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Nontheism: When pagans don’t believe in God.

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NONTHEIST'nɑn.θi.ɪstadjective. Believes no such thing as God, gods, a universal spirit, a universal intelligence, nor a supernatural higher power, exists. (A catchall term for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and others who are skeptical of God and religion.)[Nontheism 'nɑn.θi.ɪz.əmnoun.]Y’know, for the first couple centuries of Christianity, we Christians were called atheist.See, Greco-Roman pagans believed in gods. Lots of gods. Not just their own gods—and the titans, demigods, and daemons in the Greco-Roman pantheon. They also accepted the existence of the gods of other pantheons. They didn’t presume they knew them all. So whenever they encountered an unfamiliar god, they accepted it. Even added it to their pantheon, which is why they had multiple gods of the sun (Apollo, Helios, Hyperion) and war (Ares, Athena, Enyo, Polemos).Sometimes they figured it was just one of their gods with a different name: The Latins worshiped a Deo Pater/“Father God” (which later got contract…

Our Father who art in heaven.

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Matthew 6.9-10.The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew begins with πάτερἡμῶνὁἐντοῖςοὐρανοῖς/páter imón o en toís uranoís, “our Father who’s [located] in the heavens,” Mt 6.9 ’cause we’re addressing—duh—our heavenly Father.Matthew 6.9 KWL“So pray like this: Our Father who’s in the heavens! Sanctify your name.”Some Christians wanna make it particularly clear which god we’re praying to. Partly because some of ’em actually think they might accidentally invoke the wrong god (and y’know, if they’re Mammonists or some other type of idolater, they might). Sometimes because they’re showing off to pagans that they worship the Father of Jesus, or some other form of hypocrisy. But Jesus would have us keep it simple: Just address our heavenly Father. There’s no special formula for addressing him; no secret password we’ve gotta say; even “in Jesus’s name” isn’t a magic spell—and you notice “in Jesus’s name” isn’t in the Lord’s Prayer either. You know who he is; he knows who he is; he knows what our relationsh…

Short, potent, authentic prayer.

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Matthew 6.7-8.In his Sermon on the Mount, right after Jesus taught his followers to keep their prayers private, he added,Matthew 6.7-8 KWL7“Petitioners shouldn’t be repetitive like the pagans:They think they’ll be worth hearing because of their wordiness.8You shouldn’t compare yourselves with them:Your Father has known what you have need of, before you asked him.”The Pharisee view, one we Christians share, is our God is the living God. Whereas other religions’ gods aren’t. They’re blocks of wood, stone, and metal; they’re abstract ideas without any intelligence behind them; they’re devils tricking people into worshiping them. When we speak to our God, he speaks back. When they speak to their gods, they don’t. They can’t.Yet instead of realizing, “Y’know, since our god never, ever responds to us, I wonder whether she’s real to begin with?” pagans just shove that idea right out of their minds as if it’s doubt or blasphemy, double down on their beliefs, and come up with a bunch of justif…

Hal Lindsey and Al Hartley.

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Since I’m writing about the comic book version of Hal Lindsey’s There’s a New World Coming, I should introduce you to the authors. Starting with Hal Lindsey.
Hal Lindsey. IMDBHarold Lee Lindsey, born 23 November 1929, is a former Coast Guard tugboat captain turned evangelist. He and his second wife Jan began working with Cru (then called Campus Crusade for Christ) in the 1960s, and he got his master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. I’m not sure whether Lindsey got his theological outlook from DTS or brought it with him; not that it matters.The school was founded in 1924 by Lewis Sperry Chafer, a Darbyist who authored an eight-volume Systematic Theology which taught God from a thoroughly dispensationalist point of view: God, he taught, used multiple systems of salvation throughout human history, and the system he uses in the Christian Era is grace. But the systems of previous era were largely based on karma—on obeying your conscience, obeying your patriarch, obeying the Law, a…

The Holy Spirit reminds us what Jesus taught… assuming we know what Jesus taught.

