"I knew that danger lay ahead, of course; but I did not expect to meet it in our own Shire. Can't a hobbit walk from the Water to the River in peace?"
"But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."
(The Lord of the Rings: Gildor to Frodo, Chapter 'Three is Company' link)
The Glowing Eye Nebula: NASA
Today, I had so many topics to discuss, I put them all in one post.
9 Marks: Contentedly submit or you will have a "meeting" with your pastor.
Trina sent us a link to "What should I do if I disagree with something my pastor said" on the 9 Marks website in their questions and answers section link. I found the "steps" quite interesting. Apparently you must ask the "right" type of people if you have a question. If you are not careful you can cause all sorts of problems.
Do not speak to someone who would be tempted to suspect the pastor, or would delight in disunity, or would be naively led astray by doubts.
… in rare cases, you might find that you disagree so strongly with something your pastor teaches, or that you disagree on a matter of such consequence, that it would hinder you from contentedly submitting to his leadership. In a case like this it may be best to quietly, lovingly find another church after discussing your intent to leave with the pastor.
Three things jumped out at me.
1. The first is the need to discuss your intent to leave with the pastor. In the case of 9 Marks, such an act might end very, very badly. Did you know that you must get permission to leave a 9 Marks church? We wrote about that here. Since 9 Marks also seems to have some qualms about "allowing" people to leave for a job opportunity,here, my guess is that such a discussion might not go well. Can we predict that church discipline may not be far behind if said pastor does not like how you look, smile, present, or smell?
2. Then there is the whole "contentedly submitting" thing. This group loves to discuss submission. It appears that they have upped the ante. Now, it must be contented submission. I assume there will be further edicts such as: joyful submission, loving submission, gospel submission, Cross centered submission, etc. Do you think that anyone asked if CJ Mahaney was "contentedly submitting" when he hid out with Dever. (That might get you called "wicked and unregenerate.")
3. However, I think an important item may be missing in this answer. I want to hear what you all think it is. A hint is provided later in this post.
How to create or preventing creating more "Nones."
I spent years trying to figure out why people leave the faith. The people over at Ex-Christians link taught me two important lessons. About 60% of them mentioned the insistence on Young Earth Creationism and a general disregard for science by churches as important factors in their loss of faith. The vast majority also mentioned the inability of many pastors and churches to answer questions about Biblical discrepancies and difficult Bible verses as contributing to their loss of faith.
1. Create a None
Justin Taylor wrote an interesting article on how to deal with Biblical discrepancies in a sermon link. I was excited to hear what he might say. I was startled by his answer.
Thirdly, do not use up much sermon time dealing with such issues. You may have to do enough work on the problem that you are reasonably clear in your mind as to which solution is most plausible (or least implausible!), but that does not mean you necessarily have to drop all your information and reasoning into the minds of the members of the congregation. Most such questions are the sorts of things you can address adequately in thirty seconds. That you have done so will alert the handful of people in the congregation who are aware of the problem that you have done your homework, and if any of them are troubled (e.g. undergraduate students in biblical studies), they will then feel free to approach you afterward for further information and bibliography.
Thirty seconds! Good night! I recommend that churches do full sermons on how to approach Biblical difficulties and discrepancies along with having Sunday schools that deal with such issues. No wonder the "nones" are on the rise.
2. Prevent creating a none
There is a surprising development in the evangelical homeschooling community as outlined in this article in The Atlantic. It appears that some such parents are asking for materials that teach evolution. Until now, most of what was available was produced by Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis. However, the demand is changing and I believe that this change will better prepare kids to understand that a belief in a 6,000 year earth has nothing to do with salvation. And that may prevent a "none."
It's no secret that the majority of homeschooled children in America belong to evangelical Christian families. What's less known is that a growing number of their parents are dismayed by these textbooks.
Take Erinn Cameron Warton, an evangelical Christian who homeschools her children. Warton, a scientist, says she was horrified when she opened a homeschool science textbook and found a picture of Adam and Eve putting a saddle on a dinosaur. "I nearly choked," says the mother of three. "When researching homeschooling curricula, I found that the majority of Christian homeschool textbooks are written from this ridiculous perspective. Once I saw this, I vowed never to use them." Instead, Warton has pulled together a curriculum inspired partly by homeschool pioneer Susan Wise Bauer and partly by the Waldorf holistic educational movement.
Jack Schapp is sent to prison.
TWW wrote an article on the exploits on FBC Hammond (IFB) mega-church pastor Jack Schapp here. Today, the judge sentenced Schapp to 12 years in jail which was 2 years more than the prosecutor requested. You can read about it at this link.
Tim Challies writes a great post, really.
Challies is doing a series on The History of Christianity in 25 Objects. Today he focused on the Rylands Library Papyrus P52 link. Be sure to visit the post to see a picture of the papyrus and read the translation. On occasion, I can be pleasant.
Most current scholars believe it was written between 125 and 150 A.D., making it the oldest surviving copy of any portion of the New Testament. This little scrap of papyrus is our oldest historical link to the New Testament Scriptures. It represents the thousands of manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts that have survived the centuries.
P52 contains words from the account of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, John 18:31-33 on the front and John 18:37-38 on the back.
Frank Viola admits he made a mistake on the proper response to pedophile incidents in the church.
Now this admission, I believe, is a rare occurrence in the church. On Monday, we discussed the issue of slander, Matthew 18, and how it applies to handling a potential pedophile within a church setting link. We disagreed that pastors should first determine whether or not a pedophile report is accurate. Apparently, several of our readers visited the Viola's blog to discuss the matter. "Serving in Japan" comments at this blog. I commend Viola for his openness to disagreement. He did something that the pastor at 9 Marks did NOT do. (Hint: Clue to previously mentioned question).
TWW is giving Frank Viola a standing ovation. *Applause*. However, we still disagree with the definition of slander. Please go over to this link to read this wonderful give and take.
UPDATE: This morning “Serving in Japan” made a good point about the training needed to investigate such cases. On hindsight, I think he is right. In that particular case I referred to, the elders should have called in the authorities to at least investigate. You can see my reply to him below.
A beautiful mistake
Last week, one of our readers' daughters miscarried her baby at 16 weeks. Another reader, whom I shall call Mary, had experienced her own miscarriage and wanted to reach out to her. I helped them to exchange email addresses. However, when Mary emailed the other reader, she wrote the email address incorrectly. It was received, by a man in Japan. He wrote back to her. Here is that email with names changed. (Told with his exact words). Get your tissues ready.
I'm Takahiro Hayoshi living in Japan. I got your email but it was sent to wrong address.
But, Please accept my apologies to read and reply such a personal mail.
4 years ago, I and my wife had a stillborn baby and same experience. My family had sorrow same as yours in that time.
My family pray for you, the stillborn baby and your family. We wish you and your family will recover from the sorrow.
Lydia's Corner: Judges 6:1-40 Luke 22:54-23:12 Psalm 95:1-96:13 Proverbs 14:5-6