links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to five articles I’ve found to be interesting.

Apologetics, archaeology, manuscripts & Mark’s Gospel: Earliest Fragment of Mark’s Gospel Apparently Found

“Craig Evans, who is most certainly a careful scholar, has announced the discovery of a piece of Mark’s Gospel that may well date to 80-90 A.D. making it by far the earliest portion of any NT book yet found. … We must await the publishing of the materials and the evidence for these claims, and then the vetting of the claims by peer scholars, but thus far, it looks like Craig is on to something big!”

Children, divorce & parenting: ‘Kids Are Resilient’ and 7 Other Lies Divorcing Parents Should Stop Believing

“As a former divorce mediator, and current couples and family mediator, I have heard every excuse that parents use to feel better about breaking up their family.”

Climate, ecology, global warming, nature & pollution: Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says

“A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them. ‘We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,’ said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science. … Coral reefs, for example, have declined by 40 percent worldwide, partly as a result of climate-change-driven warming.”

Deception, false claims, heaven, lies & personal testimonies: Boy Says He Didn’t Go To Heaven; Publisher Says It Will Pull Book [required reading]

“Nearly five years after it hit best-seller lists, a book that purported to be a 6-year-old boy’s story of visiting angels and heaven after being injured in a bad car crash is being pulled from shelves. The young man at the center of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex Malarkey, said this week that the story was all made up.”

God, suffering & the problem of evil: If God Is in Control, Why Does Bad Stuff Keep Happening? [essential reading]

“You can never look at the way the world is and read God’s purposes off from the way the world is. It’s always more puzzling and confusing than that. … Part of our trouble is that in the Western world, we’ve assumed that God is, as it were, the celestial CEO of this thing called the universe incorporated. And then, as one of Woody Allen’s characters says: ‘I sort of believe in God, but it looks like He’s basically an underachiever.’ In other words, He’s not a very good CEO, He’s not good at running this show. But actually, the world is much more complicated than that. It’s not simply a machine or a business with God as the CEO. God is involved with it in ways which it’s hard for us now, particularly in the modern world, to grasp.”

eluding our idols: twenty questions on 1 John 2.18-27; 4.1-6

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This coming Sunday (Jan. 4) at 9:00 a.m., some of our adult classes at MoSt Church will continue in a study entitled Eluding Our Idols. It’s a close look at what’s commonly known as John’s letters (1, 2 & 3 John). To help you get ready for this encounter with Scripture and our discussion of it, you’ll find the following below: (a) the text of 1 John 2.18-27; 4.1-6 and (b) twenty questions and exercises to go along with this reading.

receiving this word

Little children, it is the last hour. Just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really part of us. If they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. But by going out from us, they showed they all are not part of us. But you have an anointing from the holy one, and all of you know the truth. I don’t write to you because you don’t know the truth but because you know it. You know that no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? Isn’t it the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This person is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son. Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

As for you, what you heard from the beginning must remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, you will also remain in relationship to the Son and in the Father. This is the promise that he himself gave us: eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are attempting to deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains on you, and you don’t need anyone to teach you the truth. But since his anointing teaches you about all things (it’s true and not a lie), remain in relationship to him just as he taught you. …

Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world. This is how you know if a spirit comes from God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come as a human is from God, and every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is now already in the world. You are from God, little children, and you have defeated these people because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. So they speak from the world’s point of view and the world listens to them. We are from God. The person who knows God listens to us. Whoever is not from God doesn’t listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 2.18-27; 4.1-6 CEB)

wrestling with this word

1. “It is the last hour.” (2.18-19) What does that mean? What does it not mean?

2. How does 2.18-19 & 4.3b contradict commonly held (mis)understandings about the end of time?

3. An antichrist is someone who ____? (4.2-3)

4. What does 2.19 say to you about the importance and place of the church in the life of a believer?

5. “… you have an anointing … and … know the truth.” (2.20,27) In context, “the truth” is “Jesus is the Christ” (2.22) What is the “anointing?” How can it “teach?” (2.20,27) Do we have it today? Explain.

6. The writer says he writes his readers because they already know the truth. (2.21) Then why write?

7. Consider what the “liar” in 2.22-23 believes/does. Are there such out and about in the world today?

8. Note 2.23. Is there anything about the Father and the Son that you see as being at cross purposes?

9. The words “remain” and “if” are huge in 2.24. Why might the readers be tempted to cut their roots?

10. How does seeing “eternal life” as something that has already begun color your take on life? (2.25)

11. Read 2.26. Deception was a real danger for the original audience. How big a problem is it today?

12. How do we know if/when something is big/dark enough to label it “a lie” of an antichrist spirit?

13. “… you don’t need anyone to teach you the truth.” (2.27) What were those who departed saying?

