“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”
Augustine of Hippo
The Heater Makes History by Graig Kreindler, 2009
How do you respond when you’re sharing or discussing your faith, and the conversation suddenly tails off to the left or right? How do you handle the curve?
There has never been a shortage of people able to mangle Scripture to accommodate their particular worldview (or their missteps). I’m not talking about fielding the gibes of atheists or those holding anti-Christian sentiments—rather people who want to hold to the Bible, but feel that certain parts are more applicable than others. Or they misinterpret or misapply or over-extrapolate. An-eye-for-an-eye and all that. Often they’ll argue that certain ideas are culturally dated and need to be reinterpreted or reconsidered. Really?!
OK, before I ride that high horse, a little confession—there are some ethics in the Bible I might change if it were solely up to me. The world according to me. Sounds great, right? A chicken in every pot, and free high-speed Internet for all. Half off your tithe. While that may be a great way to get elected, it looks just like rebellion to a loving God. Continue reading
Brennan Manning. A ragamuffin. A story of brokenness and grace. It is a beautiful story, but it isn’t very pretty.
Life can get really messy. Even for Christians.
Consider the life of Brennan Manning. Brennan grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and then as a young man served as a Marine during the Korean War. After the Marines, Brennan was pretty lost. He was looking for something more in his life. That “something” was Jesus. After a few years of searching, he entered a Catholic seminary and eventually joined the Franciscan order as a priest. He did a bunch things as a priest: he joined a community committed to live with and work among the poor in Spain, he did campus ministry among college students, and even worked on the shrimp boats with another group of priests in Alabama, reaching out to fishermen who had fallen away from the church.
Perplexed by those making predictions in the economy? Likewise, many are perplexed by prophecies in the Old Testament that are cited as being “fulfilled” in the New Testament. Thankfully, there is a useful way of working through these difficulties.
I don’t know about you, but I am terrible when it comes to understanding predictions, particularly when it comes to the stock market. Some say, “buy gold, because it will double in price”. Some say to invest in the stock of company X, etc. All of this is based on supposedly predictive factors. It is like you need a “prophet” if you want to make a “profit”.
However, the best advice I have received is that you should stick with good, sound financial principles learned retrospectively over time and leave the rest to the speculators who have more money than sense in their heads: Diversify your portfolio instead of chasing the latest stock pick, get out of debt, etc., principles like that. Sometimes, the best way we can understand “prophecy” is only when we have the privilege of looking back.
The challenge can be no less different than when it comes to the prophecies of the Old Testament about what we see in the New Testament. Critics sometime charge that Christians misread prophesy in the Hebrew Bible about the coming of Christ. As we continue to look at Jesus as the Son of Man (start here then go to here), we need to step back for a moment and first address the issue of prophecy. This can be a complex topic for sure, but a lot of our problems about Bible prophecy sometimes come from not understanding the importance of looking back for perspective.
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NIV84)
Untitled by Vela Zanetti, 1975
Last week I took a day off work and went with my son David to the Washington Nationals home opener. It was a truly special day, capped by dinner with my niece, nephew and son’s girlfriend.
My niece is a student at George Mason University, currently enrolled in a philosophy class. We started talking a little bit about Socrates and Aristotle (both of whom she is required to read), the Audible app I’ve been enjoying lately to ‘read’ philosophy, and how critical context can be to appreciating ancient writing. Continue reading
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564) remains one of the greatest artists of all time. If you are in the Williamsburg, Virginia, area, you have a treat in store for you at the Muscarelle Museum at the College of William and Mary. The Muscarelle has a number of the Italian Renaissance artist’s sacred and profane works on display. You only have a limited time to see them, as the exhibit ends on April 14, 2013. You will not want to miss the Matti Preti (1613-1699) exhibit at the Muscarelle at the same time, a collection of paintings ranging from Christian martyrdoms to John the Baptist to the story of the apocryphal Book of Tobit.
To wet your appetite for Michelangelo, I discovered that the Vatican has put an interactive virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel on the web, with some meditative audio as a plus. You can click and move your mouse over the image to take in different perspectives, and from the lower left corner zoom in on all of the Biblical themes in the master’s incredible work.
Also, I know that my fellow Veracity blogger, John Paine, is a known Michelangelo fan (here and here).
Pietà by Michelangelo, 1499
Michelangelo inspires many with his grand vision of Christian faith, an artist to marvel, and yet he remains a man of mystery. Michelangelo struggled with same-sex attraction , as suggested by a number of homoerotic poems he wrote. However, there is no known evidence that he ever acted on his carnal desires, remaining celibate his entire life. Was he redirecting and rechanneling his sexual energies towards glorifying God through his extraordinary talents?
HT: My mom, for the Sistine Chapel virtual tour.