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.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Despise Titles of Honor

"They despise titles of honor and the purple robe of high government office..."

Who could this quote be speaking of?

No, it wasn't referring to the occupy movement. :)

Here is more of the quote:
Christians "form a rabble of profane conspiracy... They despise temples as if they were tombs... They despise titles of honor and the purple robe of high government office, though hardly able themselves to cover their nakedness. Just like a rank growth of weeds, the abominable haunts where this impious confederacy meet are multiplying all over the world. Root and branch, it should at all cost be exterminated and accursed. They love one another before being acquainted. They practice a cult of lust, calling one another brother and sister indiscriminately; under the cover of these hallowed names, fornication becomes incest." -Minucius Felix, a lawyer in Rome, before his conversion. AD 200

Interesting quote. Over the years things have changed. 

Would anyone say any of this about Christians today?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Baptism Summary Thoughts

I should post some summary thoughts on my series on baptism.

I hesitate to write a summary because I don't have many solid thoughts on what immersion (baptism) with the Holy Spirit is.  Part of me wants to think it is a process, but the way it is talked about in Scripture sounds like it can also be initiated by a one time event.  I suspect I have a lot more to learn in regards to the Holy Spirit. 

But here is what I have learned in this study so far:

What Did Baptism Mean? - I looked at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature and saw how the term meant submerged, immersed, dipped, plunged, dyed, and other meanings.  It did not always have a connection with water.  Objects that were dipped or submerged in a variety of liquids were said to have been 'baptized' in that substance.

Baptism without Water  - The term for baptism is also used in the New Testament to refer to dipping/submerging/immersing in substances other than water.  It sounds like Jesus was going to baptize with the Holy Spirit instead of with water.


Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time. Jesus and the early church did not invent a water dipping and cleansing ritual.  They likely adapted a common custom and gave it a new meaning.

The Heart of Baptism - We have been immersed/dipped/dyed into Christ. We have become one with Christ.  Paul continues describes baptism in Rom 6:3-13 as becoming one with Christ. Our selfish will died with Christ on the cross, so that we can truly live.

Who Can Baptize? - I believe  Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed to all believers, not just clergy.

When Should Believers Be Baptized? -  If we believe children can receive the Holy Spirit, It doesn't look like anyone should hinder children from taking the step of immersion by water as well.  As for adults, the example we see in Scripture is that baptism follows conversion as soon as possible.

Baptism With The Holy Spirit - John the baptist was said to have baptized with water, but Jesus was going to baptize with the Holy Spirit. Looking at passages in Acts we also see both types of baptisms in the early church.

Immersion by water is a great symbol of being baptized with the Holy Spirit.  The command for us in Matt 28:18 - 20 is likely referring to baptism or immersion with the Holy Spirit (and Father, Son).  I suspect God is most interested in the matters of the heart. The early church, and most Christians throughout history have made an outward expression of this with immersion in water.

So that summarizes what I have learned. I believe both immersion with water and immersion with the Holy Spirit are important steps in the lives of believers.


I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

God's Grace

I want to share a few thoughts on God's grace today.

I am thankful God doesn't deal fairly with me.  He gives me much more grace than I deserve.

Throughout the years I have done a lot of wrong.  My self centered actions have hurt others and myself.  Sometimes I've done selfish things on purpose, other times it just comes naturally to me. I'm sure there are even some selfish things I do that cause harm to others that I am not even aware of.

But God continues to be good to me.  He doesn't expect me to be perfect.  He simply wants me to love Him and learn to follow Him.

This understanding of God's grace gives me reason to be gracious and loving towards others.  Even others who are selfish and often wrong.

In terms of my Christian beliefs, I am recognizing God also doesn't expect us to have it all figured out.  He is gracious to believers with bad theology and un-Biblical traditions too.  As I look at church history, God has been very gracious to many believers with bad theology and practice.  I'm not sure if any group of believers has ever had it all figured out, even those in the early church.

I believe most bad theology and traditions are not intentional.  Most believers want to believe the truth and desire to follow biblical traditions.  The problem is we often start off looking to other people and follow less than perfect examples.

But God is gracious to each of us.

We need to also learn to be gracious and loving to others who are less than perfect.

I have no clue how God will sort it out. I don't know who is 'in' and who is 'out'.  But I know God has been gracious to me, and I am learning to be gracious to others.


