Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Chesterton’s Everlasting Man, Introduction [quotes]

05 Dec

The point of this book, in other words, is that the next best thing to being really inside Christendom is to be really outside it. And a particular point of it is that the popular critics of Christianity are not really outside it. They lllll are on a debatable ground, in every sense of the term. They are doubtful in their very doubts. Their criticism has taken on a curious tone; as of a random and illiterate heckling. Thus they make current and anti-clerical cant as a sort of small-talk. They will complain of parsons dressing like parsons; as if we should be any more free if all the police who shadowed or collared us were plain clothes detectives. Or they will complain that a sermon cannot be interrupted, and call a pulpit a coward’s castle; though they do not call an editor’s office a coward’s castle. It would be unjust both to journalists and priests; but it would be much truer of journalist. The clergyman appears in person and could easily be kicked as he came out of church; the journalist conceals even his name so that nobody can kick him. They write wild and pointless articles and letters in the press about why the churches are empty, without even going there to find out if they are empty, or which of them are empty.

Now the best relation to our spiritual home is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it. It is the contention of these pages that while the best judge of Christianity is a Christian, the next best judge would be something more like a Confucian. The worst judge of all is the man now most ready with his judgements; the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill-tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which he never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows not what, and already weary of hearing what he has never heard. He does not judge Christianity calmly as a Confucian would; he does not judge it as he would judge Confucianism.

For those in whom a mere reaction has thus become an obsession, I do seriously recommend the imaginative effort of conceiving the Twelve Apostles as Chinamen. In other words, I recommend these critics to try to do as much justice to Christian saints as if they were Pagan sages.


Is Discussing Masculinity Anti-Woman?

26 Jul
Finger faces: angry woman, sad man

Umm… women can be brave too?

Due to a story I’ll type sometime, related to the category “Pink Sweater Jesus,” I’ve been looking into masculinity in our culture and in my faith. I came across an Christianity Today blog post criticizing John Piper for saying to an audience of men that Jesus and Christianity were masculine.

In addition to a fundamental misunderstanding of the history of the feminine “feel” of Christianity (here’s a hint: the church doesn’t feel feminine because there’s more women in the church, there’s more women in the church because it feels feminine, but more on the history of this later), the post and many comments are very strongly reactive. If Piper was telling men about being masculine, he must be insulting women!

Two commenters responded to a statement by Piper about masculinity being associated with bravery. A man responded that being told he had to be brave felt like being forced into a straight jacket. A woman commented that this must mean Piper doesn’t think women can be brave.

I haven’t read or listened to what Piper said here, but stating that masculinity is associated with something:

  • does not mean every man is characterized by it and
  • does not mean women or even femininity isn’t characterized by it.

For example,

“Manly men are considerate and respectful”

is not a statement to emasculate inconsiderate men, nor a statement that women are inconsiderate and disrespectful.

Much of what I’ve been reading is talk/instruction/advice to men, not to draw a contrast or even touch the subject of what women are like or ought to be like. It’s just talking to men about being men.

Yet, it seems like unsafe territory in a world when people are eager to take offense.


Turning “Follow the Money” into Heroic Leadership. Obama on Gay Marriage.

10 May

How is Time considered credible to anyone with garbage like this?

They say the arc of history bends toward justice.

Who says it? Who are you quoting, or rather, misquoting? It was the Republican Baptist Pastor Martin Luther King Jr. who made this quote by Theodore Parker famous. Parker, it seems, was referring to the end of slavery, a world wide immorality that characterized the entire world until movements of Christians in England and Republicans in the US changed everything. King would respond to the question of how long it would be until equal rights with “Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

So “Toure” starts by framing the argument on MLK’s belief that denial of people’s Declaration rights (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness) would end, but misquotes King to remove the absolute morality (inserted “history” and removed “moral universe”), which was the basis of King’s statement.

