Bewildering hermeneutics, complexity and truth

I recently read a book whose opening chapters were bent on attacking a particular method of applying scripture to today’s world. The author proceeded to break down the process of that hermeneutical model into a series of bewildering charts filled with mind-numbing complexity.

Not only would any typical person want to run away from a process of such inane minutia, most Christians would probably despair of being capable of implementing it. His attack would seem to be successful. However, his assault unravels if we are willing to stop and think about it. Continue reading “Bewildering hermeneutics, complexity and truth”

Was this wise?

Was it wise to spend nearly a whole Sunday school quarter focused on pain, suffering and meaninglessness? Apparently so, if success can be measured by the participants’ enthusiasm each Sunday.

Am I correct in perceiving a tendency exists to gravitate toward the positive, uplifting and empowering? If this be the case why would anyone even consider wallowing for an extended time in such things as human suffering? You are probably already ahead of me in this article. Continue reading “Was this wise?”

Reasoning like Paul compared with teaching Paul’s message

It is an intriguing idea. First examine Paul’s reasoning. Second, imitate it in order to use that process to navigate what it means to live and worship as a contemporary Christian. To be sure, such an approach would generate information. Can we do what Paul did? Would the results be reliable? Is this all that we need for a path forward?

This possibility introduces some interesting questions.  Would reasoning like Paul in today’s culture lead to different conclusions? Could this provide a path around inconvenient cultural trappings of the first century? Might reasoning like Paul allow us to jettison what Paul actually taught?

Continue reading “Reasoning like Paul compared with teaching Paul’s message”

Unlikely scenarios and a special Sunday morning

Have you ever seen anyone rise from the dead? Nope? Neither have I. So it would appear that the idea of someone coming back to life from the dead is less probable than more probable.

This can raise a good question. Which is harder to believe: that Jesus rose from the dead or that Jesus never came forth from the grave? In other words, which scenario is more unlikely? Continue reading “Unlikely scenarios and a special Sunday morning”

A huge hinge and the resurrection

In Nashville, Tennessee stands a full size replica of the Parthenon. Although this structure contains many noteworthy features, one of its most impressive characteristics to me are the two enormous bronze doors which stand about 30 feet high each weighing seven and a half tons. Each of these mammoth doors swing on a huge hinge which provides them with a system of counter balances making it possible for even a child to move those behemoths. Each of those doors literally depends upon its one huge hinge. Without that hinge, the door would be transformed into a useless mass of metal. But because of that hinge that enormous lifeless mass of metal becomes a magnificent door.

There is a way in which Christianity can be likened to those immense doors. For Christianity, everything depends upon whether one event is historical or not. Continue reading “A huge hinge and the resurrection”

Encountering evil

The New Testament contains over 2500 allusions and quotations from the Old Testament. The bottomline is the New Testament writers seem to expect us to know the Old Testament well.

Such an understanding is repeatedly rewarded. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is no exception. In this letter the apostle describes God’s foray into overcoming evil and how we are to be at work serving our Lord in a dark world. Before we consider what Paul wrote, let’s take a look at part of this letter’s background Continue reading “Encountering evil”

Gospel – what and why

In response to a recent presentation of the gospel, someone responded, “That was good, but I’ve never heard it explained that way before.” You might find it surprising that on the one hand I value presenting nothing more than the original message, while on the other hand his comment did not surprise me.

The typical gospel presentation is clear, concise and accurate. We learn Jesus can save us. It instructs us how we need to respond to Christ. People need to hear this message.

When it also provides explanatory power, it can resolve the questions of the curious and dissolve the harpoons of its detractors. When Jesus established a memorial for his death, why did he speak of a covenant? What does Jesus’ story have to do with the rest of scripture? Why are we called to respond to Christ with baptism?

Continue reading “Gospel – what and why”