How to Debate Vaccines* and Still Come Out a Christian

“Baby’s First Shot” Richard Sargent, The Saturday Evening Post, March 3, 1962

(*or organic food, essential oils, education, health care, immigration, soteriology, eschatology…)

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that there have been several outbreaks of measles across the United States recently. Not surprisingly, this has led to vigorous (if not often, one-dimensional) debate about the safety and efficacy of childhood vaccinations. And all I have to say to CNN, FOX, NPR, and every other news outlet that is now covering this story: Y’all are late to the party. We mamas have been debating this for years.

I remember the first time I realized that the questions surrounding vaccines were more than theoretical. I was visiting a friend when she opened her freezer to get some ice. There, sitting next to a chub of frozen hamburger, was a tray of lab vials. When I asked about them, she casually replied, “Oh, those are my kids’ vaccines. I ordered them from XYZ instead of the standard ones. My doctor said he would administer them if I bought them and stored them myself.” Read more about How to Debate Vaccines* and Still Come Out a Christian

Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: Three Ways People Give

Read Part 1.

Tipping

People who give at church do it in one of three ways. I’ll call the first way tipping. In our culture there are times when we give a few dollars to someone who provides a service. The most common example is a restaurant server. If he or she gets our order right and delivers it in a timely and cheerful way, we leave a tip of 15% or more.

This is how many people give to God. When the offering is mentioned, they go digging for loose cash, drop a few bills in the plate, and maybe wonder how they’re going to buy lunches or lattes for the rest of the week. Some may plan ahead, considering their income, expenses to support their lifestyle, and how much discretionary money is left. They will arrive at what they feel is a reasonable amount and give that to the Lord.

People who give this way may be fulfilling an obligation, not wanting to seem rude or feel guilty for not participating. Or they may be truly grateful for what the church or the Lord does for them. It is possible that this is all they know, not having been taught what the Bible has to say. So ”tipping” is giving a small portion of your extra resources to God. There isn’t a biblical basis for it. It’s just what people do. Read more about Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: Three Ways People Give

Three Peculiarities of the Pentateuch Which Are Incompatible With the Graf-Wellhausen Theories of Its Composition

(About this series)

CHAPTER VII - THREE PECULIARITIES OF THE PENTATEUCH WHICH ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE GRAF-WELLHAUSEN THEORIES OF ITS COMPOSITION

BY ANDREW CRAIG ROBINSON, M. A., BALLINEEN, COUNTY CORK, IRELAND, AUTHOR OF “WHAT ABOUT THE OLD TESTAMENT?”

There are—amongst others—three very remarkable peculiarities in the Pentateuch which seem to be incompatible with modern theories of its composition, and to call for some explanation from the critics.

The first of these peculiarities is:

THE ABSENCE OF THE NAME “JERUSALEM” FROM THE PENTATEUCH

The first occurrence of the name “Jerusalem” in the Bible is in the Book of Joshua (10:1): “Now it came to pass when Adonizedek, King of Jerusalem”, etc. In the Pentateuch the city is only once named (Gen. 14) and then it is called “Salem”—an abbreviation of its cuneiform name “Uru-salem”. Now on the traditional view of the Pentateuch the absence of the name Jerusalem presents no difficulty; the fact that Bethel, Hebron, and other shrines are named, whilst Jerusalem is not, would merely mean that at these other shrines the patriarchs had built their altars, whilst at Jerusalem they had not. Read more about Three Peculiarities of the Pentateuch Which Are Incompatible With the Graf-Wellhausen Theories of Its Composition

Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 4

(Read the series so far.)

So far I have tried to establish a base in biblical texts for my further inquiry into the rapture. Remember, I write as a non-too-dogmatic pre-tribber whose interest in these posts is to think through the various approaches.

Few Major Rapture Passages

All proponents of the rapture must acknowledge that there are very few direct references to the catching up of the saints. Without 1 Cor. 15 and Jn. 14, perhaps Matt. 24, but especially 1 Thess. 4, we would not be talking about it. Of these, only the 1 Thessalonians 4 passage can be deemed a direct statement about the “catching up” or “seizing out” of the saints in the end time. By a direct statement I mean a text which plainly and unequivocally puts across a doctrine. Examples of this in other areas include, Gen. 1:1 stating that God created all things, or Rom. 5:1 which says Christians are justified by faith. These are C1 statements in the Rules of Affinity. Well nigh all the major doctrines of Scripture can be ascertained and proposed via C1 passages.