If that’s true then as a nation we’re having a hard time bending on the issue of gay rights.

Ok… If the arc of history bends toward justice, we’re having a hard time bending on one issue. So if the arc of history doesn’t bend toward justice, then we’re not having a hard time bending on this issue? We’re only at sentence 2 and the writer’s ability to construct sentences is already in question.

“gay rights.”

This is a curious phrase to apply to a discussion of marriage. My marriage is a marriage and would be regardless of whether the state recognized it. People were married before the government granted marriage licenses, thus it doesn’t seem that the government’s distribution of certificates actually affects marriage.

What are rights, anyway? Looking back to the founding documents, we see rights to life and liberty, to speech, gun ownership, the press, etc.

  • The Right fights for the right to life, even for unborn humans and people in comas. The Left seeks death in both cases.
  • The Right fights for the right to liberty (to do what one wishes with one’s self and the product of one’s labor without infringing on these same rights of others) by pushing for less regulation and lower taxation. The Left believes the government can decide what to do with you (Obamacare) and your stuff (taxation and redistribution of wealth) better than you.
  • The Right fights for the right to the pursuit of happiness through pushing for private property ownership and less regulation. The left fights against this, believing you are too dumb to pursue happiness and can’t be trusted with tough choices such as what food to eat and what snacks your kids can buy.
  • The Right fights for the right to free speech and press by pushing back against Leftist policies like the fairness doctrine.
  • The Right fights for the right to bear arms. The Left consistently seeks to limit this right.
  • The Right fights for the free exercise of religion by working to preserve people’s ability to live out their religious beliefs. The Left has made it illegal to do so in many situations and with Obamacare are working to force religious hospitals and other businesses to either cease exercising their religion or cease providing health care.

Rights are consistently defended by conservatives, and consistently assaulted by progressives. Apparently they’re just seeking progress in taking away your rights.

But this week will be remembered as an historic turning point because President Obama threw political caution to the wind and came out as the man who can put principle over politics in announcing his support for marriage equality. “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” Obama told Robin Roberts in an interview to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.

After Joe Biden came out of the closet as a gay marriage supporter, news broke that several big dollar donors would stop supporting Obama unless he changed his position to support the same. That’s what the article’s author means when he “threw political caution to the wind and came out as the man who can put principle over politics” : He did what would get him more money. Wow. Caution to the wind, principle over politics. Reversing positions to get more money. That’s inspiring! It’s heroic!

With Obama’s declaration that he “personally” thinks one thing, and publicly thinks the opposite, believing the federal government should stay out of it, we have clarity: instead of still trying to hold both sides on the issue, he’s… trying to hold both sides on the issue. So, with his public policy as the president remaining exactly the same, what’s changed?

  • Obama’s earliest record on the issue was in 1996, when he answered questions, in writing declaring “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages” as he ran for Illinois Senate.
  • In 2008 he spoke on stage with Rick Warren, saying “For me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union… God’s in the mix”

The only change here is that Obama’s temporary pro-traditional-marriage position was picked up when it would benefit his running for office to claim Christian values, and dropped when politically expedient as a fundraising effort for re-election.

The “Toure” article goes on to get facts wrong, contradict itself, and commit most logical fallacies you could name. If you enjoy pain, you can read the entire article. It’s disappointing that this type of poorly written inflammation of an article is considered reputable and worthwhile, but I’m not a leftist, so I’m not calling on people to destroy him and his employment as he has done with Rush Limbaugh.


Work It! aka, Obedience Excemptions for the Rich

25 Apr

This post is part 3 in a series exploring the biblical principles around retirement and saving for retirement.

We have been trained in our culture and in our Christianity to value retirement. What does it mean to retire? To stop working.

To withdraw from one’s occupation, business, or office; stop working. – American Heritage Dictionary

Leave one’s job and cease to work, especially because one has reached a particular age. – Compact Oxford Dictionary.

