Category Archives: Theology

It’s the study of God

The Offensiveness of Truth and the Truth about Offense

Seeker-friendly. That title alone is enough to induce a bitter taste in the mouths of a lot of Bible-believing Christians. While no one will argue against increasing accessibility for those who want to be saved, that goal has been pursued in a lot of unhelpful ways. Too often, churches have compromised or abandoned their message in order to avoid accidentally offending someone. Too many preachers have focused so hard on making their hearers feel comfortable that they neglect to actually say anything of substance.

In reality, there is an inherently offensive dimension to the Gospel. Self-righteous, independent humans don’t like being told they’re lost sinners who must cast themselves on the mercy of a God they’ve never seen, and thereafter obey Him. People overly concerned with being nice and inclusive chafe at the idea that there is only one Way to the Father. Naturalistic intellectuals will scoff at the idea that some God-Man will come in the sky and set up a thousand-year kingdom. God Himself, speaking of the first coming of His Son, said, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense…” (Rom 9:33). He knew that many pride-blinded sinners would not be willing to receive Him.

Thus, it is more than fair to say that the Gospel — undiluted and straightforward — is offensive to the unredeemed human heart. It may even be fair to say that a presentation of the Gospel that does not strike that chord of, “Wait… what?!” very well may have missed the way Scripture speaks of it.

Truth is often offensive. Messengers and leaders in the Body of Christ ought not to shrink back from being truthful for fear of bothering someone.

However, and equally importantly, not all that offends is truth. Messengers and leaders in the Body of Christ (especially the younger ones) do well to take this seriously. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in My Two Cents, Theology


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“Always Learning” is not Always Good

While reading through the book of 2 Timothy recently, I was struck with a peculiar phrase. Paul was in the middle of warning Timothy about the deception that would come in the perilous times of the last days (2 Tim 3:1). He was simultaneously warning about the deception, as well as about the kind of people who would spread this deception. He provides a lengthy list of their vices in verses 2-5, and urges Timothy to have nothing to do with them. My interest perked up significantly in verse 6, as he warned, “For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women…”

I haven’t written much about the topic lately, but having done some study on the Bible’s view on women, I was paying particular attention to this. It endeared me to Paul to see that he was repulsed by the ways that these false teachers would prey on women. It also made me curious to learn more about these end-time “gullible women”, and how much relation that might have to what was already happening among the the women in Ephesus (the city where Timothy was currently stationed).

These women would be gullible. They would be loaded down with sins. They would be led astray by various lusts. (This is sounding awfully familiar to the idle widows of 1 Timothy 5…)

What really hit me, though, was verse 7: “…always learning“.

Hang on, what?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in 2 Timothy, Bible, Theology


When a Culture of Honor Stands for Truth

I’ve been keeping loose tabs on the debate surrounding Rob Bell’s theological position as presented in his new book, Love Wins. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, give a glimpse to my previous post. I don’t really intend to hash out the theology more than is already being done all over the evangelical blogosphere — I trust we can simply state at this point, “Universalism is bad” and leave it alone.

What I have been increasingly troubled by, though, is the backlash I’ve seen against anyone coming against Bell’s position. I expected there to be some squabbling, but I also expected it mostly to arise from loyal fans who have watched every NOOMA video ten times, memorized half of them, own every book, and go to every conference available. But I’ve been surprised by the vast kickback from people who have no particular allegiance to either Bell or universalism, but nonetheless can’t stomach the idea that major evangelical leaders are criticizing him — or in other words, saying, “He’s written universalistic things. Universalism is bad.” Which, to me, seems like a pretty far cry from a public tar and feathering, but you wouldn’t know it from the reactionary comments.

This has started me thinking of a teaching Mike Bickle did a couple of years ago about establishing a “culture of honor”. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 26, 2011 in Theology


The Great Equalizer, Illustrated

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “equality” lately. You can’t do even a cursory study of the gender debate without running across this word a lot. There are so many arguments about it — what groups are actually equal with each other; what groups need to be; what groups claim to not have equality, but really do; and, “well, what is your group to tell me that my group doesn’t need it anymore?” etc. etc. There are tons of ideas of how to achieve equality, countless articles searching for the cause of its absence, and lots and lots of finger-pointing and/or self-pity regarding those who get the short end of the stick. It is such a dicey subject.

On one hand, I definitely agree with the overall concept of equality. We in the church are supposed to love, honor, and submit to one another in Christ, so we really should not be seeing vast swaths of people who are being systematically oppressed. We need to treat even unbelievers with kindness. Defending the oppressed is biblical, and it’s a great thing.

But on the other hand, it’s hard to justify by the Sermon on the Mount how it’s okay for any of us to stand up and demand our fair and equal rights. Although it’s right for us to be treated well, it’s not our job to fight tooth-and-nail to make sure that happens. The Bible actually seems to assume that we’ll be mistreated (Matt 24:9; John 16:33; 2Cor 4:8-11; 2Tim 3:12; 1Pet 4:12…just to list a few)! And then it tells us to do ridiculous things like turn the other cheek! But shouldn’t we stand up for what’s right?

Holy ideological minefield, Batman! What do we do now?

As I was mulling over this topic the other day, it struck me how I was coming at it from completely the wrong angle. The Bible actually gives us a really clear picture of what Christ-centered equality looks like. And it looks something like this:  Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 15, 2010 in Theology, Women in Ministry


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Hermeneutics pt. III – Application

Welcome to the third and final installation in this series in the series on hermeneutics. Over the past two posts, we’ve looked at the process of exegesis — in other words, exploring a Biblical passage to draw out its true meaning. This is foundational to the historical-grammatical method of hermeneutics, the system of Biblical interpretation regarding the Bible to be the real, accurate, inspired Word of God.

Just catching up with us now? You can find part 1 here and part 2 here. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 1, 2010 in Bible, Theology


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Hermeneutics Pt. II – Interpretation

Last week, we looked at the first step in good hermeneutics, observation. Observation is very simply just taking one’s time to see what the passage in question actually says. We have to resist the tendency to begin assigning meaning to things yet, but simply write down what we actually see in the Scripture.

Our example passage was Genesis 2:18-22. We ended up with a simple bullet list like this:

  • God said it was not good that man should be alone.
  • God said He would make the man a helper comparable to him.
  • God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them.
  • Adam named every living creature.
  • There was no helper comparable to Adam found among the animals.
  • God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep.
  • God took a rib from Adam’s side and closed up the wound.
  • God took the rib He had taken, and made it into a woman.
  • God brought the woman to the man.

Ideally, this first step of observation should include a lot more of the biblical context, but for the sake of space on this blog, we’re taking on just a few verses at a time.

Now it’s time to start asking the question, what does this mean?

Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on May 11, 2010 in Bible, Theology, Women in Ministry


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Hermeneutics pt. I – Observation

As I mentioned at the end of last post, I want to explain why I went to the lengthy detail I did regarding Genesis 1-3. It seems like a lot of work, especially considering that I (purposefully) didn’t say anything that the Bible doesn’t already say. But that’s actually the point. It’s the necessary starting ground for good hermeneutics.

Simply defined, a hermeneutic is the system that governs how one interprets and understands the Bible. Everyone who reads the Bible — serious scholar or no — operates under some kind of hermeneutic. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on May 4, 2010 in Bible, Theology


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