Feb 192014

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aOn Wednesdays we remember that a brother languishes in a foreign prison.

We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.


We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause

Feb 182014

250px-Saint_Augustine_PortraitHe towers over church history like a great mountain over a valley.

His name is Augustine and he is (at least for the West) the most important theologian in church history.

His theology both strengthened Roman Catholicism and started the Reformation.

There is not nearly enough space on a blog to attempt to deal with his legacy…skimming the high points is all we can hope to do.


First, in debates with Pelagius, he hammered out the doctrines of original sin, the bondage of the will, and the results of the Fall. Pelagius maintained that the Fall damaged, (but did not destroy) the image of God in man and man was able to use his free will to obey the commands of Christ. Augustine interpreted Paul to say that since the Fall man was now in Adam, his will in bondage to sin, and without the grace of God unable to seek God at all. The doctrines of the necessity of grace in salvation, election, predestination, and the perseverance of the saints that flowered under the Reformers first found their root in Augustine.

This is his four fold view of man:

(1) Before the Fall, man was able to sin or not sin. (2) Fallen, unregenerate man is not able not to sin. (3) Fallen, but regenerated man is able to sin or not sin. (4) Glorified man is not able to sin.

The doctrine of the divine inspiration of Scripture was most fully developed by Augustine.

While he handed all these nascent doctrines to the Reformers, he also gave the Roman Catholic church it’s most developed doctrines of papal and church authority, the perpetual virginity of Mary, intercession of the saints, purgatory, penance, celibacy of clergy, and sacramentalism…in other words, the basis of medieval Roman Catholicism.

In his spare time, he thought up the “just war” theory.

From this point until the Reformation all theologians in the West considered themselves “Augustinians”.

The Reformation itself was started by an Augustinian monk named Luther and Calvin quoted him over 400 times in the ‘Institutes”.

In an odd turn of history, both Protestants and Roman Catholics trace many of their most important doctrines back to Augustine, the greatest of all theologians.

The Council of Ephesus: Condemned the Nestorian heresy and affirmed the two natures of Christ.

The Council of Chalcedon: Further affirmed and clarified the doctrine of the nature of Christ and it’s confession has been the churches since.  The Chalcedon creed describes Jesus Christ as fully human and fully divine, with the two natures existing together without confusion. This council also decided to put Constantinople in a position secondary to Rome…and the gap between East and West widened.

Secondary doctrines: The cult of Mary begins to flourish as well as the reverence of relics. The place of the pope, monastic orders, and tradition as defined by the church all grow exponentially in this century.

Rome is sacked twice, in 415 and 455.

Jerome’s Vulgate is completed and becomes the Bible  in use until the 1500’s.

Names you should know…


St. Patrick

Feb 182014

links_image1Don’t pet the snakes…

Proof of Driscoll’s plagiarism if you missed it…

Grave sucking…

Bad Christian drivers…

Carmen claims cancer cured…

Wenatchee the Hatchet on Valentines Day…

Another take on bad theology that can kill you…

Religious scientists…

The least of God’s holy people…

Pastors who didn’t make the cut…

Not just a New Testament God…

A guide for whistle blowers…

Church shopping tips…

The Gospel rescues cynics…

Finding God in tragedy…

Why Viola left the institutional church…

New Jesus movie…

Noah film controversial…more here and here

Feb 172014

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. The gay rights movement has impacted the church in a way I had not recognized until recently.

Because the Apostle Paul clearly speaks to the fact that homosexual behavior is a sin, the Christian who doesn’t want to be “homophobic” often discards his writings in total.

They become advocates of the “red letter only” doctrine, because Jesus allegedly didn’t speak to the issue and Jesus is just an all round much nicer guy than crusty, creepy old Paul.

Let me enlighten you if you are following this line of thinking.

When you decide to lose Paul, you lose the doctrine of grace. The word “grace” never appears in the red letters and the only place it appears in the Gospels is in the very first chapter of the book of John. Without the writings of Paul, inspired by God to fully inform us of His truth, you have an incomplete and “graceless” Gospel.

2. The question isn’t whether any sin is a sin, the question should be “how does God deal with sinners”?

3. We err most greatly when we deceive ourselves into believing that we are more compassionate than God.

4. The Christian cliche that troubles me the most is ‘all you need is God”. That cliche is usually spit at people who need things like food, water, shelter, healing, medication, money, or a host of other real needs. God is the source of all those things…but to tell people in need that they already have all they need is insensitive and sophomoric.

5.  I started teaching the Gospel of Mark yesterday and have a couple of take aways from that study. First, it says that Jesus went to a deserted place to pray. Did he take his iPhone… just in case? If the Son of God needed to be distraction free to hear from the Father, how much more do we?