14. “Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit.” (4.1) How gullible/naive are you? Score yourself.

15. To deny Jesus’ humanity is huge. (4.2-3a) Which is harder for you to grasp: his humanity or deity?

16. How might the readers have “heard” what they did (4.3b)? How do you “hear” teaching today?

17. If someone asked if you were a “Christian,” you’d say “Yes!” Are you “from God?” (4.4a)

18. In what sense can the writer say that his reader’s have “defeated” the false prophets? (4.4)

19. “… the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (4.4) This promise is ____.

20. 4.6 is quite a claim. Who are the “us” and what makes their claim credible, the acid test? (cf. 1.1-4)

links: this went thru my mind

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Here are links to five items I consider to be interesting and helpful.

Being wrong, fallibility, humility, mistakes & pride: On Being Wrong [18 min. TED talk video]

“Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? ‘Wrongologist’ Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.”

Birth of Christ & Christmas: The Nonsense of Christmas (parts 1, 2 & 3) by Ben Witherington

“Risking the possibility that I might be called Scrooge, I am going to muster up my courage and hope that it might be useful to do some demythologizing of Christmas.”

Deception, lies & torture: Senate Torture Report Faults C.I.A. for Brutality and Deceit

“In exhaustive detail, the report gives a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects. … The torture of prisoners at times was so extreme that some C.I.A. personnel tried to put a halt to the techniques, but were told by senior agency officials to continue the interrogation sessions.”

Morality & sin: Sin is Not a Moral Problem [essential reading]

“The habits of our culture are to think of sin in moral terms. It is simple, takes very little effort, and agrees with what everyone around you thinks. But it is theologically incorrect. … the capture of the Church’s theology by moralism is a true captivity and not an expression of the Orthodox mind.

“So how do we think of right and wrong, of spiritual growth, of salvation itself if sin is not a moral problem? We do not ignore our false choices and disordered passions (habits of behavior). But we see them as symptoms, as manifestations of a deeper process at work. The smell of a corpse is not the real problem and treating the smell is not at all the same thing as resurrection.

“The work of Christ is the work of resurrection. Our life in Christ is not a matter of moral improvement – it is life from the dead. We are buried into His death – and it is a real death – complete with all that death means. But His death was not unto corruption. He destroyed corruption. Our Baptism into Christ’s death is a Baptism into incorruption, the healing of the fundamental break in our communion with God.”

Unchurched & the United States: 10 Facts About America’s Churchless

“In the past decade, more people in the U.S. have become churchless than live in Australia or Canada. … The vast majority of America’s churchless have attended a church. … Unchurched adults are more likely to be white.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Apologies, communication, deception, forgiveness, manipulation & relationships: How to Spot a Fake Apology [required reading]

“Of all the keys to healthy relationships—whether with friends, family or significant others—perhaps the most important is knowing when and how to ask for forgiveness.”

Culture & faith: Why Christians Must Give Up the Fight

“Some churches and Christians feel so attacked by the non-Christian culture that their natural response is to fight. They fight Hollywood because of its movies. They fight Nashville because of its music. They fight Washington because of its laws. The hope is for the church to regain power. They respond in way that says, ‘I will fight against you.'”

Denominations, division & tribes: 5 Dangers of Tribalism

“There’s an ever-growing number of tribes in the church. Denominations, coalitions, and networks all serve as tribes within the Tribe of Christian faith. These tribes we participate in each play a vital role in connecting us to one another and catalyzing us for mission. Despite their many benefits, our tribalism is not without inherent dangers.”

Hell: 5 Reasons Why More Christians Are Rejecting The Traditional View of Hell

“As more and more Christians return home to a radical faith centered squarely on Jesus, we will continue to see a growing number of bible believing, soundly orthodox Christians, reject the evangelical concept of ‘eternal, conscious torment.’ This should be viewed as a beautiful thing, not a travesty, as we rediscover that God actually is altogether wonderful, altogether lovely, and altogether like Jesus.”

Humility & time: The PaleoClock

“We’d have to live for hundreds of thousands of years to detect any movement at all.”

Israel & Palestinians: Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes [32 min. video; required listening]

“In his latest book, Faith in the Face of Empire, Mitri Raheb, presents a new reading of the Bible from the perspective of the people of Palestine.’ In light of the current geo-political turmoil, after the hopes of the Arab Spring, and in the face of the latest round of US shuttle diplomacy, Raheb asks, ‘Can we imagine another Middle East? Can there be a different future?'”

Marriage: Making Your Marriage More Important Than Your Kids

“… to keep your marriage happy and healthy, you’re going to have to be willing to invest time in it.”