Is This Why Jesus Wrote in the Dirt?

 The Word of God stands forever, but your sins don't have to.

The Creation of Adam, detail, Michelangelo

If you've never had your vehicle impounded after getting pulled over by a police trooper, let me say I wouldn't recommend it.

One summer in the not too distant past I was driving home on the interstate when a police car approached my vehicle from behind. Needing to exit soon anyway, I slid over to the right lane to let the cruiser pass. He seemed eager to get on with his business.

To my dismay he followed suit and changed lanes along with me, still riding my bumper. We drove along for another mile or so playing this fun game of Get the Heck Away from Me/I Don't Have to I'm a Cop when at last he illuminated his emergency lights, flagging me to pull off the road and onto the shoulder.

There's no good way to answer "No" to the inevitable question the patrolman asks. He always thinks you're lying. But I wasn't going to conjure up a vehicular sin just to make myself appear more honest.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"

I had no idea.

What Use Is the Old Testament?

Should we unhitch the Old Testament from Christianity?

Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law, Gustave Doré

Did you know I write a monthly article just for email subscribers? It's true!

This month we're discussing the merits of the Old Testament for the modern day Jesus-follower. Is it of any use? Or are we free to discard it?

Here's how the article begins:

In 2018, North Point Community Church pastor Andy Stanley drew attention and criticism for suggesting Christians "unhitch" their faith from the Old Testament. Here's what he said:

"[New Testament] Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures. . . Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well."

In response critics came out of the woodwork like termites decrying the preacher as a heretic, among other things.

But if Stanley is on one end of the extreme, then an acquaintance of mine is on the other. He believes Christians should live according to the Torah, placing special emphasis on the Sabbath, circumcision, eating only kosher foods, and religious festivals. (Note: this person is not of Jewish heritage.)

So is Andy Stanley right about the Old Testament? Or is my gentile friend in the right? Should we Christians toss out the OT or study and try to obey all 613 commandments in the Torah?


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Don't Believe Everything You Hear: The Privilege (and Burden) of Reading

What Jesus expects of those who can read.

Johannes Krupinski

If you were a Jewish person living in the first century, there's a good chance you wouldn't know how to read.

Or at least not know how to read well.

It's hard to say for sure, but literacy estimates I've encountered range from 3 to 30 percent. Catherine Hezser, professor of Jewish studies at the University of London, concludes that only 10 percent of Jewish people in first century Israel could do more than write his or her own name.[1] Jewish culture valued reading and writing, perhaps more than any ancient culture, but it reserved such tasks for the scribes and other elites like the Sanhedrin.

With this context in mind, it is interesting to examine some of Jesus's own words when teaching or rebuking his fellow countrymen.

Why Isn't the Book of Enoch in the Bible?

If Jude quoted from it, shouldn't it be included?

Did you know I write a monthly article just for email subscribers? It's true!

This month we're discussing the mythical Book of Enoch and its exclusion from the canon of Scripture. Is said exclusion valid or unwarranted?

Here's how the article begins:

You may have heard some scuttlebutt regarding a certain Book of Enoch and its exclusion from the Bible. 

Enoch apologists claim the work should be included in the canon of Scripture for various reasons, most notably because the apostle Jude quotes the work in his eponymous book of the New Testament. If Jude the brother of Jesus quotes from the work, then why shouldn't it be a part of Bible?

There's lots to unpack here, but the central question is actually quite easy to answer.

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Stop Asking for Snakes

Only God knows what's best for us.

Joshua J. Cotten

When Katie and I were looking for a new church home about eight years ago, we stumbled into one near our house that looked like a normal church.

But once we checked in the kids and settled in a pew, it didn't take long to realize this was not a typical church at all.

On Christians Tithing: Biblical Mandate or Liturgical Cash Grab?

Does the tithe really apply to Christians?

Annie Spratt

Did you know I write a monthly article for my email subscribers?

This month we're talking about tithing in the context of the New Covenant. Here's how the article begins:

In 2017 Southern Baptist organization, Lifeway, surveyed American churchgoers about tithing. 83% of respondents agreed that the tithe is a Biblical command that still applies today. And yet, only 54% said they give at least a tenth of their income to their church.

Why the discrepancy?

Everyone struggles with his or her own issues, and, no doubt one of those issues centers around money in the same way that others struggle with lust or anger or alcohol. After all, as Paul reminds us, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Tim. 6:10).

But I think there's another wrinkle here to account for the disparity between money and mouth, so to speak. Maybe a good amount of those 29% of people don't actually believe tithing is a biblical mandate. They might say they do, and even think they believe it, but their actions tell a different story.

So the question becomes is tithing a new covenant mandate, or is it just some liturgical hoax pastors employ to ensure revenue?

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4 C. S. Lewis Quotes That Will Convince You He Owned a Time Machine

It's like he peered straight into the future.

Frank V.

In 21st century Christian circles, the name C. S. Lewis is commonplace, teetering on the edge of cliché. One cannot go far without seeing his words quoted, pinned, and tweeted.

But not without good reason.

Lewis has earned his renown due to volumes of insightful and relatable thoughts on God and the Christian life. Whether through fiction such as The Chronicles of Narnia or through apologetic works like Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce, Lewis had a knack for simplifying complex Christian theology and philosophy. Believe me, that's hard to do.

Nevertheless what astounds me most about Lewis is how forward thinking his writing is. If you remember my 2019 reading list, you know I read a collection Lewis's sermons and speeches called The Weight of Glory.[1] The latest of these he gave in 1956, nearly 70 years ago as I write this, and yet certain passages make it seem as if he were peering into the future and speaking directly to the situation as it stands today.

Let me show you just four of these, and you'll see what I mean. Note: All of the following come from The Weight of Glory, but one could just as easily pick up Mere Christianity or any of his other books and probably find many more to add to this list.