Monday, September 30, 2013

"How the Bible was Build" by Charles M. Smith & James W. Bennett: A Review

At least it only cost me a dollar at a used bookstore. In their book How the Bible was Built, authors Charles Merrill Smith and James W. Bennett seek to explain to average believers how we got our Bible and our English translations. I find both subjects fascinating and considering the low cost, I thought why not. Now I know why not.

The book is mostly about the canonization of both testaments and only the final chapter is dedicated to the history of the English Bible. I was hoping to hear a more conservative argument, but was given liberal assumptions.

The first and most obvious problem with the book is the authors clear rejection of Mosaic authorship. The authors suggest that Deuteronomy was the first book of the Bible written and was penned centuries after Moses had died. They write, [Deuteronomy] was written, as best we know, by someone - an unknown prophet, perhaps, or a priest or sage - who lived during the reign of King Mannesseh (11) Any student of biblical criticism will recognize this argument for it is an old one. They then suggest that the rest of the Pentateuch was composed two hundred years after Deuteronomy. Again none of this is new, but I am disappointed how the authors presumed its accuracy without dealing honestly with the debate. There are good reasons to reject this theory and embrace Mosaic authorship.

Regarding the Apocrypha, the authors suggests that maybe we Protestants should reconsider our rejection of it. Though this is not stated clearly, that is the tone. They argue that the Catholic Church has embraced most of the extra writings as did the early Protestants including Martin Luther and the translators of the King James Bible. Furthermore, The apostles and evangelists of the early Christian church thought  (27) the books were Scripture. I don't think this is accurate. Certainly they were aware of the extra writings and utilized the Septuagint, but I have a hard time believing that Jesus, Paul, and the other contributors of the New Testament felt this strongly about the Apocrypha.

There are countless reasons why orthodox Protestants should reject the Apocrypha. One reason is provided by the authors. After quoting 2 Esdras 6:42, they write:
Christopher Columbus read this and figured that if only one-seventh of the earth is water, then it couldn't be much of a trip from the west coast of Europe to the east coast of Asia. In act, he used this verse as part of his petition to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella for the financing of his voyage. The Apocrypha, in other words, played some part in Europeans' discovery of America. (29)
The authors unwittingly undermine their own argument. Christopher Columbus was wrong in believing the author of 2 Esdras. The earth isn't one-seventh water and it is God's grace that he made it to America. The Apocrypha contradicts other Scriptures, teaches false doctrines, and should not be considered divine. Such arguments, however, are ignored by the authors. Finally, the authors suggest that the doctrines of resurrection and original sin have strong roots in the Apocrypha (30). Perhaps, but the first generation of Christians didn't need the Apocrypha to develop them. The Old Testament revealed both quite well.

We meet more problems when the conversation turns to the New Testament. They argue that Paul did not consider his writings to be scriptural (43) even though he said otherwise in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 and Peter suggested Paul's writings were inspired in 2 Peter 3:15-16. We are given clear hints of canonization in the New Testament itself. All of this, again, is ignored.

Furthermore, the authors reject Pauline authorship of the pastoral epistles. They disingenuously suggest that No New Testament scholars, whether of the conservative disposition or otherwise, believe that [the pastoral epistles] as we now have them come from Paul's pen (50). No New Testament scholars? I am not sure they have done their research.

The list of troubles continue into the early church. They question the sincerity of Constantine's conversion (65-66) and fail to offer a more thorough explanation of how the canon was formed. Yes Marcion and other heretics played an important role, but let us not act as if the early church was caught off guard by the idea of a New Testament canon. The New Testament is clear enough about that.

I read this little book initially to gain new insight into the process of canonization and the history of the English Bible. What I got was frustration. What concerns me most is not the unwillingness of the authors to deal honestly with the issues raised above, but that this is a book targeted to Christians who have never studied the issue. I am concerned that members at my church will pick up a book like this and be led astray on more than how we got the Bible, but also its inerrancy, inspiration, and its lack of inclusion of the Apocrypha. They fail to reveal that Scripture is about Christ, not about morals, lessons, and history.

So, obviously, if your wanting a good introduction on canonization, please look elsewhere for the only good thing I can say about it is that at least it only cost me a dollar.

For more:
"God's Word in Human Words":  A Detailed Critique - Part 1
"God's Word in Human Words":  A Detailed Critique - Part 2
"God's Word in Human Words":  A Detailed Critique - Part 3
"God's Word in Human Words":  A Detailed Critique - Part 4  
We've All Heard This Before: "Zealot" and the Same Search For the Missing Jesus
Is the Original NT Lost?: Ehrman vs. Wallace
"Has God Spoken?" by Hank Hanegraaf

All Around the Web - September 30, 2013

The Gospel Coalition - Who is Really Leaving the Faith and Why?

Intrigued by the implications of a generation giving up on organized religion, we set out to understand who is leaving and why. And what we found was surprising. Many of the most significant and encouraging findings are largely being ignored, while the less accurate and discouraging ones are being emphasized.
It's likely you've heard the news: the sky is falling. Reports have been circulating for a while now that our churches are on the decline and it's the young people who are to blame. Articles, blogs and even books have been written warning ministry leaders and parents alike, the Millennials are leaving our churches in droves of hundreds and thousands.

Focus on the Family talked to respected sociologists of religion and studied the best, nationally-representative studies and found the bad news is not as bad as you might have heard. Our new report, "Millennial Religious Participation and Retention" draws out some very important research for those who are raising and ministering to the next generation

John Stonestreet - Worse Than Fiction: Eugenics on the Rise
At the 21st European Conference on Thoracic Surgery last May, a paper presented by a group of Belgian doctors reported on “Lung Transplantation with Grafts Recovered From Euthanasia Donors.” Yes, you heard me correctly.

According to the abstract, between January 2007 and December 2012, six patients received pulmonary grafts using tissue from euthanized donors. The abstract states that the euthanasia was carried out “in accordance with state legislation and approval by Ethics Committee.”

The “donors” were described as suffering “from an unbearable neuromuscular . . .  or neuropsychiatric . . . disorder” and had expressed an “explicit wish to donate organs.”

So as not to seem too ghoulish, “Euthanasia was executed by an independent physician in a room adjacent to the operating room in the absence of the retrieval team.”

Or, as Wesley J. Smith summed it up, “One set of doctors killed the patient, stepped out of the room, and another set of doctors entered for the harvest.”

