Category Archives: General Interest

The World is Gonna Change Tonight

Here is a Christmas song written and mixed by my daughter Heidi, age 14.  Hope you enjoy it.  The lyrics are Arminian, of course. Merry Christmas!

 

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Why Polygamy is Wrong

This post is about why I believe polygamy is wrong.  A while back I was speaking with a fellow believer who holds that polygamy is acceptable.   That conversation is why this is on my mind.

I also believe that homosexual sexual relations are wrong.  It’s not the point of this post to address that issue, but I do think that some of the arguments for the two issues overlap.  Another issue that may have some overlap and Biblical relevance is the issue of slavery.  I will get into that later in the post.

Marriage was designed by God to be between one man and one woman. It started that way with Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:24 states that “…a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Jesus made the assumption that marriage was between a man and a woman.   When the Pharisees questioned him about divorce, Jesus quoted from the same passage from Genesis:

It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:5-9)

Jesus says that “they are no longer two, but one.” Like divorce, polygamy was tolerated in the Old Testament.  Like divorce, it was never God’s design.

The Apostle Paul wrote that a man should have only one wife.  Writing about the qualifications for a deacon, he states:

If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. (1 Tim 3:1-3)

and

appoint elders in every town as I directed you.  If anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.  He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:6-9)

The Greek phrase that Paul uses here is “mias gunaikos andra“.  It literally means “a one-woman man”.  Polygamy fits into the same category as cheating on one’s spouse.  Or put differently, polygamy disqualifies one from leadership in the same way that drunkenness, arrogance, greed, and rage do.

Christian consensus has always advocated monogamy.  Polygamy has never been considered acceptable by any orthodox Christian group.  Christian consensus has always been that marriage is between a man and a woman.  We should be wary of arguments that disregard the “rule of faith” (Things that nearly all Christians at all times have agreed on).  People like Muhammad and Joseph Smith have advocated polygamy.  But Muhammed was non-Christian, and Joseph Smith was heterodox.  That ought to be a warning to us.

Just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s preferred by God.  Polygamy took place in the Old Testament.  But that didn’t make it okay.  Like slavery and divorce, polygamy seems to have been something that God permitted because of the hardness of hearts, but it was not ever something he preferred or designed.

Polygamy always causes hurt and division.  In the Bible whenever polygamy took place, it caused hurt to others.  Abraham’s polygamy was due to his and Sarah’s lack of faith in God’s promise, and it caused division in his family (Genesis 21).  This division still exists among Jews and Arabs today.  Samuel’s mother Hannah was grieved because of having to compete with the other wife of her husband who ridiculed her (1 Samuel 1).  David’s polygamy resulted in murder and family division.  Solomon’s polygamy pulled his heart away from God.

The idea of polygamy is perverted.  The possibility of multiple sexual partners takes a man’s thoughts to places he should not go.  As Christians, we need to take our thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5).  This is especially true of our sexual thoughts.  It is easy to imagine having sex with another woman.  And it is wrong to do so.  Jesus says that if a man even looks at another woman with lust, it’s the same as committing adultery in his heart (Matt 5:28).

Wisdom on this issue  requires consensus with other believers.  Sometimes those of us in the Protestant tradition think we can peruse a few Bible verses on our own, and come up with our own original doctrines.  However, when we come up with our own innovations and ideas, we ought to discuss them with other mature Christians.  And if they disagree with us, we need to take their wisdom into consideration.

We can’t expect God to give us wisdom if we are sinning.  If a man is actively looking at pornography, he cannot expect that the Holy Spirit will guide him to truth on this issue.   Does our motivation to justify polygamy come from a heart that seeks after God?  Or from a desire to satisfy our flesh?

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Expandable Shoes for Kids in the Third World

This is neat idea, and the inventor is from my alma mater. :)

Nampa man creates shoe that expands to make life better for those in poverty

shoe

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Who Was the Author of Hebrews?

The book of Hebrews was written anonymously. There has long been speculation as to who the original author was.   Paul is the most frequently proposed candidate, however,  his authorship is not a lock.

