The Auspices of Ordination

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away … no, wait: wrong story.  Let’s try “Once upon a time”, when I was in my 20’s, shortly after I had accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, I was studying under a dynamic young Preacher named Dennis.  He was the first formally educated preacher I’d encountered in my adult(ish) life and he impressed me so much with his knowledge of the Bible that it ignited a fire in me.  Dennis thought I showed promise and encouraged me to seek ordination by attending a local seminary.  Dennis gave me a letter of recommendation and I filled out the admission paperwork and waited for the enrollment period to come around.

While I was waiting, the church Deacons discovered that Dennis was having an affair with the church secretary and sent him packing.  When they announced this to the congregation, I felt personally betrayed by my mentor.  Anger over this betrayal sent me off into a time I call my “prodigal period” where I shelved my faith for a while, including abandoning my plans for Christian education and ordination. Continue reading “The Auspices of Ordination”

The Language of Jesus

I have, on occasion, been taken to task by someone who claims that the King James Version of the Bible is the only valid Bible; that the modern language translations are, at best, erroneous and, at worst, heresy.  They claim that the KJV is written as Jesus spoke, we HAVE to stay with that version.  To which I must reply, “Are you nuts?”  Here is why I must ask that: Continue reading “The Language of Jesus”

Examining the Birth of Jesus

You are probably familiar the story of Christmas, at least as presented in countless school plays about the birth of Jesus all across the world: the virgin Mary has a baby, angels tell shepherds to go see Him and sing of His glory, wise men arrive from far off with gifts to offer in worship to the King of the Jews. Today I’d like to take a closer look at a few details of this account from Matthew chapters 1 and 2.

The Genealogy of Jesus

The account opens with a genealogical listing of the ancestry of Jesus, from Abraham to Joseph. This listing is meaningless to us in the sense that, in our understanding of genetics, none of the people listed are genetic contributors to the baby Jesus because Joseph was not His father: the Holy Spirit was. The only person listed who may have contributed anything genetic is Mary, and that is uncertain. Continue reading “Examining the Birth of Jesus”

Is There Any Evidence That Jesus Lived?

About two weeks ago I engaged in a discussion about evidence that Jesus lived with a fellow through social media.  Because it was on social media I was able to record our back and forth verbatim.  It was a good discussion: he made some good points and it never degraded into mean-spirited argument (as so many do).

This topic branched off from a discussion with others about how silly religion in general is with all its rules and clouded, conflicting information.  Here is our discussion: he is Bruce, I am Doug.

Bruce: So how do you know which parts of the bible, if any, to believe? Perhaps all of it is a creation of men.  After all, there is not one single contemporary account that Jesus ever existed, not one. Continue reading “Is There Any Evidence That Jesus Lived?”

What of This Melchizedek

In Hebrews 7, Paul discusses a fellow from ancient Hebrew history: Melchizedek.  Melchizedek was the king of Salem (later to be called Jerusalem) and the first priest of the Most High God.  Paul opens the discussion with:

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.

The “slaughter of the kings” was the time Abram (later called Abraham) and 318 of his trained servants went out to rescue Abram’s nephew, Lot, from the combined armies of 5 kings who had invaded their neighbors and carried off the people and possessions of many cities including Sodom, Lot’s home (Genesis 14). Continue reading “What of This Melchizedek”

Revocable Salvation

salvation There is a school of thought (or church doctrine) which claims that if a Christian messes up they have to go back and get saved again, starting over from square one.  And if you drift away from the faith your salvation is revoked and you’re toast.

This thought is based upon Hebrews 6:4-6.  Let’s take a look at that.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away,[a] to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

When we look at this passage alone, it would seem to support the doctrine of revocable salvation.  Churches that hold this idea as a cornerstone of their denominational doctrine point to Hebrews 3:12-14 and 2 Peter 2:20-22 as support for this thought.  But it is always dangerous to pull a passage out of Scripture and wave it around to make a point.  In fact, there are four doctrinal teachings on this passage.  In addition to the one above, we have: Continue reading “Revocable Salvation”

Bastardized Theology

Originally Published: 2014/11/02

Is The Bible your theologyThere are a great many people in the world that lay claim to the title, “Christian”, yet know little or nothing about The Bible. They know what they know about Jesus, about God, about His promises and requirements from listening to someone else. Some of those teaching preach solid, biblical lessons – some preach lessons designed to comfort their audience. They pick and choose passages from The Holy Word, taking them out of context and making them mean what they want them to mean to promote their own views of life, Jesus, and God.

This is not new. It was going on in the first century church. Paul cautioned several of the first churches not to be mislead by those preaching a bastardized theology mixing The Way with The Law. Those acknowledged that Jesus was the son of God, and that salvation came through Him: but they also wanted to adhere to parts of the Mosaic law. They wanted an integrated theology that clung to the sacrifices and festivals of the old law yet claimed Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice.  To many of the day: Jews by birth, raised in the Jewish traditions, this version of the gospel of Jesus felt familiar, comfortable, acceptable.  But it was wrong. Continue reading “Bastardized Theology”

A Most Beloved (And Misunderstood) Bible Passage

John 3:16The one Bible passage that is most remembered and quoted by Christians and non-Christians alike is John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

A powerful statement of hope that seems to allow anyone to claim eternal life if they acknowledge a rational acceptance that Jesus was the son of God. But if we pick at that passage just a little, we get it to bleed truth not seen with a casual reading of modern words. Continue reading “A Most Beloved (And Misunderstood) Bible Passage”

What Manner of Person?

Preface: If you are not a follower of Jesus, this short lesson has nothing for you: live your life as you choose. God the Father allows each of us to choose our own path. Where that path leads is predetermined, but you have the freedom to choose for yourself.

Tatev Monastery in Armenia
Tatev Monastery in Armenia

The most devout followers of some religious sects sequester themselves from the world in remote monasteries (men, monks) or convents (women, nuns) to study their religion and learn its disciplines. In doing so they shut out the corruption and sin of the world to devote themselves entirely to their study. Some, after training, will go out to serve in the world. Others live their lives shut away from the world.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just close our eyes to sin and corruption? But followers of Jesus do not live in fortified sanctuaries, separated from the world. Jesus told us to go into the world and take His gospel of good news with us everywhere we go. To do that we must function in the world, but we were also told not to function as the world does. Continue reading “What Manner of Person?”

Blogging as On-Line Publishing

bloggingPublishing via blogging is a very popular option for two reasons; it costs little or nothing and it offers you the most flexibility in what you publish and how.

Writers can start out using a free blogging platform like Google’s Blogger or WordPress. Using the free platforms are the easiest way for beginners to learn self publication as they require practically no set-up, just choose a template and enter your blog title and contact info, but they are also less flexible than a self-hosted blog in many ways and more difficult to publicize.

Using WordPress on a hosted account requires some technical knowledge; how much depends on your host. A good hosting service will offer an installation script, such as Fantastico, that will create your blog folders, MySQL database and install all the base files needed. From there you can use stock theme templates and plug-ins to customize the blog with little or no techie expertise. If you have the knowledge, you can customize almost all of the blog through modifications to the CSS and template files. Continue reading “Blogging as On-Line Publishing”