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hard questions : various topics: 


christianity, gifts:

june 30, 2001 - what about the gift of tongues?

no single issue has ever divided the church then the issue of speaking in tongues.  denominations have been formed around the issue and churches have split because of the issue.  each side declaring it's side was on the side of right.  churches have fallen apart because of the issue.  yet, it is the most misunderstood and misquoted issue in scripture.  while I am a realist, in the reality that I will not solve anything by answering this question, I was asked the question by a new friend in Christ, and felt it important to answer.


let me start by saying that the only person in scripture who says they had had an experience with tongues is paul.  none of the other disciple had ever written they had experienced this wonder.  keeping this in mind we can not say that tongues is required as absolute proof of baptism of the Holy Spirit - let's examine some scripture:


1 corinthians 14:39 - we should not forbid people from speaking in tongues; 1 corinthians 14:13 - tongues has it's place in the church; 1 corinthians 14:8 - if tongues has ended as a gift of the spirit, so has prophesy and wisdom; keep in mind - for all those who claim that tongues is a required as proof of baptism of the Holy Spirit - that prophesy is a gift that is better and higher on the scale of gifts given by the Spirit (1 cor. 14:5)


tongues is a gift, but it is not the end all of end all.  if we see it as the only evidence of a rebirth in Christ we are missing out on the gifts other posses.  paul reminds us that tongues is a powerful way for us to be in communication with God.  since God is not the author of confusion, when the gift of tongues causes confuses we need to ask - it the confusion from God, or some place else.


christianity, new age:

january 06, 2002 - "do all christians accept or reject 'new age' teachings?" 

i think the operative word is "all."  i could never say "all" of any group will or will not do a certain thing or another.  as a whole, the "new age" movement sounds good, and has some good qualities, but when we examine some of the particulars we see that it is not a christian teaching.  here is a quote from john dymphy - a leader in the new age movement:


"the battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith.  the classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new - the rotting corpse of christianity and the new faith of humanism."  


interesting, "new agers" who claim to be open, loving and accepting refuse to even acknowledge the reality of the christian faith, at any level.  what i find interesting about the "new age" is that the "new age" is not new at all; it is a "pre-historic" religion that dates back to when humanity tried to understand it's world and assigned the concept of "god" to all we did not understand.  this view is called "pantheism."


pantheism is the belief that god is in everything everything, both living and non-living.  this view claims that because god is in all, all is sacred, all is holy.  the problem with this is it does not separate the creator from the created.  it says that both are forever joined - so, eating meat is killing god, and destroying the land, is destroying god - the condition is endless.  the problem is, a very logical one, "if everything contains the spirit of god, and killing anything with the spirit of god is killing god" - what can you eat?  what can you do?  you can not wash, because it kills germs - which is life that contains god.  no driving, could kill a bug - no drinking water, because it contains microscopic life.


christians maintain a theist view - one God, creator or all.  new age salvation is a "self-salvation."  while we in the christian faith depend on the God who created us for salvation.  new age forgiveness is a "self-forgiveness."  it's when you feel good about that bad thing you did, then you are forgiven.  while a christian depends on forgiveness on two levels - God, the ultimate and the one we wrong.  new age is individual, while christianity id communal.


it is because of these, and more, that i believe "most" christians would reject a "new age" thought.  



november 24, 2001 - "is the devil real?"

yes!  the word "satan" is hebrew for "adversary;" while the word "devil" comes from the greek word, diabolos, meaning "accuser" or "slanderer."  between the two words, they appear about 40 times in the new testament.  people who claim that there is no such thing as a "devil" tent to operate under the assumption that "people are basically all nice, and desire to do good."  but history has proven that to be far from the truth.  while this week punk monkey deals with his impressions of "people being good" all i desire to say here is that it's not the case.  we all want to think that way, but we need to be honest - "goodness" is not part of human nature.


in scripture the "devil" is called many things - the accuser, the great dragon, accident serpent, belial, the evil one, prince of the world, ruler of the kingdom of the air.  the devil is real, the trick is understanding that he does not want us to think he is real.



august 01, 2002 - i tend to doubt, while others have a strong faith, is that bad?

honestly, we all doubt, that is why it's call faith.  everyone who is a believer has gone through times of doubt and concern.  if any person tells you that they never had any doubts at any time in their lives - they are lying to you.  over time, the people i know who have a strong and lasting faith are those who questioned and had doubts.  here is what i do when i have doubts:


first, i seek to find the reason i doubt.  what is making me doubt?  bad teachings?  misreading?  conflicts in other other standings?  what is causing me to doubt?


second, i search myself and scripture to see if my doubt is placed in me or in what others are telling me.


then i spend time in meditation and speaking with other christians and non-christians.  i find this time to be great and rewarding; because i spend time with God and myself and i get to share faith with others.


doubt in itself is not wrong.  i see doubt as water to help a healthy plant grow.


december 01, 2002 - I recently came across a book called ‘The Lost Books of the Bible.’  I know all my evangelical friends say they are ‘evil’ books.  Do these books have any value to the current church?

