As a teenage I knew everything. Now I’m in my thirties and I know nothing. Well actually I know a lot more than I knew then. But “nothing” in relation to what I thought I knew. I remember as a child learning to read and write. I’d sit down at the kitchen table with a paper and pencil and randomly bunch letters together, then I’d turn the paper toward my mom and pepper her which question after question like those shrinks do with black blobs on card stock. ‘Mom, what does “hasekt” mean?’
By the time I reached my late teens I went from inventing words to inventing heresies. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That’s a fitting description of “heresy.” And so of course nobody seeks to invent a heresy. But when someone succeeds at doing so, they’ve not invented a heresy as much as an orthodoxy. Because it’s like when you go to China. You don’t eat Chinese food in China. You only eat food. And when you go to Italy. You’re not eating Italian food, you’re just eating food. And when you invent your own heresy, you’ve not invented a heresy, but an orthodoxy. Continue reading
I wrote an article earlier in the week titled “Rachel, stop whac-a-moling other Christians. Please.” I’ve not been a consistent blogger in recent times and hadn’t expected the article to receive the attention it did. I should have known better, since the title contained the key word “Rachel,” a name which is practically synonymous with “blog-hits-amania.” And I’m sure dropping the imagery of a whac-a-mole helped drive traffic too. Continue reading
The other day I read what can only be described as the single most horrible article I read this year.
It was titled “Top Five Reasons Why I’m Glad Paul Walker Is Dead.” I’m intentionally not linking to the site or article and would suggest that you not go and read it. It doesn’t deserve the honour. It is simply the most insensitive piece I think I’ve seen in modern times. What stuns me is that the author seems oblivious to how inhuman her article is, continues to defend it and continues to intentionally insult her furious audience. Most recently she’s claiming that she had to go into hiding because of all of the death threats she has received, and apparently she’s on suicide watch.
She wants sympathy. Continue reading
It’s been reported on Huffington Post (“shows outrageous Christian generosity”), ABC (“doing the Lord’s work”), Denver Post (“what would Jesus tip“) and literally dozens of other news reports and websites.
Christians and restaurant servers have gotten off on the wrong foot (to say the least). Ironically Christians are known for being poor tippers or worse, “tract” tippers (“here’s a tip: get saved, Jesus loves you.”), or worse yet, ideologically resistant tippers (“I’d tip you but I don’t agree with your lifestyle”).
But one person is on a mission to change all of that. Continue reading
Dave Ramsey’s ministry was a God-sent for my wife and I a few years back when poor money management forced us to move in with my in-laws for three years. I’ve written about our story before and how Dave’s Financial Peace University literally changed our lives. It taught us to be faithful stewards with the money and jobs God provided. To honour God with the little things in life. To be wise with what we have. And in the process, it brought about greater peace and less stress in our home.
Yet being the armchair scholar that I am, I couldn’t help twitch at some of Ramsey’s biblical claims. Particularly when he starts talking about tithing – that Christians must tithe 10% each week because the Bible says so. News flash, it doesn’t.
But I had to put aside some of the nuances of Ramey’s claims and remember that he’s not a biblical scholar or theologian. He’s not operating or functioning in those roles, neither is he claiming to do so. Continue reading
I did a video on the Atheist Mega-Church phenomena which sparked quite the discussion. A read through the comments on my YouTube channel will reveal debates over whether atheism is a faith or not and whether the term “church” properly describes their meetings.
I do think that atheism qualifies as a faith-based religion in the sense that their belief of an eternal universe is taken on faith and their customs and philosophy fall squarely within the category of humanism. But that’s not really an issue for me. More to the point, I think that the word “church” is a fitting description for their gatherings. Continue reading
It’s that time of the year again. The time when I come face to face with a conflict of commercialism, my job and my conviction.
I work retail. My livelihood pretty much depends on your coming into my store and spending your money on our products and services during the Christmas season. Without the Christmas shopping season our economy would look very different. Retailers depend on “this” season to get most of us through “those” season. You know, the other times of the year.
But Christmas is also that time when people go into their deepest debt and spend the rest of the year trying to claw their way out before the next Christmas season. Every time someone pulls out a credit card to buy Christmas presents, my guts shrivel up and I feel remorseful for them. Yes I know that some people like to use their credit cards just to get points or to build credit, and some of them even manage to consistently pay them off each month. But the reality is that is not the case for most people. Most people buy on credit at Christmas because there is no way they can afford the season from their normal income.
And then there’s the fact that we are so ridiculously commercialized and wealthy in a sort of “I’m in debt up to my eyeballs, but check out my new XBOX ONE” kind of way, while children around the world go hungry and entire communities lack safe drinking water.
But I’m not the type of offer a polarized solution to our excessive activities. I think festivals and traditions are good and healthy for a community. I don’t think exchanging gifts, enjoying grand meals and celebrating with the extended family are, by default, bad things. I also don’t think that, on account that someone somewhere is hurting, we should all strip our lives of any pleasures at all times. But this is not the place to argue for what I just said. Instead I’m going to offer you a few tips for your Christmas spending. Continue reading
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Most experts – Christian and non-Christian alike – believe the earth is old, very old. Some experts believe the earth is young. But the phrases “Old Earth Creationism” and “Young Earth Creationism” have come to mean something slightly different. Those phrases have come to denote views which ascribe a theory regarding the age and creation-process of the universe to the Bible, and specifically to Genesis chapter one.
