Monthly Archives: June 2014

Oliver Cromwell’s Crisis

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), Lord Protector of England, and Christian reformer of church and civil governance. A hero of liberty to some. A fanatical tyrant to others.  From an unfinished portrait by Samuel Cooper (credit: Wikipedia)

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), Lord Protector of England, and Christian reformer of church and civil governance. A godly hero of liberty to some. A fanatical tyrant to others. From an unfinished portrait by Samuel Cooper (credit: Wikipedia)

By the early 17th century, the only type of governance that the English people had known for hundreds of years was the monarchy.  Along with the office of the king in the political realm, for Christians there was a corresponding office of bishop. The term bishop was derived from the Greek word episkopos, as found in Titus 1:7, typically translated today as “overseer.” Just as the king oversaw the worldly affairs of state, the bishop oversaw the spiritual affairs of the church.  King James I of England, who sponsored the famous English Bible translation that bears his name, was famously quoted as saying, “No bishop, no king.”

For James, a king can only rule a people properly with the assistance of bishops who could administer the spiritual life of Christian communities in accordance with the standard set by such a benevolent and divinely appointed king. King James, along with his bishops, saw this governing arrangement as quite efficient. But what happens when the people begin to lose confidence with their leaders? What happens when you can trust neither your bishop nor your king?
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Podcasts for the Thinking Christian

Plumb LineJohn’ s recent post on William Lane Craig’s Defender Series of podcasts brought to mind that I should update my list of recommended podcasts for the thinking Christian (here is an earlier list John and I have discussed).  I do not have the time to read books as much as I would like, but the marvel of MP3 players is that I can download audio files and listen to them while I work in the yard or drive to and from work.

John’s suggestion of William Lane Craig as the “graduate school” for the next step following after Dick Woodward’s Mini Bible College is very appropriate. Dick was an amazing teacher who continues to impact the world through his unique ability to “put things on the bottom shelf” for people by exploring the basic contours of the Bible. Dr. Craig then makes it more in-depth in terms of helping you grasp and develop your own understanding of God (theology) founded on Scripture and then applied in terms of being able to offer a rational defense of the Christian faith (apologetics).

But just as there are fine and different academic graduate schools out there, there are different “graduate school” approaches to theology and apologetics. For example, Dr. Craig is probably one of the leading Christian apologists alive today, such that atheist Richard Dawkins awkwardly still refuses to debate him. But Dr. Craig is known for his “Middle Knowledge” approach to the issue of God’s sovereignty vs. free will. He is also known for his classical/evidentialist approach to apologetics.  Without digging too much into those things right now, let me just say that not everybody is totally with Dr. Craig on these issues. But, PLEASE, do not let that dissuade you from digging into William Lane Craig! He is awesome! It is just important to know that there are other approaches that Christians take to these issues. You might want to check out some of the other podcast resources available to get a flavor of what is out there. So here we go!

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In One Short Moment… Heaven

I have had a pretty rough day today. But for some friends of mine grieving in Virginia Beach, Virginia, there is no comparison.

Mark Rodriguez, a 17-year old student at Norfolk Christian school, was a victim of a random shooter on Chesapeake Boulevard.  Mark was driving home from a graduation party when a bullet cut his life short. The shooter went on to kill a police officer, before being killed himself when he resisted arrest.

When Mark was just barely a toddler, his parents, Carlos and Leigh Ellen Rodriguez, lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, where I live. Carlos had come to serve as a missionary to high school kids in our community. It has been a long time, but I remember this little boy around their home, simply adored by their loving parents. I lost touch with the Rodriguez family after they left Williamsburg  in 1999 or so, but I am so grateful that Carlos and Leigh Ellen stood in the gap as they sought to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with teenagers in our community. Little would I know then that their oldest child that I just barely knew would never live beyond those teenage years. You see these senseless acts of violence in the media, but when it happens to a family and friends you know, it simply stuns you. You grieve.

As I watched the story unfold on the local television station today, I was then encouraged by the words that Carlos, now a pastor of a church in Virginia Beach, shared about his son. Though his son’s death appears senseless to us, in God’s perspective, there is a profound and griping vision within God’s economy:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24 ESV).

Mark Rodriguez knew Jesus. In one short moment, his life on this earth was gone. Mark, an avid photography, kept a blog, but remarkably his last posting was about “Heaven”. You should read it.

At this point in time, it is difficult to know what fruit is being born because this grain of wheat was cut down. But as someone who has hope in Jesus, I am challenged by the immediacy of the task set before us to witness before a hopeless world of the grace and mercy found in Jesus and the hope of resurrection.  As Mark Rodriguez wrote before his death:

God is super good. I can’t wait to be with him forever:)

Do you share that hope?


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