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Showing posts with the label Christianity

rCQ: Questions from an atheist

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/r/Christianity Questions
Recently, I came across this series of of questions asked by a Reddit user:
1) Do you agree with everything in the bible, sometimes it can be really messed up (like those quotes atheists like to bring up when they are debating with christians for example "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. Numbers 31:17-18" 2) Is the Bible like your law or advice for better life? 3) How often do you question your beliefs? 4) Are creationists the majority of christians? Here are my answers:

1) It is my belief that if it can't be said about Christ, it can't be said about God (seeing as they are one and the same). I read about the violence of the nations in the Hebrew Scriptures in light of the cross of Christ. Jesus' violent death at the hands of the state reveals the evil of state-sanctioned killing. So no, I don…

rCQ: Did Judas believe Jesus was the Son of God?

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I've been browsing the r/Christianity subreddit. Some of it is weird and a bit out there. But there are also some people asking great questions. I am a sucker for good questions, so I decided to begin a series on my blog called r/Christianity Questions (or rCQ for short).

Recently I came across this question:
Did Judas believe Jesus was the Son of God? Here's my answer.

[TL;DR version - No, Judas didn't know Jesus was the Son of God like we know him to be. No, I don't think Judas really knew what he was doing because he didn't understand Jesus' mission. Yes, I think Judas could have been forgiven had he not hanged himself.]

It depends on what you mean "Son of God." The phrase is a Messianic title taken from Psalm 2, which God actually quotes at Jesus' baptism. The Messiah would be hailed as "God's Son" in a kingly sense, not necessarily in a divine incarnation sense. In that regard, I'm not sure that any of the apostles truly bel…

6 Reasons Christians Should Care About Climate Change

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Recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report on the state of global climate change. Things are not looking good to say the least. You can easily look up the report and read it for yourself. At the rate we're going, we have about 12 years to come together as a global community and turn things around.

It's almost time to hit the panic button.

Mike McHargue released an episode of his podcast "Ask Science Mike" this week discussing the report and what we can/should do about it. I highly recommend giving it a listen (begin at about the 5:38 mark). It's upsetting to me that we could be experiencing the catastrophic effects of global warming within our lifetime. We're not just talking about the distant future of our grandchildren's grandchildren. We are talking about a couple of decades from now.



When I was younger I remember hearing people in the church shrug off the warnings of global warming. I would hear things li…

Saints and Sinners

In my teen class last night we were discussing holiness. What is holiness? What things/people are holy? What's the opposite of holy? Questions like that.

And then I asked, "Do you feel holy?"

As I looked around the room at all the shaking heads, it hit me. If we don't buy it for ourselves, how can we possibly convince others of it??

If we don't believe that we are holy and that we share in a holy experience through Jesus, how can we possibly take that message to others?

Peter reassures us that we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)

When Paul addressed his letters, he often addresses them to the "saints" in a certain place (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2). This word "saint" literally means holy one. These letters…

Greater Things

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Who was your favorite teacher?

Think back to your high school and college years. I'm sure there are 2 or 3 teachers/professors who had a profound impact on you. They didn't just tell you what to think, they taught you how to think. They shared their stories, their insights, their knowledge, even their lives with you. You view the world differently because of them.

You wouldn't be the person you are today without them.

Their influence doesn't stop in the classroom. Their influence reaches the farthest reaches of the world because of you. You take their teachings with you wherever you go. Their influence is in fact greater now than could ever be while you were still in the classroom. I'm sure there are things they taught you that didn't even make sense until later in life. Now that you have more experience and understanding, you really get what they were trying to do.

A good teacher's influence is only constrained to the white board, the worksheets, the tests,…

You don't know me?

On Monday I will be celebrating my third wedding anniversary with my wife. It's crazy how time flies. It's even crazier how much has happened during those three years.

But even before we were married, we dated for 4 1/2 years. So really, we've been together for 7 1/2 years. We've been friends for 8 years.

And I would say we know each other pretty well.

We may not be able to read each other's mind every time. And I still drop the ball on what she really wants sometimes. But she knows me better than anyone else on the planet and vice-versa.

And I definitely know her well enough to know she's not a killer.

A couple years ago a guy known as the "Craigslist Killer" was arrested for murder, robbery, and some other charges. All the while he was living with his fiance in a small apartment in the city. They had been together for over four years, and she didn't have a clue. She swore that he was the sweetest man she knew and that he could never hurt a fly.

Way, Truth, Life

It has become less and less P.C. to speak about anything in absolutes. Good thing I follow a man who was absolutely not politically correct. Jesus would be the first to tell you that he's not here to tell people what they want to hear -- only what they need to hear.

What do people want to hear? What's the latest PC move when it comes to religious and spiritual matters? You know the answer. If you listen to anyone who is not actually a part of any one religion (aka "spiritual but not religious") speak on religious matters they will tell you. All paths lead to God. Buddhism, Islam, Hindu, Shinto, Judaism, Christianity, etc., are all different paths to the same god-reality.

The problem? I can think of only one religion that would support that claim. It's called Ba'hai. You've probably never heard of it.

