The Story of the Spirit from Beginning to End

For many Christians, the Spirit of God is a relative latecomer to the biblical story, not doing much until the New Testament. He doesn’t really begin to shine until after Pentecost. So if you want to learn about the Spirit, start reading in Acts.

But that clearly isn’t the case. Although the New Testament says some amazing things about the Spirit, you simply can’t understand or appreciate those statements deeply enough without the rest of the story. And it’s a story that begins in Genesis.

We’ve done a good job in recent years emphasizing that you can’t understand the story of Christ without the Old Testament, now it’s time to do the same for the Spirit.

typewriter (500x332)

Rather than just summarize the story of the Spirit in my own words, though, I started playing around with whether you could do it with a selective reading, letting the Bible speak for itself. The idea was to come up with something that (1) could be read in just a few minutes, (2) would make sense of the whole story of the Spirit, (3) could be read without inserting explanations (although everything in here could obviously be discussed further), (4) could be used as a public reading, and (5) doesn’t use any verse(s) inappropriately. That last point is important but tricky given that a selective reading like this necessarily uses individual passages outside their normal contexts. But let’s see what we can do.

Here’s what I came up with. Let me know if you think it’s missing anything essential to the story, but remember that we’re trying to keep this relatively brief.

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The Future of Learning (Infograhpic)

I like infographics, but I still thought this was funny. Of course, it’s also true enough to be a little terrifying.

tall_infographics

Flotsam and jetsam (10/14)

not a train

Good Reads

  • 7 Unconventional Reasons Why You Absolutely Should Be Reading Books: In a world of omnipresent screens, it can be easy to forget the simple pleasure of curling up with a good book. In fact, a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 28 percent hadn’t read one at all in the past year. But the truth is that reading books can be more than entertainment. (Huffington Post)
  • A Theologian’s Influence and Dark Past Live On: All of us fall short of our ideals, of course. But there is a common-sense expectation that religious professionals should try to behave as they counsel others to behave. They may not be perfect, but they should not be louts or jerks.By that standard, few failed as egregiously as John Howard Yoder, America’s most influential pacifist theologian. (New York Times)

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42 Maps That Help Me Understand the World and My Place in It

If you have a couple of extra minutes laying around, you’ll appreciate this video, which highlights the importance of maps both for conveying information about the world and for shaping thew way we view the world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dldHalRY-hY

What Has Libya to Do with Jerusalem? A Review of Early Libyan Christianity

Libya ruins (550x367)

If you say “Libya” to most Americans, certain ideas will come to mind: maybe Islam, the recent Benghazi attack, or Muammar Gaddafi. I think it’s relatively safe to say that most people would not think “one of the most important centers of Christianity in the early church.” According to Thomas Oden’s Early Libyan Christianity: Uncovering a North African Tradition (IVP, 2011), that’s a problem.

The first issue, of course, is that many Christians remain unaware of the vital role that African Christians played in the history of early Christianity. For them, Christianity didn’t show up in Africa until the colonial powers imposed it on the continent during the modern era.

early libyan christianity

And that’s tragic. Some of the oldest and most influential centers of Christianity were in North Africa, places like Alexandria and Carthage. And many of Christianity’s most influential leaders and theologians likewise came from and ministered in North Africa, people like Clement, Origen, Athanasius, Cyril, Cyprian, and Augustine. African Christians were shaping Christianity 1,500 years before the rise of the European colonial powers.

If you’d like to explore the significance of African Christianity further, I strongly recommend Thomas Oden’s excellent little book How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the Seedbed of Western Christianity.

But there’s a second problem. Even after studying church history and gaining an appreciation for how important Africa is, many of us still leave out an important part of the story: the huge section of North Africa between Alexandria (Egypt) and Carthage (Tunisia): the region known in the ancient world as Libya.

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The Wired Child (infographic)

My daughters love their technology. My 12-year old has an iPod and a laptop — in our defense, they were both given to her as hand-me-downs — and my youngest already uses my wife’s laptop to do her homework. (I could have also mentioned her using the same laptop to play games or watch movies, but it sounded so much more responsible to point out the educational use of technology. So I’ll stick with that.) They can go days without watching TV, but rarely does a day go by without some iPod/laptop time.

So we’re keenly interested in what people are saying about how technology impacts children. And this infographic does a nice job summarizing some of the more interesting findings.

wired-child (575x4226)

via Early Childhood Education Degrees.

 

Flotsam and jetsam (10/11)

government

Good Reads

  • The Meaning of Martyrdom: For people who practise religion in comfortable, well-ordered places, and face no greater physical danger than sore knees or feet, the idea of being a martyr (in the sense of dying for one’s faith and receiving a heavenly reward) can seem rather remote. But in almost all the world’s religions, martyrdom plays an important role. (The Economist)
  • What Multitasking Does To Your Brain: In case we needed another reason to close the 15 extra browser tabs we have open, Clifford Nass, a communication professor at Stanford, has provided major motivation for monotasking: according to his research, the more you multitask, the less you’re able to learn, concentrate, or be nice to people. (Fast Company)

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The Maturing of the Evangelical Mind

brain exercising (300x286)Almost 20 years ago, Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind critiqued evangelicalism, quite simply, for not having much of a mind. In this short video, three leading evangelical, all presidents of key evangelical institutions, discuss whether we can now talk about “the maturing of the evangelical mind.” Al Mohler (Southern Seminar), Phil Ryken (Wheaton College), and Michael Lindsey (Gordon College) all argue that we’ve come a long way in the last two decades.

In the video, they specifically highlight the following as evidence of evangelicalism’s increased intellectual vigor:

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Nothing New Under the Sun: Theological Novelty and Heresy

It’s always a little sad when you run across someone who is excited about some theological concept they just came across, thinking that it will revolutionize the way people think about God or themselves, and you have to point out that it’s actually an ancient heresy that the church considered and rejected long ago.

That’s the gist of this cartoon: “new” theological ideas are almost always simple repetitions of older heresies. There’s nothing new under the sun, right?

Not quite. At first, I thought this comic was just funny. Then I thought again. Scroll down to see what I mean.

theological novelty

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How to Google Like a Boss (infographic)

Almost everyone uses Google these days, especially students. But with just a few tips and tricks, you can use it much more effectively. Here’s how.

Google-like-a-boss