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If you don’t follow Jesus, of course you misunderstand him.

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John 8.21-29. As you know, those who imagine Jesus is only a great moral teacher, and figure “I’m the world’s light” means that and no more, tend to ignore the radical statements Jesus made about who he is, what he can do, and who sent him and why. They refuse to recognize him for who he is. When he made roundabout statements about it, they deliberately chose to misinterpret him; when he made blunt statements about it, they wanted to kill him. John 8 contains both such things. So let’s get to those things. Back to temple, Jn 8.20 where Jesus was teaching yet another lesson to skeptical people. John 8.21-29 KWL 21 So Jesus told them again: “I’m going away. You’ll seek me, and you’ll be destroyed by your sins: You can’t go where I go.” 22 So the Judeans said, “He won’t kill himself, will he? ” —because Jesus said, “You can’t go where I go.” 23 Jesus told them, “You’re from below. I’m from above. You’re from this world. I’m not from this world. 24 So I told

Listening to our God, not our gut.

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Jude 1.19-25. Years ago, I had to deal with an unteachable co-worker. We’ll call him Ulises. Nice guy, but nobody could tell him a thing: He knew what he already knew, and figured he already knew best. This attitude eventually got him fired. Our boss discovered repeated warnings just weren’t working, and sent him home. Ulises followed his gut. Most people do. They encourage us to. We’re supposed to listen to that deep inner voice which tells us what we really oughta do. What we really want, what’s really best for us, what’s the right thing to do: The inner voice knows all. Don’t starve it. Sometimes we call it following your instincts, following your hunches, following your gut; following the core of our being which knows the difference between wise and dumb, true and false, right and wrong, good and evil. Christians imagine it was put there by God. And it’s not a new idea, believe it or don’t; it’s always been around. Every generation dusts it off and repackages it. The

When Christians have no respect for leadership.

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Jude 1.14-18. I previously explained when Jude referred to the mythology of his day, it doesn’t mean Jude considered these books historical or authoritative. I bring this up again ’cause Jude quoted a bit from 1 Enoch , a fictional firsthand account of heaven as shown to Noah’s great-grandfather Enoch. (Who went there y’know. Ge 5.24 ) Jude 1.14-15 KWL 14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them, saying “Look, the Lord comes with myriads of his saints, 15 making judgment upon all, examining every life against all their irreverent work, irreverently done; concerning every harsh thing the irreverent sinners said against him.” No, 1 Enoch wasn’t actually written by Enoch. It was written in Aramaic, a language which didn’t even exist in whatever century Enoch lived in. It claims to be by him, so we call it pseudepigrapha , which means “fake writings.” But it’s fanfiction. Well-known fanfiction; Paul even took the idea of the “third heaven” from it, 2Co 12.2

Rebellion against God’s authorities. Not his angels.

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Jude 1.8-13. Previously I brought up the people with whom Jude disputed in his letter: The folks who were going their own way, embracing their favorite myths instead of Christianity, going astray, and leading others with them. And I suspect the reason Jude kept referring to Pharisee mythology throughout his letter, was because these ancient Christianists were likely also referring to Pharisee myths. Christians still do it too, y’know. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard non-biblical stories about Satan, used as proof how it behaves or what it’s up to. Preachers like to claim these stories give us insight into devilish behavior. More like insight into how little homework people do before they get behind the pulpit and claim to teach God’s word. In my experience, when a person’s quoting myths instead of bible, not only do they take bible out of context, but usually take the myths out of context too. So what I believe Jude did here (and yeah, I admit I’m bi

Lessons from Jewish (and Christian) mythology.

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Jude 1.5-8. Jude 1.5-6 KWL 5 I want to remind you— though you knew all this already: First the Lord rescued his people out of Egypt. Second, he destroyed those who didn’t trust him. 6 Including the angels!—who didn’t keep their original authority, but abandoned their own dwelling. For their judgment on the Great Day: Kept in indestructible chains, in the dark. Jude isn’t the only apostle who finds it fascinating that God judges angels. (And apparently we Christians judge ’em too. 1Co 6.3 ) Simon Peter brought ’em up, 2Pe 2.4 and Christ Jesus himself taught the everlasting fire was constructed for them. Mt 24.41 The apostles liked to point out God doesn’t spare angels when they sin, and he’s mighty close to them… so why do we presume he’ll spare us humans when we sin? Grace is awesome, but it’s still not a free pass. Irritatingly, popular Christian theology has made the apostles’ idea meaningless. How? Because we teach angels don’t get judged the same way as hum

All right, let’s plow through Jude.

