Friday, December 23, 2016

Who Were the Wise Men?

Just because Quest Forums articles frequently deal with contentious issues does not mean they always must. This question provides an example. It is just an historical curiosity from the Bible. Also, it is one where I will probably leave more questions than answers. But the point is, this is something we sometimes wonder about, particularly at this time of year, and it is interesting to look into it.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Where are the Safe Spaces?

Quest Forums articles always concern topics about which I am passionate, but they are rarely personal. This week’s post is an exception. It was recently brought to my attention that an online petition has been circulated to create “safe spaces” on the campus of my alma mater, Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. You can read the full petition here. I would recommend reading the entirety of it for context, and because it is quite brief. Also, you should never just take my word for it. I have a considered opinion, and I do hope to help in informing yours. But it is always possible that I have missed something or read too much into something else. Ultimately, you must make up your own mind.

Friday, November 18, 2016

How Do We Know What Is Right?

A few weeks ago, we looked at the Teleological Argument (TA) for the existence of God. As we saw there, purpose points to a Creator. Nature has goals and shows order, which only make sense if there was an intelligence to cause them. Once we have that established, it allows us to go a little deeper and consider the Moral Argument (MA) for the existence of God.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Why Should I Be Interested In Genesis?

Quest Forums recently started a new series in our meetings. In “It’s a Start,” we will be taking the next few months to move through the book of Genesis. The approach is a pretty simple one. I announce a handful of chapters beforehand, give everyone a chance to go over them before we get together, and then spend the time going over whatever questions they may have.

Friday, November 4, 2016

What Are We For?

A few weeks ago, we did a mini-series looking at the Cosmological Argument (CA) for the existence of God. It had a decent reception, and I found it interesting to do, so I am going to write an article or two more in a similar direction. What I have in mind to review are the Teleological and Moral Arguments for the existence of God.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Aren't We Inherently Good?

A few weeks ago, as we approached the end of our Church–y Words series of forums, we discussed the topic of sin. That would usually be a very uncomfortable subject, but we had a very edifying conversation by taking a general approach to it. Still, sin is never easy to talk about, and one of the questions asked by someone in attendance shows why. The question was, “Aren’t we inherently good?”

Friday, October 14, 2016

How Can Evangelicals Defend Donald Trump?

Those who know me personally may not believe this at first, but I have had very little to say about the 2016 election. Don’t laugh, it’s true! In comparison to what I did during the primaries, and what I would normally be doing, I have been almost silent. Those few comments I have made have been in self-defense, rather than as an effort at persuasion. With nothing nice to say, my goal was to say very little at all and just stick to the decisions of my own conscience.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Why Are We Here? (Part 3)

This is the third and final article in a brief series on the Cosmological Argument (CA) for the existence of God. The other two can be found here and here. In them, we considered some of the basics of this type of argument, and discussed the three C’s of Contingency, Causation, and Continuation. Now, we can move on to considering the implications of what we have discovered.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Why Are We Here? (Part 2)

This article is the second part of a look into the Cosmological Argument (CA) for the existence of God. In the last one we laid some groundwork and considered the lynchpin of the argument, known as Contingency. This week, we will look at its other two major components.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Why Are We Here? (Part 1)

This week’s article is going to be something a little bit different. They usually start with a question, either about something in the Bible or something happening in the world around us. But lately, I have been studying some philosophical concepts about the existence of God, which can also be of interest. So we are going to look at one of them over the course of a few articles, and depending on how it goes, I may cover more of these concepts in the future.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Will We See the Father?

I was asked this question a little while ago, and it took some serious thought to come up with a response. “Response” is a carefully chosen word, because I cannot call it an answer. I don’t like to refer to my thoughts as answers, anyway, since I know I do not know it all. However, this is particularly one where I feel the need to make that explicit. I have formed an opinion. It is biblically informed, but it is still an opinion and nothing more. Hopefully it provides something to think about and discuss, and if you disagree, please feel free to say why.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Does God Want Human Sacrifice?

I was asked a question in conversation recently, and I have to admit, it’s a tough one. It is also the sort of thing that is hard to give an application, because it comes out of the minutiae of the Old Testament Law. If you know this ministry, though, you know my attitude. If it is in the Bible, it can be discussed and understanding can be pursued. That is part of the “quest” in Quest Forums.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How Do You Find a Nest?

