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Showing posts from January, 2016

There's a Good Reason We're All Going to Die

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Because hoping for the rapture is a great way to waste your life.
Most people who claim to be Christians believe that death is just a beginning. They believe that, like Christ, their body will be resurrected to glory and they will spend eternity in the presence of God. It is a sign of hope, not despair and an occasion for joy, not sorrow.
However, death is still death. Faith may calm the nerves, but it won't take away the pain. When the grave tears the breath out of your lungs, being a Christian will offer no special benefit or discount. It is the consequence of participating in a evil, wretched world and it cannot be cheated or bargained with.
Many evangelicals will tell you a different story. If you're like me, you probably grew up hearing about a secret rapture of the church that will snatch believers out of this world and take them directly into God's presence. It's a nice bedtime story that captured the imagination of a generation for one simple reason: it led the…

The Great Commission is Not the Greatest Commandment

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Religion without social justice is meaningless.

There are those who get to Matthew 28 in their Bibles and ignore virtually everything that was written before. The Great Commission, as it's commonly called, refers to Jesus' words calling us to make disciples, but it's a phrase that appears nowhere in Scripture. More importantly, it's a phrase that completely misrepresents the Christian religion. Yes, Jesus said that worldly gain is useless without a saved soul, but the good Samaritan suggests that he also cares about the body.

In this parable, Jesus describes a priest and a Levite (both educated in the law of Moses) who walked by and ignored a man nearly beaten to death. Then he describes a Samaritan (considered unclean and unrighteous by the Israelites) who showed compassion for the beaten man and took him to an inn to heal. One can only guess what Jesus was implying as far as the motives of these individuals goes, but Martin Luther King, Jr. famously made an attempt:

50 Reasons Why I Drink

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For the people who think that I need them.

When I came across the article, "50 Reasons Why I Don't Drink," the title wasn't what caught my eye (I've made it clear before how I feel about excessive listicles like this). It was the byline: "We are living in a church age where drinking has become 'hipster' for some. Even some pastors drink. Not this one."

Perhaps some people are under the mistaken notion that the church has historically been a dry community, but there's nothing "hip" about Christians drinking. We've been doing that for so long it's still a part of the Eucharist in many churches. In fact, some of my favorite beers have been brewed by monks for centuries (this one is my favorite).

As far as the "ster" goes, excuse me for wanting a more refined palate than the local Cracker Barrel can offer. That's why craft beer is so ubiquitous today that you can find it at Walgreen's. People are drinking it b…

Yes, Jesus is Allowed to Add to the Bible

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Even Scripture warns against closing the canon.

You know you were raised evangelical when one of your childhood fears was misquoting a memory verse and being damned to hell for "adding to God's Word." I remember reading Revelation for the first time--a terrifying experience as is--and nearly doubling over at these words: "If anyone adds anything to the words of this prophecy, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll." In my youthful ignorance, I neglected to consider the important qualifier "of this prophecy." However, Scripture is clear in other places that God's Word is not to be tampered with.

It's this understanding of God's revelation that has led many to believe (calling themselves cessationists) that spiritual gifts like tongues have ceased and God speaks exclusively through the Bible and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit now. They say that those gifts were given to specific individuals for a specific time un…

Let’s Take a Second Look at Those New Year’s Resolutions

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My latest for Think Christian...

It's January, which means it's time for another burst of short-lived enthusiasm. While most of the world is busy trying to refashion their physical figures with the latest fad diets, health gadgets and workout routines, those in the Christian community tend to look to their spiritual figures.

Perhaps we'll find a new Bible reading plan or devotional series. Maybe we'll get more involved in our churches or increase our giving. Some of us might even rearrange our homes to accommodate a quiet space devoted to only us and God. And by February, that devotional will have grown dusty, our giving suffocated by the economy and that quiet space overgrown with junk mail and unwashed coffee mugs.

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Photo credit: chris.chabot via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

The Bible is Not Sufficient or Inerrant

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And your faith doesn't depend on your view of the Bible.
Many Christians see the Bible as the primary source for their religion. It's their source of knowledge, authority, even affiliation. Like an oddly ironic Christian sorting hat, your view of the Bible can actually place you in a number of different denominations. Many other doctrines can be mixed and matched, but if the Bible is the starting point, then everything else will be colored by how you see it and paint you into a particular corner.
For example, the three main branches of Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism) all confess the inspiration of Scripture. Whereas other Christian groups that are not considered part of historical orthodoxy (like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses) confess a more conditional inspiration. Which means that your view of biblical inspiration can determine whether or not most of the confessing church thinks you belong in the faith.
Other Scriptural views are …