What this means is that in addition to these texts, supporters of the viewpoints must marshal arguments from other statements of Scripture (hopefully direct statements) about related teachings. It is the proper inclusion and assimilation of these teachings which creates the differing schools of thought on our subject. Read more about Trying to Get the Rapture Right, Part 4

Book Review - Invitation to the Life of Jacob

Dr. Donald Sunukjian has had more influence in the area of expository preaching on the current generation of pastors than anyone except Haddon Robinson. I remember one of my seminary professors having us watch a video of Dr. Sunukjian doing a first person narrative sermon on Esther. It was my first introduction to that type of handling of Old Testament narrative, and I was hooked.

In a new series published by The Weaver Book Company called “Biblical Preaching for the Contemporary Church,” Sunukjian fills a gap in the world of pastoral resources. When doing sermon prep, I go to language helps and commentaries for the technical help I need. I can hit up my collection of preaching books for refreshers on exposition. But what about taking the principles of expository preaching and applying them to specific texts? This is what Sunukjian does, and he does it well. His stated purpose is to “offer models of the principles presented in the textbook (Invitation to Biblical Preaching).” Read more about Book Review - Invitation to the Life of Jacob

Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving, Part 1

The Bible does not tell Christians to tithe. But it does tell us to give.

During my early years as a pastor, I taught that there is a principle and pattern of tithing (giving 1/10 of your income) in Scripture and that there is also a principle and pattern of giving offerings over and above the tithe. I taught this because it is what I learned from those who taught me. But as I learned the Scriptures through years of reading and studying, I became aware of facts that caused me to question my own thinking and teaching on this issue and to develop a new understanding of what God’s Word says about it.

One of these facts is that the most extensive New Testament passages on giving as a Christian are about helping other Christians in need, not supporting the work of the church. Most of the principles I had been teaching were from these passages (2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, for example). I realized that I was bypassing the primary application of these truths, which is helping people in need, in order to urge people to give to the church. The very first “offerings” in the newly-formed assembly of believers in Jerusalem were designated to help others in need (Acts 2:45)! Read more about Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving, Part 1

Church Discipline & Defending the Faith, Part 3

From Voice, Jan/Feb 2015. Adapted from Stephen Davey’s book In Pursuit of Prodigals. Kress Biblical Resources (The Woodlands, TX, 2010). Used by permission. Read Part 1 & Part 2.

When Is It Wrong to Judge?

1. It is wrong to judge someone before you know all the facts in the case.

The Apostle John wrote, “Our law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing” (John 7:51). In other words, the believer should never judge on a whim, an impression, a rumor. The facts are necessary, and the believer should be quick to hear and slow to speak.

2. It is wrong to judge when judging is based on a person’s convictions and/or preferences.

Romans 14 makes it clear that personal decisions can direct activities in areas where the Scriptures are silent. For instance, the Bible doesn’t specifically address credit cards, dating practices, plastic surgery, watching television, using electric guitars in church, ad infinitum. Read more about Church Discipline & Defending the Faith, Part 3

Following in the Footsteps of faith: Learning to Actually Trust a Trustworthy God

Abraham, Sarah & Hagar. Unknown artist, 1897

(Read the series.)

Ever hear one of these guys on the radio (usually on ESPN Saturday mornings) giving you the betting lines on games and “guaranteeing” that his picks will make you money? I am not suggesting that anyone should gamble money on football games. But I want to point out the terminology.

It seems like everything today is a guarantee. “I guarantee it” is one of the most overused slogans in our country (I guarantee it!). But the question I always want to ask is, “What if you’re wrong?” Because they are—lots of times. Do they lose their job? Do they get a pay cut? Nope, they just start taping next week’s “guaranteed, locked-in, easy money” choices and the cycle starts all over again.

But God isn’t like that. We saw in Genesis 15 that Yahweh makes promises and He guarantees them with His very life (try that, prognosticators!). The only area of doubt when God makes a promise lies on our end—the end that is fallen, sinful, and prone to wander into bad thinking about just about everything. Read more about Following in the Footsteps of faith: Learning to Actually Trust a Trustworthy God