Author Archives: Tim Archer

When the Bible seems inadequate

Through the years, Christians have debated what authorities should be followed when it comes to religion. The Catholic church, among others, teaches that the traditions of the church hold equal weight with the Bible when deciding matters of faith. Most Protestant churches have insisted that the Bible alone is sufficient authority.

Many today are advocating a new source of authority, though few are open about it. This authority is experience, be it personal experience or observed experiences. Luke Timothy Johnson, an accomplished New Testament scholar who is a member of the Catholic church, expressed this new outlook on authority in a 2007 article published in Commonweal magazine. Let me quote an important passage:

I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to…

Johnson is more open than most when choosing experience over the biblical revelation. But his position is a common one, particularly when discussing two main issues: homosexuality and gender roles in the church. It boils down to this: if you can show that people are hurt, demeaned, frustrated by a certain doctrine, then that doctrine has to be changed in light of the experience of these people. It’s not a matter of going back and restudying something; it’s about elevating human experience over the written Word.

I don’t buy it. I’m not ready to give up on the Bible as a sufficient authority in matters of faith. Yes, we need to wrestle with how to apply today instructions that were given two thousand years ago. But let us not be found guilty of the chronological snobbery that leads us to believe that we in the twenty-first century understand God better than fellow Christians who lived centuries before.

Let us hear the voice of the hurting. But let’s offer them more than a sympathetic ear. Let’s offer them the wisdom of God’s Word speaking time-tested truths.

Please note, none of this is about unclear biblical teachings or questionable interpretations. Johnson is talking about looking biblical teachings square in the eye and telling them they are antiquated.

Hear another quote from Johnson:

I suggest, therefore, that the New Testament provides impressive support for our reliance on the experience of God in human lives—not in its commands, but in its narratives and in the very process by which it came into existence. In what way are we to take seriously the authority of Scripture? What I find most important of all is not the authority found in specific commands, which are fallible, conflicting, and often culturally conditioned, but rather the way Scripture creates the mind of Christ in its readers, authorizing them to reinterpret written texts in light of God’s Holy Spirit active in human lives.

Again, I don’t buy it. Let us be shaped by both narrative and command, led to live lives that stand in stark contrast to culture rather than following its every mutation. Ask the hard questions, do the deep study, but don’t give up on God’s Word. All of it. Let every jot and tittle shape our experiences and not vice versa. Let the Bible change how we live rather than daily life changing the Bible itself.

Sola scriptura. Let’s not be too quick to give up on that standard.

Links To Go (February 20, 2017)

A Just Silence

If you’re burdened by the evils of the world, I want to encourage you not to respond with either conscience binding expectations or with frustrated indifference or fatalism. Rather, I want to encourage you to learn when to sleep and when to let the world rest in the hands of our Father who always knows what is happening, and who always knows exactly what He will do about it. After all, “the Judge of all the earth” will do what is right.


Did You Marry ‘the One’?

So, rather than looking for “the one” look for a spouse that appears to be on a trajectory of sanctification. Once you’re married and have made a public covenant before God and before mankind — congratulations — you have married “the one!” If you’re already married: Congratulations! you have married “the one” (Matthew 19:4–6).


You are Talking, but are You having a Conversation?
Dr. Knight lists five strategies to articulating (advocating) our ideas:

  1. Consider the thoughts and feelings of others.
  2. Clarify the Meaning of Words and Concepts.
  3. Provide Contextual Information.
  4. Identify Your False Assumptions.
  5. Use Stories and Analogies.

I Will Go See “The Shack: The Movie”

The theology of The Shack engages us at this level. It encourages us to embrace the loving relationship into which God invites us. Consequently, it does not answer every question, address every aspect of God’s nature or reflect on every topic of Christian theology. Instead, it zeros in on the fundamental way in which wounded souls erect barriers that muzzle the divine invitation to loving relationship.


Boring Church Services Changed My Life

When I think back on the simple routines—the liturgies—that changed my life, I’m encouraged in my own pastoral role. I’m reminded afresh that the work of ministry is not so much about finding new, tantalizing ways to make people excited about Jesus, but about the timeless rituals that shape their hearts.


