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Month: October 2006

Isaiah 25: Protection in the Midst of Trouble

Isaiah 25: Protection in the Midst of Trouble

This is a long delayed continuation of my series on Isaiah 24-27, an early apocalypse. To get the background, look back at my entry on Isaiah 24 and possibly even follow the links there to my material on this topic on Threads from Henry’s Web.

For those who may not want to follow the links back, let me summarize. Isaiah 24-27 is a section of Isaiah dealing with some variety of eschatological events. Its language is rooted in the judgment that Isaiah has proclaimed on Israel and Judah, but it looks beyond that. Many interpreters regard it as confused and disorderly, but it is actually similar to later apocalyptic literature in that regard. It gives word pictures of various places and attitudes as God’s judgment falls on the land, but also as God’s people are delivered.

I like to apply the metaphor of the theme ride to this, such as I use in my study guide to Revelation. Think of yourself as riding on something like Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. You will pass through various scenes of the pillaging of a town by pirates, but it is not a sequential presentation. You may find various elements portrayed simultaneously that might have happened sequentially. Isaiah 25 is much like that.

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Atheist-Christian Discussion

Atheist-Christian Discussion

I have noticed from time to time that Christians become very angry with atheists or other skeptics in debate simply for being and saying who they are. Many regard any questioning of their faith positions as impolite, and some even regard such discussion as a form of persecution. It has always seemed odd to me.

When I discuss theology with an atheist, for example, I expect that he or she will:

  • Deny the existence of God
  • Deny the truth of substantial portions of the Bible
  • Find miracles vanishingly unlikely at best, and most certainly denying the virgin birth and the resurrection
  • Find the idea of the atonement fairly silly
  • . . . and many, many more obvious differences of opinion

These seem so obvious to me, but I’ve encountered some Christians who become offended when a skeptic expressed each of those positions. I’m not sure how one can fail to be offended when someone says he’s an atheist, and yet suddenly become offended when he also mentions that he believes God’s existence is about as probable as that of the tooth fairy. It seems to me that one implies the other.

So if I wish to have a conversation with such a person–and I’m pretty much interested in dialogue on philosophy and religion with most anyone–then I have to realize we will differ on these things, and accept that in order to dialogue, we will both have to express our differences. Since I believe in God, and an atheist by definition does not, he will have to tell me in one way or another that he thinks I’m wrong. He might use words like misguided, deluded, or something similar. He may well explain all my spiritual experiences as the result of physical causes, and call them delusional. He might point to the doctrine of hell (in the form in which many accept it) and describe God, were he to exist, as a mass murderer.

To put it bluntly, I’m quite happy with any or all of those options. If that is what someone believes, that is what I’d like them to express to me. I’m not saying they don’t need to consider the public relations angle in general. But I would like to know what they actually think.

This little post was inspired by Duane Smith’s post Thoughts on Richard Dawkins at Cal Tech. I have to confess that I really enjoy reading Richard Dawkins. He writes wonderfully well and explains difficult topics with great clarity. I can read and enjoy him, and appreciate his writing, and yet disagree profoundly. It sounds like I would have enjoyed his presentation as well, as I have enjoyed hearing him interviewed on TV. In fact, while he is often vilified as the true example of an over-the-top atheist, I have found him to be very careful and precise in stating what he does and does not belief. He’s not unaware of the nuances in theology, even though he doesn’t choose to give those of us who “practice” those nuances much room to maneuver.

Having said all of that, I still should make clear that I disagree with Dawkins in a substantial way. I’m a theist, and he’s not. I’m in the crosshairs of some of his remarks. But why should I not be?

It seems to me that in much of what passes for dialogue in the public forum we have gotten whimpy about ideas. I’m not talking about name-calling, ad hominem attacks, and diversionary tactics. Those detract from the issue. But I’d really like to know where it is that Richard Dawkins has behaved in this way. I can and do get somewhat heated about his comments about providing a religious education for children. But based on the remainder of his beliefs, I have a hard time seeing how he could avoid the conclusion that children would be better off without any form of religious indoctrination.

In fact, I would ask my fellow Christians to look and see whether the shoe does not fit all too well. Often religious education is not education, but is really just indoctrination. I hear complaints from church leaders all the time about young adults leaving the church, but often those same church leaders are looking for teachers who will “teach the young adults the truth” and keep them from going astray. When I had the opportunity to plan curriculum for youth, I went out of my way to let them hear about other faiths. There was a field trip to a synagogue, I invited an Imam to come in and talk about Islam, we read materials about positions other than those of our own denomination.

