Category Archives: thinking

How History Plays into Bibliology and Christology.

Dr. Daniel Wallace is a Textual Criticism scholar, and has written on the issue of the reliability of the Bible, evidence in ancient manuscripts, and what all that means for us today.  I’ve been following his works for some time now, and I’m so grateful for him in helping me formulate an informed view of inerrancy, textual criticism, and theology, and how it all pertains to my life.

I like this quote because it is a call for “hands-off” evangelicals to be better informed, and realize that our book has a wealth of evidence, which reinforces the pillars of our faith.

If Christ is at the core of our beliefs, then the incarnation has to loom large in our thinking about the faith. When God became man and invaded space-time history, this served notice that we dare not treat the Bible with kid gloves. The incarnation not only invites us to examine the evidence, it requires us to do so. The fact that our religion is the only major religion in the world that is subject to historical verification is no accident: it’s part of God’s design. Jesus performed miracles and healings in specific towns, at specific times, on specific people. The Gospels don’t often speak in generalities. And Paul mentioned that 500 believers saw the risen Christ at one time, then added that most of these folks were still alive. These kinds of statements are the stuff of history; they beg the reader to investigate. Too often modern evangelicals take a hands-off attitude toward the Bible because of a prior commitment to inerrancy. But it is precisely because I ground my bibliology in Christology rather than the other way around that I cannot do that. I believe it is disrespectful to my Lord to not ask the Bible the tough questions that every thinking non-Christian is already asking it.

Dr. Daniel Wallace

You can find more information on Textual Criticism, issues about the Bible, or if you want to read 2nd or 3rd century Greek manuscripts for yourself online, you can visit his website here, at the Center for New Testament Manuscripts.

A Brief History of “Perversion”, and its Relevancy to the Boston Bombings

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Here in Turkey, I went to work one day as I usually do, only to hear from a British co-worker of mine the news of the horrific and disturbing bombings in Boston.  I remember thinking, “Oh not again!” as my stomach began to sour with grief.  Haven’t enough people had their fill of bloody violence and their appetites quenched with innocent lives, I was thinking.  Apparently not.

Many people are searching for answers.  Why did the brothers do this?  What does this mean about the future of security in America?  In the world?  People like FBI agents, Police Officers, psychologists, and the family and victims of the bombings are all searching, to name a few.  I suppose you could say whenever violence like this happens, like a lightning bolt shattering the calm of everyday life, most people who hear about such things, start to struggle for answers.

I’d like to share with you my strugglings, mainly through the historical and semantical exploration of the word, “perversion”, and its relevancy to the issues at hand.

Latin – Pervertere – “to turn the other way, to overturn”, figuratively to “subvert, corrupt, or abuse”

English – Pervert (verb) – 1300 AD “to turn someone aside from a right religious belief to a false or erroneous one”

Online Etymology Dictionary

It wasn’t until later, in the 1300’s that the word “perverse” started to carry mainly a religious tone, used to describe those who had gone astra, or those who had apostatized, or turned away in an erroneous way.  This was noted as late as 1660.  It wasn’t until 1892 that the way you used that word morphed to describe someone who has a “perversion of the sexual instinct.”

Perhaps we’ve lost our sense of the broader use of the word.  Pervert has become simply a noun, and maybe we’ve lost the sense that it can be a verb as well.  To “pervert” something.  The modern definition of being a “pervert”, is the definition most of us would be familiar with.  It’s a sexual term, to describe someone who is sexually deviant, or just twisted.

So why did I chose the word “perversion” to be the center piece of this exploration?  I like the severity of the word in describing how twisted ones actions need to be in order to earn that title.  To simply call the brothers “twisted” or even “radicalized,” just doesn’t do what is happening on a larger scale justice.  The Tsarnaev brothers were perverts, but not in the sexual use of the term.  Using the Latin definition together with the 14th century definition along with the modern adaptation to the word, we can give “perversion” a generalized umbrella definition of “the act of turning someone, something, some idea away, towards corruption, or simply towards the wrong way.”  It is a twisting of what’s true; a misconstruing of what exists.  Perversion doesn’t just happen to terrorists and dictators.  It happens at all levels of life.  Perversion is a parasite, and it can latch onto anything.  It takes sex, something beautiful between a man and a woman, and taints it with notions of selfish unedifying acts of pleasure, diminishing each other to mere objects from which “feel good” moments come.  It takes meal time, something useful to bring people together over, and turns it into a gluttony fest where food is used to quench not the stomach, but the hurting spirit.  It takes the workplace, something where honest bread-money can be won for a family, and turns it into an arena where control hungry men and women dominate others, or where simply crooked men and women use their employees for less than honorable ends.  It takes a simple family man, named Tamerlan Tsarnaev, with a wife and a daughter, which could have been a happy family, and it turns him into a tool of terror, death, and heart-break.  Perversion happened.

