We rightfully bemoan the rise of the gay hermeneutic in which Christians are reinterpreting the Bible to allow for committed same-sex relationships, but has anyone ever stopped to think that what these liberals are doing to the homosex texts we “conservatives” have already done to the divorce and remarriage texts?  We have mangled Jesus and Paul’s teachings to allow for divorce for reasons other than sexual immorality, and to allow those who have divorced or have been divorced without grounds to remarry because we don’t think it is fair for people to be unhappy or alone.  We understand the strong desire to be in a loving, sexual relationship.  Our emotions become the motivating factor for reinterpreting (or ignoring) what would otherwise seem to be a pretty straightforward condemnations for most divorces and remarriages.

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“Heresy” is a word that gets thrown around rather loosely these days.  We will cavalierly declare someone a heretic because their views on eschatology differ from our own.  It’s famously been said that “heresy is what you believe, while orthodoxy is what I believe.”  But heresy is not the same as error.  Not all theological errors or false doctrines rise to the level of heresy.  A heresy is a belief held by a confessing Christian that is sufficient to damn their soul.  To charge someone with heresy is not merely to say that their theology is wrong, but that it is so wrong that they do not qualify as a Christian and are not saved.

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Lifestyle Evangelism3Jesus charged his apostles – and by extension, his church – with the great commission.  The mission he gave us involves both the proclaiming of the gospel as well as the discipling of those who put their trust in Jesus.

If we are honest with ourselves, the American church is not great at either proclaiming or discipling, but we are doing worse on the proclaiming end, and it’s only getting worse.  As our culture becomes increasing secular and as Christians increasingly buy into the notion that our faith is to be kept private, we are becoming increasingly reluctant to proclaim Jesus.  There are a host of reasons for this, but I am not concerned to analyze them at this point.  Instead, I want to focus on the type of evangelism we are opting for in its place.  Some have called it “lifestyle evangelism.”  Lifestyle evangelism entails the notion that the way we live our life is the best witness of Jesus.  Our lives are a living gospel.  This form of evangelism is summed up in the apocryphal quote attributed to Francis Assisi: “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.”

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Nick Punch

The mythical being we call Santa Claus or “St. Nick” is loosely based on a real historical figure, Saint Nicholas of Myra.  St. Nicholas served as the bishop of Myra in the early fourth century.  While he is known as a giving man, most do not realize that he gave people more than money.

The story goes* that he was one of the bishops present at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325, and was a defender of the full deity of Christ against Arius.  When Arius took the floor and began to argue for his view of Jesus (a view that claimed Jesus was a created divine being who was less than fully God), Saint Nicholas’ heresy meter went off…as well as his temper.  He entered the “ring” and proceeded to slap Arius in the face for speaking such heresies.

So next the next time you think of Santa Claus, don’t think of the jolly ‘ol fat man in the red suit; think of the fist-fighting defender of orthodoxy! Take that…and that…and that you heretics!

BTW, legend has it that when Nick slapped Arius, Arius yelled out “Ho ho homoousios.”  If you didn’t get that, don’t worry. Just a stupid theology joke.

*I have to admit that there are not good historical grounds for the story. St. Nick is not mentioned as being present in the contemporary historical sources, and the story about him punching Arius does not appear in any literature until the late 14th century.  Furthermore, Arius wasn’t even allowed to speak at the council since he was not a bishop (Eusebius of Nicomedia defended Arius’ position for him at the council), so he couldn’t have slapped Arius. Despite the questionable historical veracity of the account, it’s just too fun to pass up.

There was an interesting exchange between Justice Alito and Mary L. Bonauto, one of the lawyers arguing on behalf of same-sex marriage before SCOTUS. Alito asks Bonauto how polygamous unions could be denied the right of marriage in the future if SCOTUS ruled in Bonauto’s favor given that the rationale offered for legalizing same-sex marriage seems to apply to polygamous unions as well. Bonauto’s response was…well…interesting.  After shooting herself in the foot, the best she could come up with was a statement of faith that it wouldn’t happen due to some practical and legal concerns. Not very persuasive. The fact of the matter is that once you dispense with the opposite-sex prerequisite for marriage, the idea of “two and only two” no longer makes sense. The rational basis for limiting a marriage to two people is that there are two sexes, and the sexual completeness of one man and one woman.  As Robert Gagnon has written: (more…)

Need to Know about Qur'anIslam is the second largest religion in the world, and growing rapidly.  As such, it’s important for Christians to have a basic understanding of this formidable religion, and in particular, it’s sacred text, the Qur’an.  Christian apologist, James White, has written an excellent book – What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an – that provides Christians with a basic understanding of the Qur’an, focusing on the topics that divide Muslims and Christians.

White begins the book by making a case for why Christians should concern themselves with the teachings of the Qur’an.  From there, he provides a broad overview of both Muhammad and the Qur’an:

  • A brief sketch of Muhammad’s life and the origin of Islam
  • According to Muslims, the Qur’an was written by God from eternity past and merely dictated to Muhammad by an angel over a period of 22 years. As such, it is inerrant.
  • The central tenet of faith for Muslims is the absolute numerical oneness of God (tawhid), and a confession that Muhammad is His greatest and last prophet.
  • The worst of all sins is to associate anything with God (shirk), so the Christian claim that Jesus is God is shirk.

While White’s book is not written as a refutation of the Qur’an’s claims to be divine revelation, there are a number of points raised in the book that expose the Qur’an’s claims as false:

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Christian apologist, Tyler Vela, has observed that atheists like to define “atheism” and “belief” in very nontraditional ways, and these definitions lead to an absurdity. Consider the following: “Atheist” is redefined as someone who merely lacks the belief that God exists (rather than someone who believes God does not exist), and “belief” is redefined as holding something to be true without evidence (rather than a mental disposition concerning the truth of some proposition). Given these definitions, if God did something by which all people had direct and incontrovertible evidence that He existed, then no one could believe in God (since His existence is no longer an opinion without evidence). If no one believes in God because they know God exists, then they are atheists (because atheists lack a belief in God’s existence). Ironically, then, everyone would be an atheist precisely because they know God exists.

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