Do I still disagree with Dawkins on this point? From what I’ve read thus far, I very much do. But I don’t think he has stepped over any sort of line in saying so.

If we, as Christians believe that there are things that are true and things that are false, and that it’s worthwhile to accept the truth and reject falsehood as much as we are able, perhaps we need to encourage each person to express his or her understanding of what is truth, and let’s test this in open discussion. If we are to do this, we have to drop the notion that a particular view is by nature impolite. And while I’m at it, for the same reason we can’t cut off discussion from the conservative side of the spectrum. If we try to shut up those who believe that homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle, or that all abortion is evil, rather than engaging in discussion, we will make it harder to find good policy positions.

Courtesy is good, but when courtesy is interpreted as a demand to cut off expression, then it can easily become a danger.

Assurance and Success

Assurance and Success

It’s another early Sunday morning and it should shock nobody to know that I’m thinking about baseball, life, and spiritual matters. It is a little bit odd to me to realize how often I think of baseball metaphors these days. Until I started going out with Jody, now my wife, I never watched or thought about baseball at all. I remember sitting with her and asking silly questions as we watched my step-son John Webb pitching for Manatee Community College. I didn’t know what a strike was at that point. Now John is playing winter ball, and I’m reflecting on the world series. How things change!

The headline on MSNBC read Cardinals “shocked the world” to clinch Series, or actually just one of the headlines on that and many other news services. Nobody expected the Cardinals to win the series. Nobody expected them to be in the series. A few times, we were thinking they wouldn’t make it to the post-season. As it happened, however, they not only won, but won in a convincing way.

So what happened? Well, I’m no expert, even now, having learned what I know of baseball of the last eight years watching John, and occasionally bugging him with questions on the phone, but I have observed human nature over the years and I think the Tigers got used to winning in the post-season. They said the right things about overconfidence, but I think it slipped in anyhow, and when they went up in that first game against the Cardinals and realized that the reality was not going to be the same as the predictions, that assurance (or over-assurance as it happened) went away, and then desperation set in.

Good players make silly mistakes when they’re shaken, and that’s precisely what Detroit did. Don’t take anything away from the Cardinals who pulled together as a team, worked hard, played well, and clearly kept their mental attitude together. But the Tigers helped them out, and did so with the type of errors they should not have made. Despite all their comments about knowing the Cardinals were a tough team and they would have to work for it, I think deep down they believed the predictions. They thought they were going to walk all over the 83 win upstart team that was tired from a seven game series with the Mets, and then it didn’t happen.

There’s something interesting about assurance or confidence. It has to be in precise balance. Overconfidence is deadly. Underconfidence is deadly. Only confidence will do. Once you’re off to one side or the other, it’s hard to get back in balance. That, I think, was the key element of the Cardinals win, and something for which Tony LaRussa is to be congratulated, along with several of the leaders on the team: They managed to go from underconfidence to precisely the right level of assurance and performance. That’s not easy to do in baseball, or anywhere in your life.

Hebrews 10:35 reads: “35Don’t throw away your boldness {or confidence, assurance}, which has great reward.” Don’t throw it away!

But the secret is that there are two ways to throw it away–under and overconfidence. You can observe this with students in a class. The ones who are very, very confident are often the ones who don’t study and get into trouble. Then there are the ones who are so underconfident that they don’t believe they can get anything done. Somewhere between are those who have the right amount of confidence, so they study as much as is necessary, but don’t kill themselves doing things that are not necessary.

Good confidence, and good boldness and assurance involves three things. Realistic, but not pessimistic goals, realistic estimation of what is necessary to attain those goals, and lastly, reliance on the right things.

In the spiritual life especially, assurance involves the one in whom we place our trust, Jesus, the “pioneer and perfecter” of our faith. But both in our spiritual life and in our day-to-day living, we also need to look at ourselves to see whether we’re moving forward. A pioneer goes before, but no matter how well the pioneer prepares the way, the person behind still has to decide to follow, and still has to count the cost and prepare to pay it. Overconfidence results in underpreparation.

In our spiritual lives, one key way in which we can keep our confidence level in balance is through spiritual disciplines. I don’t have a formula for this. For me, it’s devotional Bible reading and time for prayer primarily. For others there may be other formulas. How do you know? Discover what spiritual disciplines help keep your mind in balance. Pursue those.

Don’t let anyone steal your confidence–in either direction.