May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Baptism With The Holy Spirit

This is post #8 on a series on baptism:

  1. Baptism Questions - some questions I'd like to sort out
  2. What Did Baptism Mean? - a look at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature
  3. Baptism without Water - a look at baptism references that are not talking about water
  4. Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time.
  5. The Heart of Baptism - What is at the heart of this ritual 
  6. Who Can Baptize? - Do we think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy? 
  7. When Should Believers Be Baptized - At what age? At what level of maturity? 
  8. Baptism With The Holy Spirit - comparing immersion with water and with the Holy Spirit 
  9. Baptism Summary Thoughts
I'm still sorting out some thoughts on baptism.  I keep coming across passages relating to baptism with the Holy Spirit. So I'm going to take a look at a few here.

Peter is explaining to the Jewish believers in Jerusalem about new gentile believers in Acts 11:15 - 16 (NIV)
"As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’"
This verse make me feel better. Up until recently I had always thought about baptism in terms of being immersed in water.  So I find this interesting. Had Peter not made this connection before this point either?

If we read the account in the previous chapter we can see that these new believers were first baptized (or dipped/immersed/submerged) with the Holy Spirit.  Immediately after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit the decision was made that they should also be baptized with water, and in the name of Jesus Christ.

It seems in this passage the baptism with the Holy Spirit came first, and then the baptism by water was done as an outward symbol.

However we see the reverse in Acts 8:14 - 17 (NIV)
"When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.  When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."
In this earlier account, the people had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, but they had not received the Holy Spirit.

If we keep going earlier in Acts there are two more related passages:


Acts 2:38 (NIV)
"Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. "

Here it sounds like the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the baptism by water are two separate events that should follow one after the other.  The way it is worded the immersion by water may come first.


Acts 1:4 (NIV)
"On one occasion, while he (Jesus) was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 
Again, the baptism with water is a separate event from the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  And again this time the water came first.

What can we conclude from these passages:
  • We can not assume that just because someone is immersed in water they have also been baptized with the Holy Spirit. The two types of baptism seem to be two separate things.
  • If the Holy Spirit is living in you, there is nothing stopping you from also being immersed by water.
  • If you want the Holy Spirit to live in you, a step suggested here is to repent and get immersed in water in the name of Jesus.
What I would not conclude:
  • People should say a sinners prayer, then wait awhile, then take baptism classes before getting baptized with water.
  • That everyone that gets baptized with water also gets baptized with the Holy Spirit.
  • That the baptism with water is more important than the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
Does this make any sense to you?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

When Should Believers Be Baptized

This is post #7 on a series on baptism:

  1. Baptism Questions - some questions I'd like to sort out
  2. What Did Baptism Mean? - a look at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature
  3. Baptism without Water - a look at baptism references that are not talking about water
  4. Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time.
  5. The Heart of Baptism - What is at the heart of this ritual 
  6. Who Can Baptize? - Do we think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy? 
  7. When Should Believers Be Baptized - At what age? At what level of maturity? 
  8. Baptism With The Holy Spirit - comparing immersion with water and with the Holy Spirit 
  9. Baptism Summary Thoughts

I've always wondered what age someone should be before they are baptized.  This is a question before me as my two children gradually mature.  In the Christian traditions I have been part of infants are not baptized.  The idea is that we want to wait until a child reaches an age where they can make the decision for themselves.  If salvation comes by faith, we want to wait until the child can declare their own personal faith.  What age is best?  Some say 8 years old, some say wait until well into the teenage years.


One problem I have always seen is this:  What about those with disabilities who do not mature mentally the way others do? When can they be baptized?

I was also confused why there wasn't a clear passage that speaks about this waiting for maturity before baptism.

So today I think I have reached maturity enough to study this issue for myself.  I am not an expert on this, so I welcome further input. But from what I have read today I have gained respect for those who believe in infant baptism.


Acts 2:38 - 39 (NIV)
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 

We also see examples of entire households being baptized (Acts 16:14-15; Acts 16:30-33; 1 Co. 1:16).

We should also consider the idea that the outward sign of  baptism replaces the previous outward sign of circumcision.  Circumcision was done to children who were 8 days old.
"In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." (Colossians 2:11-12  NIV)

Do we believe children can have the Holy Spirit?

If so, what hinders them from being baptized?

