Issue #72

God Is Not a Delusion, Patriotism and the Pulpit, How Do You Read the Bible, and more...

Issue #72
Photo by Joel Muniz / Unsplash

Christianity Is True ✝️

”This House Believes That God Is Not a Delusion” Debate | William Craig, Peter Williams, Arif Ahmed, and Andrew Copson 📽 →

This is a great, easy-to-understand debate about the question of whether or not “God is a delusion,” as atheist Richard Dawkins claims in the title of his 2008 book. Bill Craig, a philosopher and theologian, and Peter Williams, a philosopher, take on two atheist scholars. The debate is interesting because of the premise: is it delusional to believe in God?

It seems like that would be a hard thing to prove, and indeed, I really don’t think that the skeptics proved their side.

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

Politics, Patriotism, and the Pulpit | John Piper 🎧 →

The question:

Pastor John, hello and thank you for this podcast! I admire your approach to politics and patriotism. You seem to be very careful here. Even when the heat is turned up in election times, and pastors feel social pressure to endorse specific candidates, you notoriously refrain from participating. As you have watched this impulse in American Christian life for many decades, this impulse among Christian leaders to periodically endorse candidates and to get involved in politics, what observations have you drawn from your decades of refraining?

And the first part of his answer:

Maybe the most important or helpful thing that I can do in response to this question is to point to passages of Scripture that capture the emphasis I think is needed, not just in the American church, but in the global church, the church around the world. Because the tendency to confuse and combine Christian identity and its earthly expression, the church, with political identity, ethnic identity, national identity, or any other earthly identity — that conflating tendency is so strong, and I think so destructive to the radical call of the gospel, that it needs steadfast resistance generation after generation.

How should we understand the relationship between Christianity and politics, not from an American Christian lens, but from a lens that takes into account Christians from all around the world.

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Family Focus 🏡

Include Children in Worship: A Simple Plan | William Boekestein 📃 →

Worship is more than singing. Our worship is our singing, our preaching, our Bible reading, our spiritual conversation. Boekestein, a pastor, makes the case that we should include our children in our family and congregational worship.

This is difficult, and you may disagree. There’s a reason that children’s programs are so prevalent in churches, and they can be helpful! If you do want to include your children in congregational worship, even some of the time, Boekestein gives us some help in how to approach it.

Church History Corner ⛪️

1 Clement: An Introduction to an Early Christian Letter | Michael Bird 📽 →

Who was Clement, and what makes his letter so important? Scholar Michael Bird tells us.

Dr. Michael Bird explains:
- How Christianity came to Rome.
- The situation behind the letter.
- The argument inside the letter.
- What we learn about early Christianity from 1 Clement.

This may sound dull, but the video is only 12 minutes long and gives us great insight into the very early history of our family: the church. It won’t take long to watch and will provide you with insight into a letter you may not have heard about from not long after the church was born.

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Challenge Your Brain 🧠

Did Jesus Need the Spirit? Pondering the Power of the God-Man | David Mathis 📃 →

How did Jesus walk on water? How did he feed five thousand with five loaves and two fish? How did he raise Lazarus from the dead?

Unless we have been carefully taught, many Christians would be quick to say simply, Because he is God! And he truly is. But is that how the New Testament answers these questions? If we follow the emphasis of the Gospels, we might say that what Jesus’s miracles show is that he is God, but how he, as man, performs these wonders, is not quite as simple as we may assume.

In particular, what are we to say about the many texts that testify to the Holy Spirit’s presence in the human life of Christ? Did Christ, in his humanity, actually need the Holy Spirit if he performed such signs simply by virtue of his divinity?

When we recognize the surprisingly recurrent theme of the divine Spirit’s relationship to the divine Son in his humanity, we might understand Jesus (and the Gospels) better, and freshly marvel at what grace Christ offers us in the gift of his Spirit.

Explore the Scriptures 📖

The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible | Michael Heiser 📚 →

I can’t entirely agree with everything in this book, but overall, I highly recommend it as a great distillation of Heiser’s views.

As Heiser explains, his views are well-known (and often accepted) among Old Testament scholars but have not made the same headway among lay Christians, perhaps because they feel unfamiliar or strange. Heiser’s views have been taken up and explained by other popular scholars, such as BibleProject’s Tim Mackie.

I really recommend reading through the book. These views can be important and make sense of many strange passages in scripture. It’s not a difficult read, but Heiser does have other books that are even easier reads—but which I have not read. Those will be linked below, and as of the time of this writing, they’re quite cheap on Kindle.

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

How Do You Read the Bible? | Tim Mackie and Jon Collins 🎧 →

Tim and John start this podcast by talking about common ways that we approach the Bible: we look at it as a reference book to get theological truths, or perhaps as a book to give us good morals, or maybe even just a devotional to read every day and get a nugget for our lives.

All of these approaches, argue Tim and Jon, are unhelpful because they’re not what God designed the Bible to be.

Reference books only impart information. Wisdom literature like the Bible is designed to form certain kinds of people through convictions that become a part of their character.

In other words, if we use the Bible like a reference book, we will learn things about God, but that’s not the point. The point is to become like Christ, but the way scripture is designed to do that is not like a devotional either.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
— Matthew 10:32–33 (CSB)

Joel Fischer