Issue #45

Valuing Singleness, Confessing Evangelicals, the Gospel and Fake News, and more...

Issue #45
Photo by Tom Rumble / Unsplash

Bible Study: Hebrews Part 8 (2:5–9) — The Son becomes Human

In this section of scripture, we move to new theology. Hebrews 1 focused on the unique Son who is greater than the other sons of God, also known as angels. In Chapter 2:1–4, the author takes a break to emphasize that because Jesus is greater than angels, we should receive the salvation that Jesus offers as greater than the salvation/covenant put into place through Angels at Mt. Sinai.

Now the author moves his argument forward. Not only is Jesus the unique Son of God, greater than other spiritual beings, but he is the ultimate human who fulfilled everything humanity was supposed to be in Genesis 1.

Video: The Son Becomes Human (Hebrews 2:5–9), Podcast version available:

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Consider the Culture 🎨

The Case for Not Treating NFTs as a Scam | Stephen McCaskell and Patrick Miller 📃→

“Why would I buy a jpeg I can copy and paste for free?”

That is how most conversations about NFTs (non-fungible tokens) begin. And it makes perfect sense. People are purchasing NBA clips for thousands of dollars—which can be streamed without cost on YouTube.

This was my first reaction as well. If you've been wondering what the whole Web3 / NFT phenomenon is about, this article is a good place to start. Miller and McCaskell start with the premise that the church's lack of effort to understand the internet in the 1990s and early 2000s—and social media a decade later—left parishioners with a lack of ability to apply Biblical wisdom to their socially seismic shifts.

McCaskell and Miller explain what NFTs are and why they are important, including some future applications that don't exist yet, but may in the future. They also point to some dangers and how the church could apply these new technologies. Their ultimate outlook on these new technologies is hopeful and positive, and I recommend their article.

I do, however, think they miss one very large and important point: the environmental impact. The amount of energy that is used to create a digital signature (the core of the NFT that makes it unique) is not light. The amount of energy varies with the chain of trust used to verify its authenticity, but for one of the largest verifiers, creating one NFT requires the equivalent energy of one U.S. household for 1.5 days. And that number will continue to grow with each new NFT created. As good stewards of the world entrusted to humanity, we should beware the hidden environmental impact of this new technology.

Christianity Is True ✝️

Doctrine of Christ Part 43: The Work of Christ (36) - Resurrection Hypotheses | Defenders with Dr. William Lane Craig 📽 →

In this iteration of Dr. Craig’s outstanding Defenders theology class, Dr. Craig tackles several naturalistic (i.e. not supernatural) theories of what happened to Jesus’ dead body. What are the strengths, what are the weaknesses, and does any other theory have legs?

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Consider Another Perspective 🤔

Neither Progressive nor Conservative: The Politics of a Confessing Evangelical | Steve Bryan 📃 →

As opposed to the lightly churched, mostly white social group/voting bloc that recently emerged in American politics, confessional evangelicalism is a multiethnic global movement that has its roots in the historic confessions of the Protestant Reformation. These distillations of “the faith once received” were crafted in response to a perception that the Roman Catholic Church had drifted from biblical norms. As such, they give expression to the principle of semper reformanda—the church must be “always reforming” or, perhaps better, “always being reformed.” Those deep roots in historical Christianity distinguish confessing evangelicals from their political counterparts, many of whom adopted the label “evangelical” following the 2016 election.

Although the pursuit of “reform” is often central to a progressivist agenda, the Protestant reformers had something quite different in mind. The reform they sought was neither change to bring the church into conformity with shifting social mores, nor change that tracked with progress along a perceived upward arc of history. The reformers were quite prepared to pursue reforms that placed them at odds with prevailing opinion. They held that the church must continually subject itself to the scrutiny of Scripture because, in the words of an old hymn, we are by nature “prone to wander.”

In the political realm, this incessant desire for reform sometimes aligns confessing evangelicals with objectives identified as “progressive.” If they are faithful, though, they will almost always pursue the aims they share with progressives for different reasons. At minimum, they will not regard the achievement of reforms they’ve pursued as voguish “progress”—least of all progress toward a “utopia” of radical freedom in which individuals create their own meaning and project it onto the world. Rather, they will see reform as a return to faithfulness, as a recovery of something important that has been lost, or as repentance for failing to hold fast to the truth.

