Weekly Meanderings

Here comes summer!

Carolyn Arends: “Death unaddressed is the bogeyman in the basement; it keeps us looking over our shoulders and holds us back from entering joyously into the days we are given. But death dragged out from the shadows and held up to the light of the gospel not only loses its sting, it becomes an essential reminder to wisely use the life we have.”

Michelle van Loon: “Each one of us could have used a mentor — an older, wiser woman to journey through midlife with us. Those who have had wise moms or generous older friends willing to share their experience have been handed the gift of a compass to help them navigate the upheaval of midlife. However, I learned (via an admittedly informal poll of the midlife women I know) that many of us involved in intentional mentoring relationships with younger women have never had a mentor in our own lives. If there were ever a time we needed spiritual direction, it’s during midlife.”

Christine Scheller on vocation. :mic on the Pope’s book on Jesus. Roger Olson on “Certainty Not.”

Tony takes on Marc Borg.

Karen Spears Zacharias: “That’s not to say my criticisms aren’t valid. It’s just to say I’ve mishandled all this. I should have been on my knees praying for these shepherds. It’s not easy to be a pastor, you know. My girlfriend shared how she’s learned to put in a “filter” so that when a pastor stands before her and says, “Every woman either is married or wants to be married”, she can note that such a word isn’t a word from God — it’s opinion. And not a very learned one. She doesn’t storm out the church, swearing to never return. She simply prays for her pastor. She prays for wisdom for herself. She prays for the people she serves alongside. She loves her church family. And that’s what they’ve become to her — a family. It’s hard being part of a family.” [By the way, those are tulips in that picture.]

Mike Glenn on going back to the future of leadership. It’s called wisdom. Speaking of leadership, JR Briggs on the Epic Fail Conference.

Jimmy Buffett.

Arland Hultgren asks “Why Romans?” Derek Leman on the resurrection of Jesus, beginning with its perplexity. Patrick Mitchel on Good Friday.

One of our 1st semester seniors reflects. So true.

Susan Donaldson James seeks to clarify the evangelical debate on hell.

Meanderings in the News

1. Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, under fire: “(CNN) — Greg Mortenson, the high-profile advocate of girls’ education in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been forced to defend his best-selling book “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations … One School at a Time,” against charges that key stories in it are false. Mortenson shot to international fame with the book, which describes his getting lost in an effort to climb K2, the world’s second-highest peak, being rescued by Pakistani villagers in the village of Korphe and vowing to return there to build a school for local girls. He also claims to have been captured by the Taliban and held for several days before being released. Another best selling-author, however — Jon Krakauer of “Into Thin Air” fame — told a CBS “60 Minutes” investigation that aired Sunday that the story is not true. “It’s a beautiful story, and it’s a lie,” Krakauer tells the program.”

2. Lisa Foderaro: “It is as much a college sport as football or beer pong. Whether poking soggy carrots or theorizing about the provenance of mystery meat, undergraduates have always loved to complain about their campus cafeterias. But in New York City, where health inspectors have begun requiring restaurants and some food services to post letter grades for cleanliness, students have a new reason to gripe: bad report cards.”

3. Victor Davis Hanson: “There are two, and only two, democratic states in the region: Israel and Iraq. The Obama administration has serially pressured the former and cannot refer to the latter without expressing regret or apology for the conditions that led to the present constitutional government. The message seems to be that pro-American democracies are either taken for granted or actively distrusted.”

4. Roni Caryn Rabin: “Older people suffering from mild memory and cognition problems may be less likely to progress to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease if they receive treatment for medical conditions like diabeteshigh blood pressure and cholesterol, a new study has found.”

5. Thomas Sowell on bullying: “There is a lot of talk from many people about bullying in school. The problem is that it is all talk. There is no sign that anybody is going to do anything that is likely to reduce bullying. When politicians want to do nothing and yet look like they are doing something, they appoint a blue-ribbon committee or go to the U.N. or assign some cabinet member to look into the problem and report back to the president — hoping that the issue will be forgotten by the time he reports back. When educators are going to do nothing, they express great concern and make pious public pronouncements. They may even hold conferences, write op-ed pieces, or declare a “no tolerance” policy. But they are still not going to do anything that is likely to stop bullying. In some rough schools, they can’t even stop the bullying of teachers by the hooligans in their classes, much less stop the bullying of students. Not all of this is the educators’ fault. The courts have created a legal climate where any swift and decisive action against bullies can lead to lawsuits. The net results are indecision, half-hearted gestures, and pious public pronouncements by school officials, none of which is going to stop bullies.”