Some declare the Bible has anything to say about retirement, thus it’s amoral and anything goes. While our translations of the Bible may not contain the word “retirement,” the Bible has a lot to say about work. Since retirement is simply to cease working, we must understand what the Bible teaches about work.

Why do we work?

Who should work?

How long should we work for?

Are we to cease working, and if so, when?

Work is not a curse. It’s tempting to think so because of the curse in Genesis 3:

    And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
(Genesis 3:17-19 ESV)

Work is referenced here, but Adam had already been put to work.

    The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
(Genesis 2:15 ESV)

Further, Eve was created to help Adam.

    Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
(Genesis 2:18 ESV)

Work was not the result of the curse. Work is an essential reason we exist. So what was cursed? Adam wasn’t cursed. The ground was.

Conclusion 1: When we choose to stop working, we’re going against how God created us to be.

Work is also one of the 10 commandments:

    “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)

Humankind’s calling as seen in Adam is reconfirmed as a command here. One of the reasons we work is because it is commanded, as part of loving God. How is it loving God? By modeling our lives after him. God worked for 6 days and rested, so we are commanded to work for 6 days and take 1 day of rest, every day a reminder of God.

So we’ve seen 3 reasons to work from Genesis and Exodus:

  1. It’s how God created us to be.
  2. God commands us to.
  3. It is living a life modeled after God.

Conclusion 2: When we choose to stop working, we are considering ourselves exempt from God’s commands.

Conclusion 3: When we choose to stop working, we cease living a life modeled after God.

The New Testament reiterates the importance of working:

    Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.
(2 Thessalonians 3:6-11 ESV)

There’s multiple principles here: the importance of paying for what one uses; the importance of toil and labor; the consequence of not working is to become a busybody. The word “busybody” in the Greek is a hapax logomena, that is, a word only used once in the Bible, so the meaning isn’t totally clear. It may mean busying one’s self with non-work, such as a hobby; it may mean meddling in the affairs of others. One thing is certain from the context:

We become bad people when we choose to stop working.

Conclusion 4: When we choose to stop working, we ignore Paul’s warnings of what we will become.

Conclusion 5: When we choose to stop working, Christians should keep away from us. Yikes!

There is no biblical declaration that it is ever ok to choose to stop working. By holding to the idea that saving for a self-sufficient retirement is appropriate, we’re saying the rich can purchase exemption from God’s commands. Would we do this with any of the other 9 commandments? Is it okay for the rich hold another god before God? To steal? To dishonor their parents? To murder?

On passage that is used to justify retirement is the end of Numbers 8, which the ESV even subtitles “Retirement of the Levites:”

    And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”
(Numbers 8:23-26 ESV)

The Levites were not to stop working! They were to stop doing service in the tent of meeting and change jobs to serve by keeping guard.

It’s quite true that we may not be able to go full pace at our jobs for our entire lives. The biblical response is not to stop working, but to find a new career that we can do well.

Choosing to stop work is in contradiction to the Bible.

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comment section. I’m just working out what all of this means and am writing up the biblical arguments as I see them. Please feel free to show where I’ve gone wrong.


“Do not store up:” If He Meant It, Would You Dare?

24 Apr

When Jesus gave the command to not store up on earth, could he have meant we are not to store up on earth?

This question has resulted in a strong backlash and plenty of insults. I thought asking the question of Western Christians might be like kicking a hornets nest, and that suspicion proved true.  Today I was told that I was forcing the idea of saving for the future on this text where Jesus speaks of saving for the future. I was called a socialist for suggesting we obey the biblical commands to take care of one’s elderly family members who can no longer work.

How I have reacted (and now see others reacting) to this text, reminds me of my children. Sometimes my kids pretend they don’t hear me. If they can pretend they didn’t hear or didn’t understand what I told them to do, they have justification, in their little minds, for doing whatever they are doing. We adults do the same thing with scripture. The Bible is crystal clear on some points and vague on others. Sometimes we get those mixed up because it’s more comfortable to be, for example, secure in an age of accountability, and unsure of whether our gossip is really a big problem.

