June 27, 2016

Mondays with Michael Spencer: June 27, 2016


Mondays with Michael Spencer: June 27, 2016

Today we continue a series of Monday posts with excerpts of Michael Spencer’s thoughts about the Bible and what it does and does not promise to do for us.

• • •

Sometimes, the Bible doesn’t give you enough evidence, one way or the other, to settle a question beyond the possibility of a continuing discussion and debate. If this is true, and if the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit does not remove this ambiguity, then there are points beyond which dicsussion and debate ought to proceed only with considerable and generous amounts of respectful humility.

Now, I don’t know if you need to read this seven times (complete, in the Authorized Version) to “get it,” but this is pretty significant stuff, and I would like to recommend that my thoughtful readers consider the implications of this idea, assuming we actually ever acted in accordance with it.

…Uncertainty of any kind is sin to many Bible-believing Christians, and an insult to lots of the smart ones. They see the recognition that scripture may sometimes be less-than-perfectly clear as a surrender on inspiration and authority. Of course, the Apostle Peter himself said that Paul’s writings contained some things that were hard to understand. While we are often reminded that the church councils worked to remove all disagreement, we sometimes imagine that the Christian movement read the scriptures and agreed on everything, with disagreement and diversity coming along later, when modern Bible translations.

Did the early church agree completely on modes of baptism? On the presence of women in worship? On the the standards for communion? On the process of discipline and restoration? On the use of “non-canonical” material? On the form of church government? On detailed theories of the atonement? On the role of art? On eating meat offered to idols? On the appropriateness of marriage between believers and unbelievers? On the support of the poor? On who had apostolic authority?

Listening to some full-time Christian defenders of orthodoxy, you would think the “humilty zone” was a concept so Satanic, so diabolical, that it should be opposed at every point. Instead, it ought to be encouraged, modeled and developed.

Why can’t we have a conference where those with differing points of view on Baptism or church government present their positions, and discuss questions/objections without hearing that some “simply won’t believe what the Bible plainly teaches.?”

Why can’t Christians who homeschool, go to Christian schools and participate in public schools work together, recognizing that Christian parents can love Jesus and the Bible and come to differing conclusions?

Why can’t Christians who differ on issues of war, economics and politics discuss their approaches as all rooted in Biblical teaching, but not in a Bible that unambiguously indicates pacifism or just war?

Is it possible for Calvinists and Arminians to consider the possibility that they are both reading the same Bible, with much of the same devotion and training, but with differing interpretative approaches, leading to differing conclusions? (I think of how these teams refer to one another’s God as a “monster” or a “wimp,” and wonder at how few intelligent interpreters can acknowledge that both views grow out of the Bible.)

I am not trying to start a quarrel with the Bible, nor am I writing suggesting how we resolve ambiguity when we HAVE TO (and sometimes we must, even at great pain,) but I am suggesting that we nurture and even insist on this “humility zone.” It is not a mark of maturity to demean points of view that are rooted in the same New Testament we all believe to be God’s Word. We are going to differ on dozens of topics because, sometimes, we forget that the Bible’s perspicuity on some matters does not gurantee its clarity on others.

If you have a humility zone, some will be grateful and meet you there to talk. Others will attack you and call you apostate, liberal and “postmodern” (or whatever the new buzzword happens to be.) I think it comes down to honestly facing the Bible itself, and settling within ourselves that God has not commanded us to fight with our fellow Christians until one side or the other “wins.” We fight side by side, in divisions that sometimes differ on many things, but which agree on what matters most.

Pic & Poem of the Week: June 26, 2016


Pic & Poem of the Week
June 26, 2016

For your pleasure and contemplation, I am posting an original photograph and a corresponding poem each week on Sundays. May these offerings help lead us to a deeper place of rest on the Lord’s Day.

Click on the picture for a larger image.

• • •

Walker, your footsteps
are the road and nothing more;
Walker, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.

Walking you make the road
and turning to look behind
you see the path you never
again will step upon.
Walker, there is no road,
only foam trails on the sea

Antonio Machado
Songs and Poems
Trans. by Willis Barnstone

Saturday Ramblings, June 25, 2016

Hello, friends, and welcome to the weekend. Ready to Ramble?

Rambler Classic

Rambler Classic; as sexy as a station wagon can get.

The big news this week, of course, is the Brexit. Were you surprised by the results? I was. I mean, what is going on this year? Have we tried unplugging 2016, waiting ten seconds and plugging it back in?

Meanwhile, at the chunnel:


And India is blown away that you can get Britain to leave by just voting.

This actually came out a few weeks ago, but, like me, you might have missed it. I am talking about the emoji Bible. Now, of course, it’s not like every word is replaced by an emoji, though when they figure out what to use for “circumcision” that day may come. Rather, The 3,282-page book is based on a computer program that detects certain characters or strings of characters in the King James Version of the Bible and automatically substitutes an emoji, numeral, or other symbol (e.g., &) in their place. That’s why, for example, “twined linen,” from the section of Exodus about building the tabernacle, shows up as a wine glass sandwiched between a “t” and a “d.” The emoji for God? Two happy faces with halos.


Said one of the co-creators.”A major goal of this whole process was to take a book that I think is very non-approachable to lay readers and try to make it more approachable by removing a lot of its density.”

In related news, Apple announce seventy-two new emojis, including one of a pregnant woman. Apparently it’s the emoji you get nine months after texting, “You awake?”

