Bible Culture

When Deconstruction Becomes Destruction

It is, I think, an unfortunate choice of words that some speak of examining their belief system as “deconstructing faith.” It is unfortunate because the origins of deconstruction are in literary critical theory, a theory that has no particular regard for objective truth. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of deconstruction is that there is no such thing as truth, there is only culturally conditioned understandings of our world. One should distinguish between this and revising…

Continue reading

Culture The Decalogue The Law of Moses

What Does it Mean to Keep the Sabbath?

Among the Ten Commandments, none has been treated with more flexibility than the Fourth.   One encounters a whole range of views on the Sabbath command, and what people believe their obligation is toward it.  Since it is one of the Ten Commandments, it makes a good test case whether those who insist Christians must keep the Ten are actually doing so. The first question is, what is the Sabbath Day? Many point to the…

Continue reading

Culture The Church

Ecclesiology and the Start-Up Culture

Christian growth cannot be commoditized to scale up.   The doctrine of the church—ecclesiology—has been among the most malleable and flexible for believers today. How a church is organized, what it’s polity may be, many Christians see as of secondary importance. Instead, expediency is what is more important. Is what we’re doing working? And the measure of what works often mirrors the culture of business start-ups. Although this isn’t new, we’re seeing the full flowering…

Continue reading

Culture

Teaching the Bible in Public School is a Bad Idea

We don’t need more nominalism   There has a lot of chatter in the press recently about efforts to teach the Bible in public schools. This is mainly because the President has opined on the idea, and encouraged states who have introduced bills to promote it. Predictably, there is opposition to this idea. The groups argue that the bills are backdoor attempts to promote religion. As the Washington Post reports, “The legislation has drawn objections…

Continue reading

Bible Culture

Using God’s Words in Our God Talk

There is an ongoing conflict between what Americans say is important about their faith, and how we speak about it to the culture around us. This is, in part, what Jonathan Merritt says in his NY Times OpEd, It’s Getting Harder to Talk About God. I agree with much of what Merritt writes, but while he diagnoses a problem with our “God Talk,” he doesn’t offer a prescription to heal it. To be fair, his…

Continue reading

Culture Music

Why Christian Music Remains Rooted in the Past, and that’s OK

When I arrived in music school many years ago, every incoming freshman was required to take Music History 101. One of the principles the professor imported from the world of architecture was “form follows function.” The principle is nearly self-explanatory, but when it comes to music, it may require some observations about how it is worked out. Dance music, for example, has certain rhythms that are symmetrical, because humans are symmetrical in our bodies. Music…

Continue reading

Bible Culture

The Books and Parchments are not a Screenplay

In a few days, a feature-length movie on the life of Paul will premiere. Paul, Apostle of Christ is a biopic of sorts, but when we come to a biblical persona, this is different than other such efforts to tell a faith-based story. The New Testament gives very little material to construct any sort of “life of Paul.” We only have the broad outlines of where he went, when he was there, and who was with him.…

Continue reading

Culture

Should Christians Vote?

 Many have written about the word “evangelical” being emptied of meaning. Questions about what it means to be an evangelical are not new, but the issue has taken on new urgency when it comes to our political engagement.  For much of Christian history, this was not really a factor, because representative government did not exist.  While the question of political involvement is not unique to the United States, the current atmosphere has believers rethinking what…

Continue reading

Culture

Deus Ex Machina

Yesterday’s iPhone X announcement was not so much a product announcement as a media event. While technology writers covered the event, it’s notable that the NY Times TV critic James Poniewozik also wrote about it. Indeed, he writes about the launch as Apple selling us “a better vision of ourselves.” As society has become increasingly technologized, it is ever so tempting to apply technology to all problems, but more than that, to imagine that some…

Continue reading

Culture

Science, Hubris, and the Importance of Admitting Ignorance

I heard a piece this weekend on the TED Radio Hour that got me thinking a bit about assumptions, the scientific method, and how science is for some, a kind of faith. Sean Carroll, a cosmologist at Cal Tech, gave a talk entitled “Cosmology and the Arrow of Time.” Some salient points Carroll made were, the universe is changing as time passes. It is expanding. The universe was “smooth” at the beginning. This was a…

Continue reading