Well, that all depends on how we define “value?”  I tend to think they have great value.  They show us how others viewed Christ and how they saw his birth and life.  I personally like the book called “the Infancy.”  In this book we get a picture of how one community of faith viewed the tradition of the lost years of Jesus – remember, there are some 20 years missing in the life of Jesus.  Whether one agrees that this book is actually inspired by God is open for discussion.  The value I place on these “books” is one knowing the hearts of others in relationship to how they were struggling with the reality of a God who wants to interact with us on a regular basis.  I try not judging the “truth” or “untruth” of the books, because for those who wrote the books they “are truth.” 


Another point we need to remember is that some 1,500 years ago a group of men got together and decided that only certain books would be “allowed in the cannon” we call the bible.  They may not have had a copy of the other books to see if they should be allowed in the cannon.  Maybe they had an agenda that these books did not fit?  The possibilities are endless.  I recommend that people read the books and see for themselves.  But remember, to discuss them in community – that’s the cool way of learning.


november 15, 2002 - what does it mean to progress in our faith?

on a modern level, it seems you can not call yourself a christian until you are a conservative republican.   for me the process is this - to rid ourselves of all the garbage in our lives and move towards a love that is so deep we desire to help others at all times (1 john 2:6).  i believe we are to move along a path that brings us closer to being christ-like; loving, forgiving, accepting and peaceful.  by simply being a polite person, we have changed nothing, and we are called to change - period.



july 07, 2001 - what is the role of women in ministry? (a position paper)


july 14, 2001 -  what are the qualities of a perfect servant of christ?

to answer this question I will turn to john 2:1-11 as a guiding scripture.  most people see this as simply the first miracle of Jesus - and it is, but it is so much more.  let us look at the role of the servants in this scripture - 


when mary tells the servant to listen and do as Jesus says - they do, without question and without fear.  there was not disputing, or comments behind Jesus' back -


look at verse 7 - Jesus tells the servants to "fill the jars" and they fill them to the brim.  this is the first quality of a good servant of Christ.  do what Jesus asks, and do it to your best.  the servants could have filled the jars half way - but they were good servants and listened.


the second thing we need to keep in mind as a good servant is to not argue - in verse 8 when Jesus tells the servants to "dip some out" they did.  they did not comment on how crazy it sounded - they acted by faith.


a good servant is one that is willing to trust in God's word, and follow it without fear and to the letter - 


july 29, 2001 - what is the role of leadership? (a position papaer)



december 09, 2001 - "as a christian, how do i deal with war?"

well, that's a tough one.  personally, i have struggled with this issue since 911 and i have come to the conclusion we must not fight, we must not retaliate and we must not go to war.  i know this is not a popular view, but it is, i believe, a view taught in scriptures by jesus himself and others.  i will openly admit that i got all the scripture to support this view from the new testament and did start with the idea of absolute peace.  but i do believe that no one can ever find any words in the new testament that allows any kind of retaliation, fighting, or war - if you find them, let me know.  here is what i come away with when i read romans section 12 starting on line 10:


love from the center of who you are, do not fake it - just that simple.

bless your enemies, no cursing under your breath - this is a tough one.

get along with each other and make friends

don't hit back - the old "turn the other cheek"

don't insist on getting even - no tit for tat.

don't let evil get the best of you - don't give in to the evil one.


i know that retaliation is a popular view of reality.  i know that polls show that over 80-90% of the people favor retaliation on the events of 911.  in james (483) we are told not to be governed by polls or popular opinion.


september 16, 2001 - "kill all muslims"

the other day i was sitting with a group of teaches (i have been substituting while waiting for a church), having lunch.  soon the conversation turned to the national day of prayer and remembrance becsue of the horrid events at the WTC.  one of the teachers stated that "this whole church and God this is stupid - we need to just kill all the muslims."  he laughed at the need for church and for God - one of the other teachers blamed the whole event on God - as he told me when I mentioned that we need a spiritual center as this event unfolds - "if it were not for your God we would not be in this mess."  he also added that, "believing in God is for the stupid and the weak - we just need to kill all the muslims."  when i shared that a blanket statement of violence was wrong, i was quickly informed that he had the right to his opinion and if i did not like it, "we can take it outside."   i said, "having an opinion is fine, but that opinion can not include the genocide of a people, and the insulting of a person religious beliefs, because you have a different belief."  earlier, as i was walking to lunch, i needed to walk through another classroom where the teacher had either drawn, or allowed the students to draw, a "wanted poster" claiming - "bin laden, wanted dead - and 25,000,000 other"


anger, coupled with narrowed minded thinking, is dangerous.  this narrow thinking becomes a blanket for hate, and in the case of public school teachers in clark county, nevada - who support violent and massive retaliation based on a people simply because of religion - is acceptable.  a hatred of all people based on the horrid actions of some is wrong and out of place.  when i approached the administration, it was soon turned on me - i had the problem - i was the one twisting the situation.  i was told that the teacher had the right to his own opinion, and that i had no right to question that opinion. it was also explained to me that "students drew the picture as a way of dealing with the problem."


i firmly believe the boat was missed.  we had the opportunity to teach understanding and grace, and we replaced it with hatred.  when the irish bomb, do we "kill all the irish?"  how about the germans?  the italians?  i am reminded of something i learned in seminary, and i do not remember (i think it was bart or bonhoffer) who said it, "when they came for the jews, i did not worry - i was not a jew.  when they came for the catholics, i did not worry - i was not catholic.  when they came for me, there was no one else to worry."