Flotsam and jetsam (6/11)

Good Reads

  • The Five Myths about Small Groups: Discipleship manifests itself in the local church most often through small groups. But building effective small groups takes a lot of work, and can be difficult to implement. They often struggle to be successful and transformational because of wrong expectations, beliefs, or myths about how they work best.
  • Old Testament Law and the Charge of Inconsistency: I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.” What I hear most often is “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible?”
  • People Will Actually Sing If You Let Them: One of my non-negotiables going in to starting a church was that congregational singing be the primary musical expression of the gathered people of God. Not a band. Not an organ. Not a singer-songer writer strumming guitar chords. But the congregation itself.
  • The Dirty Little Secret of Endorsements: But here’s a dirty little secret of publishing. When you look at the back cover of a book and see a list of commendations, it is possible—likely even—that the majority of those people have not read the book or have not read it carefully.

Other Info

 Just for Fun     

  • Check out this beautiful time-lapse video of Manhattan.




12 Responses to “Flotsam and jetsam (6/11)”

  1. Beau Quilter June 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Ah, Tim Keller, and the charge of OT inconsistency:

    “I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological advisor) before leveling the charge of inconsistency.”

    I can’t tell whether he’s being naive, disingenuous, or both. The charge that it is only poor, uninformed, unlearned liberals who point out inconsistencies in our interpretation of both the OT and NT is simply false. The entire edifice of biblical historical/textual scholarship is built upon such inconsistencies as those that led to the now overwhelmingly accepted documentary hypothesis of OT origins.

    Obviously, he wants to point out the Christian (certainly not the Judaic or Islamic) take on the Old Testament, as a story that finds it total fulfillment in Jesus. But, recognizing that most Christians may see the Old Testament in this way, does not remotely remove the huge inconsistencies evident in Christian interpretations of the Bible. Even if you stick with the NT alone. Should we listen to Paul, and silence the women in our church? Why did Jesus say he would return in glory in the clouds with a host of angels within the lifetimes of his disciples? Should I shun any who divorce for any reason other than adultery? Asking a learned theologian will not get you answers to these questions; it will only get you that particular theologian’s biased responses.

    • Lane June 12, 2012 at 6:15 am #

      The answer to every question is always biased by the experience of the person answering.

      In the article he was answering a particularly common charge of inconsistency. The fact that he did not give satisfactory answers to every charge of inconsistency is not relevent.

      • Beau Quilter June 12, 2012 at 8:46 am #

        Except that his answer to this particular charge of inconsistency is fairly banal as well. A growing number of Christians (including many quite sophisticated theologians) are finding even NT strictures against committed gay relationships as cultural artifacts in the same vein as those which promote the obedience of slaves and the silence of women.

        Furthermore, the charge of inconsistent use of the OT is quite relevant and correct, when such a large number of fundamentalist Christians (perhaps not you, and perhaps not Keller – but a substantial number nonetheless) are appealing to OT strictures and penalties to promote hatred and bullying towards the gay community.

        • Lane June 12, 2012 at 9:07 am #

          I agreed with his explanation for not following sacrificial laws of the OT. Homosexuality along with other sexual sins – such as sex outside of marriage (much much more common) – are part of the moral law that extends into the NT.

          I will agree with you that there should not be hatred promoted against anyone. However, I do not believe that sin should be ignored, or worse promoted as a virtue! When sin is being committed by a Christian within the Church, it should be pointed out and admonished gently; hopefully leading toward repentance. Condemning sinners outside the Church for sinning is like blaming a blind person for stepping on your toe.

          • Beau Quilter June 12, 2012 at 10:20 am #

            Again, Lane, the attempt to separate OT law into sacrificial and moral law is an apologetic approach, not one that squares with the reality of OT law. The OT does not so easily distinguish between “sacrificial and moral” strictures, as even a cursory reading will show. My original criticism of Keller is that he dismisses charges of OT inconsistency as unintelligent or lacking in theological understanding. This is a specious argument, as even Keller is most certainly aware that there are theologians who completely disagree with him.

            As for your last paragraph, there is not room for full discussion here, but I have to say it loud and clear: it is not a sin to be gay, and gay marriage should not be legally prohibited. Fifty years ago Christians came out in droves to protest the legalization of “miscegeny”, i.e. the marriage of a black person to a white person. In another fifty years, the current protests against gay marriage will appear just as backwards and ugly.

          • Will Barton June 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

            So glad you make this stand, Beau!

            The old “love the sinner, hate the sin” canard we hear does nothing to redress the inequities and bullying experienced by the gay community in this country, and in fact, simply enables the more vicious gay-bashing that is becoming more common in public rhetoric every day.

            Two points. If Christians want to love the gay community, it’s time to put their focus on the hatred espoused by the those Christians prone to bully and foment anger. Call them out! That’s real sin; address it!

            Secondly, calling the way two people love each other a sin is little different than espousing hate. I think you’re wrong, but if you must believe it a sin, you’d better be damned sure your right.

          • Lane June 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

            Will, I agree with your first point, we should be calling out people within our community that are espousing hate.

            As for the second point, the Bible talks quite alot about how people should (and shouldn’t) love one another. And if you believe it is not a sin you should be very sure yourself.

          • Will Barton June 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

            I do not doubt my position, Lane. We should love each other. To “not love” is the option that leads to hate an inequality.

  2. Lane June 12, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    It seems like we are at an impasse. Homosexuality is just as much a sin as someone sleeping with his girlfriend out of marriage – no more, no less. You can choose to believe whatever you would like, but to say that the OT or the NT is not clear about sexual sin is just inaccurate. I’m reminded of a quote from Saint Augustine:

    “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

    • Beau Quilter June 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      The NT is also fairly clear that women should keep silence in the church and that slaves should obey their masters – any interpretation necessary here?

      Why do Christians still uphold Augustine as a model; the apologist who argued for the torture of the Donatists?

      • Lane June 12, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

        Let me start by saying that I have no theological training, and have only been a Christian for a few years, so don’t get too excited if I don’t give you the best possible answer.

        The section of Ephesians I believe you are referring to is talking about, in my humble opinion, accepting our roles submissively and humbly always putting our dependence in Christ. It is not about how society should be restructured. God’s Kingdom is not on Earth, and I don’t think we are called to create it here.

        • Beau Quilter June 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

          You are right that Ephesians is not addressing how society should be structured; it is, in fact, addressing how the church should be structured: with women in silence and slaves in submission to their masters. And the church obeyed these simple strictures for thousands of years before “liberal” Christians of the 19th and 20th century decided that slaves should be free and women should be allowed to speak in church.

          So you are reinterpreting the clear message of Ephesians through your 21st century eyes. It’s simply frightful that Christians can’t extend that interpretation to see that strictures against loving gay couples were a product of a more barbaric age, just as were slavery and the disenfranchising of women.

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