SOTM: Background, Part 2 (Honor)

SOTMHonor Culture

Social scientists speaks of two kinds of culture: honor (or shame) culture and guilt culture. In the West, most nations and people have a guilt culture. That is, we expect each other to be motivated to do right based on our consciences — our internal sense of right and wrong — and we expect people to do right even when no one else is watching.

Obviously, people sometimes fail to attain to our own standards, but this is how we teach our children, and if we run into people who don’t think this way, we consider them immoral or lacking character.

When we fail to meet our own standards, we feel guilty. We think of ourselves as having violated a universal standard of right and wrong. For Christians, we try to educate our consciences to hold us to the standards we believe God imposes — in secret, in public, whatever. Hence, we live in a guilt culture.

An honor culture is different. We considered this not to long ago in a brief series beginning with this post. In an honor culture, people are governed by what others think of them. The standard is imposed, not by the individual, but by his community, his family, his clan, or even his nation. They have little concern for their own consciences. Continue reading

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SOTM: Introduction and Background, Part 1

SOTMI’m not finished with the series on 1 Corinthians — three chapters to go! — but I need to spend some time on the Sermon on the Mount, or as it’s known in the blogosphere, the SOTM.

My congregation will soon start a series on the SOTM, and I’ve been asked to teach one of the classes. I’ve got to prepare, and I prepare by blogging.

The Lesson Plan

The classes will be based on a book by Randy Harris, Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount — $9.99 in the Kindle version. The book comes with a DVD of short versions of the lessons being taught by Randy, Living Jesus: How the Greatest Sermon Ever Will Change Your Life for Good ($24.99).

I’m a big Randy Harris fan. I’ve heard him speak many times, and his lessons are always insightful and helpful. Continue reading

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Is Baptism a Work, Part 6B, Part 2

baptism of Jesus3. Does the “gospel,” as the term is used in the Gospels, include water baptism?

No. “Gospel” in the Gospels is a reference to the good news promised by the prophets of the Old Testament, and there is no mention of water baptism in the Old Testament. Continue reading

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Is Baptism a Work, Part 6B, Part 1

baptism of JesusA few days ago, I asked a series of five questions regarding baptism, urging the readers to narrow the discussion to just these five questions.

I had several reasons for doing this, one being in hopes of ending the constant drone of “My verse beats your verse” argumentation — which is a colossal waste of time and energy.

I also wanted to encourage the readers to seek answers from the text rather than their denominational heritage. I mean, when you answer that the baptism is part of the gospel because baptism is essential to salvation and the baptism is essential to salvation because it’s part of the gospel, well, you’re reasoning in circles. (And the Baptist side makes just as many circular arguments.) Continue reading

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Why Can’t We Tell Right from Wrong? Part 4 (A Tale of Two Shepherds)

Once upon a time, there was an old, very wealthy Bedouin. Well, not wealthy by American standards, perhaps, but in his world, by his own standards, quite wealthy indeed, because he lived in a world where a man is measured by the number of his sheep. And he had many sons and daughters — and many, many sheep.

He had so many sheep that one man could not watch them all, and so he called for two of his sons to come before him. He said to them, “I have many sheep, and I cannot watch them all by myself. And so I’ll give each of you a portion of my flock to tend. Keep them fed and watered, safe from wolves, and bring them back here in time for shearing season with an increase in number and in wool. Remember: while I own many things, my most precious possessions are these sheep.” Continue reading

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Merry Christmas! Hallelujah!!

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Why Can’t We Tell Right from Wrong? Part 3 (Jesus and Paul)

We need to consider a hermeneutical principle not often taught in our literature.

We often misunderstand God’s words because we misunderstand who he is.

I mean, how often have I been misunderstood by someone — someone who thought I’d said something hateful or insensitive? I always find myself responding that you would not have misunderstood me if only you knew me!

God feels the same way. Words only get us so far. Until we know God better, we’ll inevitably misunderstand him. And the same is true as we try to understand one another. Continue reading

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Why Can’t We Tell Right from Wrong? Part 2 (Fourth Avenue)

I’ve learned that when you have a serious problem, it’s best to talk about it.

And when you’ve done something very seriously wrong, it’s best to confess the sin rather than bury it and hope no one else notices. These things don’t just go away.

And the people who love you, if they really love you, will tell you exactly this.

It’s started on December 3, 2014. Wineskins obtain appropriate consents and posted a video of a preaching intern at the Fourth Avenue Church of Christ in Franklin, Tennessee on YouTube. This video was about a young woman, a student at Lipscomb University, and it was a very positive, encouraging production.

The video included interviews with her, with the pulpit minister, Patrick Mead, and showed her sharing the pulpit one Sunday morning with Patrick, fulfilling a course requirement for her to obtain her degree in ministry. And she came across as spectacularly gifted as a public speaker — indeed, as a pulpit minister. She seemed a natural. Continue reading

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Why Can’t We Tell Right from Wrong? Part 1 (Midway)

Rerun: The Fork in the Road: “The Way of UNITY between “Christian Churches” and Churches of Christ,” Midway Christian Church

[This is a rerun from 2011, and now the first of a brief series.]

I’m posting one more history lesson on the congregational infighting that led to the split of the Restoration Movement over, among other things, the instrument. The first Restoration Movement church to have an instrument is the Midway Christian Church.

This is excerpted from this longer article.

What initially caused the problem was that the singing was deplorable. Pinkerton said that the singing would, “scare even the rats from worship.” At first they met in the home of some brethren on Saturday night for practice. To get the right pitch, they used a little melodeon. Before long one of the sisters was accompanying the singing with the playing of the little instrument. The group noted how the accompaniment helped the singing, and so they decided the use of it would greatly enhance their worship services. They asked L.L. Pinkerton, their preacher, what he thought of bringing it into the assembly. His response was that he saw no problem with it. So, the next Sunday, a melodeon was brought in for worship. Continue reading

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