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Showing posts with the label #Synchroblog

When people believe Christianity is a myth.

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Christianity is an historical religion. It’s based on a man named Jesus of Nazareth, who lived and breathed and died in the first century of our era. He proclaimed God’s kingdom and described what it’s like, informed us no one could get round him to the Father, Jn 14.6 and despite being crucified by the Romans, physically came back from the dead and sent his followers to proclaim this kingdom on his behalf.If none of this stuff literally happened—if it’s pure mythology, a fiction based on cultural archetypes instead of true events, which reflects humanity’s fondest wishes, meant to teach greater truths and bigger ideas instead of being taken as fact—then we Christians have a huge problem. See, when we join God’s kingdom we’re kinda expected to change our entire lives based on its principles. We’re also promised Jesus is gonna come back to personally rule this kingdom. But if Christianity’s mythological, then Jesus won’t do any such thing, ’cause he’s dead.Oh, and if he’s dead, we Chri…

The flood story.

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In Genesis there’s a story about a massive flood. Rain for a month and a half; waters which covered every hill in the area, and killed every living thing. It was, states the author of Genesis, God’s way of getting rid of the violence in the land—by getting rid of everybody but one righteous (well, righteous enough) family.Starts like this.Genesis 6.11-21 KWL11 To God’s face, the land was ruined. The land was full of violence.12 God saw the land. Look, ruin!—all flesh ruined its way in the land.13 God told Noah, “To my face, the end of all flesh is coming:They fill the land with violence before them. Look, the land is ruined!14Make yourself a box of cypress trees. Make living spaces in the box.Plaster it from the inside to the outside with asphalt.15This is how you’ll make it: A box 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, 30 cubits high.16Make a window in the box, a cubit from the top. Make a doorway in the box’s side.Make bottom, second, and third floors.17Look at me: I bring the deluge of w…

“Just war”: Vengeance disguised as righteousness.

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Humans like to take revenge.Watch two kids on the playground. One will smack the other, entirely by accident. (That’s what they claim, anyway.) The other kid will immediately want to retaliate. And not in some equitable blow-for-blow response, either. They’ll wanna beat the living tar out of the other kid.That’s not a learned behavior. Just the opposite: It’s instinct. It’s our self-preservation instinct, but warped by human depravity till we defend ourselves from future harm by preemptively destroying anything or anyone who might harm us. Kids have to be trained to not retaliate like this.A good parent is gonna teach their kids to forgive. (It was unintentional, after all.) Even selfish parents won’t necessarily demand a reciprocal response. Although the dumber ones might: “She hit you? Hit her back!” But this behavior will backfire: Kids’ll do as comes naturally, and hit back harder. And then the first kid hits back even harder. And things escalate from there.I know; from time to ti…

Surrendering our authority to Jesus.

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When I was a kid I came across one of Bill Bright’s gospel tracts, in which he diagrammed the difference between a self-centered life and a Jesus-centered life. Looked like yea.
Or “self-directed” and “Christ-directed.” Either way. Discover GodIf our lives are self-centered, supposedly they’ll be chaos. Whereas if they’re Jesus-centered, they appear to be neat and orderly and crisis-free. With none of the challenges, persecutions, temptations, suffering, or any of the things Jesus totally warned us were part of life. Yeah, certain gospel tracts tend to promise a little too much. Bright’s was one of them.But lemme get back to my point: The idea of a Jesus-centered life, as opposed to a self-centered one. That is in fact the whole point of Christianity: Jesus is Lord. We’re meant to follow his steps in everything we do, 1Pe 2.21, 1Jn 2.6 always take him into consideration, obey his teachings, seek his will. He’s the king of God’s kingdom, and if you want in, he has to be in charge.In pra…

How long does hell last?

