Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is it better, or worse?

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't posted in a while, more specifically since September 9th when I had a very short post about fog. I can't lay all the blame at Matthew's feet for this, because it has been a very busy couple weeks for me, and I admit that I didn't try very hard to make time to post. BUT, the main contributor to the no-posting was a conversation Matthew and I had 2 weeks ago immediately after the fog incident. For those of you that have facebook, you can see a similar version of the conversation in that note.


According to Matthew, if you don't have anything good to say (and per him my fog post was NOT anything good), the best course of action is to say nothing at all.

Now, I admit that the fog post was most definitely a boring filler, since I didn't really have anything to say. BUT, in my defense, I didn't know I was allowed to make the executive decision to post nothing, since it is Matthew's blog, and he gave me the job of posting each Wednesday.. with no mention of "if you don't have anything good to say, say nothing."

SO, the past two weeks, since I haven't had anything "good" to say, I've chosen to say nothing.

I guess this could bounce into another discussion about whose definition of "good" we are using, but I'll let Matthew pick up that ball if he's interested in continuing this debate.

What do you think???  Should I continue to skip the Wednesdays that I'm brain-blocked, or keep it up and possibly be pleasantly surprised by what comes out?


Monday, September 28, 2009


Most Christians believe that the Bible is inspired. Fewer Christians have taken the time to actually think hard about what they mean by the word inspired. In my observation, there are about 7 significant treatments of the doctrine of inspiration. These range from one extreme (idolizing the book as divine) to the other (viewing the book as almost or completely human in origin).

The Stork Theory
Some treat the Bible as a completely divine book given to us without any real human involvement. In other words, they think of the whole Bible as being given in a way similar to how the 10 Commandments were given. But outside of that example, this theory doesn't seem to fit with the evidence. It ignores the human element, God's desire to deliver truth incarnationally (as with His Son). This view is closer to the LDS view of how we got the book of Mormon.

The Trance Theory
Some treat the Bible as a basically divine book without anything more than a nominal human role. Indeed, God has been known to speak through people almost against their will (Balaam, Saul). But is this how we got the vast majority of the Scriptures? Were the writers in some sort of trance in which God worked around their humanity instead of through their humanity? It doesn't sound like Luke was in a trance when he thoroughly researched and planned his writing. Nor does it sound like Paul was in a trance when he forgot which people he had baptized. This view is closer to the Muslim view of how a supposedly illiterate prophet wrote a divine book.

The Fundamentalist Theory
Some treat the Bible as a perfect book in the sense that God made sure that every detail was accurate. Most conservative evangelicals take this sort of view. If God is perfect and knows how to preserve His word (by perfectly inspiring), shouldn't we expect a perfect book? Weren't the prophets simply repeating God's exact words to the people? On the other hand, are all biblical texts inspired in this way? Is the NT? Over the past years a few different facts have given me some caution about this solid view. First, we have to be honest about the fact that there are some seeming contradictions. It may be possible to solve them all, but we haven't done so yet. We should allow for copyist errors and we shouldn't de-emphasize the human nature of the authors themselves. Second, we must remember that Jesus (for instance) spoke in Aramaic and the Gospels were written (most probably) in Greek. So the authors were already 'interpreting' Jesus in a sense (and somewhat paraphrasing considering the different wording in parallel accounts). Third, I came to realize that certain aspects of the Fundamentalist theory were more reactions against liberalism than long held views of inspiration. Even still, I think this treatment of inspiration has a lot of merit, especially in regards to the OT prophets.

The Authority Theory
Some treat the Bible as a divine/human book in which authorized people wrote Spirit-led truth. This is the position I favor for the bulk of the Bible (yes, that means I believe different parts of the Scripture are inspired in different ways). The NT sources were not only Spirit-filled Christians (and thus inspired in that sense), but they were also authorities in the field (in that they had been with Jesus). This view allows us to maintain the fully human element of Scripture writing while understanding why only certain people (or other people with certain connections) are allowed to write what is considered Scripture. This view keep Jesus as the possessor of all authority since He's the one who appoints who can speak for Him (the Apostle's).

The Message Theory
Some treat the Bible as a perfect book in its area. God made sure that the message stayed intact. Indeed, it realy was the message of Jesus that changes lives (the earliest church didn't even have the NT yet). And we really do only have copies, not originals. So why bother defending probable mistakes. The Bible isn't so much synonymous with the word of God, but it certainly contains the word of God. There is a degree of truth to this when we're talking about the purpose of Scripture, copied manuscripts, and translational difficulties. But is this view really saying that even the originals were only truth insofar as the main message was concerned? If all of the Bible can't be trusted, can we trust any of it? And who gets to choose what the main message is?

