A couple years back my wife Rolane and I visited ten of our wonderful Midwest Talbot alumni. What a joy to see them all thriving, finding God faithful, and knowing days of effective and challenging ministry. While we were in the area, we took the opportunity to visit my hometown of Hospers, Iowa and spent a little time with my cousins living there. Some of them I hadn’t been with in over 30 years - so long that we all wore nametags to keep from getting confused!
While I only spent the first seventeen years of my life on the farm, it played a significant role in who I am today. In going back home, certain impressions left their mark on my mind and heart. Let me elaborate ...
There is nothing like changes in one’s travel plan to reveal how we truly handle change. For myself, traveling with my family is a sacred obsession. I plan months ahead to get the best flights and reserve the “perfect” hotel to accommodate our sightseeing interests. As a family, we read travel books and blogs to find the out-of-the-way restaurants. With an itinerary in hand, we embark on our journey, only to be met with forced changes that were unforeseen. To say the least, I don’t deal with a “change in plans” well, especially when I am on vacation. Changes for me equal stress, hassles, and more work.
Por los tres últimos años, el índice de felicidad planetaria ha dado a conocer los países más felices del mundo de acuerdo a ciertos parámetros. Los resultados sorprendentes de la última edición en el 2012 señalaron que país más feliz del mundo es Costa Rica, en segundo lugar se encuentra Vietnam y en tercero Colombia. Los Estados Unidos se ubicaron en el lugar 104. Este índice de felicidad se basa en tres cosas: 1) Se hace la pregunta la persona, "¿Qué tan feliz es usted?" En una escala del 0-10. 2) Luego se mide la expectativa de vida de las personas de ese país. Finalmente se mide cuanta “tierra” (o recursos ecológicos) necesita la persona en ese país para ser feliz.
In my last blog, I wrote on how to invite a guest speaker to a retreat well. This included knowing how to choose a speaker for your group’s needs, giving enough time to prepare for the retreat, and serving him well as he arrives to the retreat. The goal for the time at the retreat is to serve the speaker well so that he would gladly want to return in the future without a second thought. This entry will concentrate on how to host the speaker well at a retreat.
Scott Rae, professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Talbot, just released the new book, Doing the Right Thing: Making Moral Choices in a World Full of Options. He kindly took some time to answer a few questions about the book.
For the past several years I have had an autoimmune disease called ITP (Immune Thrombocytopenia) in which the immune system targets the platelets resulting in a low blood platelet count, which can cause spontaneous bruising or bleeding. Earlier this year, my platelet count took a significant jump. Though not in the normal range, it was higher than it had been in over five years. I was very excited and immensely grateful to the Lord and to those who had been praying faithfully for me and my platelets for years. Somehow, verbally expressing my gratitude seemed inadequate and insufficient. What, I wondered, would be an appropriate response? This question prompted me to look at the sacrifice of thanksgiving as outlined in the Old Testament.
Genealogies rarely contain interesting tidbits about our ancestors, especially the more unacceptable ones. But Jesus’ genealogy does. In fact, it even seems to highlight several rather shady characters. And they are women.
Is it possible for a true story about an ancient manuscript of the Hebrew Bible to be thrilling?
This is the first of a series of blogs dealing with gun control from a Christian perspective. In this first installment, I sketch the general theological case for sane restriction on guns, particularly assault weapons, and apply biblical principles to common objections. In subsequent (shorter) posts, I will respond to alleged “biblical” arguments used by gun advocates, who claim that Scripture supports unrestricted access to lethal weaponry for private individuals.
Christians will commonly argue with each other about “secondary” issues of doctrine, while assuring themselves and the rest of us that it’s okay since they agree on the “primary” issues. Obviously, not all topics of biblical teaching are on the same level of importance. On the basis of this sort of distinction between “primary” and “secondary” we can readily join with Christians across denominational lines while continuing to warn Mormons that they have the primary material wrong.
My concern is that the well-intentioned emphasis on the basics of mere Christianity and “primary issues” that we can all agree on also disparages the “secondary issues.” Less clarity in the Bible, less agreement among Christians, and less treatment by the tradition should not add up to counting these matters as unimportant. I suggest that the doctrinal topics that Christians feel free to disagree about are not adiaphora in the sense that we need not take them seriously. I propose a different analogy to help alleviate this concern.
