Bible Posts

Does Fear Belong in Christianity?

Despite the Gospel often referred to as ‘good news,’ many people associate other feelings with Christianity. One of the most common reactions is fear. It’s understandable, as we tend to present the ‘good news’ with an ultimatum. If you choose NOT to follow this good news there’s a steep price to pay. Namely, you’ll burn forever.

Now it’s not usually said in those terms, it’s usually couched in language that shows our concern to save others from burning forever. But that simply communicates the same fear in a friendlier way. We’ll be sad if they burn.

Is this what Jesus had in mind?

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The Problem with a Good God and a Broken Humanity

I’ve noticed a certain tendency in our language of God and people. We often talk about how broken we are and in need of saving. Some theological circles dive even deeper into this idea and use phrases that explain how we are ‘totally depraved.’ Basically, our conversations dwell on how God is good but we are not.

While I’m not suggesting we don’t need God, I do want to suggest there’s something a bit off in how we talk about this.

Stop for a moment and think this through with me. According to Christianity, who made people? The answer is God made us. Okay, that seems easy enough. But how did God make us? The answer is that God made us in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27, 5:1). This creates an issue for our current conversation.

If humans are bad, what does this say about the Creator? Especially one who created us in the Creator’s own image? If even half or a third of humanity was bad, we’d still have to acknowledge that God isn’t very good at making people. But what kind of problem do we have if one hundred percent of people are broken (obviously excluding Jesus as unique)?

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Christmas is More

Merry Christmas friends. I’m not sure where your mind is at as you’ve been preparing and enjoying Christmas week this year. My head hasn’t really been dwelling on Hallmark plots that make you feel good. I read a tweet a while back and now I find myself thinking about it again as Christmas draws near.

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Why I’m a Fan of Deconstruction

There’s quite a bit of discussion right now about the idea of ‘deconstruction’ when it comes to your faith. In case you’re unfamiliar with that term, here’s a definition I find helpful: “Faith deconstruction is the systematic pulling apart of one’s belief system for examination. For Christians, that can mean a wide array of questions ranging from the theological to the practical” (source: Backyard Theology).

Much of what is being said is about deconstruction (notably from those in formal positions in the church) is bold and harsh.

  • Exhibit A: Recently an article went viral for giving four reasons why people deconstruct. Two of the reasons were a “desire to sin” and people looking to get “street cred” (source: The Gospel Coalition).
  • Exhibit B: The popular megachurch pastor Matt Chandler recently went viral for referring to deconstruction as the “sexy thing to do.” You can hear him say this in the 30 second clip below.
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Who Can (and Should) We Learn From?

A few weeks ago I spoke at a church and closed with a quote from Sarah Bessey. One of the volunteers in that church loved the quote and was talking about it with others when she decided to Google Sarah’s name to find out more about her. She then had a few questions after realizing Sarah’s theology may be more different from her own than she realized (and was a bit uncomfortable with it).

The pastor of the church relayed this story to me and we had a great discussion that anyone who communicates publicly for a living understands. Every person you quote comes with a risk. I know pastors who don’t share their personal reading list of books to avoid comments from others. Or just watch what happens if a pastor mentions the name Rob Bell (I once got reprimanded by a church member for simply following him on Twitter).

The safest way is to never quote anyone. But this comes at a loss for the community itself. The church then becomes an echo chamber of repeating ideas and reinforcing what is already believed. It’s essentially the same formula for a cult.

The question behind this discussion boils down to this: Who can (and should) we learn from?

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Useless Space

Useless Space

Our family is back in Arizona after spending the last few weeks in Oregon. Before we left we stopped by a Starbucks that had a path into the forest behind it. Naturally, I had to take the kids on a little exploration walk to find out where the path went. Much to our enjoyment, we got to walk across a super cool bridge over a river and through a meandering forest. There were a few signs along the way and one of them caught my attention.

On it I read these words:

“Sweek Pond is one of several small wetlands nestled within Tualatin’s urbanized landscape. Often dismissed as ‘useless’ lands, these pockets of natural vegetation provide critical habitat for many animal species.”

The phrase “useless lands” stood out to me after the beauty I had just walked through. Who on earth would call this beauty useless? Yet the more I thought of it, the more I realized why someone would say that. There isn’t a lot you can do in the middle of wetlands.

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