December 15, 2017

What He/She Said…

Today, here are some recent quotes from folks around the blogosphere that I heartily affirm…

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Roger E. Olson, “What do I mean when I say the Bible is ‘trustworthy?'”

Note from CM: One of Michael Spencer’s conflicts with evangelicalism was over its insistence on a biblicism that requires the foundation of inerrancy. He came to an understanding similar to that expressed by Dr. Olson here in his typically clear style. I’m with him too.

When I say the Bible is trustworthy, I mean it can be (and for Christians must be) trusted to transform those who are open to its message, the gospel, by bringing them into encounter with the living God through Jesus Christ. I do NOT mean the Bible is a source book of information about history or cosmology or even morality. All those are in the Bible, but they are not its main purpose.

When I say the Bible is trustworthy, I do NOT mean every event recorded in the Bible happened exactly as it is described there. And anyone who says all did have simply not wrestled deeply enough with the phenomena of Scripture. It takes Herculean efforts to harmonize many biblical accounts of the same events and, in the end, they are not worth it and do not really succeed (except by forcing harmony where it does not exist). An excellent example, of course, is the event of Peter’s denial of Jesus. Harold Lindsell had to have the rooster crowing six times to harmonize the gospel accounts.

Even most conservative evangelical biblical scholars know this, but they keep it a secret (except among themselves). They don’t want to share it with the lay people who look to them for fundamentalist support. If they really told their constituents what they know to be true about the Bible, they would be crucified by many of them. So they preach inerrancy, but among themselves and in their footnotes admit that the Bible contains many “problems” that resist harmonization.

* * *

J. Michael Jones, “The Miniscule God of the Evangelicals, Part IV: The Magician”

Note from CM: JMJ is doing a series that challenges common religious language and misconceptions. Often confronted with people who tell him his “God is too small,” Michael turns the tables and shows how their deity is the true mini-master. I agree. As Michael Spencer would say, some people are too God-centered and not human enough.

…But to the evangelicals, God’s miracles is in the lines of him being a magician . . . or maybe an illusionist.

The problem begins (keeping with the theme of this blog) with the notion that this physical world is unimportant. Therefore for anything to have meaning, it has to be connected to the far more important spiritual realm (so goes their thinking). Therefore, nothing has value unless it is a “miracle.” So then everything becomes a miracle, meaning a super-natural (above the laws of nature) miracle.

…it saturates the evangelical thinking. All illnesses are either caused by the direct hand of God (“God disciplining me”) or the devil (see the previous post). Any resolution of an illness isn’t through the natural (God-given in my opinion) forces of our biochemistry of healing but had to be the direct hand of God.

…But they have no other choice. If they believe that this physical world is crap, rather than an incredibly beautiful place with God-designed complexities and forces, then you have to believe that all things are miracles. At that juncture you loose all contact with reality.

But, I do believe that God does work outside of nature, but it is rare. My God does things like create universes and the complexities of all that is. I’m very okay with God working within the nature He has created because I love it the way He made it. As Einstein said, either everything is a miracle or nothing is. I’m in the camp that everything is. The big bang and on. No, the universe makes no sense, something that big created by a personal being.

But the absence of such makes less sense.

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Karen Spears Zacharias, “Practice Goodness”

Note from CM: Please follow the link and read Karen’s article about Whitney Kropp, the high school sophomore from Michigan who was targeted in a cruel, “Carrie”-like bullying plot. Read and stand amazed at what her community has done to support her and to overcome evil with good. For more about this, here’s a link to the news story from the Detroit News. I agree that this is another opportunity for the church to learn from the “Samaritans.”

Listen to what Karen says:

Wouldn’t it be something if the churches across America took a page from West Branch and instead of ignoring those who look different from us, the person who dyes their hair purple, or tats up their neck, or admits to loving a person of the same sex, wouldn’t it be something if instead of shunning those people, we did what West Branch is doing for Whitney? What if we surrounded those people and told them that they are worthy, that they matter to us?

Because that really is the Gospel message, isn’t it?

The town of West Branch is living out the Gospel the way those of us who claim it as our creed ought to be doing. The town of West Branch is writing a storybook chapter in Whitney Kropp’s life, reminding all who witness it Good can overcome that which is meant to harm us.

Now if only more of us would take it upon ourselves to practice goodness more often.

