Theology

End of the Month Links: May

Silly TV, thinking is for other people

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

The Hottest Thing at Church Is Not Your Pastor or Worship Leader

This is good news! Despite a new wave of buzzwords like relational, relevant, and intentional, people who show up on Sundays are looking for the same thing that has long anchored most services: preaching centered on the Bible.

Excerpt: “The Gallup survey found that people in the pews care far more about what’s being preached than who’s preaching it. Only half of Protestants (53%) and Americans overall (54%) said they attend because of “dynamic religious leaders who are interesting and inspiring.” Even so-called seeker sensitive churches have discovered that theological depth appeals to lapsed Christians and non-believers. Last year, Ed Stetzer cited several examples of congregations (such as Oklahoma megachurch Life.Church) that shifted toward more rigorous teaching once they noticed interest from the unchurched: “In other words, those for whom sermons were being dumbed down aren’t dumb. They are interested in the truth or else they’d be out golfing.””

Beware of Broken Wolves

Being authentic may be a very dangerous disguise for heresy.

Excerpt: “These are the false teachers who use their own authenticity, pain, and brokenness to attract believers who are also suffering and broken—and then using their “brokenness” to lead the sheep to turn away from God’s Word and embrace sin. They blend into the flock because Christians are not—and should not be—suspicious of broken people. They appear “in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves”

Ten Questions Christians Should Ask of Their Entertainment

I am so very tired of answering people’s questions on why X is bad for they to play or watch. As if discernment has a large burden of proof. Instead follow the advice of this article to ask is X good.

Excerpt: “Discerning media consumption needs more than a litmus test of saying we shouldn’t watch excessive violence and sexuality (which is true). We need to understand the complex and often subtle effects of media on our lives.

Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians

Just what do those people who say they are Christian (but who the majority do not attend church or have a Christian worldview) actually believe? Looks like a whole bunch of junk.

Excerpt: “In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, Christians are more aware of (and influenced by) disparate views than ever. But just how much have other worldviews crept into Christians’ perspectives? Barna’s research shows that only 17 percent of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview1. So, if Christians are open to nonbiblical perspectives, what are they believing?

The Outraged Are Always Right

As Christians we need to avoid living in our own private bubble echo chamber. Don’t just be outranged to get attention like the world does. Instead be as Jesus said “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves”

Excerpt: “Polarization has become weaponized. Nobody wants to hear from people they disagree with. If I don’t like your Facebook posts, I’ll unfriend you. If I don’t like your column, I’ll boycott the paper until they fire you. I want to hear from good people who think and talk and live like me. That’s polarization. And polarization meets weaponization because many in our culture are willing to use whatever they have, whatever they can leverage, to make this polarization work for them–whether money, friends, jobs, hobbies, even sports. There are lots and lots of folks willing to blow up their lives to make sure there’s no presence of the people and ideas they hate.”

Afternoon Class

I’ve been there, yikes!

End of the Month Links: April

Pass the Popcorn!

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

Episode 034: The Ethics of Modern Board and Card Games

A very interesting podcast episode from The Christian Research Institute about Board Games

For more reading (that I have written/posted on) check out these posts: Are There Good Christian Board Games? and Hidden Role Board Games and False Teachers

4 Ways Satan Uses Christian Generosity for Evil

When we are generous we need to be very careful that we are doing good and not harm.

Excerpt: “Whether it’s small-town churches scrapping funds together through bake sales and car washes for a short-term mission trip, or large foundations funding building projects around the world, Christians want to see their money used for good. Yet too often their donations have an unintended effect.”

The Particular Temptations of Young Men

Guarding the hearts and minds of Young Men is critical to the church. There is pressure on them from all sides to perform; “Even Jesus had no accomplishments—at least none that history has recorded—until he was in his thirties.”

Excerpt: “Young men have it tough. In so many ways, this world seems to have been custom-crafted to take advantage of their weaknesses, their flaws, their immaturities. Solomon lamented this in his day, telling of the seductresses and prostitutes who laid in wait for young men. He told as well of the immaturity and ungodliness of young men that made them especially prone to sadly blunder or joyfully sprint into the traps and snares laid for them. Today he might write about ever-present amusements, the proliferation of porn, the rise of sexting, the sense of meaninglessness that so often pervades the minds and spirits of young men.”

Why our churches need more gray hair

On the other side of the age spectrum, we need more mature men in the church.

