Circumcision should be seen ‘in the same light as childhood vaccination’: study | CTV News

Circumcision should be seen ‘in the same light as childhood vaccination’: study | CTV News.

The comments are the most interesting part of this article. I wish we could teach people why certain arguments have no force. The ‘I’m this way and I’m okay’ argument is the worse. Everyone should have some idea of how statistics work. Almost as bad is the ‘nature made me this way’ argument. Nature is capricious at the best of times. Appendicitis still kills about 35,000 people per year and wisdom teeth operations kill about 1 in every 700,000 people who have them even with modern surgery techniques.

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We can read God’s words but we can’t read God’s mind

A post as a result of Jill’s comment to the blog about circumcision.

I didn’t know that that circumcision was rare among evangelicals outside of North America. I had also never heard of an operation done on baby girls to remove the clitoral hood. My understanding is that when newspapers use the term ‘female circumcision’ the operation to which they are actually referring is a clitorectimy. I don’t really know much about the beliefs and customs of female mutilating peoples so I won’t say anything more about it.

About evangelicals though I’m well versed.

One of the foundational beliefs of evangelicals is that everyone should read the Bible and by implication if everyone should be reading it then everyone should be interpreting it. This makes for a wide variety of opinions on every subject including circumcision. At one time (and thanks to your information I should add) in one place, all or most of the Mosaic laws were interpreted by a great bulk of evangelicals in terms of health. It sort of made sense. We know the dangers of eating pig and shellfish for instance and the Jewish cancer thing made it seem circumcision was in the health category also. The problem is that while we can read God’s words we can not read God’s mind.

My own opinion is that all of the laws were one way or another meant to civilize the Gods people. All the laws about sex were civilizing because you can’t have civilization without getting control of your sexuality. In this I am like other evangelicals. I read the Bible. I stir in other things that I already know or think I know and come up with something that makes sense to me. We don’t really know what God had in mind.

Speaking of mind, If you read Jill’s comment she said she changed her mind. Changing one’s mind is a good sign. It means that you are still learning humble enough to admit that you could be wrong.

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Jesus the Elpis of the World

I Corinthians 15:17

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

If only for this life? Wait a minute, isn’t the hope we have in Jesus only about the afterlife? Isn’t that the Hope that the writer of Hebrews keeps talking about?
Maybe a little cultural context will help. The Greek word for hope is Elpis. Elpis is also the name of a spirit in Greek mythology. This is handy because hope is an abstract concept and if you personify it and then tell a story about the person it makes the concept easier to understand. The Elpis story that is most widely known in Christiandom is the Aesop fable of Pandora’s Box. In that story Pandora ’s Box contained heinous evils to inflict mankind but at the bottom of the box was Elpis/Hope. Presumably Hope was there to make the world bearable or better in some way. But Elpis was a mythical creature so her story could be changed to fit the attitudes of the writer and the Greeks were pagans and had a very pessimistic world view. In other Pandora stories a jar of evils was released into the world but Elpis stayed under the lip of the jar and Zeus resealed the jar with Elpis still inside. In another version Elpis was one of the evils released onto the world because false hope is a bad thing. The interpreter of that Elpis story thought it was better to not have hope and to just muddle through. I would say that most Greeks would have agreed with the bumper sticker that says “Life sucks and then you die” except since they were pagans not atheists they would have said “Life sucks and then you die and the afterlife sucks even worse”.
In the greeting in first timothy Paul writes

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,”

Paul is specifically calling Jesus ‘our Hope’ and by so doing he is inviting us to compare and contrast the concept of Hope held by the Greco-Roman world with the Hope that we have in Jesus.
Elpis is a myth like Oedipus and Narcissus. She is a story used to explain an abstract concept and the story can change depending on what the story-teller is trying to prove. In none of the stories does she seem to work against the other evils in Pandora’s Box. At best she only makes the world’s burdens easier to bear at worst she may actually be aggravating them by encouraging men to only hope instead of work.
Jesus by contrast existed in a time and place that can be traced in history. The story is what it is, do with it what you will. Jesus is also is the Balm that sooths the worlds wounds but Jesus is more than that.
Paul writes In 1 Corinthians 13:13

”And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Paul is equating Faith, Hope and Love though is saying that the greatest is Love.
James writes in James 2:17

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

Are we reading too much into scripture if we say that Love and Hope are also dead if not accompanied by action?

John writes in 1 John 3:18

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” Is it too much of an exegetical stretch to say

“let us not Hope or have faith with words or speech only but with actions”?

Peter in 1 Peter 1:3 says

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”

We have a living hope. Just like the word of God as described by the writer of Hebrews our Hope is “alive and active.” And unlike Elpis our Hope is working to make the world a better place. As Christians we never sit back and wait. Our Hope is not like that.
Now I’m going to tell you about my mother because I love her but all of us know people like this.
My Mother has always been a person who has shown her love for our Lord by caring for people and she cared for people by cooking for them and cleaning for them and listening to them because that is what she can do. As she has gotten older she still does those things she just does them less. When she lived in an apartment building she would bake for people and listen to them and go out and clean the buildings parking lot – because she could – and it made the world a better place.