Between 1750 and 1900, the total expanse of human knowledge had doubled. At that time of pre-technology human history, it took 150 years. Today, the growth of knowledge is occurring some 100 times faster. It is said that the entire sum of all known information, i.e., human knowledge, doubles every 1.5 years. By 2020 it is estimated that it will be doubling approximately every month and a half (72 days). Think about that…
My mom passed from this world into the presence of the Lord less than three weeks ago. Since she faced a long journey through early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease (a journey of twenty years from the time the disease was detectable), I am so glad—beyond what you can probably imagine—that my mom is now with the Lord, in a place of rest, and with all her mental faculties restored while she awaits the resurrection and restoration of her body. My dad, sister, brother, and I each spoke at Mom’s memorial service about her genuine love for others and her faith in Christ. I’d like to share with you the last part of what I shared at that service.
My family’s business, in the modest Colorado town where I grew up, was a foundry. For the uninitiated, a foundry is like a steel mill. Its basic operation is to melt ore (in our case, iron, brass, and aluminum) in a furnace, pour it into molds, and thereby produce metal castings. Our family joke was that my parents were “in the iron and steel business” – my mom would iron while my dad would steal. (I’ll spare you the rest of the foundry jokes.) Foundry work is hard, hot, dirty, and notoriously dangerous. Our furnace room temperature was 140 degrees fahrenheit.
Allow me to introduce you to Brett McCracken. Brett is a Talbot student and Biola employee whom God is using in some very strategic ways to represent Jesus and his people at the national level. I became acquainted with Brett through my oversight of the Good Book Blog. I am thankful and proud that this humble and gifted young man is part of the Biola/Talbot community, and I think that you will be, too, after you read the following interview.
El 31 de octubre de 1517 Martín Lutero clavó en las puertas de la catedral de Wittenberg en Alemania 95 tesis en las que criticaba abiertamente las ventas de indulgencias de la iglesia católica romana. Lutero inicialmente no tenía la intención de romper con la iglesia romana sino enfatizar la supremacía del evangelio basada en su simplicidad y a la vez en su gran profundidad. El evangelio o las buenas noticias de la salvación en Cristo es el fundamento esencial de la fe cristiana y desgraciadamente se había pervertido convirtiéndose en una práctica totalmente ajena a su esencia. De manera que, las indulgencias eran una distorsión absoluta del evangelio y, por lo tanto, dignas de ser repudiadas con severidad. Como resultado de esta acción, Lutero inició el movimiento conocido como la Reforma Protestante y cada 31 de octubre se conmemora como el Día de la Reforma.
God’s role as a divine warrior is most likely one of his more neglected characteristics. Some today have gone so far as to reject any talk today about God being a divine warrior, viewing it as tired metaphor that should be retired. But most Christians have simply stopped thinking of God as one who fights. Not only does it not seem to mesh well with the picture of the peaceful Jesus but it is also out of step with most of contemporary culture. In spite of these concerns, looking at the martial actions of YHWH in the Old Testament (YHWH is a transliteration of God’s name in Hebrew) can help us understand better the God that we serve.
I recently completed a manuscript on the book of Judges for Baker’s Teach the Text Commentary Series. It took me about three and a half years to write the short text, and I want to share just a few highlights from what I learned during my study.
Literally. This morning I was jogging on the beach and came across four people: (1) a minister, (2) photographer, (3) a young man in a tux, and (4) a young lady in a wedding dress. I think the ceremony had just ended, because they were signing the marriage license as I ran by. What was sad was that there was not another person in sight.
I recently watched a disturbing video. A camera caught the head of a certain political organization; we’ll call him Lucius, attempting to convince a packed auditorium about the reality of moral law. Specifically, Lucius appealed to a real moral law above and beyond culture to argue against a right to homosexual marriage. What struck me most was less of what he said and more how he said it. Lucius taunted the crowd relentlessly, hurling insults like hand grenades. People often argue against moral reality by appealing to moral reality (e.g., there can’t be absolutes because look at out how absolutely wrong the crusades and inquisitions were!). But there is an equal and opposite inconsistency, namely, arguing for moral reality while breaking the very morality we are defending (e.g., real morals like ‘love your neighbor’ exist, you ignoramus!). In other words, Lucius’ problem was that he did not argue his worldview as if his worldview were actually true. No matter what he said, the way in which he said it made it seem like morals like love and respect were not to be taken seriously after all. The medium refuted the message.
Ed Curtis, professor of biblical and theological studies at Talbot, just released the new book, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs (Teach the Text Commentary Series). He kindly took some time to answer a few questions about the book.