The diversity of Christendom, part 2

Here’s a completely unrelated comic, from the incomparable Radio Free Babylon:

RFB_20170412 Blessed is the Nation

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An update on the diversity of Christendom

One of the effects of the current political landscape in the USA has been to highlight the diverse attitudes and stances that exist within the various churches in the country.

Depending on your news sources, you may not fully appreciate that there is a vast range of positions within Christendom on issues of politics, social justice, ethics, and the relationship between a believer’s duties as a citizen of the state and as a follower of Jesus. Even with agreement on certain beliefs, there may still be a diversity of opinion on how exactly those beliefs should play out in the world and in our daily lives.

Here’s a perspective that hasn’t had much play in the media, courtesy of Trinity’s Portico. Enjoy!

An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor

God doesn’t have a plan for your life

…at least, not the way you think.

Often, when someone experiences a personal setback, the “encouragement” given to them by well-meaning Christians is: “Don’t worry, God has a plan for your life,” or, “It’s all part of God’s special plan for you.”

God certainly has a deep desire for you to be reconciled to him, but usually when people talk about “God’s plan for my life” they mean that there are very specific, very human milestones that God has laid out for them to reach and achieve during their time on this Earth. And I don’t think that idea is Biblically grounded.

This is not God's plan for your life. Continue reading

Infallibility: a user’s guide

I received the following piece via email from the Jesuit Institute of South Africa.

I didn’t write it, but I think that it is a useful discussion of what the Catholic concept of “papal infallibility” actually entails.

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Raymond Perrier.

Infallible? by Raymond Perrier

Infallible must be one of the most misunderstood terms in Catholic vocabulary.  Reflecting on the Papacy of Benedict XVI we can remind ourselves what Papal infallibility is and most importantly what it is not.

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Lawsuits among believers

In 1 Corinthians 1-6, Paul admonishes the church in Corinth because church members have been suing each other. In this age of incessant litigation, it’s a passage with a great deal of application.

Here’s how it reads in the NIV:

“If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court — and this in front of unbelievers!”

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Book Review: Healing is a Choice, by Stephen Arterburn

Healing Is a Choice

Ten Decisions That Will Transform Your Life & Ten Lies That Can Prevent You From Making Them

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by Stephen Arterburn

Published by Thomas Nelson, paperback edition

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Desecrating the Temple: The challenge to literalists

I really think that those who endorse a “plain reading”, strictly literalist interpretation of the Bible are missing out on some of the most awesome stuff that God has given us the Scripture. Let me give a bit of background to explain what I mean:

I was recently asked to preach on Mark 13, in which Jesus describes the end times (and also some more imminent times). It’s a complex chapter and I’m not going to try and unpack all of it here, but I was particularly struck by his description of the Temple desecration. Jesus starts by saying that the Temple will be destroyed, torn apart block by block, and also says that the fulfillment of this prophecy will give the listeners confidence in what he tells them about the end times. The destruction of the Temple will happen soon, in the lifetimes of his listeners, and then they will know that what he says about his second coming is also true.

So why do I say that this is a challenge to a literalist reading of Scripture? Well, let’s look at what Jesus says. He warns the listeners to flee from the destruction, and he does it using these words:

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