Hotels without Gideon Bibles

Bible_bom_hotel_rmThe Gideons do great work in distributing Bibles.  For many decades, virtually every hotel room had a Gideon Bible on the nightstand or in a drawer.  But today, less than half do.

A survey has found that only 46% of American hotel rooms include religious material.  Ten years ago, nearly three-quarters did.

Of course, what the Christian Gideons did, representatives of other religions did.  Hotels that have Bibles in the rooms often also have Books of Mormon.  I suspect that the decline of hotel Bibles has less to do with irreligion than with the abundance of religions and with hotel managers’ fear of offending against the canons of religious diversity.

Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington does have Bibles. But they come with a printed note saying that “if you want to continue your spiritual journey,” the hotel staff will give you a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, Talmud, or Quran.

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“Even if they are fools, they shall not go astray”

camino-santiago-1180770_1280More prophecies of the coming of Christ for our Advent contemplation:  Isaiah 35, yesterday’s Old Testament reading.  I give the chapter after the jump.  It’s about how God “will come and save you,” and what this will mean for “the redeemed,” those “ransomed by the Lord.”  This includes those who are weak, infirm, and “anxious.”  I take special comfort from verse 8:  “even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.”
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Red Letter Christians

bible-1136784_1920Tony Campolo and some other liberal evangelicals have started a movement they call “Red Letter Christians.”  The term comes from the convention in many editions of the Bible to print the words of Jesus in red.

Red Letter Christians believe that Christianity should be about following the words of Jesus, rather than getting involved in theological disputes, culture war issues, and right wing politics.  Rather, followers of the words of Jesus will be advocates for the poor, promote tolerance, and be “counter-cultural.”

Read the descriptions and the Value Statement from the Red Letter Christian website.  Then consider questions like these:  Do the words of Jesus support liberal politics any more than they support conservative politics?  Do the red letters in the Bible really promote all of these values?  Today, aren’t the conservatives the ones who are “counter-cultural,” with liberals following the cultural trends?  Doesn’t Jesus say some things that go against this social gospel?  What are the theological problems with lifting out the words of Jesus at the expense of the rest of the Bible? [Read more…]

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

christ-1618197_640_optAnother remarkable prophecy of Christ in the Old Testament (the study of which is a classic devotion for Advent), is Isaiah 9:1-7.  Not only do we learn that the Messiah will live in Galilee and will be the eternal Davidic King.  Verse 6 also establishes His deity and does so in Trinitarian terms:

    And his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The child who is born to us will be called “Mighty God.”

We also have an intimation of the inter-relationship and the unity of the Persons within the Trinity.  The Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, but rather all three are distinct persons within one unity. And yet here the titles and the functions of the Holy Spirit (“Wonderful Counselor”) and God the Father (“Everlasting Father”), as well as the Son (“Prince of Peace”) are all ascribed to the Son who will be given to us. [Read more…]

“They have pierced my hands and feet”

Crucifixion_Grunewald_optAs we contemplate the prophecies of Christ for Advent, we should turn to perhaps the most remarkable of them all.  In Psalm 22, we have a first person prophecy (not “he” but “I” and “my”), one which takes us into the consciousness of Christ on the Cross.

Here we have the manner of His torment (“they have pierced my hands and feet”); the bodily racking of crucifixion (“all my bones are out of joint”); His thirst (“my tongue sticks to my jaws”); the mockery (“all who see me mock me”); the taunting (“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him”); the soldiers gambling for His clothing (“they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”).  And, most wrenching, His cry of being forsaken (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

I have heard it said that Jesus here was not really feeling forsaken, that He was expressing his faith by quoting this Psalm.  But it is more likely that the Psalm is quoting Jesus.  After all, the Psalm gives not only words that can be quoted but actions that were done to Jesus.

But of course there is faith here, even in this desolation.  There are even intimations of His resurrection (“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you”). 

After the jump, read the whole Psalm.  I’ve bolded the verses that most stand out for me.

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“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”

cemetery-1138972_640_optStudying the prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament during Advent is a good exercise.  They tell us much about Him.

Consider Isaiah 53, which takes up deep into the life of Christ and unpacks the exactly what happened in His atoning death on the Cross, while also pointing to His Resurrection.

Especially striking to me is the truth it states that has strangely attracted less attention than it deserves:  Not only was He “pierced for our transgressions” and “crushed for our iniquities.”  He also “has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”

That is, God the Son took into Himself both the sins of the world and the suffering of the world, atoning for them.  Remember this the next time you feel the force of the “problem of evil” and the “problem of suffering.”

After the jump is the entire prophecy of Isaiah 53, with some verses bolded for your Advent contemplation.

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