The Masterpiece Theory
Some treat the Bible as a human book that was written with great passion and precision. In other words, the Bible is sort of like Shakespeare at his best. Certainly the Bible is quite beautiful (especially in spots). But in this view Scripture ceases to be revelation from God (and isn't that what Scripture seems to be?). And in this view, wouldn't it be quite possible (even likely) that an even better Masterpiece will be written someday (or already has been!). This is pretty much the view of the Bible that most non-Christians take and, in my opinion, when Christians view their book the same way non-Christians do... that's a red flag.

The Reader Theory
Some treat the Bible as a completely human book, but that inspired readers can glean from it. It's not necessarily the Bible that is inspired (after all, it is just paper and ink), but the readers who read it (as they are Spirit-filled). The Bible was meant to be experienced and has no power unless it is communicated to a human being. Of course, this view suggests that we have to pick either or (Is Scripture inspired, or is it the reader?). Isn't it really a both/and (the Bible works best when an inspired reader reads an inspired text?). Isn't God's word God's word whether we read it or not?

I suggest that the first two views place too much emphasis on the divine side of inspiration and the last two views place too much emphasis on the human side of inspiration. But even these views have elements of important truth for Christians to consider. The middle three views, I think, are where Christians should spend some time in thought. I prefer the Authority Theory mixed with a bit more Fundamentalist theory than Message theory. How about you?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


In the 1987 film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) made the following comments about greed:

"The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much." (click HERE for Video)

Gekko was right. If the game is competing against one another to win the market, greed is good. If the game is a love for money, greed is good. If the game is to become all that we can be in and of ourselves, greed is good. If the game is becoming the most powerful nation under the sun, greed is good.

But what if that is not the game? What if life isn't a game at all? What if life is bigger than consumerism, materialism, selfishness, and patriotism? What if there is something beyond the sun? Greed makes all the sense in the world if the world is all there is to sense. But Christianity declares that there is someone beyond the sun and that we don't just live for ourselves, but for that someone and for others. And if this is true, then greed becomes a very bad, even a very ugly thing.

Greed, by definition, hurts others. One person cannot gain without another one (or more often, many) losing. Greed, by definition, can't be satisfied. Whatever a man gains, if he is greedy, there will always be something else to acquire. Greed, by definition, can't love. Love is sacrifice of self for others, greed is the sacrifice of others for self. Greed is not good. Rather, it is the very sin that turns good into bad. Ogilvy notes, "Greed turns love into lust, leisure into sloth, hunger into gluttony, honor into pride, righteous indignation into anger, and admiration into envy."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sim City

One of my all-time favorite computer games (though that is not saying much since I've only played like 3 or 4 computer games in my life) is Sim City. I've had Sim City 4 for a long while, but just this week started playing it (I had some free time these past couple of days). I love building cities from scratch, especially the transit system. The only other computer game I've spent significant time playing is The Sims, but even then I don't actually play the game... I just like building the houses.

Katie introduced me to Spider Solitaire, which I find somewhat annoying. I generally don't like playing games on the computer, but I do give my full endorsement to the Sim franchise.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's not over

When I got home from Houghton tonight I watched the Bills Monday Night Football Game from the DVR. Now, the Bills have been 7-9 three seasons in a row. They kept their loser coach, so I don't expect much from them. In fact, in this first game I expected them to get blown out by New England. Nevertheless, the Bills played a good game and had a 24-13 lead with less than 3 minutes to go. Was I confident? Nope. I really wasn't. I have learned over the past decade of non-playoff football that the Buffalo Bills are excellent at finding new ways to lose. This time their method was a fumbled kick return.

So I'm glad they didn't suck, but I just wish they could figure out how to actually win a meaningful game. I doubt they'll figure that out until they get a new coach.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Abdul Out

I actually like American Idol. I like to watch people sing (or at least make the attempt). But as most Idol fans know, the show is really only as good as its judges. For those who haven't heard during the Idol off-season, Paula Abdul is leaving the show (supposedly over a contract dispute). I pretty much saw this coming considering her increasingly odd behavior and the fact that they added a 2nd female judge (Kara DioGuardi) last season. I had assumed that Kara would be the replacement for Paula, but now it seems they will keep Kara but ALSO replace Paula with... Ellen DeGeneres.

