The Bible or the bible?

Tags

, , , , ,

I first started this post some months back and never got much farther than a working title, but as of late I have a great reason to use the above title. My series Build-a-Jesus Workshop and the sub series Shut The Hell Up have been immensely popular and have both sparked some great discussion! I have done more research than I would normally do regarding my Hell blogs, because I believe the topic deserves the utmost care and thoughtfulness. In my research I have come to the conclusion that many of the modern cutting-edge theologians of our day are not Biblical theologians, but rather ‘religious theologians’ because many of them (Rob Bell, N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg ect.) take what we find in the scriptures and twist and manipulate it to the point that it is almost un-reconizable as scripture.

The Bible is not a religious book, Christianity is not a religion, when the Bible becomes ‘Our Holy Book’ rather than ‘The Holy Book; we cease following Christ. Jesus was very clear your either with me or against me; you cannot be religious and following Jesus.

Religion is our attempt to follow God, Jesus’ way is His pursuit of us! C.S. Lewis said:

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened. ” God puts in each of our hearts a desire to know Him, when we try to get to Him apart from what the scriptures say we are building our own religion!

I have worked relentlessly on my next post on Hell, but as of yet I still am not satisfied. I am writing my posts not to argue with critics or try to one up someone in a debate, but in hopes that people will step back and consider what the Bible really says!

People like Rob Bell have a lot of sway in media and Christianity and even in the un-churched world; I want people to know what God says before false teachers take them into the world of religion.

stay tuned for the next installment of SHUT THE HELL UP coming this weekend!

danieldunlop

Advertisements

Hell, Closed for retitling and some slight modifications…

Tags

, ,

I’m very thankful for the colorful discussion that we have been having on the topic of Hell. Please do not stop… I’m interested to see what everyone thinks.
Shut the Hell up is my current sub-series on Hell within the much larger Build-a-Jesus Workshop series exploring the re-creation of our understanding of who Jesus was and is.
It seems that there is some re-purposing of the Bible in our times and that Is why I am writing the Build-a-Jesus workshop; to fight false doctrine!!!

Shut The Hell Up!!! Build-a-Jesus Workshop

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Is Hell real?…………………………………………………………………………………………………. If it is why did God Create it? In this post, I want to try to discuss several questions raised with the topic of Hell.

Over the last year, it seems like just about every church leader and theologian on the face of the earth has written a book, or paper, or blog post discussing their idea of Hell! In generations to come, I wonder if people will think what was our fixation on the topic of Hell? More books have been written on Hell in the last year than probably the last decade! (my guestimation)

Jesus spoke often of Hell and especially when He was around religious people, my theory on that is He didn’t want religion to send religious people to Hell when He was the answer their soul needed! Hell is not a comfortable topic and for good reason; it is a horrible place!

Bertrand Russell said in his Why I am Not a Christian:

There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching — an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers, but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence. You do not, for instance find that attitude in Socrates.

Many very famous people such as Mr. Russell throughout history have had a hard time accepting Jesus’ teaching on Hell.  Does our frustration over Hell change its existence? What was Jesus so worked up about when He spoke on Hell?

Matthew 5:29 says:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

And in Mark 9:43-47:

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.  And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell…

Betrand Russell believed that Jesus was not a good leader because He taught there is a Hell. The Hell that Jesus spoke of was not a temporary dwelling or a place for repentance, but in fact a place so devastating that it would be better to get rid of a body part that would send you there than go to Hell with all your members intact!

Rob Bell On Hell

Taken From Cathleen Falsani’s Interview with Rob Bell:

For too many people, though, what they’ve been told is the good news is actually an ugly truth. They hear that God is full of grace and unconditional love, a God of endless second chances, infinitely patient. But then they hear that God’s grace, love and patience expires at death. “Too late,” they’re told. “You had your chance.” That schizophrenic idea of God is simply untenable, Bell says.

“It’s psychologically unbearable. No psyche can handle that,” he said. “It’s devastating.”

It’s also toxic and a lie. The Good News, Bell insists, is better than that.

“If we have the freedom to choose these things now, that Jesus came to offer us and show us, then I assume that when you die, you can continue to choose these realities because love cannot co-opt the human heart’s ability to decide,” Bell said. “But after you die, we are firmly in the realm of speculation.”

I think that it is interesting that the whole article above about Hell ends with the phrase “firmly in the realm of speculation.”  I’m not sure about you, but compared with the above Bible passages, I would not want to leave my afterlife in the ‘REALM OF SPECULATION.’  And furthermore, it seems that Jesus was pretty Damn serious that Hell is not something to leave to chance.  Jesus spoke more on Hell in the New Testament than Heaven and, in my opinion, it is because Jesus didn’t wish anyone to go there!

