Archive for January 15th, 2008

I noticed something interesting today. On another blog, someone was drooling over the MacBook Air, a new incredibly light notebook computer from Apple. I followed the link they provided, and it does look ridiculously thin and very capable of causing some technological covetousness. There was also a link to “see the ad”. It was — not surprisingly — in QuickTime format.

Now, I don’t have QuickTime (or any of the QT plug-ins) installed on my computer. It’s not that I’m a PC bigot; it’s just that there’s something goofy about my computer that totally messes up QT audio. So I got an error when it tried to run the QT movie for the ad.

It occurred to me that, in order to view an advertisement that (one would assume) is supposed to entice you to buy an Apple product, you have to first have installed plug-ins that will interpret Apple’s proprietary audio and video formats. In other words, even to express interest in their product, you have to come to them on their terms.

This seems fairly antithetical to the ubiquitous “I’m a Mac / And I’m a PC” commercials. It seems to me that the point of those ads is to show the Mac’s alleged superiority to the PC, in an effort to get PC owners to “convert” and become Mac owners.

But if you juxtapose them next to the QT-driven ad for the MacBook Air, it almost seems more like the point of the commercials is simply to point out that they are doing a myriad of things the right way and others are not. It’s little more than Madison Avenue schadenfreude.

The spiritual parallels are left as an exercise for the reader.

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C?N just posted this quote from the Christian Post from an interview with Erwin McManus, saying that he is arrogant and has misconceptions over why the church is declining

A cutting-edge church leader known for his innovative ideas on reaching a post-modern generation for Christ contends the reason why churches are declining in America is because they are self-centered.

“My primary assessment would be because American Christians tend to be incredibly self-indulgent so they see the church as a place there for them to meet their needs and to express faith in a way that is meaningful for them,” said cultural architect Erwin McManus, lead pastor at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, to The Christian Post Monday.

“There is almost no genuine compassion or urgency about serving and reaching people who don’t know Christ,” he added.

I am confused where the arrogance and misconceptions are shining through in this quote.  I do not make this statement to be insesitive or cutting, but what would the ODMs say is the primary cause of rapid church decline?  Judging from their theology, it would simply be that God is not electing like He used to.  Or, maybe the seeker-sensitive movement is just coming to full fuition.  If that is the case, according to their theology, God is still not electing as many as he used to.  Either way, they hold a very strange view on God’s relationship with His bride, and His love for humanity.  On one side of their mouth, the ODMs blame the modern church for the decline today.  On the other, they say that God is sovreign and all things are predestined only by Him.  It seems like they may be the ones that have misconceptions over why the church is declining.  At some point you have to sit back and see that this all doesn’t add up. 

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Since my article on hermeneutics a couple weeks back, I’ve had a few questions on the remez (”hint”) technique. While I’ve mentioned it a few times in comments and on my own blog, I thought it might be good to step through the classic example of remez (probably one of the simplest ones to see).

Just to backtrack – remez is a TEACHING technique used by Jewish rabbis/sages dating back to (at least) the first century B.C. A number of modern Jewish sources, even if they do not believe his message, consider a certain rabbi, Yeshua of Nazareth, to be the master in its usage (which should not come to us as a surprise).

A remez, or “hint”, is a way of referring to a large portion of scripture by quoting a small part of that scripture (or one right before or after it). This was particularly useful in the first century, because most of the audience would have had Torah (at the least), along with most of the Psalms and other parts of the sciptures memorized. Thus, by quoting one part of a scripture, the listener could easily ‘fill in the blanks’ or draw additional insight from the teaching.
As I have studied remez, I have read through the gospels, in particular, and Acts to see where Jesus and his disciples quote from the Hebrew Scriptures. Wherever I find such quotes, I then go back to the passage they are quoting and read the verses around the one quoted. You might surprise yourself if you try this in your own study.

Probably the simplest example of remez in the gospels is found in Matthew 27:46 and its parallel passage in Mark 15:34. Here, Jesus is hanging on the cross and he cries out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

As it so happens, the first words of Psalm 22 are “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”. In remez, when you quote the first verse of a song (a psalm), you are referencing the entire psalm. So, as a student of the scriptures, you would hear Jesus say this, and you would instantly think of what Psalm 22 is conveying. Go read it now – seriously.