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Jude 1.1-5. On my previous blog I was midway through Jude , and then I stopped doing that blog and started TXAB . So some people were wondering whether I’d ever go back to it… and others didn’t care, ’cause Jude’s an obscure little letter which makes no sense to them, and they’d rather I analyze other books. And cut out that whole debunking popular Christian myths thingy I do, and just reconfirm all the things they already believe. My mini-rant aside, yeah I dropped the ball, but here I pick it back up. Jude 1.1-2 KWL 1 Judah, slave of Christ Jesus, Jacob’s brother, to those in God the Father— those whom Christ Jesus loves, those whom he watched over, those whom he called. 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you all. “Judah” would be Judah of Nazareth, brother of Ἰακώβου / Yakóvu , i.e. Jacob of Nazareth, who’s better known to us as James. (That’s what happened after medieval English-speakers mixed up the Latin names Iacobus and Iacomus .) This’d be the

Worldviews: What Christianists promote instead of orthodoxy.

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WORLDVIEW 'wərld.vju noun. A particular philosophy about life, or concept of human and social interaction. When Christians talk about worldviews, we’re talking about politics. Yeah, Christian apologists who examine “the Christian worldview” claim they’re talking about how we Christians understand the world around us, based on what God created it to be—as opposed to how pagans and nontheists interpret things. But three things you’re gonna notice really quickly about their interpretations: It invariably leads to a politically conservative point of view— regardless of whether Jesus even addressed, much less supports, their favorite conservative views. It invariably leads to their particular church’s views on God. Fits extremely well if you’re Calvinist or Fundamentalist … and less so if you’re not. (God help you if you’re Roman Catholic. ) It doesn’t promote loving our neighbors so we can point ’em to Jesus. More like being appalled at the stuff they’re trying to

When’d the events of the bible take place?

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Humanity largely uses the Gregorian calendar, Pope Gregory’s 1582 update of the Julian calendar, which was Julius Caesar’s 46 BC update of the old Roman calendar, which according to legend was an update of Romulus’s 10-month 360-day calendar. So, y’know, it’s clearly not the calendar Moses used. Add to this the fact the bible’s authors didn’t really tie their events to specific dates. They rarely said, “On the , such-and-so gave this prophecy….” Didn’t occur to them to be this kind of exact. That’s a western priority, and one a lot of today’s middle easterners share. But it’s not an ancient middle eastern one. Doesn’t make a story more true, or feel more real and less mythological or fairy-taleish, when you can begin with an exact date instead of “Once upon a time.” This lack of dates makes westerners bonkers: We wanna know when these events happened! What year did the Exodus take place? What year did Abraham die? When’d Noah’s flood happen? We want details , dangit. But hon

“Christ-followers”: Rebranding for the wrong reasons.

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CHRIST-FOLLOWER 'kraɪst fɑ.loʊ.ər noun . Adherent or devotee of Christ Jesus. 2. One who believes themself a real devotee of Christ, as opposed to other Christians. To be fair, a lot of Christians aren’t doing the title “Christian” any favors. There are irreligious Christians, who figure all they need do is believe, and figure obedience is for suckers people who don’t believe. There are fruitless Christians, whose character is no different than pagans, but who point to their beliefs or works and think that should count for something. There are Christianists, who don’t know there’s any difference between their culture or their politics, and what Jesus teaches—but they clearly aren’t doing as Jesus teaches. And there are Christians who aren’t as bad as all that . They’re working on it. Some harder than others. But let’s give ’em some grace, shall we? But other Christians have decided there are so many substandard Christians, the title “Christian” has simply bee

When God answers our mundane prayers: Thank him!

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I’ve written before about how we can pray for ordinary stuff. That it’s okay to pray for ordinary stuff. God wants us to cast all our cares on him, 1Pe 5.7 and not worry about all the silly daily things we ordinarily do, and that pagans fret about. Mt 6.25-33 So go ahead and pray for God to help you find your phone. Or to speed up a traffic light. Or to help your kids do well on that spelling quiz. Or for a generally good day. And y’know, plenty of Christians already do precisely this. We pray all the time for little trivial things. “God, I’m gonna be late!” “God, take care of this.” “God, help her out.” Some of us make these little prayers all day long. Good! Thing is, God answers these prayers. All the time. Sometimes with no. Frequently yes. But because they’re mundane requests, because our prayers are so numerous—and kinda automatic and unthought—we kinda take God’s answers for granted. We have a good day… and forget to credit God with it. We assume circumstances m

More than a great moral teacher: The world’s light.

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John 8.12-20. If we skip the Adulterer Story as we read John (as we probably should, ’cause whether it happened or not, it didn’t happen at this point in John ), this lesson took place right after Sukkot was over, after the Judean senators had decided Jesus isn’t a relevant prophet. Because, among other things, he’s Galilean. Which only goes to show they didn’t know anything about Jesus’s family and backstory. They could’ve found it out with some very minor investigation. Talk to any of Jesus’s family members; they knew the entire story. But the senators didn’t bother, and stuck with their fairly superficial observations—which Jesus, in today’s passage, calls judging “according to the flesh.” Jn 8.15 They presumed they knew better, and missed their Messiah. So when Jesus made really bold statements about himself, they naturally balked: These statements are too bold. You can’t go making unsubstantiated statements like this. Like “I’m the world’s light.” John 8.12-20