Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Infallibility

I'm having a few thoughts on infallibility.

Most protestants take issue with the idea that the Pope is infallible when he gives official teachings on faith and morals.

Yet most protestants have no issue with the idea that the writers of our Bible where infallible while they were writing their specific books.

But isn't that pretty much the same belief?

Add to that the fact that we don't even know who some of the authors were. But we are pretty sure they wrote with 100% accuracy on matters of history, science, morals, doctrines, and faith.

I should mention, before some of you judge me.  There is NOT a specific verse or passage of Scripture I am trying to ignore.  I am NOT questioning this because I don't want to believe what the Bible says.  I actually hope it is 100% accurate.

I just don't see the Bible teaching that its' authors were infallible, even while they wrote.


So here is the dilemma that I see:
  • It doesn't seem Jesus made an effort to write a book for us.
  • The Bible does not claim "This collection of 66 books is written by God, it is 100% fact."
  • The western (catholic) church of the 4th century helped put together our New Testament canon. 
  • At some point after the 4th century some Christian tradition made the claim that these 66 books are infallible.
  • If you believe those who made this claim were infallible, then yes you must believe in the infallibility of the Bible.
  • If you question the infallibility of these church leaders, you are free to question the infallibility of the Bible. 

I believe there is a difference between being inspired and being infallible.  God can speak through someone without making that person perfect.  God can also speak through the Scriptures even if they are not perfect.

God can even speak through you and I, yes, even though we are not perfect.

So all of this may be wrong. The pope may be infallible. I'd love it if the Bible was infallible.  But I sure felt inspired to write about it this.  I trust God will still speak to you either way. :)

Related Posts:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Francis Chan Mission First



"If I just read the Scriptures, I wouldn’t even think so much about the gathering. You know–Like, my first thought wouldn’t be, “Let’s have a gathering.” Out of the Scriptures, I would think, “I’m on a mission. Like, I love this God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and now I’ve got to go out and make disciples.” That’s what I would think. I need to go out there and just reach as many people as I can! I’m supposed to teach them to obey everything that’s God commanded–that’s what I would get out of Scripture. And then what would happen as I did that–what I believe would naturally happen–is suddenly I would find those other people who are on that same mission because we’d be the weirdest people on earth. Right?

We would stick out, we’d be so different, and that pressure to always stay on that mission, everyone else would be beating me down, so I would actually need these brothers and sisters in my life and tell them hey don’t let me slow down, and I won’t let you slow down, we’ve got to stay on this mission together. See this is why I wasn’t into fellowship before–because I didn’t need any more friends. Okay, it wasn’t like “Oh yeah, let’s get another gathering together so I can have someone to talk to.” Like, I didn’t need accountability groups so I wouldn’t sleep around or whatever it was–I could do that, I can do that on my own. Like–not sleep around, you know what I mean? You know I don’t need that to do American church, I don’t need fellowship. But to stay on mission everyday? I need people because I’m going to get distracted–there are so many things I would rather do than make disciples. And so I need people in my life to tell me this. That’s what I would get out of Scripture, is I got to go out and start making disciples. And as I did that I really believe that I would start gathering with other people doing the same thing."

Good point. I think I agree.  What do you think?  If mission comes first, will the gathering naturally follow?

I do believe Scripture is clear that believers should gather together.  My Why One Another post hit on a few of the reasons for getting together (to do the one anothers).

But is there a problem if we place the cart before the horse?  What if we prioritize the gathering, and hope missions will naturally follow if our gatherings are good.  Is there a risk of becoming a club that primarily serves itself.

I think this is a fair question for large structured gatherings, and for small less structured get togethers.

Or what if we equate the gathering as the mission?  Is that a problem?

What is your mission?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Related Posts:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I've got the Best Church

I've recently blogged about how I've got the best senior pastor.  So it should be no surprise then that I also think I am a member of the best church.


Many people love their church.  They will each have different reasons for thinking their church is the best. Some will like the music, others will like the preaching, and for others it's the children's programming that is the big draw.  There are likely many different reasons people love their church.

However, when I think of reasons why I love my church...

I am not thinking about the music, although many in my church are very gifted with music.

I am not thinking about the sermons, although many in my church are gifted with teaching.

I am not thinking about the building, although my church has many great buildings.

I am not thinking about the children's programming, although my church does many great things with kids.

I am not even thinking about a specific event, although most of my church likes to get together on Sunday mornings for a special ceremony and time together.

So what am I thinking about when I say I have the best church?

From what I can tell, according to Scripture, church is believers and whenever they get together.  There is also sense that there is only one church.  Even though people are not perfect, and things get messy in this church, I don't think there is a better church out there.

I love getting together with family.  That is church.


Related Posts:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Playdough Scripture Matt 24:14

"And this gospel of the kingdom penal substitutionary atonement will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matt 24:14 (Playdough Version)

This passage was next in my series on the secrets of the kingdom, but it seemed to fit well as a Playdough Scripture example.

When we think of the gospel being preached and spread throughout the world, what good news message are we thinking about?

