Category Archives: Controversial

Farewell, Rob Bell

English: Rob Bell at the 2011 Time 100 gala.
English: Rob Bell at the 2011 Time 100 gala. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some time commentator and bear-poker, Drew, is about to have his hopes dashed as his favorite progressive/emergent/universalist, Rob Bell, is now emerging as a Neo-Marcionite Gnostic.

Drew, in a post from last year, noted,

…at least to a degree, Rob is not going to shy away completely from robust Christian themes…

Christian themes should include the entire Canon (both Old and New). Indeed, without the Jewish Scriptures, we do not have a foundation for the New Testament, nor for Christian ethics, doctrine, and witness. I think Drew would agree with me on this.

But Rob Bell has recently turn from Christian themes to something else:

I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life,” he said.

There are a few issues here. As you know, I believe in inclusion, not because of some notion of “Jesus was inclusive” or “the wrong side of history” but because of Scripture and Theology. Another issue is proof-texting. I hate proof-texting because it demeans the value of Scripture and spits at the intelligence of the dialogue partners. If the latter is what Bell is getting it, I can completely agree. We cannot simply afford to throw bible verses out as lines in the sand. It doesn’t make sense, creates logical fallacies (or, in this case, a phallacy), and establishes anti-intellectualism as a doctrine.

But, is that really what Rob Bell is getting at?

I think he doesn’t understand nor care to understand either the Old Testament nor Paul’s letters (which include and expound upon the Jewish Scriptures). I think he sees Scripture not as part of the message of Christ, but as a hinderance to the “divine life” Jesus promised (which is more Bellian than Christian).1

Further, Rob Bell seems to suggest the Church is pulling culture down, forgetting that this is not a race (either to the top or the bottom) but that the Church must stand a part from culture. We are the voice of the loyal opposition. We do not let dictates of culture become the voice of the Body of Christ.

There was once a time when the Church challenged society — slavery, gender equality, science. Now, people expect the Church to be complicit with society. If this is your view – regardless of how you feel about particular issues, the you must ask yourself: Are you a Christian?

Are we supposed to let the moral impulses of society shape the Church or, do we allow the progressive revelation of the Church lead us in shaping society (in a non-theocratic way)?

If Jesus is Lord, and Caesar is not, then the Church is the Kingdom, and society is not. We cannot judge, nor bend, the Church by society’s expectations. This has never worked well.

If the Church expects to formulate doctrine, ethics, and vision, we must do so based on something besides the ever changing moral dictates of society. If Rob Bell wants to throw away Scripture and rely on his own revelation or feelings (or, dare I say experience (in a non-Outler definition)), then let him, but he is not Christian in any orthodox sense of the word. He is simply someone who uses a Je$us and a Christianity to do what he will.

We, speaking as a United Methodist, will never move forward if we do not learn to rely not upon our own experience (which is what Rob Bell is trying to use) but upon concrete foundational documents. If we build our ethical houses of feelings and subjective views, then it will come tumbling down, destroyed by sheer stupidity.

So, while I have read much of Rob Bell and found that his books have influenced me (particularly, Love Wins), I cannot travel the road with him any longer. With that, I say, farewell, Rob Bell.

  1. This is ironic because the communities producing the New Testament are related. The Jesus of Paul directly influenced the Jesus of Mark, leading the Jesus of the other Gospels and Revelation. Even the Jesus of Thomas is somewhat twinned with the Jesus of the Synoptics. However, the Jesus we have a part from the canon is often a Jesus of ethereal reality, arriving hundreds of years later and in direct opposition to the canonical Jesus.

The impact of Christ’s teachings; not #Christianity

Are we any better?

Convert!!!
Would you like to accept the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior???? Have you heard of the Four Spiritual Laws???

As we gaze at our TV screens these days and se the barbarities, as we face the capabilities of other humans who share and breath the same oxygen as we do, live under the same bright sky as we do, of committing atrocities against their fellow humans we find within ourselves a sense of self-righteous comfort in knowing that we would never do these things and that it would be unthinkable for us to belong to a group, a culture, a religion that would practice such atrocities. Well, think again!

We may justify certain acts committed by people whose stories we revere today stating that “it was another time, another reality” but do we really know that “our group, religion or culture” once practiced the same gory acts of vengeance, murder, ethnic cleansing and religious purging that the Islamic extremists are now practicing?

