Things I Think

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76 Responses

  1. Babylon's Dread says:

    The world will hate us

    Are we the world or are they?

  2. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    #10 – “Bible believing Christian”
    Only an idiot would ask such a question. In fact I think I would question the biblical knowledge of the person asking the question.

    Is there such a person as a non Bible believing Christian? A Bible denying Christian?
    This really is a case for mandatory catechism classes and a confirmation certificate. How do these folks get to declare themselves a Christian with no verifiable evidence?

  3. Michael says:

    BD,

    Depends on whose scorecard you’re reading…

  4. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I saw that inquiry half a dozen times yesterday…the current season has made idiots of us all in some ways.

  5. Steve Wright says:

    MLD, it is not a foolish discussion (though it may be entered into foolishly)

    You know Bart Ehrman and you know the tremendous influence he has today. For example, he is the one chosen by The Teaching Company for several of their Bible-related studies. He and his disciples are scattered throughout theological schools across the nation – influencing the next generation of religious leaders.

    I quote Ehrman. “Christianity does not stand or fall with the Bible……And so, biblical scholarship will not destroy Christianity. It might de-convert people away from a modern form of fundamentalist belief. But that might be a very good thing indeed.”

    Modern form of fundamentalist belief is one of those expressions that you can fit anything you want to fit into it. Way beyond issues like gay marriage, how about the exclusivity of Christ alone to save? How many people (like our President for example) proudly claim to be Christian and also say that other religions lead to God as well. (I refer to his interview I posted here when he was still a Senate candidate)

    There are countless thousands, if not millions, of people who would identify as “Christian” in some demographic who deny the basic tenets of the Bible (and not just young-earth creationism or some niche point).

    C.S. Lewis predicted this way back in Mere Christianity – the word, Christian, like gentleman, which used to have a very specific meaning that was objective in nature would morph to a subjective, opinionated, definition, and thus cease being a meaningful word at all.

  6. Babylon's Dread says:

    Oh I believe there are many self-identifying Christians who do not hold to an authoritative scripture … We call some of them United Methodists

  7. Michael says:

    My political views are informed by my understanding of the Scriptures. Those who utterly disagree with me make the same claim.
    The label is useless except as a grasp at claiming higher moral ground and Gods signature on ones ballot.

  8. Bob Sweat says:

    Michael, your #1 was a great prophesy update! 😊

  9. Michael says:

    Bob,

    They’re all still “imminent”… 🙂

  10. Jean says:

    #10 (Bible believing Christian),

    Recently, I’ve been wondering about what the Bible has become (and means to people) in modern Christianity. I have been chewing on the following passage from Hebrews for the past couple of days:

    “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

    ‘Today, if you hear his voice,
    8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    on the day of testing in the wilderness,'” (Heb 3:7-8)

    The Holy Spirit speaks (not “said” but “says”) through the Word.

    Today, “if” you hear his voice. “If”! Is this because his voice is not always speaking to us? And/or, is this because we are not hearing/listening?

    Who’s words are preachers speaking to us? What voices are we listening to?

    Have we tamed the Word of God into a moral guide book or ethics manual?

  11. Babylon's Dread says:

    One look at the historically changing map of Europe will probably describe our future. This nation is unlikely to hold together for another 100 years IMO.

  12. Michael says:

    Or perhaps we stop having endless hissy fits and division and come to sober and realistic solutions.
    Maybe we should try that…

  13. Babylon's Dread says:

    @13 … that is always a good thing.

    I think it unlikely… the nation is boiling over.

    Every neighborhood in America has a weapons cache larger than the original continental army. We are not preparing to go hunting.

    The prophecy wonks laid a good seed bed for fear… their soil could grow crops they did not intend

    All of this from one who has no gun, no stores, no contingencies and no personal anxiety about it. I can smell smoke though…

  14. Michael says:

    I assert that the churches responsibility to bring the temperature down, not keep ratcheting it up.
    I recognize the division and anger, I utterly reject the situation as irreversible .

