Issue #35

Remember as We Feast, Prepare for the Metaverse, Mr. Rogers Antidote, and more...

Issue #35
Photo by Pro Church Media / Unsplash

Join me in prayer as we start this letter.

Lord God, you are the giver of life and light, and all that is good. We thank you for your faithfulness and love. You humbled yourself and died for us, and we thank you that in his death, we may find life. Grant us eyes to see all that we may be thankful for which surrounds us and has become mundane.

We pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering and don’t have the comforts we enjoy. Give them grace and peace and bring them help in their need.


Read and Reflect 📖

4 Truths to Remember as We Feast | Sarah J. Hauser 📃 →

I know this letter goes out the day after the American Thanksgiving holiday, but I want to start with this reminder. The family gathering and feasting can too often turn inward, or even sour, when we don't remember the goal and purpose of feasting. Sarah Hauser helps us to reflect upon the Biblical purpose and theology of feasting, and how that should transform our gatherings.

At the heart of right feasting, we remember our God. Consider the feasts throughout Scripture. For example, in Exodus 12–13, God commands the Israelites to observe Passover as a way to remember what the Lord did for them in Egypt. In Esther 9, the Feast of Purim is instituted as a day to recall when sorrow turned to gladness, mourning into a holiday (Ex. 9:22).

We can do the same. Rather than entertaining as a way to perform in front of others, our meals can point to the goodness of God. We can still serve excellent food, use fancy dishes, and cultivate a place of beauty. But the posture of our hearts must not be self-exaltation. Instead, we exalt the only One who can fill our hungry souls (Ps. 107:9).

Listen and Learn 🎧

Faith and Our Fathers with Blair Linne | Gospelbound with Colin Hansen 🎧 →

This wide-ranging conversation between Blair Linne and Colin Hansen touches on fathers and how it affects families and faith, but it goes far beyond that into systemic injustice, personal responsibility, diverse churches, and more. I enjoyed it.

Faith and Our Fathers — Spotify Player

Explore the Scriptures 📖

Gospel of Barnabas | Ultimate Questions with Jon Topping 🎧 →

A main piece of evidence used for the "imposter on the cross" argument is the Gospel of Barnabas. Some think this text is even better than the four canonical Gospels. The text teaches that God made Judas look like Jesus so he could get crucified instead. With those things in mind, some argue that there really was an imposter on the cross, and there's been a massive cover up by Christians to hide this fact. In this episode we dive into the facts regarding the usefulness of the text, the dating of it, and the different problems found within it.

The “imposter on the cross” argument against the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is mainly put forward by Muslims (because their holy text, the Qur’an specifically says that it only looked like Jesus died on the cross but he didn’t actually die). This pseudo-gospel is a favorite text of theirs to try to prove the point. Jon Topping does a great job of addressing that question and more.

Gospel of Barnabas — Spotify Player

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Consider the Culture 🎨

How to Prepare for the Metaverse | Ian Harber and Patrick Miller 📃 →

Facebook (the company, not the app) recently renamed itself to “Meta.” As company head honcho Mark Zuckerburg explained, this is to match its ambitions to be the company that creates the metaverse. What is a metaverse? If you’ve ever read the book or seen the movie “Ready Player One” you know what this is. I’ve embedded a trailer of the movie below.

Ready Player One Movie Trailer

The metaverse is a concept like “the internet on steroids.” You could think of it like internet pages, but 3D virtual realms to enter, communicate, and explore. Massive software companies are already embarking on creating it.

In this article, Ian Harder and Patrick Miller think about the impact this will have on God’s people.

When Facebook debuted in 2004 and the iPhone released in 2007, we didn’t know what the future held. Fourteen years later, we know. And the church is just now catching up. We can’t catch up a decade after the metaverse reshapes culture. We must prepare disciples now, knowing the metaverse will only exacerbate the current problems created by a (believe it or not) less invasive internet.

Watch and Wonder 📽

Is Heaven Our Home? | Ian K. Smith 📽 →

What is our ultimate destination? Ian K. Smith tells us in this short video that while the Bible refers to “heaven” as our home in some instances, the theme of the Bible is that the Earth truly is our home, both now and forever.

Our goal is not to escape the Earth to get to a spiritual place. That is the ancient heresy of Gnosticism. Our goal is for the earth to be merged with the kingdom of heaven. For God’s will to be done here as it is in heaven.

Is Heaven our Home? — Ian K. Smith

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Consider Another Perspective 🤔

Rationality Rules (Stephen Woodford) vs. Simon Edwards • Do meaning, truth and love make sense without God? | Unbelievable with Justin Brierley 📽 →

This debate between an atheist (Woodford) and Christian (Edwards) explores the subjects of meaning, truth, and love. Do these qualities of the human experience make more sense in Christianity? Do they only make sense if God exists? How can an atheist find true meaning?

Both Woodford and Edwards are cordial and do a great job in this debate. I do think that Woodford is reaching for something he cannot obtain with his worldview. He's trying to make mundane meaning equivalent with transcendental meaning, but I enjoyed hearing his perspective.

Rationality Rules vs. Simon Edwards — Youtube Video

Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Mister Rogers’ Antidote to the Spirit of Party | David Baggett 📃 →

Resonating with such ideas despite his political courage, Mister Rogers, in politics as elsewhere, wanted, for the sake of the children he was reaching, to avoid alienating large portions of his audience. He wasn’t without his activist impulses, and he certainly held firm political convictions of his own. Although a lifelong registered Republican, on some issues he slanted to the right, several of his views were moderate, and some quite liberal. In this as in other areas he defied typical classifications. What animated him, though, at a very deep level was bridging divides, bringing people together, despite their differences.

In this way, although Fred had a political party affiliation, and political beliefs of his own, he avoided what George Washington referred to as the “spirit of party,” and in this way (among others) Fred’s voice remains relevant and needed today. In Washington’s Farewell Address he touched on the issue of tendentious partisanship, warning “in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party,” which in the popular form “is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly [the] worst enemy” of governments. “The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

This article is from 2019 (which feels like a lifetime ago with the intervening election), but its lessons are just as relevant today.

Strident, divisive partisanship is not political conviction alone, but something more rabid and acidic than that: an ethically bad and intellectually irresponsible ideology that both reflects and deepens cultural divides, contributes to gridlock, bolstering knee-jerk reactions to opposing views, reducing political discourse to resounding zingers, memorable mic drops, and pithy sound bites. But worse than its effects, there’s something inherently problematic about it, and this is where Mister Rogers comes in.

At its worst the spirit of party demonizes the opposition, emphasizing the downright inhumanity of ideological opponents and how worthy of disdain they are. This crosses a line that shouldn’t be crossed; dehumanizing opponents is intrinsically wrong. C. S. Lewis once wrote, “I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner…. I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”

The article will take you 15 minutes to read, but please read it. The spirit of political party will overwhelm America and the church if we do not lift ourselves up in a spirit of love and stop it within ourselves.

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Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week. I'm thankful to God Most High for each of you.

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 6:1 (CSB)

Joel Fischer