I wonder if it’s worth backing off a bit and thinking about how strong our dedication to Christ is. We know that God is perfectly loving and perfectly just. Within that, God has commanded people to do all sorts of crazy things.  Would you dare obey his commands, whatever they are?

If Jesus commanded you not to save for self-sufficient retirement, but to give away the excess he entrusts to you, would you dare obey?

When the reader responds with “Jesus will never ask me that, so I refuse to answer the question!” the reader is just avoid answering the question because he knows he has the wrong answer. The reader doesn’t trust Jesus enough to even hypothetically obey a command like this. The fear and insecurity we feel drives how we approach the biblical text. Before we open the Bible, we’ve put up limits to say “This far, God, and no farther!” We are willing to obey Jesus to a certain point of discomfort, but this is asking too much!

Only those who can answer the above question affirmatively, with or without trembling, are able to approach the text and consider what it has to say.

I plan to write out some more thoughts as I work through this and other related passages, but if the reader can’t answer even hypothetically obey Jesus, I don’t think it will make much sense – it’s simply outside of the reader’s modified version of Christianity.


Good Earth FriDay: Religions in Conflict

22 Apr

Today is the observance two observances.

Christians today commemorate “Good Friday” – the day in which we remember the crucifixion of Jesus (regardless of what day of the week he was originally killed).

Today is also the annual observance of “Earth Day.”

Both focus on commitment to an entity bigger than ourselves, both focus on personal action and commitment.

Yet only one is religious. Right?

Strangely some very religious-sounding language is used by environmentalists and specifically the EPA’s website.  Here’s a few examples:

  1. Belief.Faith is not believing something without evidence, but is believing in something that you can’t see or prove. People can have faith, for example, in the reliability of a friend – this is not to say there’s no evidence, but it cannot be proven that the friend will come through, even if they say they will. Christian faith is strongly based on evidence of the authors of the Bible.  Environmental faith, as Al Gore explains in this video, is based on the beliefs of Al Gore and certain holy writings which consist of select research that Al Gore canonized based on whether they agree with his opinion:
    YouTube Preview Image
  2. Repentance.Repentance speaks to the change of one’s mind that is reflected in a change of behavior. When Christians talk about repentance, they typically mean stopping harmful behavior and committing to healthier, holy, behavior. Here’s where the EPA falls with repentance:

    Earth Day Repentence: Choose at least 5 actions you'll commit to. Use less water and electricity, commute without polluting, reuse and recycle, and more.

    Repent! Repent! Then participate in the 5 sacraments of environmentalism!

  3. Personal Commitment.The Bible speaks to the need not just for one time of belief or a period of repentance upon belief,  but personal, daily commitment to wrap your life around Jesus. The EPA uses the very same language encouraging all to “Make a personal commitment to make environmental protection a part of your daily life.”

    Make a personal commitment to make environmental protection a part of your daily life

    Read your Bible, pray every day? No! replace that commitment with making environmental protection a part of your daily life.

  4. Daily devotions. Many church kids grew up singing songs like “Read your Bible, pray every day!” There’s a general encouragement to be exposed to and affected by the Bible every day. There’s even daily text message services to get you a daily Bible verse, which is similar to what President Obama says is the extent of his worship. The EPA has an equivalent, and you can sign up to be notified every day with new instructions of how to be sanctified in their eyes.They’ve even got an alternative podcast to keep sermons in your ears!

    Learn a green tip every day: Sign up to get a daily email tip during Earth Month in April.

    Daily devotions in text and podcast from the EPA

  5. Community. Christianity cannot be practiced alone. The Bible  speaks of groups of Christians as a body, both connected to and supporting each other, and urges Christians to meet together. The first thing on the Earth Day web page of the EPA is a link to find a church.. er… environmentalist events in your area to keep you involved in the faith.

