Culture

Here’s Your Sign

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We usually read church signs. They’re big, bright, and meant to be read. So, out of a habit formed over the years, we read church signs if we’re able. The other night, on the way home from my daughter’s basketball practice, I noticed a church sign that caught my eye. What did it say?

church-sign-2

Before I comment, let me offer a disclaimer of sorts. The fact that “educated” is set in quotes gives me a little pause. I don’t know what prompted this particular thought, nor do I know to whom the sign may be referring–all I have is speculation. However, regardless of the referent, the comment is offensive in a couple of ways.

First, even if a particular person, institution, etc, is in view here, it surely would offend anyone who has either pursued education beyond what is required to finish high school and/or those who have committed themselves to teaching others. My wife has been teaching for 12 years and has earned her master’s degree, so she would fit both categories. Also, this church is located only a few blocks from the school district’s central headquarters!

Second, as readers here likely know, theological education has been a major component of my own life. As I am about halfway through the PhD program at DTS, this sentiment is very offensive to me and others who have walked this path.

There is a notion in the minds of many Christians that is, sadly, all too common, namely that all we need is the Bible and the Holy Spirit to understand the Scriptures. Again, I don’t know if seminarians or biblical studies/theology students are in mind on this sign, but I can’t shake the suspicion this is so. Admittedly there are always seminary grads who parade their achievement in the face of others who have not received the same education and/or use it to prop themselves up as the authoritative arbiter of biblical interpretation. Such attitudes are indeed deplorable. However, many (perhaps most) PhD students in biblical/theological studies are not there to bolster their own knowledge in order to lord it over others; rather, they pursue knowledge in order to serve God by helping others sort through the numerous difficulties one faces when reading the Bible.

Whatever the referent, it is simply ignorant to claim that education (of whatever sort) moves a person farther away from God. Yes, knowledge that is built up for its own sake can certainly achieve that end, but knowledge also serves to help us know God better. Because I don’t know what prompted this particular statement, I realize I may be wrong; however, such a blanket statement about being educated is simply wrong. Education is a virtuous thing, one that many people do not have the opportunity to pursue. I have devoted my life to this and it hasn’t been easy on my family or me, so to read such a statement on a church sign, well, bothers me to say the least.

Αυτω η δοξα

Quote of the Day

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If you’re “making the Bible relevant,” then change your name to “the Holy Spirit.”

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Quote of the Day

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Today’s quote is from a veritable well of quotable quotes, Dr. Jim West, who says of those currently occupying the White House and Congress,

May God bless America. By removing all of you from office this election.

Amen and amen. You can read the whole letter here.

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Fundy Mail: The Tim Tebow Edition

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Alright boys and girls, it’s time for another edition of Fundy Mail here at Εις Δοξαν! Today you’re in for a real treat! Today’s letter is from a gentleman in Colorado Springs, CO, who claims that he has had roughly a dozen dreams over the last couple of years that indicate revival is coming to Colorado and will spread from there throughout the nation! Isn’t that wonderful news?!? He tells more:

  1. It will be brought about not by man and churches, but by the Lord God Himself, just like in the first century with miracles, signs and wonders! SPLENDID!
  2. God is not pleased with, in fact angry, with his church for seeking the things of this world more than him. *bad bad USA*
  3. The church is not obeying Colossians 3:1-2. (who needs the rest of the bible!)
  4. He is upset with charismatic prosperity doctrine (ok, God is mad about that!).
  5. He is angry at the sin in the church, e.g. divorce, legalized adultery, fornication (especially among the youth), idolatry (TV, Hollywood), and general worldliness. Ok, some those things are all bad–two in a row!

He then shares a delightful story about two sisters in Scotland, one of whom was blind (huh?), who started praying for revival and after two years God brought Scotland’s greatest revival ever! He then beseeches pastors to do likewise. Why, you ask? I quote, “Your prayers could play a part in making my dreams a reality!” Well then, let’s get to it–we’ve got dreams to get fulfilled!

Page two is a rambling rant about some instance of a (yes, a singular) conservative Baptist pastor) and his disagreement with an organization and how that puts him in agreement with the Church of Christ. And believe me, that is a BAD thing!

But wait kiddos, page three is the most exciting of all nine–it’s a polemic against Florida and all their wicked bathing-suit-clad inhabitants!!! Emblazoned atop this page is a picture of Broncos QB Tim Tebow posing with a young lady in a bikini. Our author is quick to point that if this is really Tim (and it certainly appears to be), then this is a “man of God with his arm around a near naked young woman not his wife!” ABOMINATION!!! As you’re probably asking yourself, who is responsible for this, um, ABOMINATION? Why, who else–the state of Florida!

It is because he spent much of his life in Florida, land of nakedness, where nearly all young people go around nearly naked and cowardly pastors say not a word? As I understand it, Tim is a Baptist and so I doubt that he ever heard a sermon dealing with immodest dress of women. The beaches were not nearly so bad when in earlier decades women wore only one piece bathing suits, but now they reveal 98% of a woman’s body as above. There is only one word to describe it: SIN!!!

So, as you can see, there is irrefutable evidence that because Tim Tebow is from Florida and he is willing to participate in abominable acts means that women will feel too much pressure “to be sexy and show off their bodies so they can attract a man like Tim!” Bad Tim, BAAAAD!

