Whenever the entertainment industry gets their hands on Scripture and tries to transform it to something that is entertaining I find myself just cringing. So I must admit it is with some trepidation that I saw the trailer for the soon-to-be-released (already released in US) TV mini-series titled The Bible. Here is said trailer:
Now not too much can be gleaned from this limited viewing.
However, this series has received endorsement from Creation Ministries: "The Bible is a brilliant production that brings the history of the Bible to life, and it’s immensely encouraging that a series of this caliber will be airing on The History Channel. No series could possibly perfectly convey the message of Scripture given the constraints of the medium. But I believe The Bible could expose people to these stories for perhaps the first time. People who won’t pick up a Bible will perhaps switch on The History Channel. And if we as Christians ‘get behind’ efforts like these, perhaps we will see more high-quality productions based on the biblical message."
So I'm quietly hopeful this series will buck the trend of the media mishandling the Biblical narrative.
Make sure to check it out once it becomes available.
This is a guest-post by a friend of mine. Andrew examines a recent article on Huffington Post in defence of Rob Bell in evangelical circles. Part 2 will be up in the next week.
Doctrine Divides....and Sometimes It Should (Part 1)
Article by Andrew B
For those of you unfamiliar with the Rob Bell controversy, take a minute to watch this and get brought up to speed. Basically, this former pastor from Mars Hill Church (no, a different Mars Hill) came out with a book promoting universalism, the idea that we ALL eventually end up in heaven, one way or another and hell either doesn’t exist or doesn’t have its traditional permanency. Rightly so, there was uproar in the Christian blogosphere and the responses to Bell’s book have been done to death. To get a basic idea of the rebuttals, take another moment to watch Jefferson Bethke (the “Hate Religion, Love Jesus” guy) parody the “Love Wins” promo vid here.
My goal here is not to respond to Love Wins, or even Rob Bell’s newest work that appears to be coming out soon, but rather to respond to a certain article in the religious section of the Huffington Post entitled “Will Evangelicalism Last?” from a pastor who I’m not familiar with named Tim Suttle. Have a read.
This pastor’s response to the Bell controversy highlights a notion that has been advancing in Christianity basically since the serpent asked Eve in the Garden, “Did God really say that?” (Genesis 3:1). The question is ultimately whether rightly dividing God’s word and doctrinal issues matter enough to justify the furor against Bell and others like him and Tim Suttle, answering, “no, it does not” believes evangelicalism will not last long if it continues to hold so rigidly to its fundamental beliefs.
First of all, just skimming through the article the scripture reference count stands at zero. So, this isn’t a biblically driven article, but from the outset just seems to be some guy’s opinion. As Christians we aren’t too concerned about anyone’s opinions unless it is backed up by scripture. Remember, the internet and blogs are a GREAT source for learning about theological issues, but only so far as it guides us through scripture itself. Let me walk through the article bit by bit.
“One thing seems clear: If evangelicalism continues to be defined primarily by a theological center, it will crumble -- especially if guys like Denny Burk get to decide who's in and who's out.”
So straight off, scripture for this? It’s literally just a random opinion. But I’m sure he’ll try back up his claim so well see.
“For one thing "Truth" is not rational abstraction -- a concept, doctrine, or idea you can write down -- especially not one which you conveniently have right and everyone else conveniently has wrong. Truth-as-a-rational-abstraction constitutes a denial of the in- carnation (and big chunks of the New Testament). Doctrines and theologies can point to the truth but they are not themselves the Truth. The Truth has been revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ. Truth is a person. Jesus is the Truth.
Even if one keeps the truth-as-a-rational-abstraction account of truth, it still should not constitute the evangelical center. Christians are not meant to believe in a rational account of the truth; we are meant to take up our cross and follow the one who is true; the truth as it has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ. But for the truth-police, Christianity has become analyzed instead of lived.”
Rob Bell was known for being part of the “Emerging Church” which loved to use vague, airy-fairy terminology to distract you from the fact that they weren’t actually saying anything that made sense. This article seems to be in the same vein. I mean, it looks like Suttle is just desperately trying to avoid the literal definition of the word “truth”. The fact is this word is confronting by nature. It immediately divides, because if you say “truth” you’re implying there is a “false”. He actually inadvertently provides a good argument for placing a high value on truth by saying that the truth is a person, namely Jesus. What this actually means is that God was SO adamant about what was true and what was false that he actually gets his Son to refer to Himself as THE truth. Remember Jesus didn’t have to say this. He could have just said, “I am the Way and the Life” but no he says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).
I actually love this next bit…
“Doctrines and theologies can point to the truth but they are not themselves the Truth. The Truth has been revealed to us in and through Jesus Christ. Truth is a person. Jesus is the Truth.”