6. Benedict Carey: ” Psychologists have long known that people’s instincts about how well they’ve learned a subject are often way off. The feel of a study session can be a poor reflection of its nutritional value: Concepts that seem perfectly clear become fuzzy at exam time, and those that are hard to grasp somehow click into place when it counts. In recent years, researchers have begun to clarify why this is so, and in some cases how to correct for it. The findings are especially relevant nowadays, experts say.”

7. Unemployment stats:

8. The world’s number one curmudgeon in true form: “A hereditary monarch, observed Thomas Paine, is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary doctor or mathematician. But try pointing this out when everybody is seemingly moist with excitement about the cake plans and gown schemes of the constitutional absurdity’s designated mother-to-be. You don’t seem to be uttering common sense. You sound like a Scrooge. I suppose this must be the monarchical “magic” of which we hear so much: By some mystic alchemy, the breeding imperatives for a dynasty become the stuff of romance, even “fairy tale.” The usually contemptuous words fairy tale were certainly coldly accurate about the romance quotient of the last two major royal couplings, which brought the vapid disco-princesses Diana and Sarah (I decline to call her “Fergie”) within range of demolishing the entire mystique. And, even if the current match looks a lot more wholesome and genuine, its principal function is still to restore a patina of glamour that has been all but irretrievably lost.”

9. The “changes” in Cuba: “The theme of the Sixth Party Congress in Cuba seemed clear enough: President Raul Castro opened the summit Saturday saying that a new generation of Cuban politicians was needed to secure the socialist revolution. Even former Cuban leader Fidel Castro seemed to embrace the message. “The new generation is called to rectify and change without hesitation all that must be rectified and changed,” he wrote in the state newspaper Granma. But by the time the Congress wrapped up Tuesday, new leaders were named to the Communist Party, and none of the top three positions went to anyone younger than 78, leaving the old guard in power and frustrating those Cubans eager for a political shakeup.”

10. Paul Vitello: “Afrika Owes received all the benefits a church could offer to a poor young girl in a place like Harlem: Head Start, Sunday school, gospel choir, after-school recreation, mentoring, weekend retreats and the admiration of a community of adults who came to regard her as a brilliant success-in-the-making. So when 50 members of that community, the Abyssinian Baptist Church, showed up in a criminal courtroom on Tuesday to bail out Ms. Owes, a onetime scholarship student at a prestigious prep school who was swept up in a crackdown on street gangs and is now facing serious drug and weapons charges, it was partly out of religious duty, partly to collect on an investment, they said.”

Meanderings in Sports

Sad, sad story about Lenny Dykstra.

Nick Wrenn, an English soccer fan, thinks American sports fans are wimps.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Daniel

    Man, that is really an ugly map. Unfortunately I think it will not get better any time soon. Especially with gas at $4 a gallon and we still have a month to go before Memorial Day.

    But Sunday’s coming.

  • rjs

    With a late Easter I had expected better. Are you sure summer is coming?

    Other than that … interesting stuff as usual. Tony on resurrection is good. Derek’s article in the link, and the two subsequent parts are very good as well.

    I had read Karen’s article earlier this week – thought provoking stuff.

  • Rick D

    From the article by Susan Donaldson James – “He said that “spiritual disruptions” like Bell’s reinterpretation of the Bible may be responsible for the unusual amount of global activity — earthquakes, the financial crisis and nations aligning for mass destruction.

    “I think he has departed and everyone knows it,” said Hotsenpiller. “Everyone who I have talked to within Christianity — and not the most conservative — say Rob Bell has gone off the deep end.”

    Really? Rob may be responsible for earthquakes, the financial crisis and wars?

  • Michael

    Scot,

    I read the article at ABC. Here’s my question, what’s more dangerous,

    1. Rob Bell teaching that God offers His love forever.
    or
    2. The SBC (Lifeway bookstore is tied to the SBC right?) teaching it is OK for Christians to kill enemies of the US.

    IMHO, the NT is as clear about the command to love our enemies without qualifications as much as many believe the NT is clear about God giving humanity one shot at eternal life.

