Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Are Christians So Mean?

If you Google "why are Christians," the search engine will immediately suggest "so mean."

One of the most common objections to the Christian faith is that its adherents are judgmental, close-minded, or just plain mean.

Until recently, however, I did not give this objection much weight. After all, I figured, the people who make this objection are typically antagonistic towards Christianity to begin with, and therefore see what they want to see. Christians never claim to be perfect, and if someone is set on finding flaws, they will not be disappointed. Furthermore, secular society often unfairly interprets our ethical convictions as bigotry. For example, we are said to hate women because we are against abortion, to hate homosexuals because we are against same-sex marriage, and so forth. Finally, not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is one. Fred Phelps and the gang from Westboro Baptist Church, for instance, blatantly reject the gospel message and are not in communion with any Christian denomination.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Help Me Get Rid of My Stuff

I'll be leaving for Kentucky on August 20, and I need to get rid of some stuff. If you want anything, just let me know!

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Grisly Independence Week in America

Nicole Kelly and Kiam Felix Jr.
Twenty-two year old Nicole Kelly was charged with second degree murder this week after admitting to police that she had killed her 11-month-old son, Kiam Felix Jr. “I didn’t want the child,” she explained. “I was taking care of my son by myself for 11 months and getting overwhelmed. On July 6th I snapped. I decided I was done being his only caretaker. I tucked his entire body underneath the sheet to make sure he couldn’t breathe.” According to prosecutors, she then “callously” took a thirty minute shower while he died.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Offensive Gospel

While preparing for a lesson I am teaching this Sunday on Isaiah 52-53, I came across some intriguing statements by Celsus, a pagan philosopher who wrote a lengthy attack on Christian doctrine around A.D. 170-180. His objections might have been lifted right out of Isaiah’s prophecy. Compare them together:
The LORD reveals his royal power in the sight of all the nations; the entire earth sees our God deliver....“Look, my servant will succeed!” He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted...Kings will be shocked by his exaltation, for they will witness something unannounced to them, and they will understand something they had not heard about. Who would have believed what we just heard? When was the LORD's power revealed through him? He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him. He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. - Is. 52:10-53:3 (NET)

Monday, May 19, 2014

C. S. Lewis and Bikinis

The weather is warming up, the clothes are coming off, and it’s time for a post on modesty.

I grew up in extremely conservative circles, where I was exposed to some rather bizarre views on modesty. The most memorable was from a pastor who spoke at a summer camp I attended. In the course of his sermon, he argued from Genesis 3:21 that a girl's shorts must extend to the knee. Genesis 3:21 reads as follows:
Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
The pastor explained that in some early edition of the King James version, the word “tunic” is translated “apron.” And (as everyone knows) a blacksmith’s apron extends from the shoulder to the knee. Therefore, a girl's shorts must extend to the knee.

I had many questions. How did the ancient Hebrews know about blacksmiths? Aren’t these aprons completely open in the back? Wouldn’t this logic apply to boys as well as to girls?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Homosexuality and the Church

I found this flyer on the lectern in my classroom today. I'm not sure who left it there, but I couldn't resist adding a few comments:

For more on this topic, see my previous post: Love Fails: Rob Bell Supports Same-Sex Marriage

Thursday, March 27, 2014

God's Love, God's Wrath, and the Atonement

This is a portion of the lesson on Romans 5 which I recently presented to the high school youth group at Grace EV Free.

Are sinners objects of God's wrath or objects of his love? If God already wanted to forgive us, why did he not just do it? Why did Jesus have to die to reconcile us to God?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Makes You So Special?

What makes human beings so special? What gives us value? When we assert that it is worse to kill a human than to kill a dolphin, are we guilty of racism, or more precisely, of speciesism? On what rational ground can we insist that Homo sapiens should be considered more valuable than any other animal?

In a debate between Yale professor Shelly Kagan (left) and Christian philosopher William Lane Craig (right), Kagan gave this answer:


While I admire Kagan’s attempt to defend human value as an objective reality, I believe his argument ultimately fails to provide a sufficient foundation for morality.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Off to Kentucky!