How many of you have ever had a bird problem? Or maybe you don’t see it as a problem, but all I know is I am not fond of them. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful to look at. But it’s better to have them at least at a little bit of a distance. They’re messing things, and you don’t want them nesting in your stuff.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fall 2016 Update

Rather than looking at a question this week, I think it’s time for another update. First off, the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the “Meetings” tab is down. It might be that way for about another week, as I decide what topic we will discuss and when. Labor Day and a few other scheduling issues are making it so that it has to be pushed back a little. Right now, I am looking at September 18th being the next time we can get together. That means we are looking at a bit of a gap, but it won’t be too bad. And of course, I will be keeping up the online presence so QF stays in people’s minds.

Friday, August 5, 2016

What about Satan in Schools?

It can be taken as a proof of God’s providence that we often find just what we need just when we need it. This week’s article is a case in point. The next meeting of Quest Forums is taking place this Sunday, and the topic is going to be “Satan.” I wanted the article to tie in somehow, and was trying to decide what to write about, when this article came up in my Facebook feed.

Friday, July 22, 2016

What's With Pokémon Go?

So there’s a new cultural phenomenon, and it has a lot of people talking. Just about everyone has at least heard about Pokémon Go, if they’re not playing it. And it has also been making news for the number of accidents it seems to be causing. I thought it could be interesting to take a look at it here, too. We’ll discuss what it is, what its dangers and benefits may be, and what spiritual wisdom we can apply to it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

What About Racism?

We are faced with another moment of national crisis. After police shot and killed black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, and five police officers were killed in retaliation in Texas, tensions are high. Many in the African American community feel persecuted by the police, and police officers are feeling hunted. A sober look at the facts of the situation would show that the dangers, while real, are not as pervasive as they seem. Not all police are racists, not all black people are agitators, and not all of either are murderers. But at times like these, it is hard to allow reason to guide us. It is easier to lean on emotion and to speak in general terms. Sadly, that simply perpetuates the stereotypes and leads to the hardening of positions, resulting in an almost ironic defense and obscuring of those who really ought to be condemned.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How Can We Get the Desires of Our Hearts?

The next meeting of Quest Forums is taking place on July 10. We will be looking at another one of those “church–y” words that Christians often use but that can be frequently misunderstood. The topic this time will be prayer, and I thought my article for this week could take a short look at one of the things we are likely to discuss. Consider it an appetizer, and if you are interested, think about joining us for the main course this Sunday!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Is American Christianity in Trouble?

This isn’t going to be a book review, but I do want to start off by discussing an interesting one I have been reading lately. Written by Bradley R.E. Wright, Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…And Other Lies You’ve Been Told is an interesting read. I’ll admit, it’s been a bit of a slog for me. I’m no sociologist or statistician, so I have had to do some rereading to grasp a few points. But it has been worth the effort.

Friday, June 24, 2016

What's in a Word?

What is one of the most important words in any language? There is no one right answer. After all, there are plenty of them. It is not my intention to make an exhaustive list, either. I just have one in mind that struck me with particular force recently. It is the word “but.”

Friday, June 17, 2016

How Do We Respond to Orlando?

It was a struggle to decide whether to write this. I don’t think I’m likely to add anything unique to this situation. What finally made me do it, though, was the chance someone in the LGBT community might see it. You could see essentially the same comments coming from Glenn Beck and Franklin Graham, but maybe you aren’t willing to read them just on reputation. You might think they hate you, so you don’t care what they have to say. But since you don’t know me, I hope you might be willing to give me these few moments of your time.

Friday, June 10, 2016

How Do I Become A Saint?