This commitment to semper reformanda is also why, in some contexts, confessing evangelicals tend to identify as political conservatives. Like conservatives, confessing evangelicals believe there is something from the past that must be conserved. Like conservatives, they regard received wisdom as a more reliable guide to the good and the true than the latest “findings” of sociologists and unnamed “experts,” or the current sensibilities of the cultural elite.

The biggest shift of the next ten years among conservative churches will be into two groups. There will be those who tightly couple a populist/right-wing political identity with their conservative Christian faith, and there will be those who subordinate politics to their conservative Christian faith in a way that will be perplexing to the first group. There will also be those who simply shift both their politics and theology in a progressive way.

If this ministry helps you, please know that while we offer it for free, it is not free to run. If you are financially able and you would like to support us, you can purchase products through our store, join our membership program, or give a one-time donation. Visit the Supporting Us page to find out more about these options.

This is completely optional, and everything that is currently free will continue to be free. Thank you for reading The Garden Weekly.

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

Impatience Is a War for Control: How God Prepares Us to Wait | Marshall Segal 📃 →

I usually reach for tired. If only I got enough sleep and enough quiet time to myself, I often think (or even say), then I wouldn’t be so impatient. I’m a patient person who gets impatient when I’m tired. Can you hear yourself arguing that way? No, the truth is that I’m an impatient person whose impatience often crawls out of hiding when I’m exhausted. Weariness never makes any of us sin; weariness, and other pressures like it, only bring our sin to the surface (Matthew 15:11).

So where does impatience come from? At bottom, impatience grows out of our unwillingness to trust and submit to God’s timing for our lives.

If you’re in a place of waiting for your life, take 10 minutes to read this article. The core of Segal’s argument is that impatience is a symptom of pride. We need humility to wait on the Lord with patience.

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Listen and Learn 🎧

You Are Not Your Own (with Alan Noble) | Think Biblically Podcast with Sean McDowell and Scott Rae 🎧 →

What is the fundamental problem at the core of modern society? According to Alan Noble, it is a faulty view of what it means to be human. This dehumanization in modern society leads to stress, loneliness, and often despair. In this episode, Sean and Scott interview Dr. Noble to understand his diagnosis of modern society and learn how a biblical view of humanity can set us free.

Individualism is like a stone atop a hill that was pushed hundreds of years ago and now has gained so much momentum that it seems impossible to stop. To take another metaphor, individualism is so deeply ingrained into culture, especially American culture, that it is like the air we breathe. We can’t imagine any culture without it. But is that how the Bible views us?

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Explore the Scriptures 📖

What Did John Mean When He Called Jesus the “Word”? (John 1) | James M. Hamilton Jr. 📃 →

The opening to the gospel of John is one of the most complex and unfamiliar, yet important passages of scripture.

Not until 1:14 is it specified that the Word is Jesus, as John writes, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In verse 1 John had articulated the divinity and eternality of the Word, as well as his distinguishability from the Father, and now he communicates the profundity of the incarnation. The Word became flesh. God became man. Jesus did not cease to be the Word when he became flesh. The phrase “dwelt among us” could just as well be rendered “tabernacled among us.”

In the Son we have a perfect revelation of the Father. Would you give something so precious to people like us? Would you be as generous as God is in giving so much to those who deserve so little? Those who deserve wrath? God has given the light. The light has come into the world. The darkness will neither comprehend nor overcome that light: it killed him but could not keep him dead. How are you responding to the light?

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

The Gospel and Fake News with Love Thy Neighborhood (Jesse Eubanks) | The Holy Post with Skye Jethani 🎧 →

A recent survey found that 49 percent of pastors reported conspiracy theories were spreading within their congregations. This is especially prevalent within evangelical communities. Although evangelicals are supposed to be known as people of the “good news”—which is what the word “evangelical” literally means—in many places they’ve become the largest consumers and spreaders of “fake news.” In this special episode co-produced with the Love Thy Neighborhood podcast, Skye Jethani and Jesse Eubanks take a closer look at the origins and impact of fake news. How we should define what’s “fake”, why it’s become such a problem, and what can Christians do about it.

This podcast was just excellent. All-around excellent. Jethani and Eubanks break down the rise of fake news, such as the Q conspiracy theory, how it has impacted the church (especially conservative American churches), and where we can go from here. It’s just over 45 minutes, but it moves quickly. I highly recommend you take the time to listen.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

“No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
— Matthew 6:24 (CSB)

Joel Fischer