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Why must Christian apologists argue?

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To argue means to give reasons or cite evidence in support of one’s ideas, actions, or planned actions. Like when you argue your case in court: You’re trying to convince the jury, judge, or justices to take your side, and giving good reasons why they oughta. Sometimes they’re gonna challenge those reasons with reasonable questions, and we oughta be able to reasonably answer those questions. If we can’t, we lose. Then there’s the other definition of “argue”: To fight. With words, although in these types of argument, what they’re really going for is a win. By any means necessary. Reason has little to do with it; in fact they’d much rather hurt your feelings than offer a reasonable response. The biggest problem in Christian apologetics is the temptation to stray from reasonable arguments, and start fighting. ’Cause once we do that, we lose. Fighting turns the person we’re just talking with, just having a discussion with, into the enemy . Now we’re no longer trying to win them

Eventually everyone will understand Jesus’s parables.

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Mark 4.21-25. When Jesus explained to his students how parables work and why he uses them, he told them this. Mark 4.21-23 KWL 21 Jesus told them, “Does the light come in so it can be put under a basket or under the couch? Not so it can be put on the lampstand? 22 It’s not secret except that it may later be revealed. It doesn’t become hidden unless it may later be known. 23 If anyone has hearing ears, hear this.” Too often Christians quote this passage as if it applies to every secret: Everything we say in secret is gonna eventually come out in public. And y’know, Jesus did say something like that, in Matthew and Luke . But he did so in a different context. There, it was part of his Olivet Discourse, his last talk to his students before his arrest and death. At the time he spoke about when people persecute Christians for proclaiming the gospel, and how their evil would become public, in time. And all Jesus’s other, private teachings would also become publ

Love one another.

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John 13.34-35 KJV 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Lest we miss the point, Jesus says “Love one another” thrice. It’s not unimportant to him. It is unimportant to Christians however. We’ve really pooched this one. On a global level. We don’t love our fellow Christians in our churches. They’re family, and sometimes we acknowledge they’re family… but they’re kinda like the family we barely tolerate for family reunions. We don’t interact with them outside our church buildings. We don’t know what’s going on with their personal lives. We don’t care, either. We’re too busy. We don’t love our fellow Christians in the other churches. In many cases we convinced ourselves half of them aren’t real Christians anyway. Their denominations teach weird, inappropriate things. They’re too legalistic to really love J

Angels.

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I get asked about angels a lot. A lot . Probably too much. People have a great interest in ’em. Sometimes it’s unhealthy; namely when they’re far more interested in angelology than in Jesus. But to a point it’s understandable. I mean, here are these spirit beings, and—from what we’ve been told about ’em—they’re around us all the time . People figure we have guardian angels, who are watching us constantly … and shaking their heads in disapproval every time we sin. Others imagine they have a shoulder angel, who’s constantly whispering correction in their ear (and no, that’s the Holy Spirit , and he’s not on your shoulder either ). Far too commonly, they think angels are dead people. Yep. Ghosts. Usually dead family members; usually beloved dead family members, ’cause they certainly don’t wanna imagine their creepy uncle has become an angel and can now watch ’em shower. Ghosts, but not ghosts; they’ve had an upgrade, and popular art imagines ’em with wings and halo and a bright

Getting Christian capitalization right.

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We Christians have invented a lot of petty and stupid ways to judge our fellow Christians for how devout they are. That’s what these Expectations articles are about, y’know. We don’t look for fruit of the Spirit. We look for this crap. So from time to time I get judged for not meeting my fellow Christians’ expectations. So do you. Isn’t it tiresome? One of the little litmus tests is how we do on Christian capitalization. I get rebuked for this on a frequent basis: I don’t capitalize Christian things enough. I don’t capitalize “bible”—as if people aren’t gonna know I’m talking about the bible when I do so. I don’t capitalize God’s pronouns. I don’t capitalize “church” and “liturgy” and “sacrament.” I do capitalize Satan. Because I follow the rules of 21st century grammar. I know; it’s a dying practice. I read a lot of news, and regularly catch reporters misusing apostrophes. People love to use ’em for plurals. Love love love. Even though they shouldn’t. When in doubt, don’

The Fruitless Fig Tree Story.

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Luke 13.1-9. Two stories before Jesus presented the Mustard Seed Story in Luke , he told the Fruitless Fig Tree Story in response to then-current events. Let’s start with the events, since they’re relevant. Luke 13.1 KWL Some were present among Jesus’s listeners at that time, who brought news of the Galileans whose blood Pontius Pilate mixed with the sacrifices. We don’t know the actual story behind this. We just have guesses. Most of ’em presume Pilate put down an uprising, and in so doing killed some Galileans in the temple area, either close enough to the ritual sacrifices to splatter blood on ’em… or at least close enough for the Israelis to object it was just as bad, and hyperbolically claim he may as well have splattered their blood on their sacrifices. You know how people can get. But again: We don’t know this is what happened. The Romans are pretty good at keeping records about such things, and we have no record of such an uprising. It’s certainly staying i

Holiness versus solemnity.