Matthew 19:14 (NIV)
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

We should also consider adult converts? Should they wait a year or more? Do they need to go through a baptismal class first?  Although I think there are some good intentions behind the idea of baptismal class, I certainly don't see it as a requirement anywhere in Scripture.  What I see in Scripture is people getting baptized immediately following their conversion.  It is an outward symbol of the change they are going through at that time.

What do you think? What level of maturity (physical, spiritual, emotional, mental) is required for baptism?

Should we hinder or encourage children and new converts to get immersed in water and in the Holy Spirit?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Who Can Baptize?

This is post #6 in a series on Baptism:
  1. Baptism Questions - some questions I'd like to sort out
  2. What Did Baptism Mean? - a look at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature
  3. Baptism without Water - a look at baptism references that are not talking about water
  4. Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time.
  5. The Heart of Baptism - What is at the heart of this ritual 
  6. Who Can Baptize? - Do we think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy? 
  7. When Should Believers Be Baptized - At what age? At what level of maturity? 
  8. Baptism With The Holy Spirit - comparing immersion with water and with the Holy Spirit 
  9. Baptism Summary Thoughts


I came across a quote from John Calvin on this topic:
It is here also pertinent to observe, that it is improper for private individuals to take upon themselves the administration of baptism; for it, as well as the dispensation of the Supper, is part of the ministerial office. For Christ did not give command to any men or women whatever to baptise, but to those whom he had appointed apostles. And when, in the administration of the Supper, he ordered his disciples to do what they had seen him do (he having done the part of a legitimate dispenser), he doubtless meant that in this they should imitate his example.
(John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). Institutes IV, xv, 20)


Do you agree with John Calvin on this?

Or do you think baptism falls under the responsibility of the priesthood of all believers?

Do you think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy?
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:18 - 20 NIV)

When we look at all the examples of baptism in the New Testament, are we confident they were all performed by ordained clergy?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Heart of Baptism

This is post #5 in a series on Baptism:
  1. Baptism Questions - some questions I'd like to sort out
  2. What Did Baptism Mean? - a look at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature
  3. Baptism without Water - a look at baptism references that are not talking about water
  4. Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time.
  5. The Heart of Baptism - What is at the heart of this ritual 
  6. Who Can Baptize? - Do we think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy? 
  7. When Should Believers Be Baptized - At what age? At what level of maturity? 
  8. Baptism With The Holy Spirit - comparing immersion with water and with the Holy Spirit 
  9. Baptism Summary Thoughts

What is at the heart of this ritual? I don't believe God is as interested in religious rituals as He is primarily concerned with the heart. So from God's perspective, what is He wanting from us here?

Romans 6:3-4 (NIV)
"Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."
This is a common passage related to the meaning and purpose of Baptism.  Note this passage doesn't specify baptism into water. Not every passage with the term baptize means immerse in water. If the word baptize is followed by the word into we can translate it into immerse/dip/dye/submerge into... Either way the meaning is still clear.  We have been immersed or dipped into Christ.  We have become one with Christ.  Paul continues in Rom 6:6-13 describing how our selfish will died with Christ on the cross, so that we can truly live.

Baptism is commanded in Matt 28:19 -20, and in Acts 2:37 - 38.  Again neither of these passages specify immersion into water.  But immersion into Jesus (or Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is at the heart of the message.


There is also the aspect of a public declaration of ones faith.  I don't know if Jesus intended this when He spoke of Baptism, but this has been part of the tradition for a very long time now.  We can not ignore the fact that the early church practiced immersing new believers into both water and into the Holy Spirit.  The immersing into water became an outward public symbol of what was occurring on the inside.

I am open to other thoughts here.

What do you think is the meaning at the heart of baptism?



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baptism and Culture

This is post #4 in a series on Baptism:
  1. Baptism Questions - some questions I'd like to sort out
  2. What Did Baptism Mean? - a look at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature
  3. Baptism without Water - a look at baptism references that are not talking about water
  4. Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time.
  5. The Heart of Baptism - What is at the heart of this ritual 
  6. Who Can Baptize? - Do we think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy? 
  7. When Should Believers Be Baptized - At what age? At what level of maturity? 
  8. Baptism With The Holy Spirit - comparing immersion with water and with the Holy Spirit
  9. Baptism Summary Thoughts
      Next question:

      If Jesus had come to a culture that didn't practice something like water baptism, would He have invented this ritual for them, or would He have done something different that would make sense to that culture?