I have a problem with that. But before I explain what that is, I think Rob Bell does a good job of taking-the-words-out-of-my-mouth-and-placing-them-in-a-different-context, if you will.
In discussing the story of Jonah and bantering around the perspectives of whether or not the story represents a historical account or a literary one, he writes this:
It’s possible to affirm the literal fact of a man being swallowed by a fish, making that the crux of the story in such a way that you defend that, believe that, argue about that-and in spending your energies on the defend-the-fish-part miss the point of the story, the point about allowing God’s redeeming love to flow through us with such power and grace that we are able to love and bless even our worst enemies.
And that, when applied to Genesis one, is a serious problem with OEC and YEC perspectives. Both views insist upon a “scientific” reading of Genesis one. And while they spend all of their time affirming their scientific perspective, defending it, making it the crux of the story and spending all their energies and countless resources on making Genesis one about that, the actual point of the story, its actual message is totally, absolutely missed. Continue reading
What makes Mike Bird stand out as a theologian is his humour. A trait sorely lacking among academicians. I still recall his Old Spice parody video on the Greek New Testament. Funny stuff.
In his recently published Evangelical Theology book he crafts humour and satire into his serious study. I haven’t read it myself (yet!), but Trevin Wax posted a few excerpts illustrating Bird’s comical relief (hmm, perhaps all theological tome’s could use some relief of that sort).
A Calvinist arrives at St. Peter’s gates and sees that there are two queues going in. One is marked “predestined,” and the other is marked “free will.” Being the card-carrying Calvinist that he is, he strolls on over to the predestined queue. After several moments an angel asks him, “Why are you in this line?” He replies, “Because I chose it.” The angel looks surprised, “Well, if you ‘chose’ it, then you should be in the free will line.” So our Calvinist, now slightly miffed, obediently wanders over to the free will line. Again, after a few minutes, another angel asks him, “Why are you in this line?” He sullenly replies, “Someone made me come here.”
In response to the idea that penal substitution is a form of “divine child abuse,” he writes:
“Dem dere be fightin words! The problem is that this argument is filled with so much straw that you could literally take that argument, put a costume on it, and audition it for the role of the scarecrow in a new Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz.”
I’m looking forward to reading this book…
And speaking of poking fun at Calvinism…
One of the fondest memories I had as a child was Halloween. Dressing up in costumes, playing around as a pirate with my plastic sword, fake beard, eye patch and bandana going door to door collecting candy. But that wasn’t the best part. Throughout the year parents are usually too busy to be kids again. But Halloween was the one time of the year my parents would dress up too. It was awesome. And it meant so much to me. And we’d meet our cousins and aunts and uncles and together we’d go out trick or treating. Afterward we’d all go back to one of our homes and dump out our piles of candy taking inventory as our parents scoured through them making sure everything was safe.
When we became Christians all of that stopped. We were told about how Halloween is the devil’s holiday. We were told that real life witches, warlocks, and devil worshippers were out performing incantations that night. We were warned to leave our black cat in the house lest a witch discover him and we find him gutted in the backyard the next morning. We were told about the heightened promiscuity that went on at costume parties on Halloween and we were told about all of the symbols – ghosts, demons, witches and more – pointing to satan.
In my later teen years I became active in a Halloween safety patrol with my church. We’d patrol the streets around our community wearing special vests so people knew who we were. It provided comfort to the parents in the community until things got out of hand and some of our fellow patrollers began acting like Dog the Bounty Hunter. Continue reading
I think Catholic/Protestant controversies are overrated. So I go out of my way to build bridges between Catholics and Protestants and this often involves calling Protestants out when they attempt to colour history in a way that makes us out to be the heroes of the story. I do this because I’m a Protestant. If I spent all my time rebutting Catholics, it would do my bridge-building cause harm because I’d be seen as just another Protestant apologist seeking to attack the enemy. So I leave “Catholic revisionists and apologists” to their own, hoping that reasonable and educated Catholics will take their own to task.
But on occasion I feel the need to offer a reasoned response to the rhetoric of Catholic apologists, hoping that I can offer sound reason to ground their readers in reality. I’m suspicious of apologists because their agenda colours their interpretation and presentation of the facts – whether Protestant or Catholic.
Such seems to be the case in a Catholic apologetic website which was shared to me in response to my video episode titled “Christians & Halloween: An Origin Story.” Continue reading
One of the striking features of the Protestant Reformation was in its absolute and utter failure.
I always thought the word “Reformation” meant, “that period of time when Luther led countless faithful Christians out of the bowels of the corrupt Catholic Church and back to the standards of the New Testament.” But that’s not a reformation is it? That’s more of an exodus. A reformation happens internally and stays internally. Either it succeeds by changing the Magisterium or by replacing it via a revolution. The Protestant Reformation did neither. Rather they separated from the Catholic Church.
But to be clear – and this came as a surprise to me when I first learned of it – Luther, the herald and recognized leader of the Reformation, had no desire to leave at first. His “Reformation battle cry” was in the hopes of reforming the Church he knew and loved, not leaving it. It was only when he became aware that the measure he was calling for would not be met and that inquisition charges awaited him that leaving became the only option. Continue reading