The Belgian doctors’ hope is that “More euthanasia donors are to be expected with more public awareness.”

WORLD Magazine - Vital Signs: North Dakota abortion ban survives court challenge
Ground-breaking abortion ban. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland last week dismissed part of a lawsuit challenging a new North Dakota law that blocks abortions based on gender or genetic defects such as Down syndrome. The judge’s ruling makes North Dakota the first state to ban aborting children with genetic defects. 

Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, the state’s sole abortion provider, filed suit in June against the law, which also included abortion restrictions when a heartbeat is detected. The Red River center requested that the court drop the gender and genetic defects part of the lawsuit saying it didn’t perform abortions for that reason anyway. Hovland dismissed that portion of the lawsuit without prejudice, which means the clinic can revive a legal challenge later. The heartbeat ban was temporarily blocked in July.

Breitbart - Census: Typical Family Makes Less Today Than in 1989
A Census Bureau report released on Tuesday reveals that the typical American family now earns less than it did in 1989. In 1989, median household income was $51,681 (in current dollars). In 2012, median household income was $51,017.

Live Science - Biblical-Era Town Discovered Along Sea of Galilee

A town dating back more than 2,000 years has been discovered on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee, in Israel's Ginosar valley.

The ancient town may be Dalmanutha (also spelled Dalmanoutha), described in the Gospel of Mark as the place Jesus sailed to after miraculously feeding 4,000 people by multiplying a few fish and loaves of bread, said Ken Dark, of the University of Reading in the U.K., whose team discovered the town during a field survey.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"The World of Worldviews" by John Stonestreet

This is a great overview of worldviews and their implications.

The World of Worldviews with John Stonestreet from Summit Lecture Series on Vimeo.

All Around the Web - September 28, 2013

Albert Mohler - Can Evangelical Chaplains Serve God and Country? — The Crisis Arrives
Can chaplains committed to historic biblical Christianity serve in the United States military? That question, though inconceivable to our nation’s founders, is now front and center, and the answer to that question will answer another, even more important question — can religious liberty survive under America’s new moral order?

The repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, coupled with the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, set the stage for this crisis. The full normalization of same-sex relationships within the U.S. military is part of the unprecedented moral revolution that is now reshaping American culture at virtually every level.

The crisis in the chaplaincy arrived with these developments. The presenting issue is clear — can a chaplain committed to historic biblical Christianity remain in military service? Does the normalization of homosexuality require that all members of the military, including chaplains join the moral revolution, even if doing so requires them to abandon their biblical convictions?

John Stonestreet - Academic Freedom . . . for Some

They don’t teach George Orwell’s classic work Animal Farm in university science courses, but perhaps they should—or at least at Ball State University. Orwell’s dystopian novel, of course, is famous for the slogan, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” You see, this public university in Indiana, says it believes in academic freedom—but its actions seem to say academic freedom only applies to some professors. You be the judge.

Eric Hedin, assistant professor of physics at Ball State, teaches an interdisciplinary honors seminar called “The Boundaries of Science.” It covers scientific issues as well as important questions raised by science—including the possible existence of God. . . . 

The two required books for the course are a noncontroversial, standard text on the Big Bang and a book by John Lennox called “God’s Undertaker.” Lennox argues that the claim that science has disproved the existence of God is greatly exaggerated, to say the least. And by the way, Lennox has three doctorates, is professor of mathematics at Oxford, and has an incredibly long and impressive academic resume—hardly a lightweight, you might say.

Lennox is just the kind of alternative voice you’d expect to find in an interdisciplinary honors seminar on philosophical questions raised by science. You’d think Professor Hedin would be praised for giving his students a range of opinions, or at the very least that his academic freedom would be respected.

The Gospel Coalition - Don't Segregate the Youth

Constant Challenge

I spent 10 years serving in a church where the youth ministry was segregated from the congregation. The constant challenge before us was to somehow teach and give them a taste of what the church is meant to be, even though they weren't experiencing it themselves. Most of the youth didn't worship with the rest of the congregation, nor did they experience aspects of gathered church life beyond "Youth Sunday."

The next church I served in was vastly different. There I learned how to effectively model and shape a biblical view of the church for the youth. What was so different? To start, students were part of the church. Rather than a token "Youth Sunday," we regularly had students serving as ushers, greeters, choristers, music volunteers, and Scripture readers. Some of our older teens were teaching Sunday school, and when the church gathered for various functions, teens joined in the mix. This was an intergenerational church family where relationships spanned decades and all ages served side by side. Sure, we had youth Bible study groups and other activities specifically for students, but that never precluded their involvement in the gathered church.

Together as the diverse, multi-generational body of Christ, we worshiped God, sat under the preaching of his Word, prayed, shared communion, and enjoyed fellowship. As a result, students weren't left wondering about the church's purpose; they were experiencing it according to Acts 2:42-47. They learned the church exists chiefly to glorify God, not to please them. They experienced what it means for elders to "equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:12-13).