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John 14.25-26.Most Christians figure Jesus’s students followed him three years. It might actually have been longer than that.The idea of three years comes from the fact three Passovers get mentioned in John, Jn 2.13, 6.4, 11.55 the last one being the Passover for which he died. But just because John mentioned three particular Passovers doesn’t mean these were the only Passovers which took place during Jesus’s teaching time. Coulda been nine for all we know.No I’m not kidding:7 BC: Jesus was born.24 CE: Jesus’s 30th birthday. Luke states he was ὡσεὶ/oseí, “like,” 30 when he started teaching. Lk 3.23 Didn’t say exactly 30, but let’s start from there.33 CE: Jesus died. And woulda been about 39.Time for some basic arithmetic. If Jesus started teaching in the year 24, and “like” just means he was a few months shy of 30, by the year 33 he’d’ve been teaching nine years. If “like” instead means he was already in his thirties; say 33… he’d’ve been teaching six years. (Still more than three.)…

The Holy Spirit of truth… and dense Christians.

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John 14.15-17.Christians take for granted that we receive the Holy Spirit by virtue of being Christian: When we say the sinner’s prayer and claim Jesus as our individual savior, we individually, automatically get the Holy Spirit to indwell us and guarantee us an eternal place in God’s kingdom. Right?Right. But the assumption Jesus makes when he says as much to his students in John, is his students don’t just passively believe in him. Don’t just passivelybelieve all the correct things about him, and have the proper “faith”, and that’s what saves us. And once we die after a lifetime of taking God’s grace for granted, we get to use the Holy Spirit as our entry fee to heaven.The Holy Spirit’s been granted to us to help us continue to follow Jesus.John 14.15-17 KWL15“When you love me you’ll keep my commands,16and I’ll make a request of the Father, and he’ll give you another Assistant,because he’ll be with you in this age:17The truthful Holy Spirit.The world can’t comprehend him, because it…

He lives within your heart.

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INDWELLɪn'dwɛlverb. Be permanently present in someone [namely their soul or mind]. Possess spiritually.[Indweller ɪn'dwɛl'ərnoun.]There’s a hymn we sang in my church growing up; “He Lives” by Alfred Henry Ackley. Chorus goes like yea:He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow wayHe lives! He lives! Salvation to impartYou ask me how I know he lives; he lives within my heart’Cause that’s the common Evangelical belief about where Jesus currently is: He’s in our hearts.As a boy I was taught Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts, asking to come in. (Much later, I read that particular bit of Revelation and found out it doesn’t mean that. But anyway.) Once we permit Jesus entry, he takes up residence in our hearts. As kids a lot of us took this literally: We imagined a tiny Jesus taking over one of the chambers of our cardiac muscles, and even moving a bed and furniture into it. Bit cramped. One kid even told me the reason…

The street-corner show-off.

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Matthew 6.5-6.Throughout history people have prayed publicly for various reasons. Some noble, some not.And a regular problem throughout history has been the person who gets up and prays publicly, not because they legitimately wanna talk with God, or call to him for help. It’s because they wanna be seen praying. They wanna look religious. Usually so they can look more religious than they actually are. In other words hypocrisy.Nothing annoys Jesus like hypocrisy, which is why he tries to discourage his followers from doing this. Although you know some of us do this anyway.Matthew 6.5-6 KWL5“When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites who enjoy standing in synagogues and major intersections,praying so they might be seen by the people. Amen! I promise you all, they got their credit.6When you pray, go into your most private room with the door closed.Pray to your Father in private. Your Father, who sees what’s private, will credit you.”Standing was how the ancients prayed. They didn’t kneel, bo…

Charity for God, versus charity for public approval.

