Should pacifists in danger dial 911?

Christian pacifists believe Christ’s teaching on loving enemies calls for non-violence to the point of laying down one’s life if necessary. They say Christians should not engage in professions that could require them to injure or possibly kill others, such as police or military. This being the case, it seems a consistent Christian pacifist would desire all military and police forces to be disbanded.

This makes me wonder if Christian pacifists are thankful or disappointed that others are protecting them. It seems it would be hypocritical and unloving for pacifists to get any level of satisfaction or take any pleasure in the freedom obtained through the sacrifice of those who protect.

Biblical Slavery

In the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Old Testament) we read that God gave a code of law to the Hebrew people and within this code was a system of slavery that God established for his people.

If you want to know what Old Testament slavery was like and for some reason you don’t want to read through the Bible to find out, I recommend visiting a few apologetics’ websites and a few atheists’ websites. The apologetics’ websites typically cherry pick certain verses to show how the slavery practiced by the Hebrews was better than that practiced by other ancient Near East cultures. The atheists’ websites typically cherry pick certain verses to show how the slavery practiced by the Hebrews was worse than that practiced by other ancient Near East cultures.

For example, apologetics’ websites will say that Hebrew slaves were by and large fellow Hebrews who sold themselves into slavery until their debts were paid off. (Exodus 21:2-3)

This ignores the fact, which is highlighted on atheists’ sites, that Hebrew fathers could choose to sell their daughters as slaves and also many slaves were foreigners. (Exodus 21:7, Leviticus 25:39-46)

Apologetics’ websites will say that slavery never lasted more than 6 years since slaves were set free on the seventh year, which was a jubilee year. (Exodus 21:2, Deuteronomy 15:12)

While this was true for Hebrew men and women who sold themselves into slavery, atheists’ websites point out the fact that girls sold into slavery by their fathers and foreign slaves were slaves for life. In addition, masters would buy girls to give as wives to their male Hebrew slaves since children produced in these marriages belonged to the master and were slaves for life. This created a dilemma for the male Hebrew slaves when it came time for them to go free: They could either obtain their freedom and walk away from their wives and children or agree to become slaves forever in order to stay with their wives and children. (Exodus 21:7, Leviticus 25:39-46, Exodus 21:4-7)

Apologetics’ websites will say that slaves were treated relatively well. They were ensured one day of rest each week (Sabbath) and if their master damaged an eye or knocked out a tooth while beating them, he would have to give them their freedom. (Exodus 20:8-10, Exodus 21:26-27)

Atheists’ websites will point out that although this was true, slaves were considered the property of their masters, and masters could beat their slaves at will. A master would only be punished if he beat a slave so brutally that the slave died within two days of the beating. (Exodus 21:20-21)

Apologetics’ websites also point out that some of the slaves were foreign virgins mercifully taken in battle by Hebrew soldiers. (Numbers 31:1-18)

But atheists’ sites question whether or not this practice was in fact merciful. The young virgins, after witnessing the slaughter of their families, were claimed by Hebrew soldiers as slave wives. (The Hebrew soldiers would spare the lives of girls they found attractive.) The soldiers would shave the girls’ heads, trim their nails, and destroy the girls’ foreign clothes to signify a complete break from their pasts, and then after giving them a full month to mourn, they would have sex with them. If after having sex with them the soldiers found them to be unsatisfying, they were to let them go free. (Deuteronomy 21:11-14)

Note: Slavery, which is found in both the Old Testament and New Testament, is never condemned by God, his prophets, his priests, or the apostles; however, God’s people are instructed in both testaments to treat their slaves well.

Although the Bible never condemns slavery, 21st century Jews and Christians unanimously oppose slavery and view it as immoral; this, of course, makes these passages from the Pentateuch all the more problematic…

War Room

My church gave out tickets for this film, so I took my teenage daughter and son to see it. And since our family owns all four of the Kendrick brothers’ movies that were produced under Sherwood Pictures–Flywheel (2003), Facing the Giants (2006), Fireproof (2008), and Courageous (2011)–we were excited to see their new offering.