Chuck Lawless - 10 Church Diseases

  1. Community Disconnect Disease. Churches with this disease meet within a given community, but they do not know that community. Often, church members drive to the church building, meet as “church,” and then drive home—without ever taking note of a changing community around them. In fact, I’ve seen church members with this disease lock their doors as they drive through the community where their congregation gathers.
  2. Methodological Arthritis. I give credit to my former student, Kevin Minchey, for naming this condition. The name says it all: this church is stuck in doing things the way they’ve always done them. Change (that is, movement) is painful, and it’s seemingly easier not to take a step forward. What these churches often don’t recognize is that standing still is also risky. Eventually, they will not move at all.
  3. The “Grass is Greener” Syndrome. This syndrome is a malady of leaders who are always looking for the next church leadership position. They establish no roots, and their current congregation is only a stepping-stone to the next place. Because they are always looking elsewhere, they miss the present tense blessings of their ministry. And, though leaders think otherwise, a church often recognizes when its leader has this syndrome.
  4. Professional Wrestling Sickness. I grew up watching professional wrestling (with my Church of God grandma, no less). Professional wrestling is hero vs. villain, right vs. wrong, good vs. evil—but it’s all fake. The church with PWS talks a good game in standing for righteousness, but hypocrisy is everywhere. And, as in professional wrestling, most spectators watching the show know it’s fake, too.
  5. Program Nausea. Churches with Program Nausea try a program, toss it soon, and then quickly try the next one. They never have a settled “organizational stomach” and direction. Members of this kind of diseased church are so accustomed to change that they seldom invest in any program. Why should they invest in what will soon be spit out, too?
  6. Baby Believer Malady. This congregation is doing evangelism well, but they have no strategy to grow new believers. Their unwritten, and wrong, assumption is, “As long as you show up for our small groups and worship service, you’ll grow.”  This church disciples poorly and often elevates leaders on the basis of attendance rather than spiritual maturity.
  7. Theological Self-Deception Ailment. I am cautious here, lest I leave the impression that theology does not matter. No church with an unbiblical theology can be healthy. TSDA, on the other hand, is characterized by a belief that teaching theology is all that is required to be a healthy church. Teaching theology is critical, but a theology that does not lead to intentional evangelism, disciplemaking, and global missions is not biblical. Indeed, TSDA congregations tend to be classrooms more than New Testament churches.
  8. “Unrecoverable Void” Syndrome.  Church leaders and laypersons alike suffer from this syndrome, characterized by statements like, “This church will close its doors after I’m gone.” Symptoms include spiritual arrogance and self-righteous anger, though they may also include hyper-spiritual speech  (“This is God’s church, and we’ll see what He does when I shake the dust off my feet”). Church members with UVS fail to realize that God’s church will go on without any of us.
  9. Talking in Your Sleep Disease. You may recognize this church. They go through the motions, but the motions lack energy. They meet for worship, yet the singing is lifeless. Even the preaching is lackluster, as if the speaker is monotonously only meeting his obligation. Here is one way to recognize the church with TIYSD: many of the attenders really ARE sleeping!
  10. Congregational Myopia. The congregation with this condition is nearsighted, focusing on themselves only. They have no vision for the future, and they fail to see that their current direction will likely lead to further disease and decline. Ask the leaders what their hope is for the church five years from now, and their description will sound strangely like the church in its current state.
The Blaze - What’s Lurking Inside of Your Holy Water? Shocking Study Yields Some Disturbing Results
You might be stunned to find out what could possibly be in your holy water. Sure, there’s the natural composition — you know, the hydrogen and oxygen — but one recent study into this revered liquid came to some startling finds.

While it is believed by some that holy water can lead to good health and healing, researchers at the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna found that it can actually be quite harmful.

In fact, 86 percent of the water that was examined by scientists contained many of the same bacteria found in fecal matter.

Doug Wilson - Simply Beowulf | I'm looking forward to this.
Well, I have to admit that I am kind of whipped up about our pending release of Beowulf. This was a project I was kind of chipping away on in the background, and then the need for a usable translation for the new Logos Press curriculum arose. So I got things in gear, and finished the manuscript last fall.

It has been in production since, and is now officially and safely at the printer. With that in mind, Canon wanted to offer a promotion for those who preorder, and so here’s the deal. If you order before October 8 (the official release date is Oct. 15), you will get your copy signed by me, and free shipping. Sorry, the free shipping doesn’t apply to international orders.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Pneumatology 2

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 8  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 3 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 16
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 17
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 18
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 19
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 20

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 4
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"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 7
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"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 11
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"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 16

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 6

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 5
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"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 9

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Pneumatology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Pneumatology 2

To some, what follows might appear to be minor and insignificant, but to me I found Dr. Millard Erickson's discussion of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament extremely helpful. In his book Christian Theology, Dr. Erickson resolves a puzzling problem I've always had: what do the Old Testament writers mean by the phrase "the Spirit of God/the LORD?" Is this a reference to the third person of the Trinity or is it a reference to God's Spirit? After all, Jesus said, "God is Spirit" (John 4:24).

Erickson first deals with the nature of the Hebrew language:
It is often difficult to identify the Holy Spirit within the Old Testament, for it reflects the earliest stages of progressive revelation. In fact, the term "Holy Spirit" is rarely employed here. Rather, the usual expression is "the Spirit of God." Hebrew is a concrete language with a relative scarcity of adjectives. Where in English we might use a noun and an adjective, Hebrew tends to use two nouns, one of them functioning as a genitive. For example, where in English we might speak of "a righteous man," what we typically find in Hebrew is "a man of righteousness." (881-882) 
This then is applied to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament:
Similarly, most Old Testament references to the Third Person of the Trinity consist of the two nouns Spirit and God. It is not apparent from this construction that a separate person is involved. The expression "Spirit of God" could well be understood as being simply a reference to the will, mind, or activity of God. There are, however, some cases where the New Testament makes it clear that an Old Testament reference to the "Spirit of God" is a reference to the Holy Spirit. One of the most prominent of these New Testament passages is Acts 2:16-21, where Peter explains that what is occurring at Pentecost is the fulfillment of the prophet Joel's statement, "I will pour out my Spirit on all people" (2:17). Surely the events of Pentecost were the realization of Jesus' promise, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you" (Acts 1:8). In short, the Old Testament "Spirit of God" is synonymous with the Holy Spirit. (882)
So, according to Dr. Erickson, if the Hebrew phrase "the Spirit of God" in the Old Testament equates to "Holy Spirit" in the New Testament, then we can develop a theology of the Spirit from the Old Testament. Though we are revealed more about the ministry of the Spirit in the New Testament, according to Erickson, we can gain much from the Old. I will not highlight his argument regarding what we learn about the Holy Spirit from the Old Testament, but he mentions explicitly creation, inspiring the prophets and the writing of Scripture, administration, and others.

Key to Erickson's argument above, beyond his discussion on the nature of the Hebrew language, is how the New Testament understood the Old Testament. The connection between the prophet Joel's use of "the Spirit of God" and the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 is helpful here. If "the Spirit of God" does not mean "the Holy Spirit," then Luke misunderstood and misapplied Joel.

I find this extremely helpful. Though the New Testament has more to say about the Third Person of the Trinity, we are given a helpful introduction to Him in the Old Testament.

For more:
Not Entirely: Why Most Illustrations Don't Fully Explain the Cross
Ware on the Trinity & Relationships
DeYoung on the Trinity
"Mapping Modern Theology" Edited by Kelly Kapic and Bruce McCormack: A Review

All Around the Web - September 27, 2013

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About Prison Rape

1. According to the National Institute of Justice, even after more than four decades of research, it is still unclear how much rape and sexually violent activity occurs in prisons, jails, and other corrections facilities in the United States. But based on its most recent study, released in May 2013, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) estimates that roughly 200,000 people were sexually abused behind bars in a single year.