Other than that, I've never heard a leader or fast follower of any other religion proclaim that all religions are equal. Show me a Muslim Imam who says C…

Christianity and Technology

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I may have blogged about this before, but it's been on my mind again recently. It seems to me that the church is lagging behind in this technological age. There have been so many advancements, especially in the area of global communications (HELLO!), that it almost seems like many congregations choose not to keep up.

What worked in the '50s and '60s works today, right? Maybe to an extent. But we need to start doing a better job at reaching people where they are.

Facebook has over 400 million users. There are over 25 million on Blogger alone, not to mention Wordpress, Tumbler, etc. Twitter has grown exponentially in the last 2 or 3 years.

And most churches can't even figure out how to make a decent website.

Recent research has shown that more than 2/3 of first time visitors will visit a church's website long before darkening the front doors. Wake up call, anyone?

But you may argue that the gospel message spread across the world centuries before the internet came alo…

Father

For you did not receive a Spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!" Romans 8:15

This has been one of my favorite verses for quite some time. I love the contrast between those who cry out "Abba, Father" in this verse as opposed to those who cry out "Lord, Lord" in Matthew 25.

But I have been a father for just over 6 months now. And let me tell you (just as any new parent would) that having a child of my own has illuminated this view of God. My son cries out, I come to the rescue. He hits his head, I comfort him. He smiles at me, and my heart melts.

This is how God is with us.

Jesus repeatedly refers to God as "Father," not just in the sense that he was literally God's Son, but in the sense that God is the Father of all those who would be his children.

I can empathize with some of the fears, doubts, and frustrations that a new Christian might face. But God is not look…

Are You There, God?

[My wife and I had a conversation about this the other day. She had some really good thoughts that got me thinking more about the subject. She's pretty amazing like that.]

Faith.

It seems simple enough. I can look around at the world and the universe and know in my gut that someone had to be behind it all. I can read the Bible and believe it's claims that the Creator of the universe wants to have a relationship with me. My heart tells me that I am loved and that I am a part of something much greater than myself.

But what happens when the love I have for my Creator doesn't feel requited.

What are we to do when everything around us is darkness and chaos, yet God is silent?

"If God would just speak to me like He used to speak to people, it would all be better. I would be able to fully trust and believe Him. Since I would know exactly what He wants me to do, I could better follow and serve Him. Just talk to me, God!"

I think most of God's people think something li…

In the Garden

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In case you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you've probably noticed that there is a big push to "Go Green." Environmentalism has entered into mainstream pop culture. Now with oil prices on the rise and sky-high energy prices, more and more people are jumping on the eco-train. And why not? Using less energy = saving more dollars.

What's more, Americans are becoming more aware of the long-term environmental impact that everyday decisions can have. Global warming has become a household term and a serious concern for many people. We understand now that if we continue on the same track, there won't be much of an earth left for our grandchildren to enjoy.

This is all good in my opinion. The only unfortunate part about this whole green revolution is that it has begun and is primarily sustained from a secular angle.

Let me explain. In response to the whole global warming issue, I've heard many Christians scoff, brush it off, and say that it…

Salt, part 4

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The hodgepodge crowds from around Galilee gathered together along the shoreline of the Sea. They anxiously waited to hear what this teacher would say. The rabbi stood atop the hill, looking down towards the crowds below, full of fishermen, bakers, farmers, and businessmen. A hush fell over the people, and the rabbi said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."

And so begins the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus begins his most famous sermon with blessings. When Jesus blesses the poor in spirit, the meek, those in mourning, those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, people in the crowd new, "Hey, he's talking about me." These are the peasants, the outcasts, the beat-down, the lonely, the poor, the broken, and the have-nots. They were not among the spiritually elite. They were ordinary, helpless people who longed to hear some good news from God, because according to their preachers and rabbis, God blesses those who have it all together.

Not according to this rabbi. This…

Reflections on "Jesus Manifesto," pt. 3

CHAPTER 2


"You have been invited to share life with your Maker and Creator.

"And to top it all off, you have been made utterly, totally, fully complete in Him--here and now.

"Why, then, would you chase anything else? How can you be consumed with anything other than your Lord, Jesus Christ? And how can you graduate beyond Him?

"He is enough, even more than enough.

"Jesus Christ is like a vast ocean. He is too immense to fully explore, and too rich to fathom. You are like a bottle.

"The wonder of the gospel is that the bottle is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the bottle."

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Imagine, the power and magnitude of the entire ocean contained inside a little glass bottle adrift in that very ocean. This chapter of Jesus Manifesto explores the letter to the Colossians. Paul explains to the church that the great mystery of the gospel is that we are in Christ and Christ is in us! His life is our life. It is too small a thing to offer a part of ourselv…

Reflections on "Jesus Manifesto"

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I recently finished reading an excellent book coauthored by Len Sweet (The Gospel According to Starbucks, Soul Tsunami) and Frank Viola (Pagan Christianity, Reimagining the Church). There have been throughout the centuries many pendulum swings of Christological thought. It seems that many theologians and scholars are content to take up arms in the debate between the "Jesus of History" and the "Christ of Faith." Leaning too much to any one extreme, however, misses the richness and beauty of the God-Man that we worship. Sweet and Viola have done an outstanding job of refocusing the reader's mind and heart onto the true awesomeness of Jesus the Christ. At the same time, they tackle the tough questions about living as the body of Christ on the earth. I thought I'd start back writing again with some reflections on various parts of the book.

