Theology for the Long Haul

Saturday, August 28, 2010

You're Already An Idiot!

Me too

The Apostle Paul taught that the “Word of the Cross” was (is) foolishness to those who are perishing (I Cor. 1:18; see also 2:12-14). This statement, as I understand it, draws the logical implication that all Christians believe something that is and will always be illogical in the eyes of non-Christians.
As a seminarian, I have often been perplexed by teachers who confidently assert both the historicity and regenerating implications of Christ’s death and resurrection, while at the same time questioning and sometimes rejecting the historicity of miraculous Old Testament stories like the “global flood,” or “parting of the Red Sea”. When approached and asked to explain their lack of confidence in the biblical record, often the reply involves some reference to the number of scholars who don’t think it really happened, followed by a declaration that it makes Christianity “look foolish to assert such stories as historical.” The idea is… that by making Christian history more believable or reasonable, more people will believe in Jesus without having to be viewed as an idiot.
Here’s my thought… If we minimize the biblical stories of God’s mighty and miraculous deeds, how can we expect someone to accept that God is real, has a divine Son, that this Son came to the earth, lived a sinless life, died an atoning death for all of humanity, and rose from the dead. Doesn’t that seem like nonsense? I mean, either God is in the business of working miracles, or we don’t have any hope in Christ. So why do we draw conclusions like this? (My personal opinion is that scholars have caved under pressure from secular scholastic institutions, academic journal editors, and liberal peer pressure in trade for professional legitimacy). Since there is no substantiated (historical, scientific, or otherwise) argument against the old Bible stories, other than probability, I see no reason to question them. The Apostle Paul had a similar debate with some Jewish academic types… I think he had the right idea…

“Now, if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.”(I Corinthians 15: 12-14 NASB)

What’s more important, a “legitimate” profession, or a legitimate faith? That is the question.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Need Help Getting Sleep At Night?

I just posted a paper I wrote last year titled, Bad Thinking: Modern Scholarship’s Neutralization of Conservative Minority Voices. Check it out if counting sheep isn't getting the job done (or if you have a bone-to-pick with the modern critical paradigm). Click the link listed under "pages".

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Themelios July 2010 is availiable

Everything from a critique of Brian McLaren to a discussion on Ancient Near Eastern parallels. Check it out. Here is the link

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Empty Churches with Open Arms

My family and I had the privilege of living in Amsterdam for about 5 months in 2004-05. While there, we were struck by both the post-Christian culture and the emptiness of the churches. A salient example was the Oudikirk (old church) which towers above the neon windows of the Red Light District. There it stood... a symbol of faith and holiness surrounded by prostitute windows, drug dealers, and thrill seeking tourists. A church that we learned was at one time overflowing with people and filled only with art and spiritual emptiness.

For the last decade the debates have raged throughout American churches over issues of morality and lifestyle choice. There has been a push for the normalization of life decisions that the Bible identifies as sinful. These same decisions are no longer debated in European culture. The debate there is over and done, and the verdict is that any lifestyle chosen is okay. The result over time has been two fold; 1) churches in Europe have become more “accepting” and “supportive” of immoral lifestyle choices; and 2) the same churches, over time, have become more irrelevant and largely abandoned. Somewhere along the way people, having found the affirmation they were seeking, had no reason to remain in churches that taught that the Bible was sometimes authoritative and sometimes not. Simply put, if it wasn’t all true maybe none of it was true.

In the United States the battle rages on. Scholars and pastors behave more like teenage girls rummaging through the closet looking for what fits and gains peer approval than keepers of God’s Word. Many churches are coming to the conclusion that the more “accepting” they are of people, the more their churches will grow. They may be right in the short term. But eventually people will ask themselves why they are following a religion where many of the teachings have to be explained away, deemed as no longer culturally relevant, or obscured to a point beyond recognition in order to become acceptable to its followers. . Like the church in Europe, if the debate is won in favor of those who wish to minimize the Bible’s authority and influence, the church will be abandoned by the same.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Most Common Question

What should I do with my life?

It’s funny throughout the years of my life and interaction with people few questions have been asked more. The question comes most commonly to us at significant moments. 

Should I marry this guy/girl? What should my major be?

And now as a church planter I get calls/emails/etc. regularly from guys wondering if they have what it takes. In, and out of, for that matter, pastor circles it is known as the question of calling. 

Should I be a church planter?
Should I pastor an existing church?

The odd part of the question for me is most folks want to be called in some mystical, miraculous way. But it doesn’t happen like that very often, at least not for me. Jesus didn’t shine the cross shaped symbol in the night sky and stand on a roof waiting for me to arrive. I didn’t flip open my Bible to II Hesitations, drop my finger on Chapter 3 verse 5 and read replant this dying church. My call came from jail. Literally. Late on a Friday night a friend called, asked me for a favor and without realizing the implications of saying yes, I accepted. The craziest part was…I wasn’t even looking for a calling. I wasn’t asking the question. All I was doing was trying to faithfully serve right where the Lord had already put me.
And that to me is the real answer to the question of calling. Are you already being faithful? If you can’t be faithful to the girl while you are dating….God doesn’t want you to get married. If you flunked out of Algebra….God isn’t calling you to be a math teacher.

If you aren’t serving with integrity and faithfulness in a local church, making disciples, gathering people who want to follow you & haven’t read your Bible in a week….God isn’t calling you to church planting.
The reason we see so many men get their calling out of the wilderness is because the Lord was teaching them that faithfulness always come before fruitfulness. Most guys need to serve right where they are first and worry about the call second. I have seen few folks through the years who were simply walking with Jesus everyday being faithful to what was in front of them who didn’t get the call when Jesus rang.
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