The western church, as you know, wades around in a thick sludge of individualism. We admit it. We bemoan it. But sometimes we don’t realize just how deep our individualism runs. As I peel back the many unforeseen layers of my presuppositions, I often see individualistic tendencies governing my...
Christians tend to be suspicious of the arts. It hasn’t always been that way, but the Protestant tradition in particular has always had an awkward relationship to artistic expression (as opposed to propositional statements). Some key figures in the Reformation responded to the idolatry they saw in the artistry...
Earlier this year, a century-old fresco of Jesus was deteriorating on the wall of a Roman Catholic church in Spain. This was more than one parishioner, Cecilia Giménez, a little old lady in her 80s, could bear. So she restored it. She entered the church with her art supplies...
In the last post, I mentioned that I’m finishing up a book titled Paul and Judaism Revisited, which compares Paul’s understanding of salvation with the Dead Sea Scrolls. So I thought I’d back up a bit and give a layperson’s overview to two things: (1) what are the Dead Sea...
In the last two posts, I’ve explored the ancient Roman context of homosexuality. This, of course, will help color in the borders of the portrait that the New Testament paints—and yes, we’ll get to the New Testament in due time. I don’t want to attempt to broadcast what the...
I came across an interesting bit of church history today. John Calvin insisted that the churches in Geneva remain locked outside of regularly scheduled worship times. In part, this was meant to discourage “superstitious” activity. The reformers were understandably sensitive to religious objects being used idolatrously (think relics), and...
A few days ago, news flooded the media about a newly discovered ancient manuscript that says Jesus had a wife. Such a finding—if genuine—would of course overturn some things we thought about Jesus and various practices that stem from His celibate life (e.g., the celibacy of Catholic priests). But...
We’ve all heard the saying, and most of us have probably said it ourselves. Jesus is the reason for the season. But is it true? You’ve probably heard vague statements about the pagan origins of Christmas. My guess is that Christian responses to these claims cover the following spectrum: “That’s not...
I was reading The Epistle of Barnabas (a letter by one of the early Church Fathers) this week and came across this curious argument. According to Barnabas, Israel misunderstood the food laws given at Mt. Sinai. Moses wasn’t referring to actual food. He was speaking “spiritually.” God’s intention wasn’t to forbid...
When Francis Schaeffer looked at our modern society, he saw a lot of apathy. He would trace the ebb and flow of Western Civilization, highlighting achievements, revolutions, and the longings of mankind. Many idealists, revolutionaries, and power-hungry people have changed the course of history—some for better, some for worse....
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