Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Bible is More Helpful than Newsweek

Journalistic integrity is taking a beating this year. Newsweek is the latest casualty:

Our Mutual Joy

Please note my issue with this cover story is not the defense of homosexual marriage. I have said before I don’t presume to know the most loving, biblical (and political) answer to this complicated topic, but I will continue to ask God for grace and wisdom as our culture is faced with it. My issue here is with the irreverent and ridiculous use of the Bible to say what the Bible does not clearly say. If an article was written defending something using the Bible that I agreed with (for example, golf and IU basketball as spiritual disciplines) but which I know the Bible was never intended to defend, I would be equally heartbroken. Speaking politically for equal rights in the case of homosexual marriage is one thing; defending that political stance using the Bible in obvious error is quite another. The article is not saying defend gay marriage because it’s the right thing to do; it’s saying defend it because the Bible says so.

If you by chance agree with this article in Newsweek, my challenge to you would be to really read your Bible in its context, and pray through it as you read, and ask God to reveal whether His Word truly defends these thoughts, or whether this article is simply another example of the most important Word in the universe being taken out of context to seem to say whatever the reader wants it to. Getting the Bible right is very important. This blog exists for that very purpose, if nothing else. That some would be less serious about this is heartbreaking to me.

Here is some very thoughtful and refreshing response to this article:

Turning the Bible on its Head

Looking for a 'Serious' Conversation

More than 'Mutual Joy'

Hey Newsweek: It's the Journalism, Stupid

Seriously, a journalist should no more be giving the biblical interpretation of anything than a pastor should be writing a feature article on a politician or celebrity. But if the journalist has the opportunity, the least you would wish for is a balanced analysis. This effort has opened this particular journalist (and her publication) up to embarrassment and, to be frank, legitimate doubts about intellectual integrity. Believe it or not, the Bible is an important part of society and at the very least deserves disciplined and educated interpretation. This article is a mockery of that. Freedom of speech allows for such absurdity. Thankfully, it also allows for checks on this absurdity, and in this case, the integrity of the Bible, and the arguments of thoughtful people, is at stake.

The question of whether the bible is authoritative, inerrant, and true, is mostly a separate issue. This article is bad even if the Bible is only a helpful and respected guide, but not inerrant. Of course, I believe it is more than that, and here are some resources that defend that belief better than me:

The Erosion of Biblical Inerrancy

The Authority of Scripture

Can’t we speak and live what the Bible says, and as we approach complicated issues such as gay marriage, hold up the truth in His word, not compromise commands and institutions that Almighty God established for a specific purpose to glorify His name, and also love those who would disagree? This article is not most fundamentally a defense of equal rights. It is an example of the lackadaisical view of Scripture and prideful posture towards the most holy being in the universe that our culture tends to allow without much of a second thought.

My approach is still to love people and speak the truth. Compromising either will be catastrophic. Practicing both will seem complicated, but is not impossible, and God in his sovereignty will be faithful to his promises, and work it all together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, as revealed to us in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, is precious not only because it is true, but also because it is helpful. Those who would suppress it still need to hear it, and still need to understand what it means, because it can be helpful for their lives. We don’t have to compromise culture to be relevant and faithful in our proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel. And we cannot compromise the Gospel merely to be acceptable in our culture.

Without the whole Bible, we have nothing to guide us even where to begin in this effort. With the whole Bible, we have everything we need for life and growth in godliness. If the Bible was one less chapter than it is, it would be hopelessly confusing and absolutely useless. But it is not. If you read it, you’ll see it makes a whole lot of sense and is full of soul-satisfying, people-loving, God-exalting truths. As Albert Mohler concluded in his article, “Newsweek could have offered its readers a careful and balanced review of the crucial issues related to this question. It chose another path -- and published this cover story. The magazine's readers and this controversial issue deserved better.” Indeed.

Oh, and then there's this:

Who throws a shoe? Honestly.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Santa is a Christian

I wish the beautiful and uninhibited corniness and excitement demonstrated by Buddy the Elf in this clip would translate to the way we feel about the Lord and Savior of the Universe. Because it is undoubtedly classic. It will never get old and I will never not laugh when I think about it. Any chance I get to post Will Farrell on this blog I will take it, and in this case, my intention is to exhort you to know Christ like Buddy knows Santa, and not be ashamed at all about it. He is real.

Speaking of that, if such a thing interests you, check out some interesting conversation on the web:

Santa Christ? - Sinclair Ferguson

Do You Believe in Santa Claus?

