Friday, July 19, 2019

Justice and Reparations: Personal Responsibility vs. Inherited Guilt

While not one of the biggest stories in America, the contentious issue of reparations for the enslavement of people of African descent has been receiving some attention this year. The concept has been explored a number of times in the past but has never served as anything more than a way to attack opponents as being racist. It has never had a hope of being seriously considered or passed into law, and it stands no chance now, either. It did not happen when Barack Obama was President and the Democrats had near supermajorities in both houses of Congress in 2009-2010. Why it should be successful in 2019, with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of the Senate, is something none of its proponents can explain. They do not seek to explain it. It is a club for hitting enemies with, not a policy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

According to Mark: The Purpose of Parables

The heart of Jesus’ teaching is found in His parables. These stories use mundane elements to tell spiritual truths, but not usually so that the connection is obvious. It takes work to understand them, and a willingness to seek out the answers. This is the primary lesson to discover in Mark 4:1–34, one of the largest blocks of the Lord’s teaching in this gospel. We want to be sure we have “ears to hear” (Mark 4:9, 23).

Friday, July 12, 2019

Finding Repair: A Life Lesson in Auto Care

Have you ever had a leaky tire plugged? I had that done a few weeks ago and was struck by the imagery of it. A short while beforehand, I had noticed that one of my tires was looking a little flat. It wasn’t by much, not as if I was riding on the rims, but enough that I could see that bit of widening at the bottom.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

According to Mark: The Family of God

Diving right into our continuing study in the Gospel of Mark, this entry focuses on Mark 3:7–35. Mark begins this particular passage by recapitulating the Lord’s power to heal and liberate the suffering. He is still attracting a large following, which has grown to include people from a wide geographical extent. And this, most likely, explains why He decides to introduce a leadership structure into His movement.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

American Freedom and Christian Liberty

I’m taking a break from my normal publication schedule to make sure this article gets out on Independence Day itself. I have made a habit of saying that for Americans, Thanksgiving is our most religious holiday. That is certainly true, but we must never forget that today is also closely tied to faith. Christians who live in this country should be mindful of how our beliefs have shaped this nation and its liberties. We should also appreciate how those liberties protect our right to believe.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

According to Mark: Religion vs. Grace

In this portion of our study on the gospel of Mark, we will be looking at Mark 2:1–3:6. That’s a good bit of ground to cover, but we will be paring it down to the theme that unites the five stories told here. As always, of course, the first thing to keep in mind is that we are being presented with Jesus Christ. The most important element is seeing Him for who He is. But in these passages in particular, that means learning about Him through the ways that He confronted the religious authorities of His day.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Saints of the Old Testament

This question comes to us from a YouTube comment. I was asked my thoughts on the process of salvation during the Old Testament. After the coming of Jesus Christ, we know that salvation is found in the grace of His finished work on the cross. What about those who lived before Him, though?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

According to Mark: The Powerful Teaching of Jesus

The previous article in our study on the Gospel of Mark (which you can find here) looked at Mark 1:1–15 and focused on the groundwork that was laid for the ministry of Jesus. In those verses, the evangelist established that Jesus is everything that matters. As Messiah and Son of God, He is the good news of salvation to the world.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Scientific Errors in the Bible?

I’ve recently had an interesting conversation with a young Muslim man in Afghanistan. It went in a number of directions, but started with a simple question. He asked,

Why does the Bible have scientific errors?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

According to Mark: The Groundwork of the Gospel

Following the introduction from last week, we are ready to move into the actual text of the Gospel of Mark. Technically, this is going to be more introduction, but I’m ok with it since it is Mark’s own. He starts out with a plan that he wants us to know, and we are quickly going to see some of those themes we talked about last time.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Bible and Other Scriptures

Over the past few months, I have been making an effort to include some simple visual content in between my primary posts. A recent one included a quote from Charles Ryrie in which he said,

The Bible is the greatest of all books; to study it is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.

I think this is a marvelous comment on its own, but even better, it led to a question for Quest Forums. Someone saw it and asked,

“What would you say about other religious books?”

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

According to Mark: Introduction

A few weeks ago, I mentioned in another post that the book of Mark is a good place to start when reading the Bible for the first time. I have recommended it for that on a few occasions, and many others do the same. Since I last spoke about it, though, it has been on my mind to do a study on Mark’s gospel for Quest Forums. After a bit of time planning things out, I am ready to forge ahead with it.

Friday, June 7, 2019

What Is the Name Above All Names?

Over the years, I have used a number of study Bibles. It’s a great, simple way to gain a variety of perspectives, and I highly recommend it. But sometimes, even coming from different perspectives, they can have similar conclusions. I happened to notice this recently when reading the CSB Study Bible’s take on Phil. 2:9–11, and realizing how often I had seen their interpretation before. Not only had I seen it before, but it has never really sat right with me on those occasions. Possibly, it is a good example that scholars can make errors even when they all make the same one. Or possibly, it is a sign that I have a lot of hubris to think I can take them all on. Still, I think it is a matter of plain meaning and it is worth taking the risk.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

One Covenant or Two?: Evaluating Supersessionism

Around the same time that I heard about Rick Wiles calling Ben Shapiro “an antichrist,” which I covered in a recent post, I was also reminded about the debate surrounding supersessionism. The two go together, so I felt it would be good to follow up here.