      I have heard that John the Baptist and the early Church were not the only ones immersing people in water in those days. It seems Gnostics had a similar ritual, and so did segments of Judaism.
      Evidently, baptisms were used by a wide variety of religious groups known to the early Christians in order to give witness to purification, to commitment, and to inclusion (rites of initiation and passage). http://www.directionjournal.org/article/?1327 
       Another quote:
      Alfred Edersheim describes the Jewish rite thusly, "The person to be baptized, having cut his hair and nails, undressed completely, made fresh profession of his faith before what were designated ‘the fathers of the baptism'... and then immersed completely, so that every part of the body as touched by the water" (Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol 2, p 746). He rightly argues that the information "must be regarded as proving that at that time (previous to Christ) the baptism of proselytes was customary" (Ibid. p. 747). http://firstcenturychristian.com/answers/answers_074.htm
      One more from Christianity.com

      But in first-century Judaism, baptism had a different meaning. In the book of Leviticus, God instructs Jews to cleanse themselves from ritual impurities, contracted through such acts as touching a corpse or a leper. Washing primarily fulfilled the legal requirements of ritual purity so that Jews could sacrifice at the Temple. Later, as "God-fearers" or "righteous" Gentiles expressed their desire to convert to Judaism, priests broadened the rite's meaning, and along with circumcision, performed baptism as a sign of the covenant given to Abraham.
      http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/asktheexpert/mar14.html
      It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time. They likely changed it some, and gave it a new meaning.

      Humor me if you can, imagine for a moment...

      Imagine Jesus coming to earth as a baby, and for some reason he ends up in Canada.  When He grows up he hears there is a crazy guy just outside of town doing some crazy stuff. His name is John,  not me, a different crazy John. It turns out to be the second cousin of Jesus.  John has somehow convinced the masses to turn from their selfish ways and turn back to following God.  The change is happening in their hearts, but they also want to make a visible statement, some sort of sign to tell the world that they are changing.

      This group of Canadians has never identified washing in water with spiritual change.  They had no religious customs involving people getting dunked in the rivers or lakes.  These people live in Canada remember.  Water is frozen in Canada for the majority of the year. 

      So what do you think this group of Canadians would do eh?  And what sort of religious rite would Christians have created if Jesus had come to Canada?

      Would the ritual have included a sweat lodge?

      Would the people have gotten a religious tattoo?

      Would the people have bought a T-shirt with a common slogan?

      Would everybody get a bracelet to remind them to consider what would Jesus do?

      I know some of this sounds silly. But I am having a hard time imagining what they would have done.

      Or do you think Jesus would have insisted that these Canadian Christians build special indoor baptismal tanks so they could start practicing this foreign ritual?

      What do you think?


      So my next question is: What is at the heart of this ritual? I don't believe God is as interested in religious rituals as He is primarily concerned with the heart. So from God's perspective, what is He wanting from us here?

      Baptism without Water

      This is post #3 in a series on Baptism:
      1. Baptism Questions - some questions I'd like to sort out
      2. What Did Baptism Mean? - a look at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature
      3. Baptism without Water - a look at baptism references that are not talking about water
      4. Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time.
      5. The Heart of Baptism - What is at the heart of this ritual 
      6. Who Can Baptize? - Do we think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy? 
      7. When Should Believers Be Baptized - At what age? At what level of maturity? 
      8. Baptism With The Holy Spirit - comparing immersion with water and with the Holy Spirit 
      9. Baptism Summary Thoughts
      My next question is:

      Is there a difference between baptizing with water (John 1:31), and baptizing into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19)? Does the word baptize always go hand in hand with water?

      In my last post we looked at how the terms baptisma, báptō and baptízō were used in other literature of the day to mean dip, immerse, submerge, plunge, or dye.  The dipping or submerging was not always occurring in water.  One of the references had to do with dipping in blood, another with having too much alcohol.

      So what about the use in the New Testament?  Does baptism always refer to being immersed in water?

      For example in Mark 10:38 - 40 Jesus uses the word baptism in reference to His death.  It doesn't seem water was involved.

