The Church & Israel — Figuring It Out

July 25th, 2009

One of the major questions in end-times theology is, was the Church fully included in Israel?  In other words:

  • In what sense were Gentile believers grafted into the children of Abraham?
  • Did the Church replace Israel?
  • Does ethnic Israel have any distinct role in the future?
  • Do all of the covenants and promises of God to Israel now apply to the Church?

And there are some related questions.  (They’re distinct questions, but they tend to be asked at the same time.)

  • Were Old Testament believers saved in the same way that New Testament believers were saved?
  • What is “the kingdom of God”?
  • Will  there be a 1000-year period on Earth before the final end of the world, where Christ reigns from Jerusalem?
  • Will the Church experience the final Tribulation, or will we be taken to heaven beforehand? (i.e., Is there a pre-Tribulation Rapture?  Will there be two Second Comings–one to retrieve the Church, and then again at the end?)

    (Keep reading…)

Christian Courtship: Lowering (or Redirecting) Our Standards

June 3rd, 2009

Earlier today I found the blog of Thomas Umstattd, Jr (from my church in Austin).  One entry in particular caught my eye.  You should go give it a read.

Christian Courtship – The Need for Lower Standards

I have no opinion about his observations on demographics, but he has some wonderfully challenging insights.  Some of the good stuff:

Finding a wife is not like shopping. It’s not about comparing the features between disposable products. No one is perfect. Marriage is about finding someone to grow with, not someone to consume.

And:

My goal is to become the kind of man who will attract the kind of woman that I want to marry.

And:

We must lower our external standards and raise our internal standards if we ever wan to walk away from this problem.

Frank Turk (aka centuri0n) also added a comment earlier today, connecting things with the high call for husbands to Christ-like sacrificial love, in Eph 5.

Easter (and other) Apologetics Resources from Triablogue

April 8th, 2009

Since I’m having so much trouble getting time to write (including the conclusion of my hypocrisy series), here are some links.

The good folk at Triablogue have put together a phenomenal collection of articles & reviews and the like, on the subject of the Resurrection:


While I’m at it, I’ll include some links to their interaction with Bart Ehrman, including his recent book, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them).

Or, if you’re done with that light reading, you could just browse through all of their Ehrman stuff.

Update:

When Your Church is Foundering: What are you doing?

April 8th, 2009

This is why I love Frank Turk, aka centuri0n.

What can I do now that my church is foundering?

I’m going to give you a secret to my success in influence my church, and do with it what you want: people who know me, and live with me, and talk to me find out quickly that I love God and the Bible in more than just a theoretical and theological way. The Bible makes sense to them when they see how I live. The question of “how real is Jesus” is solved for them when they meet my family and have lunch with me. So when they show me a Nooma video, having never read my blog, and I say to them, “I’m not sure this fellow got the Bible right—can we check?” The context of that statement for them is that my life is actually getting the Bible right already.

I don’t have any kind of perfect life. If you could measure sanctification with scientific devices, to measure mine you would need something which measures angstroms and not cups or pounds. But I have sacrificed the time to demonstrate this to people because I love them and care for them. Have you done the same for these people for whom you are grieved, and troubled, and deeply, deeply concerned?

I’m feeling conviction and inspiration.

Hackers?!?!? Problem solved!

March 25th, 2009

I wake up this morning, and all of my links are messed up!  I’m trying a back-up and upgrade of my WordPress software.  Stay Tuned!

Update: I tried upgrading the WordPress software, which (maybe?) should have rebuilt all the links.  It didn’t work.  That’s all I can try for the moment–I might be down for a day or two.  (I hope my entire database isn’t corrupted!  I’m not sure how to fix that.)

Further Update: I remembered that there’s a “Permalinks” setting, where you can change what the URLs for you site will look like.  So I played with that, and that forced all the urls to get fixed.  Yay!  I’m not sure how the problem started, but I’m glad it was an easy fix.  (Especially since I didn’t have a recent backup of the blog!)

