Archive for March, 2011

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Wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care

March 6, 2011

If, like me, you grew up in churches where the only musical accompaniment was a piano or organ, then you’re no doubt familiar with the sight of a worship leader keeping time with his hand. We were even taught how to do it! I can still wave my way through any 4/4 song.

Maybe it’s nostalgia getting the better of me, but I can’t resist posting this. Don’t miss “Petting the Invisible Cat” and a cameo by Steven Anderson…

Thank God for drummers.

Found at Stuff Fundies Like

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Who you callin’ fat?

March 6, 2011

Over at Experimental Theology, Richard Beck discusses a sermon by Phil Vaughan in which he asked people to consider the most common Google searches for the phrase “Why are Christians so …”

I got a slightly different result than he did, but the gist is the same:

The good news is that “happy” at least made the list, right? Right?

Beck asks, “What would it take for Christians to get the Google autocomplete to become the following: Why are Christians so loving?”

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Xenophobia at its ugliest

March 4, 2011

These videos are profoundly troubling.

The first captures a Feb. 13, 2011, protest in Orange County that took place outside an Islamic charity event, the theme of which was “Our Responsibility towards Our Neighbors: An Islamic Perspective.” The charity is an Islamic relief organization whose projects include local disaster relief, women’s housing, hunger prevention, family counseling, medical aid, emergency financial support and funeral and burial assistance. Their website can be found here.

The next two videos are from a protest yesterday outside the White House. According to Ryan Reilly, who took the videos, the protesters were there to counter-protest a planned pro-Sharia law rally. When the pro-Sharia demonstrators failed to show, the anti-Sharia protesters turned on a single Muslim man who had shown up to pray at the White House.


These scenes are reminiscent of some really ugly periods in American and European history. Those who are stoking anti-Muslim sentiment need to tone down the rhetoric. This is awful.

Found at Christian Nightmares

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Around the Blogosphere

March 3, 2011

Some links worth reading …

Mason at New Ways Forward hits the nail on the head about the recent controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s new book:

When hell defines our story, when we see Jesus primarily as the solution to the problem of hell, when avoiding hell is the very reason why the Gospel is good news – then of course any questioning of that doctrine is going to be deeply threatening.

Meanwhile, Steve Douglas at Undeception observes that the questions raised by Bell aren’t exactly new and shares some thought-provoking quotes from 7th century St. Isaac the Syrian to make the point. Here’s a sampling:

It is not (the way of) the compassionate Maker to create rational beings in order to deliver them over mercilessly to unending affliction (in punishment) for things of which He knew even before they were fashioned, (aware) how they would turn out when He created them – and whom (nonetheless) He created.

On a lighter note, Kevin Brown at Diglotting shares a tongue-in-cheek Arminian Creed and Calvinist Creed. My favourite line from the Calvinist Creed:

We believe in the Holy Ghost, who sovereignly compels ungodly reprobates to worship God against their will, but apart from that he doesn’t do anything else and certainly doesn’t cause the elect to talk gibberish and squawk like chickens.

Enjoy.

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Believe Correct Things and Thou Shalt Be Saved

March 2, 2011

In the wake of all the hullabaloo over Rob Bell’s forthcoming book, Love Wins, Adam Ellis and Kevin Brown have posted some thoughts on the topic of orthodoxy vs. heresy.

Both rightly ask why the defenders of so-called orthodoxy feel the need to question the salvation of those whose doctrine differs from the popular doctrine of the day. As Ellis puts it, “Since when does one’s belief about the afterlife call their salvation into question?  Grace covers a multitude of sins, but not misunderstanding?”

Listening to some, one might conclude that while God can forgive murder, rape and child molestation, he won’t forgive a mistaken belief on certain theological issues. I can understand being held responsible for my actions. I have some control over those (assuming I have a free will). But I have little to no control over my beliefs. Contrary to common Christian appeals, the average person can’t really “choose to believe” anything. Try it. Try believing that the earth is flat. You can repeat it to yourself all day long, but you won’t actually believe it unless presented with evidence and reasons sufficiently persuasive to change your mind.

So what does God do with the sincere believer whose experience and reason genuinely leads his brain to conclude that X is true? Will God punish him if X is not true? Is being wrong the unforgivable sin? Has the church replaced “faith in Christ” with “faith about Christ”?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive for correct beliefs or that we shouldn’t challenge questionable theology. But we need some grace for those who reach different conclusions.

At times, the evangelical community seems possessed by an unhealthy need to control the theology of its members. I believe that at the heart of the problem lies an insecurity. Deep down, we worry that our beliefs might actually be vulnerable, so we shut down dissent to avoid having to scrutinize our own doctrine too carefully. After all, we might wind up doubting some of our previously secure convictions and that’s scary. It’s much easier to dismiss those with dissenting beliefs as dangerous heretics than to allow their perspectives to challenge our own.

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Jesus as Messiah King

March 1, 2011

Phil Harland, professor of Religious Studies and Ancient History at York University, has posted his final podcast, Jesus as a Messiah King? in his series The Historical Jesus in Context.

In this podcast, he looks at first-century Judean expectations of a Messiah and considers to what degree Christ may have been perceived as a Messiah figure by his contemporaries (as distinct from the authors of the gospels).

If you haven’t been listening to Harland’s podcasts, you’re missing out. He’s got several podcast series, all of them excellent. Harland approaches the subject matter from the perspective of a historian. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts/lecture series on NT studies and the historical Jesus and I’d have to say that Harland has done one of the best jobs I’ve seen of remaining objective and not imposing value judgments on the material. His series “Early Christian portraits of Jesus” and “Paul and his communities” are still some of my favorites.

Happy listening!

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Fakers of the Lost Ark

March 1, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve heard any news about the supposed discovery of Noah’s ark by NAMI (Noah’s Ark Ministries International). You may recall that in April of last year, NAMI announced that their team had discovered a 4800 year old wooden structure buried in the ice on Mount Ararat. They were 99% certain that it was Noah’s ark.

It didn’t take long for allegations to emerge that the entire site was a hoax constructed by locals who were told that they were building a movie set.

Now ark-hunters Don Patton and Randall Price claim to have actually been taken to the site itself by those responsible for its construction. They brought back samples of the wood. Their report states that, “The wood was new, burned with torches and rubbed with ash to make it look old.” Their photos clearly show fresh wood beneath a darkened exterior:


 

Outraged NAMI has responded by claiming that this wasn’t their site:

This is obviously not our site and against the truth; their malicious claims are intended to causing damage to and discredit Noah’s Ark Ministries International. In fact, there are a lot of caves on Mount Ararat that are look alike.

Yes, I’m sure there are lots of recently-constructed wooden structures built into glaciers at 13,000 feet on Mount Ararat that “are look alike”.

For the full Price & Patton report, as well as a video in which Patton explains his find, you can poke around this page.

When news of this supposed ark find first broke, Bob Cargill wrote an excellent piece on the misuse of archaeology for evangelistic purposes. Even Price and Patton could benefit from giving it a read.