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Matthew 6.1-4.Starting the second chapter of the Sermon on the Mount. It begins with this teaching, only found in Matthew:Matthew 6.1 KWL“Watch out to not do your righteous acts before the people to be seen by them.Otherwise you won’t get credit from your heavenly Father.”The term Jesus used is μισθὸν/misthón, “compensation.” It’s a synonym for wages. But it gets translated “reward” by various bibles (KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, NRSV), which gives people the wrong idea. When the King James Version was published in 1611, “reward” meant something you earned through your efforts. Today it means a prize you get for stumbling across a missing person or thing. But a misthón is earned, like Paul said. Ro 4.4 Laborers don’t win their wages; they deserve ’em. Lk 10.7, 1Ti 5.18Various stingy Christians claim God owes us nothing when we do good deeds. ’Cause we should be doing ’em anyway, right? True. But they’ve got the wrong mindset. We’re not just God’s kids, who work for him for free: We’re his emp…

Spirituality. Which leads to religion.

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SPIRITUALITYspɪ.rɪ.tʃu'æl.ə.dinoun. Being concerned with the human spirit, as opposed to material things or the material world.2. [Christianity] Following the Holy Spirit.[Spiritual 'spɪ.rɪ.tʃ(.u)əladjective]I regularly meet pagans who consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.” I sometimes like to poke back at ’em by describing myself as religious, not spiritual.Of course pagans and Christians have very different definitions for these words. By spiritual they mean they’re trying to be mindful of their spirit. And they have some idea what a spirit is. They know it’s the immaterial part of themselves. Frequently they mix it up with the soul, and use those words interchangeably—and to be fair, so do many Christians who likewise don’t know the difference. If they believe in afterlife, they figure their spirit lives on when they die. Otherwise… they kinda associate everything in their heads, which they think is immaterial, with their spirits. Namely their thoughts. Particu…

Christians who don’t know the Holy Spirit.

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A few years ago I was checking out a local Baptist church’s faith statement on their website. These faith statements come in handy when you wanna know what an individual church emphasizes. Not all Baptists are alike, y’know. Pretty much the only thing they have in common is they’re Protestant, and they insist you gotta believe in Jesus before you’re baptized; they won’t baptize babies. Beyond that, they could be liturgical or loose, be run by elders or by popular vote, be Calvinist or Pelagian; be egalitarian or sexist or racist—any stripe of Christian you can imagine.In this specific Baptist church, turns out they don’t know the Holy Spirit.I know; you’re thinking, “What Christian doesn’t know who the Holy Spirit is?” Well, heretic Christians. Thing is, you’re gonna find this particular heresy is startlingly common. Too many Christians don’t understand who the Spirit is and what he does in their lives—that he’s probably the only person of God’s trinity they’ve ever interacted with!—b…

Do you know the Holy Spirit?

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Years ago a pagan relative of mine asked me, “You keep saying ‘Holy Spirit’ this, ‘Holy Spirit’ that. What do you mean by that? What’s the Holy Spirit?”“Oh,” I said—half surprised, half not-all-that-surprised, she didn’t know. And since she’s pagan, the simplest answer was best: “Holy Spirit is another name for God.”“Oh,” she said. And our conversation moved on.Yeah, I could’ve given her the full-on theological explanation of what spirit is, how Jesus revealed him, who he is in the trinity, what he does, how he lives in Christians, and how he’s a he instead of an it. But that’s the introduction we really oughta save for new Christians. Mostly because they’ll want to know all this stuff. Pagans don’t always care.But basically the Holy Spirit (KJV “Holy Ghost”) is God. “Holy Spirit is another name for God” is a quick-’n-dirty explanation which points people in the right direction.As opposed to the wrong direction, which is all too common: Too many people think the Holy Spirit is a force…

Multiple levels of truth.