The tragedy in all of this, is when the one who “turns away”, becomes convinced it is the right way.  Perhaps it is the mere feeling of something “right”, that confirms this, or they have convincingly been lied to.  In the case of the Tsarnaev brothers, who knows how that slippery slope happened.  All we know is that the tool of perversion was radicalism, which really is a synonym to perversion.  Let me be clear at this point.  I’m not saying anything about a connection between radicalism and religion here.  There are radical Hindus, radical Christians, and radical aetheists.  Somewhere between birth, maybe during adolescence, maybe when he came to America, a lie entered his worldview, and perverted reality for him.  The lie altered the course of his life, it soured the good that was in him.

The state of things is simply not good.  In recent history, Colombine, 9/11, Sandy Hook, to name a few.  In history past, wars of all kinds, genocides for any reason.  Things are not well with us.  Lets be honest.

Will it always be like this?  Does it have to be like this?  Now I’d like to take our exploration into the origin of the word “perversion”.  It takes us back quite far.  My hope in reaching this far, we’ll be able see a glimpse of hope, to this violent state of affairs.

The greatest perversion that happened, is in one of the oldest books we have, the Bible.  You may already know what I’m talking about by now.  Yes, how the serpent lied to Eve, she took of the apple, gave it to Adam, and they both fell from favor in God’s sight.  Why?  Because they believed the Father of Lies, corruptor of everything, the most perverse of perverts.  The one who himself “turned away” from God first, leading all who are willing, in the way of perversion, that is, in sin.  In simplest terms, we could say, sin is living life turned away from the way God intended.

What is the hope I was talking about?  If what I’m describing is true, life seems pretty dismal.  Things are not well with us, but they will not always be this way.  Christ is coming again, and when he comes with the power of a creator that he used when time began, once again, like in Eden, earth will be heaven for those who truly know Christ.  It will be perfect.  We will be free of perverse acts that malign us, harm us, and cause us to despair in this time.  It’s hard to imagine what a world like that would be like, but that’s what I want, and that’s the hope we have in Christ.

Top 5 New Year Resolutions for Realists

Your guide to making the perfect “New Years Realist’s Resolution” list.

Lists are stupid, just improv!  Think of all the coolest people you know.  Really, do it!  Now picture them in front of a microphone on TV.  Are you picturing them?  Do they have a list in front of them?  No, they don’t, because they’re cool, and they don’t need them.  But they prepared notes ahead of time, you might say.  “Prepared” belongs in the category of other “pre-“ words like prefix, nerdy, predecessor, also nerdy, or premeditated, murder!  Just wing it…wing it all.  You’ll look cool!

Put down the pen, pick up the Oreos.  We live in a hedonistic society, therefore you are a hedonistic boy, or girl.  Face it, this is the age of self-gratification, so do what makes you “feel” good.  Ultimately it will make you happier, right?  Stop causing yourself needless pain by thinking about the gym, or jotting other “helpful” resolutions down, and just go for the classic; Oreos.

You owe it to yourself to be honest with everyone.  That’s right, be honest….brutally honest.  Want to know why you keep shrinking from the world in your apartment or your parents basement every year, you haven’t cracked your shell yet.  You’re scared of what people will think of you, so go ahead and say it, “You look fat, Mom…sorry!”, or “go ahead, keep gawking at that girl you jerk, you know what, actually go MARRY her, it’s not like you didn’t just think about it,” kind of stuff, and when they give you that “look”, just think “water off a ducks back”.

Hop on the bandwagon, for the ride.  Let’s be honest here, bandwagons are just one thing…trendy.  People hop on bandwagons to be trendy.  When two trendy people meet in the street, they almost always have a “yeah, I see you, do you see me?  Yeah, were trendy, let’s keep walking past each other coolly but trendily,” kind of moment.  Though I don’t recommend partaking in any of the hipster trends, the movement has one redeeming trend; their gaudy framed eyeglasses.  Nothing says, “I’m trying something different,” than those thickly framed glasses (black ones are the best).  The tree-hugging bandwagon is kind of fun, but with those people remember that a bandwagon experience should be short-lived.  They’re oh so welcoming, but that’s not a cigarette they’re offering you.  Also, if you’re stressed, why not try some stress-relieving shouting at some political rally, or better yet, join a “human rights” group and partake in some demonstrations.  The key in all of this, the more participatory you are, the more you yell, the more you act like those crazy Arab Spring people, the more fulfilled you’ll feel (this point ties back to number 2, being hedonistic).

