Friday, March 28, 2014

All Around the Wed - March 28, 2014

Christianity Today - Why Hobby Lobby Is This Year's Supreme Court Case To Watch
When Hobby Lobby makes its case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, conservative Christians won't be the only ones paying attention.

After a year and a half of opposing the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate, the evangelical-owned craft store chain has become shorthand for the corporate fight for religious liberty—one that concerns not only Obamacare critics, or fellow Christians who worry that certain contraception methods are abortifacients, but now, Americans overall.

It's expected to be the most high-profile case the Supreme Court reviews this year. CT can refresh your memory.
CNN called Hobby Lobby's oral arguments, scheduled for March 25, a "high-stakes encore" to Obamacare. Left-leaning news site Mother Jones warned readers about the potential "revolutionary outcomes, from upending a century's worth of settled corporate law to opening the floodgates to religious challenges to every possible federal statute to gutting the contraceptive mandate."
Hobby Lobby's case—to be argued along with Mennonite-owned furniture makers Conestoga Wood Specialties—represents the fate of nearly 100 other businesses and non-profits who have filed suit against the contraceptive mandate. (Churches and other houses of worship had been granted an exemption.)

Their legal challenge has generated an outpouring of amicus briefs—filings of relevant opinion and testimony from interested stakeholders who aren't directly involved, such as congressmen, scholars, religious groups, and theologians. With 84 filings, the case represents "among the largest amicus efforts ever," according to The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Religion News Service summarizes the two central questions for the Supreme Court to consider:
  • Does Hobby Lobby as a corporation have religious rights protected by the First Amendment?
  • Have those rights been violated under a 20-year-old statute that sets a high bar for government interference of religious freedom?

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know about the Story of Noah
2. Based on 18 inches to a cubit, the total cubic volume of Noah's ark would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet, the equivalent to 250 single-deck railroad stock cars. Since the average stock car can carry 80 180 lb. sheep or to 160 50 lb. sheep per deck (2.5 - 5 sq ft per animal), it's estimated the ark could carry 20,000-40,000 sheep size animals.

3. From Ancient Near Eastern records to nautical practices as recent as the 19th century, sailors the world over used doves, ravens, and other birds to help them find and navigate toward land. A raven will fly directly toward land, so it's line of flight can be used as a guide. Doves have a limited ability for sustained flight, so they can be used to determine the location of a landing site. As long as the dove returns, no landing site is in close range.

4. Noah and his family were on the ark for a total of 370 days. Noah's first recorded act on leaving the ark is build an altar to the Lord (Gen. 8:20).

5. The Bible says the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (a mountain range in Turkey) but does not specify which mountain.

6. Noah became the first drunk recorded in Scripture, resulting in immoral behavior and family troubles (Genesis 9:20-26).

7. The only time Noah is recorded as speaking is when he curses his grandson Canaan and blesses his sons Shem and Japeth. At all other points in his story, God does the talking and Noah does the listening.

Justin Taylor - Was God Really in the Tomb as a Corpse? | Though this is deep in the theological end, I found this to be helpful.
Toward that end I enlisted the assistance of Stephen Wellum, professor of Christian theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and that author of a forthcoming Christology in Crossway’s Foundations of Evangelical Theology series (which I expect to become a standard work). His reflections on David’s piece are as follows:
Reflecting on the incarnation and how God the Son adds to himself a human nature, and making sense of the metaphysics of the incarnation, is not an easy task. Great minds have reflected on these truths, and in the end our doing so is the glorious task of faith seeking understanding. We must carefully remain within the biblical givens and the theological reflections of the church, especially as reflected in the Church’s confession as represented by the Chalcedonian Definition. Even though Confessions are secondary standards they helps set the parameters by which we carry out our theologizing of such important truths. Dr. David Murray is to be commended for helping us once again reflect upon and wrestle with the incredible and glorious truth of the incarnation, and anything said in response and disagreement must not be taken as not appreciating what he has sought to write in this post. However, in light of Scripture and the Chalcedon Confession, I find a number of points confusing and it is to these points I now turn.

Thom Rainer - Should Good Grammar Be a Ministry Competency?
  1. We should do all things for the glory of God. Yes, we should even speak and write well for His glory. Most of us in vocational ministry have little excuse not to learn proper grammar.
  2. A significant portion of ministry is communication. Ministers preach. They teach. They write articles. They author blogs. They are in both formal and informal conversations on a regular basis. If we allow for grammatical slippage, how far will we let it go?
  3. Good grammar can provide greater credibility. Maybe it’s not fair, but it’s a reality. The better we speak and write, the more likely people are to listen to our message. And we have the greatest message the world has ever known.
  4. Good grammar is a reflection of a good work ethic. A person who has not learned the difference between “it’s” and “its” after 30 or more years has not worked hard at grammar. If someone has not worked hard at grammar, can that mean he or she has not worked hard in other areas?
  5. Learning good grammar means we take care of the details. The English language is a complicated language. Those who master it are not necessarily the smartest people; but they are people who care about details. Those who care about details in grammar are likely to care about important details in ministry.

Tim Challies - The False Teachers: Charles Taze Russell
Unlike so many other false teachers before and after him, Russell did not rely upon visions or other extra-biblical revelation. Rather, he simply interpreted, and misinterpreted, the Bible. While claiming to be a Christian and, in fact, a Christian who was restoring the faith of the New Testament, he denied many key Christian doctrines including eternal punishment, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the existence of the Holy Spirit.

Russell, as with most Adventists, denied the existence of hell as a place where the wicked face God’s wrath. He also held that the soul simply ceases to exist after death.

As with Arius centuries before, he held that Jesus was a created being, and was actually Michael the Archangel in human form. While he taught that this Jesus died on behalf of humanity, he also taught that Jesus rose only spiritually rather than physically. While he denied the divinity of Jesus, he denied the existence of the Holy Spirit, teaching that the Spirit is not a person, but simply a name given to express a specific manifestation of God’s power. In denying the divinity of Jesus and the existence of the Holy Spirit, he necessarily denied the Trinity.

PriceonomicsWhy Thieves Steal Soap
At the Walgreens on Market Street in San Francisco, customers often need to call a store employee to unlock a display case for them. The customers are not tech titans buying laptop batteries or wealthy San Franciscans purchasing jewelry or top-shelf liquor. Workers unlock cases of baby formula, shampoo, and soap for a mix of office workers and low-income customers.  

It’s well known that pharmacies need to protect their stores of cold medicine, which methamphetamine cooks like Jesse Pinkman can use to make product. But why soap? Is a $6 bottle of Dove body wash really worth the squeeze?

Walgreens realizes that it is; retail assistants explain that the locks prevent thefts. Understanding why requires an appreciation of the illicit market for stolen goods.

A great guide -- at least for those of us with book smarts rather than street smarts -- is an article in the Journal of Criminology, “How Prolific Thieves Sell Stolen Goods,” based on a U.K. crime reduction study.


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