Saturday, November 7, 2009

Literacy and Biblical Knowledge

I just wanted to point you all towards an article in the September issue of JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society) that I found an enlightening and fascinating read. Timothy Larsen in his article Literacy and Biblical Knowledge: The Victorian Age and Our Own, traces the results of a reaction against the biblical saturation of the Victorian era and the effects it has had upon literacy. I won't necessarily endorse every line of reasoning he pursues, but he is reasonable and balanced in his analysis. I know many of you may frown at the title of the article and dismiss it as irrelevant but I would encourage you to forsake your prejudice and give it a read. There are several important implications for us today that Larsen brings out.

If you read it and find it boring, eh... you're a philistine.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Appropriately preaching, teaching, and defending God's wrath

I am by inclination, believe it or not, much more enthusiastic about preaching God's love, mercy, and grace than I am about preaching hell-fire, brimstone, and wrath. I've seen churches and preachers who have overemphasized God's wrath and it's not only ugly it's a perversion of God and of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, however, I feel like the trend is not overemphasizing God's wrath but to completely ignore it. My inner being rejoices because I am so much more comfortable with this "tickle my ears" (pseudo-)Christian message, but, unfortunately for my "inner being", I know that my desire to preach and teach this truncated gospel is inspired by selfishness and out of a desire to please people and not from a love of God or, even, out of a love for people. The gospel without wrath is incomplete. The cross is pointless (even twisted) and the Scripture and gospel become simply inspirational messages but give us nothing of eternal value.

That is not to say that we don't need to be cautious when we preach God's wrath. I've heard preaching before that unintentionally made God look like a capricious three year old with occasional temper tantrums. We can't preach God's wrath without helping people understand why God's wrath is appropriate. Telling people that "God is angry at sin" is good, but needs meat. We need to help people see why God is angry at sin. I think people are willing to accept the assertion that they do wrong things, but what's the big deal? Why would God get so angry at sin? Why hell? Why the purging of the Canaanites and the subsequent punishment of Israel for not wiping them out when they are told to? Why doesn't God just forgive us?

It seems like those of us who remain committed to preaching a gospel which includes God's wrath, do a good job of telling people that God hates sin but do a very poor job of helping people understand why. If people don't understand how bad their sin is and how much they need forgiveness, then they will miss out on the depth and power and wonder of God's love. Believers who know that God is angry at sin but don't have a full understanding as to what is so bad about sin, may see God as harsh and unjust (even though they wouldn't verbalize this underlying doubt since that would make it look as though they are questioning God, and we can't have that!).

If any of you still remember my Apology of Hell novel thing from about a year ago, that's kind of what I'm trying to accomplish, defending the need and appropriateness of God's wrath in response to sin. I've recently begun to revive this stuff and will have another chapter finished pretty soon. But I would like your feedback before I share some of my thoughts in both fictional and nonfictional formats.

How do we help people understand the appropriateness of God's wrath towards sin?

P.S. I'm still getting to the baptist distinctive series, but those take work in the form of research! SO you have to wait until I get the time!

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Who Killed Davey Moore?"

Not to harp on certain sports that, in my opinion, show a low regard for human rights, here's a song by Bob Dylan written as a reaction to the death of the boxer Davey Moore in the 1960s. I think if we are going to have the moral authority to go after abortion and euthanasia, both of which I wholeheartedly oppose, we shouldn't wink at boxing, nascar and other sports that puts human life at stake for the sake of entertainment.

Who killed Davey Moore,
Why an' what's the reason for?

"Not I," says the referee,
"Don't point your finger at me.
I could've stopped it in the eighth
An' maybe kept him from his fate,
But the crowd would've booed, I'm sure,
At not gettin' their money's worth.
It's too bad he had to go,
But there was a pressure on me too, you know.
It wasn't me that made him fall.
No, you can't blame me at all."

Who killed Davey Moore,
Why an' what's the reason for?

"Not us," says the angry crowd,
Whose screams filled the arena loud.
"It's too bad he died that night
But we just like to see a fight.
We didn't mean for him t' meet his death,
We just meant to see some sweat,
There ain't nothing wrong in that.
It wasn't us that made him fall.
No, you can't blame us at all."

Who killed Davey Moore,
Why an' what's the reason for?

"Not me," says his manager,
Puffing on a big cigar.
"It's hard to say, it's hard to tell,
I always thought that he was well.
It's too bad for his wife an' kids he's dead,
But if he was sick, he should've said.
It wasn't me that made him fall.
No, you can't blame me at all."

Who killed Davey Moore,
Why an' what's the reason for?

"Not me," says the gambling man,
With his ticket stub still in his hand.
"It wasn't me that knocked him down,
My hands never touched him none.
I didn't commit no ugly sin,
Anyway, I put money on him to win.
It wasn't me that made him fall.
No, you can't blame me at all."

Who killed Davey Moore,
Why an' what's the reason for?

"Not me," says the boxing writer,
Pounding print on his old typewriter,
Sayin', "Boxing ain't to blame,
There's just as much danger in a football game."
Sayin', "Fist fighting is here to stay,
It's just the old American way.
It wasn't me that made him fall.
No, you can't blame me at all."

Who killed Davey Moore,
Why an' what's the reason for?

"Not me," says the man whose fists
Laid him low in a cloud of mist,
Who came here from Cuba's door
Where boxing ain't allowed no more.
"I hit him, yes, it's true,
But that's what I am paid to do.
Don't say 'murder,' don't say 'kill.'
It was destiny, it was God's will."

Who killed Davey Moore,
Why an' what's the reason for?

Okay, enough on sports. I promise to leave this topic alone for a good long while. This is not and never will be a sports blog!

About Me

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Tacoma, Washington, United States
"It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt." Fyodor Dostoevsky. I'm a Northwest Baptist Seminary graduate (MDiv) and current student (ThM). I plan on someday going to Africa and teach Bible and Theology at a Bible College or Seminary level. I hope to continue my studies and earn a PhD, either after I go to overseas for a few years or before. I'm a theological conservative, but I like to think outside of the box and challenge conventional thinking and consider myself a free thinker. I am currently serving in my fourth year as a Youth Pastor at Prairie Baptist Fellowship in Yelm Washington. My blogs will reflect my thoughts on both seminary and ministry life, though not (of course) exclusively. I enjoy literature and occasionally try my hand at writing stories and poems. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." Paul