Here’s my impression of the Kendrick brothers latest film, War Room, and a few observations.

Overall, the acting was very good. Priscilla Shirer played Elizabeth Jordan, a successful real estate agent whose marriage is crumbling. T.C. Stallings plays Tony Jordan, a successful pharmaceutical salesman whose selfishness causes his wife and daughter to feel unloved and neglected. Karen Abercrombie plays Miss Clara, an elderly saint who desires to pass on what she has learned about prayer to those who are younger in the faith. Young Alena Pitts who plays the daughter, Danielle Jordan, does a decent job as well. At times the dialogue between characters sounded more like the careful teaching you would hear from a pulpit than natural conversation, but overall the script was pretty good.

The movie deals with family relationship issues that most people can connect with, so the sad scenes will likely evoke the emotional response and connection the filmmakers were striving for. (They had me blinking back tears.) The comedy was hit and miss, overall not bad, but the running gag about Elizabeth Jordan’s foot odor got old.

While this film lacks the excitement of the Kendrick brothers’ previous films, it does have better acting and better writing. And while it will probably only appeal to a Christian audience, I believe it will also achieve its purpose, which is to remind Christians that prayer should be a priority since God can do what we cannot.


Strong complementarian theme: Husbands are to lead, and wives are to submit.

Pentecostal themes: Casting the devil out of your house; saying the name of Jesus to keep yourself safe when you are in danger; ending your prayers with the words “in Jesus name” to make them work; “sensing” that certain rooms were used for prayer.

Theological issues: The Bible never says the devil has seen hell (Hades) so it makes little sense to tell the devil to “go back to hell.” The movie plot implies that good things happen to godly people and bad things happen to ungodly people. (This was the conviction of Job’s friends as well.)

Seeming contradiction: The movie establishes early on that prayers should be said in privacy—in an inner room, Matthew 6:6—and throughout the film we see characters taking this passage very literally and praying in closed closets; however, at the end of the film as a triumphant music score plays in the background, there are displays of public prayer including athletes praying in the center of the field and students praying around a flag pole.

Christian political theme: The images near the end of the film of students praying in the classroom and around the American flag will appeal to those in the Christian Right who constantly post Facebook memes declaring that prayer should be put back in the classroom and students should be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

View the trailer here.

If you really like the movie, you can stock up on War Room merchandise here:

They have the War Room book, soundtrack, original score, Bible Study, teen Bible study, a book about how to pray, a woman’s guide to prayer, children’s books on prayer, wall décor and wall plaques, prayer journal, prayer cards, prayer pad/sticky notes, flip calendar, greeting cards, apparel, and mugs.

Liberal Red-letter Christians!

Have you ever had fellow Christians look at you incredulously when you tell them you don’t follow Old Testament laws such as tithing and Sabbath observance? Have you seen their mouths drop when you say that you are not under the 10 commandments?

I think it’s humorous when those who accept the New Testament proclamation that we are no longer under the law are viewed as “liberals.” We are referred to derogatorily by fundamentalists as “Red-letter Christians” or “functional Marcionites.”*

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America’s Holocaust

Godwin’s Law states that when debates progress and become heated, sooner or later one side will likely start using words like “Hitler” & “Nazi Germany” to characterize their opponent or their opponent’s position. A corollary to this law is that the side that resorts to this hyperbole automatically loses.

I have found this to be true and try hard to avoid doing this in discussions and debates. But when talking about the practices of Planned Parenthood that have recently come to light, I do not believe Godwin’s Law applies.

How can anyone who is at all familiar with Holocaust history not immediately think of Dr. Josef Mengele and the cruel and barbaric “medical” experiments he performed on live subjects when they read about Planned Parenthood employees cutting open the face of a baby whose heart is beating so that they can harvest a healthy intact brain?

My heart goes out to the women who were lied to and are right now going through hell as they wonder if their baby is one that was dissected so that its body parts could be sold to the highest bidder.