Finally, remember you are a realist.  Nobody can take that from you, ever.  You see past all the commercialization of everything, you see past peoples flatteries, you are a no fluff person.  Meat and potatoes!  So this next year, just be yourself.  Do what is you!

This is going to hurt!

This is mostly a reflection on myself, but you are welcome to do the same thing.  Do this with me…

Picture yourself at a grocery line waiting to check out.  You want to go home bad, your mind is set on your kids, your homework, or whatever.  You get to the cashier and as your checking out she goes, “Would you like to donate a dollar to the childrens fund today sir?”

“HOLD THE BRAKES!!  I’m here to buy food, give YOU money, and now your asking for more?  Should I?  No, I didn’t plan on it.  I don’t just whimsically give money away……dang, I feel guilty.  She’s just standing there waiting on me…people are looking at me.  Am I horrible to say no?  Will others give money?  Absolutely yes… I mean I’m not rich.”

Isn’t that what we do?  Why?  Because our natural tendency is to hold TIGHTLY to money.  It’s sometimes the closest  thing to our hearts.  We worked hard for that money!

Now do this.  She asked you for a dollar right (they usually do, cashiers, peddlers, salvation army personnel, etc)?  How many dollars do you make in one year?  20,000?  30,000?  40,000?  How many cafe latte’s do you purchase each year?

I’m just saying!  In a season of giving, how much are you really giving?  Plan to give!  Be expectant to have opportunities to give.

Perhaps instead of reacting by giving what is asked, a better question should be, “How much do you need?”

PS – I owe much thanks to my Pastor Thaddeus Searcy, for forcing me to reflect on giving from the heart – God is still growing me in this area.

Two hearts crashed today

The line was long, but I knew the wait was worth it for the Mexican food awaiting me at the end of the line.  As I waited, I noticed a projection on a wall across from me.  It had cigarettes, pencils, sticks, and different types of food to depict letters.  It was really distracting, as there wasn’t a real message as certain parts of a letter were left out in a phrase, all while letters and shapes were constantly being exchanged out for other letters.  Below it said, “Throw down your ideas, text 989-555-1234”.  Cool, something to do while I’m line, so I took out my handy-dandy smart phone and texted the sentence “I wonder what will happen” to the number.  What happened next, was far more distracting than the randomn letters being tossed here and there.

As if right on queue, a man and a woman, ran towards each other out of nowhere and held each other tight in a desperate hug.  My mind was still thinking that I actuated this by my text, so I began to take out the phone again to take a picture.  As soon as the thought appeared, it vanished in a sea of sympathy.  I saw her persed lips, and her agonized eye lids as she momentarily released him from their mutual clasp, and I caught some words from her mouth, though insufficient she said, “I was wondering why…”.  I couldn’t accurately deduce what was going on but I was swept into it, whatever was happening.  After she said those words, she tucked her chin intimately into the seat of her lovers neck, just above his shoulder.  He lifted his head slightly to say something into her ear, and it must have been restorative, forgiving, but whatever it was, it was loving.  When he began uttering what he said, she hugged harder, and her back began quivering from tears and sobs.

I momentarily looked to see how far into the line I had gone, to only look back for the couple and find them gone.  I’m glad I didn’t pull out my phone for a pic; no, that was a holy moment.  Two hearts crashing.  They were bursting into pieces over each other in loving restoration.

This made me think of the best feeling I can think of; relief!  It so wonderful to have pressure released, to have pain taken away, to have worry banished from your mind, to have grief eclipsed by joy.  What a beautiful thing to have conflict covered by words of restoration and forgiveness.

Theology Fail! Early church heresies and their relevancy for today.

Next time you sit down with your chicken bones, horoscopes, notepad and crystal ball and try to think up the next new coolest cult in your assailment of Christianity, just know, its probably already been thought of before.  The first 500 years, we see most of Christianity’s main heresy’s emerge.  Even before Paul died, there were plenty of misunderstandings to clarify.  Much of his epistles were correcting epistles, they were doing something a little off, and need some loving correction, and sometimes a rebuke.

All it takes is to erroneously change your course by a couple of degrees initially in the first few feet of a journey, and miles later you will be way off course.  Such is a way in which most heresies come about.  Its not Joey came home one day with a toad, and was like “I found God!”  But in very small measures, they deviate from the way.

Early church heresies are important for us today, because they are still the same questions many people wrestle through today.  How can Jesus be totally man and totally God?  Was Jesus really born of a virgin?  If he was born, doesn’t that make him created (and therefore not fully God)?  Why does Jesus have to be deity, and not just a teacher?

Find a great website explaining the first heresies here.  Great website explaining them.

I also encourage you, if you find this interesting, to go as deep as you can.  In learning what the heresies were, you’ll find how the church responded to such heresies to be a way to strengthen your walk with Christ.