Excerpt: “Churches desperately need their older men to exemplify being sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Churches need an army of laymen who believe well, love well, and suffer well. And churches need them because these older men are the pace-setters for the rest of the church.”

Canada is harvesting the organs of euthanasia patients

Speaking of Older people, the day of the horror in ‘Logan’s Run’ is quickly approaching.

Excerpt: “In Ontario, the first province to report data, 26 people who died by lethal injection decided to donate tissue or organs since the Medical Aid in Dying Act (MAID) came into effect last June, according to the National Post. A total of 388 people have chosen to die by lethal injection in Ontario, over half of the 744 total Canadians who have been euthanized. Proponents of linking organ harvesting to euthanasia point to the shortage of organ transplants readily available and the lower cost associated with euthanasia than with end-of-life care.

Hyper Jump

Ever can’t think of a thing to say… this is worse.

End of the Month Links: March

Still politics! The election ended months ago

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

What Tolkien Did So Well, What We Do So Poorly

When we neglect the past we do the opposite of the nobility Tolkien showed us.

Excerpt: “The characters in The Lord of the Rings know they are set within a wider drama that began ages prior and will continue ages hence. They are determined to act in ways that honor their forebears and leave a worthy example for their descendants. Their valor is motivated by their understanding that history has called them to this time, this place, and this set of circumstances. Their nobility is inseparable from their history. They speak and live as if every word of the mouth and every tap of the hammer will honor or dishonor those who have gone before and shame or bless those who will follow.

Is America’s Cult of Death and Free Sex on the Verge of Dying?

A good analysis of how science and truth are slowly wiping away any arguments left in the pocket of those who advocate cheap sex with no consequences.

Excerpt: “This is why the clerics of the cult are panicked, outraged, afraid. They dread seeing their god exposed to the harsh light of reality, its draperies of soothing rhetoric flung back to reveal a glaring, decaying creature of death. If the Supreme Court corrects, even partially, Roe v. Wade, access to abortion will become much less easy. That will require, at least among many younger men and women, greater sexual restraint. As they consider the consequences of their one-night mutual objectifications — babies — they will become not just more careful but more judicious in their conduct.

Christian Storytelling Should Be Both True and Beautiful

The Movie ‘The Shack’ came out recently. This older article is good because it reminds us that Christian storytelling ought to be true and not just emotional ear tickles. When we make true stories they also need to be beautiful.

Excerpt: “Art is indeed a powerful vehicle for expressing truth, but as Brian explains in the interview, when we use story merely as a tool to communicate a message, neglecting the beauty of the craft, we tend to end up with preachy propaganda.”

Sex, Lies, and Secularism

Just saying no does not work unless we teach a Christian worldview that gives reason for saying no.

Excerpt: “When even Christian young people are buying into the hookup culture, it’s clear that traditional ways of teaching biblical morality are no longer effective. “Just say no” is not enough. Young people don’t need simple rules; they need reasons to make sense of the rules. Which is to say, they need to be taught the worldview rationale for biblical morality. Otherwise it is possible for Christian young people to be sincere in their faith, yet thoroughly secular in their thoughts—and, consequently, in their behavior.”

Farewell, Jesus Junk? Christian Retail Finds a Deeper Purpose

I have mixed emotions about the closing of Family Christian Stores, but will not miss the inability to get the books I like while clambering over mints, toys, and Joel Osteen books.

Excerpt: “When America’s biggest Christian chain, Family Christian Stores, announced last month that it would be shutting its doors, a small number of Christian bookstore cynics brought up similar critiques over the shallower content its stores promoted alongside Bibles and Christian classics. The speculated silver lining: Did Family Christian’s closure mean consumers were turning away from the celebrity books, inspirational titles, and “Jesus junk”?

Lego Tape!

Repost – Hidden Role Board Games and False Teachers

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One of the kinds of board games I like to play are social deduction games. The basic thrust of this genre of games is that all the players have to work together to win, but some of them may be working against the group. Those who work against the group are smaller in number but will try to blend in and mislead the other players so that the game is lost. If that happens those traitors will win instead.

There are many games of this type and these games are also a perfect way to illustrate the danger of false teachers and why apologetics and polemics are important to the life of a church.

(more…)

End of the Month Links: February

A bit late this month but, here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith

We need to change our approach in reaching children that are already believers. Pizza parties are not what they need.