What you need to know about the enemies of the American people the president warned you about

We have enemies of the American people who cover the nation’s most powerful and important leader, bearing witness to everything he says. Enemies of the people understand the importance of choosing the right words because they know the damage the wrong words can do.


For election news, young people turned to some national papers more than their elders

Younger Americans have long been less likely to read newspapers than their elders. But a Pew Research Center survey has revealed a significant twist, at least for certain newspapers with a more national focus: When we asked people if they regularly got news about the 2016 presidential election through either the print or online version of four specific U.S. newspapers, three of these papers – The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal – attracted more adults younger than 50 than 50 and older as regular readers. As for the fourth – USA Today – younger and older Americans regularly got election news there at about the same rate.


When Rosa Parks was robbed, Little Caesars’s founder stepped up

As reported by Christopher Botta of Sports Business Journal in 2014:

On Aug. 31, 1994, Parks, then 81, was robbed and assaulted in her home in central Detroit. (Judge Damon) Keith called real estate developer Alfred Taubman, the owner of Riverfront Apartments, about finding a safer home for Parks. Taubman pledged to find the best home available.
When Ilitch read about Keith’s plan and Taubman’s promise in the newspaper, he called the judge and said he would pay for Parks’ housing for as long as necessary. (Parks passed away in 2005 at the age of 92). Keith served as the executor of the trust established for Parks’ housing.


Links To Go (February 17, 2017)

More white evangelicals than American Jews say God gave Israel to the Jewish people

(Older article, but I’d forgotten about this study) For example, twice as many white evangelical Protestants as Jews say that Israel was given to the Jewish people by God (82% vs. 40%). Some of the discrepancy is attributable to Jews’ lower levels of belief in God overall; virtually all evangelicals say they believe in God, compared with 72% of Jews (23% say they do not believe in God and 5% say they don’t know or decline to answer the question). But even Jews who do believe in God are less likely than evangelicals to believe that God gave the land that is now Israel to the Jewish people (55% vs. 82%).


When The Pendulum Hits You In The Head

Let us keep coming back to scripture and hold everything up to the filter we find there and see what shakes out. Let us be culturally familiar and culturally engaged and let us be in line with culture anywhere doing so doesn’t violate our scriptural priorities and mandates. This takes wisdom and we will undoubtedly mess it up but it is worth the effort.


59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why

  1. Nobody’s Listening to Us
  2. We’re Sick of Hearing About Values & Mission Statements
  3. Helping the Poor Isn’t a Priority
  4. We’re Tired of You Blaming the Culture
  5. The “You Can’t Sit With Us” Affect
  6. Distrust & Misallocation of Resources
  7. We Want to Be Mentored, Not Preached At
  8. We Want to Feel Valued
  9. We Want You to Talk to Us About Controversial Issues (Because No One Is)
  10. The Public Perception
  11. Stop Talking About Us (Unless You’re Actually Going to Do Something)
  12. You’re Failing to Adapt

What Are Your Rights if Border Agents Want to Search Your Phone?

The policies that give border agents the latitude to search or seize devices were used under the Obama administration, to much criticism. There’s no available data to suggest that they are happening more under the administration of President Trump, though activists say they have anecdotally heard of more reports.
A customs agency spokesman said the agency could not comment on individual cases. But he said agents had inspected 4,444 cellphones and 320 other electronic devices in 2015, amounting to 0.0012 percent of the 383 million arrivals.


‘This is really unprecedented’: ICE detains woman seeking domestic abuse protection at Texas courthouse

It was the first time in her 23 years at the courthouse, Bernal said, that she can remember ICE agents making their presence known during a protective order hearing. The agents had come to stake out the woman, identified by her initials I.E.G., because, Bernal speculates, they likely received a tip from the only other person who knew the time and place of the hearing — the woman’s alleged abuser.


It’s about me, not them

We don’t do the right things because of how that will affect others. We do the right things because of how they shape us.

