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Relativism. (’Cause we aren’t all that absolute.)

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RELATIVISM'rɛl.ə.də.vɪ.zəmnoun. Belief that truth, knowledge, and morals are based on context, not absolutes.[Relative 'rɛl.ə.dɪvadjective, relativist 'rɛl.ə.də.vɪstnoun.]Relativism is a big, big deal to Christian apologists. I’ll get to why in a minute; bear with me as I introduce the concept.Some of us were raised by religious people, and were taught to believe in religious absolutes: God is real, Jesus is alive, sin causes death, love your neighbor. Others weren’t raised religious, but they grew up in a society which accepts and respects absolutes. Like scientific principles, logic, mathematics, or a rigid code of ethics.The rest—probably the majority—claim they believe in absolutes, but they’re willing to get all loosey-goosey whenever the absolutes get in their way. They might agree theft is bad… but it’s okay if they shoplift every once in a while. Murder is bad… but dropping bombs on civilians during wartime is acceptable. Lying is bad… but it’s okay to take an iffy…

Prayer’s one prerequisite: Forgiveness.

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Mark 11.25, Matthew 6.14-15, 18.21-35.Jesus told us in the Lord’s Prayer we gotta pray,Matthew 6.12 BCPAnd forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us.He elaborated on this in his Sermon on the Mount:Matthew 6.14-15 KWL14“When you forgive people their misdeeds, your heavenly Father will forgive you.15When you can’t forgive people, your Father won’t forgive your misdeeds either.”And in Mark’s variant of the same teaching:Mark 11.25 KWL“Whenever you stand up to pray, forgive whatever you have against anyone.Thus your Father, who’s in heaven, can forgive you your misdeeds.”And he elaborated on it even more in his Unforgiving Slave story.Matthew 18.21-35 KWL21Simon Peter came and told Jesus, “Master, how often will my fellow Christian sin against me,and I’ll have to forgive them? As many as seven times?”22 Jesus told him, “I don’t say ‘as many as seven times,’ but as many as seven by seventy times.23This is why heaven’s kingdom is like a king’s employee who wante…

Jesus is the gate: Don’t go around him!

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John 10.1-10.Right after Jesus cured a blind guy on Sabbath, for which the guy’s synagogue threw him out, Jesus commented some folks only think they can see, but they’re blind as well. Then he segued straight into talking about sheep. Like so.John 9.40 – 10.10 KWL40Some of the Pharisees were listening to these things, and told Jesus, “We aren’t blind too.”41 Jesus told them, “If you were blind, you wouldn’t have any sin.You now say ‘We do so see’—and your sin remains.1Amen amen! I promise you one who won’t enter through the sheepfold gate,but gets in some other way: This person is a thief, a looter.2One who enters through the gate is the sheep’s pastor.3The gatekeeper opens up for this pastor, and the sheep hears the pastor’s voice.The pastor calls their own sheep, and leads them out.4Whenever the pastor drives out their own sheep, they go on ahead of the pastor,and their pastor follows, for they know their pastor’s voice.5The sheep will never follow a stranger, but will flee from the…

When a well-known Christian quits Jesus.

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Back in July, Christian popular author Joshua Harris announced he’s no longer Christian. Which was a bit of a shock to people who hadn’t kept up with him—who only knew him from his books, particularly his best-known book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Which no doubt has prompted a lot of headlines and comments about Harris kissing Jesus goodbye. I had to resist the temptation to use that for this article’s title.I was obligated to read I Kissed Dating Goodbye at the Christian school where I taught. Some of my students’ youth pastors were inflicting it on them. It’s basically his promotion of “courtship,” as certain conservative Evangelicals call sexless, heavily chaperoned dating. In the book it’s how he claimed God wants people to find their mates. In my article on courtship, I pointed out the bible depicts no such thing; courtship is entirely a western cultural construct. Nothing wrong with it when it’s voluntary; everything wrong with it if your parents or church force it upon you.Which …

Altar calls: Come on down!

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ALTAR'ɔl.tərnoun. A table or block used as the focus for a religious ritual, particularly offerings or ritual sacrifices to a deity.2. In Christianity, the table used to hold the elements for holy communion.3. In some churches, the stage, the steps to the stage, or the space in front of the stage, where people go as a sign of commitment.During our worship services, sometimes Christians are invited to leave our seats and come forward to the stage. It’s called an altar call.Thing is, we’re not sure how the term originated. ’Cause the stage, or the front of the stage, wasn’t called an altar back then. The altar was the communion table. My guess is people were originally instructed to gather by the communion table. In a lot of churches, that altar is front and center; in the church I went to as a child, it was right in front of the preacher’s podium.But when evangelists held rallies, whether at a concert hall, sports arena, outdoor stadium, theater, high school gym, or grade school ca…