I like the idea behind this site. You can check off your choices on a number of key bills, and then it will compare those to the votes of your senators and congressman. You will need to either have followed certain issues fairly closely, or you may need to look up specifics of a particular vote that they use. I was fairly impressed with the selection.

Now it would be good to have a site where candidates checked off a similar list and then you could compare how your representatitve did vote compared to how a candidate says he would have. Of course, the political operatives who package candidates won’t let their clients do this sort of thing, but perhaps it’s time for a voter revolt–you don’t give us information, we won’t give you our vote!

Check it out.

Independent Voters are Concerned

Independent Voters are Concerned

The Washington Post has an article headlined Independent Voters Favor Democrats by 2 to 1 in Poll, but in the article I found this paragraph:

Independent voters may strongly favor Democrats, but their vote appears motivated more by dissatisfaction with Republicans than by enthusiasm for the opposition party. About half of those independents who said they plan to vote Democratic in their district said they are doing so primarily to vote against the Republican candidate rather than to affirmatively support the Democratic candidate. Just 22 percent of independents voting for Democrats are doing so “very enthusiastically.”

That paragraph tells me that many other independent voters are feeling like I do. We’re not happy with the Republican Party, but we’re not all that excited about the Democrats either. Part of the problem is that both parties have become embroiled in packaging and media blitz but don’t really let any substance get out to the voters. I understand that there are many voters out there who can be manipulated by this stuff, but there are also other voters who would like some actual information about the candidates. And we would also like you to have some idea of what you’re going to do.

Let me speak just for myself now. You see, I have many concerns. I think the Iraq war was a strategic mistake that has been compounded by a number of tactical mistakes. (I’ve blogged on that in the past and will do so again in the future.) But I don’t see where the Democrats have a plan either to deal with the aftermath of that war, or with the war in terror in general. They’re going to do things differently than the Republicans, which is good, but what are they going to do? More diplomacy is good, but I’d like to know where Democrats will draw a line. What could happen internationally that could cause you to go to war? How much force would you use?

I have concerns about education, but other than believing that budgets are low, what are the Democrats going to spend my money on in educational budgets? I’m actually willing to pay more taxes for education, but I want to know that the money will actually be improving education. I have concerns about social welfare programs. I actually don’t mind having some of my taxes go to safety net programs, but I do want to know that the money is actually solving problems rather than creating more, and right now I’m afraid I’m not convinced that the safety net money is being used wisely.

I could go on and on. But instead of answers to these questions I get more criticism of the Republicans. I already got that. I know what I don’t like. But for anyone running against an incumbent, I want to know specifically what you’re going to do better.

And as for the media, you can start by not using words such as “favor” in a headline when what is actually going on is that independents are turning away from Republican candidates, many of whom they voted for with their nose held, and turning to Democrats while still keeping their nose held because there are so few alternatives.

The Democrats aren’t doing well; they’re just there at the right moment when the Republicans have run a number of bad plays.

Philophronos Blogroll

Philophronos Blogroll

Laura has posted some code to help add this important new blogroll to your site. Just head down to the bottom of that post to copy and paste. This blogroll is not just about this election. We wanted it to appear before this election, but we’ll be going straight into presidential issues leading up to 2008, and there will always be political blogging.

I understand the need for blogrolls with scrollbars, because even with two sidebars, things get busy, and it’s hard to post everything. But the blogosphere is about communicating and exchanging ideas, and this is the sort of thing that can help.

If the bloggers on this philophronos blogroll will post in accordance with the guidelines, not only will there be more dialogue, there is some hope that we can educate ourselves and some other voters about the candidate positions on issues.

Let’s help make the next election more about issues and less about mudslinging, personalities, and media packaging.

Moderate Christian Blogroll Update

Moderate Christian Blogroll Update

I have just added two new members to the Moderate Christian Blogroll and aggregator. Check out the lists. That makes 19 members of that blogroll at this point. I hope it continues to grow.

I am working on the aggregator. There are still some glitches which have to do with parsing what I want from all of the different formats. I’ll keep working on that. I also have plans for a couple more choices of ways in which the information can be displayed.

Thanks to all for their participation. Send me any ideas via e-mail or as a comment to this entry.

An Intelligent Designer in the Gaps

An Intelligent Designer in the Gaps

I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding of the problems with a “God of the gaps” position. This is not a logical fallacy, but rather is more like an observation on the one hand and an implication on the other. I’m not going to try here for a deep philosophical discussion, but rather a simple overview of what I see as the practical application of God of the gaps positively and negatively.