Here are some facts about the book, these facts also give us an idea as to who could have been the author.

  • Hebrews shows how Jesus is supreme, and how he is our much anticipated high priest.
  • It is the only letter written in the style of a sermon, and may have originally been a sermon.
  • It was likely written between AD 60 – AD 65.
  • It was addressed to Jewish believers.
  • The author has a command of Greek, and writes in a more eloquent manner than most of the other New Testament books.
  • The author frequently refers to the Old Testament
  • The author quotes from the LXX (the Greek translation of the Old Testament).
  • The book was written in Italy (Heb 13:24)
  • The author was friends with Timothy. (Heb 13:23)

Here are some possible candidates for authorship.  They are loosely listed in the order of likelihood of authorship (in my opinion):

Paul: Paul has most frequently been considered to have been the author of Hebrews.   The early Church historian Eusebius believed Paul was the author.  The translators of the KJV attributed the book to him.  Paul was well versed in the Old Testament, as was the author of Hebrews.  Paul was closely acquainted with Timothy, and the author of Hebrews refers to Timothy as his brother.   Paul spent time in Rome, and Hebrews was written in Italy.  Peter seems to imply that Paul wrote a letter to the Hebrews (2 Pet 3:15).  The theology of Hebrews is also similar to Paul’s theology, in that it has a strong emphasis on grace.    But there are also some reasons for doubting that Paul was the author.  The author of Hebrews speaks about learning of Christ from the Apostles, and not firsthand (Hebrews 2:3).  But Paul speaks of learning from Christ firsthand.  In all other letters Paul identifies himself as the author, but not in Hebrews.  In all other letters Paul quotes or paraphrases from the Masoretic Text (the Hebrew language Old Testament), but the author of Hebrews uses the LXX.  Paul also typically (and deliberately) uses less sophisticated language when writing, so as to make his writings understandable and accessible to a large audience.   The author of Hebrews uses a very eloquent style of Greek.  One possibility is that Paul originally wrote the letter in Hebrew, and then that letter was translated into Greek by a friend such as Luke or Clement.  That would help to account for the differences in writing style between Hebrews and Paul’s other letters.

Luke: Luke wrote other New Testament books (Luke, Acts).  He had a technical writing style, as did the author of Hebrews.  Luke was a doctor, and Hebrews sometimes uses medical sounding language (Heb 4:12).  Luke was closely acquainted with Paul and Timothy, he was located with Paul in Italy, and his theology was similar to Paul’s.  However, Luke’s writings typically have a special focus on including Gentiles and women.  The author of Hebrews does not seem to share that focus.  If Luke was the author, it could be that he was transcribing something originally written or spoken by Paul.

Apollos:  Martin Luther proposed that Apollos was the author.  Apollos is mentioned twice in the New Testament (Acts 18:24-28, 1Corinthians 1:12).  Luke spoke highly of him, writing that he was an “eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well.”  Luke also noted that Apollos  “refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate”.    So we know that Apollos was eloquent, educated, had good theology, and wanted to present a solid case for Christianity to the Jews.  The author of Hebrews had these same talents and goals.  Apollos was Hellenistic – he had a Greek name and Luke records that he was from Alexandria (the center of Hellenistic Judaism).  This makes it likely that he would have quoted from the LXX in his writings.  Apollos’ Hellenistic background also gives us a reason as to why he may have wanted to anonymously write a letter.  Hebraic Jews tended to look down on Hellenists, and it wouldn’t have helped Apollos’ case at all when the readers saw that he shared the same name as a Greek god.  Against the case for Apollos – there no evidence that he ever lived in Italy (Luke notes that he was from Alexandria,  lived in Ephesus, and then went to Achaea to teach).  There is also no evidence that he was close friends with Timothy, as the author of Hebrews was.

