A Defense of The Apostle Paul

PaulSaul of Tarsus developed quite a reputation in the world of the early Christian church, zealously hunting down those who taught and preached in the name of Christ. He was on his way to Damascus, with arrest letters from the Jerusalem Sanhedrin in hand, when he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul he became one of the most prolific church planters and writers of the first century; 14 of the 26 New Testament books are his letters (epistles) to various individuals and churches.

But here’s the rub: Do we today make too much of Paul? Does our attention become Paul-centered rather than Christ centered? Just because he wrote many epistles that become a major component of the New Testament, is everything Paul wrote the Word of God? Which is why I propose a defense of Paul to consider and respond to these criticisms. Continue reading

Discussion: The Altar

altar prayerDoes you church have an altar (or more than one altar) in the sanctuary? Does each service end with an altar call style invitation? What are we being invited to do at the altar if/when we get there? I would like to put aside personal feelings, experiences and what any particular local church does or doesn’t do and look into the Bible as we analyze the purpose of the altar. Ultimately I would like us to answer this question: what is the place of the altar in the New Testament church? Continue reading

Book Review: God is Near

No, I do not presume to write a review of my own book. Below is the review and recommendation of Steve May, a pastor friend in eastern Kentucky. I also look forward to Denise Spencer’s review next week on Internet Monk. 

God is NearClark Bunch is a Baptist preacher with a passion for writing and teaching. This is his first book but he writes daily for his blog The Masters Table (themasterstable.wordpress.com).

Clark is a graduate of Shorter University holding a Bachelors of Science degree in both history and political science. He has been the lead pastor to one church and was on the teaching faculty of the Oneida Baptist Institute (a private Baptist Boarding School with over a 100 year history in southeastern Kentucky). Presently Clark is the Director of Men’s Ministry and works with the youth ministries of the Trinity Baptist Church in Calhoun, GA. Continue reading

Is Jesus Radical?

radicalLet’s begin by defining our terms. Most people have a concept of radical that may be hard to put into words. You could be a radical thinker in a good way that doesn’t involve overthrowing the government (but that’s one possibility). Miriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives 3 definitions, these are the two that apply to our discussion:

1) very new and different from what is traditional or ordinary
2) having extreme political or social views that are not shared by most people

Radical describes something new, different, or views that are not shared by most people. I contend that Jesus was radical from man’s point of view, but not from God’s.  Continue reading

What Shall We Do?

Peter preaches In the first chapter of Acts, Jesus told the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the promise. He then ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. In Acts 2 they were gathered in one place and the Holy Spirit filled the entire house. Each one filled with the Spirit began to speak in tongues, and they went out into the streets of Jerusalem. This event is known as Pentecost and is still celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday. Some in the crowd that day objected that the Apostles were merely drunk and Peter responded with a turning point sermon in the history of the church.

Continue reading

Academic Discussion: Predestination

TULIPWe started the Academic Discussion series last Friday, and since then have examined issues like the age of the earth and the rapture. Up until now I have played the devil’s advocate so to speak and approached the arguments from both sides. This difference with this topic, predestination as defined by 5 point Calvinism, is that I take a position and feel very strongly about it. Although I have had a few heated discussions, I still believe the issue is ultimately academic.

This page at Calvinist Corner provides an excellent summation of Calvinism at a glance. Arminianism is generally considered to be the opposing view. A more extreme opposing viewpoint would be Pelagianism (which denies original sin and a host of biblical tenants). The reason I consider this argument to be purely academic is that each of these positions considers the nature of God’s salvation. At the heart of the debate is our understanding, or rather defining, of predestination. Did we choose God or did he choose us? Do we have the ability to choose God, or are we in our nature so depraved it is not a choice we could ever make? And why would I even stir this particular pot? Continue reading

Academic Discussion: The Rapture of the Church

rapture Let’s begin with a note on prophesy. There’s an old saying that hind sight is always 20/20. As we happen to be entering the season of Advent, this is the time of year we look back at the Old Testament prophesies of Messiah. As we are reminded each year that God’s prophesies were fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ, our faith is affirmed that God is always faithful to keep his promises. Looking back at prophesies fulfilled gives our faith substance that God will continue to honor his Word.

Having said that, I take a rather pragmatic view of prophesied events, particular in relation to the end times. Continue reading