Blogging The Bible

David Plots, from Slate.com, has begun a series blogging through the Bible.

Like many lax but well-educated Jews (and Christians), I have long assumed I knew what was in the Bible—more or less. I read parts of the Torah as a child in Hebrew school, then attended a rigorous Christian high school where I had to study the Old and New Testaments. . .

. . . All this left me with a general sense that I knew the Good Book well enough, and that it was a font of crackling stories, Jewish heroes, and moral lessons. . .

. . . My goal is pretty simple. I want to find out what happens when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based.

Listen To The Money Talk

Money is the motivating factor of just about everything we do in life. Anytime there is a person getting attention for a cause, or writing a book, or singing a song, they are doing it for one main reason–money.

That’s why when Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code came out I never viewed it as a threat to my faith. The guy found a way to make money. The more controversial a thing is, seemingly the more money it will make.

Now, to combat the DaVinci Code, the Church has come out with hundreds of books, all sold for a tidy profit. Churches are also holding special studies to debunk The Code–gets people in church so they can give their money. Not only does talking about secular old-wives tales bring in the crowds, it keeps the church from having to talk about that inconvenient Gospel message.

I was sent a link by Anti-Itch reader Roger about an old friend of Dan Brown recounting how Dan Brown came up with the DaVinci Code storyline. Some interesting quotes in it, including this one.

“I remember when he was working on it. We went to lunch with an editor, with a name like Chaim Rothstein, or Izzy Stein—not exactly an Irishman. Dan started rattling off this conspiracy theory about the Church, then he got really nervous and turned to the editor, almost blushing. ‘Excuse me,’ Dan said to him. ‘You’re not Catholic, are you?’” Ted downed his beer. “That’s how much Dan Brown knows about religion.”

Weaving The Tangled Web

Four years ago the Vatican issued a directive that has put Catholic mass into great confusion. The issue involves kneeling. The Vatican said “The faithful kneel … unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.”

In an effort to become more modern and less traditional, many Bishops have eliminated kneeling, some new churches have even been built without kneelers. However, some of the old-timers still like to kneel.

“Kneeling is an act of adoration,” said Judith M. Clark, 68. “You almost automatically kneel because you’re so used to it. Now the priest says we should stand, but we all just ignore him.”

Bishops are not taking this sitting down, eh-hem, Kneeling “is clearly rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin,” Father Martin Tran, pastor at St. Mary’s by the Sea, told his flock in a recent church bulletin.

So, the controversy rages–kneel in adoration to God or listen to your Bishop. Kneeling was introduced in the Catholic Church in the 7th century during times of the mass when they believed God was present. I can see why the Vatican has now eliminated kneeling.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s theological word is Sabellianism. Sabellianism.

Sabellianism is the act or process of owning or purchasing a Mercury Sable. Sables are nice four-door sedans and inspire much dedication by their happy owners. However, you need to be over 67 years of age to own one, leading to feelings of exclusivity.

Not really, I just made that up. Sabellianism is a belief about the trinity. It holds that there is one God but he reveals himself in three ways. There are not three persons, but three ways God is revealed.

This doctrine, believed by most to be heretical, is named after Sabellius, a guy. Tertullian, the well known scientist of turtle behavior, was his main opponent. Today there are still a few Sabellianists around in the Oneness Pentecostal churches.

Is This Really How It’s Done?

Here is an article dedicated to how a church grew because it now “rocks.”

“We needed to offer something different because people were leaving to find churches where they could express more joy or celebration,” said the Rev. Roger Miller, St. Paul’s pastor. “The church is just looking for a way to speak to the culture.”

No, as always, the church is just looking for a way to make money. (I originally said that as a joke, but later in the article I see “The growth allowed the church to begin a $2.6 million renovation.” Even when I think I’m wrong I’m right.)

“Down the road, churches will have to move to contemporary worship in some form or they’ll cease to exist.” That’s what Jesus said, by their contemporary, happy music you will know them.