  15. Jean says:

    With all of the challenges that our country faces (all of which are solvable if both sides are willing to compromise), America continues to be the most innovative and wealthiest country in the world. Take a look at the Global 100 companies in the world and notice how many are U.S. companies. Where is technology innovation occurring? New medicines? The top research universities? It’s right here folks.

    I learned this weekend that a 100% born in the U.S.A. Federal judge with Mexican lineage can’t be trusted to judge one of the presidential candidate’s civil law suits because his ancestry is Mexican. The same would go if the judge was Muslim, according to this candidate. This candidate is the leader of one of the two leading political parties in this country. This is blatant racism. Is this the new normal?

  16. Em ... again says:

    loved Sarah’s post on her blog, thank you for linking … FWIW, i think that God, Himself, sometimes lashes us to the mast of our ship to keep us from going aground…
    i do recall what it felt like being aground in the sailboat (tide was out) – knowing you’re helpless and a fool of your own making is not easy to face

  17. Michael says:

    Jean,

    There is myriad foolishness on both sides.
    What we need to do is find common ground first…

  18. Jean says:

    “What we need to do is find common ground first…”

    Agreed. Let’s begin with the common ground of (1) America is not a racist nation; and (2) people are not disqualified from doing a job or holding an office by virtue of their religion or ethnicity.

    How’s that for a start?

  19. Cash says:

    Michael,

    I love Shelby Foote. A true scholar with that old southern charm. Have you ever watched Ken Burns’ “Civil War” video series? Shelby is one of the main commenters.

  20. Michael says:

    Jean,

    I would go a bit deeper.
    Racism is and always has been part of our heritage.
    We have to understand that to insure that your points are a civic reality.

    We need to decide once again what kind of nation we want to be…

  21. Em ... again says:

    #15 – amen
    as long as there is one “Bible believing” Christian in the world, there is hope…

    i like the C.S. Lewis observation, perhaps the problem is not what we think we believe, rather it is what we do believe … mostly we don’t believe the CONTENTS of the Bible or we’d be a lot more gracious, joyful and sober … i think … dunno

  22. Michael says:

    Cash,

    That’s where I discovered him and was totally blown away.
    He reminds me of a southern Bowden…so I’ve been binging on his works for a few days now.

  23. Em ... again says:

    the late Shelby Foote (i think he’s gone …?…) – some great Southern wisdom and humor

  24. Babylon's Dread says:

    Shelby was luminous

  25. Michael says:

    “mostly we don’t believe the CONTENTS of the Bible or we’d be a lot more gracious, joyful and sober”

    Amen…

  26. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    To Steve and Babs – I do not disagree that there are million who self identify as Christians who do not believe the Bible. My statement was against those who would give validity to that “self identification” by even asking are you a Bible believing Christian.

    Do you agree that there can be such a thing as a non Bible believing Christian? I don’t and would never ask. The same for those who ask – are you a born again Christian – there is no such animal who is not.

    What would be your response if they said “no I am a Christian but I do not believe the Bible? Now you have backed yourself into a corner.

  27. Dallas says:

    “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    Yet the loudest voices in the church are much more satisfied with being identified with being hated… or frankly what and who they hate.

    Just my thought on your 7.

    Heck, I just read last night about a situation where that verse was almost certainly used to manipulate, oppress, and abuse someone within the church… that’s pretty messed up.

  28. Babylon's Dread says:

    MLD

    @27 of course that is true…

    Bible Thumping Dread

  29. Michael says:

    This analysis is way too simplistic.
    “Bible believing Christians” believe all sorts of different things about the same text.
    My whole point was that it is not a label with any political validity whatsoever.

    I cannot support Trump because of my interpretation of Scripture.
    Others will only support him because they believe he supports their interpretations.

    It’s utterly meaningless and keeps us from real discussions of real issues.

  30. Michael says:

    Dallas,
    I agree.
    Truth is that a great many of us can’t stand a great many more of us.
    But, we are Bible believing Christians…

  31. Steve Wright says:

    Do you agree that there can be such a thing as a non Bible believing Christian? I don’t and would never ask
    ——————————————
    MLD, I agree with you. Of course. However, multitudes like Ehrman not only disagree but trash you and me for holding that belief.

