This letter is not designed to make you feel comfortable. It is designed to pull you in new directions. I hope that some content inspires you and helps you feel closer to our Creator. But I also hope that some challenges your assumptions and stretches you. I hope that even if you decide that you ultimately disagree with me, or with some content in this letter (which are not the same thing!), you will come out with a firmer grasp of the topic and why people believe differently than you.
I am not saying that because there are different perspectives that we should just “agree to disagree” or ignore them. No. I am saying that we become better defenders of our beliefs when we more clearly understand the beliefs of those who disagree with us. Most of us have probably felt misunderstood at some point in our lives. It is not pleasant to have somebody put words into our mouths or for someone to claim you believe what you do not believe. Let us be good neighbors and charitable to those we disagree with and work to better understand them too.
The ability to challenge myself with ideas I don't agree with, even to the point of changing my mind is one of the most difficult skills I have ever learned, but it is also one of my most treasured skills. I do not agree with everything in all the content that I post, but I do believe that everything I post was worthwhile to engage with. I hope that you agree.
Christianity Is True ✝️
If you are not involved in Christian apologetics, you may not be aware that a piece of common evidence used against the historicity of the Bible is the (supposed) silence of the historical record on the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
While an absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence, Michael Jones of Inspiring Philosophy has released a somewhat technical documentary giving a reasonable hypothesis of when the Exodus occurred in Egyptian history. He claims that it’s further back than many think and he provides plenty of evidence in support of his claims. File this one away for that rainy day when someone challenges the historicity of the exodus of Israel from Egypt.
Update: Inspiring Philosophy Has Taken Down the Video
(04/13/2021) After further discussions with Egyptologist Dr. David Falk, Michael Jones pulled down the video and released an article on why he now believes he was mistaken to propose the early Exodus date.
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Consider Another Perspective 🤔
Season 2: Episode 11 “Reading While Black: A Conversation with Dr. Esau McCaulley” | Southside Rabbi →
Rappers KB and Ameen interview the author of Christianity Today’s 2021 Beautiful Orthodoxy Book of the Year “Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope”. The podcast veers into a discussion of how culture shapes preaching, and how the black church and black communities, which are so often dismissed because of their progressive religion, have diagnosed a problem in white Christendom, even if they have not accurately understood the solution — Jesus and his work on the cross.
If like me, you have not been shaped by black culture and community, this podcast will be challenging for you. Like me, you may disagree here and there. But I think that it’s important for us to — at least occasionally — set our perspective aside and hear from another community that shares a love of scripture with us. Then, we can re-evaluate how our cultural perceptions have shaped our view of the sacred text.
If you attend an American Christian church for any length of time, you are likely to encounter advice like “Let go and let God,” or “You’re never more safe than when you’re in God’s will.” While I appreciate the heart of the Christian who expresses these sentiments, I agree with Matt Smethurst that they express a half-truth as if it were the whole truth, which can be more dangerous than an outright lie.
Friends, let us re-evaluate if we have allowed banal statements to become our go-to advice instead of scriptural guidance, which is often messier and harder to discern.
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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️
Lost Letters of Pergamum is an interesting fiction book by New Testament scholar Bruce W. Longenecker. A Roman man in 1st century Pergamum encounters the gospel of Luke and begins a correspondence with him. He eventually meets a house-church of Christians which sets a new course for his life. This book does a great job of expressing the strangeness of Christianity to the world it grew within, and it challenges us on whether we are molding ourselves to our culture or letting the strangeness of Christianity be shown through us. I listened to this one through Audible, and it was well-done.
For a few years now, the light of a long-awaited home has been growing on the horizon behind the fact of my mortality. I know the timing and the manner of my own eventual end are not up to me, though it’s taken me a long time to admit it. I’ve given up whatever control I attempted to have on the matter. It’s a relinquishment I’ve been able to make for the same reason, I believe, that Tolkien chose to give us the image of a “grey rain-curtain” rolling back, and Lewis the image of a great waterfall coursing upward at the world’s end: more and more, it’s becoming possible to approach death and see straight through it.
The day my daughter was born, I bore a new perspective on death. She is still too young to have such a conversation, but as in all things, I hope to be prepared when the time comes, whether that time is expected or not.
Keep Your Mind on Things Above
I will be praying for you this week.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds this week,