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Jesus Doesn't Save

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It seems like the news has been stuck on repeat lately. Every few months, we hear about another mass shooting, another sexual harassment lawsuit, another unarmed black man shot to death by a police officer. Any Christian would find it hard to disagree that our world is in need of Jesus.

But in what way? Most Christians confess that "Jesus saves", but few realize this means different things in different types of churches. In fact, there are at least three main theories of atonement (the "how" Jesus saves). And each one will have a significant influence over how you live and interact with the evil in the world.

Three Theories of Atonement

For most Protestant and Catholic Christians, atonement means Jesus paid our debt. This is known as the satisfaction theory. Our sin offended God, so Jesus satisfied him on our behalf. Catholics, in particular, will say that Jesus paid the price for our sins, whereas many Protestants will say he paid the penalty for our sins (this is…

Respect Your Spiritual Parents

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Guest post for The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews:

"That's weird."

One of my Jewish colleagues was describing his recent visit to a jewelry website. He was shopping for a necklace to give his daughter when he came upon one with four Hebrew letters: yod, hey, vav, hey.

These are the letters that spell God's special name, as given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the rest of the Jewish people. I grew up in an evangelical church where this name was celebrated in song, so the four letters appearing on a necklace did not seem weird to me at all. But it sure did to my friend.

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The Biblical Grounds for Divorce Aren't Biblical

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I hate divorce. I've witnessed how it can destroy individuals, families, even entire communities. Sadly, our culture glorifies the unbridled pursuit of self-fulfillment and made marriage little more than dating with paperwork. When relationships are defined by selfishness instead of sacrifice, love becomes another trend to be discarded at the season's end.

But I've also witnessed how divorce can redeem relationships. Believe it or not, my family is better off since my folks got divorced. All situations, good and bad, are opportunities for redemption. The church should understand this better than anyone. But just like our culture needs to be re-educated on marriage, the church needs to be re-educated on divorce.

If you've been married and a Christian for any length of time, you're probably familiar with the "biblical grounds for divorce" nonsense. Depending on your church's denomination or capacity for compassion, these grounds would include one or mo…

2 False Gospels Your Church Believes

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Few churches today teach the gospel. That statement may ring hollow if you attend a church that teaches salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Indeed, most churches teach that, but that doesn't mean they teach the gospel.
The gospel is more than a thing to know, or intellectual assent as theologians call it. It is a thing to do. While every Christian affirms that the answer to "what must I do to be saved?" is believe in Jesus, they all define what that looks like a little differently. More to the point, they all have different qualifications for salvation.
Make no mistake: there is only one qualification for salvation, only one thing we need to do. And it is evident in all of Scripture--from the law, prophets, and writings to the gospels and epistles.
But there are two, common false gospels peddling a do-nothing spirituality complete with multiple qualifications that vary by denomination, political affiliation, even region. And your church likely believes at …

None of the Law Applies Today (and that's why you should read it)

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American Christians get a D- in Bible reading. According to the Barna Group, only 61% of practicing Christians have read the whole thing.
It's not completely their fault. Few churches teach every book in the Bible, especially those from the Old Testament. Jeremiah is long, Leviticus is boring, Ezekiel is hard to understand, and Haggai is hard to pronounce (it's hag-GUY, if you're wondering). 
Many churches and even entire denominations treat the Old Testament as just that: old. It's the first draft, the demo, the beta release of Christianity. And now that we have the New Testament, everything that came before is obsolete and unnecessary for faith.
Unless it's useful in condemning the culture. Genesis 1 is used to condemn evolution, Exodus 21 is used to condemn abortion, and Leviticus 18 is used to condemn homosexuality. For people who don't like reading the Old Testament, they're quite adept at quoting it when it suits them.
But they don't quote all of …

Evangelicals Don't Love Gay People

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Never tell an evangelical they're unloving, especially towards gay people. The bleeding heart pageantry that follows will make you think you accused them of punching a kitten. They're not mean or bigoted or judgmental. They just care about people in this life and the next.
Sure, you could love somebody today by giving them food, clothing, and comfort, or you could save their precious soul from an eternity of destruction. Jesus' miracles of healing the blind and the sick do seem a bit paltry in comparison. All that matters is helping people follow the one, true savior. And all his rules.
Unlike the original two-word invitation, "follow me", evangelicals invite you to follow Jesus so long as you're not gay or transgender or having sex before marriage or anything else they call "sin" but don't practice themselves (for the record, yes, they do recognize that gossip is also sinful, but they're a little fuzzy on the line between living in sin and da…