Issue #101

How Reliable Are Our New Testament Manuscripts, How Politics Replaced Spiritual Practice, Christian Unity in Three Steps, and more...

Issue #101
Photo by Chichi Onyekanne / Unsplash

Listen and Learn 🎧

How Reliable Are Our New Testament Manuscripts? | Preston Sprinkle and Daniel Wallace 🎧 →

The manuscripts of the New Testament are the ancient copies of the New Testament written in Greek that copied the original gospels and letters.

Some skeptics will tell us that we can’t trust those manuscripts because when we compare them there are so many differences between them. Dr. Daniel Wallace has spent his life studying the manuscripts of the New Testament and is one of the world’s foremost experts on determining what the original manuscripts likely said (yes, there’s an entire field of scholarly study on that topic!)

He chats with Preston Sprinkle about his work and why we trust the New Testament manuscripts we have, and by extension, the modern Bibles we hold.

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

American Idol: How Politics Replaced Spiritual Practice | Michael Wear 📃 →

This article comes from just before the midterm election of 2022, so it’s a bit late appearing here. Nonetheless, I found the article very helpful and I want to include it.

According to a poll from the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, nearly identical percentages of Democrats (74%) and Republicans (73%) believe members of the opposing party are “generally bullies who want to impose their political beliefs on those who disagree.”
Similarly high percentages of Americans in both parties believe that members of the other side tend to be “generally untruthful and are pushing disinformation.”
These statistics reflect what a group of social scientists have termed “political sectarianism”—a “poisonous cocktail of othering, aversion and moralism” that “poses a threat to democracy.”

The problem, as Wear sees it, is not politics, but political sectarianism and how our culture has fostered bad blood between members of opposing political sects. But he also sees, within Christianity, reasons for hope.

The Christian faith offers tremendous resources for combating political sectarianism and so much else that ails our politics, but we have to connect those resources to our public life and politics. Christians don’t need to be reminded of kindness, gentleness, and joy. But many do need to be convinced that the way of Jesus is up to the task of politics. They need to be convinced that the public arena, too, is a forum for faithfulness.

That doesn’t mean making every policy a matter of religious dogma. Quite the opposite! One of the greatest contributions Christians can make to our politics right now is caring about it without making an idol of it, and then reminding our country that political decisions are very rarely a simple issue of dogma—religious or secular—and more often about prudential matters.
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Consider Another Perspective 🤔

How Can We Reconcile the Canaanite Conflict with a God of Love? | Paul Copan, Randal Rauser, and Justin Brierley 📽 →

This is an “in-house” conversation between two Christians with differing views on how Christians should look at the Old Testament Israelite wars with Canaan.

Both authors have recent books about the topic (linked below). Copan, whose book won a Christianity Today 2022 Award of Merit, argues that historical and theological context can help us understand these stories in a new light. These stories may not be what they appear and may not be saying what we think they’re saying.

Rauser believes that the stories are exactly as bad as they appear, or perhaps worse and that Copan’s project is misguided and in many cases, fails. His interpretation relies on God accommodating himself to a warlike culture. Therefore the “commands” to attack the Canaanites were not God’s will. He permitted these errors to enter scripture to accommodate humanity to move humanity toward Jesus.

While I think that Copan’s approach is the more biblically faithful and helpful approach, I appreciate Rauser’s pushback and critiques and I think that Christians need to consider these options themselves.

For More:

Challenge Your Brain 🧠

Is the Hope of Resurrection Found in the Old Testament? | Mitchell Chase 📃 →

It may be easy to think of resurrection as a New Testament concept. It’s not a concept that we see in the Old Testament…or is it? Well, not much, but some threads of scripture led people in Jesus’ time to the concept of a resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. Chase traces that theme in this article.

Earlier than the words of Daniel 12:2, the prophet Isaiah tells of a future day when life will swallow up death. God “will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth” (Isa. 25:8). The image of death being swallowed is a striking one. After all, death itself is a devourer. Death consumes life on earth. Image-bearers succumb to the forces of death which pull them to the dust. The mouth of Sheol “has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure” (Isa. 5:14).

Throughout the Old Testament storyline, death seems inevitable in every way. Who can escape it? Kings and peasants die. The wise and foolish both perish. Rich and poor are heading to the grave. The words of Isaiah 25:8 are an explosion of hope in a death-saturated world. The great devourer will be devoured—by God. The almighty God of life will close its jaws, and death will die.