Clement of Rome: Clement lived in Italy and would have been friends with Paul, Luke and Timothy.  Paul mentions Clement in Phil 4:3.   Hebrews shares some of same writing style as the the (non-canonical) book of First Clement.  Both writings frequently quote the Old Testament to make their points, and they both quote from the LXX.  Both books also place a strong emphasis on obeying the example of church leaders (Heb 13:7, Heb 13:17).   However, Clement seems to have a different theological focus than the author of Hebrews.  Clement placed a priority on moral living (much like the book of James), and less of an emphasis on grace.  If Clement was the author, it could be that he was transcribing something originally written by Paul or Luke.

Barnabas: The church father Tertullian (207 AD) stated that Barnabas was the author.  Like Apollos, Barnabas was was a Hellenistic Jew.  He was from Cyprus, and Greek was his first language.   Barnabas was  acquainted with Timothy, and he likely spent time in Italy.  In addition Barnabas was a Levite, and would have been thoroughly familiar with the roles of the  priesthood.   The author of Hebrews uses the imagery of the priesthood, speaking of Jesus as “the great high priest” (Heb 4:14).

Priscilla and Aquila: Priscilla and Aquila were Hellenistic Jews.  They spent time in Rome, and were friends with both Paul and Timothy.  Paul said that he was indebted to them (Romans 16:3-4). They were educated and well versed in scripture.  They were teachers and taught Apollos (Acts 18:26).  It is commonly believed that Priscilla was the most active leader of the two, since she is usually mentioned first when the two are referenced.  If the book was primarily written by Priscilla, that would also give an explanation for the anonymity  of authorship.  Being female and Hellenistic would have meant that many of her contemporaries would have discounted what she had to say.



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An Account of Two Sisters who Recently Left Westboro Baptist

Yes, THAT Westboro Baptist. The ones who protest funerals and think that God hates everyone but them.  This is well worth the read.  HT: William Birch.

Damsel, Arise: A Westboro Scion Leaves Her Church

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Theologian Trading Cards

I may have to buy a set just so I can gripe about who’s not included. :)

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Six Hundred Seventy Seven Dollars

This is a personal and factual account of how God provided for me when I was in college.

It was March of 1993.  I was finishing up the winter trimester of my senior year at Northwest Nazarene College.  To help pay for classes that term, I had taken out a short term loan from the college credit union.  It was the end of the term, and I still owed $677 on the loan.  The college financial aid office had sent me a note that stated I would not be permitted to register for the next term until I paid off the outstanding balance on the loan.

I didn’t have much money, and had exhausted my options.  I had checked for additional scholarships, and found none.  I had approached my parents about assistance, but finances were too tight for them at the time.  I was working 20 hours a week in the college cafeteria, but my earnings were already applied to the loan.  90% of the earnings went to the loan, and 10% went to me personally.  The last check from the job had already been applied, and I still owed $677.  I only had a check for about $28 – that was the 10%  that went straight to me from the job.  I was out of resources, and thought I would have to drop out of school.

I went to God in prayer.  I prayed: God, if You want me to go home for the rest of the year, that’s okay.  But if You want me to stay in school, I need a miracle.  Would You please give me a miracle?

A miracle came.  In three parts.

The next day I went to the college financial aid office to see if I had any additional options.  They told me that I no longer owed $677, I only owed $177!  Just that morning I had received a $500 scholarship from the music department.  I sang in Crusader Choir.  I found out later that the music department had found some extra money in their budget, and had decided to apply it to scholarships for students in need.

Then I went to my mailbox.  In the mailbox were two envelopes.

The first envelope was an anonymous money order.  It was for $100.  In the memo line was a note that said, “Trust in Him.”

The second envelope had a note and a check for $50.  It was from a gentleman at my home church.  His name was Ron Clary.  His note said something along the lines of “I thought you could perhaps use a little money for school this term, here you go.”  Ron had no knowledge of my need, and had sent the letter before I had prayed.

So, if you’ve been keeping track, I owed $677.  In one day – the day after I had prayed for a miracle –  I received a scholarship for $500,  an anonymous check for $100, and  a check for $50.  And the day earlier from my college job I had received a check for $28.  That equals $678, and I owed $677.  I had a dollar and some change left after paying my loan off in full.

God provided for me the amount I needed, and He wisely allowed me to participate in His miracle with the little bit of money that I did have.