If you are like I was years ago, these words of Jesus on the cross were a bit confusing – I remember thinking “why on earth did Jesus (of all people) think that God had left him?” And while I heard a good number of sermons on the topic, none of them satisfied like the explanation that came directly from the Psalm Jesus quoted.

A couple years ago, the International Bible Society (who publishes the NIV) did a short video series on some of the Psalms, called streams. One of these was Psalm 22, in which they also mention the use of remez. Watch it (below) and tell me what you think of this example… (some browsers can’t see the video inline, and if yours is one of them, you can see it here)

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Ah, yes!First off, my apologies again for those of you who felt left out of the password-protected post. I was experimenting with ways to collaborate with the writers here outside of email. Not being a Wordpress expert, I was also interested in how the password-protection functionality worked. (Yes, I’m a geek…)

Something that has been noticed, by other writers, by some commenters, by some friends and by myself, is that there seems to be, in a number of discussion threads, an escalation in accusation and tone beyond what should be in evidence between Christian brothers and sisters.

As such, we are trying to address this on our own part – both in comments and in articles – and we are hoping that those of you who comment (all being welcome to continue to do so) might work with us on this, as well. In this light, we’ve added to our page “How We Seek to be Different” as a step toward addressing this. Here is what we have added:

____________________

In Tone and Character

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1

The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. – James 3:17

Due to the limitations of communication via the internet it is easy for misunderstanding to occur, for disagreements to escalate, for sarcasm and condescension to be employed, for argument on issues to become personal. We write things to others that we would never say in person.

Therefore while we defend those who are being attacked falsely, we will strive to take the high-road in dialogue at all time and to this end Posters and Commenters on this site are expected to:*

  1. refrain from using terms of condescension
  2. respond to arrogance and anger with a gentle answer
  3. not escalate the level of rhetoric or anger
  4. defend your argument, not yourself
  5. remember that in pursuing the purity of the wisdom that comes from above – do so in a peaceable manner.

*This list is not intended to be exhaustive but serve as examples of the tendencies and how we should strive to overcome them.

____________________

I realize that this is a lofty goal that we cannot achieve on our own, but with God’s help we surely can, whether or not those who disagree with us do so, as well.

Blessings,

Chris

[UPDATE - this post was originally placed on this blog on Monday, January 14.  Due to the importance of the topic we have updated the time stamp to keep it at the top of the proverbial pile]

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I could
A. create a commercial using a ton of scripture, explaining why the Bible says pornography is wrong. Of course, I would have to first convince the audience that the scriptures are authoritative and inerrant word of God, and it needs to be obeyed. But, then I could tell the world how they should stop giving kids porn simply because the bible says so.

Or

B. create a commercial using one of the leading pornstars and producers that most people recognize as a sex symbol to communicate your message. Rather than giving the church answer, use compelling and logical arguments to help parents understand why pornography is more harmful and helpful for their children.

I am not too sure why we think “God did it, the bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” will work with the world around us. This ODM is criticizing xxxchurch.com for not using scripture in this announcement that is being aired on national television. Pornography is literally ripping apart the fabric of most families in America, statistically more so in believing families than nonbelieving families. And for some reason, whenever the church tries to effectively do something about it, we all freak out. And, a six week men’s study on purity is usually not the best medicine. Here is an organization that is trying to stop pornography from affecting children early on in life, and all this website can say is that they need more scripture in their argument.

I recently had a teenager talk to his dad about his occasional struggle with internet pornography. The family was on the most fundamental I have worked with (and that is an understatement). The dad was unable to cope with the news and, rather than talking it through, he grounded his son for six months. When the mom found out, she went into a two-week fit of deep depression over the “moral loss” of her son. The family literally fell apart in a matter of days. When I asked the dad about the situation, he said that he knew it all along and didn’t want to bring it up because it would ruin the family. He just prayed every night that God would help his son. I was amazed.

I think the church need to loose the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy with this one, and use any and all means within the bounds of scripture to rescue our society from this clutch. If our best hope for stopping teenagers from becoming addicted to porn is Ron Jeremy telling parents that he makes his films for consenting adults only, then bring it on. Just don’t criticize the few out there making a difference for not having scripture in a commercial.

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I found it a bit ironic that C?N recently posted an article with a film that criticizes Warren’s publishing relationship with Zondervan/Murdoch.  I will be waiting for a film criticizing MacArthur’s publishing relationship with Zondervan/Murdoch.

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