Jamie Coots, the snake-handling Kentucky pastor who starred in the National Geographic reality show “Snake Salvation,” died this past weekend after refusing treatment for a snakebite. Snake-handlers tend to be an embarrassment to most other Christians. But here’s the problem: they’re following exactly what the Bible says in Mark 16:16-18: “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Continue Reading
Normally I don’t see much of a point in engaging fundamentalist Christian entities like the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood because I suspect they aren’t particularly relevant to my readership. But a recent post by JD Gunter from CBMW really struck a nerve with me because it so plainly contradicts my experience of dating as a young adult in a way that ironically encourages irresponsible, sinful behavior under the guise of taking yourself very seriously. The only thing missing from Gunter’s post describing why “Biblical” single men shouldn’t stay in un-serious dating relationships with women they aren’t planning to marry is any reference to scripture whatsoever. Continue Reading
In David Brooks’ New York Times Thursday column, he shares the story of Walter Judd, who paid his way through college at the beginning of the 20th century by washing dishes. His father had refused to pay his tuition since he thought that the manual labor would be good for his character. Brooks shares that “people then were more likely to assume that jobs at the bottom of the status ladder were ennobling and that jobs at the top were morally perilous” since they presumed that “the working classes were self-controlled, while the rich and the professionals could get away with things.” He writes that today our values are the opposite: wealth is applauded as the evidence of hard work, while poverty is presumed to be the product of laziness or immorality. Brooks attributes this shift to an abandonment of Biblical values in our culture. Continue Reading
In March, I fasted from blogging for Lent. April and May of 2012 were dominated by thoughts about our United Methodist General Conference. There was also a series of violent tornadoes that John Piper decided to interpret as God’s wrath against America for homosexuality or abortion (I can’t remember which one). Since homosexuality dominated the conversation around General Conference, I wrote a few pieces about it, striving to be both faithful to scripture and faithful to people I love who are gay. I also preached a sermon comparing and contrasting the uniformity and top-down vision of the Tower of Babel with the chaos of Pentecost. So here are the 10 from April and May. Continue Reading
I figured I would end 2012 by reviewing a selection of my posts from throughout the year chronologically, starting with 10 posts from January and February, which I have listed below with a brief description for each of them. These don’t necessarily have any ranking to them; they are just the ten that first jumped out at me for being either popular or important. Continue Reading
What I learned from last night’s final presidential debate (which was the first one I watched) is that the way you “win” mostly has to do with how long you can talk without taking a breath or how willing you are to yell “Liar, liar, pants on fire” while the other guy is in the middle of what he’s saying. The fundamental thing Romney and Obama agreed on is the importance of projecting strength in US foreign policy. “Strength” seems to be defined as not apologizing for anything the US has done in the past and making sure that other nations understand that the US knows what’s best for them. I realize we live in a secular nation-state, but I am really bothered by how thoroughly un-Biblical that way of thinking is. Whether or not it’s effective foreign policy from a realpolitik perspective, the Bible calls us to integrity, not strength.
I’ve got some prophetic fire that I need to let out so I’m going to try to do so in a way that doesn’t compromise my office as a pastor. I am sick and tired of seeing people abuse the word “Biblical” by attaching it to causes and ideas that have nothing to do with the Bible. The spiritual lava started building up started last month when I was sitting in a meeting at church. We had sent out spies to test out how other churches welcome their visitors. Well one of our spies went to a local “Bible” church and the topic of the sermon for that week was “The truth behind the Arab Spring.” Continue Reading
My wife and I decided to do something bold for our wedding. Each of us preached while the other person washed our feet, rotating halfway through the sermon. The text we preached on was the controversial Ephesians 5:22-33 passage which says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord.” I’ve been thinking of our sermon lately as I’ve encountered the reviews of megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll’s new book Real Marriage, which apparently takes his views on the divinely ordained inferiority of women to a new level. Rachel Held Evans is gentler in her review than conservative evangelical blogger David Moore. I’m not going to talk about a book that I don’t have time to read, but I thought I would share some of what my wife and I preached about as my contribution to this week’s blogosphere conversation about marriage. Continue Reading