Liberty University has decided to invite Glenn Beck as their commencement speaker this year. I find this to be a curious choice for a speaker. As a “Christian University” Liberty has found in Glenn Beck neither the qualification of a Christian or as a scholar. Beck is a Mormon who hosts a regular radio and television show that centers on far-right politics, scare-tactics, and conspiracy theories.
Glenn Beck adds his name to the list of Liberty commencement speakers that includes Ben Stein and Chuck Norris.
My concern is that Liberty is more interested in indoctrination than education. While I am open to the idea of a “Christian University,” a commencement speaker such as Beck belies the administrations devotion to conservative, partisan politics rather than the pursuit of intelligent, Christian discipleship.
I’m sure you all know how I feel about the whole Jennifer Knapp situation. If not, read my previous post on the subject. Unfortunately, Jennifer has let the fame monster influence her handling of this very delicate situation. Rather than listening and learning, she is promoting her agenda on national television. She is debating other believers about a very nuanced and sensitive subject.
I saw this clip of Jennifer Knapp on “Larry King Live.” Everyone involved demonstrated such Biblical illiteracy that it was painful. The pastor who represents the orthodox Christian position on homosexuality did his best to stay close to the gospel but was woefully ill-equipped to confidently and intelligently explain the text of Scripture.
We have all heard it said that “it is better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” Unfortunately, Jennifer Knapp decided to speak. She tried to use a poorly constructed linguistic smokescreen to argue that homosexuality (as we know it) is not in the Bible.
It is one thing to say that “homosexuality is no worse than others sins.” With that I agree. It is another thing altogether to get on national television and vehemently defend my sin. Homosexuality is no worse than adultery, but it would be ridiculous for an adulterer to get on national television and defend their actions (as with a murderer, liar, etc…)
As far as the logic involved, it is ridiculous to argue if a person is born with inclinations, tendencies, or orientations then they are allowed to act on them. There are a number of people with homicidal tendencies, but society has said they are not allowed to act on those activities. As Christians we can affirm that people struggle with homosexuality while agreeing that can choose not to engage in homosexual activity.
Also, why would anyone listen to Ted Haggard? He is the worst kind of hypocrite and fraud? Seriously? The best person that Larry King could find was Ted Haggard? This must be a joke. Are there any intelligent, well-educated, articulate Bible scholars who can actually talk about this issue? Please!!!!
As far as the theological and philological idiocy displayed during this interview. The original text of the Bible is clear about homosexuality (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:9 and see BDAG’s discussion of μαλακοι and αρσενοκοιται). The question is really not linguistic (per se) but, rather, hermeneutical. Is the original text of the Bible understandable and applicable to Christians today? Or, on the other hand, do we have more knowledge, intelligence, and understanding than the original writers (inspired by God) who decided to condemn homosexuality?
In regard to homosexuality, this is nothing new. Same sex activity would not be in the Bible if it was not a legitimate sin struggle for many people. While we have much more scientific information on homosexuality, the more things change the more they stay the same. Sin is sin and God does not change. I can either justify my sins (of which I have many) or humbly repent and cling desperately to the grace of Jesus.
Despite the salacious title I am not really going to talk much about the recent news story regarding “Christian Music” star, Jennifer Knapp. Suffice it to say that a number of people have asked my opinion of the Dove Award winning singer announcing she is in a homosexual relationship on the eve of her new album release.
There is much to be said about the relationship of contemporary American culture’s view of homosexuality and a Biblically orthodox view of the same behavior. I have heard no hermeneutical gymnastics clever enough to convince me that God has revealed in the Bible any other plan for families than one man loving one woman for life as a clear picture of the love of Christ for the church.
On the other hand, many conservative churches have exploited homosexuality as a sin that is particularly heinous and gross. Homosexuality is much harder to hide, but it is no worse than the sins I commit. Even if it is worse (which Biblically it is not), the grace of Christ is sufficient for every sin. During his earthly ministry, Christ demonstrated healing and love consistently and clearly to the people that society deemed as gross and dirty.
However, Biblical interpretation regarding the issue of homosexuality is not my greatest concern. What I find interesting is the way “Christian celebrities” are deemed as more important or as experts. When a Hollywood celebrity speaks on a political issue, many people get upset because being a celebrity does not make you an expert. The same is true in Christian subculture. Jennifer Knapp is not particularly qualified to speak on the issue of Biblical interpretation. She is no more qualified than any other believer. Celebrity is not a mark of authority. In the debate regarding homosexuality, our decisions must be made on ideas, not on personalities. No matter what side you are on, there is a desire to stack experts and celebrities on your philosophical side. This is a mistake. Let us discuss issues and ideas rather than people.
I know that Jennifer Knapp is not the first Christian to “come out of the closet.” She is not even the first Christian musician to come out of the closet. There are a number of people in our churches and communities who are dealing with these same issues. I would rather not make decisions regarding sexual ethics on the choices of “Christian celebrities” (be they pastors, musicians, actors, etc.) but on the authority of the Bible faithfully interpreted.
Let us relate with truth and love to any with whom we disagree. In a debate you are not trying to win an argument but a person. My prayer is that Christians would search the Scriptures more than the local news.