For the past several months, I have been applying to various Ph.D. programs in New Testament. Many of you have been praying for me during this time; thank you so much! I decided yesterday to accept an offer from Asbury Theological Seminary. Asbury is an evangelical seminary with a strong Wesleyan heritage located in Wilmore, Kentucky. I have been blessed with a full-tuition scholarship and the privilege of studying under Ben Witherington III. I will be starting in the Fall.

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Take on the "Warning Passages" of Hebrews

My friends at the Church of the Open Door are beginning a series on Hebrews, and I understand Pastor Underwood mentioned my paper on the infamous "warning passages." Here is the introduction and a link to download the full copy:

The Lord Will Judge His People: An Analysis of the Warning Passages in Hebrews

For centuries, the terrifying warnings contained in the book of Hebrews have puzzled and troubled believers. According to the traditional Reformed interpretation, these warnings concern false believers who are never truly regenerate, and according to the traditional Arminian interpretation, these warnings concern once genuine believers who fail to enter heaven. Against both of these views, I will argue that the warnings in Hebrews describe the very real danger of genuine believers committing defiant sin and thus experiencing the fierce eschatological judgment of God upon his people. Due to the considerable overlap in the various warning passages scattered throughout Hebrews, I will arrange my argument thematically instead of examining each passage in isolation. First, I will argue in response to the Reformed view that the warnings are directed to genuine believers, not false believers, and concern a real possibility, not a hypothetical one. Secondly, I will argue in response to the Arminian view that the warnings encompass all defiant sin, not only final apostasy. Thirdly, I will argue in response to both views that the warnings envision the fierce eschatological judgment of God upon his people, not eternal damnation in hell.

Download Full Paper

Monday, February 10, 2014

“Spring Breakers” Draws Biola Students Closer to Christ

[This post is a satirical response to a recent article in Biola’s student newspaper which listed Spring Breakers and The Wolf of Wall Street among the 10 best films of 2013. The style is intended to mimic college journalism.]

A small revival broke out in Emerson Hall this weekend. “It was a genuine spiritual re-awakening,” explained Biola freshman Joey Shcmittendorf, a film major from Durant, Oklahoma.   

It all began around 10:00pm on Friday evening, when Shcmittendorf and some of his friends decided to rent Spring Breakers and watch it in their dorm room. “My parents are narrow-minded fundamentalists who don’t care about engaging the culture for Christ,” Shcmittendorf explained, “So I wasn’t allowed to watch these sorts of films growing up.” All that changed, however, when Shcmittendorf came to Biola and was encouraged to “think Biblically about everything.”

Monday, February 3, 2014

Do Infants Who Die Go to Heaven?

Few theological questions have more practical importance for pastoral ministry. Virtually every person has a friend or family member who has lost a child through miscarriage, illness, accident, or abortion. Can we be assured that these children are safe in the arms of Christ, or is it possible that infants who die may be eternally separated from God? 

Unfortunately, Christians are often told that the Bible gives no clear answer to this question. They are told that, for all we know, the children who are lost to us in this life may in fact be confined forever to Hell. Not only does this teaching cause much grief and anxiety, but perhaps more importantly, it misrepresents the character of God. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Christian Response to Macklemore’s “Same Love”

Macklemore’s song “Same Love” recently received a Grammy nomination for “Song of the Year.” At the awards show, Macklemore performed the song while 33 same-sex and opposite-sex couples were married. 

How should Christians respond to this song?  

First of all, Christians should acknowledge that Macklemore makes several statements that are absolutely correct. 
The right wing conservatives think it's a decision  
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion 
Some conservatives are indeed guilty of perpetuating this type of thinking. While homosexuals, just like heterosexuals, certainly have the ability to choose to refrain from engaging in sexual activity, people do not necessarily have the ability to choose to stop experiencing same-sex attractions. Human sexuality is complicated, and at least some of the factors which may possibly influence sexual orientation are entirely outside of one’s control, such as upbringing, abuse, and genetics.