Excerpt: “Several years ago Tom Bisset carried out a study of people who had left the faith. Wanting this to be more than a statistical analysis, he actually sat down with people to interview them and ask for detailed information on when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. As he compiled his research he arrived at the four most prominent reasons that people raised in Christian homes eventually leave Christianity behind..”

The West Began Its Decline When Artists Stopped Putting Halos on Jesus

Politics are downstream of culture, and art is a reflection of culture.

Excerpt: “Art has always been a harbinger of historical trends, especially in the West. As declining religion gave way to proxies—political religions, new-age kookery, myopic scientism, and sacralized hedonism—art heralded the way. If you’re surprised at how we ended up in the philosophical rabbit hole we live in today, you haven’t been paying attention to the licentious parade of agitprop, erotica, and narcissistic art populating the artistic imagination for the past 60 years. It’s not unrelated that an Impressionistic movement fuzzifying the borders of objective reality birthed a reaction 200 years later in Donald Trump’s beautiful wall.”

Credit Scores and Committed Relationships

Finances as a predictor of relationship success in this .pdf government report. Very interesting.

Excerpt: “Broadly speaking, our results point to a quantitatively large and significant role for credit scores in the formation and dissolution of committed relationships. Three sets of empirical results support this conclusion: First, credit scores are positively correlated with the likelihood of forming a committed relationship and its subsequent stability. Second, partners positively sort into committed relationships along the credit score dimension even after controlling for other similarities between the partners. Third, a positive correlation notwithstanding, within-couple differences in credit scores are apparent at the start of relationships. Notably, the initial match quality in credit scores is highly predictive of subsequent separations even when controlling for other factors, such as couples’ use of credit and the occurrence of financial distress.”

The Tolerance Jesus Will Not Tolerate

God is forgiving, but He is not tolerant. Look to Revelation and see what was written to the churches to see.

Excerpt: “Christians cannot be tolerant of all things because God is not tolerant of all things. We can respect differing opinions and try to understand them, but we cannot give our unqualified, unconditional affirmation to every belief and behavior. Because God doesn’t. We must love what God loves. That’s where Ephesus failed. But we must also hate what God hates. That’s where Thyatira failed.”

No, Christianity Should Not ‘Welcome’ or ‘Include’ Your Sinful Lifestyle

On the same note, we can show grace but there is right and wrong. Not pointing that out does not show the same love that Jesus showed.

Excerpt: “Tou need to stop reading with your emotions and read with your brain, man. Your emotions tell you that anyone who advocates virtue is automatically claiming to be virtuous, because it’s easier to dismiss a point based on the perceived motivations behind it rather than consider the point on its own merits. It’s like I’m saying two plus two equals four, and you’re countering that I’m not such a brilliant mathematician. Well, right, but I never said I was a brilliant mathematician. I just said two plus two equals four, because it does, and because even a stupid man can see that. It’s difficult to have grown-up conversations these days, because people like yourself see every mention of moral truth as either a personal attack or a statement of superiority. This is the real damage you cause in the Faith. It’s not that you’re sinful — we all are, to be sure — it’s that you want to be coddled. You want to shut down professions of Truth that are inconvenient or uncomfortable. You want to modify Christian teachings not because you tried them and found them wrong, but because, to paraphrase Chesterton, you found them difficult and don’t want to try them.”

Finally a video on Art and how we need standards:

End of the Month Links: December

And yet I can’t find the Charlie Brown Christmas special anywhere

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

5 Christian Clichés That Need to Die

In our rush to make others feel better we often run to unbiblical sayings.

Excerpt: “Sometimes, in our desire to simplify truth, we can trivialize and even obscure it. And to obscure the truth is to tell a lie. Here are five popular Christian clichés that aren’t biblical and therefore need a memorial service.”

How J.R.R. Tolkien Led C.S. Lewis toward Christianity

Preach it! This is one of the main reasons why I have started the Breathed Through Silver Site.

Excerpt: ” I’ve always been so impressed with how J.R.R. Tolkien led his atheist friend C.S. Lewis toward faith in Christianity,” begins Tim Keller in the video clip below. He says Tolkien explained to Lewis that the fulfillment of human longings (eternal love, triumph over evil, heroic sacrifice, life out of death) that we find in beautiful stories—the stories Lewis loved so much—can be found in reality:”

Trying to make Christianity entertaining makes people think that it’s fake

During this season that has the second most church attendance (Easter being the first), this is a hard truth to swallow. We must take this to heart.