    I have yet to see a school or ministry organization, Christian, that simply asks prospective applicants “Are you a Christian?” – and leaves it at that. There is always a probe of the belief system because “Christian” is a meaningless word today.

    I’ve seen plenty of people advance the most truly and clearly unbiblical ideas that started their profession with “Look, I am a Christian but…”

  32. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, is it an actual probe to determine if the person IS a Christian or to find out which kind of Christian.
    Evidence of salvation would be an acknowledgment of belief in Jesus Christ alone. I can’t think of another question to ask.

    Now to determine which kind of Christian, I imagine you could ask 500 questions. 🙂

  33. Steve Wright says:

    MLD, I am thinking of questions that affirm His resurrection, His Deity, affirm The Trinity, and yes whether the Bible is God’s Word. I don’t see these as “what type of ” Christian one is sorts of questions.

  34. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Did you know all of that when you very first became a Christian? I had gone to church 3 Sundays and decided I was a Christian in the middle of the week between Sunday 3 and Sunday 4.

    I don’t think I could have articulated any of those if I came under questioning – but I knew I was a Christian. Perhaps I wasn’t really a Christian until I was actually catechized and properly confirmed.

    But I understand what Michael is saying about how does that matter in the political realm?

  35. Em ... again says:

    there are people that i can’t stand for a variety of reasons … maybe, “can’t stand” isn’t the best of terms to describe how they make me feel …
    but i have to say that once i can see that they love Jesus – who and what He is and what that means to humanity … i love them
    perhaps, i should think on that some more… but i’m pretty sure i do … even if i can’t stand them up close 🙂

  36. Steve Wright says:

    Difference between knowing as a new believer and denying something later. You are setting up an Ehrman standard now that goes against your first post. (I am not interested in the politics angle)

  37. Xenia says:

    All Christians believe at least part of the Bible. They believe the Gospel message or they wouldn’t be Christians at all. But many Christians don’t take many things that happened in the OT literally and that makes them not Bible-believing in the eyes of many. My old CC pastor does not think I attend a Bible-believing church because we don’t interpret as he does when in fact, we take many parts of the Bible more literally than he does.

    So “Bible-believing” means different things to different people. For some, it can only mean a view of an inerrant Bible taken as literally as possible, leaving room for poetic devices like God having wings, etc.

  38. Xenia says:

    For some groups of Christians, the Bible is regarded more highly than the Lord Himself.

  39. Mr Jesperson says:

    “Bible believing Christians”
    What if the true roots of the problem with us was not in so much the orthodoxy, but rather the orthopraxy?

  40. Randy says:

    Just a note, nothing profound. Shelby Foote was a failed novelist, who hung around with famous southern writers like Walker Percy (who was from about 25 miles from where I live) and knew William Faulkner. He took to writing civil war history. Foote remained an obscure writer until Ken Burns featured him in a series on the civil war. In his seventies, he gained fame. I don’t know, maybe there is something profound about.

  41. filbertz says:

    Xenia, sadly your comment at 39 is true…and I probably was one.

  42. Michael says:

    Randy,

    Percy and Foote grew up together…there is a book with almost fifty years of their correspondence to each other.

    He’s a good example of it never being too late to make your mark…

  43. Xenia says:

    Filbertz, I was one too.

  44. Em ... again says:

    i wonder if the Bible is held in higher regard than the Lord or, since it is touchable some folk who are more literal than abstract hold tightly to it as their link to God, to His mind… (yes, i i know – Holy Spirit activated)
    we have trouble being of one mind on doxies and praxies and all things doctrinal, but what we can be – must be – of one mind on is Christ as God incarnate and Savior of souls or so it seems to me – but … dunno, do i? 🙂

  45. Steve Wright says:

    All Christians believe at least part of the Bible.
    ——————————————————
    As do all Mormons.

    The issue to me, the definition of “Bible-believing” so to speak, is whether one believes the Bible is the word of God. Any authority that flows from the Bible comes from whether it is God’s book, or simply a book written by mere men.

    And the caveat is that one believes the Bible is the ONLY such book – not just one of a collection alongside the Koran etc.