2. About half of the prisoners reporting abuse were victimized by staff - the very people whose job it is to keep them safe.

7. As prisoners return home - and 95 percent of all inmates are eventually released - they bring with them the diseases they acquired in detention. Prisoner rape victims are highly vulnerable to contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In 2004, the HIV prevalence rate inside U.S. prisons was more than four times higher than in society overall. Hepatitis C rates are 8 to 20 times higher in prisons than on the outside, with 12 to 35 percent of prison cases involving chronic infection. The rates of infection for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are likewise significantly higher among inmates than in the population at-large.

Kevin DeYoung - A Slightly Awkward Interview on Crazy Busy

Albert Mohler - Preaching with Authority: Three Characteristics of Expository Preaching

Authentic expository preaching is marked by three distinct characteristics: authority, reverence, and centrality. Expository preaching is authoritative because it stands upon the very authority of the Bible as the word of God. Such preaching requires and reinforces a sense of reverent expectation on the part of God’s people. Finally, expository preaching demands the central place in Christian worship and is respected as the event through which the living God speaks to his people.

A keen analysis of our contemporary age comes from sociologist Richard Sennett of New York University. Sennett notes that in times past a major anxiety of most persons was loss of governing authority. Now, the tables have been turned, and modern persons are anxious about any authority over them: “We have come to fear the influence of authority as a threat to our liberties, in the family and in society at large.” If previous generations feared the absence of authority, today we see “a fear of authority when it exists.”

Some homileticians suggest that preachers should simply embrace this new worldview and surrender any claim to an authoritative message. Those who have lost confidence in the authority of the Bible as the word of God are left with little to say and no authority for their message. Fred Craddock, among the most influential figures in recent homiletic thought, famously describes today’s preacher “as one without authority.” His portrait of the preacher’s predicament is haunting: “The old thunderbolts rust in the attic while the minister tries to lead his people through the morass of relativities and proximate possibilities.” “No longer can the preacher presuppose the general recognition of his authority as a clergyman, or the authority of his institution, or the authority of Scripture,” Craddock argues. Summarizing the predicament of the postmodern preacher, he relates that the preacher “seriously asks himself whether he should continue to serve up monologue in a dialogical world.”

NPR - Bookless Public Library Opens In Texas

An all-digital public library is opening today, as officials in Bexar County, Texas, celebrate the opening of the BiblioTech library. The facility offers about 10,000 free e-books for the 1.7 million residents of the county, which includes San Antonio.

On its website, the explains how its patrons can access free eBooks and audio books. To read an eBook on their own device, users must have the 3M Cloud Library app, which they can link to their library card.

The app includes a countdown of days a reader has to finish a book — starting with 14 days, according to.

The library has a physical presence, as well, with 600 e-readers and 48 computer stations, in addition to laptops and tablets. People can also come for things like kids' story time and computer classes, according to the library's website.

A county official compared the concept to an Apple store, in a report on the library's plans by in January.

Slate - A Boy Named Humiliation: Some Wacky, Cruel, and Bizarre Puritan Names
20 Puritan Names That Are Utterly Strange
  1. Dancell-Dallphebo-Mark-Anthony-Gallery-Cesar. Son of Dancell-Dallphebo-Mark-Anthony-Gallery-Cesar, born 1676.
  2. Praise-God. Full name, Praise-God Barebone. The Barebones were a rich source of crazy names. This one was a leather-worker, member of a particularly odd Puritan group and an MP. He gave his name to the Barebones Parliament, which ruled Britain in 1653.
  3. If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned. Praise-God's son, he made a name for himself as an economist. But, for some inexplicable reason, he decided to go by the name Nicolas Barbon.
  4. Fear-God. Also a Barebone.
  5. Job-raked-out-of-the-ashes
  6. Has-descendents
  7. Wrestling
  8. Fight-the-good-fight-of-faith
  9. Fly-fornication
  10. Jesus-Christ-came-into-the-world- to-save. Brother of "Damned Barebone". I can only imagine this name shortened to "Save."
  11. Thanks
  12. What-God-will
  13. Joy-in-sorrow. A name attached to many stories of difficult births.
  14. Remember
  15. Fear-not. His/her surname was "Helly", born 1589.
  16. Experience
  17. Anger
  18. Abuse-not
  19. Die-Well. A brother of Farewell Sykes, who died in 1865. We can assume they had rather pessimistic parents.
  20. Continent. Continent Walker was born in 1594 in Sussex.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Is Colossians 1:15-20 a Hymn?

I am currently preaching through the book of Colossians and am perplexed by the great Christological section in chapter 1. Some scholars have argued that this literary gem could be a hymn composed either by the Apostle Paul himself or by another faithful Christian prior to the writing of this letter.

This passage reminds me of Paul's Christology text in Philippians 2 where, similarly, scholars wonder if the Apostle inserts a well-known hymn at the time. We may never know on this side of heaven, but a closer look at Colossians 1:15-20 certainly suggest that what Paul records is more than just didactic theology.

In his commentary on Colossians, Dr. William Hendricksen separates the passage into two sections. Section one consists of verses 15-17 with its emphasis on creation and section two consists of vs. 18-20 with its emphasis on redemption.

A. In Creation (verses 15-17)
15 Who is the image of the invisible God,
     The firstborn of every creature,

16 For in him were created all things
     In the heavens and on the earth,
     The visible and the invisible,
     Whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities,
     All things through him and with a sew to him have been created

17 And he is before all things
     and all things hold together in him.

B. In Redemption (verses 18-20)
18 And he is the head of the body, the church
     Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
     That in all things he  might have the pre-eminence,

19 For in him he [God] was pleased to have all the fulness dwell,

20 And through him to reconcile all things to Himself,
     Having made peace through the blood of his cross,
     Through him, whether the things on the earth
      or the things in the heavens

Hendricksen then notes:
Very striking and solemn are these lines. Note the following points of correspondence between A. and B.:

                                                                             A.                         B.
(1) "Who is" in verse                                           15                         18
(2) "The firstborn" in verse                                  15                         18
(3) "For in him" in verse                                      16                         19
(4) "Int he heavens and on the earth" in verse     16                          cf. 20

Not only do the same expressions occur in both columns but they occur in the same sequence! there is a definite idea-and form parallelism. The glory of Christ in Creation is balanced by his majesty in Redemption. There are also other items of resemblance; for example, the expression "all things," occurring four times in verses 15-17 and twice in verses 18-20. And the words "through him" of verse 16 are repeated twice in verse 20. (66-67)
Hendricksen then highlights a number of the views to explain the above evidence. These include, among others
  1. A Baptist Liturgy
  2. Eucharistic Liturgy
  3. Christian Worship-service
  4. Christian Hymn
  5. Christological confession composed by Paul
  6. Predication (67, footnote 51)
So is it a hymn? Hendricksen suggests so. He writes, The carefully constructed nature of the passage, . . . the parallelistic correspondences pertaining to its two parts, the recurrence of words and phrases in the same sequence in these two sections, is more natural in a hymn than in the free-flowing style of a letter (70). Ultimately, however, the verdict remains out on this one, but certainly it is more than what may meet the eye in the average Bible. I would support, with the evidence put forward above by Hendricksen and others, a translation that interprets this passage as poetic and not didactic.