To start, let’s have a little bit of an update. We had our most recent Quest Forums meeting this past Sunday, which makes three so far. That means Stage 2 is still in its infant stages, but there has been some encouraging progress to this point. We’ve had very good conversations, which is proof of concept. And I believe everyone has gotten something out of them. At the very least, I know I have. Also, most of the attendees have expressed an interest in not only returning, but in inviting others to join us. QF needs that. Word of mouth is the best advertising I can have.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Is Transgenderism Wrong? (Part 2)

Last week, I wrote an article on the issue of transgenderism. My purpose there was to go over the biblical case against it. This week, I want to expand on it by looking at some of the key elements of this debate from a different angle.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Is Transgenderism Wrong? (Part 1)

Today we’re going to look at something I have mentioned in passing, but which I have not focused on specifically. Even though I am joining a throng of other voices, I still feel as though I can no longer ignore it. It has to be discussed. It is sad to have to explain something that should be so straightforward, but this is where we are. Madness has to be acknowledged, and confronted. And the idea that you can be trapped in the wrong gender is certainly mad.

Friday, May 13, 2016

What's the Deal with Habakkuk?

For those who know me or who have followed this ministry for a while, you know that I am what is called an Evangelical Christian. That means different things to different people, but it generally entails a deep devotion to the Bible. While essentially all Evangelicals will claim that, however, they are sometimes accused of having a hole in their esteem for Scripture. The problem is that they focus almost exclusively on the New Testament while disregarding the Old.

Friday, April 29, 2016

What Does It Mean to be Born in Jerusalem?

One of the wonderful things about the Bible is that there are so many layers of meaning to the things it says. Take Psalm 87 as an example. This psalm was written as a song for worship in the Jerusalem Temple. Its purpose was to describe the blessing of being born in Jerusalem, which meant to belong to God in a special sense. This was because Jerusalem was the spiritual and political capital of God’s earthly nation Israel. However, it is possible to apply it to the life of Christians today.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Why Can't Women Lead in Church?

I received this question a few weeks ago, and I have spent that time considering the best way to respond to it. It’s very difficult to know where to start, because it is definitely a loaded topic. No matter what I say, someone is going to take offense. Still, it is discussed in the Bible, and one of the major purposes of this ministry is to show there is no reason to shy away from the difficult questions. If I could ask one thing, it would be that you listen to the recording rather than just merely reading the article. That gives me my best chance to get my attitude across, and not just my ideas.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Can We Justify Ourselves?

This article is going to be off to an odd start, because it is in response to a story I do not want to tell, or share. Suffice it to say, there are indications that incest is going to become another battleground in the war for our society’s soul. Now of course, what I saw may easily have been a hoax. We all know how the internet is, so I am not saying we should become indignant, at least not until the truth is more firmly established. What we need to do right now is be vigilant and sober. That is the reason why I am writing this. I want to respond to the supposed justifications the people in the story offered, and I want to provide a reminder of why we must continue to stand against the tide.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Was David as Terrible as He Seems?

As regular readers know, David has been a frequent subject of my posts. He is just such a compelling character, and his life offers so many illustrations, I can’t seem to get away from thinking about him for long. Fortunately for me, I am not the only one. I received a question this week about the life of David, and in particular, about his behavior in 1 Samuel 27.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Is Anything Lost in Translation?

The first Quest Forums discussion meeting is coming up this Sunday, and I have been thinking a lot about its topic. We are going to be talking about the Bible itself, which seems like a good place to start. My preparation has been to collect some information about its composition, its trustworthiness, and how to read it. The great thing is, there is no way for me to exhaust the subject in one hour. The real difficulty is in knowing what is most important for me to say in such a short time. It isn’t really up to me, though. Not entirely, anyway. The goal is to discuss questions, not just for me to get up and share information. Hopefully we get some interesting back-and-forth going.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What is Easter? (Part 2: The Proof)

Everything I said about Jesus in Part 1 is taken from the Bible. Specifically, it is taken from four books of the Bible called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These four books are known as the “gospels,” an Old English word meaning “good news.” They are also the first four books of the New Testament. Where the Old Testament had dealt primarily with God’s promises to the people of Israel, the New Testament described their fulfillment for the whole world in Jesus Christ.

What is Easter? (Part 1: The Story)

Easter is this Sunday, and as anyone knows who follows this ministry, it commemorates what I consider to be the most important event in human history. It is my hope, however, that there might be some new readers who are not so familiar with me. A post like this, especially at this time of year, is designed with the curious in mind. It is natural to have questions about God and what the Bible says about Him, and particularly about what was accomplished by Jesus Christ. So that is why I am writing today. I want to share with everyone what Jesus did, why we can trust Him, and what trusting Him means.