…because it’s just a horrible argument. It just does not follow at all. He’s saying that since the truth is a person, then doctrines and theologies cannot be truth. It just doesn’t logically follow and again the lack of scripture references show that he’s not deriving this from a biblical context but rather from his own notions and opinions.
Stay tuned for part 2, where I’ll tackle the second half of Suttle’s article.
"US President Barack Obama's administration threw its weight behind gay marriage, urging the Supreme Court to strike down California's ban on same-sex unions.
The court is set to examine the issue on March 26, when it will study the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, a measure approved by a 2008 referendum that outlawed gay marriage in the most populous US state.
In a separate brief to the court concerning another case, the administration has asked justices to declare the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act - a law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman - unconstitutional...."
An excellent article that outlines the extent to which pornography has infected our culture. Warning this does not appear to be a Christian article and is quite graphic but it poses some very important concerns. Some of the article has been left out because it is unhelpful. It is important to note the study and the changing perception in regards to sexuality that the author Vanessa Richmond alludes to.
"No, porn does not turn men into crazed sex fiends. But it's clear that pornography has affected the way we view -- and have -- sex. Here's how to counter porn's effects.
There are no more male porn virgins. A Canadian study released this week sought to compare the views of 20-something men who watch porn with those who don’t. They couldn’t find a single one who hadn’t seen any. “Guys who do not watch pornography do not exist,” concluded the lead researcher, Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse of the University of Montreal’s School of Social Work.
Guys who watch a lot of pornography, however, are easy to find. Of the 20-something heterosexual men they interviewed, most had sought out pornography for the first time at age 10. The single men among them, on average, watch porn three times a week for 40 minutes, and those in relationships, 1.7 times a week for around 20 minutes. In no small part that's because porn so easy to find: 90 percent of consumption is on the Internet, while only 10 percent is from the video store.
"We equate love with indifference to sin when the Bible’s logic is exactly the opposite. The cross is the fullest expression of God’s love not because it shows God’s indifference to sin, but because it shows God’s holy hatred toward sin and his willingness to pay for it himself. That’s love.
At the end of Acts 7, we see Stephen praying for the angry mob stoning him to death. He says with his dying breath, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Surely this is love: Stephen wanted them to receive a mercy they did not show him. He had done nothing wrong. Stephen was not deserving of death. Their actions were a profound instance of criminal injustice. And yet in a final gasp, on his knees, he cries out on their behalf, “Lord have mercy.”
How did he do that? How could Stephen love like that? How do we love like that? Pray like that? Forgive like that? Lots of people in the world want to love and forgive. We like those virtues in our culture. But few people are interested in the principles which makes these virtues possible.People want to love like Stephen without bothering to understand or embrace the mile of theology that made his love possible. They don’t want to see the Jesus he saw, or believe in the vindication he knew was coming, or entrust their offense to the God of justice who will one day make all things right.
In the world, they want to be good people. But they don’t realize they have to be God people first. I hope you aren’t going to church just to become a better you or just for the morality your kids might pick up. That’s not how Christianity works. Becoming a Christian is not simply about self-improvement. It’s about a hundred particular truths that teach our minds and touch our hearts–truths about God and Christ and sin and salvation. And yes, later, and only in connection with all the rest, is it about being a good person. When you embrace the biblical worldview of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; creation, fall, redemption, and consummation; redemption accomplished and applied–when your heart thrills to all of that, then you’ll bear fruit. But don’t expect to ever look like Stephen if you grasp for the fruit without the tree."
"For Tim Tebow, speaking at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, had to look like a great opportunity. He grew up attending a large Southern Baptist church, and an invitation to speak at one of the most venerable and historic Baptist churches in the world had to look like an easy call. He was going.
All that changed yesterday when Tebow, the National Football League's most prominent evangelical symbol, sent word through Twitter that he was withdrawing from the event. His sudden announcement came after a whirlwind of controversy over his scheduled appearance at the Dallas church. Its senior minister, Robert Jeffress, is no stranger to public controversy. His sound bites are often incendiary, but his convictions—including the exclusivity of the gospel and the belief that homosexual behaviors are sinful—are clearly within the mainstream of American evangelicalism.
While many complained about Jeffress's tone and stridency, the controversy quickly shifted to secular outrage that Tebow would agree to speak to a church known for such beliefs.
Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports warned, "Tim Tebow is about to make the biggest mistake of his life" by speaking at "a hateful Baptist preacher's church." Doyel described Jeffress as "an evangelical cretin" guilty of serial hate speech. Of course, Doyel engaged in hateful and slanderous speech of his own by associating Jeffress with the truly hateful Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Jeffress "isn't as bad as Westboro," Doyel admitted, "But he comes close. Too close."
Other sportswriters piled on. Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post offered his own warning to Tebow: "After a season on the sidelines, the ball's in your hands, Timmy. Better not fumble this one."