There are at least two reasons why the gospel writers give us such extensive material on the Jewish religious leaders of the first century (e.g., scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees). First, Jesus exposes the spiritual character of the Pharisees in order guard his disciples from becoming entangled with and influence by those who are in the grip of religious hypocrisy (see Matt 16:6-12; 23:1-12; cf 2 Tim 3:5). Second, the negative example of the Pharisees help uproot our own residual hypocrisy because Christians are all recovering legalists from one degree to another. Continue reading “Are Christians Hypocrisy Hunters?”
I am currently reading Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold. Honnold is considered by many to be the best solo free-climber in the world. Even very early into his career he had already tallied a ledger of climbs that caused some of the most seasoned stone masters to sit up and take notice. But to appreciate Honnald’s well-deserved reputation, we need a little background on rock climbing.
Solving intricate climbing routes is often accomplished through the use of gear: ropes, waist harnesses, carabiners, belay devices, quick-draws, and protection (what practitioners call “pro”; metal devices pre-fitted to the rock onto which you can anchor your rope or daisy chain). But free-climbing is the practice of climbing without any pro; and the only gear utilized on a given route are rock shoes and a chalk bag. Solo free-climbing is doing all of this–by yourself. Continue reading “What Love Does: Reflections on Alex Honnold’s ‘Alone on the Wall’”
I recently engaged in a light Twitter exchange with a few atheists after I posted the following tweet:
Christians love atheists and adherents of other religions, not because we accept their worldview, but precisely because we don’t.
— Derek Brown (@DerekBrown24) April 12, 2016
A few self-described atheists didn’t think this statement sounded too loving. One suggested that I needed to “open my heart.” Another said that “Christian love” is a joke over which no one is laughing anymore.
My point in the tweet was to highlight the truth that the Christian worldview, when truly embraced, enables a person to love those with whom they disagree. For example, as a Christian I believe the biblical doctrines about God, humanity, Christ, heaven, hell, and salvation to be true. Because of this, I do not accept worldviews like atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, Hindusim, Islam, to name a few, because these belief systems are contrary to biblical Christianity and therefore not true. Yet the Christian worldview, while simultaneously requiring me to reject contrary worldviews as false, enables me to love atheists and those who adhere to other religions for two basic reasons. Continue reading “How Do Christians Love People With Different Worldviews?”
A powerful word from Calvin’s Institutes about caring for our neighbor’s reputation. I am convicted by this word especially since I know that I have failed often in this area.
We delight in a certain poisoned sweetness experiences in ferreting out and in disclosing the evils of others. And let us not think it an adequate excuse if in many instances we are not lying. For he who does not allow a brother’s name to be sullied by falsehood also wishes it to be kept unblemished as far as truth permits (1:412).
The phrase, “as far as truth permits” is important because there may be times when one needs to speak ill of someone. But these times should be rare, and they should probably always be attended with grief for the person and recognition of one’s own sin. Calvin concludes,
Hence, evilspeaking is without a doubt universally condemned. Now, we understand by “evilspeaking” not reproof made with intent to chastise; not accusation or judicial denunciation to remedy evil. Nor does evilspeaking mean public correction, calculated to strike other sinners with terror; nor disclosure before those who need to be forewarned lest they be endangered through ignorance. By “evilspeaking” we mean hateful accusation arising from evil intent and wanted desire to defame (1:412).