    For example, in the excitement of the reformation years in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries – there was never a Christian group that denied the Bible was in fact, God’s word. They may have had battles over authority and interpretation and so forth, but nobody thought (dismissed) the Bible the way it has been dismissed in recent years by many professing Christians.

  46. Steve Wright says:

    I am sure there was some fringe group in the reformation years out there that may have dismissed the Bible, just in case someone takes my “nobody” in its strictest form.

  47. Dan from Georgia says:

    Re. your number 1 thought Michael, you forgot to mention…

    Isreal didn’t sign a peace treaty with the beast.
    No one was imprisoned for refusing a mark on their forehead or right hand.

    Just a few that I can think of, but you covered the spectrum pretty well!

  48. Steve,
    “You are setting up an Ehrman standard now that goes against your first post.”
    I find it interesting that you mention Ehrman as some foe.

    I have read many of Ehrman’s popular books and they are easily answered with one word. After he lays out all the issues you ask — “so?” – you ask him what the upshot is – he has no answer. Erhman “there are 400,000 (I think that is his current number) tran scribal errors in the Bible.” and you ask him “so?” – Even Daniel Wallace (see I know my DTS guys) agrees with Ehrman – but not Ehrman’s conclusions. Michael Licona (see I know my Baptist guys too) agrees with Ehrman – but not his conclusions.

    But more important, we all need to stay away from his popular books and read his scholarly books – there he must be more honest with his words and conclusions – peer review.

  49. Steve Wright says:

    MLD, I believe I am correct in remembering your high praise for the book by Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible.

    I too have read the book and found it quite good.

    I believe the battle continues, is real, and is important.

    What say you?

  50. Steve, very much so. Harold Lindsell hit the nail on the head and it is just as worthy today as then. I have a hunch he never asked anyone if the were a Bible believing Christian.

    But watch what happens when you ask someone if they are a Bible believing Christian – that assumes that a Bible denier can be a Christian – just of a different sort. What do you say when one answers “No I am not a bible believing Christian – I am just a Christian.” Now what do you say?

    I think Francis Schaeffer lowered the bar (many think he raised it) when he pretty much popularized the term. He allowed for a lesser version of Christianity. It seems contradictory – like allowing A and non A at the same time and in the same way.

    I know many Lutherans deny being born again Christians because the evangelicals got to redefine it in the 2nd half of the 20th century to an outward experience – so when they hear “are you a born again Christian?” they run. I would guess that many “softer” Christians do the same for “bible believing” which to many means Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson types.”But to be clear, people should believe the bible.

  51. Michael says:

    The term has no real meaning.

    I’ve been told that I’m not a “Bible believing Christian” …
    because I’m a Calvinist
    because I think Genesis is open to interpretation
    because I’m egalitarian
    because I’m not pretrib

    I consider myself a “BBC”… but many others don’t.

  52. To anyone here – I highly recommend The Battle for the Bible. Good insight into the movement of denominations – and it wasn’t because they didn’t believe the Bible, they believed it in a different way — not much different from the German higher critics.

    The SBC & the LCMS are the 2 prominent leaders in the book (I don’t remember – they may have been the only 2. Small book, good read – I think from around 1979

  53. Michael says:

    To the point I was initially making, I simply haven’t seen where politically, the Bible commends strip club owners over shrews…

  54. Michael,
    “I simply haven’t seen where politically, the Bible commends strip club owners over shrews…”

    I agree – in fact I don’t think God cares who we elect as long as the person rules justly.

  55. Michael says:

    MLD,

    You should provide us a list of your top ten best books on politics…I was duly impressed with the size of your library…

  56. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    BBC has, in American contexts, too often turned out to be nothing more than a shibboleth for people who are making assessments based on what are often matters not about what’s actually in the Bible so much as matters people wish the Bible had addressed more explicitly.

  57. Steve Wright says:

    MLD – I could have sworn that you have used the phrase “they stopped believing the Bible” to describe the various denominational splits we have seen over the years between liberal and conservative (using the terms in a theological context). The issues that lead to the splits, are secondary to the underlying issue of the Bible and its authority….correct?

    Now, we may be happy in saying such are not Christian churches anymore, but that is a hard sell in our world.