    Make every day Earth Day and help protect health and the environment throughout the year.

    Get plugged into a community of those who share your beliefs and live them out every day, all year. Christianity? Nope. Environmentalism.

  6. Evangelism. Even if a person has believed in Jesus, repented, committed, exercised daily disciplines, and is involved in community, they aren’t really a disciple of Christ unless they are also a disciple maker, spreading the word to others. The alternative is true as well – once you’ve committed your life to environmentalism, you must be an environmental evangelist to “spread the word” to get others to believe, repent, etc. Here’s my final clip from the EPA website:

    Teach others about the Environment: One of the best ways to spread the word on environmental protection is to teach a class at your local school

    Curiously, they've even capitalized "Environment" in the title but not the other words, similar to how Christians capitalize "God."


The EPA isn’t all. says you need to pledge, volunteer, evangelize, and even tithe… er… donate to the cause.

My purpose in highlighting the religious nature of environmentalism this Good Earth FriDay is not to say we should abuse the earth. That idea seems so absurd I’m not sure who thinks we ought to destroy our home, and normally when that claim is made, it’s simply to end the discussion by name-calling.

We ought to be responsible stewards of the earth. We should also recognize that environmentalism as it is being pushed by our government and others today is structured in a way to be opposed to other systems of truth claims, such as Christianity.


Jason Gray: Falling in Love

14 Apr

If you’ve reached the SecondJon blog looking for my comments about the Jason Gray song “Falling in Love,” I created this sticky post to link to it.


Bugs or babies?

12 Apr

Bugs or the babies: which deserve more rights?

According to the United Nations, led by Bolivia, bugs and beetles out value our babies.

Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving “Mother Earth” the same rights as humans — having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country.

Bolivia recently passed the legislation on the basis of religious worship of the earth deity, “Pachamama.”

Ought wasps have the same rights as women?

This legislation is immoral. When there’s a total moral equivalence between a baby girl and an earwig, how can there be real respect for life? At minimum the conclusion is that it’s a toss up as to which life is worth compassion. Choosing between the life of a mother and her birthing baby is a moral dilemma. This legislation makes killing the mother the moral equivalent of stepping on a spider. In fact, killing a spider and it’s eggs would be a greater moral crime than killing a human mother and her unborn child.

The Judeo-Christian world view argues in the contrary that humans are unique and have both unity and distinction with nature. According to the biblical narrative, humans are created from the dust of the earth and as he breathes his breath, or spirit, into them, they are created in the image of God. Human life is sacred. Our responsibility to both dominate and care for the earth is also a sacred responsibility.

Yet there is a repulsive reaction to Judeo-Christian values in world government, this animistic theology is welcomed. This should bring clarity – religious values are shunned if the United Nations is opposed to the ideas, and embraced if the ideas help the UN achieve its goals. The problem for those seeking greater centralized government power is not religion – it’s certain values that they will reject whether religious or not.

Two Bolivian women. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America

The values pushed by giving the earth spirits rights is simply another way to push for stripping people of their rights. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. The land is rich in natural resources, so business has been clamoring to come into the country. This legislation will stop work, stop jobs, and increase poverty. This is what the legislation is doing in Bolivia; this is what the UN is pushing for.

The UN isn’t interested in the planet, and they aren’t interested in Pachamama worship. This is, in the end, simply a power grab by governments. The legislation “establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth, and provides the planet with an ombudsman whose job is to hear nature’s complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state.”

That’s right – the whole idea is that what the state says now becomes a matter of rights. To go against the government is a rights-violation issue. This turns the idea of rights on it’s head, taking rights away from people and giving them to the state in the name of ‘mother earth.’

Even in Bolivia it’s clear that this is primarily about governments accruing more power over the people, as the Bolivian president has been declaring for years that the first step to save the planet is “to end capitalism.”