If Jesus does not wish for anyone to go to Hell, then why did He create it in the first place?

We will explore Hell more in my next post!

danieldunlop

 

Amy Winehouse

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Singer songwriter Amy Winehouse 1983-2011

If you haven’t heard, singer song writer Amy Winehouse died the other week, the news of her death was all over the internet and TV! To me, her death was heart breaking, she died so young (27) and her eclectic soul jazz voice was, to me, one of the best ever! Not to mention, Amy was a very good song writer.

The thing that was really sad about Amy’s death was how so many people in the media and everyday life were making jokes about her death.  I think that if someone died after living a long life  there is  much more respect for them than for someone who lives a party lifestyle and dies young! The devaluing of a person with a sordid lifestyle is very sad to me, and even more so when you hear fellow Christians making snide remarks about her!

God sets our soul’s worth, we do not.  We do not even for that matter truly know what a man’s life is worth, only God does! It is very sobering to me when I think that we will all die some day, it’s not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’! If we truly had eternity in our hearts every day, we would never make light of the misfortune or the sin of others! If not for the grace of God, we are in the same boat as each and every other person on earth.

Even though we do not live in a civilization that uses a caste system, in a sense America does have a caste system of sorts because we look down on those that have diseases or struggle with certain kinds of illnesses and sins.  To me, our culture is fine with drug use or a wild promiscuous lifestyle as long as it does not interfere with that individual’s usefulness to his or her culture. I believe that many poor and illiterate people have simply been mowed over by culture because they have no worth to us!

It is strange to think that Amy Winehouse has been grouped with the homeless and down and out, though she made millions of dollars and won Grammy awards! What is the worth of a man’s soul?  Jesus spent most of His earthly ministry with Amy Winehouse type people; people that had consuming addictions and could not find freedom, people that had no life outside of their suffering! It is for the Amy Winehouse’s of the world that Jesus came, not for the religious! I am Amy Winehouse, and I am thankful that God sees what I am going through.

Next time we see someone struggling, someone who doesn’t seem to have a shred of hope left, will we help them?

danieldunlop

I will post the next installment of Build-a- Jesus Workshop later this weekend. Hope to see your comments, and I promise you that I will respond to any questions or comments raised!

Looking forward to the very relevant topics we will be discussing shortly!

 

Resurrection Insurrection

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Does Jesus bodily rising from the dead matter? I have waited for several weeks, in great anticipation to ask you that one question. Does Jesus rising bodily from the dead matter?  Of all the posts in this Build a Jesus series, this is one of my favorites, and indeed I believe one of the most important!

“I am very comfortable not knowing whether of not the tomb was empty. Indeed the discovery of Jesus’ skeletal remains would not be a problem. It doesn’t matter, because easter is about resurrection not resuscitation.” -Marcus Borg

The above quote from Mr. Borg can be found in a book called The Meaning of Jesus  which he wrote with N.T. Wright. The book claims to give two radically different views on topics related to Jesus, yet I have tremendous problems with both N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg’s theology. I want to pick apart Marcus Borg’s above statement, but there is not a lot to pick apart! Resuscitation is to revive someone from unconsciousness or apparent death, according to the dictionary. And the most literal translation of resurrection was to ‘rise again.’ In John chapter 11, we find the account of Lazarus’ death, and then the miracle of Jesus raising him from the dead. This is one of very few accounts of people being raised from the dead in all of the scripture! Lazarus was very dead, in fact some of those talking with Jesus didn’t think it would be such a good idea to open the grave because Lazarus had been dead for 4 days and “(Stunk)”!

For centuries, people have tried to skirt around a bodily resurrection of Jesus any way possible; can I just say, Jesus was Dead… very dead! It does not matter what Marcus Borg or any ‘theologian’ wants to think or the wording that he or she wants to use, the only way Jesus’ resurrection would be incredible is if it was bodily!

Let’s for just a minute indulge those that think Jesus possibly just rose in spirit from the grave. If Jesus just rose from the grave in spirit and not in the flesh, what would be the point?! I have little time for such mindless nonsense! Oh I forgot that I was supposed to be playing the devil’s advocate there! But seriously, almost everything that is spoken from that point on in the New Testament in some way or another comes back to Jesus rising Physically from the grave. Shortly after Jesus was in the grave, religious leaders asked for guards to watch His tomb because it was expected that Jesus’ followers would steal His body to psuedo-fufill His prophecy. What would the purpose of watching Jesus’ Body be, if those that had listened to the prophecy had understood Him to mean in spirit? More important than this to me is the fact that if Jesus did not rise bodily His followers could have claimed to see Him, but just made the whole thing up, and there would be no proof!

