Old Testament Today

I recently got into an argument on Facebook with an atheist who was questioning why Christians were complaining about Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who is facing a death sentence in Iran. Now, I do not know this person to whom I was interacting, but was very frustrated with what he said. I don’t like to enter into these conversations without being able to sit down and discuss this face to face but the conversation was very revealing. His first comment was, “but doesn’t the bible say that anyone who believes in any other deity beside the christian god shall be put to death? that’s no different than this. Iran is just following thru with their beliefs. I’m not saying its right. but Christianity is only arguing about this because it’s someone of their own faith. if Christianity were the ones holding a person captive, they’d think it was justified by the bible.” Many times, people make grand statements like that without justifying their claims anywhere in Scripture, so I asked where this was in the Bible, as well as pointed them to Luke 6:28, which tells us to bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you. This person then listed Deuteronomy 13:6-10,17:1-5, Exodus 22:20 and Mark 16:16. I then tried to explain that Christ came to fulfill all the commandments of the Old Testament, praise God that we now live under grace instead of law! They then brought this comment up: “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

Clearly the Old Testament is to be abided by until the end of human existence itself. None other then Jesus said so.”

They continued: “and just to bring us back on topic, old testimate is still valid. Jesus said so. so punishment by death for worshiping another god is still valid. so as my original point stated, Christians r hypocrites. Iran is simply following thru with their belief. Christianity is just mad because it’s of someone from their own faith.”

So that brings us to the question: What is the purpose of the Old Testament today? We see in Luke 24:27 that all of the Old Testament points to Christ who has now ushered in a covenant of grace instead of law (Romans 6:14). The Old Testament tells us of the creation of the world, mankind’s fall from perfection relationship of God, and promises us a king is coming who will restore everything. Because of this coming king, we will no longer be bound by the law for the law will be written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33) and we will have the Holy Spirit to help us grow more Christ like.

This conversation has reminded me again that I need to always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within me, as well as pray for those who do not see.

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My Top 5 Favorite Movies from 2011

With the Oscars happening yesterday, I thought I’d share my top 5 movies from last year.

1. The Tree of Life

This movie is incredibly hard to explain and most people who have seen it describe it as, “really good, it has Brad Pitt in it.” The story follows the life of Jack (played by Sean Penn) as he reflects on his young life growing up in Texas with an authoritarian father (Pitt). Through his reflections he questions the meaning and purpose of life. This is one of the movies that you can’t really grasp by watching just once, and it has some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen. Put this one on your must see list. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 12. It has some language and that father is very harsh with his kids and wife.

2. Super 8

This was a fantastically fun movie which I dubbed “Goonies 2” It brought me right back to my childhood of adventure and exploring everything I could touch, see, taste and feel. It follows a group of kids through the filming of a movie for their school and an alien invasion of their hometown. It has some frightening images, but I’d say this ones a good one to watch with pre-teen and up.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The long awaited climax to the thrilling story of the young Wizard Harry Potter. If you haven’t heard of this movie you probably won’t be reading this blog. All I’ll say about this is it’s a fantastic end to a fantastic adventure. As always, the book is better than the movie, but I still enjoyed this movie. Definitely my favorite of the series. Again, pre-teens should be ok seeing this one.

4. The Muppets

This brought me right back to my days of watching the Muppets with my cousin Anthony. This movie follows the Muppets attempt to save their theater from extinction from an oilman. Walter, a new Muppet pulls out all the stops with an all star cast. The tunes are catchy, and despite my skepticism, Jason Segel did a fantastic, and clean job. This is a movie to take the whole family to, including the young kids. I was surprised by the cameos from Selena Gomez to John Krasinski (of The Office). Fun for all ages!

5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rounding out the top 5 of my favorite movies is the new Planet of the Apes. Honestly, I’m a sucker for anything Andy Serkis does since Lord of the Rings, and this movie didn’t disappoint. It follows scientist Will Rodman (played by James Franco) as he attempts to find a cure for Alzheimers which has been affecting his dad. Testing his formulas on chimps, he finds that it makes them much more intelligent which leads to the revolution. Never having seen any of the other Planet of the Apes movies I was a little nervous about this one, but was very happy with the outcome. This one should be appropriate for those 13 and older.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

The Adjustment Bureau

A fun movie that looks at a “higher power” who controls the events in our everyday life. Matt Damon plays a man running for a New York senate seat who falls in love with a woman after seeing her once. The “higher power” doesn’t want them together so they try their best to make it happen. The movie asks some very good questions but ultimately doesn’t give a satisfying answer. It can spark some good discussion, however. I’d suggest this for those 14 and older. It has some suggestive scenes as well as language.

Source Code

A wounded vet finds himself in an experimental computer program that lets him live out the last 8 minutes of a deceased person’s life. This one again asks the question about the meaning of life and search for meaning. Again, it doesn’t provide the best answer, but gives a great ride through the search! I’d recommend this for 14 and up it has some violence and language.