    I know you have had discussions about loving our enemies before so I am not starting a discussion. We can trivialize the discussion or say it is a minor issue, but I think it is a far more serious issue than whether or not you think God is offering the Nations an opportunity to enter the eternal City after He comes and brings the New Creation in all its fullness. Jesus clearly said we must love our enemies and to love Him we must obey Him. Good Friday is (among other things) a reminder to us to stretch out our arms and love our enemies.

  • scotmcknight

    Michael,

    I’m trying to figure out how the SBC/Lifeway stories issue arises in this discussion, and then we get a Good Friday hook at the end … not clear how all this fits together.
    Yes, I agree: love your enemies is rock-bottom demand by Jesus for all his followers.
    Good Friday, in the Christian tradition, celebrates atonement and forgiveness. 1 John clearly teaches the cross reveals the costliness of love, as well, and I hope we can have both and not be forced to choose between atonement and moral theory.

  • Laura K

    Thanks for the link to the Epic Failure conference. In his post on conference resources, he links to a TEDx talk on shame and vulnerability – very nice overview for any of us who struggle with control issues and perfectionism.

  • Michael

    Sorry for the confusion. Here’s my convoluted logic…

    1. Trevor is quoted in the ABC article
    2. Trevor works for Lifeway (which will not sell Rob’s book and I think is connected to the SBC)
    3. SBC is really outspoken against Rob’s book
    4. SBC teaches it is OK for Christians to kill enemies of the US
    5. Cross is meant to save us from hell (I agree totally) and to move us to love our enemies. To deny EITHER is bad theology and is dangerous for spiritual formation and the glory of Christ.
    6. Conclusion SBC should take the plank out of their own theological eye.

  • Josh T.

    On the Tony Jones/Marcus Borg issue, Borg’s question,

    “Moreover, what would it mean to say that the risen Jesus is a physical/bodily reality? That he continues to be a molecular, protoplasmic, corpuscular being existing somewhere? Does that make any sense? How can the risen and living Jesus be all around us and with us, present everywhere, if he is bodily and physical?”

    I would answer that I think that’s part of the point of why Jesus needed to ascend to the right hand of the Father. The presence of Jesus (given that he has not lost his humanness) is only possible from that heavenly “position.” Is that not one of the reasons behind sending the Holy Spirit?

  • Josh T.

    To add to my previous comment, I think Borg misses the point of a Spirit-powered physicality, as N.T. Wright has pointed out, if he’s asking the question as such. Sure, we can’t really comprehend the concept of a glorified human body that cannot die, as such, but I don’t think that should prevent us from being able to affirm it. Mystery and Paradox, anyone?

  • Clay Knick

    Finally, something Hitchens & I agree on: the wedding silliness from across the pond. I seem to remember a revolution some years back and a victory at Yorktown, a place I’ve visited. Why are we so enthralled? :)

  • http://www.christineascheller.wordpress.com cas

    Sowell almost had me on the bullying topic, until he suggested that racial discrimination is not a factor in who gets punished. He utterly lost me there.

    However, he makes a good point about the threat of litigation. Two years working in an excellent network of public vocational high schools convinced me of two things: 1. The teaching profession is not for me because I wouldn’t do well within the bureaucratic constraints of a public school; 2. the practice of defensive education is as insidious and costly as the practice of defensive medicine.

  • Jason Lee

    Michael, I don’t doubt that it’s true (or at least that some denominational official has said so) but can you explain your basis for saying “SBC teaches it is OK for Christians to kill enemies of the US”

    I’ve not read the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message in a long time. Does it say it there. If so, that would be strong support for your claim. But if it’s just something Richard Land has said, that’s less of a strong basis.

  • Jennifer

    I liked the article about how middle aged people need mentors too, even thoguh they rarely get them.

    But I was surprised to see middle age defiend as age 65. I always thoguht middle age was roughly 45-65.

  • AHH

    Scot,

    Are you happy with the way you were quoted in the ABC article? It makes you sound like just another Evangelical who thinks Bell is 100% wrong, maybe even one of those calling him a heretic. It seems to completely miss the aspects of your blog posts that pointed out how Bell was making some good points and raising some worthwhile questions. It also misses your lament of the way some of the criticism of Bell has been overly harsh and unfair.
    Did you also include those aspects when interviewed, and the reporter chose to use only the quotes where you were saying Bell was wrong?