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Matthew 5.33-37, 23.16-22.Thus far the Sermon on the Mount stuff has had parallels in the other gospels. This teaching doesn’t. It’s only found in Matthew.Matthew 5.33-37 KWL33“Again, you heard this said to the ancients: You will not perjure.Lv 19.12You’ll make restitution to the Lord for your oaths.Dt 23.2334And I tell you: Don’t swear at all.Not ‘By heaven!’—it’s God’s throne.Ps 11.4Not ‘By the land!’—it’s the footstool of his feet.Is 66.1Not ‘By Jerusalem!’—it’s the city of the great King.Ps 48.236Nor should you swear by your head; you aren’t able to make one hair white or black.37Make your word, ‘Yes yes; no no.’ Going beyond this is from evil motive.”True, Jesus used to punctuate certain sayings with “Amen amen,” Jn 1.51, 3.3, 5.19, 6.26, 8.34, etc. (KJV “Verily verily”) and the LORD used to punctuate certain commands with, “I’m the LORD.” Ex 6.2, Lv 18.5, 19.3, 21.12, 22.2, etc. Arguably these too are oaths; stuff our Lord said in order to make it crystal clear he’s not kidding.…

Getting hold of our lusts… before we end up in the trash.

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Matthew 5.27-32, 18.8-9, Mark 9.43-49, Luke 16.18.In case you didn’t read that last lesson, I should remind you: Christians too often read these teachings, and assume Jesus condemns people for being tempted. Tempted to get angry and act on it is treated as sin. Tempted, in today’s passage, to indulge one’s lusts is likewise treated as sin. But temptation is not sin. Everybody gets tempted. Jesus got tempted. His teachings are warnings not to act on these temptations. Same thing with his next lesson on adultery—and how it’s connected to lust. (’Cause duh.)Matthew 5.27-28 KWL27“You heard this said: ‘You shall not adulter.’Ex 20.14, Dt 5.1828And I tell you this: Everybody who looks at a woman to covet her,has now adultered with her in their heart.”The Textus Receptus has “You heard this said to the ancients.” It borrowed “the ancients” bit from Jesus’s previous instruction, Mt 5.21 to make it line up better.First of all I need to remind you of the historical context of adultery. Our cult…

The Word-for-Word Bible Comic: The Gospel of Matthew.

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When I was a kid our Sunday school classes had a take-home comic book called Bible-in-Life Pix. (Now it’s just called Pix.) As I recall it’d usually contain three stories each week:Something about some missionary or preacher or saint who did something of interest.“Tullus,” a fictional series about the adventures of an ancient Roman Christian who’d share Jesus with pagans. I found it so boring, so I’d skip it.Excerpts from The Picture Bible, which is the only part I really cared about—and collected. ’Cause it’s bible. But a comic book!My only beef with The Picture Bible was it wasn’t the whole bible. Stories were abbreviated. Some stories were skipped altogether. Sometimes for very good reason; most of Judges really isn’t for children! But you know how literalist children can be: If you present ’em a comic-book bible, they want the whole bible. All of it. Genesis to maps.My other beef with The Picture Bible came much later, once I majored in biblical history in school and found its pic…

Witnesses and testimony. And us.

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1 John 1.1-4 KJV1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.John and the other apostles knew Jesus. Knew him personally; saw him with their eyes, touched him with their hands. He taught ’em bible. More importantly he taught ’em what he meant when he got the prophets to write it.These experiences with Jesus became their testimony. And yeah, Christians tend to treat this word like it has a special religious Christianese meaning. No it doesn’t. It means the same thing as…

Christian apologetics: Kicking ass for Jesus. (Don’t!)

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APOLOGYe'pa.le.dzinoun. Justification for one’s behavior, theory, or religious belief; usually in form of a logical argument.[Apologetic e.pa.le'dzet.ikadjective, apologist e'pa.le.dzistnoun.]APOLOGETICSe.pa.le'dzet.iksnoun. The study and use of logical arguments to defend [usually religious] beliefs.Years ago a pastor introduced me to a visitor to our church thisaway: “He knows a lot about apologetics.”“Well, theology,” I corrected him.’Cause at the time this pastor didn’t really recognize much of a difference between theology and apologetics. In fact a lot of Christians don’t. Theology is what we know about God. Apologetics tends to be based on those beliefs, and regularly argues in favor of them. But ’tain’t the same thing.Yeah I actually do know a lot about Christian apologetics. Before I studied theology, it’s what my church taught me. Started in high school. My youth pastor (same as a lot of undereducated youth pastors whose job is to babysit the teens, not actua…

When our anger gets us into trouble.