Friday, May 31, 2019

False Choices in the Abortion Debate

A short time ago, the Alabama legislature passed and Gov. Kay Ivey signed what is perhaps the most pro-life law this nation has seen since Roe v. Wade. It bans all abortions except for when the life of the mother is at stake, and does so on the explicit understanding that human life is intrinsically valuable and begins at conception. Not even pregnancies in the case of rape or incest are excepted from this law, which is in keeping with that understanding of life’s value.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Reckless Love and Emotional Faith

It’s funny, I wrote something similar to this a few years ago. Or at least, I wrote about the fact that I do not pay careful attention to trends in the Christian music industry. Some controversial things occasionally happen in it, but I am lucky to ever hear about them. This is another example of me being late to the party.

Friday, May 24, 2019

American Patriotism and Biblical Promises

I’m going to step on a rake here by criticizing an element of American patriotism. I didn’t actually have Memorial Day in mind when I came up with this, the timing just worked out that way. Hopefully, though, it will actually end up being appropriate. And I think I have enough of a history of love of country to have earned the right to point out its misapplication. My goal is not to tear down the U.S. Rather, it is to understand the Bible accurately. Doing so actually improves patriotism rather than degrading it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Is Ben Shapiro an Antichrist?

A few weeks ago, I heard that a televangelist named Rick Wiles had labeled Ben Shapiro “an antichrist.” I was already familiar with Shapiro, whom as many of you know is a practicing Orthodox Jew. Wiles, on the other hand, was new to me. Most of what I was hearing about him was critical, so I decided to check out his site and get the story straight from the horse’s mouth.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Blessing of Confidence

There are certain segments of Christianity that teach having a relationship with God means having good things all the time. That if you have enough faith, then you can have your dream house, perfect health, a full bank account, untroubled relationships, and any number of other things. I do not think there is anything necessarily wrong with wanting, or even praying for, these things. They are a blessing from God. The problem comes when we put them first and when our faith depends upon them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Can Salvation be Lost?

This article may take us into contentious waters since it is an issue on which sincere believers in Christ sincerely disagree. While I am going to take a side, I want to say first that anyone’s position on it does not determine the validity of his or her faith. If we further discuss it, I hope we can all keep that in mind. Second, and in relation to that, we need to be on the lookout for unifying themes that overcome our division. That is what I intend to do, especially in closing.

Friday, May 10, 2019

How To Get Started with the Bible

Today’s question seems simple enough, but it presented me with some challenges. I was asked,

How do I read the Bible?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

What Caused God?

The internet can be a wonderful thing for connecting people. Case in point, this question was sent in by someone living in West Africa:

Friday, May 3, 2019

Is Acts Accurate?

This time, we’ve got a great question that required a deep dive but ended up with a nice, straightforward solution. I was asked,

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Psychics Aren't the Answer

I recently overheard a troubling conversation that I feel compelled to discuss, especially because I am concerned I did not make the most of the moment. Frankly, I am not sure I made a mistake. I will spell out the details and allow you to decide. But at the very least, I hope to learn from my situation and that others will also be better prepared as a result.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

What's With the Bunnies?

With the Easter season just passed, we have a good question from a young person. He asks, “What do rabbits have to do with Easter?”

Friday, April 19, 2019

How Do I Get to Heaven?

What do you think you have to do to go to heaven? Do you feel like you deserve to be there when you die? That’s a trick question, as I intend to show. Sadly, many people spend their whole lives trying to answer it. If that describes you, stop. The first thing we need to know, the first element of salvation, is knowing that we cannot achieve it. Nothing you can do will get you there, and you can never deserve the blessings of God (Rom. 3:23).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

"C'mon, It's 2019"

If you spend much time on the internet, there is a good chance you have heard a comment like the one in the title of this article. It is among the most common, and sadly, most effective forms of criticism in secular culture. If you espouse a classical (especially a Christian) morality, then you stand a chance of being told this.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

More Than a Feeling

Someone recently sent me a great question on a topic where Christians have been dropping the ball too often over the past few generations.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Don't Deny Yourself

That’s a clickbait-y title and it might not make it to the end of the editorial process, but it felt like a good place to start. A frequent impression you get from people who are not interested in Christianity is that their lives are good enough as it is. If Jesus is your answer, good for you, but they don’t need Him. That has a number of implications for the witness of the church, but the particular one I have in mind is how it relates to behavior and enjoyment.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

For the Survivors

A few weeks ago, I did a piece on abortion and the proper Christian understanding of it. After I published it, I was asked to do something similar in regard to assisted suicide. The series that followed delved into the nature of human life, the philosophy behind the push for legalized assisted suicide, the theology of the sanctity of life, and the implications of the debate.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Our Words and God's Light

As I have noted on a few occasions, Christian education is a careful balancing act. Everyone is going to have an emphasis, but lean on it too hard and you are likely to miss important truths of the faith. Or even if you know them yourself, you might not repeat them as often as you should.