Monthly Archives: May 2018

Yanny vs. Laurel… vs. Jesus?

Here is a little science that makes for an interesting, quick Bible illustration: Listen to the following video, and tell me what you hear.

I hear “Laurel” every time, but some folks, particularly younger people, hear “Yanny” instead. This dispute triggered an Internet craze that raises a really good question: Why do some people hear one thing and other people hear something completely different?

According to the video above, a study of acoustics and neurology provides the answer. Certain frequencies in the recording allow some listeners to hear “Yanny,” while others only hear “Laurel.” Younger people are generally more sensitive to hearing higher pitched frequencies, so they hear “Yanny,” whereas an older person (like me) can not detect the higher frequencies, and so I hear “Laurel.” If you change the pitch of the recording, you can actually hear the difference.

The “Yanny-vs-Laurel” dispute provides an analogy for how we go about conducting spiritual conversations with our neighbors. When Jesus went about his preaching, many were healed. But the demons recoiled in horror, at the name of Jesus (Luke 4:31-41).

In an analogous way, different people respond differently today upon hearing the name of “Jesus.” This is why it is important not too assume your audience knows what you are talking about, when you talk about your faith.

For example, when I hear the name of “Jesus,” I think of the joy of knowing Christ as my Lord and Savior. However, when I am with nonbelievers, or with those whom I simply do not know well, I am sensitive to what they think when they hear about “Jesus.” For some, talk about “Jesus” is simply a cloak for what they think is religious narrow-mindedness. They may hear the word “Jesus,” but they may think they are being drawn into a conversation about politics.

You just never know what people are hearing. But, every now and then, prompted by the work of the Holy Spirit, they might hear something like, “I am far away from God, and I know it. Perhaps I should think more about who Jesus really is, so that I can experience the type of love and acceptance that Christians are talking about.” Asking for feedback and listening goes a long way, when it comes talking about Jesus.

So, what do you hear when you hear the name of “Jesus?”

Indiana Jones, Egyptian Chariot Wheels in the Red Sea, The True Cross… and Fringe Archaeology


Harrison Ford’s classic character “Indiana Jones,” has affinities with Hans Solo from the Star Wars franchise. A younger version of Harrison Ford’s  Hans Solo character, is the central focus in the 2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story movie.

Now that Hans Solo is back on the pop culture radar….

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) is one my favorite movies of all time. Harrison Ford, elsewhere known as Hans Solo, played this iconic, adventurous character, looking for the Ark of the Covenant. Who knew that Bible archaeology could be such fun?

Let us explore how the Bible and archaeological adventures connect, and find out…

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg took the mega-popular Hans Solo character of Star Wars, and put him back on earth in the 1930s, as one Indiana Jones. One of my favorite scenes shows this studious looking archaeology professor talking about the Ark of the Covenant, the great chest of the Old Testament that stored the Ten Commandments, that went missing sometime during Israel’s ancient history. Within minutes after this scene, our Indiana Jones would be traveling the world, fedora hat on head, with bullwhip in hand, chasing trucks, trying to beat the Nazis to recover the missing Ark of the Covenant.

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What Did You Think of The Royal Wedding Sermon?

The May 19, 2018 sermon by U.S. Episcopal bishop Michael Curry, at the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, might have been the most watched Christian sermon, in world history. I am not a morning person, so I never bothered to get up for the wedding. But I have listened to a number of people give their opinions about the sermon, including a few evangelical Christians.

It just amazes me that two believers can listen to the same sermon, and get a completely different message out of it. Some Christians heard Bishop Curry give a powerful testimony to the love of God, a fiery display of the nature of the God of the Bible. Others heard a vague call to the power of human love, white-washed with Christian language, a camouflage over the false teaching it really was. Others just registered a “no comment” vote.

It was interesting that Curry appealed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (no surprise, really), as well as the controversial Roman Catholic paleontologist and priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who was censured by the papacy, in the 20th century, for his writings in support of evolution, but who today has received calls for his rehabilitation, among some Roman Catholics, and other calls to retain his censure.

My thoughts are best reflected by the following witty, intelligent remarks by British evangelist Glen Scrivener (catch his Richard Niebuhr quote — right on!). What did you think of the sermon? Let me know in the comments section below. Bottom line: may we all have discernment and search the Scriptures for God’s Truth.

