I was asked on Quora to answer how Christianity understands the book of Genesis. Here is what I wrote.
May 9, 2013 by Jeff
I was asked on Quora to answer how Christianity understands the book of Genesis. Here is what I wrote.
March 28, 2013 by Jeff
October 15, 2012 by Jeff
As Reformation Day draws near you are
probably hopefully hearing lots about Martin Luther and his famous 95 Theses. Less well known but nonetheless vitally important are the principles Huldrych Zwingli presented as the basis of the Reformation he led among the Swiss. This is a summary of the presentation Zwingli made (with the help of Bullinger) in the canton of Bern.
1. The church is created by the Word of God and Christ alone is her head.
2. The laws of the church are binding upon believers only as far as they conform to Scripture.
3. Christ is the sum total of man’s righteousness.
4. Scripture does not teach any corporeal presence of Christ in the bread and cup of the Lord’s Supper.
5. The practice of the mass is a gross affront to the sacrificial death of Christ.
6. There is no Biblical warrant for intercession for the dead, purgatory, or the use of images in worship.
7. Marriage is lawful for all.
July 24, 2012 by Jeff
I’m putting this on the blog largely because I want to have easy access to it in the future. If you haven’t seen it yet it would be worth your time to read as well.
It’s a post from the Slate.com blog XX Factor, billed as “What Women Really Think”, from Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men. The subject for Rosin is the self-sacrifice made by three men on behalf of women during the Aurora movie theater shooting.
In the movies the Dark Knight does not always save his lady, but in the Aurora theater the story unfolded differently. The male instinct to rescue and protect kicked in the way it does in less complicated superhero tales. At least three of the 12 victims of the shooting died because they were physically protecting the women they came to the movie with. Alex Teves, 24, used his body as a shield to cover his girlfriend. He was shot, and she survived. Matthew Robert McQuinn threw his body in front of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler. He too was killed, and she was pulled to safety by her brother, Nick Yowler. Jonathan Blunk, 26, pushed his girlfriend, Jansen Young, under a seat. Again, he was killed, and she got out after the shooting was over. Young crawled out and realized she and her boyfriend were alone in the theater, only he was really wet, and she couln’t believe what had happened, so she tried to convince herself that someone must have thrown a water balloon.
Rosin’s conclusion is right on.
Papers have described what happened in the theater as “chivalry.” But it’s not really that. Chivalry is a code of conduct connected to social propriety. Throwing your body in front of your girlfriend when people all around you are getting shot is an instinct that’s basic, and deeper. It’s the same reason these Batman and Spider-Man franchises endure: Because whatever else is fading away, women still seem to want their superhero, and men still seem to want to be him.
Of course, Rosin doesn’t ask why this “basic and deeper instinct” is present.
In fact, the current cultural milieu, constructed as it is with no reference to the God of creation, can’t understand why. But we Christians aren’t in the same boat.
We understand that Alex Teves, Matthew Robert McQuinn, and Jonathan Blunk are heroes. And we understand why – they were acting out the image of the God who created them to reflect His character in defending those who need defense.
July 20, 2012 by Jeff
The horrifying news out of Aurora, CO this morning bring all the questions associated with the problem of evil rushing to the forefront. When a madman opens fire in a theater what, exactly, is God doing? Why doesn’t he stop such events? Does His perceived lack of involvement indicate that He doesn’t care? Does the presence of evil in the world indicate God doesn’t exist?
Randy Alcorn has addressed this topic in his book If God Is Good, an excerpt from which WaterBrook Multnomah has kindly made available for free. It’s a quick read and will help us think through important questions like the ones above while we pray for and mourn with those affected by the tragedy in CO.
July 18, 2012 by Jeff
I wanted to take a minute and call your attention to a new blog I am very excited about: The Humanitas Forum on Christianity and Culture Blog. This new blog plans to post four or five times a week on a wide range of topics, including popular culture, social media, theology, technology, the Christian mind, the Church, work and vocation, the family, idols of our age, bioethics, and so on.
Uf you are in the Middle TN area you should note that this site is created and maintained by Michael Poore of Cookeville who has served the community so well with the Humanitas Forum events. I am confident that both the site and the events will be well worth your time.
June 11, 2012 by Jeff
If you haven’t read David McCullough, Jr’s address to the Class of 2012 from Wellesley High then you should take the time to read it. Once you are done, distribute it far and wide – particularly to any under 35-year old you might have contact information from.
