Thinking Out Loud

October 15, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Sunset - Mark BattersonThis is another photograph in a continuing series by people known to readers here; this sunset was taken Monday night by author and pastor Mark Batterson.

 

On Monday I raked leaves and collected links; you could call it my own little feast of ingathering.

Paul Wilkinson’s wisdom and Christian multi-level business opportunities — “just drop by our house tomorrow night, we have something wonderful we’d like to share with you” — can be gleaned the rest of the week at Thinking Out Loud, Christianity 201 and in the Twitterverse

From the archives:
The problem with out-of-office email notifications:


Lost in translation: The English is clear enough to lorry drivers – but the Welsh reads “I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.” …Read the whole 2008 BBC News story here.

July 3, 2013

Wednesday Link List

lynx 3Today we kick off a new chapter; the link list moves to its new home at Leadership Journal’s Out of Ur website, a ministry of Christianity Today. I’ve been reading Out of Ur since long before I started blogging, so this is a real honor. Here’s a link direct to today’s Wednesday Link List. Please be sure to click through. (They didn’t take the List Lynx pictured at right however, at least not so far…) Also remember it’s just the Wednesday list that’s moving; we’ll be back here tomorrow with the content you’ve come to loathe love here at Thinking Out Loud!

UPDATE: In November, 2013, we updated the July WLL posts here to restore the links. (The first month never had them at all here in any form.) I might periodically go back and update older ones just so we have a record here of the original sources.

January 28, 2011

Friday Debrief

No this is isn’t a start of a supplement to the Wednesday Link List, it’s just a few things that deserved a larger space committment without creating several individual posts:

  • Darryl Dash highlighted a small section of the CT interview with Billy Graham on Tuesday; the section where Mr. Graham is asked if he would do anything different, and he replies that he would have spent more time family.  But tucked away inside that response is this revelation:
     

    I also would have steered clear of politics. I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.

  • I’ve been checking blogs to see what anticipation there is for the new Rob Bell book, Love Wins, which I mentioned briefly here last Friday; and in the process read (and left a comment at) this post at the UK (Ireland?) blog Supersimbo.  The blog writer views people under 40 as
     

    “Jumping from one book to another, switching from being a fan of Bell to Driscoll and back again as often as the wind changes, treating our faith and beliefs like an app for our iPhone or iPad…..liking his ‘theology’ because of how its packaged and advertised!”

    The conclusion is that readers will miss the importance of the message of Christian universalism that it contains. To clarify this a little further, he responded to me in the comments section with a link to a Margaret Feinberg interview with Scot McKnight, where McKnight describes Christian universalism as “the biggest challenge facing American Evangelicals.”  He goes on to define it:

    Christian universalism if the belief that everyone will eventually be saved because of what Christ has done. Christian universalism differs from raw pluralism. Pluralism is the belief that no religion offers superiority in the process of redemption. With pluralism, all religions lead us to the same god and the same ends. The distinction for Christian universalists is that what God did for humans in Christ will redeem all humans, whether they are Hindus, Muslims, or atheists, all will eventually be saved.

  • Another Bible translation?  Yep!  Steve Webb is single-handedly working on a project called the Lifespring Family One Year Bible which he is releasing in sections online and in a podcast. Who is Steve Webb? That’s a long story.   Here’s a sample from Genesis 9:
     

    9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Reproduce abundantly, and be fruitful and increase in number on the earth.
    9:2 All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the air, all that move on the earth, and all the fish in the sea will fear you. I have placed them in you hand.
    9:3 Every living thing that moves will be your food. As I gave you green plants, now I give you everything.

  • Finally, a court has upheld the right of World Vision to enforce its policy of hiring Christian employees.This story is from EWTN, a Catholic news agency.
     

    In a 2-1 ruling, a panel for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a petition to re-hear a case which charges that a religious charity illegally fired employees because they no longer agreed with its statement of faith……The organization said it terminated the three employees in 2007 because they “no longer agreed with World Vision U.S.’s statement of faith.” The organization discovered that the employees denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.