Jesus Book #3

This book was so bad I even hesitate mentioning it by name. If I were an author I would hate to read a review that would sound like the review I would give this book. I also do not wish to give it any notoriety whatsoever.

The author completely misses the point of the life of Jesus Christ and the whole point of the Kingdom of God. There was no acknowledgment of Israel whatsoever in the fulfillment of the Kingdom. Instead, we could create the Kingdom right now, just by being busy little Christians. No need for the Messiah to even rule, we could!

The author is a preterist, hopefully his phones are being wire tapped. Revelation was a warning and promise for believers to endure tribulation just like the first century believers did. If Jesus came to earth now He wouldn’t even use the word “kingdom” as this is an outdated term.

This was a horrible, horrible book that can only lead to trouble and further misunderstanding of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Any look at the Gospels that does not ever once raise the importance of Christ’s death and resurrection will be twisted. This book was twisted.

Memorial Day Quotes

War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.
–Ambrose Bierce

War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
–John Stuart Mill

Imagine There’s No Weirdness

The Church of England has been struggling for some time. In order to draw people back in, they have become weirder and weirder. Today, one C of E church held a special service to bless people’s teddy bears.

“The service was a way to celebrate the gift of imagination and affirm that part of us that delights in giving and receiving love,” a spokesman said.

Imagine this–imagine no one goes to church anymore because it’s all filled with mindless drivel. Imagine if the Bible were used every once in awhile. Imagine what the preaching of the Gospel could do. It’s easy if you try.

Child-Like Faith


We celebrated our son’s third birthday today. One of the events we did, after mercilessly defeating mom twice on the go-karts, was miniature golf.

On the second hole of the course you were supposed to hit the ball through a log to get to the hole. Jacob hit it through the first time. He then went back up to do it again. He couldn’t. He tried and tried, but couldn’t do it.

Never mind that you could get to the hole without hitting it through the log. The log was there. The boy was there. The ball had to go through that log. He would fall to the ground after every miss. He moped and whined and cried because the ball wouldn’t go through that log.

Never mind that there were 16 fun-filled holes left, that ball had to go through that log. It was miserable for us all. The two sisters were 14 holes ahead of us. People were looking at the falling and crying boy. We were getting further from birthday cake.

As annoying as that all was, the boy was wrapped up in the moment. To Jacob, the only things in the world that mattered were a ball, a putter, him and a log. Eternity lived right there. I ruined it by trying to push him into the future, “Look at the waterfall ahead Jacob!” to pull him away. He was content with now.

He was struggling, but that was OK. The struggle was everything. No worries about the future. Ball must go through log. This one thing I do. The faith of a child. Annoyed by time; content with now.

The Mighty Pat

Pat Robertson said recently that he could leg-press 2,000 pounds! There is an official page on his CBN web site documenting the accomplishment. He chalks it up to his fancy protein shakes.

There is some dispute as to whether leg-pressing 2,000 pounds would be possible for a man his age in his condition. Football players can leg-press 1,300 pounds usually. Hmm. Makes you wonder. Also makes me want to buy some of his protein shakes baby! That’s what Barry Bonds used.

Pat Robertson Leg Pressing 2,000 pounds

The War Of Art

This Guy Falls Down is a blog I came across a while back. He has some good stuff on there about creativity and so forth, he is a member of the band Third Day. A month ago he mentioned a book entitled The War of Art that sounded pretty good. So I bought it.

I finished reading it last night. It started out really good. He talked about all the things we do to keep us from being creative and doing “that cool thing you just gotta do.” He then talked about taking on that cool thing with a professional attitude–showing up day in and day out to get it done.

The third part of the book took a nosedive as he got into humanistic weirdism about muses and angels and tapping into life forces and so forth. That knocked the book down a notch or two for me but the first two sections made up for it.