I was warned in an earlier post to watch what I say about Santa. And that I will certainly do. From no one else have I received such undeserved (yet ultimately temporary) joy in the form of ridiculous presents and toys that are simply awesome. No one else could deliver a fresh pair of '87 Air Jordan basketball shoes and a complete Thundercats figure set from the same toy shop. Simply amazing. But what I would like to relay and practice myself this year and beyond, is a view of Santa like that of C.S. Lewis in the classic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: as Father Christmas sharing hope and love, and gifts, yet submissive to the ultimate ruler and authority, Christ, represented as Aslan in the story.

Santa does not have to be excluded, but Jesus should not be replaced. Truly, the example and legend of Santa makes a lot less sense without the truth and reality of Jesus Christ. It is not corny and stale to prefer and desire eternal life above toys. That we were created for Christ does not make toys themselves evil, but an all-consuming focus on toys (house, car, money) represents the evil that is in our heart and from which Jesus came to save us. Santa would not approve of this all-consuming focus, and the neglect of the ruler and authority he answers to. And in that case, Santa and Christ have spoken, and I'm taking a hint. If there is a better witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ than Santa Claus himself, I have yet to hear about it. Let's not miss the Gospel for the sake of the witness.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Am I Missing Something?

“Gift certificates are now a big part of the American economy. Along with electronic gift cards, gift certificates represent a growing segment of the consumer market -- and for good reason. Who wouldn't welcome and appreciate a gift certificate to a favorite store or service provider? Well, what if the product is abortion? Planned Parenthood of Indiana is now selling gift certificates redeemable "for services or the recipient’s choice of birth control method." Those "methods" include abortion.”

Death By Gift Certificate

The story this article references is not about politics, women’s health, equal rights or anything like that. Its not about birth control, which to include abortion in is barbaric. This is about ignorance and deception. The only reason this issue comes up so often on this blog is because it represents so well the fact that the simple and helpful truth of the Gospel seems to be neglected in our culture, when there is no good reason why it should be. Unless I’m missing something.

If pro-life is defined as supporting women and families before, during, and after decisions related to unwanted pregnancies, caring for them, helping them, providing resources for them, praying for them, and counseling them on the best, most ethically and emotionally healthy choice to make, all the while not ever compromising the sanctity of the unborn human life in their womb; who could disagree with this stance?

If pro-choice is represented as protecting a women’s right, by all means necessary, with a reckless disregard for the emotional health of the women making the difficult decision and for the defenseless unborn human in the womb, so much so that gift certificates are offered to further encourage an act that most claim they want to decrease; how can any morally responsible person align with this stance?

You can defend the right of a woman to choose and the life of an unborn baby at the same time. You can forgive, love, and support those who have had an abortion, and not compromise a belief and passion to protect the unborn at the same time. Why is that so complicated to understand? Offering gift certificates to encourage abortions is both ignorant, in that it ignores the real cost of the “service”, and deceptive, in that it further simplifies and justifies an act that will, without a doubt, lead to emotional turmoil and physical death. It is also ironic in that it reveals the true motives of organizations like Planned Parenthood; not caring for women but promoting their business and making money. This development absolutely blows my mind.

If the Gospel is presented as the truth that the God of the universe humbled himself and came to earth to show us a picture and example of his nature, healing the sick and lame, and eating with and offering hope to the sinful and ashamed, never committing a sin, making specific demands of us that are for our own good, going to a cross to die and absorb the punishment that we justly deserve, and rising from the dead to conquer once and for all sin and death and give us the immeasurable gift of eternal life in his presence, and leaving behind for us his Holy Spirit, to serve as a counselor and deposit and glimpse of holiness and the life to come, where there will be no more sickness or crying or deception or pain, where he will custom-make for us a new creation for our enjoyment and his Glory; how could and why would anyone suppress that truth?

I’ll go ahead and not suppress it and instead believe it and live it, and meanwhile continue to go with gift cards to Amazon, iTunes, and Lowe’s. Makes much more sense. Its Christmas!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Blessed for a Purpose

I had a really good weekend. I enjoyed several hearty meals with family and friends, spent quality time with people who are not in town enough, decorated my house for Christmas, watched the Colts and Hoosiers win (Chaminade!), and saw Jared the Subway guy in Broad Ripple. Yet, God convicted me a little today to continue to maintain perspective. I share the following with you not as a downer, or a guilt trip, or a way to cancel out what may have been a great weekend for you also. I share at it as a call maybe to use our well-fed, healthy, happy bodies for the glory of God at the very least by praying for those who had a rough weekend. I don't think we'll regret it.


Mumbai after the smoke has cleared


World Vision AIDS experience