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Category Archives: Christendumb

Group Opposes IMB’s Headlong Dash into Donatism

That, at least would have been my headline. The folks at the Biblical Recorder apparently have much more restraint.

Update: Tony Cartledge, almost always a good read for Baptist doings, weighs in.

“The Bible Is Never to Be Questioned”

So says the parent of a student at NorthPointe Christian High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, commenting on the ouster of Kent Dobson, apparently a capable and Christ-loving teacher well loved by his students (H/T: ThinkChristian). Dobson hosted a Discovery Channel special about the Gospels that apparently ended up leaving too many unanswered questions. Actually, this parent’s remarks are too utterly dumbfounding not to quote in full:

We are writing in concern to the program that was aired on Sunday night with Kent Dobson.

We have many concerns regarding this program and am wondering where Kent Dobson actually stands with his Christian beliefs. We understand that this was done with unbelievers and that parts of this were edited.

The part that actually concerns me that as a Christian the Bible was questioned. The Bible is never to be questioned!

Why as a Christian would one place himself in this type of situation where we would actually be questioning the Bible.

We have a big reservation with having our son in this Bible class. What exactly is Kent teaching our children!

We would like many things cleared up by Kent Dobson himself. We would also like to know what the School board is going to do regarding this program.

Ah, where to begin? I haven’t seen more than a few brief clips of the show with very little context, but according to the mlive.com story linked above,

On the hourlong program, Dobson questioned biblical scholars on possible contradictions between the Gospels and the historical evidence of Jesus’ life. The questions included:

• Was Bethlehem Jesus’ birthplace?
• Was Jesus a carpenter or a stone mason?
• Was Jesus’ eviction of money changers from the temple a political or religious move?
• Is there any truth in the Gnostic gospels?

Only the first of these questions bears on the issue of the Bible’s historicity at all. Whether Jesus was a carpenter or a stonemason is an issue of how one understands the Greek word tekton, and Jesus’ motivations for driving out the money changers are only hinted at in Scripture. As for whether there is “any truth” in the Gnostic gospels, I suppose the ones that say that Jesus existed and had followers can be said to have “truth” in them. At any rate, that is not the same question as “Should I chuck Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in favor of these other documents?” but rather “Is there anything these non-canonical documents can tell me to enhance my historical understanding of Jesus?” My personal answer would be, “Yes, but not very much. There’s a reason they’re not in the canon.” I’m thinking the answer given by a teacher at a conservative Christian school is not going to be far different.

So, if these are in fact the sort of questions Dobson investigated, Christians can and should be neutral to the answers arrived by half to three-quarters of them.

Second, it should be noted that the Discovery Channel does not really have a stellar reputation for producing programs that put conservative-minded Christians at ease. Their biblical specials tend to feature scholars on the radical fringe of biblical scholarship. I note the Jesus Seminar‘s Jon Dominic Crossan’s appearance in Dobson’s special. Did Dobson interview others whose more traditional views got edited out? Or is Dobson simply guilty of trying to be an impartial journalist? If he is to be faulted, perhaps it is for being a bit too trusting of a network with an agenda at cross-purposes to his own?

Finally, and most important. I wonder how the parent quoted above deals with Acts 17:10-11:

That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas off to Beroea; and when they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. These Jews were more receptive than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so.

How, I wonder, does one “examine the scriptures” without questioning the Bible? Furthermore, how does one do what Paul insisted the Thessalonians do—”Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess 5:20-22)—without examining even deeply cherished beliefs so as to exercise genuine discernment about what is true and what is false; what is good and what is evil? Is it at least possible that some of the things we think the Bible says aren’t really in there? How will we know if we never “question the Bible”?

It’s scary to imagine a Bible so fragile that it cannot bear to be confronted with tough questions. It’s scarier still to imagine that is the bible “conservatives” believe in. Once more from the article:

NorthPointe has a “Christian world and life view taught from a conservative viewpoint,” according to the school’s Web site. That’s in contrast to Dobson’s style of asking questions and digging deep for the truth, friends said.