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Matthew 5.21-26, Luke 12.57-59.In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, after explaining he’s not come to do away with the Law, he proceeded to give his commentary on the Law. These are the bits which follow the pattern of “You heard this said… and I tell you.”Typically bibles translate Jesus’s followup as “But I tell you.” (KJV, NIV, ESV, NLT, etc.) It’s because the ancient Greek conjunction δέ/de, which generically connects sentences to one another, gets translated…“And” when the sentences connect similar ideas.“But” when the sentences contrast dissimilar ideas.“Or” when the sentences list options.“Then” when it’s part of a sequence of ideas.De can be translated whatever way the interpreter thinks would make the clearest English. But really it’s got no more meaning than a semicolon. (I’d even translate it that way… if it didn’t wind up producing giant run-on sentences.)Here’s the problem: Interpreter bias. When we correctly recognize Jesus isn’t throwing out Old Testament commands and replac…

Jesus’s most misinterpreted teaching.

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Matthew 5.17-20, Luke 16.16-17.Matthew 5.17-20 KWL17“Don’t assume I came to dissolve the Law or the Prophets.I didn’t come to dissolve but complete:18Amen! I promise you, the heavens and earth may pass away,but one yodh, one penstroke of the Law, will never pass away; not till everything’s done.19So whoever relaxes one of these commands—the smallest—and thus teaches people,they’ll be called smallest in the heavenly kingdom.Whoever does and teaches them,they’ll be called great in the heavenly kingdom:20I tell you, unless morality abounds in you, more than in scribes and Pharisees,you may never enter the heavenly kingdom.”This connects to Jesus’s similar teaching in Luke.Luke 16.16-17 KWL16“The Law, and the prophets up to John: From their time on,God’s kingdom is proclaimed as good news, and all struggle to get into it.17It’s easier for heaven and earth to pass awaythan for one penstroke of the Law to fall.”Despite this very lesson, many Christians do in fact teach Jesus did come to dis…

Kamala Harris and religious affiliation.

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Kamala Harris. WikimediaKamala Harris is one of my state’s senators, and recently she’s become presidential nominee Joe Biden’s choice for his vice-president. No, this isn’t an endorsement. (Though I confess I’m totally voting for Biden, ’cause Donald Trump is awful.) Instead I’m gonna talk about how the press talks about her religion.Harris is a regular at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco. She considers herself Baptist. Now, her mother’s from Chennai (formerly Madras), Tamil Madru, India. Her mom was born into the upper-class Brahmin caste, and Harris has been to India many times to visit the family, and go to temple with them. Various news articles claim she was raised Hindu and Christian.Hence I’ve heard a number of people claim this means she’s both. I’ve heard it from people in both parties: From Democrats who think having multiple religions makes her broad-minded… and from Republicans who think it makes her pagan.The way certain articles report it, she sounds both Christian…

What religion is Jesus?

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Most of the time we Christians simply take it for granted Christ Jesus is the same religion we are. After all he founded the religion. He taught us who the Father is, taught us his interpretation—the proper interpretation—of the Law of Moses, voluntarily died for our sins so we can have new life, and he’s the king of God’s kingdom. He’s vital and central to Christianity.But whenever somebody says out loud, “Jesus is a Christian”… well it just sounds weird.’Cause Christian (which literally means “a little Christ”) means a Christ-follower. And Christ doesn’t follow himself. He does his thing, and expects us disciples to follow him. So technically no, Jesus is not a Christian: He’s Christ.Where people start to go screwy is when they say, “Well… I guess no, he’s not a Christian. What religion does that make him? Um… well… I guess that’d be Judaism.”Incorrect. The religion Jesus practices is the one he preached: Christianity.The “Judaism” people assume Jesus interacted with and was involve…

Kings.

