Thinking Out Loud

October 30, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Pumpkin Theology

I couldn’t decide whether my intro should tie in with Halloween or All Saints Day, so I decided to play it safe and just get to this week’s links…These links don’t actually link to anything other than today’s Out of Ur version of the list!

  • The UK has become Biblically illiterate to the point where while watching the Monty Python movie, Life of Brian, viewers no longer get the humor.
  • The Liberty Convocation videos on YouTube are a Who’s Who of Christians thinkers and leaders. Last week they welcomed National Community Church pastor Mark Batterson.
  • Essay of the Week: This one will leave you speechless. A writer shares her heart in the middle of a marriage that seems like a giant mistake.
  • Analogy Avenue: One more response to John MacArthur’s conference, this one invoking transportation (trains and the lunar rover) from author Mark Rutland.
  • So here is possibly the last word on that kid who was given the name Messiah, and the challenges that could create.
  • After Natalie Grant and Wow 2014, the number 3 position on the Billboard Christian music chart goes to Bryan and Katie Torwalt. “Who,” you ask? They’re part of Jesus Culture, and sound like this.
  • Randy Alcorn engages the subject of pro-life organizations that use explicit photographs to reinforce their anti-abortion message.
  • The authors of the non-Canonical gospel texts hoped that they would be taken seriously. It’s our job, however, to eliminate the late stories and isolate the early eyewitness accounts, even though we’re tempted to do otherwise.
  • The only thing noteworthy about an article that advocates for Christians to enjoy dancing, is when you find it at the website of Associated Baptist Press.
  • When your kids have a question, do they ask you, or do they automatically take all their questions to a search engine?
  • If you get struck by lightning twice in the same day, you may be correct in assuming that God is trying to get your attention.
  • When you read the Bible, do you follow the Flyover Route, the Direct Route, or the Scenic Route? David Kenney reviews a new NLT edition I’ve had my eye on for awhile: The Wayfinding Bible. (Tyndale Publishing, you have my address!)
  • Resource of the Week: You’ll want to bookmark (or share) Sam Storms’ eleven factors that can destroy objectivity in Bible hermeneutics, along with his basic rules for Bible interpretation.
  • Passionate Teaching: I always love it when Wheaton College’s Dr. Gary Burge drops in for a midweek service at Willow.
  • In Detroit a female Bishop in a Baptist denomination informed her congregation that for more than six months she has been married to another woman. And then she resigned.
  • After a week of focus on Steven Furtick’s house and John MacArthur’s conference, who would guess our attention on the weekend would be on Mark Driscoll, as evidenced here, here and here?
  • Meanwhile, Furtick debriefed his church on all the attention they’ve been getting.
  • Here’s another article suggesting you take an Internet hiatus. What makes this different is that it spells out exactly how to keep important messages coming. (Don’t all of you do this however, or nobody will be here next week!)
  • Here’s a link that gets you eight more links…to eight short newsletter articles the National Association of Evangelicals published on the subject of Holy Humor. (Includes some writers you know well.)
  • …And speaking of links to other links, here’s what an Academic edition of the Wednesday Link List might look like. (Brian LePort publishes one of these each week.)
  • 48% of teenagers have received a sexually explicit message on their smartphones. A mobile monitoring system offers some advice applicable to youth workers.
  • Get Religion is a media analysis site which last week looked at the coverage of the baptism of England’s Prince George from two different perspectives on what wasn’t mentioned.
  • Got 3 minutes? Turns out Eric Niequist, the brother of Willow Creek’s Aaron Niequist has a film company which recently completed this very short film.
  • That wraps up this week’s list. If we could end with a cartoon, it would be this one.

The Wednesday Link List is produced in our studios just east of Toronto, Canada where, for the record, we don’t have snow yet. Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this link list, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, is prohibited.

Today’s graphics were located at Matthew Paul Turner’s blog.

Amazing Grace Baptist Church Book Burning

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May 22, 2013

Internet Graphics in a Post-Biblical Literacy Environment

Filed under: cartoons — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:33 am

cake-or-death-noah-moses-daniel-mash-up-everything-thats-wrong-with-the-internet-by-alex-baker

This is oh so very realistic. Sourced at Cake or Death in case you want to contact Alex Baker about using it.  