Essentially, “God of the gaps” results when people first credit some observed phenomenon to the action of God, then discover that this phenomenon has a natural explanation, and finally remove that activity from God’s sphere. In reverse it effectively says that God’s action is to be observed in the things that we do not understand.

It is quite possible for someone to hold that God is equally active in both the things we understand and the things that we do not. But that is not the God of the gaps position. When one argues that God is demonstrated by particular things that we do not understand, and that complete understanding would remove that evidence, that person is essentially using a God of the gaps type of argument for the existence of God.

Let’s take an example. In arguing for intelligent design, Michael Behe proposes that there are irreducibly complex systems, that there is no evolutionary explantion (using all natural causes) to explain the existence of such systems. He further claims that there can be no evolutionary explanation because incredibly improbable events would have to occur to produce all the parts of the irreducibly complex system simultaneously and in the proper relationship. The proposed solution is an “intelligent designer” who puts these things together.

Now Behe does not claim that the intelligent designer must be God, but nobody actually proposes any plausibly designer other than God. Any lesser intelligent designer would itself require explanation. So for the moment, let’s assume that the intelligent designer is God, and that Behe’s argument is an argument for the existence of God. There is this system which could not be produced by natural causes, yet it exists, so it must be designed, and through other logic we arrive at God as the designer.

Now suppose I am convinced of the existence of God by this particular argument. Then some fine microbiologist discovers a plausible evolutionary path for producing the system that I was convinced was irreducibly complex. What do I do? Well, if I’m honest I determine that this piece of evidence for the existence of God is no longer valid. If it was the key to my belief, I might have to give up my faith. Otherwise I might still believe, but have one less piece of evidence for that belief. God essentially would have retreated, at least in part, from this section of my universe.

This is not precisely a logical fallacy, although it could lead to one or two. It is quite possible that something of which I am not aware has tinkered with the development of life on earth. Though I personally don’t believe it to be so, God could be intervening regularly in the development of life. One is not required to reject the notion that “God did it” outright.

But of what value is that claim? We have two major problems. First, it’s been done many times. As natural explanations have been discovered, people have seen less and less need to assume God’s activity. Second, God makes a rather lousy hypothesis. Now before my Christian friends accuse me of blasphemy, let me note that my car makes a lousy hypothesis as well, but it’s quite an excellent car. God doesn’t make a good hypothesis because he is not an hypothesis. He is too undefined for that, and more importantly his power is not sufficiently limited in our definition. An hypothesis that explains everything explains nothing. It’s the equivalent of “stuff happens.”

Christian students of the Bible and theology who reject the God of the gaps type of argument do not do so because it is logically impossible. We do so because it conflicts with our understanding of how God functions in the universe, and because as such it has been an untenable position in the past.

Intelligent design resembles a “God of the gaps” argument in that it finds gaps in human knowledge and plugs God into the gap in our knowledge. I cannot be certain that they are wrong in each and every case, though I see no particular reason to believe they are right. But simply asserting that an undefined intelligent designer did it sure sounds to me like the intelligent designer in the gaps.

It’s going to be simple to watch and see. If evolutionary scientists continue to discover new processes and fill in the gaps, then ID will continue to look like a “gaps” type argument and will have all its failings, particular a receding God, and explanations that explain nothing. ID advocates now accuse evolutionary scientists of lacking detailed explanations of the development of various systems, while in turn they simply claim that “the designer did it.” I can’t exclude that as a possibility, but I also can’t see any positive evidence in its favor. It’s pretty clear to me now, and time will serve to make it even clearer.

Christian Carnival CXLV

Christian Carnival CXLV

Theme park

I’ve chosen a theme ride at an amusement park as the metaphor with which to present the posts. Please don’t take it too seriously–I chose where to place some of the posts based more on numbers than on content, though I tried to keep it reasonable. After reading all these posts, I was reminded of the text:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” — Ecclesiastes 3:1

Getting Going

We start at the entrance to our ride, which has a historical theme. We’ll be moving through various rooms and displays in small boats on the water, with the displays interpersed with various water slides, bumps, dark rooms, and so forth.

At the entrance we have to wait. There are people trying to sell us drinks, snacks, candy, imprinted hats and shirts, and even tickets to other rides. We have to keep focused!

Polly at Life is a Buffet gets sidetracked by life.

Fish and Cans offers Am I like Jeremiah?, noting: I find that like Jeremiah, there are times when I am beseiged by distrust. I don’t trust that God will take care of me, that he will bring me relief from the various things that trouble me. And like he did with Jeremiah, God calls me out of that.