    One employee worked in technology and facility maintenance, one was an administrative assistant, and the third coordinated shipping and facilities needs.

    They later sued, claiming their termination was an act of illegal discrimination. A federal district judge had previously ruled against the plaintiffs, prompting the appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

    World Vision praised the decision to reject the appeal and pledged vigorous defense of its right to hire employees who share its faith. “Our Christian faith has been the foundation of our work since the organization was established in 1950, and our hiring policy is vital to the integrity of our mission to serve the poor as followers of Jesus Christ,” the organization said…

    Similar organizations in Canada have faced this issue before, such as, most recently, Christian Horizons.

April 12, 2010

Sorting Out Rick Warren’s Invite from John Piper

When I started this blog it was with the determination to be different.   Although it has the usual “about” page, plus an extra one called “Behind the Scenes,” the real mandate to do this is found on a page titled “Life in the Blogosphere” which is no longer available here.

In that page is a list of six or seven things I wanted to do here, and they’re all fairly general one except for one.   It said, “I don’t really get the whole John Piper thing…”   (I’m actually breaking one of my own blog rules by getting into this!)

When I started reading Christian blogs many years ago, and also when I started writing one over two years ago, it seemed like Piper was ubiquitous.  People were searching online for everything the man had ever said; waiting with bated breath for the lasted video upload from Desiring God; tripping over themselves to cut-and-paste his latest take on some hot-button theological (or not so theological) issue from someone else’s blog to their own; and quoting his words in articles and opinion pieces as though they were the Word of God itself.

That continues to this day — it’s no wonder the guy is taking a few months off; who could live with that pressure? — but I’ve since learned to keep my bookmarks and published blogroll more balanced, so I only see a small percentage of what persists from the reformed (or in some cases neo-reformed) sector of the internet.

People often ask, “Who will be the next Billy Graham?”   Honestly, I’m glad that we are living in a time when no single non-Catholic Christian leader speaks for all of us.  (I think it helps direct the focus to Jesus!)   I’m glad that this particular type of leadership role is somewhat fragmented.    There’s some good and bad in this, as I mentioned in my post, Top Trends Affecting Your Church in 2009 over a year ago:

Trend #10: Conflicting Spokesmen — Who will be the next Billy Graham? It probably won’t happen that the future will see the focus on a single individual who speaks for all Christians or all Protestants or all Evangelicals.  Since many key spokespeople disagree on secondary and tertiary issues, it will sometimes appear to that there is a lack of consensus.

You see this most clearly in the present teapot tempest over Piper’s decision to invite Rick Warren to the Desiring God conference.  (Over 40,000 posts and web articles served on this topic to date. Would you like fries with that?)    People who like Piper don’t like Warren.   (I was going to put a qualifying phrase in there to temper the generalization, but decided to let it stand.)    Take Phil Johnson for example:

I can’t think of anyone who would make a finer poster-boy for the pragmatic, spiritually impoverished, gospel-deprived message of modern and postmodern evangelicalism than Rick Warren. He is shallow, pragmatic, and chameleonic. He is a spiritual changeling who will say whatever his audience wants to hear. He wants desperately to be liked and accepted by Muslims, evangelicals, and everyone in between.

Too bad Phil doesn’t tell us what he really thinks.

Some feel that Warren is well-chosen as the man to fill Graham’s shoes in civic affairs such as the inauguration of a President and see him as the spokesman for the Evangelical church.  (A feeling, I might add, that sits better with me than the choice of T. D. Jakes or Joel Osteen.)

But — recent events notwithstanding — Piper’s followers, who are extremely well represented here in blog-land still see him as the man who has the final word on doctrinal matters.   Warren can offer public prayers and say grace at prayer breakfasts, but it’s Piper they really need to give them direction.   So they aren’t quite sure what Piper is up to inviting Warren, though Scot McKnight is one of many who endorses the decision.