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Years ago I taught at my church’s Christian junior high and elementary school. We had yearly “staff retreats,” which took an inservice day and required us to go do something together. Sometimes an actual retreat at a conference center; sometimes just a dinner. (I think most of us appreciated the dinners most.) Anyway, one year our principal decided it’d be neat if we visited the Friday night service at Bethel Church in Redding. We’d check into a hotel, go out to dinner, go to the service, return to the hotel, and go home in the morning. The reason for the overnight stay was ’cause Bethel services might, “as the Spirit led,” go past midnight. She thought it was a great idea—and was really surprised at the backlash she got from the teachers. Y’see, Bethel’s a New Apostolic charismatic church. Their beliefs and teachings aren’t mainstream—and are therefore controversial. I don’t know how aware she was of this; I think she wanted to go to Bethel because she loved their music. (Th

The fruit of holiness: Let’s get weird.

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Holiness is a fruit of the Spirit. And every time I point this out, there’s always some numbnut who says, “It is not. Holiness is good, and Christians oughta be holy, but it’s not in Galatians 5, so it’s not a fruit.” Okay, three things. First, Galatians 5 isn’t a comprehensive list of the Spirit’s fruit, and was never meant to be. Jesus and his other apostles talk about fruit from time to time as well. Simon Peter’s the guy who brought up holiness, in his first letter. 1 Peter 1.13-16 KJV 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Lv 19.2 God expects his kids to be holy. It’s one of his traits that’s gonna inevit

God’s holiness, our example.

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As I wrote yesterday, when Christians talk about holiness we usually mean goodness. We figure what makes God holy is his perfection: He’s good, he’s pure, he’s worthy of honor, he’s so… well, clean . Whereas we humans get awfully dirty. And yeah, God is all these things. But these are symptoms of his holiness. They’re the fruit. Let’s not confuse ’em with holiness itself. The Old Testament Hebrew word קֹדֶשׁ / qodéš , “holy,” means separate —set apart from everything else. The New Testament Greek word ἅγιος / ágios means the same thing. God’s separate and set apart from everything else. Not because he’s removed himself; he deliberately got himself right in the middle of our situation. ’Cause he’s here to help if we’d just let him. But God still stands apart from everything else, because he’s unlike everything else. He’s unique. He’s diffrent. He’s holy. No surprise, people tend to confuse the symptoms with the underlying condition. We think how we get holy like God is w

Holy and sanctified.

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Whenever Christians talk about holiness, we’re usually talking about goodness. When we talk about sanctification , the practice of being holy, again we’re usually talking about being good: Gotta resist temptation. Gotta stop sinning. Gotta get rid of anything in our lives which might tempt us to sin. Gotta get rid of anything “worldly,” because we’re striving for heavenly. Gotta shun evil… and in many cases gotta shun evildoers, i.e. everybody else , which is why in the past, those who sought holiness frequently became hermits, or cloistered with fellow holiness-seekers in a monastery. Thing is, this isn’t what holiness means. Nor what sanctification means. Holy means dedicated to God and his service, and not just for ordinary common use. If we’re gonna be holy, we’re not gonna be ordinary. We’re gonna be different. We’re gonna be weird, in most cases. People are gonna notice we’re different; we don’t live like or act like everybody else. Not even like fellow Christians—wh

The Yeast in Dough Story.

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Matthew 13.33, Luke 13.20-21. Jesus gave this short one-liner parable right after his Mustard Seed Story in both Matthew and Luke . It’s quick. Matthew 13.33 KWL Jesus told them another parable: “Heaven’s kingdom is like yeast. A woman who had it, mixed it into 43 liters of dough till it leavened it all.”   Luke 13.20-21 KWL 20 Jesus said again, “What’s God’s kingdom like? 21 It’s like yeast. A woman who had it, mixed it into 43 liters of dough till it leavened it all.” It follows the Mustard Seed Story because it’s presenting a similar idea about the growth and spread of God’s kingdom. The kingdom’s like a tiny seed which grows into a vast tree. Or like yeast which a woman mixes into an industrial-sized amount of dough. The original text of both gospels has σάτα τρία / sáta tría , “three sátons.” No, not Satan; sáton . It’s Greek for the Hebrew unit of measurement סְאָה / çeá ( NIV “seah”) which is a third of an אֵיפָה / eyfá ( KJV “ephah”). No, t