What if there were cameras?

What to say of Samuel cutting Agag as narrated in 1 Samuel 15:33? What to say of the son of a Dodo a killer of such nature that the “hand clave to his sword”, an atrophy that practically engrafted the sword to his hand (I Sam 23:9-10 don’t mind if you’re a Dodo, you may bear killers one day). What if there were cameras filming it and showing for all the world to see in the nightly news? Oh, that without speaking of David beheading Goliath;  It is not a farfetched thought that if we could see it on the TV screen, David would have us up to the time that rock hit Goliath’s forehead, but, he certainly would have lost our support the minute we would see him chopping the big guy’s head!

I could go on and on with examples, but, then again, allow me: what if there were cameras when Calvin consented in Servetus execution? When the atrocities of the Crusaders were practiced? Think about it!

All these shows that we as humans are capable of doing the most heinous, the evilest of acts in the name of that which we deem sacred and unchangeable! It also enhances and gives a total new perspective and meaning to the teachings of Jesus, the Christ: “love your enemies; bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you!”  – This teaching really highlights what real Christianity is! Look at Paul: “even if my body is given to be burned” (perhaps in martyrdom) if I had no love it would mean nothing; Check Peter, writing to a church under persecution he says: “Do not repay evil for evil, just be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you”. In studying early Christianity, those first brethren understood nothing of vengeance and hatred; they even took the words of Jesus literally, imagine that! They believed that “no one has greater love than this: than laying his own life down for his friends” was a call to die for their friends in the new found faith! Yes, what a concept! They took the words of Jesus literally!

Christianity, the “Judeo-Christian” thinking of today cannot and should not be so “nowistic” so as to ignore its own past of blood, heinous acts of revenge, “an eye for many eyes”, and protect your religious and cultural, and, in the case of the Church, your doctrinal purity, at all cost, including burning people at the steak, murdering, plundering, or throwing their enemies in prison with no trial, or any type of justice  that we are so arrogantly proud of dispensing today.

Have that in mind: nothing today is as Christian as Christ intended. We are not better than anyone for being “judeo-christian”! If there were scenes preserved from a blood-stained past, would feel as self-righteous as we feel today as we look upon another human being burned while his executioners cheer and chant praises to their God? Remember the words of the one who said “love your enemies” or “forgive so you will be forgiven”: “…there will be a time that one who kills you will deem to be (in killing you) doing a service to God…” – Jesus knew how to predict extremist religion of any kind!

Is Christianity Christian?

 

For all time’s sake: John Piper’s latest tweet stupidity

He pulled it down, but you know what… he’s still the south end of a northbound horse.

John Piper Rape Tweet

Since he took the tweet down, I decided to leave the tweet before and after to show where it was.

What to say about Christian #nihilism?

This article, written by a member of the World Reformed Fellowship (I am a member) serves a full plate of food for thought  about, perhaps, an explanation for the “clash of civilizations”.

Read the article here

James Charlesworth responds to (calls out?) “The Lost Gospel”

jacobovici giorgio the lost gospel

The book is written by Barrie Wilson and Simcha Jacobovici; the title is The Lost Gospel. Should we not ask if something “lost” has been found and is it a “gospel”?

In Jacobovici’s video, I stressed that his alleged “lost gospel,” Joseph and Aseneth, is a Jewish pseudepigraphon (a work written in honor of a biblical hero) composed by a Jew in the first century CE (or about then). The document was expanded by Christians who edited it and transmitted it to us in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, Latin (2 versions), Serbian Slavonic, Modern Greek, Rumanian, and Ethiopic. There is evidence that an Arabic version once existed. Clearly, the Romance found many homes and libraries; but no one has claimed or imagined it was a romance between Jesus and the Magdalene. The claim is novel. When I was interviewed, twice (once in Jaffa and once in the Old City of Jerusalem), I said that I totally disagreed with the claim that the composition,

Joseph and Aseneth, could conceivably be a cryptic story of Jesus’ alleged marriage to Mary of Migdal. My resistance has to do only with the narrative of Joseph and Aseneth.

You can find the entire paper here:

Has Lost Gospel Been Found Proving Jesus Married Mary of Migdal? | James H. Charlesworth – Academia.edu.