  • Scot McKnight

    She was trying to find perspective, AHH, on why evangelicals are so worked up about this topic. She was asking about Christian tradition …

  • Michael

    Jason #12
    This is from the Statement of Faith 2000

    “It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness. In accordance with the spirit and teachings of Christ they should do all in their power to put an end to war.”

    As you can see the SBC does not use the language I use when I say the SBC teaches it is OK to kill the enemies of the US. But don’t be fooled by the language. When they say, “”It is the duty of Christians to seek peace with all men on principles of righteousness.” They mean just war. Their seminaries teach it, their college teaches and yes, Richard Land teaches it. Of course I am talking about the conservative wing of the SBC. But they are the ones attacking Bell. I must add that I am part of the Mennonite movement, which means my perspective is shaped by one particular approach to Jesus, the Cross and discipleship and we have our theological problems.

    I think folks should critique Bell but they need to remember that we all have some weak planks in our theological edifices. For me the weak plank in the dominant SBC voice is their teaching (or lack thereof) on the radical, all encompassing command to love our enemies.

  • Jason Lee

    Michael, you’re correct. I am not trying to defend the SBC, but I do think our critiques lose force when we paint an overly simplistic picture. Better to say “SBC teaches it is OK for Christians to kill enemies of the US in the context of just war which may be more or less broadly defined by SBC members.” I have friends that have gone to an SBC seminary and their prof assigned (and lectured positively about) R. Hays’ MORAL VISION OF THE NT (which teaches pacifism). And several profs and a good number of students were exploring anabaptism. I know these are possibly isolated exceptions, but let’s not discount this diversity even in positions of leadership and teaching in the SBC.

  • Jason Lee

    Michael… another thing is that the “enemies of the US” thing is not necessarily accurate either. Many people who do not teach against military participation do so out of a belief that soldiers are serving a policing-type role in countries where a group of defenseless people are being attached by another well-armed group. I’m not saying that this makes it okay or that people (especially non-experts) can have anything approximating accurate information with which to make judgments about this. What I am saying is that the belief that war is sometimes a necessary evil may have nothing to do with “enemies of the US,” but have everything to do with killing the enemies of a defenseless group in another country.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    Scot,

    Your responses are sandwiched around quotes calling Bell “a tool of Satan”, “heretic”, casting you as a lead voice in that “firestorm” opposition in lock step agreement that Bell is advocating “everyone is saved” universalism (although I know you wrote a review chapter post where you stated the opposite).

    And the article is not clear that the “tradition” that is being espoused is only a few hundred years old — Orthodox scholars and streams in pre-Reformed thinking do not gel with the Wax quote on “2,000 years of Christian teaching”, at least from my study.

    Also, find it curious, all the angst over Bell, but nothing for N.T. Wright (not saying that Surprised by Hope states exactly the same as Bell’s more readable, accessible Love Wins, as Wright treads more carefully).

    Articles reads like here are folks who are in possession of the ultimate Bible truth and are calling Bell out for his heretical missteps, without any questioning or examination of range of interpretation or historical evolution. And you’re cast in with Hotsenpiller, Wax, and de facto assumption (from the ABC article) is that you are a unified lot.

    This article was worst than the Time magazine feature — and worst, I continue to be annoyed that the editor do not include hyperlinks to enable the reader to explore further and resolve the imbued murkiness.

    As Paul puts it, “I am convinced that neither death nor life… will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39). Death is not a barrier that prevents the saving love of God from operating, and it is the firm Christian belief in resurrection that for the first time makes salvation possible for all without restriction.

  • MatthewS

    Wonderful quote by Carolyn Arends. Worth reading and re-reading.

  • Scot McKnight

    Wow, Naum, those who are interviewed do not control the story line and do not control where in the piece their quotes will appear … I was asked some questions, I answered them just as I have here…

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    @Scot wrote: …those who are interviewed do not control the story line and do not control where in the piece their quotes will appear…

    Which is why many today shun “establishment” press interview requests and point them to a web page or Q&A so this type of misinterpretation by a reader (typical reader not versed in reading your blog posts) this does not happen…

    Seriously, read the article from perspective of average, non-knowing (not ignorant, meaning somebody not attuned to reading your blog or the other “voices” quoted) — impression would be you’re all on the same team, united in angst against Rob “tool of Satan” Bell and his “heresy”.

