Daily Archives: 26 Oct 2010

The Bigger the Church, The Less Committed the Members

In spite of Lifeway Research’s clear agenda (that is, to vaunt mega churches) the simplest of facts illuminates the truth of the bankruptcy of the theology peddled at church’s like Joel Osteen’s- the bigger the church, the less committed the membership. Why?

Simply put, people attend mega churches because they wish to be served rather than to serve. They wish to be the center of every program rather than living the Gospel in their everyday lives. If you offer programs and activities, they will swarm in to be entertained- but the minute you require actual ministry, watch them flee like roaches when the lights are turned on.

In smaller congregations, 70 percent to 80 percent of the members are usually devoted workers, whereas larger ones see this in 10 percent to 20 percent of their members.

The rest of the report is the mumblings of a theological dilettante. But as we all know, and as the above paragraph shows, even a monkey can type a word by accident.

The fact is, people who attend mega churches want to be entertained.  And that’s why mega churches are nothing but theaters.  Their attenders are  not so much Christians as Observers.

BAR’s at it Again…

This time offering their readers a real treat-

Wow!  If ‘Christian historian/economist’ (????) Gary North thinks I should get it…   I suppose they couldn’t get an actual biblical scholar to endorse it- so you do what you’ve got to do.  I know one thing, I’m ordering a dozen… one for NP Lemche and one for Philip Davies and one for Keith Whitelam and one for James Crossley… they’ll be SO thrilled!

My Theme: Updated

Not the layout theme of the blog, but the theme of my work, has been updated.

Absence of evidence is evidence of absolutely nothing.

I have made the statement before (I think it’s even appearing in print one day as part of the Preface to a scholarly tome being written, as we speak, by a very learned Synoptic Gospel scholar- but I digress) but I think it’s time to memorialize it for the sake, especially, of the silly ‘mythicists’ (and fundamentalists).

Moses, Genesis, and You

Genesis and the Moses story were two competing myths of origin for Israel that were literarily and conceptually independent from each other. They both explained in different ways how Israel came to be.

That’s Konrad Schmid’s thesis in a new essay for Bible and Interpretation.  Where you come into the picture is whether you think he’s right or wrong.  But you won’t know until you read it (unless you’re one of those people who has the magical ability of discussing an argument before you’ve read it- and I know such people exist (or at least they pretend to)).

Julian’s Right, Larry Should be Ashamed

King’s nasty little ad hominem shows that he has nothing substantive to argue.  So he should be ashamed.  Not just for that, of course, but for so many little acts of pandering.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared on Monday’s”Larry King Live” to discuss his organization’s massive leak of classified war logs from the Iraq War. During the interview, King and Assange had a testy exchange about Assange’s walking out of a CNN interview over the weekend, with Assange telling King he should be “ashamed” for bringing the incident up.

There’s no doubt, is there, that the accusations leveled at Assange are just fabrications intended to smear him and divert attention from the issue at hand. King swallowed the same bait and stooped even lower than he usually does.

The Great Sausage Controversy Now Spans the Globe

It started in Australia and spread to New Zealand and then the United States, and now, it’s circled the globe and reached the shores of the United Kingdom.

Zurich Sausages

Just as Froschauer and his co-workers – guided by the theological wisdom of Huldrych Zwingli – opened up the world to Reformed action, so too the present sausage controversy is opening academia’s window to the fresh air of dissent.  Academia has been breathing stale air for too long now- it’s time, high time, for a Reformation.

Reform now!

In The Mail: The Common English Bible New Testament

This arrived today unsolicited and out of the blue.  It’s quite nicely bound actually and utilizes a one column layout, so that it looks like a ‘normal’ book and not like a ‘Bible’ (with the usual two column layout).

It boasts a pretty good editorial board and at first glance looks to be a fairly decent translation.  I’ll pass along some thoughts if I have the opportunity.

What Exactly is the ‘SBL Greek New Testament”?

Here’s the webpage for it. Is it an invisible version? Here’s how I found out about it:

I’m presuming it’s a bit of software (though it says print- I remain sceptical), but exactly how is it different from the GNT put out by the Bible Society and which is already widely available in electronic format (as well as in actual real copies that don’t rely on electricity).  Oh no— please tell me it isn’t an iPhone or iPad ap!  Those people are already annoying enough- all they need is a critical edition of the New Testament on their little pompous devices to make them utterly intolerable.

ITSEE Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yello Polka Dot Textual Criticism

Ok I apologize for that but every time I see ‘ITSEE’ I can’t help but think of the old song, ‘Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’. Anyway- my nostalgic memories aside-

The Birmingham Colloquia on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament has been announced.

The Seventh Colloquium will be held in Birmingham on 28th – 31st March 2011, with the title “Early Christian Writers and the Text of the New Testament”. Offers of papers on this topic should be addressed to H.A.G.Houghton@bham.ac.uk.

If you visit the link you’ll find, eventually, all the booking info you need if you want to attend a conference where, as I understand it, every participant, male and female, wears a yellow polka dot bikini (which is, as you can imagine, both horrifying and amusing). (Indeed, I think Tommy Wasserman wears one all the time!).

