Weekly Meanderings, March 23, 2013

Vote for me at The American Jesus.

Carl Ruby: “G.K. Chesterton, a gifted English writer who died in 1936 observed, “We do not need to get good laws to restrain bad people. We need to get good people to restrain us from bad laws.” Chesterton’s statement is at least partially true of today’s debate over immigration reform. While I would contend that laws to protect us from criminals and felons are necessary, I think it is also true that this is the time for good people (of all political persuasions) to take a close look at the bad laws and policies that comprise our current broken immigration system.”

Andy Stanley gets it right: “Believers should remove every obstacle that hinders or distracts from the central question, “Who is Jesus?” said Stanley, adding that a scripture verse he hangs in his office is Acts 15:19: “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”

Thom Rainer on eight questions by pastors about money.

Rachel Held Evans interviews Boz Tchvidjian on child abuse: “This afternoon, I am pleased to feature an interview with Basyle ‘Boz’ Tchividjian, a founding member and Executive Director of G.R.A.C.E (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). Born in Vevey, Switzerland, Boz grew up in south Florida, where he served as Assistant State Attorney, Seventh Judicial Circuit (1994-2001). While in that position, he was chief Prosecutor, Sexual Crimes Division, where he gained much experience in cases involving sexual abuse and harassment. In 2003, Boz helped found G.R.A.C.E. to educate and equip the faith community to correctly respond to sexual abuse disclosures, while also providing practical guidance to churches on how to protect children. G.R.A.C.E provides confidential consultations to churches, schools, & other organizations which are struggling with issues involving sexual abuse. Boz and his family live near Lynchburg, Virginia where he serves as a law professor at Liberty University School of Law. He is blessed to be a grandson of Dr. Billy Graham and recently published his first book entitled, Invitation – Billy Graham and the Lives God Touched. I tried to incorporate some of your questions from the comment section into the interview. I hope you learn as much from Boz as I did. Please consider passing this along to the leadership of your church to ensure they are doing everything in their power to prevent and report abuse.

Tim Keller on the value of doctrine: “In short, the world tells you to get peace by not thinking too hard; Christianity tells you that you get peace by thinking very hard—learning, grasping, rejoicing, and resting in the truths of the Word of God. So learn biblical doctrine—for your health.”

Dan Wallace on the “new” New Testament: “Just released from the giant publishing firm, Houghton Miflin Harcourt: A New New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts, edited by Hal Taussig. The advertisement from HMH distributed widely via email last week was not shy in its claims for the 600-page volume. The subject line read, “It is time for a new New Testament.” In the email blast are strong endorsements by Marcus Borg, Karen King, and Barbara Brown Taylor. Borg and King, like Taussig, were members of the Jesus Seminar (a group headed up by the late Robert W. Funk, which determined which words and deeds of Jesus recorded in the Gospels were authentic). King and Taylor are on the Council for A New New Testament. All of them share a viewpoint which seems to be decidedly outside that of the historic Christian faith, regardless of whether it is Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant.”

Kevin DeYoung’s good advice for pastors: don’t be afraid to ask for prayer: “Every Christian needs the care and compassion of the body of Christ. Pastors knows this better than anyone. But we can be slow to accept it for ourselves. Obviously, I’m not suggesting we embrace a martyr’s complex or take advantage of our people’s kindness. But there is something deeply biblical, fundamentally wise, and particularly powerful about the shepherd acknowledging he is first of all a sheep. Pastors are real people-real fallen, hurting, human beings-and we need the church like everyone else. When my elder suggested I ask the congregation to pray for me, he argued that a church learns to truly love her pastor by praying for him, comforting him, seeing him in need, and exercising their pent up desire to minister to him as he has ministered to them. If we aren’t careful as pastors, we can fall into the bad habit of thinking we must always be Christ to others and no one can ever be Christ to us. We get comfortable as the grace-dispensers, without recognizing our greater need to be grace-receivers. Such an attitude has the appearance of humility, but is actually the hardening of pride.”

Ed goes to the mat about radical discipleship.

Regenerate church membership among Baptists growing: “A commitment to a regenerate church membership organized around a written covenant also characterized most Baptist churches in America, especially by the turn of the eighteenth century. Though early on most churches adopted their own unique covenants, after the publication of J. Newton Brown’s Baptist Church Manual in 1853 (still in print today), the model covenant he included in his influential volume became the most widely used covenant among Baptist churches in America. This is the church covenant that Broadman Press reproduced in poster or plaque form that still adorns the sanctuaries and fellowship halls of thousands of Southern Baptist churches. Unfortunately, the very ease of adopting Brown’s standard covenant contributed to the downplaying of a covenantal ecclesiology among two or three generations of Southern Baptists.”

Meanderings in the News

On microsavings, Ylan Q. Mui: “The moral of Ligua’s story, told to a nonprofit group working with her bank, seems simple enough: Saving money, even if it’s only pennies at a time, is a guaranteed way to build wealth. But that idea is upending decades of popular wisdom about poverty and the best way to eradicate it. The “microsavings” concept is taking root in developing countries where nonprofit groups and financial institutions in the past preached that credit was the key to attaining a better life. But as impoverished borrowers began defaulting on debts at alarming rates in recent years — sometimes with fatal consequences — many organizations began questioning the power of credit. That led to some industry soul-searching and to the rediscovery of perhaps the most basic and universal instrument of personal finance: the piggy bank.”

