Friday, February 27, 2009

A Short History of the Church, Well-worth Reading

I highly encourage you to go read the five short blog entries on this history of the Church (this link is the last blog entry, but it has links to the previous four entries; I encourage you to read them in order. I found the first lesson to be the least valuable, so if it doesn't do much for you, keep going at least through the second before you give up; they're short).

I don't often learn much from what most preachers want to offer me, especially so easily and in such a short format, but this stuff is fascinating. Well-worth reading.

What is the Gospel?

I remember as a young teen being impressed with the urgency of "spreading the Gospel", and wondering just exactly what the Gospel is.

I knew the word meant "good news", but all my church upbringing seemed to equate "the Gospel" with the doctrinal tenets of the traditional "Church of Christ" in which I was raised. That is, "the Gospel" was that you needed to hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized, and live faithfully as a member of the Church of Christ.

Somehow, even then, that didn't quite ring true with me, but I've never quite been able to put my finger on why it wasn't true, or what exactly the Gospel was.

As I matured, my thinking morphed more into the idea that the Gospel was that Jesus saves us from our sins and gets us into heaven, and then later still my thinking morphed to the idea that Jesus will rescue us from "the Curse" which currently is responsible for us getting cancer and run over by trains and hit by lightning and being lame or blind or deaf and losing our favorite pets and eventually dying ourselves.

Yeah, freedom from those things sounds like "good news" to me, but it doesn't make for a very good sound-bite.

Then tonight I came across the Biblical definition, which had been sitting there all my life (and all of the life of the church for the past two-thousand years). It's in Galatians 3:8:
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”
The Gospel is that "all the nations shall be blessed in Abraham".

That's it in a nutshell. Now what it means to be "be blessed" leaves plenty of room for discussion, but I now have a working, Biblical definition of "the Gospel". I bless YHWH for this milestone in my life, even if it doesn't "click" for you as it did for me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

North Dakota lawmakers vote that 'personhood' starts at conception

From Perth Now, via Agence France-Presse

NORTH Dakota has become the first US state to move towards passing a law that defines "personhood" as starting at the moment of conception, which would effectively outlaw abortion, pro-life groups said. Lawmakers in the North Dakota lower house voted 51 to 41 on Tuesday to pass the Personhood of Children Act, which confers the same basic rights on "all human beings from the beginning of their biological development, including the pre-born, partially born."

As reported at Theophiles.

Worth Noting

But the more human reasoning is involved, the more tolerant of other's I will be and the greater possibility of my own human reasoning being faulty I acknowledge.
As posted on a Church of Christ email list.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Solve the Jigsaw Puzzle or Die

As seen on a Church of Christ mailing list:
Neal Griffin wrote: The New Covenant is not a legal system with codified laws; or worse yet, a legal system with camouflaged directions which require legal specialists with special tools to unlock and make known what God expects of us.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Marks of a Cult

On a Yahoo!Groups mailing list called Church_Of_Christ, okie_cole62 writes the following:
Here are eight cult distinctives:

Scripture Twisting --- Proof-texting would also fall under this category. Passages are frequently taken out of context, manipulated, misapplied, and/or forced to do duty as the justification of wrong conclusions.

Controlling Leader/Leadership --- Near total submission is generally implicitly or explicitly required of the members. The leaders are "in charge" and are not to be challenged or questioned. What they say is law.

Separation/Isolation of the Membership --- To protect the members from "harmful influences," the group leaders will do all in their power to isolate their disciples from others who may have differing views, or who might dare to challenge the thinking of the group in any way. Outsiders are banned from coming anywhere near the group, and the group members are banned from any type of interaction with outsiders which might cause them to doubt their beliefs or question the direction of their leaders.

Spiritual Elitism --- The group perceives itself as the "chosen of God." They are the ONLY ones who have ultimate Truth all figured out. They have "arrived." They are the enlightened ones, the "one true church," the ONLY ones going to heaven. If you are not in their group, you are lost. Period! Salvation is simply not to be found outside their walls, thus these aberrant groups rarely, if ever, cooperate in any way with other Christian groups. Indeed, other groups are not even perceived as being "Christian."

Uniformity --- Diversity among the membership is scorned, and the idea of having any kind of "unity in diversity" is mocked as godless heresy. The members must think the same things, speak the same things, practice the same things, proclaim the same things, believe the same things. Even in areas where Scripture is silent, uniformity of thought and practice (the standard being, of course, the traditional perceptions and preferences of the group, or its leaders) is rigidly imposed.

Doctrinal Mutation --- Doctrines and practices have a tendency to devolve and mutate further and further from healthy beliefs and expressions. For example, some groups started out with a very narrow view on divorce and remarriage, which eventually devolved to the point that the leaders insisted on certain members terminating second marriages that, in their view, were unapproved by God. Thus, these aberrant groups have gone from promoting a particular doctrine to actually promoting divorce! Families are destroyed to promote the fallacious findings of the Faction's Fathers!

Dissent Discouraged --- Nothing will get a member of an aberrant group tossed out into the cold more quickly than when they dare to question or challenge "the way things are" or "the way they have always been done." In non-coercive groups, differences with regard to convictions and personal preferences, perceptions, and practices are more lovingly tolerated. That is not the case in an aberrant group. Such "rebels," "liberals," and "digressives" will be ousted before they know what hit them. Dissenters are "marked" and maligned.

Traumatic Departure --- Coming out of such a group is almost always an extremely traumatic experience ... the group will see to that. Painful confrontations are common; months, even years, of being mercilessly hounded and harangued by the "faithful" is typical. Shunning by former friends and family is to be expected.
I don't know if this list is original with him; I don't know what qualifications he has to make these definitions. I actually suspect that he has intentionally designed these distinctives as a swipe against abuses and faults which he has experienced/witnessed/perceived in traditional churches of Christ (almost as if he's had a "traumatic departure" and is now looking to rescue others from the "cult" from which he came).

Nevertheless, I found the list interesting.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tugs at my Heart

Quoted at

In her groundbreaking book, The Hidden Life of Dogs, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas maintained that dogs show deep romantic passion for one another. She arrived at this conclusion moments after she introduced Misha, a handsome Siberian husky, to her daughter’s young and beautiful do of the same breed, Maria. Thomas had agreed to house Misha while his owners were on an extended trip to Europe.

The day arrived. Misha’s owners delivered this vibrant male to the Thomas home. Misha pranced into the living room to look about, settling his gaze immediately on the gorgeous Maria. In an instant he bounded to her feet and skidded to a stop. At once, Thomas writes, Maria “dropped to her elbows in an invitation to play. Chase me, her gesture said. And he did. Quckly, lightly, the two delighted creatures spun around the room. Misha and Maria were so taken with each other that they noticed nothing. Misha didn’t even notice when his owners left.”

These two joyous dogs were immediately inseperable. Together they ate and slept and roamed; together they bore four hearty pups; together they reared them–until the dark day when Misha’s owners gave him away to people in the countryside. For weeks Maria sat in the window seat of the Thomas home in the very spot where she had watched her beloved Misha being forced into a car. Here she pined. Eventually she gave up waiting for him to return. But “Marian never recovered from her loss,” Thomas writes. “She lost her radiance…and showed no interest in forming a pemanent bond with another male, evn though, over the years, several eligible males joined our household.”

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


A speaker I recently heard held out her palm and with the finger of her other hand drew an X across the palm and said:
'X' marks the spot. Be where you are.
That same speaker also asked what lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches.
A nervous wreck.
Worth sharing, I thought.