Friday, March 18, 2016

How Could Jonathan Love David?

There’s an old piece of literary advice that says to “write what you know.” And it’s good advice. After all, how are you really supposed to generate any passion or a sense of competence if you write on a topic you know nothing about? But I find there’s another level to it, too. A lot of times, I don’t just write what I know. I write what I know recently. You see, without being sent questions, which happens far too infrequently, I have to pick topics myself. Of course, the ideas for these articles do not just spring into my mind. They come to me from the things I have recently seen, heard, or read. That is the case again today.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Can Christians Be Cremated?

Hey everybody, before I get started I want to confess to dropping the ball on this one. I was asked this question last year, and I worked out a response, but for some reason I never wrote an article. I still don’t know how it slipped through the cracks. Fortunately, someone else asked me recently, so I have a chance to try again. But I just wanted to apologize to the person who brought it up first.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Why Don't Catholics Eat Meat During Lent?

The closer we come to Easter, the more people in this country tend to think about spiritual things. Obviously, that makes sense. The holiday commemorates the most important moment in all of time, when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Every person’s reaction to that news is of cosmic importance. The annual celebration has enduring cultural impact, even drawing the attention of those who ignore church the rest of the year. It is not surprising to find people more curious now.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Can a Christian Want Borders?

If life is a quest for the truth, there will be times when you will have to look at subjects you don’t want to consider. Today, I find myself in that unfortunate position. I don’t like thinking about Pope Francis I, and I really don’t like thinking about Donald Trump. When the two of them buck heads, though, I’m left with very little option other than to discuss it. It raises spiritual questions that simply cannot be ignored.

Why Are We Happy?

Some themes run throughout the Bible. You’ll come across it one place, sort of forget about it, but then see it again somewhere else. Over time, those reminders from multiple perspectives start to stick. If you see them often enough, they become more than information. They can start to shape the way you think and live your life.

Friday, February 12, 2016

What is a United Heart?

A basic premise of Christianity is that we are fractured. Our hearts are broken. On the one hand is the image of God, which is what we are created to be. On the other is the enemy of God, which is what our selfishness has made us. Both make up human nature, but both are at odds with each other.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Why Would God Condemn a Census?

Sometimes we avoid difficult stories in the Bible, and that can be a problem. Now, it isn’t always. There are occasions when they would just be a distraction, times when people want to talk about an obscure passage because they do not want to face the straightforward truths in different places. And other times, discussing the esoteric is no more than a way to prove knowledge rather than increasing wisdom.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Is Football Spiritually Important?

Having asked for suggestions for this week’s post, I received a very interesting one from Daniel, 17, of Atlanta, Georgia. He asks, “Is football spiritually important?”*

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Anniversary Update!

Last week, I posted the 52nd Quest Forums article. Having started out in February, 2015, that means I averaged better than a post a week. Of course, it did not work out quite that way in practice, but it still feels like a milestone. I may not be reaching the audience of my wildest dreams, but I have experienced some growth. And I proved something to myself, at the very least, by having the dedication to stick with it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Should I Play the Powerball?

Maybe the most talked about thing in the country right now is the historically high jackpot for the Powerball. As of my writing this, it has not yet been won and stands at $1.5 billion. The more it grows, the more people get on board in an attempt to win this life-altering sum. Of course, the odds never improve. Your chances at getting the right combination stand at 1 in 292,201,338, per ABC News. As puts it, that is about as good as the odds of having your name randomly drawn from a hat containing the name of every person in the United States.

How Can You "Taste" God's Goodness?

There can be no question that the Bible says some unusual things. Quite frequently, they can be difficult to understand and explain. To my mind, however, that is a reason to love it. The challenge stretches and strengthens the mind, and once you have gone through the hard work of understanding, it deepens the faith. Reading the Bible, especially the confusing parts, is the path to growth.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Is There a Purgatory?

“Is there a Purgatory?” This question is an important one because it is such a sticking point between Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants. Protestants have long rejected the doctrine because they consider it to not only be unbiblical, but anti-biblical. In other words, it does not appear in the Bible and contradicts things that do appear there.