C S Lewis and Legalism

I think it is a fine and good thing for a believer to determine that there are certain things in his life he’s not going to do anymore. When we become men, we put away childish things.

O that we would become men! Unless you’re a girl of course, we don’t need any more of that.

Anyhooo, legalism is when one man’s standard of conduct becomes the standard of other men’s conduct. Lewis says,

“One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up.

“That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons—marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.”

Also read Romans 14 for Paul’s discussion of the issue.

Bono Teaches Tweens About God

Zondervan is coming out with a book geared at Tweens, 9-12-year olds, about God from quotes by U2’s Bono.

It’s not clear whether Bono knows this book exists or not. From Zondervan’s blurb about the book:

“From growing up in Ireland during deadly times to performing on the largest stages in the world, Bono’s beliefs have kept him grounded and focused on what truly matters. Whether using his voice to captivate an audience or to fight for justice and healing in Africa, Bono is a champion of the lost and a hero to those who long for harmony.”

The author of the book says, “He’s a very hard person to put in a little Christian box.” But hey, if there’s money to be made, we’ll shove him in that box any way we can.

Gospel Disconnects

John Piper, a pastor who has much sway with young people, voices a concern he has for young people’s worship of God. It’s a point that is well made and threatens to undo an awful lot that Christians think they’ve done.

I don’t think the concern is unique to young people or one generation. It’s a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. A knowledge of God lacking power. They worship with their lips but their heart is far from me.

Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun.

The Greatness of Serving

“The world’s idea of greatness is to rule, but Christian greatness consists in serving.

“The world’s ambition is to receive honor and attention, but the desire of the Christian should be to give rather than receive, and to attend on others rather than be attended on himself.

“In short, the man who lays himself out most to serve his fellow men, and to be useful in his day and generation, is the greatest man in the eyes of Christ.”

–J. C. Ryle

Jesus Died

Typically it took two to three days for a person to die by crucifixion. Jesus was put on the cross at 9am and was dead by 3pm. It only took Him six hours to die.

Attempting to explain this, many people say it was because He lost so much blood by being whipped, or He was run down because He didn’t sleep much the night before, maybe it was due to the weight of carrying our sins.

This all sounds nice, but I don’t think that explains why it only took six hours.

“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.” Jesus died because He wanted to die. No one kills Him, He lays down His life when He wants to.

As soon as He cried out and gave up the ghost, the Centurion says, “Truly this man was whipped a lot.”

Nope, he didn’t say that, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

Jesus laid down His life that He might take it again. If you truly think whipping, crowns of thorns and crucifixion killed Jesus, then Jesus was overpowered by something else and He has no power to take His life back.

But if Christ laid down His life by His own power, then by His power He takes it back. Even in death, our God reigns.

Meet the New NIV, Same as the Old NIV

People’s reactions to Zondervan’s NIV2011 are coming in. If you liked the NIV of the past, seemingly you defend this NIV. If you don’t like it, this one does nothing to help.

Here is a treatment of the NIV’s translation of 1 Timothy 2:12 and how their “translation” is actually more interpretation, and specifically, an interpretation that backs up a theological point.

This is why you should never rely on the NIV. Verses like this show that being faithful to the text is not their number one concern.

Samuel Wesley’s Poetry

John Wesley is best known for starting Methodism. He belonged to a large family, and, as with any large family, obviously the father was a bit odd.

Samuel Wesley was John’s dad and he was a poet, a poet who is now considered to be one of the worst poets ever. Some have even said that John Wesley was inspired to do something virtuous, like start Methodism, to make up for his dad’s poetry that was inflicted on mankind.

That’s a stretch, but the poetry is pretty bad. Consider the following titles of a few of his poems (you can read them all here):

A Pindaricque, On the Grunting of a Hog.
On the Bear-fac’d Lady.
On a Supper of a Stinking Ducks
On a Maggot

And last but not least:

A Dialogue, Between Chamber-pot and Frying Pan.

Rick Warren Wasn’t at Plymouth Rock

When the Pilgrim’s disembarked at Plymouth, they didn’t walk into an evangelical megachurch.

We’re taught that religious folk came here to escape tyranny and persecution, they wanted freedom of religion. They wanted to have potlucks and Christmas Programs sans people burning at stakes.

What is not stressed is that most religious folks set up tyrannical State Churches just like the ones they left! Ay, tis true. Severe penalties arose for skipping church and not tithing.

State Churches existed until about 1830. The Revolution disbanded most State Churches with the  establishment of the separation of Church and State.

An advantage of being a State Church is that you don’t have to worry about money, it is taxed from the people. A downside is that since you don’t have to worry about money, the church really didn’t have to do anything.

When state churches fell apart, churches had to go about “staying in business.” Thus we have churches getting into more evangelism, slicker marketing, and changing the message to draw crowds.

Not sure if it’s a coincidence that around the time State Churches fell away The Second Great Awakening occurred. Sequels are never as good as the originals. My cynical view is that pastors got nervous and started a revival to get people into their pews paying money.

I’m sure it was all the work of the Spirit, however.

Once churches couldn’t put people in jail for skipping church or not tithing, they had to get creative. The 19th century begins a trend of bizarre religious affections, revelations and false teachers.

State churches kept a lot of the loonies at bay. The price of freedom is having to allow idiots to be free too. The religious landscape we see today, fragmented denominationalism run rampant, is a product of our past.

Is freedom worth it? I think so, otherwise most of you would be in jail this morning. Sinners.

Childish vs. Childlike Faith

Seth Godin is a “marketing guru” who writes about getting stuff done. Today he did a post on Childlike vs. Childish that inspired me to consider a problem I hear in Christian-speak.