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So I wrote about how human government in the bible started with patriarchy. So where’d kings come from? Simple: One powerful patriarch got all the other families in the area to acknowledge his rule and his family’s rule. Maybe by bullying and conquering them. Maybe by doing them massive favors, like rescuing them from raiders, helping them survive famine, Ge 47.13-26 building a walled city and letting ’em live in it, being the priest of the local god; stuff like that. Hence we see kings all over the bible.Properly defined, a king is simply a hereditary ruler. Nothing more. ’Cause every so often I hear some preacher claim the Hebrew word מֶ֑לֶךְ/melékh, “king,” means something more different or profound than Eurasian or African or Pacific kings. Sometimes ’cause they notice it’s a similar word to מַלְאָךְ/malákh, “angel,” and think there’s a connection there. There’s not. There is no deeper meaning to melékh; it means “king” whether it’s describing Israeli kings, Canaanite city-state k…

The world’s light.

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Mark 4.21, Matthew 5.14-16, Luke 8.16, 11.33, John 8.12.In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his students they’re the light of the world. And multiple times in John, Jesus is declared the light of the world. Here, I’ve got one of those passages lined up for you.Matthew 5.14 KWL“You’re the world’s light.A city can’t be hidden when it lies on a hill.”John 8.12 KWLSo Jesus spoke again, saying, “I’m the world’s light.My followers should never walk in the dark, but will have light and life.”So which is it?Both, obviously. It’s not a contradiction. Jesus is the true light who entered the world; Jn 1.9 as long as he’s in the world he enlightens it; Jn 9.5 whoever believes in him needn’t live in the dark; Jn 12.46 he reflects the fact that God is light. 1Jn 1.5 And we’re the light of the world when we follow his example, and reveal to the world God’s kingdom is near, same as Jesus did. Once we were darkness, but now light, Ep 5.8 for since God’s now our Father, we are light’s children, 1Th…

The earth’s salt.

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Mark 9.43-50, Matthew 5.13, Luke 14.34-35.If you’ve ever heard someone called “the salt of the earth,” usually they mean a decent person—but kinda ordinary. And no, that’s not what Jesus meant when he coined the phrase “salt of the earth.” Or as I translated it, “the earth’s salt.” I’ve no idea how it evolved from a remarkable person to an unremarkable person.But when Jesus uses it, he means remarkable. He means a flavor enhancer. Be the salt of the earth: Enhance it. Make it taste better.Mark 9.49-50 KWL49“Everything for the fire will be salted.Lv 2.1350Salt is good.When salt becomes saltless, in what way will it season things?Have salt in yourselves. Have peace with one another.”Matthew 5.13 KWL“You’re the earth’s salt.When salt is tasteless, in what way will it salt things?It’s of no use—well, unless it’s thrown outside, to be walked upon by people.”Luke 14.34-35 KWL34“So salt is good.When salt is also tasteless, in what way will it salt things?35It’s neither useful for the ground …

Awesome and awful.

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Matthew 5.3-12, Luke 6.20-26.A lot of Jesus’s teachings are bunched together as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, and the Sermon on the Plain in Luke. They overlap a bunch, so I’m going through ’em together. And both of them begin with beatitudes.Beatitude is an old-timey word for “blessing.” Most translations follow the King James Version’s lead and begins each line with “Blessed are the…” as Jesus lists the sucky, not-so-great situation which these folks are groaning under. They’re poor. Mourning. Humble. Starving for justice. Merciful in a world without mercy. Pure-hearted in a dirty culture. Striving for peace where there’s nothing but rage and fear. Getting hunted down, mocked, slandered, driven out. These things sure don’t sound like blessings.Let’s be blunt: They’re not. We’re not blessed with poverty, misery, no justice, no peace, and persecution.I’ll explain. But first let’s get to the beatitudes in these two gospels.Matthew 5.3-12 KWL3“The spiritually poor: How awesome!—th…

The Sermon on the Plain.

