Biblical Controversy

May 20

I see two different types of controversies in the Bible: Passages that are controversial when you compare them to other passages in the Bible. Passages that are controversial when you compare them to today’s culture. Unfortunately, many people don’t see the difference between these two types of controversial passages. With the first type of controversial passages, we might have opinions one way or another on how to interpret such passages (even strong opinions), but in the end, we must realize that these passages are interpreted several different ways by scholars who all appreciate the authority of Scripture. As a result, when we discuss such passages, we should make room for disagreements and maintain a “think and let think” attitude toward those who might disagree with us. Such verses deal with issues like: Calvinism vs. Arminianism Eschatology (pre/post/a-millennial, pre/post/mid-tribulation, etc.) Roles of men/women in ministry How charismatic gifts operate today Often, people have strong opinions on these matters, which isn’t bad at all. However, we should all recognize that many strong, Bible-believing Christians may disagree with us. These disagreements shouldn’t prevent us from having fellowship with one another. Some people think it is best to avoid discussions/sermons on such issues because of the divisiveness it brings. Personally, I don’t shy away from controversy. I’d rather provide my audience with all the different viewpoints out there, and also give my own opinion in the matter. Then I leave it up to the audience to make up their own mind. I think this is better than avoiding these issues, because I think that does us a disfavor. Ignorance isn’t bliss. People have a right to delve deep into these issues if they so desire. However, I understand the idea to avoid such discussions, and I don’t think that’s a wrong strategy to have–I just personally don’t gravitate toward that method. However, that second category of Bible passages which are controversial to today’s culture–we would be gravely mistaken if we treat them the same way as the first category of controversial passages. These passages aren’t controversial because other verses in the Bible question their validity–it is today’s fallen society that questions their validity. The following issues aren’t controversial within Scripture itself, but are...

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Which Jesus Will You Follow?

Mar 19

Unfortunately, Jesus didn’t leave us with a book of teachings or an autobiography. Why not? I don’t know–maybe we’d worship them or do other wacky things. The way Jesus commands us to remember Him isn’t by receiving a book of sayings He writes for us; it’s by actually receiving Him. Although He didn’t write us a book, He did commission His apostles to spread the good news. He knew He was leaving, and that it was now the Holy Spirit’s job to speak through the Apostles’ hands and mouths in taking the Gospel to all the world for all times. We can’t get around the fact that 2,000 years later, if there was no written documentation of the life and teachings of Jesus, as well as the Apostles’ Spirit-led understanding of Jesus’ life and teachings, where would we be today? How much truth would be lost by now? Just look at what the Catholic Church today claims was passed down orally by the Apostles–much of it isn’t found in Scripture, and some of it seems to even be opposed to it. How much crazier would Christianity look like today if the Apostles hadn’t written anything at all? Would it at all be faithful to Jesus’ teachings? Would it even still be around? That’s why, several blogs and days later, I have come to the conclusion that the major difference between orthodox Christianity and other “better” versions of Christianity all boils down to this: OPTION 1: You come to the discussion assuming that the Old Testament Prophets/authors, Apostles and Gospel writers got it right. They accurately recall the history between God and His people, and interpret who Jesus was, what He did, and what His life means for the world. If modern-day thinking seems to contradict Scripture, that thinking is in error no matter how attractive or compelling it sounds. Authentic Christianity comes by understanding more fully what the authors of Scripture were trying to say, because they were writing under the expiration (breathing out) of the Holy Spirit. Scripture is ultimately authored by God. New ideas of Jesus’ message cannot be accepted if they contradict the message of Scripture. These types of “new ideas” have been occurring throughout history,...

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Paul: Liar, Lunatic or Lord’s Apostle

Mar 12

Paul: Liar, Lunatic or Lord’s Apostle

C.S. Lewis made this argument famous about the divinity of Christ: Jesus is either a liar, lunatic, or he is Lord. What this means is that Jesus in the Bible claimed to be Lord. If you accept that Jesus actually claimed this, then these are the only three options for Jesus: He claimed to be the Son of God, even though he knew full well that he wasn’t. He was a liar or deceiver. He honestly thought he was the Son of God out of self-delusion, which makes him a lunatic. Or he was indeed who he claimed to be–our Lord. Many Christians, including myself, find this argument quite compelling, as long as you believe that the Bible accurately records Jesus’ teachings/words. Remember, Jesus didn’t write any of the Four Gospels, his followers did. This is one flaw many people find in this argument for the divinity of Jesus. They hold out the possibility that Jesus never made these claims for himself, but his followers later attributed these notions to him. However, I believe that Jesus did indeed make these claims, so the argument is solid for me. We don’t have this problem with Paul. Paul actually wrote some letters, and those letters written by his own hands are contained in the Bible. As a result, I think this argument is even stronger for Paul than it is for Jesus. Let me lay out why I think this, and anyone who sees a fallacy in my logic, I’d like to hear it. Some people try to pit Paul against Jesus, saying that Paul’s gospel of salvation contradicts Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom of God. For example, Paul’s gospel emphasizes that one needs to only believe in Jesus Christ as Lord in order to be saved. They would say it is hard to find such notions in the Gospels (except the book of John, which is a completely different topic). Jesus, on the other hand, seems to have a message more about how we ought to live, and if we don’t forgive, or if we don’t feed the hungry, we won’t be saved. Much of the Church’s theology of salvation, sin, the Old Testament Law, and explanation of what the...