The book is a good encourager to get that thing done, to help you become creative and finish your creative desire. The book contains some foul language but again, he makes up for it by giving good advice to get moving.

Poor Pastors

Pastoral burnout is a big problem in the Church, primarily because the current role of pastoring is not the biblical role, but that’s another story for another post. Mark Driscoll has a post on burnout with the following stats:

Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
Eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.

Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
Eighty percent of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
The majority of pastor’s wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

Out Of The Frying Pan. . .

Due to the outrageous number of people selling images of Jesus on food items and making tons of money, Tim Pahs decided to make a frying pan with an image of Jesus on it. The result is grilled cheese sandwiches with Jesus on them!

As expected, the guy is from Wisconsin. “Pahs says it’s not meant to promote or criticize religion, but rather to draw attention to the use of religious icons for commercial purposes.” He plans on selling the pan on ebay.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s Theological Word is Preterism. Preterism.

Preterism is George W. Bush’s word for thinking about terrorist acts. The acts themselves are bad but even just thinking about them is grounds for arrest or at least a wire tap.

Not really, I just made that up. Preterism is the belief that biblical prophecy has all been fulfilled within the first century after Christ’s birth. The Book of Revelation is fully understood through events of the first century. Babylon, the great city, refers to Rome or Jerusalem. The great Tribulation was fulfilled when the Roman general Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

There are various Preterist views like Partial Preterism and Full Preterism. Unless you read the NIV, those will probably define themselves for you. Preterism more or less says there’s nothing about the future addressed in the Bible anymore.

Well, that’s a relief. I was beginning to get worried about the Rapture not coming. Guess it already took place. Shwew, dodged that bullet. But I guess now we don’t know what bullet is gonna get us next. Oh no, that’s even worse. Very worried.

Lesson Learned

Madonna has responded to the criticisms of her mock crucifixion during her stage show. Her defense runs like this:

“. . . it is part of an appeal to the audience to donate to Aids charities.”I don’t think Jesus would be mad at me and the message I’m trying to send.”

“Jesus taught that we should love thy neighbor.”

Can’t argue there. Guess we can all learn a little something from the pointy bra’d one.

The Dork Side

My wife and I have agreed on most of our parenting ideas. The biggest “discussion” has taken place over whether my boy should wear sandals. I’m opposed to it. I’m losing. I’m also opposed somewhat to overall-short outfits.

This is not as bad as the day my girls were having a tea party and they all dressed up in dresses and then proceeded to put my boy in a dress. My boy did not object. In fact, he walked around the house saying “I pretty.”

If the boy joins the dark side, I will always be able to blame my wife. It’s not like I didn’t tell her. Train up a child in the way he should go and he won’t depart from it. That works both ways you know.

Pray for my boy.

She’s Jesus Baby

A South African Hindu woman claims she is Jesus Christ. She has stigmata on her hands, feet and stomach, has angels and Hebrew stuff on the walls of her home and she had a swollen arm once that said God gave her life.

“People have condemned my claim. Some have even called me a fake and Satan. However, I believe this reaction is attributed to the fact that I am female and a Hindu. Jesus Christ is universal irrespective of race, colour or creed,’ she told the Post, adding: ‘I am now the child of God.”

“‘I carry the legacy that Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael and He is universal. In Judaism he is Mikael, in Hinduism he is Shiva, Saraswathie, Luxmi, Lord Krishna and Shirdi Baba, in Christianity he was Jesus Christ and in Islam he is Hasrat Mikael,’ she was quoted as saying.”

Creationists Lack Of Creativity

Creativity for the Believer is agonizing. Humanist philosophy seems to turn out more creative people than the Creator’s Theology. God says our best days on earth are behind us; it’ll only get better when He shows up. Before God shows up later though, pretty much everything is going to be destroyed by fire. The earth is so bad God will have to start a new one.