Last week I was trying to explain the basics of grace to someone who is searching through a number of spiritual options. I alluded to the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, and also the story of the lost (prodigal) son, and realized in both cases that the person I was speaking with was not conversant with either story, so I had to backtrack and fill in the details.

Honestly, it felt strange to have to go back and say, “So there was this woman who was caught in the very act of adultery;” or “A man had two sons and the younger wanted his share of the father’s estate without having to wait around for his father to die;” especially in the environment that I was in sharing the story. I was cutting directly to the punchline as it were, but the person on the other end of the discussion had no idea who these characters were.

November 11, 2012

Getting The Story Out: Bible Translation

I think we often don’t fully understand what is involved in what we call “Bible translation.” The process often begins and ends differently than our assumptions. It’s been more than 18 months since I posted an item here about orality, When Bible Translation Has Nothing To Do With Books. So I really enjoyed this insight into the everyday work of one couple who are working to make a chronology of Bible stories available to one specific people group through Wycliffe Bible Translators. Take five minutes to discover a face of missions you haven’t seen before.

HT: Glenn Schaeffer’s blog, Go And Make

April 17, 2011

On Biblical Illiteracy and Forgetting God

A few years back, Wood (Woodrow) Kroll wrote a book which bears the same name as the organization he heads, Back to the Bible (Multnomah Publishing).  The following is taken from pages 67-68:

Two Old Testament prophets from Israel would feel very much at home at the dawn of the twenty-first century.  I think they have much to say to us as the did to those who heard them in person…

Amos was a lowly shepherd from Tekoa (Amos 1:1) a village not far from Bethlehem.  He made no special claims for himself, in fact, when his authority to speak for God was challenged because he was not what people expected of a prophet, Amos said, “I was no prophet nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit”(7:14).  Amos was a pretty humble guy, but when God appeared to him and said, “Go prophesy to My people Israel” (7:15) he could do nothing else.

Amos prophesied during the days of King Uzziah, when Israel’s economy was flourishing.  He looked at a society in which the people of God had become complacent and noticed that the Jews had no intimacy with the heavenly Father and paid no attention to those charged with teaching them the Word.  When he spoke these words to his countrymen, Amos actually predicted our day: “‘Behold the days are coming,’ says the Lord God, ‘that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord'” (8:11).

That famine has arrived.  In our physical and financial prosperity, the church has become spiritual anemic and biblically illiterate.

The prophet Hosea echoed the cry of Amos.  He ministered to Israel during the chaotic period just before the fall of the nation in 722 B.C.  In that respect he was ominously familiar with what happens to a nation who forgets God and His Word.  Unlike Amos, Hosea was a member of the upper class. He was one of the most unusual prophets of the Old Testament.

Strangely, God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute (Hosea 1:2-9).  His wife, Gomer, eventually returned to her life of sin, but Hosea bought her back from the slave market and restored her as his wife (3:1-5).  Hosea’s unhappy family life served as an illustration of Israel’s sin.  The people of God had fallen out of love with God, grown cold toward Him and no longer heeded His Word.  They rejected the one true God and served pagan Gods.

In that context, Hosea prophesied with words that have a chilling ring for the church of the twenty-first century.  He spoke for God when he said, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me, because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (4:6). The Israelites forgot God’s law.  They failed to read his word and showed no respect for it.  Therefore God promised that he would forget His people as they had forgotten His Word.  That simply meant that He would withhold His blessing and all the good things that would have been theirs had they spent more time loving God by reading His Word. 

~Wood Kroll

February 13, 2011

When Scripture Is Like a Comfortable Chair

Unless you have public speaking experience, or work in radio and television, or are an actor; chances are that when you’re called upon to read something you haven’t seen before out loud, you stumble over the occasional sentence.  Miss the syntax of a sentence and you can get really bogged down. Start to read the sentence as if it’s a declarative statement when in fact it’s a question, and things can get quite messed up.