X-Men First Class

This franchise just keeps going! I was disappointed with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but this one definitely made up for it! This one shows the beginning of the group X-Men as well as the friendship of Charles Xavier and Magneto. Along the way it shows how the Cuban Missile Crisis REALLY happened. This one has some inappropriate content, language, sexuality, drinking and smoking. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 16.

Moneyball

Another Brad Pitt movie to make the list. Although this isn’t exactly what happened to the Oakland A’s, it was a really well done movie. Both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill did a great job with their roles and the movie did a really good job of getting you invested into the team. There’s some swearing in this movie, so I’d recommend it for 13 and up.

 

 

EFCA Theology Conference Session 2

The second session of the EFCA Theology Conference was done by Dr. Bob Yarborough again who gave us a biblical framework for studying the complimentarian position. He began by asking the question: why not chuck “complimentarian” rather than redo?

The first reason we should not do so is because of an ecclesial reason in that well over 90% of those in church affirm the historic view of men and women in church and marriage. Those who advocate for egalitarianism are going for a schism. Avoiding the ordination of women also avoids losing witness in many parts of the world who view ordaining women as imposing western worldviews on them.

The second reason is that there is an empirical reason to not abandon complimentarian, even as we improve upon a historic complimentarian understanding. Dr. Yarborough then quoted an article from Christian Century which showed that when men led the church, the church was overall healthier.

Third, there are hermeneutical reasons not to abandon this term. This calls into question the teaching of Scripture when cultural changes occur. Western culture has seen as pullback from some of the aspects of classic feminist doctrine as well. A helpful articled titled ‘Where Have the Good Men Gone?’ was read. Also, number social indicators in the West point to disastrous results for large numbers of women and children since the 1960s when social circles began an aggressive departure from biblical teaching in areas like sexuality, divorce and abortion, and as women’s ordination became more acceptable with the rise of feminism. (see the July 9 edition of the Wall Street JouranlThe Divorce Generation’).

Fourth, there is an evangelistic reason not to abandon the term complimentarian. Marriage, by definition, is supposed to be hard, therefor getting men and women to work together in the church isn’t going to be east. The church is also a volunteer organization which makes things even more difficult. Men also have a tendency to avoid a church if women are ordained there because they will chafe agains the leadership, just as they chafe against women leadership in the home.

Another question Dr. Yarborough asked was Why do we cling to the complimentarian teaching when Paul was so obviously a flawed man of his culture when it comes to this topic, and when the household codes he used to dictate to women are so obviously cultural artifacts with no bearing on today? And also what about slavery? If the Bible is wrong there, why can’t we be wrong about its teaching on the sexes?

To answer this he began by talking about the importance of the Bible and its implications (see Ephesians 5-6 and 1 Corinthians 11). The term “helper” in Genesis 1 is a term of functional subordination. It is not enough just for a couple to enjoy each other, there also needs to be an outpouring of love. The church is also God’s household (1 Tim 3), a family of redeemed families which natural reflects family polity. Galatians 3:28 tells us that we are together the body of Christ.

Many people point to slavery as a gradual shift that should continue with the roles of women. However, slavery in the Bible is very different than the form of slavery that comes to peoples minds today. In the Bible we have the first appeal to treat humans as humans for human sake, and not just for the interest of the masters. During Bible times, slavery was typically for a limited amount of time as well. Slavery is also a universal human institution and still goes on in many parts of the world. Western culture was the first culture to break away from slavery with the help of Christianity. F.F. Bruce says that, “the Bible brings us to a place where the institution [of slavery] could only wilt and die.”

The final question he left us with was, “Is our church order an apt vehicle for administering God’s grace in the church by the gospel of our crucified, risen, ascended, reigning and returning Lord?”

EFCA Theology Conference Session 1

The first session of the conference was titled ‘The Cultural and Ecclesiological Landscape’ and was done by Dr. Bob Yarbrough. He gave us some background to this very sensitive issue by giving 5 theses and asking a question. The these were:

  1. We’re hurting
  2. The complimentarian term needs a redo
  3. Redo would mean blessed repentance and the good works and better practices that the Gospel received would bring.
  4. We live in a time of dizzying and sometimes intimidating negative change.
  5. The crises and evils of our time can be overstated.

The first point is very true of our culture today; our culture is a mess right now. People are asking a lot more questions than giving answers.

The second point is very timely as well. Men and women together constitute the image of God. That is, both men and women are created equal in the term that they were created, but they are so very different. Our culture today is waging war on the Bible’s understanding of personhood and marriage. Jesus did not address the gender issue as a trajectory that needs to be altered, or a social convention, but as something created and maintained by God.

Under the third point was read James 1:21 and gave many explanations about complimentarian that I’ll simply list below.