    Unless we make clear that a non-Bible believing Christian is no Christian at all…which I think is your thesis. Because all these people would call themselves Christians, their churches are called Christian churches, the world calls them Christians.

    It may be a stupid question in the realm of politics, or for that matter the realm of ESPN, Wall Street or the local PTA.

    But in the Body of Christ, in America and many other parts of the globe (especially Europe), it is quite relevant – and thus quite telling that when for example I look up your denomination I read very quickly “The Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.”

    My “denomination” – We believe that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, fully inspired without error and the infallible rule of faith and practice.

    Southern Baptist “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy”

    I could quote similar statements from the denominations of basically all the regulars here who are a part of one….

    However, there are certainly “Christian” churches out there who would have a very different take on the Bible (even if they don’t always put it up front online)

  58. I think my point is being a Christian is totally outside of myself and has nothing to do with me or what I do. So what is the harm or how does it override my Christianity if I mistakenly deny scripture as literal or if I even deny some of the historicity?

    What does it mean if I answer a challenge incorrectly?

  59. I was typing my #59 while you were typing your #58 – so that was not an answer to that one.

  60. Steve,
    I know that believing the Bible is important. But answer my question from above @51
    “What do you say when one answers “No I am not a bible believing Christian – I am just a Christian.”

    Here you have just challenged someone you are speaking with on some issue and you asked him “are you a Bible believing Christian?” Now what do you say to that person? Has it advanced your position?

  61. Steve Wright says:

    I don’t ask that question except in context to the church I pastor, and then I don’t ask it like that anyway.

    My point on this topic throughout the day is not to give a lesson on how to score points with my facebook reading friends or the random blog audience on some random topic of debate with an adversary

    My point is that there is a large body of professing Christians that most definitely do not believe the Bible (and that claim is not simply in a narrow interpretive sense Xenia and others illustrated from their experiences)

    Now, for argument sake, if I was chosen to be on the Larry King roundtable to discuss some issue of the day and was faced with some joker who proceeded to immediately identify as a Christian and then profess all sorts of ungodly nonsense, then I imagine I would need to make a point along the way about the Bible and its authority in my life and clear lack of authority in the joker’s life. I assume I would think of a more effective way to do that than “Are you a Bible-believing Christian?” but assuming a large audience it is important we don’t just leave the impression that Christians don’t agree on anything when in fact it is our respective views on Scripture itself that often lead to the (major) disagreements.

  62. Josh the Baptist says:

    “I think my point is being a Christian is totally outside of myself and has nothing to do with me or what I do. So what is the harm or how does it override my Christianity if I mistakenly deny scripture as literal or if I even deny some of the historicity?”

    It may be outside of what you do, but it is completely related to what you believe. That is a weird, fatalist statement. I don’t think you meant it, really. After all, I’ve heard you argue that if you stop going to church (something you must do) that you may stop being a Christian all together.

    But anyway, “Bible believing Christian” would be like any other term that we use, Conservative Christian, evangelical Christian…etc. It probably has some usefulness somewhere, but is twisted by each side to mean whatever they like.

  63. Steve Wright says:

    Speaking of terms…the buzzword “historical” as in “the historical Jesus” is something that almost always precedes a denial of the Biblical Jesus, Who of course is also the real historical Jesus.

    There is no difference between the Biblical Jesus and the historical, true, Jesus. None. We learn of Jesus through the Bible and the moment someone comes along with some theory about Jesus (i.e. He was gay, a transgender, a fornicator with Mary Magdalene etc) – that is not a Bible-believer.

    Paul spoke of those who would preach “another Jesus” – and it is quite a large and actually pretty diverse group of people out there. From the Mormons and JWs, down through the Muslims and Hindus, over to the secularists and liberal theologians…

  64. Again, it seems like folks like to defend their ground and at the same time, as I look back at my very first statement above at #2 – it seems like everyone agrees with me. It takes a pretty stupid person to use the challenge “are you a Bible believing Christian?”

    And the stop going to church thing is you stop confessing Jesus – not the Bible.