As usual I am continually buying and borrowing books. I feel it important, as a Christian, to constantly be reading and learning. One of my goals is to build a modest library as a resource for my faith community. I am always willing to lend out books and other resources I have to those who are interested. Here are few books I have just recently acquired that I am planning to read in the next few weeks.
I recently was the winner of a Dave Black online contest. As a result I am promised a copy of his book, The Jesus Paradigm. Dr. Black (who insists that we call him “Dave,” or “brother”, or something Biblical like that) has been a challenging influence in my life. He is constantly encouraging others to serve Jesus in every area of their life. I am always amazed by his intelligence, humility, godliness, and missionary lifestyle.
Sitting on my shelf is also a copy of Kevin Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology. This book was very useful to me in seminary. I am looking forward to having my own copy and reading it in its entirety.
Zondervan has been kind enough to send me an advanced copy of Jason Boyett’s newest book, O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling, for review. After reading the introduction and first chapter I already have mixed feelings about the work. On one hand I find the vulnerability and honesty admirable, on the other hand there are already serious methodological, theological, and philosophical flaws. I do not want to come to any premature conclusions, so after I finish reading it, I will post a some thoughts.
Another book on my immediate reading list is Christian Smith’s treatise on young adult spirituality, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. I am hoping this book will provide some cultural insight into current trends in spirituality. My goal is to gain tools to understand and communicate the gospel to young adults.
Finally, I am giving in to the myriad of recommendations and reading T. David Gordon’s Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers. I have read recommendations for this book from David Nelson, Kevin DeYoung, J. D. Greear, and many others. I figured I might as well peruse this little paperback and see what all the fuss is about.
I’d like to say a very deserving “Happy Birthday” to my lovely mom. On Friday we were able to enjoy a wonderful day of festivities. Whitney and I ‘surprised’ mom at work with a bouquet of balloons and a Starbucks Frappaccino. Later that evening we all ventured out to Downtown Norfolk for a celebratory dinner and a time of gift-giving.
I am so thankful for a wonderful mother. Not only is she responsible for my Armenian good looks but she has been a consistent, godly influence in my life. As I get older I realize how rare it is to have a mom who devoted her time and energy into raising her children to know and love Jesus. She has demonstrated herself to be faithful and caring, a woman of prayer and love. In many American churches the accolades of service and ministry are often directed to the “Christian celebrities” when, in reality, faithful parents (such as mom) deserve the credit.
For many it might be hard to see how the tedious day-to-day activities of motherhood relate closely to the gospel, but the two are intertwine. A few years ago I sang a song to my mom on Mother’s Day. A particular verse from that song seems appropriate at this point:
To be a mother and a wife
Is a heavy load to bear
And so you gave your life away
Like the God inside your heart
“‘We are going up to Jerusalem,’” he said, “‘and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.’”
Wow! Talk about powerful stuff. Jesus is telling his disciples about the brutal death he is going to endure and about his miraculous resurrection that is to come. A casual Bible reader is well aware that the disciples never fully grasp the idea that Jesus is going to rise from the dead. They are clearly taken by surprise when he actually is resurrected.
In this passage, however, what struck me as particularly amusing is the request from the Zebedee brothers that follows.
“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’”
Seriously?! That’s your next question?! Jesus says he is going to die a terrible, miserable, painful death and then be RAISED FROM THE DEAD and all you can ask is “what’s in it for me?”
Before I am too harsh on the disciples I better look at my own life. How often do I try to make Jesus my genie. Instead of pondering how I can sacrifice myself for the glorious cause of Christ, I too often spend my time asking Jesus for physical comforts. Rather than making salvation all about the glory and power of God, I try to focus it all about. After all, it is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Stop and think about what Christ has done. Focus on how to respond to the beauty of the gospel. Do not follow Jesus merely for temporal blessings. Rather, follow Jesus because of who He is and what He has done by dying and being raised to life.
How well do you have to know someone to ask them to help you move? I mean, do you really want some casual acquaintance carrying your underwear drawer or helping you sort through your comic book collection?
At what point is it appropriate to ask someone when they plan on having kids? This is a question that my wife and I are asked often. I usually respond by asking the inquirer when they are planning on having kids. If they have the Duggar-syndrome, I ask them when they are going to stop having kids or just inform them that they have enough children for the both of us.
Social conventions are just weird. For example, when you randomly talk to someone that you’ve never met before (maybe at a restaurant or in an elevator) and you say, “How’s it going?” What do you do when they start unloading all of their baggage? It seems appropriate to be kind and gracious but it’s still awkward.
My only solution is to find people that you can really get to know well. Share your life with those people. Then it won’t feel awkward when they ask you to help them move, share their problems with you, or question you about your reproductive plans!
But have you noticed the categories we have used in this discussion of what ails the church in the West? They are all sociological, historical, occasional, demographic, economic, psychological, medical. They are all performance-related, circumstance-related. There is nothing about the Devil — and nothing about God…
I am certainly not suggesting that there is nothing to be learned from sociological and demographic analysis…
But if all of our analyses are restricted exclusively to such categories, the huge danger is that our solutions will be cast in such categories too. Our answer will be superficially sociological because we do not probe deeply enough to analyze the cosmic tension between God and the Devil. And then, quite frankly, we do not really need God. He could get up and walk out, and we would not miss him. We have got this thing taped; our analyses are quantifiable.
— D. A. Carson, Scandalous