Category Archives: DOCTRINAL STUFF

Way(s) to God?

Smiling EsmeAria in snow

There’s a difference between different ways to get to God and the different ways God uses to get to us.

Since God has many ways to manifest himself to humans––none of which are on equal par with Jesus, who is The Way––we should learn how to affirm those manifestations wherever we find them and build on them to help people find Jesus.

Whenever I’m asked––and a lot of times when nobody’s asking––I show as many photos to friend or foe of one of my phenomenal granddaughters as they can stand. (Feast your eyes on Esme Davi and Aria Joy above! You’re welcome.)

Of course these pix come with narration as I tell them about how she crawls on the floor, giggles when I tickle her, and snores when she sleeps deeply. When they fail to show signs of spellbound astonishment I figure, either they’re ignorant dolts or it has to do with the limitation of two-dimensional photography to show her superior persona. A picture may worth a thousand words, but it’s not the same as meeting this wonderful little human being in the flesh. Continue reading

The Weaponized Bible

weaponizedbible

“…the letter kills but the Spirit gives life…” 2 Corinthians 3:6

“Weaponize” is a newly coined verb that means, “to convert for use as a weapon.”

A “Weaponized Bible” is a dangerous book used to justify many destructive and deadly practices.

  • They weaponized the Bible in order to initiate and perpetuate the crusades
  • They weaponized the Bible so they could in good conscience justify slavery
  • They weaponized the Bible to support Jim Crow laws
  • They weaponized the Bible to justify anti-Semitism (to the point of the Holocaust)
  • They weaponized the Bible to villainize Irish Catholics immigrating to the U.S.
  • They weaponize the Bible today to engender hate against gays, Muslims, Mexicans, and all the other “others”

Continue reading

The “Jesus Bus”

jesus-busDo all roads lead to God? “No,” says William Paul Young, “but God is willing to travel any road to find you.”

My friend and I were meeting at the baseball stadium to watch my San Francisco Giants play. Parking costs as much as the ticket, so I decided to take public transportation. From my house there isn’t one bus that takes me directly there, so I had to take one bus and transfer to another, which dropped me off right in front of the ballpark.

Though I believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father, there might well be a number of ways to Jesus. Creation, conscience, culture, crises and even some aspects of creed (religion) are like those buses that lead people to — the “Jesus Bus!” They can serve as vehicles that can bring us to The Vehicle that brings us to God. It’s necessary for devotees of other religions to “transfer” from their former way to The Way in order to get all the way to the Father. How and when they make this transfer, and even what the process of transfer looks like is so far above my pay grade that I can only speculate. Continue reading

Is the Bible Outdated? (Part 2 of 2)

worn-out-bibleLast time we talked about how the Bible is a more reliable source of self-identification than one’s culture.

When we define ourselves based on our desires rather than on something as unchanging as the Word of God we’re either being dishonest or unaware of how our current culture affects our sense of who we think we are. For example when someone today says: “I have same sex desires, therefore that’s who I am. I’m gay.” Keller, using the same two issues above (turn the other cheek and homosexuality), proposes the following contrasting scenario.

Take an Anglo Saxon warrior from the shame and honor culture in the year AD 1200. This particular warrior has two strong impulses. The first is to kill people who are a threat to him. His culture says that might is right! The man with the bloodiest sword is the best man in the territory. To be aggressive is to survive. So when he has the urge inside to cut off the heads of his enemies and display them on stakes he’s acting in such a way that his culture applauds. He self-identifies as a man of honor. “That’s me. That’s who I am. I’m a warrior!” Continue reading

Is the Bible Outdated? (Part 1 of 2)

worn-out-bibleIf I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times that the Bible is outdated and therefore can’t be trusted to speak to our modern world. Our 21st century western culture has evolved past 1st century times, where it’s message and mores were more relevant. We’re better informed today about how the universe works and how society functions. We’ve advanced beyond the constricting limitations of a 2000 year-old book.

Which culture are we talking about?

My question is if culture is the plumb line for assessing the reliability and relevance of the Bible, which culture are we talking about – Western, Asian, Middle Eastern, African…? Continue reading

A parable about you, Jesus, and some other friends* (A summary of Romans 1-3)

drowning-manA friend who’s a new follower of Jesus asked me to give him some input on how to read Romans. I shared this simple parable on how to outline the first three chapters. Thought I’d share it here.

You and four friends won tickets for a trip to Hawaii on an ocean liner. On the second day of the trip a guy offers to take your picture. The five of you pose near the edge of the port side of the top deck. He instructs you to back up, “Just a little farther back. A little farther. Just a little more,” he says. What you didn’t know was that he removed the rail behind you and all four of you fall overboard into the freezing Pacific while the ship cruises on its way. Continue reading

How To Know If You’re A Legalist (Three tests and a test case) Part 4 of 4

Some other observations about legalistic types from the story of the Prodigal’s big brother:

They tend to miss the party: “He refused to go in …” (Luke 15:28) Lots of legalist-leaning Christians are like that. They may be, in one sense, “holy,” but it’s never a happy holiness. They’re too busy keeping their halo on straight to go in and dance with joyous abandon in the father’s living room. Apparently they don’t know that God is more interested in getting us to know him than with getting stuff done on his farm! He doesn’t give birth to kids in order to get lots of work done in his fields. He brings us into the world so he can befriend us, teach us stuff, and include us in his daring mission.

They’re not very good company: “The older brother became angry…” (Luke 15:28) C.S. Lewis said, “Of all bad men, religious bad men are the worst.” At the very least legalistic people can be some of the least pleasant people on the planet. Always comparing, measuring, bragging – they don’t make very good company. Continue reading