The environmentalist movement is being used in an effort to strip you of your basic human rights and freedom. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon that provides the opportunity to escape from freedom, there’s a better approach.

Rather than basing our ideas on fear (that the earth is about to die) or hatred (of those evil capitalists), we should be basing our ideas on facts. Christians ought to be taking care of the planet in ways that are effective because it is a sacred responsibility; because it is God’s creation; because it is our origin. Much of the specific ways to be “environmental” are agenda-based to gain votes or reward certain companies and industries for political support. A healthier and more effective approach requires better self-education and less readily adopting political and cultural trends.


Love Wins – Preface: Us Vs. Them

26 Mar

I received my copy of the book Love Wins by Rob Bell today. Right now the kids are napping so I had to take a break from the home projects I was working on to give them some peace and quiet. Here’s my reaction to the preface:

My reaction so far is not positive.


Bell explains why he wrote the book – for those who don’t approve of the gospel being taught in the evangelical church[1].  Is it a problem with the message that people see it as foolishness? The Bible says that’s going to be people’s reaction to it[2], and Paul lived this out, being repeatedly beaten, threatened, and jailed by unbelievers in various cities where he shared the gospel – clearly if it was worth beating up the messenger, the people didn’t consider it “good” news[3]. Should Paul have changed the message to make the good news seem “good” in their eyes?

Bell explains that he those on his side (those who disapprove of the gospel taught by the church) have become aware of the truth that Jesus’ story has been hijacked. If you teach what Bell disagrees with, you’re a spiritual terrorist, hijacking the gospel. Here on the first page of text Bell sets the tone to be clearly Us – the enlightened disapprovers of the church vs. Them – the hijackers.


Bell talks about scripture in three different terms: “sacred text,” “stories” and “ongoing discussion.” Neither of these terms are exclusively applied to the Christian cannon of scripture, however. Anyone can tell stories, anyone can discuss things. There’s no indication that scripture is any different from anyone telling a story or having a discussion today.

Sacred Text:

Rob specifically addresses “the sacred text” once in the intro:

The ancient sages said the words of the sacred text were black letters on a white page – there’s all that white space, waiting to be filled with our responses and discussions and debates and opinions and longings and desires and wisdom and insights.

I can’t figure out who ever said this. Clearly by calling these people “sages,” Bell thinks they carry authority in the discussion. But who are they? It was at this point that I realized there’s no footnotes. No endnotes. Bell doesn’t cite a single source. Who said this? What makes them a sage? Why are they worth listening to? Google was no help. The closest I got was a quote by the anti-religious Proust who wasn’t writing about sacred text.

What Bell is promoting is the idea of eisigesis – pushing our own ideas and opinions into a text, and considering that to be what the text really means. This is the opposite of exegesis, a process in which we seek to discover what the text means in itself, and try to hold back our own opinions and pre-conceived theology. I value exegesis, and believe that my ideas should change in response to the text, rather than changing what the text means by filling in the white space and amending scripture to mean whatever I want it to.

I’m troubled by this perspective from a pastor who in the intro to his book strips scripture of it’s authority, placing the authority instead in his own opinions that he is free to force onto texts – and commanded to by anonymous sages that somehow escaped being filed by Google.


Bell says Jesus isn’t interested in telling the stories that he disapproves of, and they have “nothing to do with what he came to do.” Clearly, Jesus must have never told those stories. Right? On page 1, I don’t know what stories he’s referring to, but it’s clear that Jesus is not interested in the stuff being said by the hijackers. I’m troubled by the emphasis on story – stories are told as a way to communicate truth. Truth is best communicated by the story. But the emphasis is not on the story itself, but on the truth it communicates. If something is just a story, then we should not expect any truth behind it. That idea strips the authority of the truth that good stories communicate.

