May 28, 2009

The Church Enterprise Quote

"Christianity started out in Palestine as a fellowship. Then it moved to Greece and became a philosophy. Then it went to Rome and became an institution, and then it went to Europe and became a government. Finally it came to America where we made it an enterprise."
Richard Halverson, former chaplain to the U.S. Senate

May 26, 2009

Jesus Was Pro-Torture!

According to Kevin Roeten at Redstate.com:
It’s likely even Jesus would have OK’d water boarding if it would have saved his Mom. He would’ve done the same to save his Dad, or any one of His disciples. For that matter, He even died to save all humans.
Really? The man who was brutally beaten and murdered by a tyrannical empire would support torture?

I am no pacifist, but I certainly don't think a case could be made where Jesus would support waterboarding!

But I guess Kevin is not alone as a recent Pew Forum points out that 62% of protestants surveyed believe that torture can be justified. Check out the survey results here.

What do you think? Would Jesus have supported water boarding?

May 23, 2009

May 20, 2009

Great Quote from Shane Claiborne

I am starting to read The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. I found the following statement at the beginning of the book, and much of my journey has echoed its cry...

Many of us find ourselves estranged from the narrow issues that define conservatives and from the shallow spirituality that marks liberals. We are thirsty for social justice and peace but have a hard time finding a faith community that is consistently pro-life or that recognizes that there are "moral issues" other than homosexuality and abortion, moral issues like war and poverty. So some folks just end up trying to save individual souls from their sins, and others end up trying to save the world from "the system." But rarely do we see that the sickness of our world has infected each of us, and that the healing of our world not only begins within us but does not end with us.
Check out my review of Irresistible Revolution.

May 14, 2009

Review of Jesus Interrupted by Bart Ehrman

I rarely read a book without finding something of value in it. Even in viewpoints with which I disagree I can usually find some redeeming points or insights. Jesus, Interrupted, however, was a waste of my time. While being easy on the readability scale, it is filled with half-truths and poor scholarship almost to the point of unreadability.

In this post I will give a few points where I agree with Ehrman (indicating areas where I diverge) and then point out a few other problems with the book.

At the end of this post I will give the links to Ben Witherington III's blog posts concerning this book. He is a brillilant New Testament scholar with more expertise in this area than I. His series is nothing short of brilliant. It is lengthy, but worth the time it takes. You don't even need to have read Ehrman's book to understand and learn from Witherington's posts.

Let me say that there are a few points where I agree with him. While I agree with him it does not mean they are new, insightful, or all that useful.

Points of Agreement with a little explanation:
  1. Every first year seminarian learns New Testament criticism, and it does challenge some. During my first year of seminary I was challenged by the issues presented by New Testament Criticism...until they offered all the views. I was able to evaluate them and found there are very plausible explanations which Ehrman either doesn't discuss or completely disregards without a full explanation.

    Erhman does a great job of only presenting one (his) explanation as the only plausible one and giving just enough information about other views to make them seem ridiculous. It is easy to disregard some of the arguments because Ehrman himself starts with faulty assumptions. New Testament Criticism is a complex field and the scholars (despite Ehrman's "most scholars agree" comment) do not agree with his explanations.

  2. Very few pastors bring this stuff up. I don't want to misrepresent Ehrman or attempt to speak for him, but his writing leaves me with a bad impression. That impression is that Ehrman believes pastors are keeping this information from the people because they just don't want to deal with it, think their people won't be able to handle it either spiritually or intellectually, or they are purposely deceiving people.

    Most of this is practical. Sharing the insights of New Testament Criticism would overwhelm many. It is a difficult subject that requires more than a Sunday morning sermon can provide. Many pastors do not fully understand the ins and outs of NT Criticism.

  3. The Historical-Critical method is a widely used and very reliable method of getting at the meaning of a Biblical passage and understanding. Ehrman is correct that to properly understand the Biblical message and interpret it properly we need to understand the time, place, situation, etc of the original writers and readers.

    Unfortunately, Ehrman only abides by this principle when it is convenient.

    In the section explaining Biblical contradictions...Ehrman fails to take into account Biblical genres (His understanding of Genesis and his explanation of the Psalms are just one example). He fails to understand why John would place the Temple Cleansing at the beginning of his book while other place it later...then says that it cannot be reconciled. If Ehrman understood the purpose of a Gospel genre he wouldn't have so much difficulty.

  4. There are variant views, textual differences, and the writers were usually anonymous (and not necessarily who's name was listed on the document). Again a simple understanding of the process would help. Ehrman just misses it. There are textual variations, the Biblical writers had slightly varying theologies (though, despite Ehrman's inferences, they all held to the same main principles), and there are some anonymous letters (but not forgeries or misrepresentations).

  5. I have as much problem with the fundamentalist view of inerrancy as Ehrman. I believe God spoke through human beings and allowed their personal writing styles, personalities, and idiosyncrasies to show through. The Scriptures were written by real human beings inspired by the Holy Spirit; not automatons. Variations occur, but this does not remove the presence of the Holy Spirit working and keeping the essential message of God's Word for us.
A Couple of Additional Problems:
  1. The underlying assumption that nothing supernatural is occuring in the Scripture.
    Buried within Ehrman's writing is the assumption that nothing supernatural is going on with the Bible. Obviously this is a difference of opinion as he would say that my faulty assumption is that I believe there is something supernatural going on. Once you start with a purely humanistic origin of the Bible and view its development as being separate from all Divine intervention...then I can see how some things seem illogical. However, I also think that God's working to bring us the Bible plays a big role in the discussion.

  2. Lack of scholarly insight and study. Bibliography for additional study? None! Footnotes to reference bold claims and "widespread acceptance" of his ideas? None! (Unless you count footnote references to his own work!) Interaction with alternative views as anything other than straw men? None! Plus there is nothing new about the ideas that are presented...some of which have been proven wrong and abandoned by liberal scholarship anyway.
Ehrman's writing is easy to read making it accessible to a popular audience. By this I don't mean stupid, but rather people who are unable or unwilling to wade through the theological tomes available on NT Criticism. Because of this Ehrman is able to present a very biased and unscholarly work and pass it off as everyday stuff that pastors and scholars have been hiding from us for years!

Ben Witherington III does a great job of presenting the individual insights and argument against Ehrman's work. The posts are VERY lengthy, but well worth the read. Check them out here, here, here, here, and here.

Check out Bart Ehrman and Stephen Colbert here. You can also see the overall introduction post for this review here.

CNN has an article about Ehrman.

May 12, 2009

Broken

I watched the video in this post a few weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. This week I will be using it for inspiration to think about some things that are often broken in a church that may need fixed.

For your viewing pleasure:

May 7, 2009

Out With a Bang!


A house around the corner from where I live exploded today! Crazy!

May 2, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Today I thought I would post a few of the blogs that I have been reading and enjoying (in addition to my friends blogs Andy, Linda, Steve, and Elom)...

Fail Blog: I could spend hours looking at this site (and have!). Very funny pictures, videos, etc of people just getting things wrong!

The Art of Manliness: A great blog about recovering what it means to be a man. The emphasis is very good...honor, integrity, loyalty, and being a good husband and father. The articles are very informative and interesting.

Gear Tech: Who doesn't like cool tools and electronic gadgets?

Moleskinerie: I love the notebooks, and this blog has tons of ideas and articles about how to use them.

Seth Godin: Marketing genius and thousands of great ideas!

So what are some of the blogs that you are reading?