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My translation of the Sermon on the Plain.I don’t know whether Jesus preached this as a whole other sermon from the Sermon on the Mount, or whether Luke heard a short version of that sermon… or whether Matthew heard a long version of this sermon. My guess is Jesus gave the same sermon lots of times; shorter or longer versions depending on the location and audience. So this is kinda the short version.Same as the Sermon on the Mount, I translated it so I could study the original text in greater depth. Feel free to read it in other translations. Compare them to one another so you can see the translators’ consensus—and that gives you a better idea of what Jesus means, than simply reading one “best” translation. Then follow him; not us translators.Luke 6.12-49 KWL12 It happened in those days Jesus himself came out to the hill to pray, and he was spending the night in prayer with God. 13 When day came, Jesus called his students and chose 12 of them, whom he named apostles.14 Simon who was a…

The text of the Sermon on the Mount.

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My translation of the Sermon on the Mount.No, not so I can have my own spin on it, or an “authoritative text” to work from; that’s not how translation works. I translate so I can study the original text in greater depth. If you translate so you can frame it to suit yourself, stop it.Feel free to read it in other translations. Compare them to one another so you can see the translators’ consensus—and that gives you a better idea of what Jesus means, than simply reading one “best” translation. Then follow him; not us translators.And the best way to follow him is to follow his sermon, as he himself taught in verses 7.24-27.Matthew 4.24 - 7.29 KWL4.24 The rumor of Jesus went out to all Syria. People brought him everyone who had all sorts of evil diseases, crushed by torments, demoniacs, lunatics, the paralyzed—and he cured them. 25 Many crowds followed Jesus: People from the Galilee, Dekapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond-Jordan. 5.1 Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up a hill. As he seated h…

The Sermon on the Mount.

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Matthew 7.24-27, Luke 6.47-49.When people read the New Testament (even though evangelists tell ’em to read John first, which they don’t have to; any of the gospels will do) they usually go to Matthew, the first book. So their first real introduction to Christ Jesus’s teachings is the Sermon on the Mount.As, I would argue, it should be. John is great for talking about our salvation and Jesus’s divine nature. But now that we’re saved, how are we to live? What are the good works God has in mind for us? Ep 2.10 Duh; Sermon on the Mount.Three chapters of solid Jesus. If you’ve got a copy of the bible which puts his letters in red, that’s three solid-red chapters. Entirely consisting of instructions on how he expects his followers to interact, treat others, and follow him. Pretty challenging instructions, too.A little too challenging for a lot of Christians. For some new believers, it’s like a punch in the face. This is what Jesus expects of us? Righteous behavior? Self-control? Radical for…

Christianism.

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CHRISTIANISM'krɪs.tʃən.ɪz.əmnoun. A socially-approved worldview and belief system which claims to be Christian, but is not taught by Christ Jesus.[Christianist 'krɪs.tʃən.ɪstadjective.]I use the word Christianist an awful lot in this blog. Lemme ’splain why.There are Christians who try to follow Christ Jesus. We don’t always succeed, but we try, which is the important thing. I write this blog to encourage such people to keep trying, same as I keep trying.Then there are people who don’t try. At all. Instead they take whatever they’re doing, slap a Christian label on it, and claim it’s legitimately Christian. Often they do this out of pure hypocrisy; they know they’re not really following Jesus, but they want everyone to think they are.But thanks to generations of such hypocrites, thanks to entire institutions and churches where depraved human behavior has been repackaged with Christian terms, we now have multiple generations of people who think this is Christianity: This is how…