The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer. You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness–quite an active verb, “pursuit”–which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on Youtube… Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands.
(HT: Al Mohler)
April 17, 2012 by Jeff
This quote from Edgar Allan Poe comes from his short story “The Black Cat” (which is well worth reading if you never have).
Of this spirit philosophy takes no account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart — one of the indivisible primary faculties, or sentiments, which give direction to the character of Man. Who has not, a hundred times, found himself committing a vile or a silly action, for no other reason than because he knows he should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in the teeth of our best judgment, to violate that which is Law, merely because we understand it to be such?
This inward inclination Poe calls the spirit of PERVERSENESS – Christian theologians call it total depravity.
March 27, 2012 by Jeff
There are a lot of components to a well rounded answer. The first is a hearty “I don’t know” in the sense that you are on to something that is exactly right – Christian education SHOULD be something churches invest in. Once you come to realize that Jesus is both Creator of and Lord over all of reality (as has been the central Christian confession since the earliest days of the church) you pretty swiftly get to the conclusion that education is discipleship. Really, as Christians, we would affirm that you can’t understand anything as well as you should if you don’t understand that Jesus is the creator, sustainer, and Lord of everything. Yet we’re all too comfortable farming out our children’s discipleship to an institution with a decidedly contrary worldview (speaking of government schools wholistically and acknowledging that there are really good Christian educators in the secular education system) for 40 hours a week and then hoping a few hours at church will be enough to counter the negatives of government school education. That is just the sort of thing that churches should combat by helping to make Christian education an affordable alternative. Christie and I really believe that investing in Christian education should be part of a church’s local missions budget since, as I said, investing in a good Christian school is investing in discipleship.
The problem is that lots of churches can’t see the value of investing in something if it doesn’t have an altar call at the end of the meeting. Actually, there are multiple problems. Another is that a local church investing in a Christian school often requires that church being assured they will control the school absolutely before they cut the check. Hence the reality that it’s not uncommon for an average city to have four Christian schools, all run exclusively by one of four different churches and boasting 30 students apiece.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that even if churches began to invest in Christian school more extensively Christian parents would still have to agree to commit to Christian education as well for a truly alternative system to develop. I’ve often been told “We could never afford that” by families that can somehow manage to always have a vehicle less than 3 years old, just put in a pool, went to Disneyland 2 out of the last 4 years, etc. I’m not saying any of those decisions are bad in and of themselves but until a family makes investing in their student’s education a priority – the kind of priority that carries financial consequences – there is no amount of supplementing that can reduce the cost of private education to the nominal level some would be “willing” to pay.
The other issue with families is that so many worship the god of Football (or [Insert favorite sport]). The chance for their kid to play some kind of sport is much more non-negotiable than being told (for example) that anyone who doesn’t religiously affirm Darwinism and/or Secular Humanism is some kind of intellectual pygmy for 40 hours a week and more than a decade (as they complete the government school program). The bottom line is that families have to get serious about putting their kid in the best situation possible before any lowered tuition cost would have any affect. These are, I’m sure, not the only reasons families won’t make the move to a Christian school. The two I have mentioned just happen to be the most common and poor excuses I run into.
Sorry for the book, I wanted to give a thorough treatment. This was all off the cuff so I’m sure there is spelling/grammar mistakes. Please forgive those as well. I should also note that my views are mine and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Highland Rim Academy but those views did lead Christie and I to invest our time and resources in the school.
March 26, 2012 by Jeff
Feast your eyes on this monstrosity:
I saw this on the shelf of my favorite local home improvement warehouse store and was violently reminded that syncretism is alive and well in American Christianity.
I’m really torn on how to even write about this. On the one level I recognize some monster wanted to make a figure of Jesus to sell around Easter. On the other, I can’t comfortably acknowledge that this… thing… has any connection to the reigning Lord of the Universe. I think I’m going to call it Easter Egg jesus. I guess I should be encouraged (?) on some level that the Easter Bunny appears to be bowing down to jesus (Amen! said all my fundamentalist brethren) but I’m more distressed that he’s somehow made jesus put on a dress that looks like an easter egg.
Can’t you just smell the sentimentalism billowing off of this atrocity? Somehow it manages to be both blasphemous and trivial at the same time. How many lawn ornaments can make that claim?
Honestly, I’m convinced one of the major reasons God gave us the 2nd Commandment is because He knew we would make something like this deformity.
Anyway, it was too awful not to share.