Many equate the penal substitutionary atonement theory as the gospel.  This theory was formulated by the reformers in the 16th century.  It is the thought process that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. That God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.

However when I read the 'gospels' I don't see Jesus or His disciples preaching the good news of penal subsitutionary atonement.  But I do see them frequently proclaiming the gospel.


Related Posts:



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Paul the Heretic?

Different people throughout history have been called heretics. I wouldn't be surprised if some out there would use the term heretic to describe me. But I wonder if most Christians are heretics in a certain way.

The term heretic is often used today to refer to someone who holds false beliefs.  I'm pretty sure that applies to most of us.  We just can't see our own faults very well.

However the term heretic comes from greek hairesis -a self chosen opinion, or sect.

The term is often translated to refer to a sect or faction.

For example Acts 24:5 (NIV) where Paul is on trial, and Christians are called a sect.
“We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect"

The greek word for sect here is haireseōs.


When we speak of heritics, are we thinking of a sect, a group of people with similar beliefs?

Are most Christians heritics?

Is modern Christianity basically a collection of 30,000 sects or denominations?


Or is there only one Church?

In the eyes of the world is there one sect of people following Christ, or many?

In the eyes of Christ is there only one church or many?

If you point fingers at someone for being a heretic, please don't do so in a divisive way, or you may need to point your finger back at yourself.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Playdough Scripture Romans 15:5-7

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among your local congregation, and with those of similar theological belief systems  yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that your local church will with one heart and mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept those who are the same as you one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:5-7  (Playdough Version)

If we draw a circle around our group, and exclude others, can we call that Christian unity?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Be Sarcastic With One Another

Alan Knox recently made me laugh with a post called Be sarcastic with one another.

My favorite One Anothers from Alan were:
Be Cordial to One Another
Be nice. Say “Hello.” Smile. Don’t let them inside your head or your heart. Never let them see you sweat. If they put you in a position of authority, this is doubly important.
Sit Beside One Another
It’s called fellowship. Duh
Sing Along with One Another
And that’s what we call worship. Check.
 
You can read Alan's post for more.

Can I try to add a few more?
Preach sermons to one another.

Usher with one another.

Teach Sunday School to one another.

Sing in the worship band to one another.
Be audio or video techs with one another.
Serve coffee to one another.

Naw. My list fails. They don't really make sense. Is it because these one anothers are not really mutual activities?


Related Posts:

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Woe To You

Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom.

Matt 23:13 (NIV)

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." 

Jesus gets pretty harsh here with the Pharisees.  This is only 1 of 7 "woe to you" points as Jesus goes on a little rant towards the religious leaders of His day.   Read Matt 23 for the full rant.

As I am looking at passages related to the kingdom, I wonder how the Pharisees shut the door on the kingdom of heaven.

Was it that they held the keys to getting right with God in their society.  That many people followed these religious leaders because they claimed they knew the way to being at peace with God.  There is no doubt religious leaders can hold quite a bit of power over others.

Jesus and His disciples came on the scene with the invitation to enter the kingdom of God.  The Pharisees don't buy in for whatever reason.   So instead of joining Jesus and proclaim God's reign and rule, they find themselves in opposition to Jesus.  Since the masses blindly follow the religious leaders, their rejection of Jesus also keeps others from accepting Jesus and His message.

Does any of this sound familiar today?

One thing that bothers me is this. I have sat through about 40 years of sermons. I only recall two sermons teaching about the kingdom of God.  One was done by a guest speaker somewhere who acknowledge his message would likely upset some people. The other by a woman in Mexico.  However, I do think most Christians believe Jesus is Lord and King. I just don't see the message of the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed getting much airtime.  I'm not sure why.

Or maybe it's that my memory is bad. Just because I've sat through thousands of sermons doesn't mean I remember much more than two. :)


And it's not just about proclaiming the kingdom of God.  It's also about living it the way Jesus and His followers did.

Are many religious leaders of today resisting the message of the kingdom that Jesus taught?


I hope not.  If so, does this woe still apply?



Are there other ways people can shut the door on the kingdom for others?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.



Related Posts:


Monday, May 7, 2012

I've Got The Best Senior Pastor

I just thought I'd publicly boast about my Senior Pastor. I think he is the best.

I think 1 Peter 5:4 is the only passage in Scripture that references a Senior Pastor or Lead Pastor:
    "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." (NIV)

It should be obvious this verse is talking about Jesus.  But what about the terms 'Chief Shepherd'?  Lets take a look at the Greek and how it gets translated.

The greek word in this verse for 'Chief Shepherd' here is archipoimenos which is a combination of archó and poimḗn.

archó means to rule, or be the chief, ruler or leader

poimḗn is a shepherd. In the new Testament it often refers to someone who cares for others.  Sometimes it gets translated as shepherd, in other passages it gets translated as pastor. 

So I think it is fair to say that Jesus as my Chief Shepherd is also my Lead Pastor or Senior Pastor.

Can't people also shepherd or care for others?

