Monthly Archives: June 2017

Why Are We More Concerned About Toilets Than Salvation?

The Bee gets it right– to the shame of many ‘Evangelicals’.

Report: Majority Of Christians Far More Concerned About Which Bathrooms Trans People Use Than Whether Or Not They Will Go To Heaven When They Die.

Think about it.

Reminder: If You’re In Birmingham, UK in September…

Why Jesus Never Went Swimming

Kentucky Resists The Facism of the White House

Now if the rest of the States will have the same courage and follow suit-

Why You’re Here: Ethics for the Real World

What are Christians to be and to do in the world? What does faithfulness look like in these complex and confusing times?

Christians are often told either to take over the world in God’s name or to withdraw into faithful sanctuaries of counter-cultural witness. John Stackhouse offers a concise, vivid, and practical alternative based on the teachings of Scripture about the meaning of human life in this world and the next.

Why You’re Here provides an accessible, concrete program for the faithful Christian living in today’s world, fraught as it is with ambiguity, irony, and frequent choices among unpalatable options. Stackhouse speaks directly to everyday Christians who are searching for straightforward advice on some of their most complex quandaries and the challenges inherent in staying true to the Bible’s teachings.

Politicians, medical professionals, businesspeople, professors, lawyers, pastors, students, and anyone else concerned to think realistically and hopefully about Christian engagement in society today will find here a framework to both guide and inspire them in everyday life.

Oxford University Press have sent a pre-publication reader’s copy.

In sum, this is a wonderfully engaging and quite helpful little theological / ethical book.  Its author has a gift for succinct writing that remains full and fulfilling.  For instance

Did Jesus really die on a cross in order to inspire honorable, but otherwise unremarkable, lives? (p. 2).

It is a book comprised of three divisions:

  1. Our (Permanent) Human Calling: Make Shalom
  2. Our (Temporary) Christian Calling: Make Disciples
  3. Responding to the Call of Jesus

In short, he writes, this is a book about the Christian vocation.  And so throughout he discusses what it means to be a Christian in our world and how Scripture and Christian theology ought to inform our decisions, lifestyles, and behaviours.

As I said just above, the style is engaging and really superbly so.  We read

Jesus calls us not to do his work, but to extend his work (p. 82).

A crucial axiom here is that each of us is a member, not a microcosm (p. 128).

Everything. Everywhere. Everyone. Every moment.  That is the scope of God’s call on our lives, and that is the dignity our lives enjoy (p. 139).

What S. here argues, in short, is that Christians must be Christian in public and in private and their ethics must be determined by their Christian faith, always, everywhere, about everything.

If I were asked to remark about any weaknesses or shortcomings in the book I would only say that S. seems to be too appreciative of Yoder (who, for me, is so tainted by his own immorality that any ethic he may produce is also tainted by the stench of hypocrisy) and of Bonhoeffer (whose ‘Ethics’ is, again in my estimation, the worst of all his works).

That, however, is the only criticism I can muster concerning this really genuinely lovely little volume.  I recommend it quite highly.  Especially today.  Especially for our times, when too many Christians make their decisions not governed by the faith they proclaim but the ideology of a political party or system.

This is a needed and a timely book and you should read it.  And you should pass along your copy when you’re done to someone else so they can read it too.

What Did Jesus Look Like?

Jesus Christ is arguably the most famous man who ever lived. His image adorns countless churches, icons, and paintings. He is the subject of millions of statues, sculptures, devotional objects and works of art. Everyone can conjure an image of Jesus: usually as a handsome, white man with flowing locks and pristine linen robes.

But what did Jesus really look like? Is our popular image of Jesus overly westernized and untrue to historical reality?

This question continues to fascinate. Leading Christian Origins scholar Joan E. Taylor surveys the historical evidence, and the prevalent image of Jesus in art and culture, to suggest an entirely different vision of this most famous of men. 

He may even have had short hair.

Joan is a fantastic scholar.  This should be a real treat.

The White House Just Went Full Bore Fascist

And if the Governor of Tennessee (and the rest) send them what they want, they are complicit in their fascism.

A letter from Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of a White House commission looking into voter fraud and other irregularities, is drawing fire from some state election officials. The letter, sent Wednesday to all 50 states, requests that all publicly available voter roll data be sent to the White House by July 14, five days before the panel’s first meeting.

The information requested includes the names, addresses, birthdates, political party (if recorded), last four digits of the voter’s Social Security Number and which elections the voter has participated in since 2006, for every registered voter in the country.

Kobach, who is also Kansas’ Republican secretary of state, did not say how the commission plans to use the data other than to help it “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.”

However, Kobach has long advocated comparing state voter rolls with other government databases to identify noncitizens or other illegitimate registrants. Voter advocacy groups say such comparisons are prone to error and worry that the effort will result in legitimate voters being purged from the rolls.

