Book Review: The Bible Tells Me So…

“The Bible Tells Me So…” is a recently published book by Peter Enns. He offers a summary on the cover: “Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It”. The book came across to me as though Enns was frustrated and has a bone to pick. The purpose of the book is to try argue that the way many Christians—specifically those more conservative—understand the Bible is wrong and to convince these people of the correct way (according to Enns).

I am actually on board with Enns’ premise, explained through the first chapter: we need to try and understand the Bible as it is, in it’s ancient context, as opposed to trying to fit it into our expectations of an encyclopedia or modern textbook. We should be honest about it: there are a Continue reading

Being a Real Victim Verses Victim Mentality

I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard a lot about “playing the victim” or “having a victim mentality”. This is condemned as bad and unhelpful. A friend of mine pointed out that, if not balanced, this could be used to shame and blame honest victims. It’s true that the way some people talk, it’s as though it’s not acceptable to actually be a victim. But I believe it is healthy and necessary to recognize when a true wrong has been committed and therefore victimization has occurred.

I heard a speaker recently talk about the problem of a person over-emphasizing how they’ve hurt others, or for other people, how they have been hurt. The speaker had said that balance is needed in recognizing how you have been hurt, how you have hurt others, Continue reading

Jesus the (Only) Way?

One point of contention among people is how most religions claim they are exclusively correct. Of course there are many people out there who disagree and hold that there are numerous paths and that all religions are basically the same. And I agree with this—in part. I believe there are many paths to spirituality. (Many people seem to think religion is just about spirituality.)

I think of religion as a set of dogmas to defend and actions to perform or abstain from. But I think the new order Jesus established is specifically un-religious. The Jews had an elaborate religious system. Jesus doesn’t break it—he supersedes it. For Jesus, it’s not about dogmas or rules, it’s about attitudes and character.

I don’t believe Jesus is Continue reading

Do You Know What is Biblical?

Evangelicals talk about being biblical a lot. Do you know what is and isn’t biblical? I find that many Christians don’t actually know the Bible that well. Too often when a Christian talks about biblical, what they actually have in mind is something which they heard a speaker or author say is biblical. On top of this, many evangelicals have the view that everyone else is against us and therefore we need to fight others in order to support our beliefs. So some Christians are ready to fight to the proverbial death over something which they were only taught is biblical and important, but isn’t something they know to be biblical from having read and understood the Bible for themselves. My point in writing this is to encourage and remind us all Continue reading

Questions: God’s Love?

Dale Fincher recently shared a short video in which a pair of prominent theologians speak. He used this as a launching point for discussing God’s love. This video sparked a number of questions in my mind. Watch the video and consider the following:

What do you think? Is it dangerous to share God’s love? Does that make people apathetic? What do we mean (or think of) when we talk about love and/or God’s love? Do we think of love only as soft and sappy? Does Jesus fit our picture of love? Do people need to have the “hell scared out of them”? Is the fear of God’s wrath the door to salvation? For everyone? Or do only some people need this? Does God’s love need to be balanced with “truth” or “wrath”, etc.? Are those things in tension? Does God “detest the wicked”?

photo credit: Lex”i”con via photopin Continue reading

Quotes From “Life After Art”

Select quotes from “Life After Art” by Matt Appling.

(As a young child) “Creating just made you incredibly, unabashedly happy, fulfilled, and satisfied… That moment in time so long ago was the freest you have ever been in your entire life.” (p. 23)

“Somewhere along the way children learn that failure is something to be feared, rather than to be learned from and embraced.” (p. 113)

“Fear of failure looms over everyone in some way. Somewhere in your life, you are holding back, hiding yourself from others, despite what you want to do. You want to do something fun. You want to share with others. You want to be generous with yourself. But you perceive the consequences of failure to be too great. So you become a self-fulfilling Continue reading

Worrying About Giving the Appearance of Sin Is Not Biblical

I’ve addressed this before but it has come up again. I think it’s worth revisiting. The idea that Christians should avoid appearing like they might be sinning is (in my impression) a widely held belief among evangelicals. Since this is my background, I was surprised to discover not too long ago that this idea isn’t biblical. This stems from a misunderstanding of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 in certain English translations. The King James version translates this verse as “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” With few exceptions, the only other translations to use the word “appearance” are either other versions of the King James or are themselves well over a century old. Nearly all modern translations say “every form of evil” or “every kind of Continue reading

Questions: Relationships

  • Do you believe that God should be the one to fulfill all our needs? Does the fact that God said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18) conflict with this idea?
  • In saying it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, did God mean that it wasn’t good for Adam to be unmarried or simply without other human companionship?
  • Is family merely biological or something else?
  • What is the difference between friendship and marriage?
  • What is the purpose of dating? Marriage? Friendship? Family?
  • Where does the idea that one’s spouse should be their best friend come from?
  • What is the relative importance/priority of various relationships: spouse, friends, family, other members of your church? From where do these priorities come?

Book Review: Through My Windows

The rap artist known as Soup the Chemist a.k.a. Super C (probably best known for his project S.F.C.) recently released a book titled “Through My Windows”. The subtitle of the book, “The History Behind Holy Hip Hop”, is a bit misleading. In reality, this is Soup’s autobiography. He was one of the earliest “holy hip hop” artists, and he was involved longer than most. So one does learn some about “holy hip hop” from reading his book. Yet the book is Soup’s reflections rather than a history of the genre.

Soup moves between telling stories and sharing things he’s come to believe in. He does more of the former early on, then shifts toward the latter late in the book. The teaching part—or almost preaching at times—I felt was the weaker Continue reading

What Does It Mean To Be Loved?

It’s one thing to define love, but what does it mean to be loved?

I believe many people are familiar with the “love languages“. Understanding these can be very helpful to marriage. However, I think it’s unfortunate that they’ve often only been applied to marriage or dating relationships. This is because—as I’ve said before—our love languages don’t change in our other relationships outside marriage/dating.

  • If someone’s primary love language is words of affirmation, are they being loved if they aren’t routinely receiving encouragement and appreciation?
  • If someone’s primary love language is acts of service, are we loving them if we never do anything for them?
  • If someone’s primary love language is gifts, are they feeling love if they Continue reading