Frequently Christian people do stupid things, act dumb, say dumb things and then pass it off as, “well, the Bible does say to have childlike faith.”

But there is a difference between childlike faith and childish faith. Borrowing from Seth Godin, who I’m sure had no intention of making this point,

Childlike is fearless and powerful and willing to fail.
Childish is annoying.

Childlike inquires with a pure heart.
Childish is merely ignored.

To add some of my own:

Childlike sits in awe.
Childish can’t shut up and sit down.

Childlike knows it’s dumb and asks questions to learn.
Childish enjoys ignorance and talks over the teacher.

Childlike trusts and walks alongside.
Childish keeps pulling, tugging, interrupting, veers into walls, keeps asking “are we there yet?”

Dork’s Guide to Song of Solomon Part 3

Recently many churches have taken a liking to talking about sex. Obviously, we’re all adults here, sex is part of marriage. It should be addressed at some point.

However, when it comes to Song of Solomon, many think the whole book is about sex, that’s it. Solomon was quite the go-getter you know, had a thousand women, the guy knew a thing or two about the subject.

Surface meanings are intended, but there are also deeper issues at stake. Song of Solomon is about a loving relationship. It’s a about a woman who looks good to her man and a man who wants to give stuff to his bride.

This is about Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church. The Church is often tired, we don’t respond when Jesus comes calling. So He leaves, waits for us to come seek Him. Then He responds by still loving us and giving us stuff.

The whole book is about Christ and how the Church can glorify Him. To make it into a series of sermons on sex is nothing more than a worldly approach to a surface reading of a book of the Bible.

Want more? Allow me.

Dork’s Guide to Song of Solomon Part 2

Ever sit behind a young couple in love? They make you want to vomit. You make sarcastic comments to your wife “These two should get a room.” We make fun of it.

I think the same thing is true when we read Song of Solomon. It’s a private conversation, two people in love sharing their lovey talk with each other.

My wife and I, although never being accused of being romantic, have our fait share of memories and language we share with each other which, trust me, you don’t want to hear about.

It’s part of love. Song of Solomon is not just about two people in love, it’s an extended metaphor. It points to how people pursue God, how they grow in their love for Him.

Ever hear someone talk about their own faith and think, “Oh gag. Whatever. What a weirdo.” It’s because you are getting a glimpse of a personal relationship which won’t make as much sense to you. Yours doesn’t make sense to them either.

That’s part of the clue in understanding Song of Solomon. It’s not a manual for heightened romance, it’s a glimpse of a loving relationship. It won’t sound right in your relationship more than likely. And, in fact, based on these verses, I hope never.  (I have no idea what to theologically do with these verses.)

Dork’s Guide to Song of Solomon

I have never been described as a “romantic” in any definition of the word. I have been described as a “dork” many times. I’m OK with that.

The Song of Solomon was on my reading schedule for today. I find nothing romantic whatsoever about this book. Nothing. Marriage counselors sometimes say that a husband and wife should sit down and read this book together by candlelight to “get in the mood.”

Oh, we’d be in a mood all right!

Allow me to share The Dork’s Commentary on Song of Solomon:

S of S Chapter One: My girl looks good.
S of S Chapter Two: My man gives me stuff.
S of S Chapter Three: My man has nice stuff.
S of S Chapter Four: My girl looks good.
S of S Chapter Five: My man looks good, but I’m too tired to open the door for him.
S of S Chapter Six: Huh, imagine that? My man left.
S of S Chapter Seven: Man, even though she doesn’t open the door for me, that girl still looks good, can’t wait to give her more stuff.
S of S Chapter Eight: My girl looks good. My man gives me stuff.

This is the literal meaning of the text. What mood does it put you in? Maybe I’m missing something.

Oh Happy Day! Another New NIV!

My pals at Zondervan are coming out with yet another version of the NIV. The new version promises to be the same, only more NIVier.

The reason for the new version is more or less because the last two new versions were major flops. Plus apparently because of new “developments in Biblical scholarship and English usage.”

Perhaps when Jesus talks with His disciples, now He “dialogues” with them. Talking to someone at a well is the new way to “office.” When Jesus says to Judas, “Friend, do what you came to do” He really meant, “Frenemy, do what you came to do.”

Here’s hoping this newest version is actually an improvement. Hopefully the translators have taken basic biology and can tell the difference between a man and a woman.

Reformation Sunday

Yesterday was Reformation Sunday. Most evangelical churches made no mention of it, including mine. Christians are not very well-informed on their church history, which is why we keep falling into the same stupid beliefs and heresies.

I do not lump myself into the broad category of “Reformed Theology.” I think Reformed Theology has some holes in it. At the same time, I know some Church History and know that the Reformers deserve our honor, or at least our knowledge of them.

To help do my part, I hand you over to a PBS documentary on Martin Luther, Reformer #1. Take some time to get some edumacation.

Then understand that Luther kept infant baptism even though it has nothing to do with Scripture and contradicts that whole “by faith alone” thing, denies that Israel has any part in God’s plan in eschatology and was an anti-Semite much to the Lutheran Churches embarrassment but to Hitler’s great advantage, kept some Catholicy thinking on Communion (mass), talked about farts too much, he believed in Sola Scriptura except James should be cut out of the Bible because the didn’t know what to do with it so it was Sola Scriptura Minus James, continued to keep Catholic notions of Mary worship, and he was just a guy who did good things but was still a guy and guys are not 100% correct so don’t become a follower of a sole guy.

But the guy did have guts.

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