And here’s the theme song of ITSEE …

Call for Carnival-eers

We’re (that’s the royal we’re) looking for Biblical Studies Carnival hosts.  Hosts are needed for March-July of 2011.  If you’d like to host, just let me know.  Even if you’re Duane Smith.  Or, if you don’t want to curse the darkness and instead wish to light a candle, take part, don’t carp.

Then, as is always true, you can run the Carnival as you wish – it’s your Carnival and your theme and your focus- so long as it includes Biblical Studies as the central theme.  You can even throw in some of that idiotic radical atheist nonsense if you want.

Be a Carnival-eer.  It’s great fun (unless you’re a wet blanket or have the personality of drying paint- in which case, please don’t volunteer- there’s already enough boring rubbish on biblioblogs to keep insomniacs asleep for decades).

I Know Just What the Psalmist Means

Ps 73:1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” 12 This is what the wicked are like— always carefree, they increase in wealth.

13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed your children.

16 When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

Sure, I’d like to see the wicked punished right now. But I suppose patience is a virtue.

What’s Wrong With Washington? People, of Course

Here’s another one of those ‘duh’ reports- as if we all didn’t already know that people are the problem in DC.

As if incumbents didn’t already have enough to worry about, add one more thing to the list. Optimism about the American system of government is at a 36-year low, yet most Americans blame the people in office — not the system itself — for all that’s going wrong, according to a new ABC News/Yahoo! News poll. That means bad news ahead for incumbents on Election Day — particularly those of the Democratic variety. The underlying message of the new poll seems to be that new blood on Capitol Hill is the first step in getting back on track. “In bad times, people blame those in power: It’s got to be your fault — you’re in charge,” says Larry Sabato, head of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

That’s because, Larry, they are in charge.  Who should we blame?  The homeless?  People are the system.  The system is people.  The problem is always people.

Google’s CEO is a Prat

Google's Prat in Chief

And evidently an arrogant, totally depraved one at that.

During an interview on CNN’s Parker Spitzer last Friday, Google CEO Eric Schmidt offered a word of advice to users concerned with Google’s Street View cameras, which provide photos of cities around the world that are featured online on Google Maps. Schmidt’s statement on Street View was not included in an official transcript of the interview, but according to MarketWatch, here’s what was said: “Street View, we drive exactly once,” Schmidt said, referring to the vehicles mounted with cameras sent out to take photos for the service. “So, you can just move, right?” After a brief, subsequent exchange with co-host Kathleen Parker, Schmidt laughed, making it unclear whether the remark was made in jest. The executive added in reference to Street View that “the important point is we only do it once,” and that “this is not a monitoring situation.” Schmidt continued: “We’re very careful to not have real-time information about where people are.”

If he was ‘joking’ he should stop trying to be funny. He’s not very comedic.  And perhaps he should move.  To Germany.  He’s very popular there…

Breaking News: The Ark of the Covenant Found!

This just in- the Ark of the Covenant has been found- after thousands of years of being ‘lost’, the Ark has been spotted. Here’s the firsthand report of the discoverer, a fellow named John (though he gives no last name)-

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

Or, in John’s own words-

καὶ ἠνοίγη ὁ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ ὤφθη ἡ κιβωτὸς τῆς διαθήκης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ ναῷ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐγένοντο ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καὶ σεισμὸς καὶ χάλαζα μεγάλη

John evidently spotted the Ark during what appears to be a thunderstorm and an earthquake. Whatever the circumstances, we can now finally put to rest all ‘quests’ for the Ark. We all know where it is!  Whew.  The questers madness is over.

A Rough Weather Day Ahead…

Our friends up in the northern mid-west are in for a rough day today.

We’re staring at a powerful storm that is poised to rake high winds, severe t-storms, and, yes, even wet snow in parts of the Midwest. Some effects of this storm may also tease parts of the South and Northeast as well.

Meteorologists know this will be intense due to expected lowest central pressure of the low in western Ontario bottoming out in the neighborhood of 960-970 mb.  This is a storm potentially as strong or stronger than the infamous “Edmund Fitzgerald” storm in Nov. 1975 and an even stronger version almost exactly 23 years after that in Nov. 1998.

Get the full forecast and timeline at the link above (and yes, I’m a weather geek).  I mention this, by the way, so you can pray prophylactically for the people most likely to be affected.

Loco College Kids

Seal of Central Washington University

Or perhaps ‘Loko‘ is the proper way to spell it.

The manufacturer of a popular alcoholic energy drink is defending its product after police revealed that’s what sent nine Central Washington University students to the hospital this month not drug overdoses. Cle Elum-Roslyn-South Cle Elum Police Chief Scott Ferguson says, “Of the nine that were transferred to the hospital, we saw blood alcohol levels ranging from .123 to .335, and we remind people that point 3 can be considered lethal.” At first, police were told the students were drugged at the party in Roslyn on October 8th but investigators didn’t find any drugs in the home. They did find empty cans of Caffeine Alcohol Drink called “Four Loko” so they asked each of the sick kids if they had it. All of them said yes.

Kids, here’s an idea- stop staying up all night boozing and playing video games and carousing and get a decent night sleep and go to class and do your homework. Then you won’t need to pull all-nighters right before a test. College isn’t a 4 year party (unless you go to Penn State of course). It’s College. Learn something besides how to be a boozing loser.