Charlesworth has previously defended Jacobovici’s claims, so this break is important. One thing Charlesworth mentions is he believes it is clear Jesus and Mary were “intimate.” His position is not because he doesn’t like to think of Jesus as married. He even goes on to say this present novel is more researched than Dan Brown’s book of similar storyline.

Rather, Charlesworth is clear. He echoes well-known scholar, Dr. Robert Cargill, in essentially saying The Lost Gospel is neither lost nor a gospel.

Charlesworth also answers (his own) the question about whether or not The Lost Gospel is indeed an allegory of the marriage of Jesus.

NO. Despite the claims in The Lost Gospel, and the misleading notes to the Syriac translation, Joseph is not a cipher for Jesus. Aseneth is not a veiled Mary Magdalene.

I cannot help but notice the adjective “misleading.”

Personally, I don’t think the canonical gospels, nor the earliest non-canonical (Thomas, specifically), reveal any such marriage of Jesus and Mary. Yet, as some who studies this particular portion of the past, I would find it stranger to believe Jesus lived and died a 33-year-old virgin than to accept his marriage.

To be honest, I sort of picture it as an early death of his wife, in childbirth.

But, if I were to wax romantically, I would suggest Jesus was married to a woman who was later killed by a Roman soldier, Pantera, who raped her and left her for dead. I would then suggest this is what drove Jesus into the desert, where in his insanity, he heard a voice from the heavens telling him he was the messiah, the one to free Israel from Rome.

I mean, the only that separates my fiction from Wilson, et al.’s, is that I will plainly tell you I’m pulling it out of thin air.

Daniel McClellan’s take down of a puff piece on the “Lost Gospel”

English: Jesus resurrected and Mary Magdalene
Honey, I’m home! English: Jesus resurrected and Mary Magdalene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A puff piece on Jacobovici and Wilson’s book, “The Lost Gospel,” has appeared where there are plenty of erroneous statements made. Personally, I don’t want you to have to read it so I have taken Daniel’s comments.

A few issues with some of the comments in this article:

1. It is simply not true that Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor has been gathering dust for 150 years. An edition of the Syriac manuscript was published in 1953, and several years ago it was digitized and put online here: https://archive.org/stream/Bro…. Prior to that the Syriac was translated into Latin and published in 1886 and 1924. Several other manuscripts containing the Joseph and Aseneth story in Greek, Latin, Arminian, Slavonic, and Middle English, have been published since the nineteenth century. The story is very well known, which is why translations of Pseudo-Zacharias Rhetor frequently omit that portion. See a bibliography of publications on the text here:http://www.markgoodacre.org/as…

2. The early Christian church clearly read the tradition as an allegorical reference to Jesus and the Church (his metaphorical bride), but Wilson and Jacobovici are not actually pioneers in their reading. Others have suggested before that it can be read to refer to Jesus and Mary Magdalene (see here, for instance: http://www.themirroredbridalch…. As with that website, however, the assertion that Mary Magdalene is in view is utterly arbitrary. There is no evidence of this. It is just an assertion the reader must decide to accept. The notion that the “tower” refers to Magdala, and therefore Mary Magdalene, is fanciful speculation, as the New Testament scholar to which the above article referred so dismissively has shown in his own thorough peer-reviewed scholarship.

3. Many scholars have no problem whatsoever with the notion of Jesus being married. I personally have no aversion at all to it. I think it would be a fascinating and welcome dynamic to add to the tradition, but the simple fact is that there is no evidence of it at this point, and scholars must make claims based on evidence, not on what will rile up the status quo. Mr. Jacobovici is fond of insisting that the scholars who disagree with him are experiencing “theological trauma” because his claims disagree with their “Pauline” theological outlook, which is completely absurd. His critics have come from Jewish, atheist, agnostic, and a variety of Christian perspectives. Their concerns are with his cavalier and arbitrary methodologies, not with the trouble he causes for their theology (or lack thereof).

4. No one ever mocked Jacobovici’s kippah. One scholar wrote in a critical review that, “Winston Churchill once described Russia as ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.’ Simcha Jacobovici’s claim of the discovery of the ‘Lost Nails of the Crucifixion’ is speculation wrapped in hearsay couched in conspiracy masquerading as science ensconced in sensationalism slathered with misinformation and topped with a colorful hat.” In response to Jacobovici’s previous complaints about anti-Semitism, that scholar––who regularly speaks at synagogues––has replied: “I’ve never made fun of Mr. Jacobovici’s religion. Rather, I’ve spent my lifetime and career studying Judaism, understanding Judaism, teaching about Judaism, lecturing about Judaism, and publishing about Judaism. But Mr. Jacobovici wants to see it as ‘making fun’ because it helps him rhetorically.”