A tip for iOS keyboard: “When you’re tapping away on the keyboard on your iPhone, there are bound to be times when you miss the right key. It happens, right? So, the options are to tap the delete button, and deal with all the auto-correct stuff, or just do this one little thing and make it all better. Instead of lifting your finger when you mis-hit a keyboard character, simply keep your thumb or finger down and slide it over to the character you *meant* to hit. For example, if you tap on the Y button instead of the T, hold your finger down and slide it over to the T. When you release, iOS will type a T. Cool, right?”

Bad at customer service, here’s the list.

Yellowstone Natl Park local activism: “Small communities around Yellowstone National Park are raising almost $200,000 in private donations to do what the park cannot this year because of budget cuts: Open on time for spring visitors. Businesses and local residents in Cody and Jackson, Wy., small towns that rely on spending by park visitors for their survival, have donated close to $170,000 to have the high mountain roads at two park entrances plowed.”

This would be super cool, though neither Kris nor I have broken an iPhone from dropping one.

Doctors praying for patients: “The story of the professor makes me wonder whether a similar sort of imbalance is affecting the way physicians discuss spirituality with their patients. Most physicians are so afraid of this topic that they avoid it, worrying that asking patients about their spiritual beliefs will cross an ethical line. Indeed, a group of bioethicists and palliative care specialists led by UCSF Professor Bernie Lo have written that physicians should avoid asking patients to pray with them.”Because physicians hold considerable power over them, it may be difficult for patients to decline a physician’s invitation to pray.” They list another reason doctors should be hesitant to invite such prayer sessions: “Physicians generally lack expertise in leading prayer, particularly if they do have not have chaplaincy training or formal religious training.”

Lifelong learning: “For the first twenty-two years or so of our lives, our main “job” is learning. The bulk of our time is spent in classrooms acquiring new knowledge. And then, once we graduate, we feel like the education phase of our lives is done and now it’s time to go out into the world. Have you ever thought about how odd that idea is? That only a quarter of our lives should be devoted to learning, and then we should simply rest on our laurels for the remaining three-quarters of it? It’s an erroneous idea – but one many have absorbed, at least subconsciously. But school need not be your exclusive provider of learning. Just because you’ve finished your formal education, doesn’t mean that your education is over! Many, perhaps most, of history’s greatest men were autodidacts – those who devote themselves to self-education, either in addition to or as a substitute to formal schooling. A fantastic example of this is author Louis L’Amour. L’Amour was one of America’s most prolific and manliest fiction writers. During his career he cranked out over 120 dime Western novels as well as several collections of short stories and poems. What makes Louis L’Amour’s story all the more remarkable is that he was almost entirely self-taught.”

Children and screen time.

Sports in the News

Move Wrigley to Rosemont?Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens on Monday offered the Chicago Cubs a new home in the tiny suburb of roughly 4,000 residents, if the team’s negotiations with Chicago fall through. Stephens is offering up roughly 25 acres of village-owned property off the Tri-State Tollway and Balmoral Avenue where the Cubs could build a new ballpark to mirror the 99-year-old Wrigley Field, as well as parking and other facilities.”

Theo: “The boy grew up in a family of writers. His grandfather and great uncle wrote “Casablanca.” His father wrote novels and taught creative writing. His sister would someday write television scripts. The boy did a little writing himself, but it did not grip him. He often felt like he was drifting, like he did not really know himself. But the boy was smart. He went to Yale. He went to law school. And he went to work for a baseball team in San Diego….Yes, Theo Epstein is trying to save the world again. Before it was the Red Sox with their curse of the Bambino. Now it’s the Cubs with their Curse of the Billy Goat. Before it was an 86-year World Series drought. Now it’s a 105-year World Series drought. The man, it seems, cannot help himself.”

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.

  • http://firstbaptistnewark.com Mark Farmer

    The interesting thing about the Tim Keller quote on doctrine is that for it to work, you have to avoid hard thinking about how the Bible came to be in the first place, and about your own hermeneutical subjectivity. You must pretend that Christian Smith’s The Bible Made Impossible had never been written, nor anything by Peter Enns, Dale Allison, etc. Keller’s claim that those of us who see in doctrine a danger to healthy relationships are thinking less rigorously than he is a fairly arrogant assumption. In my experience, the harder I thought, the less I could in good conscience embrace what Tim Keller stands for.

  • Joe Canner

    Impressive, Scot: you beat out The Next Pope! I’d never heard of Mark Sandlin before today; what do I need to know about him that will help me decide who to vote for?

  • Phillip

    Matthew Anderson responds to Cyzewski and others about his CT piece on “radical discipleship” here: http://www.mereorthodoxy.com/a-few-thoughts-on-the-new-radicals-and-christianity-today/

  • Patrick

    The link to the article by Carl Ruby keeps pulling up a “content currently unavailable” screen on facebook (probably privacy settings on his note)… Is the article available anywhere else for those who aren’t facebook friends w/ Dr. Ruby?

  • Larry Barber

    Scot, the “man vs. woman” link above is a 404.

  • Rick

    Andy Stanley is right on, although some are concerned about what that exactly looks like, as the Internet Monk site wrote about last week.

    Keller is right on.

    As is Dan Wallace.

    Good thought from DeYoung.

  • Scot McKnight

    Sorry about Ruby’s piece. I thought it was public.


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