I’m glad I was able to register for the following term, because I proposed to my future wife during that term.  She said yes, and we married in the fall of 1993.

This really happened.  God’s miraculous workings in my life haven’t always been obvious.  But that day they were.  Oftentimes I walk though the desert, and I do not sense God’s spirit clearly.  During those times, I remember the miracle He did for me in 1993.

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Good Thoughts about a Horrible Event

This believer and her children were at the Batman movie where the shooting took place. She has some good thoughts to share, especially regarding the character of God.

So You Still Think God is a Merciful God?

“Let’s get something straight: the theater shooting was an evil, horrendous act done by a man controlled by evil. God did not take a gun and pull the trigger in a crowded theater. He didn’t even suggest it. A man did.

In His sovereignty, God made man in His image with the ability to choose good and evil.

Unfortunately, sometimes man chooses evil.”

“He is not the cause of evil, but He is the one who can bring comfort and peace in the midst of evil.”

“In that moment, as the rapid-fire shots continued, I truly thought I was going to die. And I realized that I was ready. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the redeemer of my soul, and there wasn’t the slightest doubt that I would be received into heaven, not because of any good thing that I have done but because of His merciful nature and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

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The Day Donna Cried

This post is not theological, other than the fact that we as Christians should examine our prejudices and be considerate to others.  This is the story of a high school experience.  The names of the teacher and student involved have been changed.

I grew up in a small farming town in Washington state.  Most people in town were White or Hispanic.  There was only one student in my class who was Black.  Her name was Donna.

One of my favorite classes was literature.  I enjoyed reading.  It was fun to be exposed to new stories like “Huck Finn”.  Mr Reynolds was a little quirky, but he was a good teacher.

One day in class we were reading a story (I don’t remember what one now).  The person in the story was using poor language (double negatives, etc).  Bad grammar doesn’t go over with lit teachers, and Mr Reynolds was no exception.  Mr Reynolds jokingly said, “That person talks funny!  He sounds like he’s Black, doesn’t he?”  Everyone in class laughed, myself included.

Everyone that is, except Donna.  Donna spoke up loudly and said, “I don’t think Black people talk funny!”  She was angry and shaking a bit.  Then she started to cry.

The class was silent, and everyone felt awful.  Mr Reynolds especially.  I felt terrible because I also had laughed at the joke without even considering how it made Donna feel.

Some time later (on a different day), Mr. Reynolds apologized to Donna.  He said, “I want you to know that I have thought a lot about what I said that day, and if it’s any consolation, I’m truly sorry.”

I have wondered in retrospect if the reason Donna cried was because of the joke or because of the response of everyone in class.  I think it was probably more of the latter.  The joke wouldn’t have been as big of a deal if we hadn’t all laughed at it.

That event happened over 25 years ago, but I still remember it clearly.  I  wonder if anyone else in that class remembers. I bet Donna and Mr Reynolds both do.

To Donna: I want you to know that I have thought a lot about what happened that day, and if it’s any consolation,   I’m truly sorry.

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English Phrases that Come from the Bible

I enjoy word etymology.  One thing that makes me smile is when someone uses a phrase that comes from the Bible.  We have lots of these sayings in English, and people who aren’t Christian use them all the time.   Of particular interest (at least to me) is that many of these sayings come from the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt 5-7).

Here are a few of these saying. If you can think of others, please reply, and I’ll add them to the list.

to go the extra mile:  Matt 5:41

until kingdom come:   Matt 6:10

You reap what you sow. Gal 6:7

the apple of my eye: Deut 32:10

a shining city on a hill: Matt 5:14

Don’t throw pearls before swine: Matt 7:6

A wolf in sheep’s clothing:  Matt 7:15

Turn the tables on someone:  John 2:15

The powers that be: Romans 13:1

to get away by the skin of your teeth: Job 19:20

a drop in the bucket: Isaiah 40:15

A leopard can’t change its spots.  Jer 13:23

The writing is on the wall. Daniel 5:5

to give up the ghost. Gen 25:8

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