The University of Missouri has published a helpful chart of microagressions. Some are reasonable and helpful. Others? Well, what do you think? Are these microagressions?

  • Saying that people overcoming disabilities are “inspiring”.
  • Claiming that, “I believe the most qualified person should get
    the job.”
  • Asking a Black person: “Why do you have to be so
    loud/animated? Just calm down.”
  • Asking an Asian or Latino person: “Why are you so
    quiet? We want to know what you think. Be more
  • Television shows and movies that feature
    predominantly White people, without
    representation of people of color

An Oregon judge has allowed a 52-year-old retired Army tank mechanic to change gender identity. Not from male to female, or vice versa. That’s so old hat. But to a new, third gender. Jamie Shupe is now legally non-binary — widely believed to be a first for the United States.

As of now, the state isn’t fighting the court’s decision. In a few months, Oregon driver’s license applications will have new gender designations, in addition to male and female.

“Is it a third box? Or will it require multiple boxes?” a BMV executive asked. “We just don’t know the answer to those questions; we’re going to need to study that.” ozmeme

More than 30 people who attended an event with motivational speaker Tony Robbins have been treated for burns after Robbins encouraged them to walk on hot coals as a way of conquering their fears, Dallas fire officials said this week.  Robbins conducts a variety of empowerment seminars — which can range from about $1,000 to up to $3,000 — and “Unleash the Power Within” is described on his website as “designed to help you unlock and unleash the forces inside that can help you break through any limit.” Hopefully they feel empowered enough to sue him.

Democrats held a big sit-in on the House floor to protest Congress’ refusal to vote on gun control. Or in other words, congressmen were tired of Congress not getting anything done, so they refused to get anything done until someone got something done. And by the way, you know the state of our Congress is terrible when you see a bunch of politicians sitting on their butts and think to yourself, “Wow, they’re finally doing something!”

House Speaker Paul Ryan referred to the Democratic-led sit-in for gun control as “nothing more than a publicity stunt.” He then reaffirmed his endorsement of this man:

It’s been reported that after leaving office, President Obama is considering owning an NBA team. Apparently he feels it’s his only chance to get someone on the court.

And Bernie Sanders admitted this that he “doesn’t appear” to be the nominee, but, just to make sure, he’ll remain in the race for three more years.

At a meeting with nearly 1,000 evangelical leaders this week, Donald Trump told the attendees that Hillary and Obama are not worthy of their prayers.

[…Anything] about Hillary in terms of religion. She’s been in the public eye for years and years and yet there’s nothing out there, there’s, like, nothing out there. She’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse because with Obama you had your guard up, with Hillary you don’t and it’s going to be worse. So, I think people were saying, some of the people were saying, ‘Let’s pray for our leaders.’ Well, you can pray for your leaders, and I agree with that, pray for everyone, but what you really have to do is you have to pray to get everybody out to vote, and for one specific person. We can’t be politically correct and say we pray for all of our leaders because all of your leaders are selling Christianity down the tubes, selling the evangelicals down the tubes, and it’s a very, very bad thing that’s happening.

Man, he sounds just like the Apostle Paul, doesn’t he?

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all Godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. – 1 Timothy 2-4

In any case Hillary’s prayers were already answered when Trump won the GOP nomination.

Jerry Falwell Jr, of course, was one of those evangelical leaders, and is now of Trumps evangelical advisory board. After the meeting, Falwell tweeted this picture.


And why does the Donald have TWO copies of the same magazine cover of himself?

And yes, that picture over Becky Falwell’s shoulder is a Playboy cover featuring some porn star wearing Donald’s coat and apparently nothing else.

Falwell refused to apologize (shocker) and hit back at his critics (super-shocker) with this nuanced and profound analysis:

Honored for same hypocrites who accused Jesus of being a friend of publicans and sinners to be targeting me over a decades old mag cover! TY

The Playboy Magazine cover, however, did apologize, the Babylon Bee reports.

“I’m super ashamed about this,” the Playboy issue’s press release read, in part. “Donald takes tons of pictures with people in this office, and they’re usually friendlies—I wasn’t paying enough attention Tuesday afternoon to realize he was taking a picture with Jerry Falwell, Jr., son of political moral crusader Jerry Falwell, both of whom have spoken out against me thousands, if not tens of thousands of times, telling people to hate me while openly questioning the morality of anyone who would gaze upon my pages.”

“Frankly it makes me question Trump’s moral acumen, to have a guy like that in his office,” it continued, noting that Jerry Falwell, Sr., used to organize protests of Playboy back in the 80s, and that the magazine is officially forbidden from being brought on the campus of the college Falwell, Jr. runs. . .  I assure you I’ll be more vigilant in the future about whom I’m being photographed with,” the magazine promised.

More headlines from Babylon Bee:

It’s being reported that LeBron James’ 11-year-old son already has basketball scholarship offers from Duke and Kentucky. Hey Lebron, that means you can stop saving for college!!

Ticketmaster is settling a class action lawsuit for overcharging customers. As part of the settlement, they’re giving out $5 million in free concert tickets.  Minus the $3 million “convenience” fee.

We end today with one of my favorite pieces. I would choose your favorite, but I don’t know who you are. And you probably like country or something. And you didn’t just spend five hours writing the Ramblings, did ya? No, I DIDN’T THINK SO. So I get to choose. And today it’s Holst. Enjoy!





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Mondays with Michael Spencer: June 20, 2016

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