The New Bible Challenge

As a child and teen reared in church I was not taught to read the Bible critically. The first article of our church’s Declaration of Faith states that we believe “In the verbal inspiration of the Bible.” This being the first article in our statement of faith is not incidental. It suggests that the Bible has priority; that all other statements of faith proceed from our confidence in the veracity of the inspired Scripture. Therefore, the words of Scripture are to be accepted by faith. As a teen I began reading the Bible in earnest. When I read “difficult” passages – Joshua’s genocide of Canaan, or Samuel’s execution of the Amalekite king – it never occurred to me to read these texts critically. In other word’s I was never taught to ask questions.

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Myth, Symbols, and Truth

Many of my colleagues have expressed objections to my reflections about Aronofsky’s Noah. As I have said in various venues even though the movie deviates from the biblical text, I found it to be filled with theological images that faithfully reflect the meta-narrative of the Bible. Further, there are many extra-biblical variations on the Noah story, and various hermeneutical traditions, from which Aronofsky drew in producing his film adaptation. I find it somewhat ironic that some who object with great passion choose to ignore some of our own non-biblical adaptations. As a child I was taught that the curse of Ham was God making people black. Therefore, all people of color were cursed and if a white person married a colored person their children might be animals. Really, I learned that in Sunday school! Believe it or not, I still hear that from time to time. So let’s dispense with the hypocrisy.

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Cain & Abel, World Vision, & Conflict Reconciliation

The recent controversy surrounding World Vision has caused me to reflect upon how various segments of the church deal with conflict. As I recently watched the movie Noah, I was again reminded that the story of Cain and Abel demonstrates the root cause of human conflict (Genesis 4:1-16). We must be reminded of two things: (1) this is a conflict between brothers provoked by envy; and (2) this is a religious conflict. One more thing, this is an example of how conflict between brothers should not be resolved.

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Noah – A Review

If you want to see a movie that presents the biblical story of Noah in a manner that reminds you of the story you heard as a child, then this movie is not for you. All of the familiar components are there, but this movie takes some unexpected twist with the biblical narrative. With that said, I liked the movie.

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Integrity in Ministerial Education is a Missional Concern

“It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, …And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil ” (1 Timothy 3:1-2, 7).

I have been involved in various aspects of denominational ministerial development for twenty years. During that time I have been honored to be a part of many great advancements, each advancement hard fought because of resistance from denominational leadership and credentialed clergy. The culture of our church from pulpit to pew is anti-intellectual, anti-education. It is this culture that will send our church spiraling downward towards irrelevance as we seek to engage the 21st century with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Sanctifying the Mind

The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17) has poisoned the human mind. Even as humans are capable of astounding scientific discovery and ingenious feats of engineering, darkness clouds the mind and evil is an ever present reality. Reflecting upon the human condition, the Apostle John declared that humans “loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Jesus Christ is the Light that seeks to enlighten the human mind (John 1:9). However, as humanity rejects the light of Christ, their minds are darkened. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:21-22). So, when we speak of the salvation of humankind through the person of Christ, we must acknowledge that salvation includes the regeneration of the human mind.

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Preaching to an Audience of One

I am a life-long Pentecostal, so my criticisms of Pentecostalism are born of Pentecostal zeal. I am not committed to Pentecostal culture; rather I am passionately devoted to the Pentecostal message that God the Father has sent the Son and Spirit to gather humanity in a divine embrace. So, allow me to offer a critique of an element of Pentecostal culture that may lead to Pentecostalism’s irrelevance in coming decades – Pentecostal preaching.

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A Lenten Prayer

Lord, let me die. Let me die so that in the weakness of my flesh I shall not fall into sin. Let me die so that I will not be confident in my own strength. Let me die so that the love of this present age will not corrupt my heart. Let me die so that my pride will not be exalted so that I become self deceived, believing in my own importance. Let me die so that I am loosed from the need or desire of worldly treasures.

Lord, let me die. Let me die so that I may be raised in Christ by the Spirit of Life. Let me die so that Christ may live in me. Let me die so that I may live abundantly and eternally in this age and the age to come. Let me die so that I may be filled with the goodness of God, partaking of the divine nature, glorified in Christ. Let me die so that I may see beyond the corruption and death of this present age; into the beauty, justice, peace, and joy of your eternal kingdom. Let me die so that I may see your glory.

Amen.

Why I Observe Lent (and the Liturgical Calendar)

For most Pentecostals, the only days of the Christian calendar worthy of observance are Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. Even so, these days are dropped into the midst of ordinary days with very little reflection or planning, with the exception of the obligatory drama or cantata. As a kid in Pentecostal church, I never knew what Ash Wednesday signified. I thought it had something to do with the government’s anti-smoking campaign.

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As You Defend the Faith, Do Not Neglect Compassion

In an effort to faithfully serve as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the current socio-political climate that promotes “marriage equality,” I have adopted three principles of ministry.

First, I will support and defend the Christian definition of marriage – one man and one woman (Matthew 19:1-9; Ephesians 5:22-32). Therefore, I will resist efforts to legalize same-sex marriage, polygamy, or any other social construction that is contrary to the Christian Scriptures or tradition. Furthermore, I will resist the trend of no-fault, or common divorce; the only allowances for divorce being sexual immorality, or abandonment (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:15) .

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