Personally, I think I have a good idea what he’s up to; and I think the invitation and the decision to take a sabbatical are better understood when seen in the context of each other.  (The blog, Black Calvinist presents some excellent insights, as well. while blogger Stephen Macasil thought perhaps it was an early April Fool’s prank!)

But here’s my point:

  • 100 years from now it won’t matter

And here’s my other point:

  • 100 days after the conference it won’t matter, either; perhaps even 10 days later

These things preoccupy bloggers — many blogs thrive on controversy and division — and a handful of Christian periodical writers, but they disappear in the dust very quickly.    Plus there’s this, from I Cor. 3: 4, 5, and 7 —

When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I prefer Apollos,” aren’t you acting like those who are not Christians? Who is Apollos, and who is Paul, that we should be the cause of such quarrels? Why, we’re only servants. Through us God caused you to believe. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow. (NLT)

You would that the upcoming conference will change Christianity forever to read the passion of bloggers and those leaving comments on their blogs.   It won’t.

The world will continue.  This will neither usher in a new reformation nor a new apostasy.  The gospel will continue to be preached in all the world for the witness.   Wait and see.   (What’s that verse in I Cor. say?  Love believes the best.)  Speculation just isn’t helpful at this time.

On the weekend, blogger Tim Challies was interviewed during the final hour of The Drew Marshall show.   I didn’t realize that Tim’s background includes time spent in both Warren-type and Piper-type churches, and the subject of the conference was covered.   The April 10th interview will be posted online on Friday, April 16th and you can catch it here.

Video embed of Piper’s response to the critics.

Photos:  The two were sitting side-by-side at the June, 2009 funeral of Rev. Ralph Winter.  (Christian Post)

No “chameleonic” is not a word.   “Chameleon-like” is what he wanted.

By “neo-reformed” I mean to infer not an extremeism (though this does happen) but rather — largely due to the internet —  people who have been recently swept into Calvinism because of various ‘appeals’ who will later, as they work out the nature of God in scripture, find themselves not tethered to Reform doctrine and will gravitate to some other position.   But there’s also Scot McKnight’s definition.  (And Roger Olson’s supplemental piece.)

May 10, 2009

The Blue Parakeet: Why We Read The Bible Selectively

“Waterslides are long and wide and curvy and have wonderfully banked sides.   Water runs down the water slide freely and abundantly to increase the speed of the slider.  What we might not observe is that everything about a trip down the slide and into the pool of water at the bottom is  determined by slide itself; even more important for our safety, where we land is shaped by the slide.   Without banked, steep sides, we would fly off the slide and … well, we’d get hurt

“Reading the Bible with our wise mentors is like sliding down a waterslide.   The gospel is the slide; the Bible is one wall, our teachers and our traditions the other wall, and the water is the Holy Spirit.   The pool at the bottom of our slide is our world.   If we stay on the slide and inside the walls as we slide down, we will land in our own water world.   If we knock down the walls of the slide or get too careless, we can tumble out of the safety of that slide and injure ourselves.

“However, observe this: our life is lived in the pool.   So here’s my point:  God asks us to listen — attention, absorption, and action — the the gospel story and to read the Bible with our wise mentors who have gone before us; if we do, we will land in the pool in our day and in our way.”

~Scot McKnight, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read The Bible

blue parakeetScot McKnight takes readers on a wild wide through the forest of Biblical hermeneutics, though he never actually uses the term.   It’s a forest of Eikons and wiki-stories and blue parakeets, though don’t panic if you don’t have a clue what that means.

In simpler terms, McKnight, who teaches religious studies at Chicago’s North Park University,  looks at familiar Bible passage containing rather vivid commands for believers, and dares to ask why we continue to this day to follow some of those rules but not others.   Insofar as it addresses that issue, the book does a great job point out what must seem — to new believers at least — a great deal of inconsistency.

mcknight1But if you’re expecting the book to explain why we do this, I’m not sure we’re any clearer at the end than we were at the beginning.   Presumably, certain historic and cultural background information has been brought to bear, as it has in McKnight’s test case, the role of women in ministry.