God help us all…

Evolution, Creationism, Other?

Gallup polls from the 1980s showed over 40% of American adults believed in a young earth; however, those numbers have been steadily decreasing.

Although Ken Ham, an outspoken Young Earth advocate, says, “It is vital to believe in six literal days for many reasons. Foremost is that allowing these days to be long periods of time undermines the foundations of the message of the Cross,” many Christians disagree.

Here is a list of well known Christians who have either embraced Old Earth or have at least said they believe it’s possible that the earth is millions or billions of years old:

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Faith Meltdown

Keith Drury’s Faith Meltdown Story:

When I was a child faith matters were all wrapped up in one huge bundle with all of equal value. I learned, “Christians don’t smoke and drink” and “Christians believe in the virgin birth and resurrection” and “Christians go to Sunday school and Sunday evening service.” I was too young to make any distinction between smoking, the resurrection and Sunday school attendance—they all were in the “Christian bundle” and of equal value for judging who was a Christian or not. I assumed people who drank beer or denied the resurrection or didn’t have a Sunday evening service weren’t Christians—at least not “real” Christians (later termed “Born again Christians”). As a child I made no distinction between levels of faith and practice and simply lumped them all together in one huge bundle. It is simply how a child views things.

This single-bundle approach was really messy. I was raised in the Pilgrim Holiness Church a small denomination in the “holiness movement” that had all kind of rules and expectations. I am not sure if they actually told me all these things, but I could deduce from the behavior of all the people in church what Christians (at least “real” Christians) did and didn’t do. For instance Christians didn’t go to the movies. None. I remember sneaking off to see The Longest Day in high school and hoping that Jesus wouldn’t return before I escaped the drive-in movie. You may laugh now at that—but the feelings were real. I knew no Christian anywhere in my world who had ever gone to a movie after they became a Christian. As far as I knew, I was the only one. I just assumed this lifestyle was a clear definition of a “real” Christian so when I defied it I wasn’t sure for a while if I’d left the kingdom of God. But it was more than attending movies I couldn’t do as a “Christian boy.” I couldn’t go bowling either because it was worldly. I couldn’t dance because it was sexual. I couldn’t bounce a ball on Sunday because it was the Lord’s Day. I couldn’t wear shorts because it was “lascivious.” In fact I wasn’t allowed to participate at all in “mixed bathing” (which was going swimming with the opposite sex). (Since shorts were lascivious you don’t need an explanation for why we couldn’t go swimming with girls.) When I was ten years old I had never met a Christian woman who wore jewelry—any jewelry—earrings, finger rings or even wedding rings. None. (I even knew the verses by heart in 1 Peter that condemning a woman’s wearing gold and silver or plaiting their hair.) Speaking of hair I do not believe as a child I had ever met a Christian woman with “bobbed hair” –I just assumed all real Christian women would realize their hair was given to them by God as their glory and they should never cut it. Same with slacks—the first Christian woman I saw wearing “pants” was my junior high Sunday school teacher—on her farm. I assumed she was “not where she ought to be spiritually” when I uncovered her secret one Sunday afternoon.

This all sounds like I was raised in a cult. In a way I was, but not really. We may have been a “sect” but we were not a cult—we were an orthodox Christian denomination that followed many of John Wesley’s teachings (including his views on dress, jewelry, and the theater). In fact any person reading this who was raised in the 1950’s in almost any denomination will remember some of these lifestyle expectations. And you may also remember that as a child you simply lumped all these things together into one big bundle with church doctrine and everything else and you held them all with equal value as I did.

Then I discovered some things are written in pencil.

To read the article in its entirety, click here:

Was Jesus infallible?

Let’s start with a definition:

Adj: not capable of being wrong or making mistakes : not fallible

Was Jesus incapable of being wrong or making a mistake?

Did Jesus miraculously know the skills of carpentry or did Joseph teach him? Did he ever miss the nail head when he swung the hammer? Did he ever cut a plank too short?

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Would you kill a baby if God asked you to?