      Or what is John the baptist saying here? 
      “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Matthew 3:11 (NIV) 

      Again in Mark 1:8 (NIV)
      "I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 

      Could it be that John baptized with water, but  Jesus was going to wash/immerse/dye people with the Holy Spirit and fire  (and not necessarily with water).  John doesn't say Jesus will baptize with water and also baptize with the Holy Spirit.



      Should we then take a fresh read of the great commission?

      Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:18 - 20 NIV)

      The Greek word for in is eis which is usually translated into.

      Note it is not saying baptize into water.  I'm not sure that water is actually required to immerse/dip/cleanse/dye someone into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

      What do you think?

      Monday, June 11, 2012

      What Did Baptism Mean?

      This is post #2 in a series on Baptism:
      1. Baptism Questions - some questions I'd like to sort out
      2. What Did Baptism Mean? - a look at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature
      3. Baptism without Water - a look at baptism references that are not talking about water
      4. Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time.
      5. The Heart of Baptism - What is at the heart of this ritual 
      6. Who Can Baptize? - Do we think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy? 
      7. When Should Believers Be Baptized - At what age? At what level of maturity? 
      8. Baptism With The Holy Spirit - comparing immersion with water and with the Holy Spirit

      What did the word baptism mean?  As I work through some questions on baptism, this seems like a good place to start.

      It turns out for some reason the Bible translators have chosen not to translate this word for us.  Instead it is an example of a transliteration, where the translators chose to give us a word that sounds like the original Greek word instead of translating it into common language.

      The reason for this may be traced back to when a King by the name of James hired translators to translate the Bible into English.  The state church of the time believed in sprinkling and would not have been pleased with a translation that challenged this practice.  By avoiding a simple translation these men may have saved their lives.

      In Greek the term is βάπτισμα or baptisma,  so we get an English word that sounds like the Greek word.  But that doesn't help us with understanding what it means.

      However from looking at other literature from that time, we can see it can be translated in different ways.

      I found this link with a collection of non-Biblical writings that use the same word.  This can help us understand what the word meant in that day.
      http://aoal.org/bt/docs/Baptism_WordHistory.pdf

      It sometimes meant to submerge or immersed in water.


      It sometimes meant to dip or plunge, for example a sword being dipped in blood.


      A related word báptō meant to dip or dye cloth material.

      A related word baptízō referred to seaweed that was submerged (or not).

      It seems the term was even used to refer to someone getting drunk, and another getting too deep into a discussion.

      I won't go through the whole document. But I hope we recognize the term did have a meaning outside of Christianity.

      Also in the New Testament related terms bapsō, bapsē and bapsas also gets translated as dipped in Luke 16:24 and John 13:26.

      The word baptism may simply mean something like dip, submerge, immerse, or dye.  It may not always occur with water.

      So does this change anything?

      I still have more questions to sort out.  I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on this.

      Sunday, June 10, 2012

      Baptism Questions

      This is post #1 in a series on Baptism:
      1. Baptism Questions - some questions I'd like to sort out
      2. What Did Baptism Mean? - a look at how the Greek terms get used and translated in other literature
      3. Baptism without Water - a look at baptism references that are not talking about water
      4. Baptism and Culture -  It seems Christianity adopted a common custom of the time.
      5. The Heart of Baptism - What is at the heart of this ritual 
      6. Who Can Baptize? - Do we think Matt 28:18 - 20 is addressed only for the clergy? 
      7. When Should Believers Be Baptized - At what age? At what level of maturity? 
      8. Baptism With The Holy Spirit - comparing immersion with water and with the Holy Spirit 
      9. Baptism Summary Thoughts

      The topic of baptism has come up. My daughters are approaching the age where this decision often takes place. I feel I need to work through some questions of my own as I want to encourage my daughters in this important step.

      As usual I have a lot of questions. So I will break this into a number of  blog posts as I examine this topic.  I would love to hear your thoughts as well.

      Here are some questions I plan to explore:

      What did the term baptism mean in the culture of the early church?  Is it a word Jesus invented, or did it have a meaning outside Christianity as well?

      Is there a difference between baptizing with water (John 1:31), and baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19)? Does the word baptize always go hand in hand with water?


      If Jesus had come to a culture that didn't practice baptism, would He have invented this ritual for them, or would He have done something different that would make sense to that culture?

      How long should believers wait to be baptized?  How old should they be?