Despite having some experience in both broadcasting and public speaking, I can mess up entire paragraphs, especially if I’m not fully concentrating.

Every night at 9:00 PM, my boys — who are now 16 and 19 — join me for Bible study time.  We sometimes read from different translations, but most often read from a wide assortment of devotional books, current Christian bestsellers, or Christian classics.   So we could go from Mere Christianity or With Christ in the School of Prayer all the way to Francis Chan’s Forgotten God or Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew in the course of a single week.  In other words, this ain’t The Beginner Bible story time.

As I’m reading — especially with the older classics — it’s not unusual for me to have to start a sentence over.  Sometimes I take two or three runs at a sentence to try to find the ‘voice’ of the author.

But lately I’ve noticed something. I’m not trying to blow my own horn by saying this, but I hope it challenges you or resonates with you or both. I’ve noticed that when I hit a sentence that contains a quotation from scripture, it literally rolls off the tongue; even if the translation is somewhat different.

I’ve found that the scripture passages an author chooses to cite are like second nature; they fit like a cozy chair or a comfortable pair of shoes. I may not have internalized their message fully, and I may not be living out every aspect of their teachings, but at the very least, I can’t claim unfamiliarity with the words.

Although I stumble over the sentences that come before and the phrases that follow, once I am reading Bible quotations, I’m on familiar ground, almost as though the words are the words of an old friend.

October 8, 2010

Checking Primary Sources

Are you easily intimidated spiritually?  It’s easy to do.  The other person seems more passionate about his or her faith.  (“A fanatic is someone who loves Jesus more than you do!”)  Or they are more versed on the nuances of Greek or church history or some finer point of doctrine.  (The present Evangelical culture places a premium on education.)   Or they have lived through some life experience which gives them church cred.  (This is essentially a modern incarnation of what in the previous generation called “testimony oneupsmanship.”)

Despite working in vocational Christian service for a couple of decades, I still know the feeling of spiritual intimidation.   Furthermore, because I try to render my own comments in an offhand or less threatening manner, I am probably more often intimidated than intimidating.

But this week something happened which made me wonder if I haven’t been underestimating myself.

I was in a discussion with an older man who was reiterating some party-line doctrine about a particular topic, and I was mentioning to him a couple of authors who are refuting that position.    I haven’t actually read their books, but I’ve been in discussions both in-person and online with people who suggest an alternative reading of the texts.    I think their view is at least worthy of serious consideration.

And he shared with me what he has always believed, which is what his church believes.   And then he had to leave.

About 30 seconds later, it hit me that while I had quoted or alluded to several scripture verses and mentioned a few chapters, he hadn’t mentioned a single one.     While I’m not strong on chapter and verse numbers — another way to be spiritually intimidated (or intimidating)  — I did toss in a few, while he provided none.

There are two takeaways from this.

The first recalls the line, “Of all the major faith groups in the world, Christians are least acquainted with their own scriptures.”   Quoting verse numbers is intimidating sometimes, and often needlessly so; but we will speak most authoritatively when we speak with the backing of God’s word, especially when we can reference books and chapters.   The force of our arguments is not the force of our own words, but the force of scripture.

The second is, we need to be able to say, “This is what the Bible says;” instead of “This is what I’ve always believed;” or “This is what our church teaches.” We need to check primary sources, in this case the one primary source as the source for what we have come to understand on any given issue.    (“Study to show yourself…rightly dividing the Word…;” “…sharper than a double-edged sword…;” “All scripture is inspired…and powerful for…rebuking…correcting…;” etc.) Too many people are living a second-hand faith quoting second-hand doctrines.

Let me take it further and suggest that any discussion that person most likely to appear victorious in any theological discussion will be the one who, proof-texting aside, has an argument backed by scripture.

We need to, as did the Bereans, search the scriptures.   And if we’re deficient in the area of remembering numeric references — despite being able to recite credit card, PIN, or computer passwords effortlessly — we need to work harder at developing this area of Biblical knowledge; chapters at the very least.

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