Common Sense, Musing

Facets

A pastor friend once tried to convince me to be one-dimensional.
He didn’t realize the implications of what he had said, of course. He thought it was both cool and theologically ultra-mature.

His argument was that I was “not actually a teacher”. Yeah, he said that like it was a good thing. Instead, I was an agent of the Kingdom of Heaven, “cleverly disguised as a teacher”. He was caught up in something of a James Bond-esque fantasy, and quite insistent to our Bible study that upon accepting Christ, the only thing we could ever be, eschewing all other forms of identity, was a secret agent for God.

There are a lot… a lot… of things wrong with that metaphor; after all, I am a teacher (even if only a lowly sub), and there is absolutely nothing secret about my membership and service to the Kingdom of Heaven, nor does it conflict with my oaths to secular government (I am not my wife’s husband; I am an agent of God cleverly disguised as the guy who vowed to cherish, protect, care, and encourage…?). None of this is mutually exclusive; heck, even Christ had that whole “Give unto Caesar” thing.

There are better metaphors out there, and there’s been one on my mind for a while, thanks to some serious repeat dipping into Matthew 5 through various sources.

Among other things, Jesus’s remarks in Matthew 5 make it very clear that being part of the Kingdom of Heaven does not make us secret agents.

We’re far more awesome.

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Lessons, The Basics, Uncategorized

Lesson Zero.

jesus teaching 1Recently, a dear friend of mine shared an intentionally provocative meme on Facebook.
I won’t repost the image here; it’s not entirely relevant, and I’d rather not start a political discussion concerning overall Biblical ignorance. That’s not the purpose of this blog.

Suffice to say, someone used a popular political figure to communicate that the teachings of the Bible are brutal, unreasonable, unfair to women, and that this particular political figure is both ignorant and a hypocrite for claiming that we should base the laws of our land accordingly.
If you’re really that intrigued, here’s a link.

Naturally, I chided my dear friend for passing on bad information, corrected the false assumptions, and then provided her with some inflammatory material that was actually Biblically-based (Let’s face it, while the Mosaic Law had all kinds of reasonable provisions for the people who broke it, even by modern standards, it was still kinda brutal when it came to menstruation and infections, not to mention the economic chaos that would erupt from trying to hold a Year of Jubilee under modern conditions. And don’t get me started on the dress code.).

But thinking about it since, it occurs to me that if all we claim to know about God comes from the Mosaic Law… then we’ve got a problem.
After all, what about Jesus?

Yeah, Jesus? Remember him? Claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah, the Fulfillment of the Law, the Way, the Truth, the Life? Spent a couple of years teaching the masses and telling the rich and the educated that they needed to actually read their copies of the Bible?  Got himself executed for claiming to be God Incarnate? Came back and kept on teaching a few days later?
Ring a bell?

If Christ is God, then Christ… and Christians (who are supposed to repeat Christ’s teachings)… should, in theory, be the best representation of God and God’s Will on Earth, even today.

Huh.

And Christ Himself had something to say about the Law and God’s Will that would throw some people for a serious loop if they actually put it into perspective.

And if you’re a Christian, you might already know this… but maybe you haven’t yet learned to apply it; and if you’re not a Christian, please, read on…

…because it’s probably not what you’d think.

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Controversy, Tough Stuff

Can an atheist go to heaven?

There’s an article from The Independent that caught my attention this weekend by popping up on my Facebook feed a few times. The eye-catching headline:

Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven

pope hat
The Pope and his cool hat. Just because.

You can click on the headline to see the article in full.
For those of you who don’t feel like it, it’s their original report on the fact that about two years ago, the current Pope wrote that God’s mercy is sufficient to save even non-Christians, who are capable of understanding what sin is by means of their consciences, and can therefore logically repent from it.

To the average Christian, this statement is heretical, perhaps even blasphemous. Everyone knows that Jesus is the only way, right?
He said so outright!

So what if I were to tell you that this, in fact, was not heresy?
What if I were to tell you that Pope Francis’s statements have a fully Biblical basis?

What if I were to tell you that this idea is a great way to better understand the awesomeness of God overall?

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Uncategorized

What happens when the government “sins”?

Even though the Supreme Court made it pretty clear of what they expect from our nation in terms of gays and marriage licenses, there have been a few incidents of civil disobedience which made national news: from government officials claiming to be enacting the will of the people to Christians in small office claiming to be reacting to persecution or to be enacting the will of God, many have tried to find creative ways out of enacting our new federal policy towards gay marriage.
(You, of course, know my views on the matter).

One Kentucky woman, in particular, made international headlines yesterday as her story went viral.

So, in terms of civil disobedience, if we are to be God-honoring Christians, it behooves us to reflect…

Common Sense, Scripture, and… oh, wait; somebody’s done this already?

Yeah, it turns out that while I was working on this, my wife stumbled into an editorial by Zack Hunt which not only hits the exact same points that I had outlined, but also tosses in a quote from Augustine, and is overall better-written.

So go read it!

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Uncategorized

A few thoughts on Planned Parenthood.

This debuted as a Facebook status, but I think it’s worth re-posting here. 

One thing that I have come to terms with in my Christian walk is that sinners are gonna sin. Saints are gonna sin, too, and while in theory, it’s less frequently, we have the both the motivation and ability hold each other accountable. The rest of the world… not so much.

Which makes it a really good thing that it’s none of our business. Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 5.

So stop the hate. Stop the finger-pointing. Stop the smug proclamations and the judgments and the attempts to call purifying fire from the heavens.

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Uncategorized

Common Sense, Scripture, and Climate Change

I like Pope Francis.

Yeah, yeah, evangelicals, go ahead, grab the tar and feathers.

Seriously though, he strikes me as the most Christlike public figure since Mr. Rogers, and while I do disagree with many of his statements, his attitude of intelligence and love could go to serve as an example, or at least, an influence, of how we, as Christians, should approach the world.

That said, last week, the Pope announced a summit on climate change, and this, being one of those hot-button political/social/economic/everything else issues, it behooves Christians to take a look at things through the perspective of Common Sense and Scripture.

and science, dangit!

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Controversy, Tough Stuff

Common Sense, Scripture, and the Gay Christian Issue: Part 1

Some time ago, I wrote about what the Bible has to say about gay people.  

Short version: Jews should stone them, and while homosexuality is still considered a sin in the New Testament, Christians have no right to condemn anyone in the GLBT community, because, frankly, we have no right to condemn anyone but ourselves.

There is an obvious something that I left out, though:
There’s overlap.
There are gay Christians.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?”, and indeed, based on this and other arguments found throughout the New Testament, we have no business judging outside of the church, but the statement goes on: “Are you not to judge those inside?” Indeed, the whole passage, with a little emphasis:

5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.

Harsh stuff.

The big, awkward question becomes, does being gay make you wicked, according to the Word?

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Musing, The Basics

A Valentine’s Day Quick Review

Certain words have been partially de-translated and/or bolded for emphasis.
Shall we begin?

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Agápe the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Agápe your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Matt 22:34-40

Paul gives us a more in-depth explanation:

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have agápe, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have agápe, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have agápe, I gain nothing.

Agápe is patient, agape is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Agápe does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Agápe never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and agápe. But the greatest of these is agápe.
– 1 Corinthians 12:27 – 13:13

And if you haven’t yet caught on:

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