I’m pretty sure we’re not going to get nice weather here in MN for anything more than one 5 hour period at a time. Alas. Anyway, I took the chilled days to find you some more good reading. As always, be sure to let the authors know you appreciated what they wrote and let me know what you think here.
Curiosity Rover Update: Diverse Geological Formations on Mars– Not only does this post have some really beautiful imagery from Mars (seriously, it’s like a science fiction story come true!), but it also discusses how the geology of Mars might pose an interesting problem for young earth creationists.
Self-knockout: A Twitter dialogue with a Hindu against Christian Evangelism– The Nepalese Earthquake led to many Christians praying not just for the physical but also spiritual needs of those impacted. This led to major pushback from many Hindus who argued that Christians are “soul vultures” and should not evangelize. Here’s an interesting look at a dialogue with one of these Hindus who attacked Christians for sharing their faith.
The Biology Professor Who Hated our Outreach Exhibit– Pro-Life advocates continue to show how embryology and related sciences help support the case against abortion. Here’s a post about one biology professor who took issue with the use of scientific evidence against abortion.
How “faith” works in the prosperity gospel (Comic)- A nice flowchart depicting the way faith allegedly works according to the prosperity Gospel.
Upon the Ground of Men– There is a lot of anger (I don’t think this word is to strong) towards those who argue for gender-inclusive translations of the Bible and the like. Here’s a post that looks at some of the difficulties gendered translations face.
Bonus Link: Sam Harris’ performance in a discussion with Noam Chomsky left much to be desired. Sam Harris, one of the “new atheists,” has activated wanton violence against Muslims and other peoples of faith. Here, he had a dialogue with a noted activist against state-sponsored violence. How did it go?
I have been reading back through the Psalms, because, you know, it’s what the cool kids do. Anyway, I came upon a passage which I thought may have some relevance for the “Prosperity Gospel” teaching (check out this brief summary and critique of this movement):
“Many, LORD, are asking, ‘Who will bring us prosperity?’
Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy
When their grain and new wine abound.” Psalm 4:6-7 [7-8 in Hebrew Bible]
The text may not immediately seem to have anything to say about the notion that God will grant us ‘health, wealth, and prosperity.’ However, I think it actually does serve as a brief refutation of this alleged “gospel.” I’ll break it down.
Many, LORD, are asking “Who will bring us prosperity?”
There are those who call out to anyone, seeking prosperity rather than seeking after the LORD. Rather than asking the King of the Universe to let His will be done, they seek out prosperity from whatever place it may come. The modern teaching of the “prosperity gospel” is a form of this, but it smuggles in the notion that God is going to provide such wealth to those who ask.
Let the light of your face shine on us.
Rather than asking the LORD for prosperity, the Psalmist David seeks only to have God “shine” on him. Happiness comes from the presence of God.
Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound.
Here is what I would consider the dramatic turnaround: the first quoted section speaks of how there are others who are seeking after wealth from wherever it may come. Now, David asks from God, the only true provider, to give joy to him even when those who seek such prosperity actually get it.
Thus, we have a very real contrast: those who seek wealth as opposed to those who realize that the rain falls even upon the wicked and so they should rejoice in the light of God’s presence. The difficulty is not purely that the “others” are seeking from others; rather it is that they are seeking prosperity (more literally “happiness”) from God rather than simply rejoicing in God’s presence and Word.
Am I on Track?
I decided to take the time to look up these verses in a commentary after writing the above to see if I may be on the right track. There’s something to be said for the notion that we shouldn’t be doing theology in a vacuum. Samuel Terrien, in his commentary on Psalms from the Eerdman’s Critical Commentary series, argues that Psalm 4 should be seen as an evening prayer, likely even sung in the bedroom/prayed as one was getting into bed. His comments on the relevant passage note that “the poet is… saddened by the discovery of a certain skepticism around [him]… Happiness… which is lacking around him, may be due to a satiety of a materialist kind… For the pious, however, happiness arises from a grateful acceptance of God’s presence” (98-99, cited below).
Again, we see that the problem is that we should be finding our joy in the presence of God rather than material blessings from wherever they may come. Those who seek “health, wealth, and prosperity” are in fact pursuing the latter rather than the former. Psalm 4 should serve as a corrective to the prosperity “gospel.”
Samuel Terrien, The Psalms: Strophic Structure and Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2003).
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I have put together what I consider a very strong list of topics for you this go-round. Here, we have Acts, Osteen, Creationism, apologetics (x2), and C.S. Lewis. Check out the posts, and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Finally: A simple timeline of Acts– This tremendously helpful post provides a timeline of acts which shows when different people were traveling together and where they were at various points throughout the book. It is a great way to keep track of the goings-on in the book. Be sure to follow The Overview Bible, as they constantly have fantastic posts.
A Diluvialist Response to Buckland’s Kirkdale Cave Hyena Den– Flood geology has been around for a little while, and here, Joel Duff describes how early diluvialists-young earth flood geologists-initially reacted to some major important finds.
The Guide to Online Decorum for Christian Apologists– How, then, shall we live? This is a question to ask yourself, no matter your situation. Here, Pastor Matt Rawlings discusses how Christian apologists should interact in online settings.
C.S. Lewis’ (really) 10 Best Books– From Christian philosopher David Marshall, we have this list of C.S. Lewis’ 10 best books. Some might be obvious, some might surprise you. Regardless, it’s time to get some extra reading!
Osteen and Peter (Comic)– A poignant pictorial contrast between prosperity “gospel” and Christian life.
5 Things I Hate about Apologetics– Doing apologetics does present some pitfalls regarding faith and life. Check out this post related to these possible difficulties.
It really is difficult to keep up with all the excellent posts around the internet. But, I have taken the liberty of doing some of that work for you and found a diverse array of posts on fascinating topics. Read them, love them, comment! This week, we’ll be looking at the prosperity gospel, Calvinism, women in the Bible, Young Earth Creationism, the History Channel’s TV show on “The Bible”, and design flaws in creation.
The Prosperity Gospel Revisted– I found this post about the “Prosperity Gospel” quite fascinating. Dan offers critical interaction with the notion that the Gospel is about empowering us to gain. I also really recommend checking out the entire site, Rockadoodee, which is always thought-provoking.
Jerry Walls: What’s wrong with Calvinism? (Video)- One of the most interesting evangelical scholars writing right now, Jerry Walls, evaluates Calvinism. I found this video quite interesting. I’ve met Walls in person and I find him to be very gracious and thoughtful.
Correcting Caricatures: Women in the Bible [This link appears to be broken now… I don’t know why. Please let me know if you can view it]- Eminent scholar Walter Kaiser looks at several key texts related to women in the Bible. I found this fascinating and enlightening. Whether you are egalitarian or complementarian, it is worth reading.
2013 International Conference on Creationism– The Geochristian outlines a number of interesting discussions at this conference, which is where all the major scholars within the Young Earth Creation movement meet. Alongside this article, you should check out these articles on the state of Young Earth Creationism: The State of Creation Science as Measured by Scholarly Publishing– this one looks at scholarly works by YECs over a recent period of time and evaluates what it means for YEC; The Next Generation of Creation Scientists?– this post looks at who may be stepping in to fill the roles of the major YEC organizations.
The Bible–Night One Review– A look at the theology in the new TV series by the History Channel: The Bible.
If God Designed Humans, How Do We Account for “Design Flaws”?– One of my favorite blogs, “Well-Spent Journey” examines the notion that humans are flawed designs as an argument against intelligent design.