      In colder climates like Canada, baptisms either have to wait until our 3 warm months, or we have to build special baptism tanks.  Is this really what Jesus had in mind?


      Who should perform the baptizing?  Is this task reserved only for clergy or should all believers be going out into the world... and baptizing...?


      What is at the heart of this ritual?  I don't believe God is as interested in religious rituals as He is primarily concerned with the heart.   So from God's perspective, what is He wanting from us here?

      OK. I think that is enough questions.  Are there other questions I should consider on this topic?

      Friday, June 8, 2012

      Running Out of Sacred Cows to Tip

      I may be running out of sacred cows to tip.
      "A literal sacred cow or sacred bull is an actual cow or bull that is treated with sincere reverence. A figurative sacred cow is something else that is considered immune from question or criticism, especially unreasonably so." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_cow_%28idiom%29
      No, I'm not talking literally. I've heard of cow tipping, but I'm not into that.  But in every religion there are certain beliefs you are not supposed to question.

      But what if Jesus and the writers of Scripture never wanted Christians to have these sacred cows in the first place? I think Jesus was a bit of a religious cow tipper himself.

      A big cow that I've been struggling with has been the structures typically referred to as church. I see many plugins, extensions and add-ons in today's Church., from special buildings, staff and programs, to the structures supporting everything.

      Infallibility of the Bible is a sacred topic I suspect most Christians would rather leave untouched.

      I've had some fun thinking about The Lord's Supper in different ways. Should we pass the potatoes for communion, or would Jesus say today "I am the pizza of life".

      I have questioned the use of the title Senior Pastor, or other titles for church leaders. A simple study  on Elders, Overseers, and Shepherds does not need to produce the leadership structures 'churches' often have today.

      I had fun with my Vacation and Beer Tithe post. But there are likely some that won't get my sense of humor.

      I even had the gall to question Holidays and Holy Days, it takes guts to question our Christmas traditions.  I love many traditions, I'm just not sure they should all be considered holy or defended as Christian.

      My Gospel in the Gospels Summary sees 'the gospel' in a different light than what is commonly preached today.

      Does Scripture say Hell is Eternal Punishment? - Well there was another hot topic.

      You wouldn't think a post that states that Unity is essential would challenge the status quo. But when you ask if unity can be found without agreement on essentials, we get closer to the heart of the issue.


      So have I run out of sacred cows to tip?  I'm not sure.

      There are other positive topics that I also want to blog more about like kingdom secrets, Holy Spirit, love, and participation.

      If I run out of sacred cows to tip, does that mean I am at a place where I am free from religion?  I think I'm OK with the end of religion too (depending on what we mean by religion).




      Tuesday, June 5, 2012

      Francis Chan - Have you ever studied this Book for yourself?



      Many find it easy to spot bad theology in others.

      Many find it easy to spot un-biblical traditions in others.

      But do we ever see the plank in our own eyes?

      Saturday, June 2, 2012

      Parable of the Ten Virgins

      Continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom with the Parable of the Ten Virgins Matt 25:1 - 13 (NIV)

      “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.  The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’  “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’  “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.  “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’  “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

      First I want to note that "At that time" in verse 1 would refer to the previous chapter where Jesus is talking about the destruction of the temple, and answering questions about the end of the age. So this passage is talking about what the kingdom of heaven was like or will be like during those days.

      Matt 24:34 confuses me in that it seems this passage may apply to things in the 1st century church. "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." (NIV)

      So I don't think I understand the timing of the events of chapter 24 enough to make many conclusions about this passage.


      I also wonder what the extra oil represents?  It seems to be a another key point in this parable.  It is the only difference between the 5 virgins that went to the wedding banquet and the 5 that were left outside.  Some believe the oil represents the Holy Spirit.  Others believe it is other things that are essential for salvation. 



      Matthew 22:1-14 (NIV) also speaks of  a wedding banquet where some people show up but are not allowed in.  In that passage the factor that keeps some out is that they are not wearing proper wedding clothes.  I hope that doesn't mean I need to wear a suit and tie all the time. :)

      The point could be made that some 'Christians' are/were waiting for Christ's return, but are/were unfortunately lacking something. Just hanging around  with other Christians, and doing what they do may not be enough.

      Sorry, I'm not shedding much light with this one.  It's being labeled with other passages I don't fully understand.

      As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.