A House of Cards

Man pulling a card out of a house of cardsToday (and maybe yesterday) I ran into multiple links to “Pope Francis wants Catholics to doubt the Church. He’s right.” by Kyle Cupp. I would posit it is two articles in one.

The first theme is what led to the title of this post (“A House of Cards”) and has to do with infallible belief systems:

According to Catholicism, the core doctrines of the church express absolute truth and therefore cannot be altered, but paradoxically this premise doesn’t preclude changes to its teaching. In the parlance of the church, it only means that a previously proposed understanding wasn’t really unchangeable doctrine. Still, a big deal. By merely entertaining doctrinal development, the church entices believers to question its authority and the exact content of its faith.

Catholicism isn’t the only church that claims inerrancy (at least in aspects)…think of even more recent pseudo-Christian denominations like the Church of Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses. When a group that has claimed to have a corner on truth changes truth…well, it’s a house of cards. Pull one out (the first wrong “truth” as proven by changing it) and the whole thing crashes down.

Not that folks will not find mental ways to avoid that fact.

The second main point I gleaned out of Cupp’s piece is that, when it comes to God, there really is no way to completely “know” Him: [Read more…]

Scribbling On the Back of an Old Envelope

EnvelopeIn the preface to his book, The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan fondly recounts his college years, where he was able to learn from the minds of some of the 20th Century’s greatest minds, including astronomer G. P. Kuiper. He notes:

It was from Kuiper that I first got a feeling for what is called a back-of-the-envelope calculation: A possible explanation to a problem occurs to you, you pull out an old envelope, appeal to your knowledge of fundamental physics, scribble a few approximate equation on the envelope, substitute in likely numerical values, and see if your answer comes anywhere near explaining your problem. If not, you look for a different explanation. It cut through nonsense like a knife through butter.1

Although those thoughts were related to a scientific approach, it seemed to me that they were also completely applicable in the theological realm. Even though some spiritual concepts are "simple" to comprehend (or should be), Christians (especially our scholars) often spend the majority of their time trying to wrap the infinite with finite words. We want to be able to explain exactly how salvation works, how God is both three and one, how Jesus was 100% human and 100% divine—the list goes on ad infinitum. Although there is much that can be elucidated, frequently we seem to be trying to describe the indescribable. [Read more…]

Doubt in a Triad

Because I write a weekly article and preach almost as often, I do get a good amount of time with Scripture. However, I’ve been trying to open up the Bible more outside of doing research–often in trying to dissect it during study we miss the forest through the trees, overlooking the whole point God was trying to communicate in a book or a passage.

If you want to read a whole book in a single sitting, Jude is a great one because it only has 25 verses :-)…and it’s quite interesting with it’s extraordinary allusions to items like angels pursuing unnatural desires, the Archangel Michael arguing with Satan over Moses’ body, and Enoch prophesying the Lord will come “with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14b-15, ESV).

So I broke out my handy compact TNIV on a plane and read through Jude’s thoughts…only to have verses 22 & 23 jump out at me: [Read more…]

Fear of Flying

With this sermon it'll be the third time out of four that I have chosen a subject that is too broad to cover in a 30 minute sermon…so I am going to ask Warren to lock the door and we'll spend the rest of the day together. ☺

Okay, okay…perhaps instead we'll reduce it to 20-30 minutes by narrowing the scope. By the time I finish, if I've done my job right, I will have answered the following questions:

  • What is faith?
  • What is saving faith?
  • What should we do with doubt?

Ready to dig in?

What is faith?

Long ago someone share an analogy about faith with me. One can believe that planes are able to fly—but clearly they do not have faith that they can fly until they are willing to climb on one and let it take off. If your fear of flying keeps you on the ground, do you really have faith in an airplane?

Not much of a definition…but something simple that has stayed with me. However, let's try to get a bit more formal…

[Read more…]