Ah…that topic!   For anyone wishing some ammunition to support a more progressive view on this topic, its selection as the book’s test case is a nice payoff.   I’m sure that McKnight already has female readers thanking him for those chapters, which occupy a good percentage of the title as a whole.   But you can’t expect a few short chapters to accomplish what you get in more formal debates on the subject, such as the 2005 title in the Counterpoints series, Two Views on Women in Ministry, also published by Zondervan.

Which brings me to conclude that The Blue Parakeet is very much Theology 101; a primer for the younger Christ-follower who wants to step beyond the world of basic doctrine into something more issue-oriented, but doesn’t want a hardcover textbook on higher criticism.    Still, if that’s the intended market, this book may raise more questions than it answers.    Delineating the challenges of interpretation is one thing; giving people the tools to resolve conflicts is something else altogether.

For more seasoned Christ-followers, there is a sense in which this book curses the darkness more than it lights a candle.   There’s also a fair amount of repetition between sections.  McKnight makes it clear what he thinks about certain passages, but I’m not sure the book helps me more clearly focus on the hows and whys that determine what I should think when I read a difficult or culturally-attached passage.

Scot McKnight blogs at The Jesus Creed.



May 5, 2009

Tuesday Links: Life in Blogland

practice

Lots to see in the blogosphere today:

  • Jeff at Losing My Religion is celebrating a birthday today (5/5) and this week has a great, lengthy interview with Michael Frost, missional church guru and co-author (with Alan Hirsch) of the book ReJesus.
  • Video book promos on YouTube are somewhat mandatory these days if you have a new release; and Tony Morgan‘s gives an excellent preview of his book Killing Cockroaches without any hype.  (HT: Church Relevance blog)
  • If you want to re-write the definitive standard for an over-the-top church website, the one for Evangel Cathedral should do it.  (HT: Pragmatic Electric blog.  Be sure to check out his Apr. 25 post, If Jesus Returns Tonight, Who Will Feed Your Pets?  It contains a vital link to Post Rapture Pets.)
  • Jim Upchurch has renamed his blog, Christ: His Work and His Word.   Last weekend he wrote an excellent devotional piece, What if You Knew How and When You Would Die?
  • Quoted on Bob Hyatt’s blog:  “In a faster world, maybe we need a slower church.” ~ Leighton Ford
  • Two entire chapters of Hebrews.   Totally memorized.    Shared with passion by Ryan Ferguson.    Takes eleven minutes.   Google Video link here.   (HT: Tony Miano’s blog, Lawman Chronicles)
  • Finally, on the lighter side; Michael Tait isn’t the newest member of Newsboys after all, as the blog Backseat Writer makes visibly clear in this post.   That’s it for today’s links.
  • Almost every time I do links like this, I always include a link to my unpublished book The Pornography Effect: Understanding for the Wives, Mothers, Daughters, Sisters and Girlfriends, because every day there’s someone new who needs to read it.   It’s online and it’s free to read.
  • Since you asked, I’m currently reading The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight (Zondervan) and the revised — 14 years later — edition of The King James Only Controversy by James White (Bethany House).   Both deal with the Bible and how we both read and translate it, so I don’t mind reading the two books at once.   If you want to make it a hat-trick, you’d have to add How To Choose a Bible Translation For All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss (Zondervan).
  • Today’s cartoon is from ASBO Jesus.  Now with over 700 thought-provoking, intriguing, controversial and sometimes frustrating cartoons served.   Never a dull moment at that cartoon blog.   (It’s Brit-speak for Anti-Social Behavior Order.)
  • Since this post is a potpourri already, the survey, which follows, is from Christianity Today and reflects that readers of its various websites have a rather secularized view of how we all got here.  If you’re going to comment on something here, this would be the one.
    Christianity Today Poll
    What best describes your view of the origins of creation?
    Young-earth creationism


    10%
    Old-earth creationism


    10%
    Theistic evolution


    10%
    Naturalistic evolution


    62%
    I don’t know


    3%
    None of the above

    4%


    Total Votes: 4153

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