my 5 “best” blogs of 2014 that, as far as we know (who’s to say, really?) will likely change the world

And by “best” I mean most page views. I think some others deserve to be on this list, but readers found them less interesting–probably because they were logical, balanced, well-argued, not sarcastic or satirical, and showed no frontal nudity whatsoever.

These are listed in chronological order.

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham: giving credibility to nonsense (or, walking into an apologetic war machine)

Nye seems to think he is walking into a debate of some sort over science, and that presenting the data will, if not prove victorious, at least put a dent into Ham’s armor. It won’t. Nye is strolling into a well-tuned, battle-tested, apologetic war machine. Nye and Ham won’t even be able to agree on what the data are, what science is, and what it means to interpret evidence. Ham will make sure of that. This is a debate over world views, and they get nasty quickly and go nowhere.

now that I’ve actually seen the movie, 16 random, non-spoiler, thoughts on “Noah”

Here is my elevator pitch: Noah re-presents the biblical story as a complex parable of how human violence (individually and socially/tribally) feeds off of bad ways of thinking about God, and how God can truly be found when we act on mercy, justice, repentance, and forgiveness.

Tullian Tchividjian, The Gospel Coalition, and a (rather obvious) theology problem

…the resurgence of Reformed theology in American evangelicalism and fundamentalism–commonly referred to as the Neo-Reformed movement–is a belligerent movement. This is why it exists–to correct others, not to turn the spotlight inward. There are exceptions within, of course, and I am by no means suggesting everyone who sees him or herself as part of this movement exhibits this tendency. But the “system” is set up to fight. It’s what they do. So don’t be shocked, Tullian, if it happens to you. Yesterday’s heroes can quickly become tomorrow’s vanquished foes. When “contending for the gospel” is your center of gravity, there’s always a foe. There has to be.

12 Ways Some Evangelical Leaders Avoid Dealing with Real Problems in the Bible: A Response (of sorts) to Christianity Today

….Wilson’s review is symptomatic of a larger problem: how a movement’s intellectual leaders, while appearing to do otherwise, manage to avoid engaging in a much-needed dialogue over well-known problems in scripture that keep coming up and aren’t going away. Specifically, I have observed over the years that, when conservative evangelicals defend the Bible against perceived attacks, they enlist into service a number of stock responses and deflective rhetorical strategies….

Exodus: Gods and Kings–unless you’re a biased blasphemer, the movie is utterly historically plausible

Frankly, the evidence that Exodus: Gods and Kings is at least historically plausible and possible, if not historically accurate, is overwhelming. Perhaps there is some embellishment–like Wagner or Celtic music (couldn’t tell) playing in the background during the Red Sea scene, or Moses sending a warning message to Rameses written not only in blood on the side of a horse but in Hebrew in the 13th c. BCE, or John Turturro making a remotely plausible Pharaoh Seti, or Jesse Pinkman playing a Charlie Mansonesque Joshua, or Moses finding let alone marrying a Midianite woman who clearly is a swimsuit model on the side, or Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley? seriously?

And because I can’t help myself, here are 4 “honorable mentions” that I’d like to mention with all due honor.

a long lost letter back to Paul from the Jewish Christians at Rome that I totally made up

Dear Paul, We read your letter with great interest, and it sparked no little amount of commotion among your fellow Jews. Have you lost your mind?….Paul, we cannot stress this enough: you can’t just pick and choose what parts of scripture you think are worth holding on to.  After all, if everyone did that, there’d be chaos. And where does it end, Paul? Once you start denying one part of scripture, there is no logical reason not to deny anything else. And then what happens to the authority of scripture?

“aha” moments: biblical scholars tell their stories (1): me

The purpose of this series, more than anything, is to encourage followers of Jesus who are on similar journeys–those who are finding that how they were taught to think about the Bible does not have adequate explanatory power for engaging the Bible as they now read it. You’re not alone. And it’s all good.

St. Nicholas: what can I say, he was a beast

OK, I’m exaggerating and “totally misunderstanding Samuel L. Jackson” (to anticipate some humorless comments). But, my point still stands. For “Jolly Old St. Nick” to have pulled off things like standing between a slave owner and his property, or an executioner and his victim, or go about unkidnaping a boy, he was probably a very brave man indeed with better things on his mind than making sure nice children get an X-Box or an iPad 3.

10 Old Testament passages that shape how I think about God

10. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). This about sums it all up for me. Knowledge alone is overrated. To trust God, despite what you know or don’t know or think you know, is to be whole and at peace.

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  • Wayne Coppins

    Thanks for this list. I found the post on 12 Ways to be especially interesting.

  • The “aha” moments series was very good.

  • Ron

    The “aha” moments series has been very helpful. I would be interested in your review of the recent online Newsweek article entitled “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.”

    • peteenns

      I read it and felt that the author hasn’t thought very deeply about the Bible. I may look at it for a blog.

  • mjk

    But what if this post gets more page views than one of these ten??

    • peteenns

      Then I have a real dilemma.

  • Michael Brady

    Out of the 10 posts mentioned in this post I enjoyed reading number 10, “10 Old Testament passages that shape how I think about God.” Exodus 32 is passage I’ve read and thought about a lot in the pass and prov. 3:5 too. Reading that post helped me get to know you better as a biblical theologian. Also I read your book, “The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It.” I enjoyed it and I agree with a lot of what you wrote. And what I don’t agree with right off the bat gave me something to think about. cheers

    • peteenns

      Thanks for your kind comment, Michael. And welcome.