If you have not seen or heard the sermon, here it is:

Did King James Order His KJV Translators to Conceal the True Meaning of Baptism?

A baptismal font in England, dating back to 1405, large enough to be used for full infant immersion, throughout the Reformation period. Note the table top on the left hand side of the photo, to gain some perspective as to how big this baptismal font really is: Saint Bartholomew the Great Church in London.

This might be a bit nerdy, but it is a pet peeve of mine: Is the proper mode of baptism by pouring, sprinkling, or full immersion? What follows is an example of how an arguably plausible theological doctrine can be improperly justified with a flawed piece of historical “evidence.” The actual history of baptism is far more interesting, and it makes for a good rallying point for discussing the Scriptural mode of baptism.

I recently listened to a YouTube sermon whereby the pastor claimed that King James, the early 17th century English king, who authorized the famous 1611 King James Version translation of the Bible, purposely sought to obscure the true meaning of baptism. King James “did not allow [his Bible] translators to translate [the word] ‘bapto’” into English. The Greek word “bapto” is where we get the English word “baptism,” which is basically a transliteration from Greek into English. Most concordances, such as Strong’s, will translate “bapto” as to “dip” or “immerse.

So, why did King James steer his translators clear from actually translating this Greek word into English?  The pastor went onto explain, “Because the Anglican Church did not practice what [baptism] means. The Anglican Church sprinkled.”

My ears perked up. But the pastor continued…

The problem with leaving “bapto,” or our “baptism,” untranslated is that it has encouraged people to interpret the word however we imagine it to mean. As a result, this ambiguity about “baptism” has led English-speaking Christians, since the time of King James, to be unsure as to how baptism should be practiced in the churches. Should we practice sprinkling, pouring, or full immersion? Readers of the King James Version of the Bible, the pastor concludes, are left in this state of confusion. What a tragedy.

Well, when I heard this, my fallacy-o-meter started to register near the red-zone. I will not link to his sermon, as this is pure bunk. Things like this just annoy me….

Obviously, this pastor rejects any form of baptism that is not full immersion, which would implicitly include most modern practices of infant baptism. My longtime pastor, Dick Woodward, from years ago, told the story of a Baptist kid, who had a cat that had gotten himself entangled in some pile of garbage, and the cat came out smelling just awful! The Baptist kid wanted to wash this cat, before letting him into the house. He tried to immerse the cat into a tub of water, but the cat resisted. He tried to pour water on the cat, but the cat kept dodging the water. Frustrated, to no end, and scratched up by the rebellious cat, the Baptist kid finally uttered, “Cat, you stink so much, that I will make a Presbyterian out of you, and just sprinkle you, and let you go to hell!Continue reading

The Jerusalem Question: What is “Covenant Theology” vs. “Dispensationalism”?

On May 14, 2018 the United States moved its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the first nation to do so, since the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948, seventy years ago. Christians are divided as to the significance of what this means. According to a 2017 LifeWay research study on “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel,” many older evangelical Christians support Israel, and their right to the land, based on their understanding of the Bible. Therefore, the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is generally considered to be a good thing. But a growing number of mainly younger evangelical Christians do not share any “strong views” about Israel, based on their understanding of the Bible. These Christians are less enthusiastic about the U.S. move.

Why do Christians not agree about Israel, and Israel’s right to the land, with Jerusalem as its capital?

To get at the heart of the debate, you have to know something about the decades old discussion between “covenant theology” and “dispensationalism.” If you no have idea what “covenant theology” and “dispensationalism” are about, the following video would be a good place to start.

Greg Koukl is the director of Stand to Reason, an apologetics ministry that I find has very helpful resources. If you were looking for a short primer to explain the difference between covenant theology and dispensationalism, then this would be a great investment of less than nine minutes of your time. Greg leans more towards the dispensational side of the equation, but he succinctly and fairly represents both sides.

About two years ago, I embarked on a blog series study on “Christian Zionism,” the idea that God has a plan to restore the ancient borders of ethnic, national Israel. The story of “Christian Zionism” requires a basic knowledge of “covenant theology” and “dispensationalism.” Over the coming year, I plan on posting the remaining drafts of that series, interspersed among other posts. If you want to explore more as to how I got interested in this discussion, you can start here.

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