Christian Mind

Duty Is Not the Opposite of Love

In preaching, teaching and writing, our good intentions are often defeated by an avoidable poor choice of words. Sometimes these inapt wordings gain popularity among Christians and become proverbial. Without thinking, we repeat them for the amens.

One example is the popular habit of speaking of duty and love as though they’re two competing and incompatible dynamics in the Christian life.

I can’t be the only one who has heard this, over and over, and wondered, over and over, what Bible people are reading. Consider Jesus’ state of mind and heart as He approached the cross.

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb 12:2)

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35–36)

There is clearly love here. And there is clearly duty. Jesus isn’t “happy” to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He was aware of the coming beating, mockery, and death (Mark 10:33-34). He wanted to go through with it (Gal 2:20), and he didn’t want to go through with it (“not what I will”).

So, if we ask, “Was it love or was it duty?” The question appears to be nonsense.

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“It appears that nuance is the latest concept to come under fire by political and theological conservatives.”

"To some, this is seen simply as a lack of moral courage, an unwillingness to take a stand for Jesus. They want an unequivocal judgment of right or wrong. Anything less, and you’re just a 'nuance bro.'" - Kainos

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Conspiracy and the Christian

by Bob Stevenson

I was in college when I encountered my first real conspiracy theory from a real person who really believed it. It was during a street evangelism session at Moody Bible Institute. After the session, I approached a bystander and asked what he thought of the presentation. Ten minutes later my head was reeling. The fellow had lots of thoughts about the Bible that sounded like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Bart Ehrman’s writings, and a few tabloids thrown in a blender. As a Bible student studying textual transmission, I knew this guy was off his rocker, and I tried to engage rationally. But he was a believer. He had it all worked out. Nothing I could say would change his mind.

What struck me about the exchange was the impenetrability of this man’s theories. No matter what I said, he always had a rebuttal. How did I know that my sources were stronger than his sources, that my evidence was more robust than his? Especially when his own theory felt so coherent to him.

Conspiracy theories have been around a long time. But they have surfaced with a vengeance in recent years, serving up a counter narrative to the official explanations for all sorts of things. Conspiracy theories are fringe beliefs but have become increasingly popularized and believed by average voters, citizens, and—important for our purposes—church members.

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Does Christianity Require a “Leap of Faith?”

"Becoming and remaining a Christian requires a 'step of faith' rather than a leap of faith. And that step of faith is not unique to Christianity. Throughout life we do many things that require a step of faith." - Roger Olson

[Editor's note: Patheos is so ad-ridden now it's almost impossible to read an article there. I recommend opening the link in Firefox and enabling the Reader View (press F9)]

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