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Jesus the Word and the Reason Behind the Universe

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The Word and Greek Philosophy
The Word and Greek Philosophy

When the earliest Christians (the authors of the Bible and their immediate successors) wanted to explain the nature of Jesus to the Greco-Roman world, they picked a word packed with meaning–Word:

[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1–5)

Logos (Λόγος) is the Greek behind the translation of Word

What the ESV translates as Word, is the Greek word Logos (λόγος): “Logos is the Greek term translated as ‘word,’ ‘speech, ‘principle,’ or ‘thought.’ In Greek philosophy, it also referred to a universal, divine reason or the mind of God (source).

Jesus, Dylan, and Creative Subversion

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Jesus, Dylan, and Creative Subversion
Jesus, Dylan, and Creative Subversion

What is creative subversion? Driving to my daughter’s ballet recital, I played one of those curated “for you” playlists. Jimi Hendrix began to wail, and my mind wandered, in a natural way, to a contemplation of Jesus’ method of persuasion:

There must be some kind of way outta here/ Said the joker to the thief/ There’s too much confusion / I can’t get no relief.

Bob Dylan’s iconic song (All Along) The Watchtower is considered one of the greatest songs of all time. If you are not sure how this song led me to a contemplation of Jesus’ persuasive strategy, well, … keep reading.

How Should a Christian Educate Their Children, Public, Private, Homeschool?

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Successful Parenting: How Should I Educate My Children
Successful Parenting: How Should I Educate My Children

Sometimes we hear Christians speak derogatorily about education. There is a certain strand of thinking that sees education as a secular pursuit, not worthy of a spiritual person’s pursuit. This should not be so. Education is good. It is a real privilege. It was, of course, Christians that brought about the first publicly available education systems in Europe and North America. In fact, until the 20thcentury education was almost exclusively the work of the church (source).

This is a natural outflow of a religion that values written Scripture, which appeals to thought, “’Come let us reason together’ says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18). Christians are called to “be transformed by the renewal of [their] minds” (Romans 12:2). One who aspires to be righteous must be a careful thinker, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer” (Proverbs 15:28). Jesus appeals to his followers, “ Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

So what kind of education should Christian parents seek for our children? How can our children be equipped to reason, to transform their minds, to ponder their answers, and to be wise?

Transforming Texts: Review of Craig Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition

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Transforming Texts: Review of Craig Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition
Transforming Texts: Review of Craig Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition

Carter, Craig A.  Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition: Recovering the Genius of Premodern Exegesis. Baker Academic 2018

What has the Academy to do with the local Church? Have you ever tried to read an “academic commentary” in preparation to teach a Sunday school class, or for your personal benefit, or for family devotions? What was that experience like? For many (including seminary graduates, or those who have done academic study of the Scriptures), there is a disconnect between what the academy (or commentary) teaches, and what the church believes and practices. Why is this so? Does the Church need to catch up to the times? Is there a problem in the academic tradition? What can, or should we do?

I have read substantially on hermeneutics,  and on interpreting Scripture, as well as on interpreting legal texts, contracts, and cases. This is a field of study I enjoy. But I have not been so stimulated, challenged, and affirmed in my faith reading a book on Interpreting Scripture before.

The 12 Basic Beliefs You Must Hold to be a Christian

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The Rule of Faith: 12 Things You Must Believe to be a Christian
The Rule of Faith: 12 Things You Must Believe to be a Christian

What is a Christian? We can answer this question from a few different perspectives. But, the first part of the answer must deal with content. You must believe a certain set of beliefs. The Apostle Paul explains, “by [believing these truths] you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you” (1 Corinthians 15:2). Christians, for almost 2000 years, have universally held out at least 12 basic truths that define the necessary basis of the Faith. These 12 beliefs are found in the Bible.  But a statement called the Apostle’s Creed has helpfully summarized them. There may be more to being a Christian than merely believing the 12 basic beliefs of the Christianity, but there can never be less. 

Does the Old Testament Matter, or Should Christians Unhitch Their Faith from the Old Testament?

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The Word and Greek Philosophy
The Word and Greek Philosophy

Does the Old Testament Matter? Is the Old Testament relevant to the lived-out faith of today’s Christian, or is it just a book of backgrounds for the New Testament? Opening up a Bible for the first time can be pretty daunting. It is a thick book, printed on thin paper, usually in columns. This book is filled with unfamiliar lingo and even its structure is odd. It is a collection of 66 books, 39 under the sub-title of Old Testament and 27 under the sub-title of New Testament.

What is the difference between these two sub-categories? Is the New better than the Old? The very name, Old Testament contrasts with the New Testament. What is the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament? What is the relationship of the Old Testament to Jesus? How do we understand the Christian’s relationship to the Old Testament? These are important questions. But they are certainly not new. Christian’s have been asking these kinds of questions for centuries.