Furthermore, our author believes Tim has acted irresponsibly by revealing his body. “…he must not realize that he should not frequent beaches and pools as a man of God since they are a part of the devil’s kingdom.”

Well kids, I hope you have learned some important lessons today: 1) You are to pray so that another’s dreams will become reality, 2) it’s bad to agree with Church of Christ, 3) Florida is the land of nakedness–if you live there you will be mostly naked most of the time and God will destroy you for it, and 4) stay away from the beaches and pools–they are the devil’s kingdom!

That’s all for this week! Join us next time as we read more Fundy Mail!

Αυτω η δοξα

Russell Moore on Women’s Submission to Men

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As usual, Moore has some food for thought that is worth your time and mine to read. Check out what he has to say (briefly) on women’s submission to men here.

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Sobering Words

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Head on over to Jesus Needs New PR and read Matthew Turner’s post What many of America’s churches have in common with Penn State. It’s sobering, biting, and a little bit harsh. Here’s an excerpt that was particularly apt:

And while America’s churches have helped and brought hope to a wealth of people, we have also dished out hell and damnation in the name of God on a lengthy list of victims.

Why? I think it’s because a core belief or understanding that is foundational to nearly every form of Christian fundamentalism is this: The “idea” or “value” or “belief” is more important, more valuable than people.

Read the whole thing. You’ll probably disagree with a thing or two, but it’s worth the few minutes it will take to read.

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Veterans Day

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To all who are bravely and faithfully serving in the armed forces–we salute you and pray for your speedy return home.

To all who have bravely and faithfully served in the armed forces–we honor you and thank you.

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Russell Moore doesn’t really like ‘Judgment Houses’…and I don’t either

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As you know, I have a great appreciation and respect for Russell Moore, so it’s no surprise that I found his latest post one with which I can wholeheartedly agree. He offers a number of reasons why Halloween Judgment Houses often miss the mark. I went to one of these when I was part of a youth group, and it was quite hokey compared to some of the ones going today. It seems that these events are meant literally to try and scare the “Hell” out of people. We all know fear can be a terribly effective motivator and it is a primary weapon in the arsenal of many preachers and ministries. To avoid hell becomes the primary focus of coming to Christ. All that sinners-being-reconciled-to-a-righteous-and-holy-God stuff is just a bonus I guess. I’ve come to see the gospel as much more than NOT going to hell, but the good news that abundant life and reconciliation with God are possible through Christ! My fear is that reducing the gospel and mission of the church to trying to keep people out of hell will produce a fearful lot whose only concern is trying not to anger God and in some way undermining the relationship and communion they can now have with their Father. Or, even worse, will lead the church to neglect the actual opportunities there to serve others in the love of Christ because we just have to save sinners from hell.

Don’t get me wrong–I am sure that some people are genuinely saved from sin at these events and for that God be praised! But it seems as if it’s just another tentacle on the beast that evangelical Christianity has become in order “to win souls” (another concept I have issues with, but more on that in another post). It seems like pastors and other Christian leaders feel like they have to bait sinners into coming to a Christian event so they can share the gospel. “Come and see so-and-so do such-and-such” is all the rage. If we can appeal to some bigger-than-YOUR-life personality or demonstration, they’ll come to church and we can get ‘em saved! We’ll ask them, “Don’t you want to go to heaven?” “Well, yeah!” “Ok, this is all you have to do!” and they’re lead in a “sinner’s prayer,” and added to the masses of sheeple already filling churches across the land.

I also wonder if it’s possible that these Judgment Houses/Hell Houses are in fact more entertaining to some than frightful, given the number of teens who are numb to such things. When talking to younger people I have about scary movies they’ve seen, most of them are unperturbed by what they’ve watched. It’s a movie–it’s over in 90 minutes. These judgment houses might be seen in much the same way and they’re over in less than that. It’s like a haunted house–get scared for a bit then you find the exit sign. I would not be surprised if they thought the same about separation from God.

Yes, yes, I know it doesn’t always go this way, but it’s far more common than one might imagine. As you might surmise, I’m not a fan of these kinds of things, whether it’s a judgment house or some other kind of publicity stunt meant to lure in the unsuspecting sinner. Let me say that I am sure that most who put on these events have their hearts in the right place. They genuinely want to see people come to know Christ, but I feel their view of the gospel is reduced to a simple formula, sometimes mystical and magic, that will help them escape hell.

Moore ends his post with this:

But the fact remains that most lost people in your neighborhood are going to be saved the same way people have always been saved, by Christian people loving them enough to build relationships, invite them to church, share the gospel, and witness to Christ. The problem is that for many Christian’s that’s scarier than a haunted house.

Indeed.

Αυτω η δοξα

Post-9/11

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Head over to Ben Meyers’ blog Faith and Theology and read Kim Fabricius’ post-9/11 sermon about “the chosen.” It’s well-written and, though you may not agree with everything she says, it’s worth the few minutes it will take you to read it. Here’s a quote:

The Chosen People can in no way be taken to refer to a specific nation-state. To suggest that the United States, or England – or even Wales! – is The Chosen People is sheer hubris based on distorted theology. Even the nation-state of Israel cannot claim the title. No nation-state can. Because after Christ the term no longer refers to a geographical or cultural entity. Because, on the one hand, “being in Christ” has replaced “being in the land”, and, on the other hand, the land has expanded to encompass the whole world. In Christ, all people are Chosen People.

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