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Showing posts with the label #Difficulties

Lead us not into temptation.

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Matthew 6.13, Luke 11.4. This part of the Lord’s Prayer gets controversial, because it sounds like our Lord’s brother James totally contradicted it when he wrote, James 1.13-15 NRSV 13 No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. 14 But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; 15 then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. So because James said God tempts nobody, people don’t know what to make of it when Jesus has us pray, Matthew 6.13 NRSV “And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.”   Luke 11.4 NRSV “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” ’Cause praying that God not lead us into temptation, implies sometimes he might lead us into temptation. Okay. The word

Bible “difficulties”: The passages which won’t do as we want.

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Whenever you hear Christians refer to “bible difficulties,” you’d think we meant scriptures which’re hard to translate, hard to interpret, hard to understand, or hard to follow. Often we do. Certainly I do. But why do Christians consider these scriptures difficult? Three reasons. We believe the bible contains no errors —but these passages appear to be in error, or appear to contradict other scriptures. Like Jesus’s two different genealogies. We have certain beliefs, doctrines, traditions, or assumptions—and these passages appear to violate them. Like Christians who don’t wash feet, Jn 13.14 or Christian men who don’t kiss one another hello. Ro 16.16 We don’t wanna say these passages don’t apply anymore… but honestly, we don’t wanna follow ’em either. These passages actually are obscure, and Christians throughout history (and Jews too) have found ’em hard to interpret. The most common reason would be the first one: Discrepancies. Scriptures which appear to contradict

The Adulterer Story… if it even happened.

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John 7.53 – 8.11. Today’s passage is called the Pericope Adulterae , the Adulterer Story, about a woman caught committing adultery, and Jesus was expected to judge her, and didn’t. It’s a really popular story in Christendom, and even pagans know the line, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Jn 8.7 KJV It’s used as the basis for a lot of live-and-let-live, “who am I to judge?” beliefs. Two things though. That’s not what Jesus meant by “He that is without sin.” I’ll get to that. This entire story isn’t found in the earliest copies of John . Nor the gospels. It got added in the 300s. It’s a textual variant. That second thing tends to really freak out Christians when I point it out to them. But just about every copy of the bible but the KJV points this out. The whole passage is put in brackets, or prefaced by “The oldest copies of John don’t have this story.” Some more daring bible translations even put the whole thing in the footnotes,

The bible’s not a biology textbook!

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Leviticus 11.13-19 • Deuteronomy 14.11-18 • Jonah 1.17 • Matthew 12.40 During a talk with a fellow Christian, we went off on a bit of a tangent. ME. “…Like when Jonah got swallowed by the whale…” HE. “Sea creature.” ME. “Whale. How’re you getting ‘sea creature’ from kítus ? ” HE. “From what?” HE. “ Kítus . The Greek word for ‘whale.’ The word Jesus used when he talked about Jonah being in the whale’s belly three days and nights. Mt 12.40 It’s the word we get our adjective ‘cetacean’ from, which refers to whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other marine mammals.” HE. [ confused; betcha he didn’t expect me to know what I was talking about ] “But Jonah said he was swallowed by a great fish.” Jh 1.17 ME. “Sure.” HE. “Well a whale’s not a fish.” ME. “Not anymore. It was a fish in Jesus’s day.” HE. “Whales used to be fish…?” HE. “Yep. No, they didn’t once have gills then evolve lungs. They used to be fish because the ancients classified them as fish: If it lives

How does one answer a fool?

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Proverbs 26.4-5. Whenever someone claims the bible never, ever contradicts itself, I like to take ’em to this pair of proverbs. Proverbs 26.4-5 KWL 4 Don’t respond to a fool’s foolishness, lest you be compared to them. 5 Respond to a fool’s foolishness, lest they become wise in their own eyes. Thing is, whenever I do this, the person immediately attempts to explain how they don’t contradict one another. Oh, they’ll do a terrible job of it. It’ll get ridiculous and illogical. But they do try. Because at some point in their past, they heard the bible never contradicts itself. They liked the idea. So they made it a core belief: One of the things which defines their Christianity, which defines their trust in the bible, is this ground-floor idea it never contradicts itself. Shake that belief and now they gotta rethink their belief system from the ground up. But there’s something in human nature where it’s just easier to go into full-on denial: “No it doesn’t contradic

Stick together.

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Ephesians 4.1-16. Now that God’s provided his adoptive kids with his superabundant riches, it’s time for us to live like his kids. So here’s the part of Ephesians where Paul moves away from the salvation theology, and gets into how we Christians are supposed to behave towards one another. We’ve been predestined for God’s kingdom; now let’s walk like inheritors of his kingdom. Paul especially emphasized the unity we oughta see among Christians, who are after all sharing the same Master. Ephesians 4.1-6 KWL 1 So I, the captive in the Master, encourage you to walk the calling you were called to, appropriately: 2 With all humility and gentleness. With patience, putting up with one another in love. 3 Eager to defend the Spirit’s unity, in peace’s joint captivity: 4 One body. One Spirit. Just as you were also called in one hope of your calling. 5 One Master. One faith. One baptism. 6 One God, and Father of everyone, over everyone, and in everyone. Most of th

No one has ever seen God. Except 74 ancient Hebrews.

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Exodus 24.9-11 • John 1.18 • 1 John 4.12-13. Most of the reason we Christians are pretty sure John bar Zavdi wrote both the gospel with his name on it, and the letters with his name on them, is ’cause the same ideas and themes (and wording, and vocabulary) come up in them. Including today’s bible difficulty, the idea nobody’s ever seen God. John wrote it in both his gospel and his first letter. John 1.18 KWL Nobody’s ever seen God. The only Son, God who’s in the Father’s womb, he explains God. 1 John 4.12-13 KWL 12 No one’s ever seen God, yet when we love one another, God’s with us. His love’s been expressed in us, 13 so this is how we get to know we’re with him and he’s with us. He’s given us his Spirit. The reason it’s a difficulty? Because people have seen God. In Exodus 24, we have this interesting little story: Exodus 24.9-11 KWL 9 Moses, Aaron, Nadáv, Avíhu, and 70 of Israel’s elders, went up 10 and saw Israel’s God: Under his feet was somethin

Jesus’s two genealogies.

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Which happens to be a big fat bible discrepancy many Christians skim over. Matthew 1.1-17 • Luke 3.23-38. Most Christians are aware Jesus has two genealogies. These aren’t genealogies the way we do ’em. We do family trees: We include ancestors from all sides of the family, fathers and mothers both. Often we include aunts, uncles, and cousins; if we’re not particular about blood relations we’ll even include step-parents. Our family trees can get big and complicated. Hebrew genealogies don’t. They turn into trees downward, when they’re listing one person’s descendants, as you can see from the first chapters of 1 Chronicles . But when they’re listing ancestors, they’re straight lines: You, your father, your father’s father, that grandfather’s father, that great-grandfather’s father, and so on back. Thing is, Jesus has two of these lists. In Matthew 1, it’s a list of ancestors from Abraham to Joseph. And in Luke 4, it’s a list of male ancestors backwards, from Joseph to Adam to