6. N.T. Wright on Mark 1:11;  “The whole Christian gospel could be summed up in this point: that when the living God looks at us, at every baptized and believing Christian, he says to us what he said to Jesus on that day. He sees us, not as we are in ourselves, but as we are in Jesus Christ. It sometimes seems impossible, especially to people who have never had this kind of support from their earthly parents, but it’s true: God looks at us, and says, ‘You are my dear, dear child; I’m delighted with you.’ Try reading that sentence slowly, with your own name at the start, and reflect quietly on God saying that to you, both at your baptism and every day since.”

7. The ground is level and men are without earthly distinction at the foot of the cross and the local laundromat.

8. Bad theology can kill you…evidently he missed the verse that said “thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”…

9. The current notion of a wrath free God whose only attribute is love can only exist along with a doctrine that people are basically good and just need to be fixed. If we’re actually sinners in need of a Savior and evil is a reality, God must be not only loving, but just, and His wrath is righteous.

10. Technological advance is no indicator of moral or ethical progress…better tools have not made us better people.

Feb 152014

thumbnail.aspxYou are the God who makes extravagant promises.

We relish your great promises of fidelity and presence and solidarity, and we exult in them.

Only to find out, always too late, that your promise always comes in the midst of a hard, deep call to obedience.

You are the God who calls people like us, and the long list of mothers and fathers before us, who trusted the promise enough to keep the call.


So we give you thanks that you are a calling God, who calls always to dangerous new places.

We pray enough of your grace and mercy among us that we may be among those who believe your promises enough to respond to your call.

We pray in the one who embodied your promise and enacted your call, even Jesus.


Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 90). Kindle Edition.

Feb 142014

cross_sunsetFridays can be tough.

Friday is the day when I try to write something from my recent personal experience that might help someone reading make it to next Friday.

It’s the day that I try to bring some form of encouragement to those like myself who are trying to get through life one day, maybe one hour, at a time.

Friday is the day when I try to speak faith to all my failures, and hope to what seems hopeless, desiring that it will help others do the same.

Friday is the day when I replant the flag that says ‘I believe, help my unbelief”.

I rarely know what I’m going to write before I sit down at the computer, but the message comes when I start to write.

Not so today…

I don’t have any mini parables about cats or kids, no clever stories to facilitate faith.

I only have Friday.

In the Christian tradition Friday is the day when Christ was in the grave and so were the hopes and hearts of those who followed Him.

Everything they believed was true about who God was, who they were, and what their future held was slain before their eyes on a Roman cross.

They had given up everything to follow Him and now everything was gone and so was He.

Now, they were lost, alone and utterly defeated.

Except they weren’t.

God wasn’t finished yet.

On this Friday, you may have had your own ideas about who God is, who you are, and what your future holds completely shattered.

You have followed Him right to the end…and it looks like the end because you did.

It’s Friday, my friend.

God isn’t finished yet.

He never is.

Make your own application…

Feb 132014

IMG_0027Every evening about six, my cat informs me that it’s supper time.

After supper, she goes outside for her evening constitutional.

At 9:30 she sits in front of me and reminds me that according to her clock, it’s time for bed.


At six in the morning, it’s time to get up….breakfast beckons.

After breakfast, a nap.

When I leave, she waits outside for me to return…then runs up the driveway to greet me when I return.

We have a scheduled life together.

She knows when I’m stressed, she knows when I’m sick, she knows when I need some company.

It’s been a tough morning online and she’s stayed on my lap instead of on the bed…staring at the computer as if protecting me from an enemy.

She cares about me beyond the food dish, and I care deeply about her as well.

Why am I writing this ?

We need a better theology of pets.

The churches I’ve been in have always taught that animals were soulless, replaceable creatures that were primarily created for food.

It’s the soulless part I have trouble with.

Our pets are capable of love and love is the defining attribute of God.

We connect with them at the deepest levels of our humanity, the humanity that was created in the image of God.

We have real relationship with them.

How can that not have the mark of the eternal?

How can that be something insignificant in the kingdom of God, now and forever?

I expect to be greeted by a menagerie of loved ones who’ve gone before me when I get home… including four legged ones I miss more than most of the two legged ones.

That’s what I’m thinking about this morning…your thoughts?

Feb 122014

The first Calvary Chapel split since the death of Chuck Smith is official.

The Calvary Chapel Association announced this afternoon in an email to their pastors that George Bryson would be starting his own movement and those pastors who decide to join with him will have to change the names of their churches.

While the release to the CCA member churches made it sound like an amicable parting, that’s not exactly how it went down.


Multiple sources have confirmed that the CCA first tried to kick Bryson out, then found that they had no authority to do so and reinstated him.

At this writing, I do not know how this current agreement was reached.

What I do know is that when the founder of the movement died he was in agreement with what Bryson has been pounding on…and that this split may only be the first of more to come.

I also know that this signals to all a new chapter in the history of Calvary Chapel.

More to come…

Feb 122014

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aOn Wednesdays we remember that a brother languishes in a foreign prison.

We do more than just remember, however…we stand with him by using our social media to advocate for his release.


We ask that you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.

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