Without a bodily resurrection from the grave, Jesus would be in the same league as Big Foot or the Loch Ness monster! Jesus’ resurrection is so fundamentally important to the Christian faith that without it, we have nothing more than just another man made religion with claims that cannot be verified! The empty tomb dumbfounded Jesus’ critics and sent the religious community into a frenzy!

danieldunlop

My tremendous rain day!

Tags

, , ,

There is not a lot going on this afternoon. I got up with our baby and gave my wife a break by taking our bundle of joy with me to the starbucks. When I got back I was not in the best mood. I guess the high humidity combined with the ultra hight temps have made for a miserable outdoors. We sat down atlast when I had kinda calmed down from just being totally flustered with this weekend and read Psalm 138. That psalm helped give me prospective, helped me realize that even when we are having a bad day or week there are those in our world that have what we would call a bad day everyday, because of poverty or sickness, or being alone.
We should take what we have and celebrate it; then and only then can we help and pray for others in need, realizing we are not our own!
danieldunlop

BUild-a-JESUS Workshop 2 Divinity

Tags

, , , , , ,

It seems that in modern Christianity almost every aspect of the New Testament is up for re-interpretation; I have found very little of Jesus’ teachings to be complex or hard to follow.  I, instead, have trouble with Old Testament passages that I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around! Even though I have trouble with understanding certain passages, I don’t doubt the Bible, I just pray and ask God to reveal what they mean. Often God opens my mind to what the passages mean, but even when He doesn’t still I trust Him. Some have had a really hard time accepting Jesus’ dual nature as completely man and completely God!

“Is it a fact that Jesus Christ died for the sins the the world, and how is it proved?  If a God, he could not die, and as a man he could not redeem.” -Thomas Paine

It was thinking like this that separated Mr. Paine from some of the Christian founding fathers and ostracized him at the end of his life.  It is not just non-believers like Thomas Paine that had a problem with Jesus’ Divinity; in fact, many ‘christians’ of our day struggle with whether Jesus was aware of His divine nature.

Did Jesus know that He was Divine? Did Jesus know from the beginning that God had big plans for Him? There are many that believe Jesus became aware of His divine nature as He grew up, but did not understand His divine appointment at first. The best indication to me that Jesus knew of His divine origin from the beginning is Luke 2:49:

He said, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” But they had no idea what he was talking about. (The Message )

In the ESV translation, Jesus says, ‘My Father’s house’, but whatever way you translate it, Jesus was very aware of where He came from and what His purpose was on earth! When I was reading over Luke 2, I had the thought, ‘Why did God include only one account of Jesus as a child?’  I think that it was to simply show us that Jesus was very aware of His divine origin from the beginning.

Earlier in Luke 2, Jesus is visited by a prophetess (Anna) and a man named Simeon, both of whom understood that Jesus was no mere man, but was indeed the Chosen Messiah! It might be over stated, but Jesus could not be merely a good teacher, because from the very beginning Jesus made claims to deity that if not verified, would have inferred that He was a crazy man!!!

We often argue over what the Bible is saying, but I don’t believe the Bible can be read into very far before it has absolutely no redeeming power!

C.S. Lewis Author of Mere Christianity

“The (Christian) ‘doctrines’ are translations into our concepts and ideas of that which God has already expressed in language more adequate, mainly the actual incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection.” -C.S. Lewis

We can debate negotiable aspects of the Bible all day, and we will, but when we start arguing over the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Bible accuracy, and resurrection of Jesus… we are treading on thin ice between faith and apostasy!

danieldunlop

BUild-a-JESUS Workshop 1- Bible Authority

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I’ve had a major struggle with writer’s block over the last few days, though I knew exactly what I wanted to write on. I’m continuing the dialogue from my last post: Bedazzled and Confused regarding misconceptions and false teaching on the Bible and more specifically the life and teachings of Jesus. Its seems that there is a lot of differing and conflicting views on some of the most foundational teachings of the Bible, being blogged about and spread through churches; teachings that make or break our faith!

