Five Tips for Handling Agnostics

the peasant fight, 1547

Tonight was tiring. I was reviewing James 3 with my bible study. We had moved into the lounge of the host church’s foyer, which someone had already occupied. I wanted to discuss how James’s critique of the tongue was contextualized with a preface on teachers, and how his analogies for the tongue controlling the body could just as well apply to a teacher managing a student body. However, the stranger was invited to join the conversation. The stranger was an agnostic. The bible study almost completely abandoned James 3 and turned into a slogged debate on Christianity. Despite numerical and … Continue reading “Five Tips for Handling Agnostics”

Surveying the Wondrous Cross

Centurion at the Cross

Like the prophet in Isaiah 6, the hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” vacillates between describing the awe of beholding God and reflecting on our own changed state: When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ, my God! All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them through his blood. See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did … Continue reading “Surveying the Wondrous Cross”

God Is Real: Surrender with a “Yes!”

Lionesses

When Sally was in elementary school, she was sharing God with her fellow students. Her teacher scoffed and walked up to her. “God doesn’t exist!” Sally responded patiently, “Oh yeah? Prove it!” The flustered teacher said, “There’s never been any evidence of God, so He can’t exist!” Sally remembered what her parents had told her. “Have you ever been to Zimbabwe?” “Well, no, but—“ “Do you know anyone from Zimbabwe?” “No—“ “Then by your definition, Zimbabwe doesn’t exist either! But you believe in Zimbabwe, don’t you?” I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot of unbelief out there! Jesus … Continue reading “God Is Real: Surrender with a “Yes!””

The Damnable Doctrine of Eternal Security

eternal security?

My contention in this polemic is twofold. First, I contend that the Calvinist doctrine of eternal security—i.e., that it is impossible for a justified and regenerate Christian to lose salvation—is false. Secondly, I contend that it is, in a sense, damnably false—not that one cannot believe it and be saved, but rather that, instead of being a purely speculative doctrine with no bearing upon our lived sanctification, a false but firm belief in eternal security can lead genuine Christians into apostasy and, finally, Hell. The New Testament is rife with warnings against apostasy. Prima facie, all of these warnings ought … Continue reading “The Damnable Doctrine of Eternal Security”

Chaplaincy: Prophets

Before moving on to an examination of the early history of the chaplaincy, I want to make one more observation. Mr. Daniel Sutkowski and I recently held a conversation comparing the prophets of the Bible with the chaplains we see on television who, say, give a prayer before a national ceremony. As with the Levites discussed in my previous post, prophets often worked in the secular realm, affirming or criticizing the established institutions of their day. The Bible portrays a general cultural expectation for prophets to serve political objectives; certainly rulers (e.g. Balak, Ahab) expect as much, as seen by … Continue reading “Chaplaincy: Prophets”

Taking Up the Sword – On War and Revolution

battle scene

Honestly, I didn’t plan for this to coincide with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This has been in the back of my mind for years; I’m quite surprised that I didn’t write about this sooner. The final impetus was derived from a Bible study a couple weeks ago, the week before the invasion. We were going through the book of Esther. Somehow we got lost in the weeds, ending up in the citation of Romans 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except by God, and those that exist are put in … Continue reading “Taking Up the Sword – On War and Revolution”

The Priesthood of the Church

As a Catholic, in conversations with fellow Christians, the question of the priesthood often arises. What is the purpose of a priest? Certainly, one can point to the importance of having a Church for doctrinal unity, but that points more to the importance of a Church rather than priests. Christ’s Apostles were fishermen, people from various walks of life, distinctly not part of the priestly contingent in Israel’s society. Why then does the Church have a priesthood, and what function does it serve? The quick answer to this question is the sacraments, the greatest of which is the Eucharist. The … Continue reading “The Priesthood of the Church”

Food and Free Stuff Doesn’t Cut It

bountiful meal with wine and cheese

Earlier this week, I signed up for an experimental online bible study. The organizers were looking for gentlemen across the nation between the ages of twenty and fifty. It was quite a shock to me, then, to receive an email saying that they couldn’t find enough interest to organize a men’s group! I found the notion ridiculous. Just tonight, I attended a bible study with ten men in their prime, and this was apart from the separate all-men’s bible study in the same building! How could one organization excel so well while another organization falls so short? I figured that … Continue reading “Food and Free Stuff Doesn’t Cut It”

Critique: “When God Abandoned the Garden of Eden” by Raanan Eichler

In my last article, I summarized Raanan Eichler’s essay, in which he proposes a new reading of Genesis 3:24. Here, I offer a critique of his argument. Eichler uncovers a fascinating textual tradition of Genesis 3:24, one attested by four targumim. God’s presence outside Eden is implied throughout the Torah, but this verse provides an explicit description of God’s exit from the Garden when He drove mankind out. This reading raises many new questions, some of which Eichler hints at in his concluding paragraph: How did man’s fall influence God to leave the Garden? Is the snake likewise banished from … Continue reading “Critique: “When God Abandoned the Garden of Eden” by Raanan Eichler”