Our information is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

And Now For Something Completely Different

The Federalist Has Loads of Stupid Articles: But This Is the Dumbest…

For one simple reason- generations and generations of people attended VBS and were not ‘driven away from the Church’ by it.  Blaming the departure of Millennials from the Church on VBS is pure, unadulterated, blinkered, idiotic, senseless, baseless, deceitful stupidity.

First Baptist Church, Dallas: Practitioners of Idolatry

Yesterday was “Freedom Sunday” at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.  The pastor of First Baptist is Robert Jeffress.  He is a Trump supporter, Christian nationalist, and prominent court evangelical. As the pictures attached to this tweet indicate, it was a day of patriotic celebration in the church sanctuary.

People waved American flags during the service.

The last time I checked, the waving of the American flag was a sign of support or loyalty to the nation.  Jeffress had no problem allowing such an act to take place in a church sanctuary–the place where Christians worship God as a form of expressing their ultimate loyalty.  Patriotism is fine. Flag-waving is fine.  But I wonder if any of the congregation felt uncomfortable that all of this took place in the church sanctuary on a Sunday morning.

They didn’t.  They’re idolaters, led by an idolater.  Read the whole piece.

The Babylon Bee Sermon Generator

Why bother with study when you can just steal sermons from other people?

RefoThursday

“I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Next after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor.”—Martin Luther.

Enjoy this week’s post.

Sad News

Sad to report the death of Peter Berger, the great sociologist, after a short illness. RIP Peter, with more than ‘a rumour of angels’.  –  Linda Woodhead

A New Essay From Israel Finkelstein on the Arad Ostracon

This new essay

… presents one track of work of the digital epigraphy group at TAU; we present the surprising results of multi-spectral imaging of the back side of Ostracon 16 from Arad, considered to be blank:

S. Faigenbaum-Golovin, A. Mendel-Geberovich, A. Shaus, B. Sober, M. Cordonsky, D. Levin, M. Moinester, B. Sass, E. Turkel, E. Piasetzky and I. Finkelstein, Multispectral Imaging Reveals Biblical-Period Inscription Unnoticed for Half a Century, Plos One June 14th, 2017.

We present the results of multi-spectral imaging. There is a lesson here: in sites/strata which may possibly reveal ostraca, multi-spectral imaging must be used in a systematic way.

No, Zuckerberg, Facebook isn’t a Church and Users Aren’t the Pastors

So maybe you should avoid talking about theological stuff.  Because when you do you just sound like an unhinged cult founder.  Next thing you’ll want to do is have all users accept a free pack of kool aid mix for everyone to drink at the same time….  You lunatic.

Stop pretending to be a Christian theologian and stick to writing code.

We’re All on the Syrup Ship Right Now…

People Really Hate Morals and Ethics

Otherwise why would they do such a thing?

Capitol police arrested a man after Arkansas’ new Ten Commandments monument was smashed to pieces when someone rammed a vehicle into it early Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the 6-foot (1.8 meter) granite statue was placed on state Capitol grounds.

Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Chris Powell said capitol police arrested the male suspect early Wednesday.

The driver is identified in an arrest report as Michael Tate Reed of Van Buren, Arkansas. A Facebook Live video shot early Wednesday and posted on an account belonging to a Michael Reed appears to show the destruction of the monument.

What a tool.

A Brief History of Jerusalem: From the Earliest Settlement to the Destruction of the City in AD 70

Jerusalem is one of the cities in the world on which most intensive archaeological research has been conducted. Nevertheless, the architectural history of the city resembles a puzzle of which only few pieces are known, which, moreover, belong to different historical levels.

Since 1838, numerous archaeological investigations have taken place. The most important discoveries were made in the course of excavations conducted by Kathleen Kenyon, Benjamin Mazar, Nahman Avigad and Yigal Shiloh. Although all four have only published preliminary, roughly sketched initial reports, on the basis of their results an overall picture of the pre-Hellenistic history of the city was developed in the 1970s and 1980s, possessing an almost canonical status for a long time.

The last excavation reports have only been published in recent years – still incomplete – and show findings which do not fit into the established picture. Moreover, there have been new excavations which are likely to call the current picture into question even further.

Therefore, not only archaeological investigations into the settlement history of the western Jordanian hillcountry and the re-adjustment of pottery chronology, but also and especially these new findings in Jerusalem itself require a revision of the conventional overall picture.

This Brief History of Jerusalem, with a critical discussion of current attempts, creates a synthesis of the findings in order to present a new paradigm for discussion. 

Behind the Scenes in the Senate

As the GOP works on its replacement of the Affordable Care Act:

Too Much of What’s Called Faith Is Really Just Self-Help

‪If your ‘faith’ is mere self help or self actualization, you kid yourself when you call it faith. It’s really just self peering back at you‬.