Perspective: There are Three Sides to Every Issue and Why We Tend to Ignore Two of Them

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Perspective: There are Three Sides to Every Issue
There are Three Sides to Every Issue

Disagreements often boil down to perspective. There are two sides to every story. I think this is something everyone instinctively knows. Parents share the common experience of having a child come up to them, upset, crying, indignantly complaining that “so and so did such and such!” So and so, however, has a significantly different account, blaming the first child. This alerts us that there might even be more than two sides to a story. I once heard it said there are three: (1) your side, (2) my side, and (3) the truth!

Listening Well, or What a Weird Way to Start a Conversation

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A Reasonable Doubt? Justice must be blind, and deaf to public pressure.
Justice must be blind, and deaf to public pressure.

Listening well is essential to civil society and for all relationships. You may have seen the meme, which goes, “My girlfriend yelled at me today saying, “You weren’t even listening to me were you?” I thought, “Man, what a weird way to start a conversation.” Listening well is a skill we all need to develop. We all know that men and women communicate in different ways. Unless a couple in a relationship is aware of this, it leads to inevitable conflicts.

A recent Harvard Business School article asks “Has Listening Become a Lost Art?” (source). I think that many in relationships, and those who observe political and religious discourse today would agree that it is indeed a lost art. But it is a lost hart that need to be resurrected. There is a piece of biblical wisdom that says, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Is seems that flashes of anger are often born of a failure to really listen to a conversation partner.

Listening Well in Conflict Resolution/Avoidance

Do you wish you had less conflict in your relationships? How about in politics? or religion? Have you ever been involved in a divorce, business lawsuit, or other legal conflict? Listening well may help you avoid, or lessen the challenge of any of these conflicts. One business website argues:

Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood. As a result, communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated (Source).

 

Listening Well in Relationships

Psychologist Susan Heitler writes that “listeners is loving”:

When people talk about having a “great relationship,” they in large part are referring to how openly they listen to each other, plus how much positive feedback they give each other.

As a parent, this is one of the best things I learned about interacting with my children. They can easily get frustrated and upset when they don’t feel like they have been understood. Simply listening has de-escalated many parenting conflicts in our family.

Listening Well in Political Dialogue and Religious Discussions

Anyone browsing social media, perhaps (un)social media knows that many commentators talk past one another. As Trevin Wax concludes: “If it seems like too often we are talking past one another, the truth is, we usually are.” (the gospel coalition)

Listen Well in Law

One of the greatest benefits of a law school education, is its insistence that there are two sides to nearly every conflict. The courts are one place in which this conflict is played out. But mediation is also a popular way of resolving conflicts.

Mediation is basically just listening to one another with a mediator who facilitating effective communication. On research journal reports: “A study of 449 cases administered by four major providers of ADR services showed that mediation was capable of settling 78 percent of cases.” (source)

Listening Well

So, how can you listen well? I would suggest the first thing to do is shift your attitude in any conversation. What are you doing when you talk to someone? You are not lecturing, you are not debating–usually. To converse, both parties must listen, otherwise they will find themselves simply talking over one another.

GoodFaith Blog, an Introduction

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Discerning the True Church Leaders from the False
Five Ways to Spot a True Church Leader?

The GoodFaith blog is my attempt to think through issues of faith, family, books, and culture in a way that stimulates deeper thought, important conversation, and spiritual growth. After a decade of pastoral experience, I returned to school. I did this, in part, to help myself and the church better understand and engage with our culture. What’s in a name? For me, the name of the blog communicates a desire to engage honestly with significant issues. I hope to do so with integrity, or a just regard for the viewpoints of others (those whose ideas I engage with, my readers, and the church). It is my hope that people will join me in thinking deeply about things that matter without ever compromising the good faith.

Good faith is a term used to summarize an organizing principle of contract and commercial law. A duty of good faith is a duty to act honestly and with just regard for the commits made to another party. I see a parallel in the Christian faith.

What did Jesus Believe About Marriage?

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What do Christians believe about marriage? Too often the church has been known by what she is against. This is a shame because Christianity is more about the positive than the negative. Aristotle talks about the good life. He explains that there are many ways to live and many ways to live, but there is a ‘best way to live.’ Jesus knows what the best way to live, and his gospel calls us to enter into this good life.

Today people might find themselves single, considering marriage, married, divorced, or remarried. Christianity is not so much concerned about a person’s relationship status. Christianity is concerned with the gospel, the good news of the good life in Jesus (John 10:10). Christianity preaches a positive message. No matter what your relationship status, or preference, Jesus has a message for you. Scripture meets us where we are at and shows us what is the best life for us.

What Did Jesus Beleive about Marriage?