Relieved from guilt: my reluctance to see Passion of the Christ

Passion of the Christ_bloody JesusI realize that many have praised this movie and I don’t want to throw a wet blanket on somebody’s parade. So please know that what I’m about to say is formulating my own thoughts about a wildly popular movie among Christians. These are just my thoughts and observations. You may disagree and that’s ok. In fact, I’d be open to rethinking my perspective, which has been bubbling for some years. However, I suspect there are others who agree with me and so I wanted to pen out my thoughts.

Back in February 2004, The Passion of the Christ hit movie theaters and Christians turned out in droves to view it. At the time of its release, the church I was involved in at the time set up a mass viewing. I was reluctant but I didn’t know why. I blamed in on the difficulty of my home situation with my husband’s illness but really, that was no excuse. He passed away later that year and surely I had ample opportunity to rent the DVD once it was released. So what was my problem? Every year, I agonized over watching it since it seemed the “Christian” thing to do. It would not be until years later that I realized why I did not want to see this movie.

The more the reports and reviews spread about the incredible nature of the movie, the more conflicted I felt because of my reluctance. These reports emphasized the gruesome nature of Christ’s torture and crucifixion. Without seeing the movie, it became pretty obvious pretty fast that the director had intentionally taken liberties with the details of Jesus’ brutal last hours, expanding on the horrific violence that Jesus endured. By all accounts and reviews, there were bloody, tortuous scenes that would make the toughest of macho men flinch. The more I read and heard, it seemed to me that this violence was a central theme of the movie.

And it has occurred to me, that was the problem…

No doubt, Jesus endured a brutal trial and execution. That really was the Roman way. But when I look at Scripture, I have to wonder if that was the focus of the NT writers, especially the Gospel writers, in the narrative of Christ’s last hours. Continue reading

Posted in soteriology (salvation) | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Why are you still single? Because you’re not good enough

pointing-an-accusing-fingerI bet if you took a poll and asked Christians why there are so many singles in the church who want to get married, you might be horrified at telling them it is because they are not good enough. And yet, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that tends to be the overarching description regarding singleness in the church.  No, we don’t say that so directly but in other ways. We’ve created endless lists on the attributes that keep people from marriage. A recent example is this post on Reformation21. Rick Phillips cites these reasons;

1. Immaturity and Sin among Men: Phillips contends that men in their 20s and 30s lack the maturity to even want, let alone be properly prepared for marriage and therefore aren’t prioritizing it. Applicable here are men who do not have the gift of singleness but for whatever reason, do not feel the need to get married leaving lovelorn ladies without potential partners.

2. The Widespread Brokenness of our Society: Because people have been hurt or not had good role models, I suppose this means that they are incapable of being loved or loving others. He does not say this directly only that these situations exist so I can only conclude that the pervasive residue of brokenness precludes those from seeking or prepared for marriage.

3. Worldly Demands and Priorities among Christians: Christians just aren’t prioritizing marriage, which actually seems a bit contradictory to the premise that many are heartbroken for not being married. Nonetheless, Phillips hones in the women here indicating that women who don’t adopt what may be deemed as typical feminine traits preclude their own marriage because men won’t want them.

4. God’s Sovereign Will: I actually breathed a sigh of relief by the time I got to this last point, until he suggested the problem probably lies within the first 3 points.

Ok, obviously I put my own spin on it. It fits with other lists I’ve seen that have included things such as being too bossy, too shy, too demanding, too picky, etc. Basically, you are single because you are not good enough marriage material. Continue reading

Posted in love, marriage and family | 7 Comments

Yes, Jesus DID say that in black letters too

open-bibleI was cleaning out some old email and came across this letter to subscribers from Greg Koukl, Stand to Reason Ministries. He makes a good case for black letter Bibles, that is NOT having Jesus’ words in red letters. But the stronger case is for considering how God spoke through all Scripture. Here’s what Koukl says;

“Twice recently I’ve noticed people making a theological point based on what Jesus, allegedly, did not say.  In both instances I have the same questions:  So what?  Why should it matter what Jesus did not say?

I have three points in mind with these questions.  They have to do with a tactical maneuver, a misstep in thinking, and a misunderstanding about the Bible that so-called “red letter” Christians seem to fall into.

