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Showing posts from April, 2018

Is Allah the same as God?

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Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Read the article. Back when I was growing up Fundamentalist, I went to a Sunday school class on “cults”—by which they meant heretic churches. They use that word ’cause of Walter Martin’s book The Kingdom of the Cults, in which he discussed various heretic churches, their history, and how they depart from orthodox Christianity. He used the word “cult” to describe these churches—’cause a number of them did try to curtail their members’ free will and free speech, in their early days. (Frankly, a lot of Fundies are pretty darn cultlike themselves, so it stands to reason they’d be happy to have “cult” mean anyone but them. But I digress.)Anyway, in the “cults” class, the teacher was in the practice of referring to the heretic churches’ beliefs about God as “their God,” and beliefs about Jesus as “their Jesus.” So there was a Mormon God, a Jehovah’s Witness God, a Christian Science God, a Unitarian God, and so forth. Using this kind of language gave you the i…

The appearance of evil.

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Don’t worry about how things look. Worry about obeying God. 1 Thessalonians 5.22.1 Thessalonians 5.22 KJVAbstain from all appearance of evil.I’ve said many times before: The King James Version is a very good bible translation. Problem is, it’s a 407-year-old bible translation. Therefore it uses the English of William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson… and arguably William Tyndale, who translated the first popular English bible translation 482 years ago, and whose version was still fairly well-known.Four-century-old English is not the American English we use today. ’Cause language evolves. If you have kids of your own, you’ve heard it happen with your very ears: People redefine words to suit themselves, and if their redefinition catches on, that’s the new definition. Oh, you might hate it, like when literally grew to mean “well, not literally.” But that’s a recent one. Plenty of other transformations happened long before you had any say about it.Hence many of the words in the KJV …

Slavery: How God mitigated and abolished it.

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Being in the bible is not the same as endorsement, y’know. Back in bible times, people had slaves. Slavery was legal.This is a weird and troubling idea for a lot of Christians. In the United States, slavery is illegal, and we consider it immoral. So it’s troubling to read about slavery in the bible as if it’s normal or okay.Especially considering our history with slavery. We fought a whole war over it, y’know. Many southerners are in denial about that, and claim the War Between the States was really about states’ rights and local sovereignty… but history doesn’t bear ’em out at all. Confederate politicians and generals proudly declared they were fighting to retain their peculiar institution of slavery—because unlike southerners today, they didn’t consider slavery to be immoral. Hey, it’s in the bible!Thing is, American slavery wasn’t at all like biblical slavery. What Americans practiced was chattel slavery, in which slaves were considered cattle—a word which evolved from chattel. Wha…

The meaningless virtue of literal bible versions.

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Only monolingual people think a literal translation of the bible is valuable. The rest of us know better. There’s a discussion group I belong to. Every so often, one of the newer members of the group will ask us our favorite bible translations. Happens every other month. Y’see, the newbies don’t know we already had this discussion, so they bring it up again. And again and again and again.Predictably some of us are ESV fans, NIV fans, NKJV fans, NASB fans, and so forth. I like to announce I’m a KJV fan, ’cause KJV fans should represent—but I feel obligated to include the disclaimer I’m nota KJV-only kind of fan. ’Cause those people are awful. And every so often one of the KJV-only folks see this, object, and wind up proving my point about them being awful.Oh, speaking of awful: We also get a few people who wanna mock the bible versions they don’t like. Somebody’ll disparage The Message, loudly denounce The Voice, or mock the NLT. Won’t just be the KJV-only folks either.My advocacy for …

“It counts as church, right?”

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When Christians figure their various spiritual activities are equivalent to “church.” Though four out of five Americans identify ourselves as Christian, only one of these five actually go to church.Nope, not kidding. Yes, the polls indicate half of all Americans are regular attendees. That’s because they play mighty loose with what “regular” means: They think it means once a month or more. Once a month counts as “regular.”How often are Christians expected to go to church? Well check out the standard expectation found in the scriptures:Luke 9.23 KWLJesus told everyone, “If anyone wants to come with me, disown yourself.Take up your cross every day. Follow me!”Looks like the first Christians took Jesus’s “every day” idea and ran with it:Acts 2.46-47 KWL46 Daily they stuck close together in temple, breaking bread at home, sharing food in joy,with uncomplicated motives, 47 praising God, having grace with all the people.The Master daily added to them those whom he saved.They were even able …

“I just feel in my spirit…”

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MY SPIRITmaɪ 'spɪr.ɪtnoun. Me. (Usually said to make one, or one’s opinion or issues, sound particularly spiritual.)Certain Christianese terms don’t come from scripture, theology, or the ordinary practical course of religious behavior. They come from hypocrisy.“My spirit” is a pretty common example. It does originate from the bible, ’cause various poets and psalmists refer to themselves as “my spirit” or “my soul.” It’s a poetic synonym for oneself.It’s just certain Christians insist on using “my spirit” for everything. Instead of simply referring to themselves as “me” or “mine” or “myself,” they gotta keep referring to their spirit. Sometimes because they’re around fellow Christians, and figure we oughta speak in Christianese around one another. The rest of the time it’s because they’re deliberately trying to sound extra-spiritual, or super-Christian.ENGLISHCHRISTIANESE“I think [but can’t articulate why]…”“I feel in my spirit…”“I don’t think so.”“I feel a check in my spirit.”“I f…

Continuationism. Because the miracles never stopped.