I think there are many verses that talk about believers shepherding or caring for one another, here are a few: Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2, Philippians 2:4, Ephesians 4:32, John 13:34-35, Hebrews 10:24, 1 John 3:11, Rom 12:10, Rom 15:14, Gal 5:13, Col 3:16, 1 Thess 5:11

I acknowledge that many people have cared for me and have 'shepherded' me over the years. There are still a number of people who care for me in this way today.

By my age, I should also recognize that I have a role to play in shepherding or caring for others as well.  My children come to mind first, but there are others as well that God has placed in my life that I am called to care for and watch out for their best interests.

What then is the issue with calling someone a pastor or shepherd?

Whenever I read verses where I see the term shepherd (or pastor) as a title referring to a person, the reference is to Jesus. (John 10:11, John 10:14, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 2:25, 1 Peter 5:4)  I do not believe anyone went by the title pastor until the 1500's.

I am thankful for the role Jesus has had in my life caring for me. He has guided my steps when I don't know where I am going. He has provided for all of my needs and more. I know He cares for me.  I am thankful and feel compelled to boast that I have the best Senior Pastor.  He is really a good shepherd. And He wants to be yours too. :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Why I Love The Bible

OK, I wrote some bizarre stuff that likely worried some of you in a recent post called: Stop Calling The Bible The Word Of God.


I want to clear the air and confirm that I love the Bible. 



I believe the Bible was written by close followers of Jesus whom I trust. Some of these men actually walked and talked with Jesus on a daily basis for a few years. They were all early members of a new movement of people who were following the way of Jesus. 

About 300 years after Christ's life here, leaders in the western early church concluded this set of books were the most reliable of the many books written about Jesus and the early church.  In some ways I wish Jesus himself wrote a book and gave it to us.  But He didn't. He did promise to leave His spirit to follow, and we can also follow the lead of other believers. It seems we must place some trust in these early catholic church leaders.  We are trusting that these men who selected the books of our Biblical canon were in tune with the Spirit, and following godly council of their brothers and sisters.

These books, written by these different authors are by far the best sources of information about how Jesus lived, taught, restored lives, went to the cross, and rose from the dead. They are also a great source of knowledge for who God the father is, as Jesus claimed to be one with the Father.  It is also a great source of knowledge about the Spirit of God whom Jesus said would be available to us to continue to guide us.

I love how these books teach me that my Father God is trustworthy.  They teach me that God loves me, that I am not alone, and He is restoring my life to what He has planned for me.

I love how these books teach me that God is the final authority.  Jesus is King and Lord of both the world, and it is up to us to allow Him to reign and rule in our lives. 

These books give us stories that put my heart at ease, because I see He is a good King.


These authors were also involved in the formation of the early church, a new tribe of people that did not conform to the status quo of the time.  These book are the best source of how these new believers in Jesus formed communities where their love for God was expressed in their love for each other.

I believe John 5:39-40 speaks both of the purpose of Scripture, and the dangers of too much focus on Scripture.
"You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life."

My previous post was simply talking semantics, how I believe the term 'Word of God' in Scripture refers to Jesus or any message from God.  When we misuse the term we sometimes interpret different passages incorrectly, and in some ways take the life out of the 'Word'.

But I do love the Bible, and I can't think of any other books that intrigue me more.


Do you think I'm missing something essential here in my view of the Bible? Something that the Bible clearly teaches and emphasizes?

Related Posts:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How We Finally Got It Right


source: http://stthomasthedoubter.tumblr.com

This cartoon made me laugh, yet it should make us cry.

Maybe church unity has little to do with church denominations or movements, but everything to do with the church (people). Denominations may do a good job promoting unity on a local scale. But they do so at the expense of creating divisions with those outside their circle.

On the other hand, if Christ's church is simply people, and whenever they get together- the way church seems to be defined in the New Testament... Church unity becomes simple and an obvious reality.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Invitation To Kingdom Banquet

Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom. We've all been invited to a banquet with the King. Unfortunately many don't care. Maybe some think the banquet isn't real, or it isn't important, or they think they can ignore the invitation and sneak in later. Others even mistreat the ones who proclaim the message of the King.


Matthew 22:1-14 (NIV)
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying:  “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.  He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.  Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.  The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.  The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.  “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.  So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’  So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.  “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.  He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend ?’ The man was speechless.  “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” 
 A few other thoughts:
  • The banquet is for the King's son.
  • The King enlists some servants to send out the message of this banquet 
  • It seems everyone is invited.  There were some who were first on the invitation list, but similar to the previous parable in Matt 21:33-46 we see the offer of the Kingdom is taken away and given to others.
  • Similar to the previous parable, the kingdom banquet is now given to second class people.  Even bad people!  This reminds me of the sinners and average folks Jesus was known to hang around with.  These are not the people one would expect to be at a banquet with the King.
  • Another example of the upside down nature of the kingdom of God.
 Does anything else stand out to you?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Playdough Scripture John 1:1




"In the beginning was the Word... and the Word became INK."

John 1:1 and John 1:14 (Playdough Version)



(Credit for this one goes to a comment by frank on Stop Calling The Bible The Word Of God.)