Why does all of this matter beyond expositional accuracy? The doctrine of Christ, our Creator-Redeemer, is something worth remembering, reciting, vocalizing, and singing. Furthermore, if this was composed by Paul, then the exaltation of the preeminent Christ is early. If it predates Paul, such a theology is very early! Thus Colossians reflects more than the theology of Paul, but the theology of the earliest Christianity which predates Paul.

All Around the Web - September 26, 2013

HT: 22 Words

Thom Rainer - Five Steps to Help a Pastor Respond When a Member Leaves the Church

  1. Pray immediately when you hear about the decision. The God we serve is the God of all comfort. He is the God of all wisdom. He knows our hurts and concerns even before we voice them. Before you do anything else, pray.
  2. Talk to the exiting church members. If they are willing, have a conversation with those who are leaving your church. Listen more than speak. Don’t be defensive. Some of the words they say may bring you pain, but allow them to speak and vent if necessary. Before the conversation ends, tell them that you will bless them in their new church. Have prayer with them, a sincere prayer for God’s best for them.
  3. Accept their decision. It is sometimes hard to accept that not all church members agree with our leadership and our church’s ministry. But there is no pastor, past or present, who will make every member happy. As hard as it is to accept, some church members will actually do better under leadership other than yours.
  4. Make corrections if needed. When I was a pastor, I listened to exiting church members tell me why they were leaving. It was almost always painful, but it was often helpful. I asked God to help me not be defensive, and to help me listen carefully to any area where I could make corrections. You know what? I sometimes learned that I could really improve areas of my ministry and life. I became a better person and a better pastor as a consequence.
  5. Write a nice letter about the exiting members. When I could do so in good conscience, I wrote a letter about the exiting members and gave it to them to give to their next pastor. Here is a portion of one of my letters written many years ago: Dear pastor. John and Mary Smith have chosen to join your church. May I be straightforward? Your church will be incredibly blessed by their presence and ministry. Our church was. I am grieving over their departure, but they have explained their reasons, and I accept them. Indeed, I plan to make some changes as a result of our conversations together. You will be amazed how God uses both of them in your church. John and Mary are two of the finest and godliest people I know. May God bless you and them as you grow in Christ together through the ministry of ABC Church.

Baptist Press - Abortion clinic closings on rise in U.S., 44 tallied year to date

For Abby Johnson, the closing of a single Planned Parenthood center demonstrated her dramatic reversal from abortion clinic director to leading pro-life advocate.

But for pro-lifers throughout the United States, it marked another exhibit in a hopeful trend -- abortion centers are shutting down at an unprecedented rate. The total so far this year is 44, according to a pro-life organization that tracks clinic operations.

None was more telling for Johnson than the mid-July closing of the Planned Parenthood center in Bryan, Texas. It came less than four years after Johnson, burdened by her involvement with abortion, walked out of that clinic as its director and into the offices of the Coalition for Life.

"Knowing that the former abortion clinic I once ran is now closing is the biggest personal victory of my life," Johnson said in a written statement after the announcement of the shutdown. "From running that facility, to then advocating for its closure, and now celebrating that dream ... it shows that my life has indeed come full circle

WORLD Magazine - Are libraries giving kids their first exposure to porn?

State laws vary in implementation of CIPA: Some require software that prevents minors from accessing the sites, some simply require the library system create a policy for online content, and others prohibit the use of library computers for that purpose entirely. Auburn, Calif., libraries have chosen to not use filters because they make computers less efficient for research. Adults caught accessing inappropriate material are given two warnings and then prohibited from using library computers. There are currently 136 adults under that ban.  

Many libraries use privacy screens to limit accidental viewing. But library patrons complain the screens don’t block sounds coming from the sites, which can also be objectionable. Other libraries have moved adults’ computers to a separate room or an area removed from the children’s section. However, no precautions are fool-proof.  

Librarians defend their decisions to allow pornography as a freedom of speech issue. But historically, libraries have had the freedom to decide which constitutionally protected speech they will include in their collections. Libraries set up policies and guidelines to help them choose materials that are appropriate for their community and weed out selections that are not.

Ligonier - 5 Questions to Ask When Reading the Bible

1. Is there a command to obey?
2. Is there an example to follow?
3. Is there a promise to claim?
4. Is there a sin to avoid?
5. Is there a principle to follow?

Thabiti Anywabwile - With a Childhood Like This… How Can I Be Expected to Behave?

Me… behave?
As a child I saw:
Tarzan almost naked…
Cinderella arrive home after midnight…
Pinocchio tell lies…
Aladdin stealing…
Batman driving over 200 miles an hour…
Snow White live in a house with 7 men…
Popeye smoking a pipe and wearing tattoos…
Pac Man running around to digital music while eating pills that enhanced his performance…
And Shaggy and Scooby work as mystery solving hippies who always had the munchies!
The fault is not mine!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From Lewis' Pen: Lead us, Evolution, Lead us

"Evolutionary Hymn" from the book Poem.
Lead us, Evolution, lead us
Up the future's endless stair;
Chop us, change us, prod us, weed us.
For stagnation is despair:
Groping, guessing, yet progressing,
Lead us nobody knows where.

Wrong or justice, joy or sorrow,
In the present what are they
while there's always jam-tomorrow,
While we tread the onward way?
Never knowing where we're going,
We can never go astray.

To whatever variation
Our posterity may turn
Hairy, squashy, or crustacean,
Bulbous-eyed or square of stern,
Tusked or toothless, mild or ruthless,
Towards that unknown god we yearn.