Introduction:
I think this paragraph helps to set the stage for the rest of the book:
"So what is Christianity? It is Chr…

God of the Outcasts, Savior of the Untouchables

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In Living World Religions class, we just finished the section on Hinduism. I must admit that going into this class, I was almost completely ignorant about Eastern religions, especially Hinduism. I still am not as familiar with the religion as I would like, but I learned some interesting things about their worldview. One of the more outlandish claims (to my Western, egalitarian eyes) is that of the Caste System. There are four main Castes, in a hierarchical system, with sub-castes in each of the four. But then there are the Outcasts, or the "Untouchables." These are people who are "reincarnated" with some sort of defect, disease, or simply born into poverty. Essentially, their plight is their own fault - a result of some great failure in past lives. They are not allowed to associate with people in the other castes, they are given the lowest of the lowest jobs, and are given little more than table scraps to eat. They can't live in the city; they must live outsid…

Old City Cairo

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The Old City part of Cairo, also known as Heliopolis or On, has been around from the time of Joseph and is built on the main road connecting Egypt with Palestine. This is the place where many Jews would have fled in the Babylonian conquest, and logically this is the part of Egypt where Joseph and Mary would have come to flee the wrath of King Herod. Two of the places we visited in the Old City were the Jewish Synagogue and the Abu Serga Church. The synagogue in the Old City is where the Geniza documents were discovered. They were the oldest copies of the Hebrew Bible until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Abu Serga Church is the oldest (or second oldest) Coptic church in Egypt, and according to the Coptic tradition is built directly over the place where Joseph, Mary, and Jesus lived for a couple years when they fled to Egypt. It is very possible, but I have never been one to put much stock in the place. It was still cool, though, because this is the first place we have vis…

It's a Sad Day in America..but for a different reason in my opinion

I find it difficult to come up with words for my feelings right now. My prayers go out to all the Christians in America who are letting their anger and hatred show through. I have been appalled, disgusted, but mostly disappointed by the way "Christians" are handling this. To prove my point, here are some Facebook statuses which I have read from fellow Christians (directly copied and pasted): "...ENJOY IT WHILE IT LAST OBAMA U WONT BE AROUND MUCH LONGER...HAHA." "...well guys it was fun while it lasted... wonder how karl marx we will get?" "...wants to amputate his right leg from his knee down..." "...is screaming at the top of his lungs "islamic people have always said they will destroy us from within!!!" Congratulations Obama voters you have doomed us all!" "...is going to watch things fall apart...preferably from another country." "...NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.we. are. screwed.&q…

Under the Overpass

I just finished an amazing book titled Under the Overpass. It is the story of two Christian college students who decide to drop out for a semester and live on the streets of 5 different US cities for 1 month each. The book is actually written by one of the two guys, and it simply chronicles their journey. Life on the streets is rough, but most people, including myself, have no idea just how messed up life can get. As Christians, we are supposed to be the ones feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. We are supposed to be the ones meeting the needs of our fellow humans who are suffering from poverty, addictions, mental illnesses, whatever. It was an eye-opening book in the fact that they visited numerous churches and encountered many Christians, but the place where the homeless, poor, and hungry should be able to seek refuge was the very place that turned its back on them (for the most part). I would suggest every Christian (especially ministers and leaders of any sort) to read thi…

"Christian Politics"

OK, one more side-tracked post before I get back to the Egypt trip and Pyramids. It saddens me, really, to hear people continue to hold on to the "Christian Nation" notion whenever they discuss politics. While I agree that one of the motivating factors in the drafting of the Constitution was religious freedom, so was freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom from tyranny, freedom from "taxation without representation". To think that America's Founding Fathers rebelled against the King of England (one type of "Christian Nation" if you recall) to form (another type of) Christian nation, then history is being rewritten. Many people focus on the roll of religion in the lives of our nation's first leaders, yet they did not set out to form a "Christian Nation". Otherwise, this would be a theocracy, not a democracy. As it is, we do live under a democracy, meaning government by the people. Who are the people? They are Christians, Muslim…

Faith building in the land of Egypt

It's incredible how much can happen in 8 days. The land of Egypt is so rich, so saturated with history and stories that it would be nearly impossible to take it all in, even with decades of study. Our tour guide, Osman, (who is one of the best men I have ever met) is by far also one of the best tour guides in all of Egypt. He is professional Egyptologist, tour guide, hieroglyphics teacher, and Biblical historian. Not only did he take us around to all the famous sites, but at each one he did his best to tie in all the geography, temples, etc. to the stories in the Bible. I never realized just how much Egypt had to do with the development of Judaism and ultimately Christianity. I would like to start my summary of our trip by recording some of the things I learned that my Sunday school teachers never knew: - The pyramids were seen by Abraham, Joseph (and his entire family), Moses, and Jesus - There is technically more than one Temple. When Judea was overrun and many Jews taken cap…