Elder Kids

The apostle Paul’s requirement for elders to have faithful children is routinely set aside in the church by means of fanciful exegesis. The overseer must “manage his household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Tim. 3:4-5). Submissive how? Sitting in the pew quietly and not getting anyone pregnant is not enough. “If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to he charge of debauchery or insubordination” (Titus 1:6). Clearly, the submission is to Christ. Continue reading

Loving the Blind, Deaf and Disabled

Twenty-week ultrasounds are incredible. A Beating heart, kidneys, hundreds of bones, eyelids, and perhaps most striking, personality. My first kid was running around the wall. My second had her legs crossed. My third, today, gave a huge yawn. It’s horrifying to think that it is here when babies with down syndrome and other disabilities are rejected and murdered by doctors who make a lot of money doing so. Here is a good post about the appalling abortion statistics for handicapped children by John Knight, and here is a video featuring John talking about his wonderful son Paul who was born blind and autistic.

Generational Education

One of the most important truths for Christians in our day to burn into their minds is the religious nature of education. Not the religious nature of some education or the religious nature of private education or the religious of explicitly religious education, but the religious nature of all education, period.

The is a particularly difficult truth not on account of its clarity but rather because of the cost of believing it. For Christians who want to think at all, the public education system is a wreck, and not simply because of the literacy levels of graduating seniors (though that ought to be enough). A seventeen year old can’t get her ears pierced with permission from her parents, but she can get a complimentary cab ride and abortion under the supervision her high school, without her parents ever knowing about it. This is the law in Washington State, and the head of the clinic at Ballard High School, with whom I just spoke, defends it as a “best practice”. The law allows it and therefore the high school enforces it. If, as the child’s parent, you disagree and insist the school inform you regarding your child’s abortion, too bad. You have the right to know about ear piercing, but the death of the fetus is none of your business unless your child decides to tell you. Calm down and be assured there are laws about these sorts of things. Continue reading

Sticky Book

From Matt Chandler’s Foreword to Larry Osborne’s recent book Sticky Teams:

I’d been trained for ministry by a group of brilliant, godly men who taught me hermeneutics, Christan history, how to decline and parse Greek words, Hebrew, systematic theology, courses in Pauline literature, the Old Testament prophets, and preaching. I devoured every bit of it and learned quickly that I had a knack for theology and preaching. . . . Continue reading

Lukan Shorthand

The sermons in the book of Acts are short, certainly summaries of the actual sermons he summarizes. But it’s also clear that Luke was not simply generically summarizing what was said at these speeches or simply spitting out what he thought they probably said. How do we know this? Luke himself tells us (Lk. 1:1-4) that he put together a careful, orderly account from eyewitnesses, and we know that he was an eyewitness to much of what took place in the book of Acts. And the book bears out his record. The language, style and content of the speeches match the other works written by the speakers. Peter’s speeches are like his letters. William Ramsay, a New Testament researcher in the nineteenth century, reversed his belief that Luke was not a reliable reporter by studying this very subject. Roger Wagner asks

How could Luke have made such accurate summary transcripts? Shorthand! It should be remembered that a rather sophisticated method of shorthand was in use during the first century. It was developed for the very purpose of taking down speeches by Cicero. In later times it was used in the church, and by physicians. Luke, a physician, may well have had a mastery of this skill which would have facilitated his ability to record the sermons while they were being delivered, and later to draw characteristic excerpts from those transcripts when including sermonic material in his narrative. (Tongues Aflame, 22)

This is especially interesting, as Wagner points out, because it means that the sermons are not only filled with apostolic content, but reflect original arrangement and style.

A New Kind of Christianity

Brian McLaren’s new book of said name prefaces darkly: “the Christian faith in all its forms is in trouble“, da-da-da-duuuuuuh. But don’t worry: “the Christian faith in all its forms is pregnant with new possibilities.” And since one can’t be a little bit pregnant, it looks like McLaren will unpack a lot of possibilities. Will they be legitimate spawn, or pomo orphans? Will they be embraced by the church or made victim of choice? I wonder if he will address the issue of abortion. But I’ll hold my horses.

I’m here to witness this birth, midwiving as he pushes away. He begins with a testimony (where else for an evangelical to begin?) that he grew up in conservative evangelical churches, passionately committed through the ’70s Jesus movement, did a stint in mainline Protestant and Catholic churches, married a Catholic woman and has been around the globe loving every tradition on the various continents. Still, he believes in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.” So this book is written from the inside by one who happily embraces the Apostles’ Creed. Ten questions, five “profound and critical” with the “potential to unlcock us from a prison in which we have been held for a long time”, and five “less profound or theologically radical” but still important as they address “down-to-earth practicality”, comprise the book.

The first three chapters are preparatory for the questions. Think of them as quiet contractions. I’ll tackle them all next post. Remember the breathing exercises.

Congressman: ‘I Don’t Worry About the Constitution’

This article is absolutely hilarious. Here’s a snippet:

Confronted by an angry Tea Partier with a camera Thursday, an Illinois congressman said in front of several constituents at a town hall that he doesn’t care whether the new health care law violates the Constitution, as some critics have claimed.

“You care more about that than the U.S. Constitution that you swore to uphold?” Sharp shouted back.

In a video posted on You Tube, Adam Sharp of the St. Louis Tea Party asked Rep. Phil Hare which part of the Constitution authorizes the government to mandate that all Americans buy a private product such as health insurance. The Illinois Democrat replied, “I don’t worry about the Constitution on this.”

“Jackpot, brother,” Sharp said.

Hare cringed in disgust and said, “Oh please. What I care more about, I care more about the people dying every day who don’t have health care.”

“I believe it says we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Hare countered.

Smitten and Afflicted

Psalm 22 is quoted by Jesus on the cross and referred to multiple times by the authors of the Gospels. The details within it referring to the crucifixion are uncanny and haunting. One wishes it were simply metaphorical and allusionary, but knowing the torture and death of Christ paints it all black.

David writes “they have pierced my hands and feet–I can count all my bones–they stare and gloat over me” (vv16-17). This turned out to be no mere symbol for Jesus. Flagellatio, Roman scourging, was performed by soldiers “using the most dreaded instrument of the time, called a flagrum, or, in the words of Horatio, “the horrible flagellum””, as M.D. and forensic pathologist Federick Zugibe reports in his forensic inquiry The Crucifixion of Jesus (19). The flagrum was not a simple whip, but contained three or more tails on its end, each finished with metal balls, pieces of bones or other tenderizing and lacerating objects. One flagrum with rounded bits of lead was discovered at the Roman city Herculaneum in 1709 which was preserved after that city was destroyed by a volcano eruption in A.D. 79. Continue reading