It may be in contrast to the “conservative viewpoint” of NorthPointe; it is assuredly not in contrast with the testimony of 2,000 years of careful—and sometimes innovative—biblical investigation by some of the greatest minds the church has produced from Origen on down. The Bible has a depth and resiliency that some people will never understand, and that makes me sad.

I’ll give the final word to Mr. Dobson himself:

“I don’t think even [the apostle] Thomas wants someone like me to stop asking questions. I think that’s just part of being an honest person,” Dobson said.


Using the F-word in Class

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Find a Bigger Stick?

Can you say “Black eye on the reputation of all Christians everywhere“? As this source explains,

Use of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is governed by an intricate set of rules that allow several different Christian denominations access to different parts of the church building, with common areas that are available for shared used on a carefully negotiated schedule. Conflicts between the different denominations are common. To prevent further violence, the keys to the church building are held by a local Muslim family, under the terms of an agreement that dates back to the Ottoman empire.

Frankly, it’s pathetic that such an arrangement is even needed. And yes, I’m quite aware that Protestant Christians behave even worse on a regular basis. But at least no one has ever entrusted us with the responsibility of maintaining a place of worship deemed sacred to all believers in Jesus Christ. (Unless, of course, you’re a fan of the “Garden Tomb.” Personally, I’m a bit skeptical.)

Whenever I see a story like this, I want to break into a chorus of “They’ll know we are Christians by our love….”

(H/T: Jim West, David Koysis)

Honest Christians Need Not Apply

Somebody please tell me this is an April Fool’s joke two days late:

We need two workers at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana to assist the LifeWay Research team. We are looking for two energetic seminary students to work (for pay) Monday and Tuesday, June 9 and 10. One would work the hours of 9-5 and one is needed the hours of 10-8. Email research@lifeway.com for directions how to proceed if interested. You must be SBC and cannot have been anywhere near anything sinful in the last 6 months.

Update: Ed Stetzer, on whose blog this ad appears, has left the following note in his comments:

Hmmm… I better clarify that the last part was a joke. Sinners are welcome to apply.

Well alright then.

The Wall

Is this sermon for real or just a really good parody? (HT: Suzanne McCarthy at Better Bibles Blogs, who isn’t sure, either). For those of you who would like to know something more about what it really means when the KJV speaks of “him that pisseth against the wall,” you can check out this oldy but goody by Tyler Williams: “Dogs, Urine, and Bible Translation.” Bottom line: it’s a derogatory comparison to male dogs; it’s not setting a biblical standard for how “real men” are supposed to behave. But I probably didn’t need to explain that to you, did I?

Grumpy Pastor Alert

Singing Owl has come across some other verses that need to be added to Claude Mariottini’s “Book of Hezekiah.”

Wisdom and Folly

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” The beginning of silliness is, well, go see for yourself at The Grail Code.

Jesus’ Tomb Found Aboard Noah’s Ark, Just Outside the Garden of Eden!

I meant to link to this last week and then realized I had an exam to write, administer, and grade! From Think Christian: “Reclaiming Biblical Archeology from the Crackpots.”

I’m not scandalized by competent archeologists trying to shed light on the meaning of biblical texts through the discoveries they’ve unearthed. I’m not even scandalized if what they find runs counter to what I’ve always been told the biblical texts mean. What does scandalize me his how the purveyors of sensationalism make it hard for the rest of us to be taken seriously when we want to understand more of the historical underpinnings of our faith.

The post concludes with a short list of good, reputable sources for biblical archeological information on the Web. Some of you will want to bookmark those links and even add your own favorites in the comments.

“We Have Prayer Police”

So says Rev. Dwight McKissic, who has now officially resigned as a trustee of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.

I wonder who’s going to tell the IMB that tongues, divine healing, and the like are actually somewhat common in some of the places they’re sending missionaries?

Oh, and I guess I’d better hide my rosaries, just to play it safe.

Church Growth

Now, here is a method of church growth that I can support 100%.

(H/T: Higgaion)