    And remember, I said in my first statement that there is no such thing as a non bible believing Christian and people argued with that. Otherwise I would have had nothing but amens. 🙂

  65. Josh the Baptist says:

    “And the stop going to church thing is you stop confessing Jesus – not the Bible.”

    “I think my point is being a Christian is totally outside of myself and has nothing to do with me or what I do.”

    These two quotes appear to be contradictory. It’s confusing, that is all. Whether or not there can be bible believing Christians and non, I don’t know. I was just confused by your statements.

  66. bob1 says:

    Looks like someone needs to walk the Sawdust Trail.

    Or will he become our first atheist CIC?

    http://religionnews.com/2016/06/05/southern-baptist-leader-donald-trump-a-lost-soul-who-must-repent/

  67. Jean says:

    I think we need to clarify a few points in this discussion of “bible believing”

    (1) Faith – is not the same thing as taking an oath or signing a Statement of Faith. Justifying faith is “trusting” in the saving work (i.e., death, resurrection and atonement) of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins. I could know all the right doctrine about the biblical Jesus and not have this trust. By the same token, I could have this trust, but err on some point in the Bible concerning Jesus (e.g., did he have biological siblings).

    (2) Faith comes by hearing. I can’t come to faith without hearing the Word. The Word is in some way incarnate in the Scriptures (I’m using that as an analogy). So, a Christian I would argue must affirm the divine inspiration of Scripture.

    (3) I don’t think we decide to trust in Jesus. I don’t think trust works that way. I think we trust in Jesus because the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to us as trustworthy and kindles our trust in Him when through the Word we are convicted of our sins and given forgiveness.

  68. Steve Wright says:

    Bible believing Christian may be meaningless to us, but the word Christian has become meaningless in the world

  69. Dallas says:

    Well the question, “are you a bible believing Christian”, is more often than not a rhetorical question. The implication is that you are not because you don’t have the same view on something that I do. I am sure their are exceptions but the term Bible believing Christian is more often used in a condescending manner to some extent. The term isn’t meant to imply that their are non Bible believing Christians, it is most often used as shorthand for, “if you don’t agree with me you are not a Christian” or better yet “if you don’t agree with me, you are going to burn in hell”.

    It’s not a completely meaningless term, but it says a lot more about the person using it than the person it is used towards.

  70. Michael says:

    Dallas nailed it.
    The evangelical assumption has always been that upon conversion you were also downloaded a set of “correct” doctrines and an unflappable trust in the authority of Scripture.

    I would submit that all doctrine is learned and that true faith is a result of God regenerating a dead person without regard to scriptural knowledge.

    The foundational truths that must be believed according the early confessions have little to do with “Bible believing” and everything to do with the person and work of Christ.

    This is not a simple issue…

  71. Steve Wright says:

    The evangelical assumption has always been that upon conversion you were also downloaded a set of “correct” doctrines and an unflappable trust in the authority of Scripture.
    —————————————————–
    I totally disagree as every evangelistic effort I have either witnessed or personally participated in – whether one is talking Billy Graham, Campus Crusade, Calvary Chapel, or sharing Jesus with your neighbor over coffee – always, ALWAYS there is an encouragement for the new convert to get and read a Bible and plug into a Bible teaching church….to grow.

    That being said, my interest was in MLD’s post way back up there at #2…..and I think that has been exhausted now.

  72. Michael says:

    What we encourage is that new believers embrace our doctrinal distinctives and encourage them to read the Bible through our tribal lenses.

    Should they choose another view whether they are truly “bible believing” is held to question…

  73. Michael says:

    I read “liberal’ theologians like Buchner and Brueggemann with as much profit as I read conservatives like Dr.Packer.

    “Bible believing” is a subjective term…and should rarely be applied to political debate.

  74. JTK says:

    Michael on June 6, 2016 at 7:34 pm
    To the point I was initially making, I simply haven’t seen where politically, the Bible commends strip club owners over shrews…

    Indeed!

  75. Josh the Baptist says:

    “What we encourage is that new believers embrace our doctrinal distinctives and encourage them to read the Bible through our tribal lenses.”

    What should we encourage them to do, figure it all out on their own?

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