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Flotsam and jetsam (11/9)

Good Reads

  • Former Oil Executive Appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury: The bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, a former oil company executive, was named on Friday as the new archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the world’s estimated 77 million Anglicans, saying he would support the elevation of women as priests to the senior clergy and warning against homophobia.
  • The Googlization of Bible Study: Google disseminates information.  That’s great and helpful…when what you need is information.  But the vast majority of what I need in personal Bible study and even sermon preparation is not information.  I need the Spirit of God to enliven the Word of God and transform my heart.  I need to chew on a text and sweat through it.  Google gives me too quick of an out.  It shortcuts my labor.  And as a result it shortcuts my ownership of the truth as well as my heart.
  • Aquinas: How He Might Help Evangelicals:  Thomas had particular brilliance on many issues of great concern to evangelicals. And because of his depth and vision, he saw some of these issues in ways that will be of immense help to us both spiritually and intellectually in our pilgrimages toward the heavenly city.
  • Can Paper Survive the Digital Age? Money, laws, tickets, newspapers, not to mention its many uses in art … despite the digital revolution, our world is still built on paper. Ian Sansom reflects on an enduring addiction to the white stuff

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Flotsam and jetsam (11/7)

Good Reads

  • 8 Observations about Sacrificial Giving: Even though God didn’t need their stuff, he chose to use it. The work God does on earth is always facilitated through the gifts of his people. Think about when Jesus fed the 5000: he used a kid’s lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish. Clearly a God that could do that did not need the 5 loaves and 2 fish . . . as if he could not have pulled it off with 1 fish and a bread crust!
  • Should You Quit Your PhD? You’ve been plugging away at your PhD for a while now, maybe a year, perhaps a couple of years. But you don’t seem to be making that much progress. The prospect of getting up in the morning to go to the university or to continue work on a chapter doesn’t thrill you the way it did during the first few months of your studies. But you force yourself to do it, because you have to, right?

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A New Take on an Old Story

Every couple has those issues that you just don’t see eye to eye on. Most are relatively minor, those times when you’re happy to let the differences lie. Others, though, are too important. You can’t just agree to disagree. Too much is at stake.

This is one of those. And it comes up every year. I’ve listened to my wife, and I’ve tried hard to understand where she’s coming from. But I just can’t let go of something that has been one of my guiding principles for my entire adult life. It’s a simple principle, but an important one:

No Christmas decorations or Christmas music before Thanksgiving.

I’m sure we can all agree that this is one of the non-negotiable building block for responsible living in the world today. One of these days, I’ll convince my wife.

In general, I don’t even like talking about Christmas before Thanksgiving. But I’m going to fudge on that just a bit. And that’s because, in the lead up to Christmas, I’d like to start a new series on an “old, old story.” But it’s a very different story than the one we’re used to.

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Bringing the Image of God to a Conclusion

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? That’s the question we’ve been pursuing for a while now. And I think we’ve made some progress. We’ve explored quite a range of different answers, and we’ve seen why I think it’s primarily about God manifesting his presence through us. We’ve even looked at a few ways in which it makes a real, practical difference for how we view everyday life. The image of God isn’t just a theological “problem;” it’s a way of viewing the entire Christian life.

Although we could say a lot more about the image of God, it’s time to wrap things up. So I thought it would be good to compile all of the posts in this series in one place. So here you go.


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Flotsam and jetsam (11/5)

Good Reads

  • Incredible Credibility: We live in a society in which credibility in one area is granted based on success in another. Actors endorse presidential candidates, and people listen. Musicians write books, and people read them. Athletes pontificate on same-sex marriage, and are given a platform. As egregious as these examples are, pastors are often lifted to even higher heights, as people turn to them for advice on such nuanced and complex subjects as sex or finances.
  • “You Can’t Judge a Person’s Salvation”…And Other Stupid Statements: I don’t believe that once someone says he is a Christian, we are somehow obligated to take them at their word. In fact, my default position (at least here in America) is that this is nothing more than a verbal affirmation of their initiation into American culture. I normally start by not believing them.
  • Why You’re Probably Not as Rational as You Think You Are – and What You Can Do about It: When it comes to self-improvement, few people consider their reasoning skills. Most of us simply assume — and take for granted — that under most circumstances, we formulate perfectly rational opinions. But according to an emerging subculture of rationality gurus, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. They believe there are ways we can train ourselves to make better decisions, as well as increase personal control over our lives, health, and happiness. Here are a few of their ideas about how you can become more rational.

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A Prayer for Sunday (John Milton)

The English poet John Milton is almost certainly best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. And that alone would probably have earned him the reputation as one of the greatest English authors of all time. But, as one of the leading Puritan writers during the English civil war, Milton was also famous for his political writings and his many other poems. Despite having a number of somewhat less orthodox theological positions, Milton’s Paradise Lost has had a tremendous impact on the Christian imagination in the English-speaking world.

Milton died on November 8, 1674. So this week’s prayer is in his memory. It comes from Book V of Paradise Lost and is part of Adam and Eve’s prayer of praise to God when he created them.

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Why and How to Study Theology

Theology is a weird word. Think about it. The “logy” part means that it’s the discipline of studying something, and the “theo” part means that what you’re trying to study is God himself. Oh, is that all? I hope you have a pretty good microscope.

Just talking about “theology” raises all kinds of questions. How exactly do you go about studying the almighty God of the universe? Is that even possible? If you tried to understand even a small portion of his infinite being, wouldn’t your eyes start bleeding right before your brain exploded?

Yet all Christians are theologians. Or, said differently, all Christians have beliefs about God that they (should) try to understand better as they grow in their faith. To some extent, then, all Christians need to know something about what theology is, why it’s important, and how to do it well. So a short introduction answering those questions would be a great resource.

And that’s precisely what Kelly Kapic does in A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology (IVP 2012), a book that Kapic hopes will serve as a kind of update to Helmut Thielicke’s 1959 classic A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Thielicke’s book is still a great read, but Kapic has given us another outstanding resource for introducing people to the nature and task of theology. And it’s one that I highly recommend for any Christian.

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October’s Top Posts

five best, top posts

October has already begun fading into the fog of memory as we speed our way into the holiday season. And it was a busy month at Western Seminary as we hosted a regional accreditation visit (which went very well!). And we managed to have some fun around here with a couple more posts in the image of God series, an interesting look at people who drink too much coffee (like me), and a couple of random posts on the brain and metaphorical language. Sounds like a good mix to me. Enjoy!

The Top 5 Posts in October

Flotsam and jetsam (11/2)

star wars, han solo, chewbacca, movie quotes

Good Reads

  • Why Zombies Matter: Zombies are horrifying not simply because they’re mean and aggressive. They are horrifying because they represent what ought to repulse us: the rotting decay of death. But they still walk. And, beyond that, they still crave. In their search for human brains, they are driven along by their appetites, though always under the sway of a slavemaster’s will. That’s our story.
  • Technology Is Changing How Students Learn, Teachers Say: There is a widespread belief among teachers that students’ constant use of digital technology is hampering their attention spans and ability to persevere in the face of challenging tasks, according to two surveys of teachers being released on Thursday.
  • 9 Lies the Media Likes to Tell about Evangelicals: So while there are certainly exceptions, I’ve identified nine common lies perpetuated by people in the media. Granted, there are enough vocal evangelicals to bolster each of these stereotypes, so the media isn’t completely responsible. But nuance is necessary here. Thus this post.

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Existential Thoughts on Halloween from Henri the Cat

Henri the Existential Cat shares some sobering thoughts on Halloween. Today of all days it must be tough being a depressed, black, French cat.