Ask not if it's god or devil,
Brethren, lest your words imply
Static norms of good and evil
(As in Plato) throned on high;
Such scholastic, inelastic,
Abstract yardsticks we deny.

Far too long have sages vainly
Glossed great Nature's simple text;
He who runs can read it plainly,
'Goodness = what comes next.'
By evolving, Life is solving
All the questions we perplexed.

Oh then! Value means survival-
Value. If our progeny
Spreads and spawns and licks each rival,
That will prove its deity
(Far from pleasant, by our present,
Standards, though it may well be)

From Lewis' Pen Series
From Lewis' Pen: Lead us, Evolution, Lead us
From Lewis' Pen: An Exaggerated Feminine Type
From Lewis' Pen: Theology as a Map

For more:
Lewis on Practical Theology
Lewis on the Why of Democracy
From Uncle Screwtape:  Christianity and Politics 
Theology As a Map: Lewis, Practical Theology, and the Trinity
"Screwtape Letters" by CS Lewis: A Review
The Most Unpopular of Christian Virtues: Lewis on Chasity - Part 1
The Most Unpopular of Christian Virtues: Lewis on Chasity - Part 2
The Most Unpopular of Christian Virtues: Lewis on Chasity - Part 3 
"Willing Slaves of the Welfare State": CS Lewis on Freedom, Science, and Society - Part 1
"Willing Slaves of the Welfare State": CS Lewis on Freedom, Science, and Society - Part 2
He is Not a Tame Lion: Aslan, Jesus, and the Limits of Postmodern Inclusivism  
To Be Undragoned: Aslan, Christ, and the Gift of Regeneration 
Lewis on Practical Theology  
Lewis on the Why of Democracy
From Uncle Screwtape:  Christianity and Politics      
Theologians I Have Been Influenced By - The Dead
"The Magician's Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism" Full Documentary
Beyond Narnia:  A Great Documentary 
"Surprised by Joy" by Lewis
"Jack:  A Life of CS Lewis"  
"The Great Divorce" by Lewis
"Finding God in the Land of Narnia
"A Mixture of Fool and Knave": CS Lewis on Theological Liberalism

Hump Day Humor: Fact-Free News Reporting

All Around the Web - September 25, 2013

HT: 22 Words

Breitbart - Governor Brown to Sign Bill Legalizing Non-Physician Abortions in California

WORLD Magazine - Fewer babies but not necessarily less sex for teens

The teen birth rate in the United States has dropped to a historic low, according to preliminary 2012 data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The rate of babies born to teenage mothers is less than half of what it was in 1991—from 61.8 births per 1,000 teenagers to 29.4. 

But the lower numbers don’t mean fewer teens are having sex. Rather, society’s new moral good is having “safe sex,” replacing the once-common call for abstinence. With easy access to contraceptives and lax sexual education programs, the message to teenagers is, “Have sex. Just don’t get pregnant.”
And the stats match up to this new normal. According to a 2013 study by the Guttmacher Institute, 1 in 3 16-year-olds and almost 3 in 4 19-year-olds are sexually active. Of these teens, a study found that “more than 80 percent of 16-year-olds used a method at first sex, and by one year following first sex, 95 percent of those teens had used contraception.”

The Gospel Coalition - 5 Types of Sermon Illustrations and How to Use Them

1. The story. This is what most people think of when it comes to sermon illustrations. Examples include personal experiences, accounts from world history, and current events.

2. The word picture. This illustration elaborates on something figurative or metaphorical in the passage in order to show its significance.

  3. The analogy. Analogies in general highlight points of comparison, but the best analogies end with unexpected punch lines that draw out a surprising connection. Forrest Gump is famous for this kind of analogy: "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." The surprise punch line sticks with the listener.

4. The list of examples. Examples illustrate contexts where your church can apply the sermon. Instead of giving steps for application (they won't remember them anyway), provide a quick list of examples to show how one might apply the message in various contexts. Your church can work out the steps themselves if you show them where the passage can bring change in their lives.

5. The split story. An effective way to bookend your sermon is by telling one half of a story in your sermon's introduction and then the other half in the conclusion. In the introduction, cut off the story before the problem is resolved. Then connect the unresolved conflict to the main spiritual need the passage addresses.

Politico - Poll: New low for government trust

Less than half of Americans trust the government to handle problems, a all-time low, according to a new poll.

Just 49 percent of Americans said they had a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the federal government to handle international problems, according to a Gallup poll released Friday. The previous low was 51 percent in 2007.

The public’s trust is even lower when it comes to domestic issues. Just 42 percent of Americans answered with a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the government to handle issues at home, one point below the previous low from 2011.

The Atlantic - How to Make School Better for Boys

I recently appeared on MSNBC’s The Cycle to discuss the new edition of my book The War Against Boys. The four hosts were having none of it. A war on boys? They countered with the wage gap and the prominence of men across the professions. One of them concluded, “I don’t think the patriarchy is under any threat.”

The MSNBC skeptics are hardly alone in dismissing the plight of boys and young men. Even those who acknowledge that boys are losing in school argue that they’re winning in life. But the facts are otherwise. American boys across the ability spectrum are struggling in the nation’s schools, with teachers and administrators failing to engage their specific interests and needs. This neglect has ominous implications not only for the boy's social and intellectual development but for the national economy, as policy analysts are just beginning to calculate.

As the United States moves toward a knowledge-based economy, school achievement has become the cornerstone of lifelong success. Women are adapting; men are not. Yet the education establishment and federal government are, with some notable exceptions, looking the other way.

Women in the United States now earn 62 percent of associate’s degrees, 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 60 percent of master’s degrees, and 52 percent of doctorates. College admissions officers were at first baffled, then concerned, and finally panicked over the dearth of male applicants. If male enrollment falls to 40 percent or below, female students begin to flee. Officials at schools at or near the tipping point (American University, Boston University, Brandeis University, New York University, the University of Georgia, and the University of North Carolina, to name only a few) are helplessly watching as their campuses become like retirement villages, with a surfeit of women competing for a handful of surviving men.  Henry Broaddus, dean of admissions at William and Mary, explains the new anxiety: “[W]omen who enroll … expect to see men on campus. It’s not the College of Mary and Mary; it’s the College of William and Mary.”


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Watch Ted Cruz's Filibuster Live

Since this is the news of the day, I am posting the Ted Cruz Obamacare filibuster. Its no secret I'm not a fan ethically and practically of the President's main legislative agenda and achievement.