Bell says it’s time to reclaim the lost plot about what Jesus came to do. If the plot was lost and must be reclaimed, I’m relying on Bell to show how Jesus, the disciples, and the early church showed the true plot, and that all of these groups never told the stories that he disapproves of in the church today. I’m curious to see where he believes the gospel of the church today came from.

Ongoing Discussion:

Is scripture divine? Well, kind of. Discussing important stuff is divine.

What qualifies as “important”? Who decides? Is all discussion equally divine? Are all words of everyone divine?

This all brings up another question: If all of the discussion is divine, is every participant equally authoritative?

No. Not all voices are equal.

So far, this is the one question Bell answers. Not everyone is on equal footing in the discussion, and you may not be welcome here.

Bell takes a very strong stand on who can and who cannot participate in worthwhile discussion. He expands the Us vs. Them attitude from page 1, that the spiritual terrorist hijackers are misguided, toxic, and subversive to Jesus’ message. Bell, on the other hand has the truth of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy.

Not a charged atmosphere at all – as we enter this book, if you agree with Bell you’re in favor of love, peace, forgiveness and joy. If you disagree, you’re a misguided toxic terrorist hijacker subverting Jesus.

Which side do you choose?

A few differences between Bell’s book (so far) and my reaction:

  1. When I ask questions, they’re real questions. I’d love to know the answers. I’m just just being cool and questioning things.
  2. Given how much I wrote about the preface, my reaction may be longer than his book. But hey, the discussion is divine! (Well.. unless I disagree with him, in which case I’m a toxic spiritual terrorist hijacker –  in other words, you are not to listen to anyone else that disagrees with Rob. They’re toxic, and Jesus isn’t interested in what they have to say!)
  3. Look! I’ve cited my sources with footnotes!


[1] – I’ve written this book for all those, everywhere, who have heard some version of the Jesus story that caused their pulse rate to rise, their stomach to church, and their heart to utter those resolute words, “I would never be a part of that.” viii

[2] “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18. This passage is also very clear that there is a difference between those who are perishing (which seems to mean in the state of perishing but the perishing is ongoing and not yet in it’s fullness) contrasted with those who are being saved (in the state of being saved, but the saving is ongoing and not yet in it’s fullness)

[3] 1 Corinthians 11:25 “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.”


Sidewalk Prophets – You Can Have Me

09 Mar
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Some time ago I wrote on the false view of loving God as “falling in love” from the Jason Gray song in which says he has determined that faith must be more like “fallin’ in love” than the biblical concept of love – belief, commitment, obedience. I have no personal criticism of Jason Gray, and I don’t think he believes what his song communicates by itself.

I just heard this song by Sidewalk Prophets on the radio yesterday and was shocked by the honesty of what it means to love Christ, and that it’s shameful that our concept of love is that it has become unmoving and unconsuming.

As I’ve taught about what it means to really love God, a student said to me “I’ve been going to churches all my life and I’ve never heard this before. But I’ve checked, and it’s all biblical. I guess that’s not the message of having to give up everything to follow Christ is not what fills the seats in the church.”

He’s right. I’ve sat in churches where the preacher invites people to invite Jesus to be the CEO of their life and then they have a promise of a happy life, chock full of fun. Contrast that with what Jesus said:

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

This was Jesus’ style of “altar call.” It was no promise of happiness. In fact, Jesus promised suffering. Why have we changed the message to be about seeking emotional highs and happiness rather than giving everything up in seeking Christ?

Here’s the lyrics to “You Can Have Me” by Sidewalk Prophets that speak to this same issue:

If I saw You on the street
And You said come and follow me
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreamsWould I love You enough to let go
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life 

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

If You’re all You claim to be
Then I’m not losing anything
So I will crawl upon my knees
Just to know the joy of suffering

I will love You enough to let go
Lord, I give you my life
I give you my life

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

I want to be where You are
I’m running into Your arms
And I will never look back
So Jesus, here is my heart

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
My Father, my love
You can have me

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