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Some say forever, some say temporarily, and some say no time at all. As I explained in my article “The four hells,” there are four words translated hell in the scriptures, and the one I mean by “hell” is ge-Henna, the trash fire outside Jerusalem, reimagined in Revelation as a pool of fire and sulfur outside New Jerusalem. Rv 20.10-15 Into it go Satan and its angels, the Beast, the fake prophet who promotes the Beast, the personifications of Death and Hades (i.e. the afterlife), and everyone whose name isn’t listed in the life scroll—everyone who refused to turn to God for salvation, and therefore don’t get to enter his kingdom.The Beast and prophet are explicitly described as being “tortured there, day and night, age to ages.” Rv 20.10 Though this lake is known as the second death, Rv 20.14 it doesn’t have a sense of finality like death seems to. Death feels like an absolute stopping point—when you’re dead, you’re not alive, you’re not moving, you’re not breathing, you’re not thinkin…

True compassion: Offer help, not just advice.

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There’s a good reason we call advice “my two cents.” It’s often as worthless. Hebrews 4.14-16 KWL14 Since we have a great head priest who passed through the heavens—Jesus, God’s son—we should hold sway by agreeing with him:15 We don’t have a head priest who can’t sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tested by everything just the same—and passed the test sinlessly.16 So we should come to his gracious throne boldly:We should receive mercy. We should find the grace to help us in time.The fruit of the Holy Spirit reflects the thinking and attitude of the Spirit, those traits of his which oughta come pouring out of the people he lives within. And which are invisible, or nearly so, in the people he’s not within—or they’ve figured out a way to fake ’em.Compassion, the ability to feel for other people, to sympathize with what they’re going through, to want to be gracious and helpful to them, is definitely a Christlike trait. Conversely its lack is definitely an antichristlike trait. Christi…

Taking God’s amazing grace for granted.

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Legalism is the opposite of grace. But we’re quick to cry legalism if it gets us out of stuff. CHEAP GRACE /tʃip greɪs/ n. Treatment of God’s forgiveness, generosity, and loving attitude, as if it’s nothing special; as if it cost him little.Whenever I bring up the subject of cheap grace, some Christian invariably objects: “Grace is not cheap.” Even if I’ve explained in advance what I mean by cheap grace; even if I’ve written an entire essay defining the idea.Every. Single. Time.’Cause some Christians don’t read. The title’s about cheap grace, so they skip to the comments and object: “Grace isn’t cheap!” They see a link to an article about cheap grace, so they respond to the link or the Tweet or the post, “Grace isn’t cheap!” While speaking, I use the words “cheap grace” in a sentence, and they wait for the first chance to interrupt: “Grace isn’t cheap!”YES. I KNOW. I’M TRYING TO MAKE THAT POINT. I WOULD IF YOU’D LISTEN. So can you please keep your knee from jerking just this once, and…

Synchrobloggery.

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Sometimes you just wanna know what other people think about the same topic. Really, this is a story, not a non-sequitur: Back in 2007 my mother took a college course on Christian apologetics.Since I’m the seminarian in the family, Mom kept picking my brain. And I’m really not the brain you wanna pick. Thanks to my Fundamentalist upbringing, I spent years studying apologetics… and trying it out on Dad, who’s atheist. Then I spent a few more years inflicting it on various other pagan skeptics. After some years working with real evangelists, who share the gospel instead of arguing it, I came to a rather heterodox view of apologetics.Bluntly, apologetics are cessationists’ thoroughly inadequate substitute for testimonies. You don’t tell people about what God’s done in your life, ’cause as far as you believe, all his acts are theological, spiritual, invisible, and largely hypothetical. You don’t talk about what he’s shown you through your faithful obedience, ’cause you’ve not done a lot of…

Why we gotta have freedom of expression.

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And in this age, we have Blog Action Days.
I’m participating in the Blog Action Day thingy, an attempt to get bloggers and their readers to focus on a particular worthy issue. This year it’s #RaiseYourVoice, an attempt to speak up on behalf of journalists, photographers, bloggers, writers, and pretty much everyone who’s not allowed to speak up for themselves.In the United States, freedom of expression is pretty much the content of our Constitution’s first amendment: A guaranteed freedom of religion, speech, the press, and to petition government.Among us Christians, freedom of expression is a tricky thing. Because not every Christian is agreed we have freedom of expression. Or should have.I know many a Christian who’s outraged, outraged, by some of the stuff on television. It’s just filthy. So, they tell anyone who’ll listen, they got rid of their TV. They threw it right out. They don’t watch it anymore.…Well okay, they watch stuff on the Blu-ray player. And off Netflix. And sometimes …