Do Americans believe the Bible is true? Since this country is still overwhelmingly Christian, the answer must be yes. Doesn’t it? That depends. I think approximately 75% of the people claim to be Christian, that’s overwhelming to me. But how “Christian” are we? The Christian Bible is made up of both the Old and New Testaments, so maybe we have to look at them in two parts? Maybe some people believe the New Testament but not the Old? We’ll see about that. In any case, something’s wrong, because a recent LifeWay survey says a growing number say the Bible is not literally true.
Did the Pope really change the Lord’s Prayer? He did. Sort of. Pope Francis did change the translation of the Lord’s Prayer. But the original Greek remains. Christians believe, should believe, the Bible is the inspired word of God. The translations are not the inspired word of God. We hope they translators do a proper job. But a look at various translation and especially at various commentaries on the Bible tells us they often don’t agree. Even on key points like “lead us not into temptation”, they don’t agree.
Who Is God? Since a majority of Americans don’t believe even some of the basic teachings of the Bible, there’s no choice but to believe American theology is messed up. And I mean really basic stuff. Like critical things about Jesus. Not surprisingly, they don’t really know about the Holy Spirit either. And while I say not surprisingly, it’s very sad. If the theology is messed up, so are we.
Will Hollywood abandon Georgia over abortion? It was going to be the title of this article. It’s an interesting question. Also a web news headline. The question came up because of Georgia’s proposed legislation about making abortions illegal if a heartbeat is detected in the fetus / unborn baby / unborn person. But as I was writing, it occurred to me that a better title is “Will Christians abandon God over abortion”?
We use the word love so much these days that it often doesn’t seem to mean much. There’s lots of love, but without caring. For instance, I love sushi, especially ikura and uni. Add a quail egg, and there’s even more to love. But does that love include caring? No. It’s just food, there’s no caring associated with that love. But then there’s you, the person reading this. Chances are I don’t know you – and you don’t know me. How can I love you the same way I love sushi? It makes no sense to do that. But I do care about you. I care enough about you that I spend lots of time and energy writing things for this site and my other one. That’s caring without love. Or is it? What is love? For one thing, “what is love” is a song by Nestor Alexander Haddaway. Saturday Night Live used to do a set with it many years ago. But that’s not what I mean here. The question really is – what is “love”? Sure, there’s a dictionary definition. Supposedly that’s based on the way people actually use the word. But look how love is defined at […]
When we say, “our thoughts and prayers go out to you”, who are we sending them out to? Do we actually believe someone’s listening to them? Assuming the answer’s yes, do we also believe that someone can / will do something about them? The answers to those simple questions matter. If we can’t honestly answer “yes” to both of them, then it’s just words. Presumably good intentions, but with no expectation of any results. Essentially, without belief in some sort of response to our thoughts and payers, it’s wasted breath on our part. And a meaningless gesture to the recipients.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Yeah. That sounds about right. The meek. The weak people. The ones who never stand up for themselves. They just take whatever comes their way. Truth is, they’re probably the only kind of people who would even accept this old broken down world as part of their inheritance. Everyone else is smart enough to turn it down. Of course, there’s always the question of whether we’ll just literally blow the whole thing up in one huge nuclear war. Then the only inheritance is going to be a whole lot of cosmic dust. For the meek. Yeah – that sounds right. Blessed are the meek – Not!
Except that it really doesn’t sound right. On the off chance you don’t recognize the opening line, here it is again, with some “context” provided by text formatting.
Mt 5:5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
So it’s from Jesus. The creator of this whole universe we live in. Including this old broken down world. And the creator of me and you. Given that, something’s got to be wrong with that whole first paragraph. The thing is though, I dare say, the majority of the world believes the first paragraph is true. Unfortunately, if we’re honest, a look at the world around us shows that a number of people calling themselves Christians hold that same view. Clearly, the truth of this simple beatitude is lost on much of the world.
Blessed are the meek – it must be true. Somehow.
The Parable of The Wise And The Foolish Builders. One one level, it’s about the choice between building a house on rock or sand. That sounds like an easy choice to make. On another level, it’s about what we do, if anything, after hearing or reading what Jesus had to say. It’s interesting that it comes at the very end of The Sermon On The Mount. Chapters 5 to 7 of Matthew’s Gospel.
John Stott says this about the passages:The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed. It is the nearest thing to a manifesto that he ever uttered, for it is his own description of what he wanted his followers to be and to do. To my mind, no two words sum up its intention better, or indicate more clearly its challenge to the modern world, than the expression ‘Christian counter-culture’.
That really sets up the “problems” with parables quite nicely. They’re well known. Easy to remember. But hard to understand. Just like the Sermon on the Mount. There’s a saying about something being a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. This is one of those.
Why did Jesus speak in parables? There are easy answers to the question, but they are just that: easy. Too easy. As in Jesus spoke in parables because the Old Testament said He would. Or maybe it was to make things easier to understand. But then, it may have been to make them harder to understand. But like the parable itself, the real answers are hidden behind the easy ones.
For instance, the image to the right is of a field. But when Jesus used planting crops in a field in a parable, was He really talking about literal seeds, crops and produce? Yes, but no. There was more to it.
What is the forgotten holiday? Actually, maybe not so much forgotten. More like never really celebrated that much. Ever. I call it the “forgotten” holiday as a nod to Francis Chan’s book – The Forgotten God. Does that help to identify it? If you live someplace like France, Germany, Norway or Sweden – you’ll be wondering why I call it forgotten. Your countries haven’t forgotten. But if you’re like me, in the U.S. – or if you’re in the U.K., Canada or Australia – you get it. Maybe, no matter the country, you get it if you’re Catholic.
So what is the forgotten holiday? It’s Ascension Day.