Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Prolepsis and the Bible: When Future Events Are Spoken of As Current Reality

There are times when future events are described as being present realities. This is true in life and in the scriptures. And this is especially important when evaluating any argument made that because the Bible speaks of something in the present tense, it therefore is saying that whatever is being spoken of is in fact a present reality.

The technical name for this phenomenon is prolepsis. The idea behind prolepsis is quite simple. Merriam-Webster defines it primarily as “the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How To Be Convicted Without It Being Meaningless

If you've been in church for a while, you may be familiar with people talking about being convicted about things. Rather than describing part a criminal proceeding, it refers to when someone has a deeply felt moral view, regarding a specific issue. Sometimes it comes with feelings of guilt leading to repentance. Other times, it is less a matter of guilt and more a strong, heart-felt sense that God has opened your eyes. Whatever the case, people talk about being convicted all the time after hearing certain sermons, reading certain books, having certain experiences etc. Last Sunday at my church, there was a sermon on the book of Amos so I can only imagine how many times the word "convicted" has been used int he last 24 hours by people I know.

Sometimes, people getting convicted is great. Sometimes, it leads to repentance of sin, spiritual growth, righteous deeds, and other very good things. Who knows what good fruit will arise from Sunday's Amos sermon?

And sometimes, people feeling that they are convicted is meaningless. Sometimes it is little more than guilt for the sake of guilt that doesn't lead to any fruit at all. In some cases, this so-called conviction, which is supposed to be from God, never could lead to any fruit in the first place - at least not fruit that resolves the underlying issue which the person was convicted about.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Are You Even Trying Not to Sin?

"For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith" (1 John 5:3-4, NASB).

If you are a Christian, are you even trying not to sin?

This question was originally going to come up as part of a larger series on theology of sin. However, I don’t think that whole piece will be finished anytime soon, and I realized this was a question worth asking even before all my ducks are in a row on that front.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Joyce Meyer, Forgiveness, and the Ungodly Way that Too Many Christians Deal With Sex Abuse

I usually try not to comment about controversial things in social media environments. It usually is fruitless and it ends up just being a stressful, frustrating waste of time.

But sometimes, people hit a nerve and cross a line with me. 

In the linked article on faithit.com, we are told about Joyce Meyer opening up about her father raping her when she was younger. Many comments I could relate to. But some I found outrageous. And they weren't outrageous in the normal social media way. No one was telling her that she probably wanted it or was making outlandish and blasphemous statements about human sexuality that incorporated religious imagery. There weren't even any Christians chiming in that she's a heretic, which surprised me.

No, the comments that really made me mad were comments that were in some way really trying to be godly and biblical. That probably is what made me detest them the most.

While it is no secret that the Roman Catholic Church has rightfully gained a reputation for being shockingly bad at dealing with sexual abuse, the rest of Christendom doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation to boast about either...

I left a lengthy comment, and with the background info I just gave, I think the comment I left does a good job of saying what I needed to say:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sensitivity Is Needed When Utilizing the Old Testament

Since the early days of Christianity, when we no longer had apostles who could authoritatively answer questions, believers have debated exactly how to handle the Old Testament. With the exceptions of heretical groups like the Marcionites (whose beliefs about the OT have unfortunately resurfaced some in recent years), it was acknowledged that it was the word of God. 

However we as Christians are in this tension where certain parts seem to contradict what we believe as Christians. Of course, the skeptic or the liberal or so-called red-letter Christian would simply say that the Old Testament does indeed contradict the New Testament, as well as itself, but we aren't in a position where we can agree. This tension between Christianity and the Old Testament, the bulk of the very scriptures upon which Christianity is based, is nothing new.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Common and Problematic Attitude Towards Big Business (And Someone Else's Brilliant Response To It)

It's no secret that Americans are pretty distrustful of big business. And who can blame us? Every day we hear horror stories of what big, heartless corporations do. And this is despite the fact that things are 100x better than they were 100 years ago!

Of course, as I have written previously, we need people to follow their self-interest in producing goods and making money in order to have a functioning society. The reason we even have blogs is because some people realized they could make a profit by investing large amounts of money to build a factory that produces computers. When done properly, everyone benefits. Just as businesses use consumers to their advantage, so consumers and society at large uses businesses to their advantage. It's a symbiotic relationship of everyone pursuing their own self-interest and everyone ending up the better because of it. That's why capitalism works.

But capitalism also only works for society when its excesses are curtailed, and I'll be darned if we don't still have problems in the US with how big business does things. And in response to a Cracked article on the way banks mistreat their customers, a fellow with the internet name mickeyten brilliantly summed up the attitude that way too many Americans have. This attitude makes it that much harder to solve the problem because it wrongly attacks consumers and wrongly justifies businesses who do wrong.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

When Bible Literalists Aren't So Literal - Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Devil

What is this blog post about? And what do I mean by "Bible literalist"?

For our purposes, there isn't a hard and fast definition. Some people take things in the Bible more literally than others. There isn’t necessarily a specific, concrete point where someone gets to the point of being a literalist. You just kind of know it when you see it.

As for me, I do think I probably am more on the literal side of the spectrum. However, I do think that things like genre, use of Old Testament language and imagery, and historical context can, in various contexts, make the right interpretation one that differs from what one reads at face value. So in practice, I leave a lot more room for idiom, figures of speech, metaphor, and complexities than do some other students of scripture within evangelicalism. Whether you think that is a good thing or not will probably depend on whether or not you agree with me, lol.

The thing is, almost no one takes everything absolutely literally. Even Bible skeptics and atheists, who tend to take the Bible more woodenly and simplistically than anyone else (including fundamentalists), don't take everything literally. There is always some point where pretty much everyone steps back and admits that something is a metaphor or imagery. Of course, this has nothing to do with the accuracy of scripture; throughout our lives, in all sorts of contexts, we recognize metaphor, idiom, imagery etc. The idea that suddenly the Bible cannot do that and still be completely true in everything it teaches is counter to human experience. But the point is, no one takes everything literally.