Is theology arrogance?

“Doing theology” often implies that we understand God better than the apostles or their disciples, and Jesus would really have benefited from a background in textual criticism. But has everything orthodox already been taught? Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond congregationalism

The Christian leaders I’ve associated with have always said they want to be a New Testament church. But usually, they mean they want to be a New Testament congregation. Paul, however, clearly wrote about authority and involvement in multiple congregations. (Of course, maybe you believe that God put things in the Bible that don’t apply to us today). Read the rest of this entry »

Spreading the gospel of Jesus and American pharmaceuticals

Though American Christians may not believe that our culture is inspired, we often act like it. Some missionaries have actually helped reduce belief in the supernatural by teaching their Western worldview in contradiction to the Biblical worldview: “You don’t need to pray much about that, because we can give you a pill.”

I like what one village chieftain said when a Westerner explained that disease was not caused by evil spirits, but by germs that enter the body. He smiled and replied, “Okay, then what makes the germs enter the body?”

On a related note, some Bible teachers explain the Levitical test for an unfaithful wife by theorizing that a guilty person might be more likely to get sick.

In a real sense, the villagers had it right even before the missionaries arrived. Sickness is caused by spirits.

What you can do, not what you can’t

The commands of the Bible tell us what we can do, not what we can’t do. If God commands it, he promises it. And that’s exciting. The commands of God are all promises.

Practical Universalism

Universalism is the heretical teaching that everybody will go to heaven, even if they don’t want to. Practical universalism (a heresy I invented one night when I was bored) is stricter. It means that if you want to go to heaven, you have to be sincere or you have to be religious. But that’s okay because everybody is sincere or religious, aren’t we? Read the rest of this entry »

Squeezed into the Kingdom

At a conference, Graham Old was told, “The vast majority of people decide to become Christians because of a crisis in their lives.” His initial reaction: that’s a “big over-statement”. I’m not so sure.
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Everything is cheaper now.

“Comforts that were rare among our forefathers are now multiplied in factories and handed out wholesale; and indeed, nobody nowadays, so long as he is content to go without air, space, quiet, decency and good manners, need be without anything whatever that he wants; or at least a reasonably cheap imitation of it.”

G.K. Chesterton, Commonwealth, 1933

Work with your strengths

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

G.K. Chesterton