THIS is Christianity

Mottel Baleston
check out this video (it will pop up in a new window)
     For many people religion is more of a cultural thing to appreciate and keep around like one does a family heirloom. It looks good on the shelf in the living room, but you don’t really use it all that much in real life.  For others, it’s just …foreign. At least, that’s often the impression given by the comments and reactions to religious expression we see from the talking heads of media and/or Hollywood.
     I’m probably being generous. Hollywood hasn’t understood Christianity or the Bible since the twelve apostles were still available to hire as consultants.
     And some of you… it’s okay to admit it…. won’t even get through the five-minute video above. After all, the Pew Research Center just informed us that Christianity is shrinking in America while the numbers of people with no affiliation with any religion, including atheists, and agnostics are growing. That’s especially true for anyone more youthful than 36 years of age.  So hey, if that’s you, then perhaps you don’t really care that some guy named Mottel Baleston decided to become a Christian after growing up Jewish.

     I understand. And I’m not posting this video to win any of these arguments. I’m posting this because THIS is Christianity.

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Who Was Cain’s Wife in Genesis?

The Book of Genesis in the Bible, says that Adam and Eve had two sons: Cain and Able. In the story, Cain kills Able and eventually moves away to a land east of Eden. The Bible mentions Cain had a wife, but it doesn’t say where she came from, or when they got married, or where they met. It simply says this:

Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. -Genesis 4:16-17

So where did Cain get that wife? Surprisingly, despite all the attention given this question over the years, when one looks at the circumstances in the story itself, the answer isn’t hard at all.  The problem seems to be more that we don’t like the answer. Continue reading

How Perfect Does the Bible Need to Be? Abraham’s Age…

For all you believers and skeptics… If all Scripture is inspired by God, does that also mean there can never be any grammatical errors, or errors in the copies and translations over time? Exactly how perfect does the Bible need to be in order for God to exist?

Two things occurred to me yesterday. One is that many people reject God because the Bible is “proven wrong” by difficult to understand passages, or even by mistakes made in copying the Scriptures, or by a corruption in the original text by later scribes. While two… at the same time there have always been noted differences in the manuscript copies (there ARE tens of thousands of them, which is tens of thousands more than any other ancient documents) as well as syntax and grammatical errors by the writers, or debates over the original sentence structure here or there.

How much do those things matter?

For instance, how old was Abraham when he left Haran for the land of Canaan? Continue reading

How Does the Whole Miracle Thing Work?

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. -James 5:14-15 (NIV)

The mere suggestion that God may not work a miracle, or does not very often, would rock many people’s faith. “Pentecostals believe in religious experience the way electricians believe in electricity,” writes Earl Creps in his book Off-Road Disciplines -Spiritual Adventures with Missional Leaders, “without it, we have no reason to show up for work. The Spirit moves in profound and observable ways, and our heritage teaches that most everything else just takes care of itself.” A very open and honest admission by a guy who has taught in the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and I’m told pastors a church these days.

He follows that with something akin to a bombshell when he speaks about his experience pastoring a church: “Our congregation’s story failed to line up with what our movement’s culture taught us to expect. At one public rally, for example, the only ‘testimony’ from two years of renewal came from one person who thought he might have quit smoking.” (p.12)

As this account shows, miracles haven’t always happened when we expected them to. Let’s admit it. People have had their faith rocked. Why didn’t God always come through? Why do miracles seem random? Continue reading