Roundup: The Bible, Secular Beatitudes, Short-Term Missions, OT vs. NT law, Les Mis

Here are a few posts by others that went up this week that I enjoyed reading.

“God Did Not Write the Bible…” by Kathy Vestal:  I’ll have to wrestle with this one some more.  It raises some provocative questions, like is “divinely inspired” really the same thing as “divinely authored”?  (Can we really say that God wrote the Bible?)  And if we hold to the view that the Bible was not dictated by God or handed down to us from heaven, but is the work of human individuals recording their unique experiences of God within the limitations of human language, then why do we insist that it must be without error, especially when the Bible makes no such claim of itself?  Vestal says that some Christians make the Bible their god and worship it, instead of worshiping the one true God, which is why those Christians get so offended when people point out alleged errors in the Bible (they interpret that to mean that God has made a mistake).  I don’t agree with everything in this article, but it did prompt me to consider what I mean when I use the terms “divine inspiration” and “inerrant.”

“The Secular Beatitudes” by Josh Harris:  Cultural values often run counter to the values of Jesus.  If today’s were to be formatted into a beatitudinal list (“Blessed are…”), it might read something like this:  “1. Blessed are the self-confident because they rule the world.  2. Blessed are positive-thinkers because they don’t need anybody’s comfort.”  And so on.  (Read Harris’s eight in parallel with Matthew’s.)

“Should Churches Abandon Travel-Intensive Short-Term Missions in Favor of Local Projects?” by Brian M. Howell, David Livermore, and Robert J. Priest:  This question has been on my mind for a while, as to me, the answer should be an obvious yes.  I don’t deny the necessity of foreign missions, but I do question the value of some short-term mission trips, when the assigned work could easily and gladly be done by locals, and all the money spent on airfare could be put toward something more worthwhile.  This article offers three thoughtful perspectives, though, which have helped me to round out my thinking on the topic.

“Making Sense of Scripture’s ‘Inconsistency’” by Tim Keller:  “I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because ‘they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.’  Most often I hear, ‘Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on.  Then they condemn homosexuality.  Aren’t you just picking and choosing what you want to believe from the Bible?’”

And now, just for fun, the trailer for the upcoming movie musical Les Misérables, starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Grant.  Set in nineteenth-century France, the story is chock-full of spiritual themes, among them redemption, sacrifice, and justice versus mercy.  I can’t wait!

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