Christian Living / Church Life

After a dark tunnel with bumps and groans, we come to a room that looks like it might be an arena. People are running back and forth. There are landslides of loose papers, and scattered books. Our boat tips back and forth as the water surges and carries us through.

all kinds of time… provides some thoughts on the need for true accountability in the corporate body of the church in
real accountability

John is continuing to journal the study questions in the book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg, at Brain Cramps for God. This week he’s in the process of answering the questions for Chapter 2, Surprised by Change and Chapter 3, Training vs. Trying.

Tim Schmoyer at Life in student ministry asks “What does it take to have an explosive and dynamic prayer life? Sometimes I feel that my prayers are pointless and ineffective and then scripture points out that I pray like a wuss. Recently God’s been teaching me a lot about how to change that.” and replies in his article, Learning how to have a dynamic prayer life

Andre of Every Square Inch asks “What does a well lived life look like?” and finds that it’s about living a quiet life of humility, faithfulness and a love for others. He offers a brief profile of the late Katherine Hubner as an example of how to run the race and finish strong in his post Katherine Hubner – A Life Well Lived.

Weekend Fisher at Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength asks “How many people go through the motions of life without feeling, without loving, without caring, without resting?” and then challenges a post-modern Apathetic with the question whether they are alive, or simply undead, in Halloween Special: Night of the Living Dead.

Have you ever went through a tough time? It’s an inevitable part of life. So this week at Light Along the Journey John offers up Ten Steps for Walking Through the Tough Times with God.

Chasing the Wind offered Living in Hope. Just like the Hebrews wanted to fall back on the rules of the Levitical priesthood, we say we rely on Jesus, we say we understand that God will provide all our needs, but we want to hold a little something back, just in case. Is that truly placing our hope in Jesus, or are we secretly placing our hope in something worldly, just in case?

Dave Taylor, from Every Thought Captive offered Seeing and not seeing. What happens when old wineskins are being exchanged for new?

. . . that one took awhile, but did you learn how to deal with the rocking boat as you passed through?

3 The Lord gives perfect peace
to those whose faith is firm.
4 So always trust the Lord
because he is forever
our mighty rock. — Isaiah 26:3-4 (CEV)

Living in the World

We ride down a long water slide and come upon a room depicting life in a small town. But the buildings have been cut out so that we can see the people inside and look at how they live. We see pictures of phone lines, satellites, cell phone towers, and broadcasting towers, showing how the people are connected to the rest of the world.

We are reminded of Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 4:9: “. . . we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals” (NRSV).

Laura at Pursuing Holiness (a conservative) and Henry Neufeld from Threads from Henry’s Web (a liberal) have a challenge for Christian bloggers who blog about politics – philophronos blogging.

NerdMom presents America founded on Secularism?? posted at Nerd Family.

Romans 15:4 Project presents Left Wing Liberal Republican for Governor? No, we have a choice!, a wake up call to Christian values voters in Illinois. The Republican candidate for Governor does not hold our values, but we have a choice!

Jeremy Pierce presents Dawkins Prefers Pedophiles to Christians posted at Parableman. Richard Dawkins thinks teaching children to traditional Christian doctrine is more harmful than sexual molestation.

The Evangelical Ecologist has been following the greening of the Church, including covering the recent Grist/PBS series “Is God Green,” with their interview of long-time Christian environmentalist Cal DeWitt. We also have a review up of “A Spiritual Field Guide: Meditations for the Outdoors.”

Jack Yoest presents Looking For A Job…With Tattoos? posted at Reasoned Audacity. Our US Army is getting more recruits with tattoos. And so are you. A third of the population 18 to 29 has a tattoo. Your Business Blogger is a bit outside this age range and our five-kid penta-posse has not yet demanded needles with ink. But this is an exploding fad that will affect business hiring….Sometime ago I questioned my Rabbi, Daniel Lapin, on the issue of tattoos. Yes, I’m Presbyterian who sits at the feet of the JollyBogger. But everyone also needs a Rabbi . . .

Patricia at A Better You Blog tells us How To Know Who You Are In 20 Minutes. But she doesn’t stop there. She continues by suggesting ways to make that better.


The next room is a maze, and it’s dark as we work our way through in the water. But over in the maze are some folks with bright flashlights, and it looks like they know where they’re going. Perhaps we can find our way out of this after all!