Ellen DeGeneres has no qualifications when it comes to the music industry. She's a comedian. She's a talk show host. She's an entertainer. And she is, perhaps most famously, a lesbian. For any or all of these reasons the selection of Ellen has upset some American Idol fans. I, on the other hand, am not upset. I think Ellen is genuinely funny. Paula and Simon sitting next to each other was actually getting quite obnoxious (the producers seem to have tries to play up a sexual tension there). Frankly, I hope they seat Ellen next to Simon (that should take care of that issue). My guess, though, is that they will seat them Randy, Ellen, Kara, Simon.

In any case, I'm looking forward to the new season. I think it will be better. Sure, there were times when Abdul was so crazy (drugged?) that it was funny to laugh at her, but Ellen actually has the capacity to make me laugh with her. Abdul's redeeming value, to some, was that she was nice to the contestants. I imagine Ellen being very warm as well, but she also has a greater ability, I think, to be honest and to the point.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


I woke up this morning to a white world. Thankfully, not snow, but equally as blinding.
As I drove to work this morning, nose inches from the windshield as I crept through, I had a couple thoughts about fog.

1) When I'm driving in it how the road seems to appear before you reminds me of some video games. If you don't know what I'm talking about, congratulations. This means you are not a nerd.

2) When the ground is covered with fog and the sun starts rising, you get a beautiful effect. Weeds and overgrown yards instantly turn into mystical gardens.

That's all (I told you I only had a couple thoughts)!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Kid Questions

One of my favorite styles of teaching is to just provide a list of questions to start discussions. Here is a list of questions on what the Bible says about children that we used Sunday night and will finish next Sunday night...

Theological Questions
Why did God design us to go through stages of physical growth?
How could a good God call for the death of children in the Old Testament?
Why does God allow barrenness?
Are children born sinful?
Do children go directly to heaven if they die?
What is the age of accountability?
Are all people God’s children, or only believers?

Sanctity of Life Questions
When does life begin?
Is abortion murder?
What does the Bible say about birth control?
Should humanity practice population control?

Parenting Questions
If children are a blessing, should I try to have a lot of them?
Is good parenting a guarantee of good children?
Is it appropriate to physically discipline my children?
Who is most responsible for teaching our children?
What are the most important things to teach our children?
Should I leave an inheritance to my children?
Should we force our children to go to church and, if so, for how long?

Ministry Questions
Why are most people converted in their childhood?
What does the Bible say about children’s ministry?
What does the Bible say about youth ministry?
What is the significance of baby dedications?
Should infants be baptized?
Should a person with unruly children be in church leadership?

Jesus-Centered Questions
Why did God come to earth as a child?
Why are we told so little about Jesus’ childhood?
What is the significance of the story of Jesus at the temple?
Why didn’t Jesus get married and have children?

Misc. Questions
What are the best characteristics of children?
What are the worst characteristics of children?
Does God ever address children directly in the Bible?
How should we, as older children, treat our elderly parents?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Knews of Knote

1. BBC Blogging Day was supposed to be yesterday, but I missed it for the 2nd straight year. I think BBC Blogging Day is dead.

2. I started another semester at Houghton, but found out that this is the final year of the Master's Program there.

3. Just finished teaching through Jeremiah, about to finish 1st Corinthians, a third of the way through the Gospel according to Matthew, finishing AND beginning The 7 Deadly Sins.

4. The Buffalo Bills fired their offensive (in both senses of the term) coordinator yesterday, 10 days before the season starts. I suppose any news is good news at this point.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Barn Dwellers

As I mentioned last week, Matthew and I live in a barn. Before the support checks start rolling in, I want to assure you that this is by choice!! I’ve lived in the barn for the last 6-7 years, first with my mother, and then, when I turned 18, in my own apartment on the other side of the barn. After Matthew and I got married at the end of last year, we determined that it made more sense to stay here than to immediately go searching for a house.
Here is a picture of the barn from the outside; our humble abode is on your left hand side (opposite the silo). There is a staircase inside the door that goes up to our 800 square foot pad above my grandfathers old carpentry shop.
And this, my friends, is a picture of the inside of the apartment:
We have a combo kitchen-dining-living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a pantry/closet. It is designed (in my opinion) very well and it feels like we have a lot of space.
I don’t really know what else to say about it except that it’s home, and while it would be nice to have our own place, leaving here will be very difficult when it happens!!