Thursday, April 27, 2006

Look Out, Iowa and New Hampshire

Yes, look out, Iowa and New Hampshire - there's a new sheriff in town!

Yes, Alabama is moving its presidential primary to February 5th. (Oooh, I forgot to tell you, the reader, to sit down...but then you are at your computer.)

I can see it town hall debates coming from Clanton, AL.

So, can just any state move its primary to whatever date decided upon?

Someone is bound to have theirs a couple of years early just for the attention it will receive if that's the case. Maybe there should be a system in place where the state with the highest average IQ should get to go first...maybe that would be Alabama.

Another New Alabama Law:
A sales tax holiday on the first weekend in August for back-to-school purchases. Honest! As if Wal-Mart wasn't crowded enough the week before school. I wonder if this applies to Best Buy???

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Your Favorite Scriptures--

Your Favorite Scriptures--

Hurry and Vote now!

FBC Orlando is looking for the favorite Scripture verses of the congregation to serve as a sermon series for the summer.

Hmmm... I'm certainly not present to make an accurate evaluation of whether or not this is being done in a biblical manner, but 2 Timothy 4.3 does come to mind: "...they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires..."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Gospel According to, um, Judas

Never mind that there is little evidence that gives any rational credibility to the document being titled 'The Gospel of Judas.' There is much irony in the presentation of the document and the weight that the media gives to it. Statements are flying everywhere like this one from National Geographic itself: The newfound account challenges one of the most firmly rooted beliefs in Christian tradition.

The greatest irony that can be found in the attention given to this document is the fact that it exists as only one written document and is estimated to have been originally written in the late 2nd Century. (If you want to read about the reliability of the real New Testament documents, go here. ) The attention given to anything that seems to detract from orthodox Christianity is nothing short of breath-taking. Every discovery that might challenge something in the Bible is front page material. When was the last time CNN did a piece on the weight of evidence in favor of the New Testament? If there is so much excitement about one single document that was supposedly written in the 2nd Century, where is the fanfare about those than can be reasonably traced to the middle of the 1st Century?

Similar to other popular writings, this discovery also provides opportunity for people to be off the hook. If the Bible must be taken seriously, then there are serious implications for every person who must deal with the claims of the Bible and the specific claims of the Bible concerning the deity and purpose of Jesus. The world will grasp at any straw and ignore the weight of evidence.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


As the coverage of The Masters tournament went off on Friday, the next program that came on was "Law and Order." As usual, the show began with a crime. I was only half paying attention, but as the scene caught my eye, the horrid crime that took place caught my full attention. I will not describe it. Suffice it to say that it left a sour impression on my mind, one that I wish was not there. (I, like most of the present generation, have seen too many crimes on TV and in movies, and unfortunately, feel rather hardened to such. This one, however, has really pierced my mind.)

One image. One "acted out" sin. On TV.

Part of the sermon that our pastor preached on Sunday was asking the question about the cup that Jesus faced in the Garden at Gethsemene. In that cup, Jesus saw all the horrid sins that we was about to bear on the cross. My mind was being affected by just one that I had seen. He saw them all, and still chose to take them upon himself.

"But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him." - Isaiah 53.6

Friday, April 07, 2006

Once Saved...

The common expression "once saved, always saved" has done the kingdom of heaven about as much good as termites have done to houses. I can speak more to Baptist circles than others, but the expression has tended to be thrown around with such casual reverence that it might as well have been found right there in the Bible.

I do find that the Bible teaches that the person who is in Christ will never find themselves outside of Christ. Thus, I would, by mere definition, agree with the terminology "once saved, always saved." However, while the term is certainly intended to grow the confidence of a believer in Jesus and to affirm something that is true, the abuse of such thinking has done considerable harm to the church, especially in the age of the invitation and the aisle walk.

The Christian 'testimony' for many has become such a direct look backward to the moment of belief that their basis for their salvation at this present moment lies more in the experience that they once knew than in their present state of knowing God through Jesus Christ.

"Holiness is the nature of the Spirit of God."

"The Spirit of God so dwells in the hearts of the saints that He there, as a seed or spring of divine nature, making the soul a partaker of God's beauty and Christ's joy, so that the saint has truly fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, in thus having the communion or participation of the Holy Ghost."

As Jonathan Edwards writes in Religious Affections (page 129 in the edition by Banner of Truth Trust), the occasions for false assurance of faith are numerous. Edwards teaches that people can display spirituality and many apparent works of the movement of the Spirit of God in their lives while, in reality, they do not know true salvation in Jesus Christ. Usually such misguided people are basing their spiritual standing upon something that took place in their life that they refer to as the moment they believed.