    I hope Bell keeps selling books at a phenomenal spurred by this “outcry” that is so puzzling to me, even more the nitpicking interspersed amongst these blog posts and here, that really miss the point. Not that I am at all in total agreement with Bell’s book — just befuddled over the sanctimonious hullabaloo over this, just like McLaren’s book last year (which I thought was “meh”, unlike Love Wins…) — and you seem eager to cast yourself as the voice of moderation…

  • Michael

    Jason,

    Points well taken. Thanks for your thoughts. My point was and still is, teaching christians that is ok not to love enemies is just as serious as teaching people there are chances to enter the eternal city after the return of Christ. I picked on the SBC (maybe unfairly) mainly because Trevor was quoted in the article Scot was quoted in and because Southern Seminary has been highly critical of Bell’s book. I would issue the same warning to all those who embrace the just war theory and are highly critical of Bell.

    Most of my thoughts of the SBC have been shaped by growing up in Tidewater Virginia. This area has the air force, the navy, the army and one of the largest shipyards in the world AND many SBC churches that are extremely, extremely pro-military.

  • scotmcknight

    Michael, and it grieves me that so many Christians and Christian leaders simply don’t think militarism and the gospel are at odds with one another.

  • Jason Lee

    Michael (23):
    Wow, I can see how growing up in such a context could cast the SBC as all enthusiastically (and uncritically) pro-military. I just think its important to keep in mind that the SBC is America’s 2nd largest religious body (after Catholicism) and that it’s still internally quite heterogeneous. Our criticisms are much more powerful (and plausible) when we accurately hone in on the issue. That said, you make a really interesting and cutting point that’s worth pondering: “teaching christians that is ok not to love enemies is just as serious as teaching people there are chances to enter the eternal city after the return of Christ.” No need to diminish your point with the overly war-happy picture of the SBC. While it’s saddening that so many Christian leaders don’t recognize the points where military violence and the gospel are at odds, it’s also worth keeping in mind that even anabaptist leaders (e.g., S. Hauerwas) allow for a limited policing role of soldiers in situations such as Rwanda or the DR Congo. These issues are complex and to my mind Christians do best when they address the complexity.

  • http://restoringsoul.blogspot.com Ann F-R

    It’s interesting to me that Michael brought up the issue of militarism in the context of Rob’s book & the ABC article where both Scot & Wax were cited. There certainly seems to be a significant correlation between those who are more pro-military & believers in hell, and on the other “side”, between those who won’t address conflict (or eschew all physical conflict &/or consequences for misbehavior) and who consider “hell” a hell of a bad dogma. (sorry :) )

    Rob actually brought this up in his promo video, although it seems he may have done so inadvertently by his framing of the hell discussion: What is God like, because millions and millions of people are taught that God sends you to hell unless you believe in Jesus. … Jesus rescues you from God. But what kind of a God do we need to be rescued from? How can God ever be trusted?”

    Salvation in Scripture has to do with the innocent, the poor, and the righteous being rescued BY God from people whose unrighteous behavior harms, oppresses, and kills other people, not FROM God, doesn’t it? The redeemer in Proverbs 23 and Jeremiah 50, for examples, is the One who rescues the innocent or the powerless from their plundering oppressors.

    The cultural-historic-contemporary metaphor of a limited or complete denial of “hell” may be one of the contributors, IMHO, of the denial & refusal to cope with bullying (the Sowell article Scot cited above) with quick & decisive consequences. What ends up happening at the level of children who bully parallels the grown-up passive-aggressive legalistic-bound adults who talk “righteous” talk and refuse to act diligently and justly to prevent, avert or bring consequences to the offenders. Might not those very consequences “save” them from ongoing unrighteous patterns which lead to their ostracism from community, and restore them to wholeness?

    Might our wont to deny hell be merely another symptom of our wont to deny human & personal sinfulness, the sinfulness of our children, and our rampant desires to rule over others?

    I agree w/ Michael & Scot that militarism, greater force, isn’t the answer to injustice. Love and justice are the answers given in Christ Jesus. We need consequences for our behavior, but we need the consequences to be set in a context of love. If we don’t receive that context from other people in our lives, we look to God and God’s community for understanding and assurance of the our value as God’s children, of God’s steadfast love for us, and of God’s just re-framing of our lives through being joined with Christ in death & resurrection so that we, too, can become loving & wise.


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