Church History Boot Camp

Forgeries, Pseudepigrapha, and Plagiarism in the Early Church

The practice of taking credit for the work of another is called forgery. Pseudepigrapha (“false writing”) is the formal name of the genre. Today, we simply call it plagiarism. It may surprise you to know that this practice was not unheard of in the early centuries of the church. Very often, people of undignified stature would attempt to give strength to their ideas and beliefs by attaching another’s name to it. This is especially the case in the story of Jesus.

Continue Reading →

Homosexuality in the Church (Part 2) – Theology Unplugged

Homosexuality and the Church Part 2

Homosexuality in the Church (Part 2)?

On this episode of Theology Unplugged, Michael, Tim, Sam, and JJ continue their series, with part 2 of “Homosexuality in the Church”.

Homosexuality is one of the most volatile issues in Christianity today. But why? Why has sexuality taken center stage?

Our view of Christ and culture is not one where we are circling the wagons in order to not be infected by the broader culture. ~ JJ Seid

Their sexuality is a temporary endeavor […] I would much rather lead someone to Jesus than lead them to heterosexuality. ~ Tim Kimberley

The hosts go to the very beginning of the Bible, the book of Genesis, to jump-start a discussion about Biblical sexuality.

In Genesis, God sets forth His creative design for humankind. He made them male and female. He made the two genders for each other. This was the original design.

How has that original design changed over time? Is change in this definition good? If some change is acceptable at what point does change become bad?
Continue Reading →

Changing Doctrine? How Do Protestants (And Others) Justify Themselves?

Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Views on the Development of Doctrine

How do Protestants justify their belief in sola fide (salvation by faith alone) if it didn’t exist prior to the sixteenth-century? How do Catholics explain their belief in the Assumption of Mary when it wasn’t dogmatized until the twentieth-century? How does Eastern Orthodox justify their under-developed beliefs and tendency to punt to “mystery”? What’s going on with all this changing doctrine?

Free Video – Session 1 from the Church History Boot Camp

How do Protestants justify their belief in sola fide if it didn’t exist prior to the sixteenth-century?

How we answer these questions is our doctrine about the development of doctrine itself. Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and Catholics have to account for the way truth has been progressively understood over time. Here are the problems each tradition faces:

Protestant Problems

Why do we hold so strongly to doctrines such as sola scriptura and sola fide when, prior to the Reformation, many (if not most) in the church didn’t? The typical answer is “because the Bible is clear about these teachings”. While true, it causes us to wonder, if the Bible was so clear, why did these doctrines take so long to develop?

If the Bible was so clear, why did these doctrines take so long to develop?

Catholic Problems

In 1950, the doctrine of The Assumption of Mary was dogmatized in Catholicism, and enforced under pain of excommunication. However, it finds no biblical warrant and little support in church history.  In fact, the first mention of the Assumption of Mary we find in church history isn’t until the fifth-century. Why wasn’t it heard of before this? Why did it take so long for it to become dogma? This is only one of the many doctrinal “developments” Catholicism must explain. Here is a partial list:
Continue Reading →

Armageddon – What is it? Mark Hitchcock Gives the Definition

What Is “Armageddon”?

Dr. Mark Hitchcock (of Faith Bible Church) recently stopped by the Credo House to teach a course on the book of Revelation. Because Dr. Hitchcock’s class was a 27-part seminary-level course he talked a lot about  every facet of Revelation, including defining some crucial terms for us.

This is the second in a series of videos where Dr Hitchcock helps us get a basic understanding of some of the special terminology associated with Revelation.

Watch Dr. Hitchcock’s first video where he defines the word eschatology in less than a minute.Dr. Mark Hitchcock Teaching About Armageddon

Video Transcript

Yea, Armageddon, again, is one of those words… probably most  people that don’t know anything about prophecy have heard the word Armageddon.

In our popular culture today it just kind of means something devastating, a disaster.

You know there’ll be a terrible hurricane and someone will just say it was Armageddon.

They kind of use it in that way.

But Armageddon is an actual place. It’s a geographical location up in the northern part of Israel.

The word “har” (Ἁρμ) in Hebrew means “mound” or “hill”. And, so it means “mount Megiddo” or the “hill of Megiddo”.

And that’s a location up in northern Israel that overlooks what’s called the Jezreel valley.

The Jezreel valley is about 20 miles long, about 14  miles wide.

Napoleon himself said it was the ideal battlefield on the earth.

And the Bible says that at the end of time and the end times that all the armies of the world are going to be gathered there to this place called Armageddon in the land of Israel.

The Bible doesn’t tell us why they’re gathered there. So we don’t know for sure.

But that will be the place where armies are gathered when Jesus Christ returns at His second coming.

So Armageddon and the second coming of Jesus are the two events really that culminate this current age.

Disclaimer: The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Credo House, Credo Courses, or any of our sponsors.

Heretics – Why I Love (Some) of Them

I Love (Some) HereticsI like rebels. Let me rephrase… I like some rebels. They go against the grain, refusing to be bound by tradition. In movies, they’re the heroes. They’re the ones who don’t “fit the mold”. They’re the ones musicians write songs about.
But they gain our respect and confidence anyway. They are the heretics.

What Is Heresy?

Being labeled a heretic, in any context, isn’t considered a good thing. A heresy is a departure from an essential bedrock doctrine; for example, denying the deity of Christ or His bodily resurrection. And while heretics claim to be part of the Christian tradition they’re not true converts. Converts believe the essentials. Heretics don’t.

What Is Heterodoxy?

Heterodoxy is the milder cousin of heresy. It’s a departure from, or denial of, a non-essential doctrine; for example, denial of the canonical status of Second Peter. While this departs from traditional Christian belief, it is not something that would cause Christianity to fall apart. When most people use the word heresy or heretic, they actually mean heterodoxy. That’s how I’m using it in this article.
Continue Reading →

Homosexuality in the Church (Part 1) – Theology Unplugged

Homosexuality

Homosexuality in the Church?

On this episode of Theology Unplugged, Michael, Tim, Sam, and JJ launch a new series, “Homosexuality in the Church”.

Homosexuality is one of the most volatile issues in Christianity today. But why? Why has sexuality taken center stage?

Common Questions About Sexuality and the Church

The hosts address some critical questions in this series. Is your question included in the list below? If not, let us know in the comments.

  • Can a Christian be homosexual? Can a homosexual be a Christian?
  • How should the church respond to homosexual members?
  • Does the church pick on homosexuals?
  • Should scripture have the last word? Should cultural influences be included?
  • Are there legal issues to consider?
  • Is there a moral standard that binds all people? Does it have anything to say about sexuality?
  • Does the Bible have much to say about this issue or is it largely silent?
  • Is the church using scripture to justify its treatment of homosexuals, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered people the way it did African Americans?
  • Does the Bible condemn homosexuals to a celibate lifestyle?

Further Reading: Can Homosexuals be Saved.

This controversy shows no signs of dying down. Christian churches everywhere will have to deal with questions about sexuality. The Bible isn’t silent on this issue. Starting in Genesis, human sexuality and marriage are in focus. From the Old to the New Testament the Bible is full of relationship instruction.

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ITUNES As always, Theology Unplugged centers around what scripture says. However, in this episode, the actions of the church also take center stage.

Sam Storms traces the development of this issue from the 50’s to today. He tries to pinpoint why this issue has come to the forefront of evangelicalism.

Has your church had to deal with this issue? Did they do well? Do you think the church should accept openly homosexual members?