Live streaming video by Ustream

For more:
A Must Read: "We Need Death Panels"
The Politics of Cowardice: Health Care Passes
Against the Mandate Before He Was For It: The President in the Primaries
What Would Jesus Vote?: Jesus, Health Care, and the Gospel
The Politics of Cowardice:  Health Care Passes
Some Life Not Worth the Investment:  The Dangers of the Health Care Bill Senate Health Care Bill
Another Political Lie: Abortion and Health Care
Is Health Care a Right?:  Williams Weighs In
Health Care, Ideology, and the Gospel:  Colson Weighs In 

We are Supernaturalits First: What John 1 Has to Say About Creation

In their book Explicit Gospel, authors Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson suggest that the New Testament account of origins is more relevant to the controversy over evolution than the Old Testament's account in Genesis 1 and elsewhere. He begins by quoting Phillip Johnson from his book The Wedge of Truth (151-152):
The place to begin is . . not in Genesis; rather, it is the opening of the Gospel of John.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. (Jn 1:1-3 RSV) 
These simple words make a fundamental statement that is directly contradictory to the corresponding starting point of scientific materialism. Using the Greek word logos, the passage declares that in the beginning there was intelligence, wisdom, and communication. Moreover, this Word is not merely a thing or a concept but a personal being. (99-100)
The authors then add:
Why is this important for the evolution controversy? because, as Johnson notes, "if a personal entity is at the foundation of reality . . .there is more than one way of pursuing knowledge." This puts the Christian interested in honoring God's written Word in an arguably flexible position as it pertains to the age of the earth, but it stands opposed to the theory of the evolutionary development of mankind. How? Because John 1:1-3 tells us there is a personal origin to creation, and when we track that foundation back to the "in the beginning" of Genesis 1, we see that God creates man through the speaking of words into the dust of the ground in the matter of a day, not over billions of years from primordial soup an species to species.

Furthermore, the triune God said that he has made man in his (God's) own image. The transition of man's creation, then, is wholly personal and practically instant. The supremacy of God's proclamation over science's theorization demands this view. The cohesiveness of Christian theology and ministry demands this view. Because we believe in the revelation of God in the written Word and in the incarnation, the resurrection, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and the miraculous in general, we are supernaturalists firsts, not naturalists. The only reason we feel compelled to accommodate science is that science tells us we ought to. But it is science that should accommodate revelation. Revelation has been around much longer. (100)

For more:
Its About Christ: A Lesson on Hermeneutics
"Explicit Gospel": A Sermon Preached by Matt Chandler
Matt Chandler on the Idol of March Madness

All Around the Web - September 24, 2013

Russell Moore - Is It Good News That Cohabitation Rates Are Stalling?

So even living together, with no covenant of permanence, is seen as too repressive and stifling? That’s not good news, when the replacement is even more transient sexual encounters and broken relationships.
There is good news here though, I think. The good news is that this is one more indicator that the sexual revolution is, ultimately, boring. Marriage and family can be discarded, but, in time, their proposed replacements become the new norm, and it’s time for the revolutionaries to rebel again. That can only go on for so long before a broken and bored people begin to wonder what else is there out there?
This is an opportunity for our churches to reclaim the mystery of marriage. We believe in sexual chastity outside of marriage, and in the permanence and exclusivity of the marriage covenant not because it’s a “traditional value.” We believe in it because there’s a reason why human beings flourish with marriage and family stability, and why the loss of these things leads to breakdown and boredom.
Marriage isn’t accidental but is embedded in the universe as a picture of something: the union of Christ with his church (Eph. 5). Jesus doesn’t use his Bride. He doesn’t keep his options open. He and his Bride are one-flesh.

There’s freedom and joy in that gospel, and in its sign. When our neighbors wonder whether there’s more life than ephemeral “relationships,” let’s be ready to point to the ancient newness of the ties that bind us to one another, and liberate us to love and be loved.

Justin Taylor - David Platt Interviews Mark Dever on Evangelism and Discipleship | Click the link for all of the videos.

Marvin Olasky - Waiting for the outrage over Craig James’ firing

Zachary Abate reported this morning on the sacking of Craig James by Fox Sports. His crime: Saying early last year, when he was unsuccessfully running for the U.S. Senate, that homosexuality is “a choice” that Christians should oppose, and that he opposed giving “benefits to those civil unions.”

I’ve been waiting for an explosion of columns criticizing the firing. After all, ESPN did not fire another sports analyst, Chris Broussard, who called homosexuality a sin on the air—so why is Fox Sports getting rid of James for a view he expressed not even on the job but in a political campaign more than a year ago? Must we all now pledge allegiance to the unproven determinist view that no one who engages in homosexual activities has even the slightest amount of volition in doing so?

Holocaust denial is a problem because the evidence for Nazi mass murder is overwhelming. Macroevolution denial and humans-causing-global-warming denial unfairly keeps scholars from getting jobs in academia, and that’s a problem because those 21st century heresies concern theories that aren’t proven, but at least those blacklists are about issues directly job-related.

Christian Post - Russell Moore: End of Cultural Christianity in America Is Opportunity for Church to Recover the Cross

Southern Baptist theologian Russell Moore challenged his fellow Christians to recover the Church's prophetic voice by first transforming the Church from the inside to reflect the hope of the kingdom of God to the world, and to not lose sight of the Cross as their central mission. Moore was delivering his inauguration speech Tuesday as the new president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Early in his speech, Moore signaled that his approach to political engagement would be different than a previous generation of Christian political activism.

"We can no longer pretend we are a moral majority in this country," he said in reference to the early Christian Right organization founded by Jerry Falwell. "We are a prophetic minority who must speak into a world that is not different than any other era of this world's history, but is exactly what Jesus promised us the world must be."

There would be three aspects, Moore continued, to the ministry of the ERLC under his guidance: kingdom, culture and mission.

The Telegraph - Mikhail Gorbachev admits he is a Christian

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union, has acknowledged his Christian faith for the first time, paying a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi.

Accompanied by his daughter Irina, Mr Gorbachev spent half an hour on his knees in silent prayer at the tomb.

HT: 22 Words

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Gospel Illustrated - Updated

What is the gospel? That is the most important question we could ever ask. Thanks to modern technology, various organizations, artists, churches, and groups have utilized YouTube, poetry, rap, and illustrations to share the gospel with the digital world. Below are some of my favorites.