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A “Better” Christianity, (Part 2: Trust Jesus, not the Bible)

Mar 05

A “Better” Christianity, (Part 2: Trust Jesus, not the Bible)

In my previous post, I started by stating that this “new” Christianity states that we should be cautious to judge things up to Scripture, since quite a few parts of Scripture appear flawed/misguided in their understandings of God. That’s why I commented to Melena that I chose not to use the words of Paul in my last post. I know that there are those who might dismiss what Paul has to say, because they see some of his teachings as contradictory to what Jesus taught. So I wanted instead to study Jesus’ own words as much as possible, since we hadn’t addressed the issue of this blog post yet. So what does this “better” Christianity have to say about Scripture and Jesus? ——————————————————————————— TRUST JESUS, NOT THE BIBLE The idea goes something like this: Jesus is the fullest revelation of God, not the Bible. Jesus is the word of God (John 1:14), not the Bible. The Old Testament tried its best to describe who God is, how He acts, what He wants from us. But it was written by people who didn’t have the knowledge of God given to us by Jesus, and therefore they attribute things to God that aren’t really in His character. And it’s not just them that do this. Even in the New Testament, various authors in their zeal of God over-reach themselves. People like Paul, for example, who is trying his best to understand what it means that Jesus has come in the flesh and how we should respond to that truth. But we also have something better than the writings of people before Christ and the people after Christ (who are humans like the rest of us). We have the very words of Christ himself! Paul wasn’t the Son of God. Paul didn’t die for our sins. Paul isn’t the Way, the Truth, the Life. He didn’t come down from heaven. He isn’t our Savior, and he isn’t the Messiah. Jesus is! So, sure, it’s great to read what Paul or Old Testament writers had to say–just like it’s great to read what any Christian philosopher has to say down the centuries. But we aren’t to trust Paul or his words with our...

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A “Better” Christianity (Part 1: Don’t Judge)

Mar 01

A “Better” Christianity (Part 1: Don’t Judge)

Ok, so here’s the start of some blog posts that I promised a little while back to unpack some of the beliefs being presented today–claims for a “better” Christianity. Before I get into the first one about “not judging”, let me say that we must judge these “new” claims by Scripture. I believe it’s clear that they don’t stand up. But part of this “new” Christianity states that we should be cautious to judge such things up to Scripture, since quite a few parts of Scripture appear flawed/misguided in their understandings of God. In effect, these people are judging Scripture and find it to be lacking. This illustrates one of the points I will present in this blog that people who say “don’t judge,” create impossible criteria for what it means to “judge.” In fact, it is quite ironic that, when I was told that “my” view of Christianity (as if I’ve come up with something new) and my attitude was narrow-minded, judgmental, and arrogant, the very people telling me that I was judging were doing exactly that–and to an even greater degree. In other words, I did in fact “judge” their positions by stating that I completely disagree with their positions on matters that I believe are central to the Christian faith, and that I firmly believed they go completely against the whole of Scripture. I made judgments on their positions, for sure, but did not belittle them as persons in doing so. In return, those who would say that we shouldn’t judge responded by making judgments not only on my positions (which is completely fair and appropriate), but also belittling who I am as a person when they stated I was judgmental, arrogant, and narrow-minded for believing that Jesus is the only way, for example. This is what too often happens by those who say “Don’t judge.” When someone tells you that you are judging–by saying this, they are now judging (and not just judging your beliefs, but sometimes even your motivation, intelligence, or character). The reason for this circular conundrum is a misunderstanding of what Jesus means by “Don’t judge.” Almost anything we say is considered a “judgment.” By this definition, that last statement itself is...

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Re-Genesis

Feb 11

The biggest reason why I left Genesis, my former church, was that I believe that putting one’s faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to God, but I was told that this was narrow-minded, judgmental, and arrogant to believe and teach this. Of course, I had been teaching this to the youth, and was dismayed to learn that the church felt this was unnecessary and not beneficial to do so. Through this experience, my eyes have been opened to realize that churches like this really do exist out there. Sure, I’ve always known that, but I never thought it was so prevalent that I would actually be part of one. In addition, I discovered that the arguments given to me for why I was wrong for my beliefs would be rather persuasive to anyone who doesn’t read their Bible, which is very scary to me. Because statistics show (and people’s understanding of the Bible show) that most people who go to church don’t read their Bibles regularly. In the weeks that have followed my resignation, I’ve been looking hard at Scripture–and what I’ve found has amazed me. Of course, I knew that Scripture preaches that Jesus is the only way, etc. so that didn’t surprise me. But what has surprised and encouraged me is how powerful, alive, and transforming the gospel is. It’s like I’m experiencing it anew all over again. A re-genesis of sorts. But I lose sleep almost every night thinking about the people who remain at Genesis. Some of them have come to the conclusion that this issue is unimportant, and amounts to nothing more than simply parsing doctrinal hairs. They would say, “We can get along with you and your beliefs–why can’t you get along with us?” Then there are others who have no clue that the church feels this way about the gospel, because the gospel is never presented. Like me, they probably have wondered why we don’t talk about it, but assume that it’s because our sermons are more seeker-friendly. Yet they don’t realize the danger of not hearing the gospel on a regular basis. Pretty soon, if you’re not careful, you devalue the gospel in your own life, because it is...

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