October 06, 2004

Life is a carnival, believe it or not

Christian Carnival XXXVIII (part 1 and part 2) is up at Belief Seeking Understanding. This is my 200th blog post, and while I suppose I could have hoped for something momentous than a roundup of other people's blogs, I'm not picky!

My contribution to this Carnival was yesterday's post on how our theology influences our evangelism, which I submitted just under the wire, two minutes prior to the deadline.

Out of the rest, here are my picks for the most notable posts:

Hungry 4 God takes on the notion that religion is for idiots and the Bible was written by primitives, and then takes on those who would retaliate against such attitudes:

It is your own sinful human nature that will cause you to want to be antagonistic to the person who just insulted your faith. It is your own selfish pride that has been hurt and you want to hurt the person in the same way. But Jesus commands us not to retaliate in the same way. If we were to do so, it'll do nothing but drive the other person away. It will only serve to reaffirm his preconcieved notion that all Christians are close-minded, arrogant, and bigoted. Jesus wants us to break this destructive pattern by resorting to a more peaceful and loving solution.

[Read I'm smarter than you]

David Mobley at A Physicist's Perspective presents a nice little bit of moral reasoning about the unbiblical idea of private morality:

[W]hat I really want to talk about is whether, from a Biblical point of view, the argument "it doesn't hurt anyone else" is valid. My contention is that it's not. I have to admit, though, I have found the argument attractive in the past, myself, so that's part of the reason I'm posting on it now.

[Read Christianity and private morality]

Jeremy at Parableman takes a close look at a thorny hermeneutic problem in Mark's gospel:

Most translations say that Jesus is filled with compassion and heals him. Most scholars favor the alternate textual reading that Jesus was angry and healed him, and I think they're right. I also think this reveals something about Jesus's character that's worth reflecting on for a little bit, something that reminds me of another powerful display of emotion on Jesus' part in the gospel of John.

[Read Mark Tidbit 2: Jesus' Anger]

Reynaldo Reynoso at The Bible Archive writes a brief essay on the difficulty of trying to explain the Trinity with analogies:

The problem is when our own thinking kicks in to try to explain exactly what this means. We may try to come up with illustrations but which illustration works? Humans are picture-oriented so often we rely on illustrations and analogies to make our point. The analogy may not be true, but it is used to make the point less of an abstraction by basing it on realistic illustration. It may be helpful to look at some illustrations that some have used to describe the trinity.

[Read The Triune God]

Over at Nicene Theology, Darren summarizes Augustine's doctrine of justification, the main point of his contention with the Pelagians:

How can this sinful man be reconciled to God? Augustine's answer is Paul's answer: He is wholly reliant on the grace of God, reaching down to give him a gift he could never earn nor deserve. Grace, according to Augustine, liberates the will from sin so that we may choose the good. Thus he resolved the inherent tension between free will and grace (our choosing versus God's choosing), yet brilliantly retained the reality of them both."

[Read Augustine on Justification]

Speaking of grace, this is the kind of movie review I like: Misty H. at Tin Can draws parallels between divine grace and the plot of the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:

Here is why it’s a parable about grace. Neither one is going to reform their behavior–it’s part of them, for better or worse. They are going to hurt each other again and again. And yet they choose to forgive that and love each other anyway. Each one is acting as a Jesus figure for the other, knowing full well that the other person is going to keep on sinning/hurting the beloved. These hurts and sins are forgiven even before they happen (again), allowing them to come together in relationship. The love and forgiveness are freely given, with no demands that the other change.

[Read Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind]

CoffeeSwirls echoes many of my sentiments about contemporary evangelism with this critique of the gimmicky Gospel:

The resurrection of Jesus confirmed the validity of all that He said. This is the good news of the gospel. This is why we worship our risen Lord. This is why we invite friends to church. This is the foundation for the church. Any “life improvements” that others look for when they come to church have to be secondary to that foundation if they are to last.

[Read The Good News]

Finally, Dan Edelen chimes in too at Cerulean Sanctum on the subject:

The reasoning seems innocent at first. If we can add something to the seed so that it overcomes being eaten by birds, scorched by the sun, and choked by weeds, we will solve the problem of that awful 75% loss. And if that doesn't work, we can always subtract something else if we believe it will accomplish our ultimate purpose.

The problem is that we have tried modifying the truth of Jesus Christ in order to boost its perceived retention rate, succeeding only in creating a 'Frankengospel.'"

[read The Frankengospel]

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