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Most Christians believe in miracles, though I’m gonna single out the Pentecostals and charismatics a little.CONTINUATIONISTkən.tɪn.jʊ'eɪ.ʃən.ɪstadjective. Believes the Holy Spirit’s gifts (particularly tongues and prophecy) continued from bible times to the present day.I’m not a big fan of the term continuationist. That’s because the default setting for Christianity is, and should be, that the Holy Spirit is living, active, and still doing as he did among the ancient Christians, as described by the prophet Joel and fulfilled on 24 May 33, the date of the first Christian Pentecost:Acts 2.17-21 KWL17 “ ‘God said this’ll happen in the last days: “I’ll pour out my Spirit on all flesh.Your sons and daughters will give prophecies.Your young ones will see visions. Your old ones will will dream dreams.18In those days I’ll pour out my Spirit even on my slaves, men and women.And they’ll give prophecies!19I’ll show wonderful things in the skies above,and signs on the earth below—blood and fi…

The instigator?

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Why I keep winding up in conversations with strangers about Jesus.I have a lot of stories in which I’m talking with strangers about Jesus, Christianity, the church, and so forth.Because of this, y’might get the wrong idea about me—that I’m the one initiating these conversations. That I’m one of those evangelists on the prowl. You know the type of person: If they’re not selling Jesus, they’re selling something, be it cars or timeshares or herbal supplements. In their case they just happen to be pitching salvation.You’ve met ’em when you were minding your own business at the coffeehouse, nursing a mocha and trying to get a grip on the day. Suddenly one of these yahoos nudges into your “me time” and tries to talk about the eternal destination of your immortal soul. Like you’re ready for deep stuff at that point in your day.But nope, this isn’t me.You can probably tell I don’t care for that type of evangelist. I don’t care for that type of salesperson either. Likely neither do you. I’m fi…

“Dead to the world” includes being dead to Christianism.

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Colossians 3.1-4 KWL1 So if you’re raised up with Christ, seek higher things—where Christ is, sitting at the Father’s right.2 Think about higher things, not things on the earth:3 You died. Your life is cloaked with Christ, in God.4 When Christ—our life—appears, then you’ll appear with him in glory.Christians, like Paul and Timothy said in Colossians, are meant to identify with Christ. We’re not to let other people lead us astray through useless philosophies, traditions, and tricks; we’re to let Christ Jesus lead us, and him alone. Cl 2.8The apostles’ argument was that we’re to identify with Christ Jesus so closely, we effectively died to sin through his death. We were raised to new life with his new life. So as far as this world and age are concerned, we’re dead.No, they weren’t trying to teach Christians that it’s perfectly okay for us to violate the laws of the land, because we’re supposedly dead to our governments as well. Plenty of Christians have tried that interpretation, and us…

Evil’s existence, and God’s existence.

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The belief God and evil can’t coexist in the same universe is based on some bad logic.Every so often I bump into a nontheist who complains God can’t be real, can’t exist… because there’s such a thing as evil in the universe.Here’s how they’re figuring: If God’s real, God’s almighty, and God’s good like we Christians claim, he should’ve done something to get rid of evil, right? After all they would, if they were God. They’d have wiped out evil long ago, like with a great purging flood or something.They can’t fathom a God who’d be gracious enough to grant his wayward kids any leeway, any second chances to repent and return to the fold. He’d shut that s--- down on sight. So since God isn’t their kind of God, he must not exist.This is hardly a new idea. It’s been around since Epicurus of Athens first pitched it in the 300s BC. Or at least we think Epicurus pitched it. That’s what Christian author Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius claimed in his anti-Epicurean book De ira Dei/“On God’s…

Fearful churches.

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Love casts out fear. But if your church doesn’t love, fear’s all you have left.We Christians are meant to consider ourselves separate from the rest of the world.No, this isn’t because we’re better than them. We’re so not.No, this doesn’t mean we’re to move into little gated communities where nobody but Christians live, isolate ourselves from everybody else, and drive out anyone we might consider sinners. That’s how cults start—assuming the cult hasn’t already started, and the compound is just another symptom of how we’ve gone astray.It’s because God called us to be holy. Which means we gotta follow him, not one another. Not popular Christian culture. Certainly not the wider culture.So as the rest of the world does its thing, we’re to ask ourselves, “What would the Father rather I do?” or “What does Jesus do?” Then do that.Believe it or don’t, sometimes that means we do as the rest of the world does. If the culture suddenly gets it into their head that society is institutionally unjust…

“God will never give you more than you can handle.”

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Tell that to Moses sometime. 1 Corinthians 10.13.This verse gets misused often. And just as often, underused and ignored.1 Corinthians 10.13 KJVThere hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.Since this is part of a series on context, let’s first deal with the out-of-context way Christians quote it: They use it to proof-text the old platitude, “God will never give you more than you can handle.”You can kinda see how it devolved into that. “God… will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” somehow lost the word “tempted,” which is the entire point of this verse. It’s about temptation. God doesn’t allow us to be overcome by temptation. God always provides a way out of temptation. Anybody who claims, “I had no choice but to give in”—that’s rubbish, because God always provides a way out, and t…