First, notice the tactic being employed here:  appeal to authority.  The person making the comment is trying tobolster her point of view by enlisting Jesus as her ally, as a person whose views must be reckoned with.

Now, on this point I completely agree.  What’s odd, though, is that this appeal is often made by people who seem completely unconcerned with Jesus’ opinion until it appears He sides with them.  This looks suspiciously like special pleading.  If, for example, Jesus had condemned the behavior in question, would that make a differenceto the challenger?  If not, then why bring Jesus into the discussion at all?

So, first I want to point out that if Jesus’ opinion on any one issue matters, maybe we should take His counsel on other things for the samereason.

For example, even if we have no record of Jesus’ thoughts on, say homosexuality, did He weigh in on the closely related issue of marriage?  He did, it turns out:  From the beginning, God designed, endorsed, and intended marriage and sex (“one flesh”) solely for long term, monogamous, heterosexual unions (Matt. 19:4-5). Shouldn’t this teaching of Jesus’ have a legitimate bearing on the debate, if His opinion really matters? Continue reading

Posted in hermeneutics, scripture | Leave a comment

Should Christians Love Themselves?

woman hugging herselfLet’s face it. We live in a narcissistic, selfie-absorbed culture. It’s all about me – my thoughts, my dreams, my fulfillment, etc. However, Christians operate under a different paradigm. We are not our own; we’ve been brought with a price. I confess that whenever I see someone who claims Christianity also adopt an “I love me” attitude, I question if they really understand what Christianity is all about.

But then I consider Jesus greatest command, to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37-39)

Hmmm, love your neighbor as yourself.

In the book The Kingdom of God, a compilation of essays on various aspects of the kingdom of God, Dr. Anthony Bradley, associate professor of Christian ethics and theology at Kings College, offers a good perspective in his essay “The Kindgom Today.” He states,

To ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ demands that we love ourselves well. To love oneself well is to do what is necessary to sustain one’s life and to fulfill one’s responsibility to preserve one’s human dignity, holiness, chastity, property, and reputation and to bring glory to God the Creator.

While this may seem like a narcissistic self-love kind of thing, Bradley puts this love in perspective. Well ordered love flows from God and should be the parameter by which Christians consider what it means to truly love. It is only through the lens of how God has loved us that we can love well, as John states, “we love him because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). This affects the application of God’s kingdom work now in which we humans serve as the instrument. Continue reading

Posted in Christian living | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Hearing God Speak

Last week was a bit of a milestone. I picked up the bound copy of my master’s thesis. The following is a modified version of an article I wrote for my church’s newsletter recently explaining my thesis topic:

Deere and SamraIf you’ve been following this blog for some time, you know that I recently graduated from Dallas Seminary with a ThM Degree. However, graduation was delayed due to delays in my thesis completion and approval. Despite the struggles, it was worth the endeavor because I wrote on a topic that I believe deserves addressing in our contemporary evangelical environment. The title of the thesis is “God Already Spoke: A Response to Extra-Scriptural Divine Speech.” I interact with three books that encourage hearing the voice of God outside of Scripture. These books are Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere, God Told Me by Jim Samra and Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  I refute the premise these authors promote that God needs to tell us more about himself or his requirements for us than what has already been communicated through Scripture.

I have been immersed in this topic for some time. Having spent much of my earlier Christian life in Charismatic type churches, there was always the expectation that God needed to provide additional information through some kind of direct speech, rather through a “prophet” or a voice we hear in our heads. The underlying presumption is that Scripture is insufficient to hear the voice of God and we need something more.

My journey towards discovering God’s voice through Scripture and its sufficiency began in 2006 when a friend challenged me on how I was reading the Bible. Like many today, I read it in a very fragmented fashion, which served as a springboard to hear the voice of God outside of Scripture. But this way also subjects divine speech to inconsistent methodology. I was re-oriented with a framework of how the 66 books should be taken as a whole.  Over time, I discovered the beauty and sufficiency of the redemptive-historical narrative of Scripture that provides a wonderful picture of God’s communication to us. Continue reading

Posted in DTS school stuff, personal, scripture | Tagged , | 3 Comments