September Posts

Well, September produced more hits than all but three months (those being during the Quail Springs controversy). It must be the Alabama football posts!

Actually, the renewal of the posts on the “Future of the Progressive Churches of Christ” seems to have been most popular, other than the classics, of course — you know, the communion meditations. They always get lots of hits on Saturday night for some reason!

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MDR: The earthly consequences argument

The next rebuttal argument correctly makes the point that sin has both heavenly and earthly consequences. If I kill a man, I may well repent and be forgiven by God. Nonetheless, I can confidently expect a prosecution and probable jail time if not the electric chair. Moreover, I can expect people to revile and fear me, and surely I will suffer a crippling sense of guilt and remorse. Thus, it is true that God’s grace does not prevent the earthly consequences of my sin. Continue reading

The Shack

I just spent the last few days at a seminar for bond lawyers (just as exciting as it sounds) — during which I was quite ill. And so with the air travel and indisposition, I had time to catch up on my reading. The books I packed were The Shack and unChristian — and both are excellent. And both would make great studies for small groups.

The Shack is something of a phenomenon, being the number 6 bestseller on Amazon despite a publicity budget of $200. A review on Amazon, by Eric Wilson, offers a good synopsis — Continue reading

American Megachurches: Ministerial training & post-denominationalism

Ministerial training

The report finds —

On the other hand, 7% more megachurches (47% in 2000 to 54% in 2008) were sponsoring Pastors or ministerial conferences. Additionally 69% have internship/ residency programs to train potential staff and ministerial candidates. So it seems as if megachurches are shifting from formal pastoral schools or institutes toward informal on-the-job internship programs for clergy training.

This is astonishing news. It seems our largest congregations are getting away from seminary training for their ministers. And yet the seminaries serve as the heart of most denominations. Continue reading

MDR: The present-tense argument

A common counter-argument to the foregoing interpretation of the Mark and Matthew passages is this. The phrases typically translated “commit adultery” are in fact in the present tense in Greek.[1] As many Bible students know, Greek has more verb tenses than English. In particular, in addition to the present tense, Greek has an “aorist” tense.

Generally speaking, the Greek present tense indicates continuous action while the aorist tense indicates action that occurs just one time at a particular point in time. Greek scholars refer to this as “punctiliar” action. Continue reading

American Megachurches: Private Schools

Another area where some shifting of emphasis within megachurches can be seen is around the effort to train other religious leaders. In 2000 42% of churches surveyed said they operated a Christian elementary or secondary school, whereas in 2008 only 25% were. Likewise 30% were maintaining a Bible school or institute in 2000 but in 2008 only 20% said they were.

This is a big surprise. I mean, it’s not as though public education has gotten better in the last 8 years! Continue reading

MDR: The argument from history

Given the difficulty of interpreting the New Testament’s passages on divorce and remarriage, it would be useful to consider the views of the early church on this matter.

Many Christians don’t realize that we have many letters written by early Christian leaders, beginning in the late First Century, that express the views of the early church on a great many issues.

These uninspired materials are very useful, but must be studied with great caution. It would be very easy to assume that we are commanded to do or not do something because the early church so taught. But the early church’s views on many issues changed from the New Testament views over the years, and some heresies developed quite early. We should only take our doctrine from inspired writings, realizing that early Christians were just as capable as modern Christians of messing up. Continue reading