Ministry Ideas: Floresta, Part 4 (The Prosperity Gospel)

jesus-washing-footIt’s become quite the fashion to dismiss the so-called “prosperity gospel.” And I agree, if by “prosperity gospel” we mean the notion that by virtue of being a Christian God will reign wealth down on us. I don’t believe that.

In fact, I remember years ago making a donation to brothers and sisters in Christ in Ethiopia who were starving due to drought. Good Christians. Starvation. I’m not willing to pretend that their problem was a lack of prayer or faith. Indeed, the scriptures plainly teach —

(Rom 5:3-4)  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

The scriptures expect that Christian will endure suffering.

And the scriptures speak of the blessings of poverty —

(Luke 6:20)  Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

(James 2:5)  Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

The wealth promised the poor is faith and the kingdom.

Now, yes, God does sometime shower wealth down upon his children, but there’s no such promise to be found in the scriptures — and building a theology on the pursuit of wealth is very wrong indeed. Continue reading

Fun with Bible Translations

With the recent controversy over the NIV and TNIV translations (if you don’t know, don’t ask), Scot McKnight decided to match translations to types of Christians.

NRSV for liberals and Shane Claiborne lovers;
ESV for Reformed complementarian Baptists;
HCSB for LifeWay store buying Southern Baptists;
NIV for complementarian evangelicals;
TNIV for egalitarians;
NASB for those who want straight Bible, forget the English;
NLT for generic brand evangelicals;
Amplified for folks who have no idea what translation is but know that if you try enough words one of them will hit pay dirt;
NKJV and KJV for Byzantine manuscript-tree huggers;
The Message for evangelicals looking for a breath of fresh air and seeker sensitive, never-read-a-commentary evangelists who find Peterson’s prose so catchy.

What about the —

ASV (19th Century American Standard Version still used in some Churches of Christ)?

RSV?

The Living Bible?

The NETBible?

Phillips translation?

Others?

Neo-Calvinism: Conclusions, Part 1

There’s a lot of material on the Internet about neo-Calvinism, much of it quite good. And we could go on for months talking about it. But it’s time to come to some conclusions.

You don’t have to be a Calvinist to agree with most of neo-Calvinism.

That’s me. In fact, it seems to me that neo-Calvinism fits more comfortably in a non-Calvinistic theology. You see, Calvinism presents a God who predestines most of the world to damnation, and neo-Calvinism presents a God who provides a good Creation and common grace to all people because he loves them and wants what’s best for them. I have trouble reconciling those two Gods.

Narrative theology is essential to a proper understanding of the Bible.

We covered the basics of narrative theology back in the Blue Parakeet series. Let me explain it a bit differently here. Those of us who grew up in the Churches of Christ were taught a dispensational theory of the Bible. God dealt with mankind in different ways, by different rules, at different times. Therefore, we were taught, the Old Testament has been repealed and we are “New Testament Christians.”

The Old Testament, therefore, has great stories that are good for children’s stories, and has valuable prophecies of the Messiah, but is otherwise a dead letter. We even have preachers who argue over whether the ministry of Jesus was part of the Mosaic or Christian dispensation and so whether the Gospels should be treated much the same as the works of Old Testament prophets.

However, while there certainly are differences between the times, this approach has hidden much more important commonalities — themes that run throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, leaving us woefully ignorant of the Old Testament and therefore clueless about much of the New Testament. Continue reading

Sex, the Church, and Miss California: Law vs. Story, Part 2

meatcutsWhat the story says about marriage

And so, what does this story tell us about marriage? Well, everything.

(1 Cor 6:13-20)  “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”–but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!

16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

In Corinth, the many pagan temples had priestesses who worshiped fertility gods through sex with those who came to worship. And it was a port city. Prostitution was not only common, it was accepted. It was how life was. Continue reading