The Bible in American life

A major study has been released exploring the role of the Bible for contemporary Americans.  It’s entitled The Bible in American Life .  You can access it here.  Among its findings:  48% of Americans report reading the Bible sometime during the course of last year.  29% believe it is inerrant, with 48% believing it is inspired.  African-Americans read the Bible more than just about anybody.  And “Nones”–people who claim no religious affiliation– read it quite often, considering.

One of the most surprising findings:  the most popular and fastest-growing Bible translation by far is the King James translation.  After the jump, details about that. [Read more...]

“They’re not the enemy”

Have you noticed how Jesus fulfilled the Sermon on the Mount–turning the other cheek, returning good for evil, exemplifying each of the Beatitudes?  We don’t, but He did, on our behalf.

Now note how Pastor Douthwaite treats “love your enemies,” moving from Law to Gospel, with a bit of the Gospel-motivated Third Use of the Law. [Read more...]

Be different

We had another great sermon on Sunday.  This one was about holiness, based on the section in the Sermon on the Mount about “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-48) and Moses’ call to holiness (Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18).  I got so much out of the sermon that I’m going to devote three posts to it.  Today:  Law.  Tomorrow:  Gospel.  Next day, a really thought-provoking quotation.

In the most basic sense, Pastor Douthwaite explained, “holiness” means “set apart.”  So being holy means, on one level, simply being different. [Read more...]

Create in me a clean heart

Last Sunday, Pastor Douthwaite riffed on the hearts of Valentine’s Day and on the sins of the “heart” that the readings from Deuteronomy 30 and Matthew 5 were exposing.  Then he explored David’s prayer in Psalm 51 that God “create” in him a clean heart, tying in to the way God creates:  ex nihilo  (out of nothing) [Read more...]

What’s whiter than snow?

Here in Northern Virginia we woke up to about 12 inches of it, and it looks like there is that much still in the air coming down. And we’re supposed to get another wave tonight. It’s a snow day–one of those gifts of free time that are unplanned for so are not already booked with other kinds of busyness–so it’s peaceful, with the fireplace blazing, with my mug of coffee, as I look out the back window watching the woods fill up with snow.

I know, though, that the winter storm is wreaking havoc across much of the nation. And I dread having to shovel all of this. And I hope the power lines don’t come down.

In the meantime, I am taking consolation in this: The utter purity of snow covering up all of the dirt, dead grass, and pretty much everything is a sign of what God has done with our sins:

“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

“Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).

Since weather is one of those great topics of conversation, how are you doing where you are? Are any of you in desperate straits, in need of prayer from the rest of us?

The good wine

I was struck by something in the Epiphany scripture reading a few Sundays ago, about Christ’s first miracle, turning the water into wine.

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroomand said to him, Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:9-10).

So there is “poor wine” and “good wine,” a difference in quality.  (Also we see that those to imbibe “freely” become less able to tell the difference.)  [Read more...]


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