These were our top five posts for the month of March. I’ve decided to include only one post from The Big Bible Bash tournament. Otherwise, they would have comprised almost the whole list. Instead, we have an infograpic, the tournament announcement, and several posts related to seminary and/or the Th.M. program. All in all, it was an interesting month.
This isn’t really a prayer, but John Chrysostom’s Easter homily is so powerful that I thought it was worth using today. Have a blessed Easter!
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He destroyed Hell when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”
Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
- Evangelicals Face Growing Tension Between Political And Personal Views Of Gay Marriage: [Tim] Keller clarified that “you can believe homosexuality is a sin and still believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.” This is the argument that some religious conservatives are already beginning to make, and looks likely to be the position that most evangelicals end up settling on.
- Nicodemus, the mystery man of Holy Week: He came to Jesus at night, sneaking off to meet the man behind the miracles. He was a powerful Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. He wasn’t supposed to mix with the motley lot that followed Jesus. But Nicodemus had to know: Was the charismatic Galilean for real?
- Big Theology for Little Kids: Thanks to catechism, my young ones can tell you a thing or two about justification, salvation, and repentance.
- You’re Probably More Like Judas Than You Think: We don’t generally spend a lot of time talking about Judas, because he committed an unfathomable act of treachery. However, if we can step back for a second look, we may find a character who makes us squirm because he’s just a bit too familiar. Before Judas betrayed Jesus, he was looking for a Messiah who would let him follow his own plans.
The Barna Group has produced its annual study of what Americans think about the Bible. Here’s an interesting infographic summarizing their results.
Three of the more interesting results:
- Young people (18-28) are more likely to see the Bible as an important source of “wisdom” in many life areas.
- They often see the Bible as an important source of wisdom for addressing family conflict and parenting, but not divorce.
- The percentage of Americans who are openly “antagonistic” toward the Bible has increased sharply in the last two years.
Two books remain in The Big Bible Bash. Two that have made it through each round of voting. Two that have stood against every challenger. But, in the end, there can be only one.
If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve almost reached the end of our tournament of Bible books. The last round matched the final four books against each other: Genesis vs. Romans and Psalms vs. John. They were the four favorites going into the tournament, and they all made it to the end. The big question: Which of these beloved books would advance to the championship round?
I have to admit that I was really hoping we’d end up with the final round that had one book from each testament. Either Genesis vs. John or Psalms vs. Romans would have made excellent contests. But that was not to be. Psalms and John were evenly matched at first, splitting the vote 50/50 for the first few hours of voting. But John eventually pulled ahead, winning with just 60.8% of the vote. And Romans eliminated Genesis by an even narrower margin (57.8%).
Here’s the updated tournament bracket if you’d like to see how the entire tournament has unfolded.
John vs. Romans
So that leaves us with a final round pitting the two New Testament powerhouses against each other. It’s John vs. Romans to decide the champion of The Big Bible Bash. Cast your votes now. (Update: Voting closed.)
And, since this will be the last round of voting in the tournament, it’s also your last chance to enter the contest to win some of the nearly $500 worth of books we’re giving away. All you need to do to enter the contest is vote in the tournament. The tournament will end on April 1. So make sure you vote before then.
- 5 Things My Mom Taught Me About Theology — What That Means For Your Kid: For all the Calvin or Vanhoozer or Horton I quote, the deepest roots of my theological instincts can probably be traced back to my mom’s early instruction in the faith.
- Why Christians Should Read Fiction: I’ve found that most people who tell me that fiction is a waste of time are folks who seem to hold to a kind of sola cerebra vision of the Christian life that just doesn’t square with the Bible. The Bible doesn’t simply address man as a cognitive process but as a complex image-bearer who recognizes truth not only through categorizing syllogisms but through imagination, beauty, wonder, awe. Fiction helps to shape and hone what Russell Kirk called the moral imagination.
- Relationships are the new religion for many: Religion gives people a basis for morality, for hope and a greater purpose. Millennials form their friendship groups around similar interests. They reinforce and encourage each other.
- Generation Naive: Why Young People Can’t Help Falling for Strangers Online: My generation grew up with the Internet, spending formative years connecting with others online….A few years ago, our parents might have been worried that this fluency in digital communication would leave us somehow stunted, hiding behind the veil of an online persona. But the opposite appears to be true—millennials are only too eager to share their lives with people they don’t even know. Have we become too naive for our own good?
Exciting things are happening with the Th.M. program at Western Seminary. Last week we announced the new program director, Todd Miles. And this week I get to announce that we have several new scholarships for incoming students. So, if you’ve ever considered an advanced degree in Bible/theology, this is the perfect time to look even closer.
For students beginning in the 2013/2014 school year, we have 3 scholarships available, each of which will cover 50% of tuition during the first two years of the program. Since most of our Th.M. students finish within two years, this means that for most students, these scholarships will cover half the costs of the program, though they do not cover books, travel, or living expenses.
We started with sixty-four, but only four books remain in The Big Bible Bash. The last ones standing: Genesis, Romans, Psalms, and John. Now you have to choose between them to see who will be there at the end.
And remember, we’re giving away almost $500 in commentaries and other great books. All you need to do to enter is participate in the tournament. So cast your votes now! (Update: Voting is now closed)
With all four 1-seeds winning in the quarterfinals, there were no surprises. But there were two close matches. In the first, two OT powerhouses faced off. (1) Genesis led (2) Isaiah through the entire round, but won with just 63.5% of the vote. The second saw (1) Psalms defeat (3) Acts, one of the more popular NT books, with 65.9%.
In the other two matchups, 1-seeds Romans and John defeated the 7-seeds Philippians and Revelation convincingly (84.1% and 84.9% respectively).
Here is the updated tournament bracket if you would like to see how all of the contests have gone.
So the semifinal round pits all four 1-seeds against each other. Two from the OT (Psalms and Genesis) against two from the NT (Romans and John). It may not be a surprise to see that these are the four who made it to the end. But it sure will be interesting to see who advances from here!
Cast your votes now. (Update: Voting is now closed.) And remember, every round that you participate in gives you a chance to win some great books!
- Give Working Families a Rest: We live in an era of heightened materialism, where getting and spending crowds out the social and the spiritual. That’s the way most of us order our lives and it’s the way governments order our society. They worry about the economy above all else.
- The Jesuits: ‘God’s marines’: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has become the first Jesuit pope in Catholic Church history. How will that influence him?
- A Liberal Arts Foundation: There are no guarantees for young people now when it comes to using college to prepare for a job. The world is changing too quickly to make reliable predictions. Assume that you will have many careers, and that you will need to find ways to adapt your talents to the world’s needs. I believe the best place to do that is a liberal arts college.
- Your Phone vs. Your Heart: Most of us are well aware of the convenience that instant electronic access provides. Less has been said about the costs. Research that my colleagues and I have just completed, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science, suggests that one measurable toll may be on our biological capacity to connect with other people.