For death to die, the dead must be delivered. Bodily resurrection is the death of death. And the “rumor” is that a Jerusalem tomb became ground zero for embodied glory. According to the story, God did not abandon his Son to corruption but raised him up as the first fruits of resurrection life (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:24). Because he lives, our deaths are future but are not final. Death may disrupt our physical lives, but bodily resurrection will disrupt death.
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Explore the Scriptures 📖

What are the Ten Commandments All About? | Tim Mackie and Jon Collins 🎧 →

Most Christians are pretty familiar with the Ten Commandments. But we are less familiar with the story of the giving of the 10 commandments.

The key takeaways:

1. God’s laws are about giving an identity to God’s chosen ones, not about simulating moral perfection. Put another way, following the laws isn’t about making God happy—following the laws creates a lifestyle that reflects God’s image to the nations.

2. While the first four commandments detail parameters for Israel’s relationship with Yahweh, the fifth and following commandments all specify ways in which Israelites are to treat others.

3. Each of the Ten Commandments is as much about honoring Yahweh as they are about honoring and dignifying other humans as God’s image bearers. For instance, when humans make idols and worship them, they’re not only investing in a created thing the reverence and glory that should only belong to Yahweh, but robbing themselves of their own dignity as God’s image bearers.

Read and Reflect 📖

Sister, Don’t Fight Pornography Alone | Fernie Cosgrove 📃 →

Pornography is a problem for men. A huge majority of men struggle or have struggled with the weight of pornography. But it’s not just a problem for men.

Although shame tells us we’re alone as women in this fight against pornography, statistics show that men aren’t the only ones viewing pornography. Research by Fight the New Drug showed that by the end of 2021, 35 percent of pornography viewers were women. In addition, Covenant Eyes reported that 15 percent of Christian women say they watch pornography at least once a month, and the numbers are rising with each passing year.

Pornography is a real temptation for women. And it’s likely that we either struggle with this temptation ourselves or we know a woman who does. So how can we fight against the seduction of pornography?

Perhaps you are one of those women. Perhaps it is a daughter, sister, or friend. There is hope for women who use pornography.

1. Tell Someone.

Pornography thrives on secrecy, but its grip loosens when the temptation is brought to light. Share your struggle with a trusted sister in Christ, and ask her to keep you accountable through prayer and check-ins.

Pornography thrives on secrecy, but its grip loosens when the temptation is brought to light.

This first step is intimidating, but it’s absolutely necessary to confess our sin. We don’t have to walk in our struggle alone; the Lord designed his church as a means through which he brings healing to our hearts and minds as we engage in the mutual confession of sin (James 5:16).

Check-ins can be done in multiple ways, but one I’ve found helpful is choosing a silly emoji (e.g., a turtle) and texting it during times I’m experiencing temptation. This simple method discretely lets your accountability partner know you’re struggling in the moment and gives her the opportunity to call you, pray for you, or encourage you.

Cosgrove gives more helpful tips to overcome this incredibly insidious sin, but this is the first for a reason. It’s the most important, and unused, weapon in the Christian’s arsenal to overcome sin. Difficult honesty within a sisterhood (or brotherhood) in Christ is a powerful tool.

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Christian Unity in Three Steps | John Piper 🎧 →

The question:

In 1 Peter 3:8, Peter urges the exiled Christians to have ‘unity of mind.’” That’s Peter’s exact phrase. “I once heard a preacher say that this ‘unity of mind’ does not, however, mean uniformity. Since then, I’ve struggled to understand the difference. We have basic creeds and confessions that we must all agree on as the very foundations of Christianity. Beliefs otherwise would be heretical. How then can we not have uniformity? What is this ‘unity of mind’? Peter didn’t insert a clause that left this to church leaders only to pursue. So how does the individual Christian pursue this?”

Christian unity is difficult in the age of partisanship, but Piper does an excellent job of answering this question. It’s a difficult question in part because there’s a question of “how united should we be?” Christians disagree about important topics like infant baptism, the meaning of the bread and cup, and more. So what does it mean for us to be united in the face of this reality?

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

To him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father — to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:5b–6 (CSB)
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