5. No one is jealous of Simcha Jacobovici’s ability to engage in pseudo-academic sensationalism.

Historical book about Jesus may find traction with Jewish readers | The Canadian Jewish News.

If you do read the story, see if you get bingo.

Selective #outrage and Hypocrisy; the #CiaReports

Well, call me controversial… I am indeed attempting to resist the temptation of posting political posts, but this is more a begging for reason and sincerity than anything political although I know I will be accused of being a “political unreasonable, mean, heartless right winger”… Well, have the fullest of it, because here it goes:

Human beings are so complex and interesting! Politicians are extra-crisp more complex and interesting except that they are predictable! Of course we should be outraged that some guy is being tortured. But, at least he is, as per our Western standards, a bad guy and I m not going to be all shaken up because someone who contributed to the death of about 3,000 people “has water bubbles coming off his throat”. It is gross and inhumane, but, come on, are you really outraged because of that? How about being outraged drones; about the lies of Obamacare? How about being outraged by being called “stupid” by Mr. Jonathan Gruber, the many times cited by the government as the “A.C.A. (or Obamacare) architect? I am more concerned about a few people I know whose deductible was 1,500.00 and not is five thousand dollars on Obamacare and their monthly payment is also higher. Why? Because they make money and are obligated by the government to pay a tax so one that does not work can have a paper and an illusion of health care! The issue here, however, is not health care, but “selective outrage” which is nothing but hypocrisy!

I can continue till I lose what is left of my teeth from talking: how about the government harassing citizens using the IRS? How about outrage about the government (past and present) supplying weapons to drug cartels thinking that would be a good idea to discover where they commit their heinous crimes?

The CIA report was released on the day Jonathan Gruber, the A.C.A. architect was being confronted by the House on his “Americans are stupid” comments on 5 videos that we know of, exposing the lies told the American people so the A.C.A. would be acceptable. We can fairly be suspicious of the intentions of releasing the report on that day and after a tremendous elections loss and an attempt to “control the agenda”, which has now become a term to replace the terms “smoke screen” and/or “red herring”; huh, let me think: taking the attention away  from an issue that requires reasoning and thinking by bringing an emotional one! After all, Mr. Gruber said it “Americans are stupid!”. Following the “it is not a tax” and now “of course is a tax where one group will pay for the health care of others”, after “you can keep your doctor, your current plan”, after the ” I can’t do it alone because of the Constitution” 24 times also on video, and now (to the Spanish channels) “I never said that I couldn’t do it alone”, and this CIA report, the cheapening of life both in abortion mills and some our neighborhoods, even on the part of a tax greedy government that will not hesitate in hurting its citizens to ensure the collection of said taxes (as in New York), the disregard for the truth, the usurpation of authority, the fibbing ways in which ill-informed Americans are told about very serious issues in their lives, really demonstrate that are are really better than this, we are complicit because of our silence and passiveness, and most of all it points out that ministers, even insignificant ministers like me, are doing a lousy job in pointing out America’s errors simply because of our political preferences, if not for being the very beneficiaries of the lies government tells us. Come on, many ministers signed up for the Affordable Care Act, so how can they preach against the lies the government told them about it?. So, I am somewhat outraged, but not extremely outraged for all of this as such extreme outrage would be actually “selective outrage”. The lies that the government tell us, the drones, “innocent” lives being wasted, killed, secret operations against American Citizens, these are all reasons for real outrage… A mass murderer being thrown against a wall? Oh, please!!!!

As for the work of the CIA I will continue in my attempt not to be a hypocrite, because if one of my children were in a crowded mall where there was a bomb placed by a terrorist and the authorities had him in custody and there was even a slim chance that he would disclose where the bomb is and how to disarm it if pressured, I would want the government to use any means possible to gain such information… We can’t tolerate in ourselves that which we despise on others.

Now call me names… I have both years plugged by my index fingers and am going lah lah lah lah… Not that I don’t want to hear; it is that such name calling is too predictable!