I think that part of the reason we have so much conflicting and often aggressive philosophy floating around in Christian circles today is because there is massive misunderstanding and illiteracy of basic Biblical truths! Another reason that so many competing philosophies are getting a voice in modern Christianity is because we as a western-culture have idolized education and intellectuality over absolutes.  It seems that if you have studied under a famous theologian or carry an advanced degree you have the right to be heard in churches.

I want to touch on several Bible topics that have come up for debate… Was Jesus aware of His divine nature and God’s plan for Him, Did Jesus rise bodily or just in spirit from the grave? And the debate over the concepts of Heaven and Hell, and the rapture and second coming of Jesus. What do we do with these topics?

We must first tackle the debate over the Bible. Did God mean for us to read the Bible as literal or symbolic? Often there are several interpretations of the same scripture that we can take into account: for example, the cultural relevance of the writer’s analogies and metaphors which we would not get by just skimming the Bible two to five thousand years after it was written. Biblical symbolism and analogies can be very helpful, yet we need good commentaries and translation books to help us understand the cultural and time significance the writers are presenting us.

The Bible is divided into several different types of writing such as: historic, poetic, philosophic and it is up to us to understand what is before us as we read the Bible. The Bible was inspired and written by God through the hands of chosen men. We can not take everything said in the Bible literally like we cannot take everything spoken by everyone we talk to, literally! (I’M NOT LITERALLY BUILDING JESUS, I’M MERELY MOCKING THOSE THAT TRY) A good commentary and references are needed when we dive into the deep topics of the Bible, but above all else, we need God’s Holy Spirit to direct us through the scriptures!

Recently, I was listening to a friend at Starbucks with whom I often discuss Biblical topics, (often he does the talking and I do the listening…), he said in so many words: that in matters of science when the Bible and science disagree, go with  science, because the Bible is not intended to be a text book. What did my friend mean by this? Is the Bible a guideline, or is it absolute? What did he mean by this? I know what I think he meant by this, but if he meant it how I took it; he does not believe the Bible to be definitive.

danieldunlop

In the end it does not matter what I say or what he or she or they say, but what does the Bible say? I leave you with this:

18(A) Let no one deceive himself.(B) If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19For(C) the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written,(D) “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20and again,(E) “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” I Cor. 3:18-20

 

 

Bedazzled and Confused.

Tags

, , , , , ,

My wife and I love Netflix, and recently we watched Bedazzled on instant view.  No, not the Brenden Frasier one, the 1967 original. I didn’t even know that Bedazzled was a remake, but like most remakes, the original was much better. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore wrote and starred in this ’67 classic; which was not only very interesting, but asked many provocative questions about faith and temptation!

Bedazzled, 1967

Its hard not to top a Brendan Frasier film, but Bedazzled was better than Dudley Moore’s most famous role in Arthur. First off, the original Bedazzled did not have Elizabeth Hurley in it, so that’s a plus, and the writing was amazing.
Dudley Moore played a dense, unassuming fast food worker that sells his soul to the Devil (Peter Cook) for the chance to be with a girl that he likes at work; the rest of the movie goes through a series of different scenarios in which the Devil tricks Moore’s character out of the wishes that he granted him.
The Devil, played by Peter Cook, is a cool, calm, suave manipulator that delights in ruining the human race’s daily activities. In one scene when Moore’s character Stanley Moon tries to get Satan (Peter Cook) to ruin a clergy man’s day, satan responds, “He’s one of ours.” Often we see a concept of Satan being an evil super-villian or a man painted red wearing a Van Dyck beard, but the sly trickster that is portrayed in this Dudley Moore comedy is a more accurate portrayal.

The Devil Played by Peter Cook

Stanley asks the Devil if he and God are equals, and the Devil confesses that they are not. Now I would not say that this film is the most theologically sound movie, or that it should replace text books at Bible schools, but the fact is this movie potrays two equal, yet opposite misconceptions: One is that the Devil and God are equals and that they are struck in some eternal battle over men’s souls. The other misconception is not to take him seriously at all. In today’s culture, I would have to say that most take the second approach to the Devil: He’s there but he’s a joke or in some Christian circles the Devil does not really exist.

There is a lot of debate over the words hell, heaven, God, and satan now; and though these topics are far too complex to cover in one simple blog post,  or by this simple blogger; one thing about the scripture that is often left out of the debate over Hell and the Devil is the simplicity of the gospel message.  Jesus told His followers throughout His ministry that unless they gave up their preconceived notions and religiousness, and simply came to Him as children they could not follow Him! Many writers of  books and blogs, and many church pastors, and professors of Religious study are leading their congregations and followers down a dark path by making Christianity a faith for intellectuals!

danieldunlop