What I mean is, loving your enemy won’t always make your enemy love you back. Turning the other cheek just might get you slapped a second time. Giving to those in need means that you will sometimes be taken advantage of. A soft answer doesn’t always turn away wrath; at times it just gets you shouted down.

I hear Christians who are afraid to do good things because others might take advantage of them. Let’s get this out of the way up front: you will be taken advantage of. If you trust others, you will get burned now and again. If you reach out a hand, you’ll get bitten sometimes.

But if you don’t reach out, if you don’t love, if you don’t forgive, if you don’t trust, you’ll never become like Jesus.

And that loss is much greater than what any person can do to you.

Links To Go (February 16, 2017)

Being Prophetic Without Being a Self-Righteous Know-It-All

Nowadays, especially in light of the new president’s administration, virtually everyone wants to be a prophet, as some claim to “speak truth to power” while thundering from their echo chambers, or glibly offering alternative facts without blinking an eye. Yet, words of deep wisdom simultaneously ring out from others with boldness, clarity, conviction, and faith, offering a clarion call for proper thinking and godly action. Discernment is of paramount importance.


The Soul of Evangelicalism: What Will Become of Us?

It’s not that evangelicalism has been yet again swamped by politics and lost its way. Rather, it is swamped by politics because those four elements are crumbling. Bible and theology are of little interest other than an odd Bible citation to prop up a claim. Small groups read books by well-known authors, rarely are they studies on a single book of the Bible (publishers aren’t selling these as well today), far too many of its most prominent theologians write books unanchored in Scripture and they do not begin with sketches of the Bible.


Jesus is not buying into the American dream

The American dream says you have certain rights. Even claim these rights are from our Creator.
Jesus says to give up our rights to follow him. Give up our rights so we can live in community together as believers.
American dream is to be a self-made man. Independent. Free.
Jesus says real freedom is found in becoming his slave. Surrendering everything to follow him. He is the source of every good thing we have. God gets the glory.


Be Patient, Missions Is Urgent

The gospel is eternally serious business, inextricably tied to the glory of God and the destinies of real people. Given the stakes, there has been a good and right recovery of the urgent task to see the gospel go to the world’s hardest places and least-reached peoples. And yet if we’re not careful, I fear we will wrongly identify urgency with speed, failing to remember that a task can be urgent and yet demand a slow, methodical approach that thinks in years and decades instead of days and months.


Apparently, unborn babies are only human when they belong to Beyonce

These children are embraced by millions as “blessings” and “miracles” — even as a million children a year are murdered and thrown in dumpsters with the enthusiastic approval of the same people who treat Beyonce’s pregnancy with awe and reverence — because the world wants them. The media wants them. Beyonce wants them. It is our subjective view of them which grants them life.


The Dark Spell the Devil Casts: Refugees and Our Slavery to the Fear of Death

And as the fear of death falls upon us so does the power of the Devil.
Gripped by fear our capacities for love, compassion and hospitality quickly dry up and evaporate. Perfect love, battling hard to cast out fear, goes on life-support. If it’s not already dead and flat-lined.
And the words “cast out” are prophetically appropriate. Again, in the words of Hebrews fear is the power of the Devil. And America is in dire need of an exorcism.


What Are Vain Repetitions?

When Jesus used this phrase in Matt. 6:7, it referred to something specific. It referred to pagan prayers that sounded like babbling and were full of many words that had no meaning. Our prayers are to be simple prayers from the heart. The idea of something being vain refers to the condition of our heart. We can sincerely say the Lord’s prayer and mean every word, or we can mumble through the words and not mean any of them.


Passengers Stranded After Flight Engineers Downloaded Wrong Maps

Apparently, British Airways engineers assumed that the A318 would only make European stops, given it is such a small plane. The crew did not realize they did not have the correct plans until they landed in Shannon, where according to the Sun, they were unable to download the proper plans.


Suspected drunk hedgehog, with yoghurt pottle on head, allowed to go with warning

“After a brief foot pursuit the subject was cornered and the yoghurt pot removed. Crime prevention advice provided about going through other people’s rubbish. Lived to fight another day,” police said.