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Showing posts from January, 2017

Bible Character Studies Are the Worst

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Because Bible characters mean nothing apart from the Bible.

On January 20th, Pastor Robert Jeffress preached a sermon comparing President Trump to Nehemiah, mainly because they both wanted to build walls. On January 23rd, self-proclaimed prophet Rick Joyner said "the Jezebel Spirit" was behind the Women's March on Washington because they were seeking "to seduce God’s people into sexual immorality".
Everybody seems to find biblical parallels wherever they can. Even in colloquial Christianity, we often call skeptics "doubting Thomas's" or apostates "Judas's". We find a single point of commonality and sanctify it with biblical truth.
Some people actually profit off of these parallels (how American) making character studies and quizzes for Christians to consume and feel pious. And while I might be one to applaud any attempt to get folks reading their Bibles, encouraging the abuse of reason in the process is not what I had in mind.
Charac…

The Bible Doesn't Say How God Created the World

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But it probably didn't take six days.
For many Christians, the origin of the universe is a simple conversation: God did it. According to Genesis 1-2, he created light and darkness, sea and atmosphere, land and plants, moons and stars, sea and flying creatures, land animals and people--all in six, literal days.
Forget what scientists tell us because the same book we trust for our salvation says that there was an evening and a morning each day, not millions of years in between. Likewise, Scripture says that all creatures were created after their kinds, not by evolving into different kinds.
In other words, the biblical account of creation seems pretty straight-forward so any attempt to allegorize it must be false and fueled by a lack of faith in the narrative's face-value reading. However, I submit that any biblical text we consider clear is suspect. When the meaning of Scripture seems immediately apparent to us, it's likely because we're not reading it how the original r…

If You're Worried about Losing Your Salvation

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You might not actually have it.
All Christians will eventually question their salvation. For many, that moment will come after a relatively significant moral failure. Adults often feel too dirty to be received by God after committing adultery, but children might feel this way after cheating on a math test.
I should be unreasonably clear at this juncture. If you feel unworthy of Christ's sacrifice, you're not feeling the weight of your actions; you're feeling the weight of others' expectations. Scripture is clear: there is no condemnation in Christ and nothing can separate us from his love--that includes the worst sins imaginable.
The fact that children can feel unworthy of God's matchless love is criminal and deserves the millstone that Jesus suggested. Of course, some sins are quite devastating, but the only obstacles between us and God's love are ourselves and others. Be sure that your hatred of sin doesn't cause a little one to stumble over the very thin…

First-Hand Experience is Flawed (or why millennials don't hate communism)

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"You weren't there."
Being a man of only thirty-one years, I hear this a lot. I wasn't alive during the Great Depression, World War II, and most of the Cold War. These were significant moments in American history, and they greatly shaped the generations that experienced them.
My generation, on the other hand, grew up without any real threat of war or economic collapse. Yes, we saw 9/11, but none of us were drafted into the various Middle Eastern campaigns. Yes, there was a recession in 2008, but it's peak unemployment rate of 10% pales in comparison to the depression's 25%.
By all accounts, those of us born after 1980 are extremely fortunate having been formed by an era relatively free of adversity. Perhaps that's why so many of us don't share our parents' and grandparents' values: we didn't experience what they did and if we had, we might not be so different.
When people say "you weren't there", they're saying that thei…

The Church Does Communion All Wrong

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It's not communion if there's no fellowship with the Spirit.

Christianity doesn't seem like a real religion. You don't have to pray five times a day, light incense, or avoid eating certain animals like cows or pigs. It's mostly treating other people as you want to be treated and leading a quiet life in witness of God's love.
In fact, most of modern, Christian piety isn't based on Scripture at all but on archaic, cultural interpretations of the Bible like abstinence, sobriety, and other asceticisms. When it comes right down to it, true Christianity is little more than loving others.
Except for the sacraments. Derived from the Greek word, mysterion, the sacraments are commanded rituals that express spiritual "mysteries" through physical practices. Christians disagree on the total number but all denominations agree on at least two: baptism and communion (or as I prefer, the Eucharist).
The nature of these mysteries generated significant discussion ov…