Comments

  1. 1. Biblical trustworthiness: Does it really matter if the bible is in complete harmony with itself? Does it change the Gospel message? I think not.
    2. The magician: Agreed. I’ve witnessed more than I care to see of people expecting God to be a sugar daddy of sorts-really very silly. And, boy howdy, have I been lambasted expressing a similar view that God works primarily within the system He initially established. That doesn’t set well with the Pentecostal folks I know.
    3. Practice goodness: WOOT WOOT!

    • > 3. Practice goodness: WOOT WOOT!

      Absolutely

      But, especially after working with youth for a long time, I read statements like:

      :: and instead of ignoring those who look different from us, the person who dyes their
      :: hair purple, or tats up their neck, wouldn’t it be something if instead of shunning
      :: those people

      – with some misgivings. They certainly should be loved, and should not be shunned. But there is an undeniable element of self-abuse in this type of behavior. They *want* to be singled about, they *want* to be “the freak”. This type of behavior is flying-a-flag.

      Aside: The person who is gay, and who doesn’t make gayness-an-identity, isn’t in the same category. That is someone who has a practice or activity or whatever that you do not approve of.

      The flag-flyers can be harder to love, in practice. There is something fueling that rebellion that needs to be unmasked – because, to be blunt and unpolitical, the behavior has no upside, they are only isolating themselves, creating division, and limiting their own options [in friends, jobs, etc… lots of real world things], And it is made hard by pride. If they make any change or compromise it is immediately visible to everyone – that can be like defeat, and pride comes in strong.

      • Cedric Klein says:

        Thank you! Sometimes, doing stuff to single oneself out doesn’t always need to be celebrated any more than they should make one at outcast. And neither hair-color nor tatting compares with what sexual identity one has.
        How is this not just “Reverse Culture Warring”?

        And also, while the ‘prom queen plot’ was mean & the town’s rallying for Whitney was admirable, the plot similarity to the one in CARRIE was like throwing a bullet compared to shooting it. Alas, she was not a girl of great self-confidence to begin with & the discovery that her election was a joke only deflated her more until the town stood for her. A stronger girl upon recognizing the joke would have turned it around & owned it immediately, instead of being persuaded to do so. And at least there was no plan to dump pig blood on her.

        • Joke? Really? I don’t know of many people, strong or not, who wouldn’t have reacted in similar fashion to the bullying. There is a difference of intent between a joke and outright abusive behavior.

        • > Thank you! Sometimes, doing stuff to single oneself out doesn’t always
          > need to be celebrated any more than they should make one at outcast.

          Yes. At least in young people often the best response to flamboyance is to ignore it entirely.

          > And neither hair-color nor tatting compares with what sexual identity one has.

          No it doesn’t.

          > How is this not just “Reverse Culture Warring”?

          I don’t think so. Juvenile rebellion isn’t culture-warring. Often times there some credibility to rebelling against the thing [assuming it can be identified]; other times it is just a flailing attempt at creating an identity. Perhaps because no constructive alternatives have been presented.

          But it isn’t ‘warring’. To me, to call anything ‘war’ requires that there be institutional power involved. There isn’t any in these cases.

          > And also, while the ‘prom queen plot’ was mean & the town’s rallying for Whitney was admirable,
          > the plot similarity to the one in CARRIE was like throwing a bullet

          I have no idea what this means. I have not read or seen “Carrie”.

          >she was not a girl of great self-confidence to begin with & the discovery that
          > her election was a joke only deflated her more

          Of course, I just think that is most people. It certainly would have been me at that age.

          > A stronger girl upon recognizing the joke would have turned it around & owned it immediately

          That is unrealistic. The high-school age souls with that kind of self-possession are extremely rare.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        “The person who is gay, and who doesn’t make gayness-an-identity, isn’t in the same category. ”

        Replace “gay” with “black” and this could be a time capsule from forty years ago.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “Oh, the more it changes
          The more it stays the same;
          And the Hand just rearranges
          The players in the game…”
          — Al Stewart, “Nostradamus”

        • A Christian’s identity is baptism in Christ, not their color or any other irrelevant detail.

  2. Everything is ‘being called’ or the influence of the devil. Hear too much of it. A weekly ‘God spoke to me about…’ from the pulpit is wearing on me also, I’m starting to wonder who is doing the talking.