Guilt trips vs guilt; feelings vs reality

Guilt tripWhen my youngest sister was about three, Mom needed a serving spoon at supper. So Sis jumped up to get it for her.  She grabbed a slotted spoon, and when she looked at it, she said, “Broken! I’m sorry!” and started to cry.

Cute story. I know a grown woman who left church after a sermon on how God loves everyone and commented that she had never felt so condemned in her life! Not such a cute story.

Recently I read about a poll that found that the people who most actively care about the environment are much more guilt-ridden than those who care far less.… Read the rest

The creation story and the nature of truth

Ancient of Days / by William Blake

I have spent considerable time over the years studying the creation story and reading some of the various things that have been written about it.

From atheists to faculty at certain seminaries, a few criticisms of the Genesis account turn up constantly.

(A retired preacher friend of mine, who loves referring to preacher training schools as “cemeteries,” is among many who has trouble detecting much difference between atheists and cemetery professors.)

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Luke’s introduction to his gospel: why should we trust him?

St. Luke window

St. Luke window

Is the Bible a reliable historical document? Can we trust it?

How can we know the truth of the Bible?

A careful examination of the introduction to Luke’s gospel gives us a lot to think about.

After all, he wrote it to someone asking exactly the same questions.

Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.

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Who is Jesus? Why does it matter?

Jesus Christ ministered in a corner of the Roman Empire known as Palestine. He rather explicitly claimed to be the Son of God, as well as the Son of Man described in the book of Daniel.

He offended the religious leaders of his day. They subjected him to an illegal trial and committed judicial murder by crucifixion. On the third day, as he had claimed before hand, he rose from the dead, appeared to his disciples, then ascended into heaven.

The earliest books of the New Testament describe Jesus’ life and ministry and explain his eternal significance. Before the end of the century, false teachers went around denying the entire explanation.… Read the rest

Identifying and dealing with false teachers

Besides his  epistles to churches, Paul wrote four of them to to three individuals: Philemon, Timothy, and Titus. 1 Timothy begins with a warning about false teachers. These are not just men who somehow disagreed with Paul. They taught things that could only drive a wedge between the people who believed them and the grace of God.

Sound doctrine enables righteous people to remain righteous. Righteousness does not come through anyone’s own effort. It is a gift that we can receive only by faith. The law is like a medicine to apply when the moral nature is diseased.

Some people, with no understanding of righteousness by faith, and no interest in understanding, taught that Christians can only be righteous by following every detail of the Mosaic law.… Read the rest

Faith: the real thing

“I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” — Jude 3

Isn’t it amazing how many people hold the truth in utter contempt? Plenty of people try to make the case that the Holocaust never happened, even though survivors live to this day, the sites of concentration camps still stand, and many eyewitnesses have left both written and photographic accounts of what they experienced or saw.

It’s nothing new. Other examples have occurred throughout history. In New Testament times, while people who had personal memories of Jesus and his teachings still lived, false teachers dared to offer their version of his life and ministry as an alternative.… Read the rest