Excerpt: “Knowing the truth about God comes before acting as if God is real and God has a specific character and will for us. From the existence of God, we move on to the accuracy of the Bible, and on to theology, and then and only then do we start the outward behaviors of a Christian. If you skip to the behaviors, that is unnatural – like acting a part of a doctor when you have never been to medical school. It’s morally wrong to try to pretend to be something you are not.”

Church Should Feel Uncomfortable

On the same note, church should not be something that just makes us feel good to suits our preferences.

Excerpt: “Talking about one’s “dream church” is—increasingly, I’ve come to think—an exercise in not only futility even but flat-out gospel denial. The church doesn’t exist to meet our every need and satisfy our various checklists of tastes and “comfort zone” preferences. If anything, it exists to destabilize such things. The church should draw us out of the dead-eye stupor of a culture of comfort-worship. It should jostle us awake to the reality that comfort is one of the greatest obstacles to growth.

Tim Keller Wants You to Stop Underestimating Christmas

An interview with Tim Keller about his Christmas book illustrates that we need to focus much more on the incarnation to understand the huge importance of Christmas.

Excerpt: “Christmas is familiar, but it isn’t tame. As Tim Keller puts it in his new book, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ (Viking), “Christmas is both more wondrous and more threatening than we imagine.” Working from the writings of Matthew, Luke, and John, he illumines the modern import of the ancient story. ”

Finally a video on the Unsatisfying things in life:

End of the Month Links: February

No matter what I watch, it is the same 3 people!

Here are 6 of one or half-dozen of another posts I have found around the web (or are sent to me) that I have found interesting, funny, insightful, or thoughtful:

Why Our Storytelling Nature Provides Evidence for God

The theistic worldview as the best explanation for the stories we feel compelled to tell.

Excerpt: “The theistic worldview seems to provide a much more robust answer: the reason we are so committed to stories is because we live in a meaningful world, we are made in the image of a personal God, and we are part of a larger story written by the Author of life. The story of our individual lives matters because we are part of a grander, meaningful story.”

Myth and the Universal Longing

Why the commonalities between mythic stories does not invalidate the gospel message.

Excerpt: “This eternal human longing, unspecified down the long ages, was nevertheless expressed in a multitude of legends, myths, stories, poems, and parables as people poured out their longings to one another, all the time longing that one day in some way one would come who would gather up all the great stories and make them come true once and for all..”

Don’t Confuse Spirituality with Righteousness

Feeling pious or following an emotional spiritual feeling is not the way to please God, in fact those can be idols taking us away from God.

Excerpt: “Spirituality and piety are not ends in themselves. In fact they are worthless unless they are means to a higher goal. The goal must go beyond spirituality to righteousness.

Why It’s So Hard to Resist Grieving on Social Media

There are always tragic events that happen in the world, why then do we feel that online solidarity helps those through the tragedy?

Excerpt: “More and more, we are looking to our screens for answers. Some say such convenience, such easy access to information and to people, deceives us into thinking that we can be part of the solution without lifting a finger. And while I do believe Americans in particular could use more political activism and involvement in real life, the lure of social media activism isn’t going away. Facebook and Twitter continue to entice us because they allow us to “tell it like it is” in real time. They feed our emotional hunger in an instant way that in-person outlets cannot..”

A Giant has Fallen — The Death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the Future of Constitutional Government

It is a sad day when the passing of any person happens and people rejoice over it. We need to mourn the passing and understand the legacy of what they left.

Excerpt: “Christians must also remember that Justice Scalia’s understanding of the proper reading of the Constitution as a text is directly relevant to the church’s proper reading of Scripture. The same liberal theorists who propose reading the Constitution as a “living” and “evolving” text also propose that the Bible be liberated from its actual text and from the intention of its authors. Ultimately, this approach to the Bible, common to theological liberalism, denies the authority of God as the ultimate author of the Scriptures. It is no accident that liberal theology and liberal theories of the constitution emerged together in American public life.”

Abortion Group Calls Doritos Ad Offensive

There were many Super bowl commercials that dealt with babies; from the chimera of puppy-monkey-baby, the Super bowl choir, and the Dorito ad. The later of which was criticized of “humanizing the fetus” which shows the way the pro-life cause can succeed.