Man fell; we’re going down. We fall short. Technology is man’s attempt to reverse the Curse and thus seems bad. Making images of God or beasts is forbidden. There are strict rules the Believer must stick to so as not to offend others or God. The world watches. Don’t forget your testimony. Don’t mess up. Don’t make a mistake. Someone could go to hell by seeing you do that.

Freedom is necessary for creativity to thrive. Believers understand we have freedom in Christ because He died for our sins. Everything we do is tainted with sin. That means He died for everything we do. That makes us feel bad. No freedom. No creativity.

Satan lurks around every corner. He’ll defeat you. Procrastination is not just a bad habit, it can lead people to hell. Lions are in the street. Others pounce on every failure. Others pounce on every success. You can’t win. You’ll always sin. We’re fallible. We’re weak. Pressure mounts. Creativity runs.

Perhaps what the Believer thought was the Creator’s Theology is man’s theology.

The Creator’s Theology is about redemption, freedom, liberty, new birth, acceptance in the Beloved, love that covers a multitude of sin, love that casts out fear, love that endures, love that dies for us so we can live, forget what is behind, press toward the mark, lay aside the weight, take the easy yoke, put off the old, put on the new, set your mind on things above, where rust and worms cannot destroy, life that lasts forever, death is defeated, the sting is gone, the victory is won, peace that lasts, peace that passes understanding, hope sustains, grace meets every need, God made us in His image, God creates.

Create.

Church Outsmarts DaVinci Code

The following is from a news item on the AP covering a protest against the DaVinci Code movie debuting in China.

“The Da Vinci Code’ drew big crowds in major Chinese cities on the first day of its general release, but its controversial religious themes puzzled audiences, who for the most part have little knowledge of Christian theology.”

Now we see the brilliance of the Church’s strategery over the years–if you keep everyone stupid, they won’t know they are being shown heresy anyway! You can’t be snookered into bad theology if you don’t have any to begin with!

Wow, all these years I thought the Church was blowing their call to edify when in reality, they’re just a step ahead of the world. Cool.

What Would Johnny Do?

Johnny Damon HairJohnny Damon, who used to be the long haired, bearded outfielder for the world champion Boston Red Sox, left them to join the hated NY Yankees. In the recent series against the Sox and Yankees, Sox fans had t-shirts that said, “Looks like Jesus, Acts like Judas, Throws like Mary.”

Not bad for Bostonians.

Right On Cue

Madonna did a little publicity stunt to get attention for her new tour. The best way to get attention is to offend some Christians, they’ll do all your publicity for you, ask Tom Hanks. (DaVinci is #1 at the box office due to Christians, no doubt).

The Church of England has expressed their outrage against Madonna’s crucifixion getup in her tour opener. The Church’s statement said, in part, “Why would someone with so much talent seem to feel the need to promote herself by offending so many people?”

Um, first of all, there may be some debate over the talent point. Second, if she had talent she wouldn’t have to resort to offending people to get attention. I understand that by me talking about this I am actually giving her publicity. That’s fine. We should support our elderly.

First And Last

I have often heard people say that the last will be first and the first will be last is Jesus’ way of explaining how the meek will inherit the earth and so forth. The humble ones, the little ones, will get the position of power.

That never quite answered the meaning for me. If the last, the meek, become the leaders, the first, then, as the first, they would then become the last!

I read recently a better definition of the first being the last thing. If the first are last and the last are first, basically, that means it’s a tie! How else could you say both things and be consistent?

The point is, God is no respecter of persons, we’re all equally sinful and all believers are equal in Christ. The Great Tie.

Madonna Who?

Madonna kicked off a new tour apparently. I thought she was dead? Guess not. She is trying her little girl hardest to offend conservative types, who will no doubt respond with outrage.

She ripped on George Bush and did sexy moves with her walker. But the worst part, the part that will outrage any true-blue, God-fearin American is that she put a crown of thorns on her head and hung herself on a mirror covered cross.