  1. Complimentarian has too often meant “you can’t”
  2. Complimentarian has too often meant catering primarily to men.
  3. Complimentarian has been a cover for oppression of women
  4. Complimentarian has been wed with Americanism, as in “family values”
  5. Complimentarian has not always been robustly biblical enough to repel licentiousness.
  6. Complimentarian has been used to justify juvenile and boorish behavior.
  7. Complimentarianism has been used to justify male aggression, laziness and refusal to love and serve in marriages.

The fourth point was listed many statistics of the state of our culture in America. One example listed was obesity. People get whatever they want whenever they want and don’t want to sacrifice or wait for anything. (anyone remember dial-up? My cell phone is faster than my first computer)

Finally, we can overstate where the culture is going. “Where there is God, there is hope.” Our media tends to publicize all the bad things that happen, but bury all the good things on the back pages.

Finally, the question: Is our church order and apt vehicle for administering God’s grace in the church by the gospel of our crucified, risen, ascended, reigning and returning Lord?

A good question to ponder that left us thinking and processing through our cultural landscape as we looked at what the Bible said about this issue.

Elephant Room 2: Carson and Keller Summary

In light of the recent controversy of the Elephant Room and T.D. Jakes I thought it may be helpful to write a summary of what Carson and Keller have said about it. The main issue in this controversy is the issue of the Trinity. T.D. Jakes has been called a modalist and was invited to the Elephant Room in Chicago to discuss this issue with MacDonald, Driscoll and others. Jakes has often played the race card in this discussion saying that those who disagree with him are hating him because of the color of his skin. That has nothing to do with the argument at hand! Many evangelicals are disagreeing with him because of his theology, not because of his skin color. Below is a summary of what Carson and Keller have said about it.

  1. Persons and Manifestations

Modalism has been around since the end of the second century. This is the belief that there are not 3 distinct persons with the God-head (the Trinity) but that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are different manifestations of that God. This eventually led believers to use the term hypostasis as in the hypostatic union. Within the three persons of the God-head there is a relationship, as seen when Jesus is on the cross and crying out to God, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”

2. Biblicism One and Biblicism Two

“T.D. Jakes recently said he affirms that God is three persons, but prefers to speak of three manifestations.” Many people have applauded him as a hero because of this and say that we are simply arguing over terms, but the choice of words means so much. The term “manifestations” was used as an attempt to describe what the Bible said about God, yet was declared a heresy. “The “persons” terminology prevailed (along with words like “subsistence”) not because it derived directly from usage in the biblical documents themselves, but because it could be shown that this terminology did a great job of summarizing what the Bible actually says.” Words do carry meaning with them, and “We simply cannot escape the fact that our linguistic labels are shaped by prior discussion.”

3. Prosperity Gospel and Empowerment

Another critique raised against Jakes is that he is preaching a prosperity Gospel. His defense is that he is preaching a Gospel of Empowerment to the social outcasts. While there is something to be said about a Gospel of Empowerment, it is easy to hide a prosperity Gospel under that banner. The two ways to tell if it is a Gospel of Empowerment is to find if the true Gospel lies at the forefront of what is being preached and then to see how much of the “empowerment” comes to fruit in this life.

4. Love and Truth

Correction and reproof must be done in love for one another as fellow members in the body of Christ. Many times people accuse those on TGC of not having enough love, or of not correcting some people enough. Now it is impossible do this perfectly on this side of heaven, but there needs to be both, and as I said before the correction must be done in love.

5. Racism and Playing the Race Card

There are differences between different ethnicities down to the way we interpret these events. Some of the African American members of TGC were frustrated that T.D. Jakes hadn’t been adequately dealt with, yet a 22 page response was written to Rob Bell’s newest book Love Wins. Many of the African American pastors had been struggling because they had opposed Jakes’ views and felt that he was devastating to the African American church at large. Carson and Keller write:

“Subtleties and ironies surfaced everywhere in the subsequent developments. Some wanted to give T. D. Jakes a pass on the ground that African American churches are more interested in redemption than creeds. That’s a bit like giving Jonathan Edwards a pass on slavery because he was a man of his own time and class. All of us must hold one another to the standard of God’s most holy Word. In fact, it is a kind of insult to Pastor Jakes to give him a pass because of his ethnicity.”

We must help each other stay true to the Bible as a whole, no matter the ethnicity, gender or background.

6. Private and Public

The basic argument here is that these matters need to be dealt with in whatever sphere they have been influencing. T.D. Jakes isn’t an individual who may be speaking heretically about the Trinity, but someone who has a very public ministry and life. The things he’s been saying aren’t suddenly coming into the public eye, but have been for a while. Therefore, the arguments presented here are not simply for and in reaction to the Elephant Room discussion, but are arguments that Pastors need to deal with as they deal with Jakes’ ministry.