Would you kill a baby if God asked you to?

Before dismissing this as a stupid question, remember that the Bible records several instances where God commanded entire city populations to be slaughtered and 1 Samuel 15:3 even specifies “nursing infants.”

King David said the man who grabs enemy babies and smashes them against the rocks is blessed. (Psalms 137:9) Continue reading

Shut Up, I Can’t Hear God!

You don’t have to send the kids outside, take the battery out of the ticking clock, and hold your breath to hear God speak.There is no noise on earth that can prevent you from hearing the voice of God if God decides to talk to you.

Yahweh has never suffered from laryngitis!

The idea that you have to “empty your mind,” “quiet your soul,” or “become spiritually mature enough to tune into God’s frequency,” comes from Eastern religions and medieval mysticism.

Christians need to be like the Bereans who examined the scriptures so that they could reject false teachings.

Polygamy and the Bible

According to the Pentateuch, God declared that a man should marry his sister-in-law and have children with her if the man’s brother died. He also said that a man may have slave wives, either purchased or captured in battle, and if he found one of his wives displeasing, he could sell her. (If she were Hebrew, he could not sell her to foreigners). Concubines (slave-girls or prisoners who were taken as sexual partners) were often referred to as wives.* The Bible says that a man was obligated to respect the marriage rights of each of his wives.

Some of the better known figures in the Bible with multiple wives were Abraham, Jacob, Esau, Saul, David, Solomon, Gideon, and probably Moses (Numbers 12:1).

Debates over gay marriage often lead to the following statement: “If gay marriage is legalized, what’s to keep polygamy from being legalized. The biblical definition of marriage is the best definition!”

While I agree with the logic behind the first sentence, I’ll be slow to agree with the second sentence. Are we talking Adam & Eve or David & Michal, Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, Bathsheba…?
*Saul’s wife’s name was Ahinoam (1 Samuel 14:50) and his concubine was named Rizpah (2 Samuel 3:7), but the prophet Nathan said God gave Saul’s wives to David (2 Samuel 12:8).
Keturah was referred to as one of Abraham’s concubine in Genesis 25:6 but as his wife in Genesis 25:1.

How I (currently) view the Holy Spirit

The Hebrews were a peculiar people who believed in only one god. And Yahweh, unlike pagan gods, didn’t have any children. Now the Hebrew people did speak of God’s spirit, but they thought of this Holy Spirit as the active power of Yahweh, not as a member of a trinity. So when Jesus came on the scene in the first century, it wasn’t easy for Jews to transition from their conception of God to God in 3 persons. And two thousand years later people are still trying to wrap their minds around it!

I can somewhat understand God the Father as a person in the trinity. I view him as an unembodied, omniscient mind. And it seems that from the Father proceed the Word (logos) and the Breath (pneuma).

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Dealing with tricky biblical texts…

Marcion of Sinope (85-160) rejected the Old Testament because he believed the God it portrayed lacked the moral goodness of Jesus and therefore could not have been Jesus’ father.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) used a pen knife to cut verses from his Bible that he thought portrayed Jesus inaccurately.

Nowadays, doing what Marcion or Thomas Jefferson did will get you labeled a heretic faster than you can say jumping jack flash. So what do Christians do with those portions of scripture that seem to contradict the majority of scripture? Continue reading

I can still get a divorce…right?

Before going to the Bible to see what Jesus had to say about divorce, let me just say that I realize this is a sensitive topic. My goal in writing this blog is to address what I believe is a false teaching that is common within the church. I have no desire to offend you if you have gone through divorce or add to the suffering you have experienced. My desire is to correctly teach the word of truth and perhaps influence others to do the same.

So here’s the question: When is it permissible for a Christian to get a divorce? Continue reading

Please teach the whole truth…

I grew up believing the Bible we have today was translated from the original manuscripts. I believed not a jot nor tittle were added or omitted; I believed God’s sovereignty ensured this.