Advent: God With Us

Advent: God With Us from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Here are the lyrics to this song/poem:

The people had read of this rescue that was coming through the bloodline of Abraham
They had seen where Micah proclaimed about a ruler to be born in Bethlehem
Daniel prophesy about the restoration of Jerusalem
Isaiah’s cry about the Son of God coming to them
So for them—it was anticipation
This groaning was growing, generation after generation
Knowing He was holy, no matter what the situation
But they longed for Him
They yearned for Him
They waited for Him on the edge of their seat
On the edge of where excitement and containment meet
They waited
Like a child watches out the window for their father to return from work—they waited
Like a groom stares at the double doors at the back of the church—they waited
And in their waiting, they had hope
Hope that was fully pledged to a God they had not seen
To a God who had promised a King
A King who would reign over the enemy
Over Satan’s tyranny
They waited
So it was
Centuries of expectations, with various combinations of differing schools of thought
Some people expecting a political king who would rise to the throne through the wars that he fought
While others expecting a priest who would restore peace through the penetration of the Pharisee’s fa├žade
Yet a baby—100% human, 100% God
So the Word became flesh and was here to dwell among us
In His fullness, grace upon grace, Jesus
Through Him and for Him, all things were created
And in Him all things are sustained
God had made Himself known for the glory of His name
And this child would one day rise as King
But it would not be by the sword or an insurgent regime
It would be by His life
A life that would revolutionize everything the world knew
He would endure temptation and persecution, all while staying true
Humbly healing the broken, the sick and hurting too
Ministering reconciliation, turning the old to new
A life that would be the very definition of what life really costs
Saying—if you desire life, then your current one must be lost
And He would portray that with His own life as His Father would pour out and exhaust
And Jesus would be obedient to the point of death, even death upon the cross
So just 33 years after the day that He laid swaddled in the hay
He hung on a tree suffocating, dying in our place
Absorbing wrath that is rightly ours, but we could never bear the weight
So He took that punishment and he put it in the grave
And He died
And when I say that He died, what I mean is that He died
No breath, noheartbeat, no sign of life
God is a God of justice, and the penalty for our sin equals death
That’s what Christ did on that cross
Then… On the third day, in accordance with scriptures, He was raised from the grave
And when I say that He was raised, what I mean is that He was raised
Lungs breathing, heart pumping, blood pulsing through His veins
The things that He promised were true
He is the risen Son of God, offering life to me and you
Turning our mourning into dancing
Our weeping into laughing
Our sadness into joy
By His mercy, we are called His own
By His grace, we will never be left alone
By His love, He is preparing our home
By His blood, we can sing before His throne
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow
So now we, as His bride, are the ones waiting
Like the saints that came before, we’re anticipating
He has shown us that this world is fading
And He has caused our desire to be for Him
So church, stay ready
Keep your heart focused and your eyes steady
Worship Him freely, never forgetting
His great love for you
Immanuel, God with us

HT: Folk Angel

The G.O.S.P.E.L. Rap

It’s the full story of life crushed into 4 minutes. The entirety of humanity in the palm of your hand crushed into one sentence. Listen its intense right. God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life. The greatest story ever told that’s hardly ever told. God. Yes. God. The maker and giver of life. And by life I mean any and all manner and substance. Seen and unseen. What can and can be touched. Thoughts, image, emotions, love, atoms and oceans. God. All of it his handy work. One of which is masterpiece. Made so uniquely that angels looked curiously. The one thing in creation that was made with his imagery. The concept so cold. It’s the reason I stay bold, how God breathed in the man and he became a living soul. Formed with the intent of being infinitely intimately fond. Creator and creation held in eternal bold. And it was placed in perfect paradise til something went wrong. A species got deceived and started lusting for his job. An odd list of complaints as if the system ain’t working and used that same breath he graciously gave us to curse him. And that sin seed spread though our soul’s genome. And by nature of your nature, your species, you participated in the mutiny. Our. Yes. Our sins. Its nature inherited, lack in the human heart, it was over before it started. Deceived from day one and lead away by our own lusts. There’s not a religion in the word that doesn’t agree that something’s wrong with us. The question is what is it? And how do we fix it? Are we eternally separated from a God that may or not have existed? But that’s another subject. Let’s keep grinding. Besides trying to prove God is like defending a lion homie, it don’t need your help, just unlock the cage. Let’s move on how our debt can be paid. Short and sweet. The problem is Sin. Yes. Sin. It’s a cancer. An asthma. Choking out our life force. Forcing separation from a perfect and holy God and the only way to get back is to get back to perfection but silly us, trying to pass the course of life without referring to a syllabus. This is us. Heap up your good deeds. Chant, pray, meditate but all of that of course is spreading colon on a corpse. Or you could choose to ignore it as if something don’t stink. It’s like stepping it dog poop and refusing to wipe your shoe and all of that ends with how good is good enough. Take your silly list of good deeds and line them up against perfection, good luck. That’s life past your pay grade. The cost of your soul you ain’t gotta big enough piggy bank. But you can give it a shot. But I suggest you throw away the list cause even your good acts are an extension of your selfishness. But here’s where it gets interesting. I hope your closely listening. Please don’t get it twisted. It’s what makes our faith unique. Here’s what God says is Part A of the gospel. You can’t fix yourself. Quit trying it’s impossible. Sin brings death. Give God his breath back. You owe him. Eternally separated and the only way to fix it is someone die in your place and that someone gotta be perfect. Or the payment ain’t permanent. So if and when you find the perfect person, get him or her to willing trade their perfection for your sin and death in. Clearly since the only one that can meet God’s criteria is God. God sent himself as Jesus to pay the cost for us. His righteousness, his death, functions as payment. Yes. Payment. Wrote a check with his life but at the resurrection we all cheered cause that means the check cleared. Pierced feet, pierced hands, blood stained son of man. Fullness forgiveness free passage into the promise land, that same breath God breathed into us God gave it up to redeem us. And anyone and everyone. And by everyone I mean everyone who puts their faith in trust in him and him alone can stand in full confidence of God’s forgiveness. And here’s what the promise is, that you are guaranteed full access to return the perfect unity. By simply believing in Christ in Christ alone. You are receiving life. Yes. Life. This is the Gospel. God. Our. Sins. Paying. Everyone. Life.

HT: Living One Day At a Time

The Story of Everything

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What is the Gospel? from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

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