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fundamentalism

  • Winds of Change in the Church of the Nazarene

    The Church of the Nazarene is a small denomination, a true community where everyone knows everyone, yet there is a significant gap between the doctrinal interpretations of the predominantly "holiness" branches and those of the predominantly "Wesleyan" branches. These two descriptors are not exclusive, but the two seem to be drifting farther and farther apart these days. We are better than this.
  • The War is Coming!

    Sometimes, in our preparation for war, we are the ones creating the fight.
  • Coffee, Creation, and Theistic Evolution

    This may shock some of you, but I love coffee. Hot, iced, espresso, dark roast, light roast - it doesn't matter. It’s delicious. In case you don't believe me, here are just a few of the brewers that I have in my kitchen: Black & Decker Drip Pot Moka Pot Melitta Pourover Kalita Wave Pourover Aeropress French Press Filtron Cold Brewer Each of these methods makes a slightly different type of cup - some produce a more full-bodied cup, some bring out the sweetness of the coffee, some are just quick and easy to use. On any given morning (or afternoon…), I’ll use whichever one best fits my needs at that time. If you were to ask me which one is the best way to make coffee, I’d have a hard time answering. Certainly they each have their strengths and weaknesses (and everyone has their personal preferences), but I can make a great cup with any of them. All else being equal, the distinguishing factor between a great cup of coffee and a poor one is usually not the method of brewing - it’s the skill of the person brewing it. Young Earth Creationism vs. Theistic Evolution One of the big sticking points in evangelicalism these days is the debate between young earth creationism and theistic evolution. Young earth creationists say that the Genesis account of creation should be read as historical fact. They maintain that God created the light and separated it from the darkness, and that was Day 1, the first 24-hour period in history. The next day, God spoke and separated the water from the sky. The third day, he created dry ground and plants. And so on until the sixth day, when he created mankind. Theistic evolutionists, on the other hand, describe the Genesis account as being mostly symbolic. They say that the “days" referred to in the opening chapter of Genesis aren't literal 24-hour days - they are ambiguous “long ages” of time (this is based on an alternate meaning of the original Hebrew word). In addition to contesting the length of a “day” in Genesis, theistic evolutionists say that the account of God speaking the universe into existence is metaphorical and that he used the scientific process of evolution as his tool to accomplish it. Among Christians, this debate is a heated one. Simply mentioning the terms “young earth creationism” or “theistic evolution” is usually enough to get the opposing side worked up. For Christians on both ends, the issue has seemingly become a cornerstone of the faith. Indeed, we often behave as if a person's perspective on creation determines whether or not he follows the one true God. And this division breaks my heart. Remember the Maker I opened this post discussing coffee and how the most important factor in preparing a cup wasn't the method used to brew it, but the skill of the person brewing it. Plenty of people make the mistake of marveling over a coffee-brewing device, but the real credit belongs to the person brewing it. In the debate over how the…
  • Freedom in Biblical Inerrancy

    If I asked three different men to describe the perfect woman, I would get three completely different responses. The first man might describe a tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed bombshell. The second man might describe a woman of remarkable intellect and drive. And the third man might describe a woman who was 100% devoted to her family. They would each have their own interpretation of what “perfect” means. “Perfect” isn't enough. What, then, is the real perfect woman? Is one description right and the other two wrong? Is she a mixture of the three descriptions? Or should we boil the definition of a perfect woman down to primal evolutionary functions (in which case she would be any one who was able to survive and carry on the human race)? The term “perfect” can have a lot of different meanings and can be interpreted in many different ways. It isn't strong enough to stand on its own - it needs context in order to have any kind of practical purpose. For the word to have any real value in our conversations, we need to clarify which interpretation of perfection we mean. Biblical Inerrancy: The Question of Perfection We run into this very same issue when we discuss “biblical inerrancy” - at first glance, it means that the Bible is perfect and without error. Much of the discussion on the topic centers around 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (NLT) The beginning of that verse - “All Scripture is inspired by God…” - has been dissected and analyzed and interpreted, and it is the basis of the concept of biblical inerrancy. Basically, the idea is that since Scripture is inspired by God (alternately interpreted as “God-breathed”), it is perfect. But how do we really define this doctrine of inerrancy? Are we simply saying that the NLT (or whatever translation you prefer) that we hold in our hands has no typos? What about translation errors or discrepancies with other translations? Most Christians would agree that this definition is not accurate. Are we saying that every sentence of the Bible literally applies to our lives? Most Christians would agree that this definition is not accurate either. A more common definition of biblical inerrancy is that, with the exception of the parts of Scripture that are poetry or metaphor, the Bible is 100% factually accurate and should be read at face value. This is to say, for example, that since it describes the creation of the world as occurring over a period of six days, God created the world in six literal days. Within this view, there is some question about which books and passages are poetry or metaphor. (Who decides which parts are to be taken literally and which should be read figuratively?) Taking these questions even further,…