Wow, I’m amazed no other entertainer ever thought of putting a crown of thorns on their head and mocking the cross. Well, she is Jewish.

What Would Benny Do?

Benny Hinn has wrapped up another successful crusade where hundreds were healed. However, Hinn’s security goons kept the press away from the “healed” and didn’t let them speak with any of them to verify the healings.

Hinn is merely following the footsteps of Christ. When Christ healed people he told them to go home and not tell anyone. Christ had his 12 goons keep people off him, all very similar. Hinn even had a barricade set up to keep people at least 50-feet away from him, just like Jesus did during the Sermon on the Mount.

I Heart God

Steve Bensinger is a pastor in Kalamazoo, MI who calls himself “Pastor Freak” because half his body is covered in tattoos. The tattoos depict an angel killing a demon and Christ on the cross as well as others.

“I just want to tell people about the love that God has for us,” he said. “And God doesn’t have an issue against” tattoos.

He is pastor of Come As You Are Church, which might have been named after a Nirvana song but that can’t be verified by me.

Fatherhood Dreaming

Came across this article about the challenge of being employed and a good father. Thought it was interesting from several angles.

1. Life stinks, read Ecclesiastes for details.
2. Fatherhood is cool when done right.
3. Life without Christ is only adding the struggle of meaning on top of the struggle of existence.
4. Working to live is a real bummer.
5. Heaven will rock!

Churches On Fire

A pastor was sentenced to 10 years for insurance fraud and 7 years for arson after hiring a homeless man to burn down his church. The reason why: he “just wanted the stress to stop.”

An Akron church burned down 10 years ago and the congregation raised $7.1 million to build a new one, which they finally paid off. They will now have a mortgage burning ceremony at church this Sunday. Hope they bring a fire extinguisher this time.

A historic church in Salida, California was destroyed by fire a few days ago. Investigators have found evidence of an accelerator, and it wasn’t the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Book #2

The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur Jr. is the second of four Jesus books I am reading. This book was published in 1988 and caused a firestorm of outrage, protest and various other inflammatory reactions. It was revised in 1994 to account for the questions raised, this is the edition I read.

I read this book first back in college right around the time it came out. I then read it again in seminary. I read it again now. Through each reading I am willing to give MacArthur the benefit of the doubt even more.

As a dispensationalist trained to respect the writings of Ryrie and Chafer, it was annoying to read when I was young and insecure. But now that I am older and mature (i.e.–saved. A little Lordship humor for ya there.) I think I get his point, even agree with his point and think the main problem is that he pointed out errors in big-wig dispensationalist teaching.

I think his points are valid and well stated. I don’t think he is as heretical as many want him to be. I’m also not completely sold on some of his ways of explaining it though. Each time I’ve read it I’ve come to appreciate more of what he is saying but still come away not quite sure about it. I recommend the book, though because whether you end up agreeing or not, it will make you think and I like that.

Theological Word Of Today

Today’s theological word is Lordship Salvation. Lordship Salvation.

Lordship Salvation has to do with fishing fleets in the Berring sea. When one ship goes down, all other ships are to respond and save them, by faith plus works. Those who only believe they are saving the sinking ship without actually helping, really aren’t saving anyone.

Not really, I just made that up. Lordship Salvation is the notion that a person is saved by trusting Christ as Savior from sin and committing his life to Christ as Lord with submission.

This view was given most attention by John MacArthur when he published The Gospel According to Jesus. The real reason for the hubbub surrounding Lordship Salvation has more to do with the fact that MacArthur attacked leading dispensational leaders (Ryrie, Chafer, etc) rather than what he actually said in his book.

Lordship Salvation says there are many who think they are saved, but only those who bring forth fruit and resist sin and submit to God’s directions for life are truly saved. Tom Hanks, who claimed to be a Christian once in high school, is not saved because he is in the DaVinci Code. Whereas I, who will not see the DaVinci Code, am clearly saved, by grace even.