A Penitent Blogger reflects on faith, division, and the power of Christ in Tear down this wall.

Thom at Everyday Liturgy offers Behave or Believe?, a discussion on the return to Biblical principles in Discipleship, Evangelism, and Spiritual Theology so that belief is emphasized over behavior in the modern church.

In the field of medicine and ethics, from Ales Rarus, we have Plan B: Literature Review (Part II). This is the second post in a series. Last time I looked at a couple literature reviews about the methods of action of Plan B emergency contraception (levonorgestrel, LNG). This time I’m presenting On the the mechanisms of action of short-term levonorgestrel administration in emergency contraception (Durand, et al., 2001).

However difficult it may have appeared when we entered the room, we depart safely.

18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:18-19 (NRSV)

The Interlude

Between major scenes we have some more peaceful times, but with tastes of various things offered by our ride . . .

Sun and Shield offers Sunspots 78. Each week, after the Christian Carnival, I publish a few links to things I have found of interest, including the Christian Carnival, and, often, posts from that Carnival. This week’s Sunspots includes links to New York Times Book Review reviews of Andrew Sullivan’s The Conservative Soul, by David Brooks, and of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and a few other interesting items. You may need a free log-in to the NY Times to access these links.

And getting started early on Christmas, Noneya weighs in with some reviews of Christimas music. Perhaps we’ll listen to some through the rest of our ride!

Bible Study

Here’s your map and equipment room. Whatever you wanted to do, you’ll find the instructions and the tools. But what is that I see over in the corner? Shovels? You mean we’re going to have to dig?

4 If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for bhidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the afear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God. — Proverbs 2:4-5

Rey (from the Bible Archive) looks at the Genesis 6 – 9 story from the perspective of Noah to imagine how this man relied on God’s word.

Richard of dokeo kago grapho soi kratistos theophilos introduces a new series on the Parables in Luke designed to demonstrate the radical nature of the works of Christ in his post
Slave Parables in the Gospel of Luke

Steve, from An Accidental Blog, looks at the parable of the pounds (minas) from Luke ch 19. He concludes:

The parable was not told, then, to show that if we have gifts and talents we should use them wisely or lose them. Rather, it is a warning that if we try to win power in the way that ‘the world’ does, all that will result is that the oppressed will experience only greater oppression. Instead, we are to follow the example of the man on a donkey, who gave up all to attain all.

The Scriptorium

Once we’ve helped dig a new route for our ride (can you do that???), we find ourselves passing through a room full of low tables we see wax images of monks painstakingly copying manuscripts by hand. It doesn’t look like fun . . .

Barbara of Tidbits And Treasures tells of a New Bible publication literally cuts out unused parts–a Dutch organization has published a Bible for contemporary Christians and cut out all the scripture which might put stress in their lives.

David Ker presents Martin Luther on Bible Translation posted at Lingamish. If Martin Luther were alive today, what would he say about the frequent debates over literal and idiomatic Bible translations? This post looks at some of his colorful quotes about this subject.

William Meisheid presents The Problem With Bible Translations posted at Beyond The Rim… . A look at the growing Tower of Babel of biblical translations.

Thanks for all the submissions, and for reading to this point! If you found any errors or omissions, please e-mail me, or add a comment. I’ll be happy to make corrections. I sent trackbacks to those who provided trackback URLs.

Who am I Trying to Please?

Who am I Trying to Please?

Note: I’m cross-posting this from my wife’s devotional list. I’ve been writing a number of devotionals for her during a season when she’s often too busy to write them. This one I thought might apply rather broadly right now, especially during the elections.

10So is it people that I’m trusting now, or God? Do I try to please people? If I tried to please people, then I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ! — Galatians 1:10

What is your final authority? How do you decide what is right and wrong?

In this passage, Paul makes it very clear. He doesn’t put his trust in people. He doesn’t try to please people. But even more forcefully, he says that trying to please people is incompatible with being a slave (or the more gentle servant) of Christ.

Now if you read the whole passage from which this verse is take, at least Galatians 1:6-24, you’ll find that Paul is talking about the gospel, the message the he had preached to the Galatians. He was not prepared to give up the gospel of Christ for anyone. It didn’t come from people, he didn’t learn it from people, and he was not going to give it up for anyone.

But I want us to look behind Paul’s concept here for something that is more universal. Normally when people teach from this passage they are telling us to look at Paul’s gospel, and to stick with that. And I think it’s good to check your understanding of the gospel against what Jesus and the apostles preached. But I don’t think that quite gets to the point.

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