Tag Archives: theology

Dr. Bell’s Submarine Chaser

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Romans 1:19-21 (ESV)

Bell Hydrofoil

Alexander Graham Bell’s HD-4 “Submarine Chaser” Hydrofoil. Constructed in 1919, it set a marine speed record that remained unbroken for two decades.

I read a very touching letter this week—from one of the Twentieth century’s most inspiring women to one of mankind’s most brilliant pioneers. By any measure, Helen Keller and Alexander Graham Bell were truly remarkable people.

“Dear Dr. Bell, it would be such a happiness to have you beside me in my picture-travels! As in real journeys you have often made the hours short and free from ennui, so in the drama of my life, your eloquent hand in mine, you make the way bright and full of interest, give to misfortune an undertone of hope and courage that will assist many others beside myself to the very end.”
Helen Keller letter to Alexander Graham Bell, July 5th, 1918

Alexander Graham Bell and Hellen Keller

Helen Keller and Bell “finger spelling,” August 29th, 1901.

For someone saddled with blindness and deafness, who was disappointed by her own speech, Helen Keller had a profoundly beautiful and powerful voice.  Her letter to Bell is affectionate, expressing deep love and gratitude.  But when she writes “your eloquent hand in mine,” she is alluding to something that surpassed a simple display of affection—she and Bell conversed through “finger spelling.” Continue reading

Biblical Tension

“It seems easier to go to a consistent extreme than to stay at the center of biblical tension.”
Robertson McQuilkin

Scaling El Capitan, photo by Bronson Taylor Hovnanian, 2011

A sagacious Veracity reader recently served up the above quote while discussing perspectives on the role of women in church leadership.  I hadn’t heard it before, but it sounded profound and worthy of some quiet-time bird dogging.  I quickly traced it to Robertson McQuilkin, a man of great integrity.

The Christian faith inherently involves biblical hermeneutics—simply put, we have to interpret the text in the Bible.  In wrestling with our different interpretations there seems to be no limit to the chasms we create over issues large and small.

So this new quote from Robertson McQuilkin seemed to hold potential as a way to work though our differences.  Jesus was the master of big thinking, never getting lost in the details.  When we disagree, one tact is to find a higher principle, teaching, or value upon which we can agree.  We can use tension to elevate to a higher common ground.  Lots of things don’t work without tension.  Maybe biblical tension is prescribed for our health and well being.  The left versus the right, with peace in the middle.  No more getting stuck in the parking lots of our own arguments. Continue reading

How to Handle the Curve

“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

Bob Feller

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

Son of Man and Prophecy

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 are useful ways of working through these difficulties.

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.
Continue reading

Manual Philosophy

“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

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

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