The case can be that the person is trusting in their own conversion experience. In other words: "I believe because I came to believe." Their evidence is not found in their current life of following and obeying Christ, but in their ability to point to their own faith. Does an experience convert a person? No, believing is to hold something to be true. Biblical faith is placing trust in the gospel of God in Jesus Christ.

Are Doubts Healthy?
Edwards certainly taught that it was much better for a true follower of Christ to ask hard questions concerning his current standing in the grace of God's salvation than for the topic to be given little thought. The purpose, as Edwards states, of the detailed descriptions he gives of the evidence of faith is for the believer to be able to accurately evaluate his life Edwards, as he begins the third section of the book (page 120), states that distinguishing the true and the false in other people is not possible, but rather such examination should be a personal undertaking for one's own salvation in Christ.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Thoughts and Wishes Fail Patients

Not only did the findings of the much-publicized study on prayer fail to be conclusive (which deserves a serious post in its own right), but other findings associated with the study were not as widely published. Surgery patients who had other people's "thoughts" with them healed no better than those who were not thought of nor did those who were given "best wishes" improve more quickly than those with neutral or ill wishes given them.

May our thoughts and prayers be with them. Er, um, best wishes. Get well soon.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Misquoting Jesus

After reading through Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus yesterday, I came away with a new appreciation for Ehrman's grasp of textual criticism. I had initially dismissed Ehrman's book as a liberal religion professor's stabs at Christianity. After looking at his credentials a little more thoroughly, I realize now that the book is a well-marketed and lay-level version of Ehrman's other books, especially his most serious scholarly work, Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. It seems that ever since Ehrman produced Orthodox, he has been rewriting the topic in various forms up until now in the highly personal volume of Misquoting Jesus. (See his list of titles at Wikipedia.) Thus, while Misquoting Jesus certainly does not fall into the category of biblical scholarship, it does come from a man who is very capable in that arena.

Misquoting (Misrepresenting) the Numbers
One of the initial points that stuck out to me in Ehrman's book is the way he deals with the Greek manuscripts and the numbers involved concerning their existence and the textual variants. As the Washington Post quotes, "There are some 5,700 ancient Greek manuscripts that are the basis of the modern versions of the New Testament, and scholars have uncovered more than 200,000 differences in those texts." Ehrman's analysis of the evidence is completely contrary to his mentor's analysis – Bruce Metzger is one of the, if not the, foremost experts on the topic today and he renders much interpretation the opposite direction. Even his chapter in Lee Strobel's book, The Case for Christ, leans strongly in favor of the accuracy of our New Testament.

An Expert Analysis
Daniel Wallace offers a brief review of Misquoting Jesus at Ben Witherington's blog. As a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who teaches classes in textual criticism, I will leave the finer points of breaking down the problems of Ehrman's book to Wallace (though this review is meant to be brief - notice that both Wallace and Witherington carry on the dialogue in the comments at Witherington's blog.) One of the interesting points that Wallace makes is that he believes it is wrong for an expert on a topic, such as Ehrman is, to write and market his findings for the general population who are not equipped to make judgments on the book.

Ehrman's Motivation

The part that disturbs me most about Ehrman's book is similar to one of Wallace's points. Ehrman has believed this position for over a decade, at least. He has published nearly 20 other books, most of which are marketed at least for the arena of religious studies along with his more scholarly works intended for those in academic study. It would seem (based on Ehrman's introduction in Misquoting Jesus as well as the historical track of his writings) that he is now seeking to step outside the realm of scholarship and into the pop culture which has so embraced The Da Vinci Code. As Wallace also points out, there have been many challenges brought against Ehrman's Orthodox Corruption of Scritpure (which is the chief basis for his other books), and Ehrman does not address these challenges but rather has moved to a different arena to display his findings. Might this be akin to a scientist as NASA who comes up with a "brilliant" theory and finds his theory does not convince many of his colleagues? Then he moves outside the arena of scientific research and publishes his findings in Time Magazine rather than in the leading scientific journals in his field.

Yes. I would find Ehrman's arguments very convincing if I were approaching the topic with no other information. This book is currently a bestseller and is bound to make an impact in our society.

One Final Point
Any person who does not believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God must provide an explanation for their unbelief. Thus, it is not surprising that any person would seek to undermine the Bible as the way that God has revealed truth to mankind. A person who is aware of the Bible's claims (the Bible certainly claims that there is no other name by which men may spared eternal judgment) must either ignore what the Bible states or attempt to discredit it. Most people just ignore it. Some people work hard to demonstrate that the Bible cannot be taken seriously, because if the Bible is to be taken seriously then each person must recognize where they stand in God's sight: either in their own condition of imperfection that will result in eternal judgment and eternal torment, or in the forgiveness of Jesus Christ that grants us, by grace, eternal life by trusting in him. This teaching is admittedly a hard one to accept, and we are tempted at many points to try to explain it away.