It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned none of the original manuscripts exist and that over the centuries scribes who copied scripture sometimes changed words and often added words or phrases. Textual variants in the New Testament involve 10% of the whole text of the New Testament, and because there are many less surviving complete manuscripts of the Old Testament and the copying process was probably done more carefully, textual variants involve only 6% of the whole text of the Old Testament.

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What about ancient Gentiles?

Here’s an excerpt from an article by Wayne Jackson entitled “Did the Ancient Gentiles Have the Hope of Salvation?”:

The Bible student is aware of the fact that the law of Moses was given to the nation of Israel. It was intended to regulate the Jews’ conduct and to provide a mode of forgiveness (through the Levitical sacrificial system) when they transgressed the law.

Where does this leave the Gentiles who lived before the coming of Christ? Were they excluded from Jehovah’s magnificent plan of human salvation? Why was so much attention given to the Jews over the Gentiles?

The primary theme of Old Testament history had to do with the Hebrew nation in view of their role in preparing the world for the coming of the Messiah (John 4:22). Nonetheless, Heaven’s interest in non-Hebrews is underscored many times in the body of Old Testament literature.

To read the article in its entirety, click here:

Free Grace vs. Lordship Salvation

Christians believe that one enters into a covenant relationship with Christ when the Holy Spirit enables them to recognize the truth of the gospel and accept it. Those who advocate “Free Grace” or “Non-Lordship Salvation” (derogatorily referred to as “Easy-Believism”) teach that a person remains in this covenant relationship forever because of this one-time event in their life.

Proponents of Free Grace say that a believer should produce the fruit of obedience but a lack of fruit cannot strip them of their status as God’s children; it would simply result in fewer heavenly rewards.

Those who object to this view hold to a position often referred to as “Lordship Salvation.” They argue that faith without works is dead and that there is no such thing as a “carnal Christian.” They further argue that good works done in obedience to our Lord are required and not just something we should do. They refer to the doctrine of salvation without repentance and obedience as “Cheap Grace.”

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How is faith a gift?

Since all humans, naturally, have the ability to exercise faith, in what respect is faith (pistis) a gift from God to believers (Philippians 1:29)?

In a general sense, faith is a gift simply because all good things are gifts from God (James 1:17). But when we are talking about saving faith, the kind that unites us with Christ, we recognize that if it were not for God’s prevenient grace, we would remain in the darkness. Through various means God has revealed himself to all people. Not only has he shown favor (grace) by providing evidence of his existence through creation (Romans 1:20), he also works in situations and circumstances to draw people to himself (providence).

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God’s Hiddenness

“The relating triune God desires that we earnestly seek Him and His wisdom as “for hidden treasures” (Prov. 2:4)—with all our heart. All around us there are indicators of His presence and echoes of His voice, which are available to all people—whether of great intelligence or not. However, God honors human responsibility so greatly that He has configured His self-revelation to be accessible but non-coercive: He doesn’t compel or force belief—and love and worship—upon us. For whole-hearted seekers, God gives ample signposts of His grace and presence, but sufficient ambiguity for the half-hearted or the hard-hearted. He grants us breathing room to allow us to distance ourselves from God and resist His grace if we choose.”

~Paul Copan

Is it OK to “go to church”?

When we hear the word “church,” we usually think of a building that often has a steeple on it. But the Bible uses the word “church” (ekklesia) to refer to something very different. In the New Testament, the word “church” always refers to the whole body of Christian believers. It is used synonymously with “the body of Christ,” and “a spiritual house” made up of “living stones.”

Is it a big deal that we use the word “church” in a way that is so disconnected from the Bible’s usage?

Maybe, maybe not…

Some claim that it causes Christianity to be compartmentalized and causes a dualistic thinking. We “go to church” on Sunday for a few hours and live our own lives when we leave the building.

I tend to think it’s not a big deal. Word meanings often change over time and since the Bible gives God’s family many different names, the fact that one has changed its meaning makes little difference in my opinion.

Now if I hear people start saying, “I go to the First Baptist Body of Christ,” or “Do you know of a good living house in the area?” then I’ll get worried.