Irony: An Atheist on ‘Skeptics’

March 23rd, 2009

As a follow-up on my brief entry about the irony of the term “free-thinker”, here’s an article from an atheist, lamenting the credulity of so-called “critical, skeptical people”.  This followed a lecture from Richard Carrier, related to his upcoming book arguing against the historicity of Jesus.

An excerpt:

It concerns me that so many people were convinced to reverse their position on the basis of a single, brief talk without (1) checking Carrier’s sources, (2) reading other scholars on the subject, or (3) reading rebuttals of Carrier’s points.

Mind you, this was a roomful of atheists. Critical, skeptical people, right? Not so! Nearly half of them were willing to be instantly persuaded by a single talk without checking any sources or reading any rebuttals. Many of them were totally unaware of how historical scholarship was even done. I feel like I could have made up a bunch of stuff, claimed that it was held by the majority of historians, and then persuaded half the audience to believe that Jesus was a Persian myth.

[...]

Anyway, this is one of a thousand events that lead me to think atheists are not generally more rational or careful than belivers. Thus, my plea to all people is: Do not be quickly persuaded. Investigate. Challenge. Doubt.

Amen, sir.  Amen.

On the Dangers of Podcasts

March 22nd, 2009

Frank Turk did a post of miscellaneous thoughts, including some commentary on celebrity culture in Christianity.  It included the following gem for podcast aficionados:

May we all have the opportunity to use our gifts for the goods works God intended them to be used for, amen? But let’s never forget that while it is a virtue to do those things which God has ordained beforehand, it is not a virtue to merely admire those who are doing what God has ordained and then nothing else. You are not a Paul-plus-James Christian if you merely enjoy the podcasts from all the T4G guys and all the Gospel Coalition guys. You are a Paul-plus-James Christian if you count trial as joy, and can say that you see that the aim of what the apostles taught is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

That hit home for me.  I love the T4G guys, and I listen to podcasts somewhat obsessively.  And I’ve noticed some dangers:

  1. Letting podcasts act as a substitute for your devotional walk with God.
  2. Spiritual pride based on the people you listen to/like.  Justification by podcast.
  3. Picking podcasts for the interesting controversy, rather than the edification.

Aside from the podcast issue, Frank’s point was key, about how “the aim of what the apostles taught is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”.  (How much easier to be a hearer-but-not-a-doer, in this age where hearing is so easy?)

Response thread for a TeamPyro post

March 11th, 2009

I posted some comments over at the TeamPyro blog, related to prophecy & charismatics.  We were off-topic for the post, so we cut it short.  I’m posting this here so that anyone coming from there has a chance to continue the discussion.

The post was Evangelicalism down the drain?.

My Call to STR on “Gospel of the Kingdom”

February 21st, 2009

I called in to the show Stand to Reason recently, to ask a question about the meaning of “the gospel of the kingdom” in Matthew 4:23, 9:35, and 24:14.  It was prompted by some comments made by a guest speaker at the Monday-night class at my church.  He said that the gospel is more than justification & sin management, and pointed to the phrase “the gospel of the kingdom”.  As he expanded on that, I agreed with what he was meant, but I was hesitant about the phrasing.  I was hesitant about actually saying, “The gospel is about more than justification.”  I know there’s something right about that, but something seemed wrong, too.  I had to think it through… What can we say is the focus of the gospel?

Note:  I was sensitized to this question by Mark Dever’s message the Together for the Gospel 2008 conference, “Improving the Gospel: Exercises in Unbiblical Theology“.  It’s a great mp3.

I really appreciated Greg Koukl’s response to my question.  He did a great job of giving a balanced answer.  If you’re interested, you can listen to the mp3.  (Go to ~25:00.  It lasts about 20 minutes.)

Listen to the call.

I’ll just add one comment:  I am amazed at how often I said “uh” or “um” during that call.  My parents have told me that I do this, after some of my phone conversations with them.  Now I’ve heard a recording.  Yikes!  I’ll have to keep working on that.

There’s (not) a Virus on NPR’s Website! <– Whoops, false alarm.

February 16th, 2009

<Deleted>

Cancel this warning.  I was getting a virus warning from AVG Free about NPR’s website.  But it turns out that it’s a false alarm–AVG fixed it with their most recent virus definitions.