Now she lives with my brother and she does the same. She putters around his house and cleans and pulls weeds she tells my brother that she loves him.
My Mother is 85. On Saturday my brother took her to hospital because she had a pain in her chest. My brother told the people at the hospital “my mom never complains so when she does I figure I had better do something’. This time she was sent home with just pain killers but someday it will happen and she will be with the Lord. Until that day the living Hope that is in her and in us will not let her sit and wait. Until that day Jesus will be actively using her, and us, to do his good will in the world. Praise the Lord.

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Why you should never name your ministry after yourself

In no particular order

  • 2 kings 5: 21-27  It doesn’t end well for Gehazi
  • Luke 14:7-11       It doesn’t end well for the guy in this parable either.
  • Isiah 48:11           It doesn’t end well for the guys that God is talking about in this passage either
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Naked Women and Christian Teachers

When I was a teenager a Christian Camp leader gave a talk on why girls should dress modestly. His logic was that by dressing immodestly girls were inciting lust and causing men to sin. he didn’t actually say that causing someone else to sin is itself a sin. How could he. The sin is in the human heart. The Bible clearly teaches that until people sinned they cared not a wit about nudity. He implied it though. He implied that it was somehow unkind of girls to make it difficult for those poor old men to keep their thoughts under control.

Like most ideas whether you agree with them or not there is some truth. Is it a sin to stir up the sinfulness that is at the heart of us all and if so how much?  Quite a number of things have been historically considered sins because they may tempt the weak to fall. Drinking alcohol is clearest example but dancing and gambling have also been on that list. Most people are tempted to hate by harsh words but kind words can bring out hatred also. Not many people will continue to like you if you tell them they are wrong no matter how kindly you do it.

My opinion and it is only my opinion is that it is not a sin to ‘make’ other people sin. No one makes you sin. It is spiritual immaturity to think so.  Children blame others for their behavior but they are children after all and not 100 percent in control of themselves. Adults take responsibility for their behavior.  An immodestly dressed person does not make anyone lust anymore than a harshly speaking person makes you hate. Lust and hatred in those situations are natural reactions of the flesh but we have the choice to control the flesh.

On the other hand is there a Christian teacher anywhere who would advocate harsh language and personal immodesty. You might get a few somewhere to say it is okay under certain circumstances but not as a life style.

Speaking of Christian teachers, I have heard teaching against murder, adultery and stealing and I have heard sermons teaching against the lead-up sins of hatred, lust and coveting. I have heard some teaching against causing people to lust but not much against causing people to hate or causing people to covet. I am a great believer in symmetry. If a Christian should endeavor to help his neighbor to not lust by dressing modestly then a Christian should also help his neighbor to not hate by speaking modestly and to not covet by living modestly. Not because I am my neighbor’s keeper but because I love my neighbor.

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Does the name of your Mission Glorify Christ?

Christian Teacher    Ministry Name
Albert Mohler               AlbertMohler.com
Alistair Begg               Truth for Life
Billy Graham              Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Chuck Swindoll‎          Insight for living
James Dobson            Focus on the Family
Joel Osteen                 Joel Osteen Ministries
John MacArthur        Grace to You
John Piper                  Desiring God
Josh McDowell           Josh McDowell Ministry
Joyce Meyer               Joyce Meyer Ministries
Mark Dever                9Marks
Paul Washer              Heart Cry Missionary Society
Ravi Zacharias            Ravi Zacharias International
Rick Warren                rickwarren.org
R.C. Sproul                  Ligonier Ministries

Albert Mohler and Rick Warren – I have some sympathy for people who put their name into an internet name. They want to be found easy and in someway it is even modest. It is much less pretentious than something like ‘saving the world’ dot com or some such. It is a way of saying ‘it’s just me and my little old ministry here’. They are still missing a chance to bring glory to Jesus.

Billy Graham – I have a lot of sympathy for the Billy Graham people. Billy Graham is so famous that passing on the advertising potential of the name is just too difficult. However they are still losing the opportunity to preach the gospel with the name. They are also going to have a problem with time. In future board meetings are people going to win arguments by saying ‘that is not what Billy Graham would do’. The question is always WWJD.

Josh McDowell and Ravi Zacharias  – Josh McDowell Ministry is almost okay in a ‘it’s just me here’ sort of way. Ravi Zacharias International sounds pretentious to me but I will grant him that using his own name is a quick way of say ‘Christianity is not just for Europeans’ and the international part helps him appeal in the non-western world.

My favorite names are: Alistair Begg – Truth for Life, Chuck Swindoll‎ -Insight for living, John Piper -Desiring God and Paul Washer -Heart Cry Missionary Society.

Honorable mention goes to James Dobson and R.C.Sproul. Focus on the Family does not by itself bring glory to Christ but I think that is intentional. I think he means to appeal to non-Christian family people also. Ligonier Ministries is modest. It is a way of saying ‘we are so modest we don’t even want to claim that we are serving Christ with our name’.

My least favorite are Joyce Meyer Ministries and Joel Osteen Ministries. Ministries? Really? One is not enough? Golly, You must be all that and a bag of chips!

Mark Dever  – 9Marks: I don’t know what to make of that name. Is it named after yourself or not. Points for originality though.

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Don’t write a check to any Christian Ministry that is named after a person unless that person is Jesus.

Christian Teacher    Ministry Name
Albert Mohler               AlbertMohler.com
Alistair Begg               Truth for Life
Billy Graham              Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Chuck Swindoll‎          Insight for living
James Dobson            Focus on the Family
Joel Osteen                 Joel Osteen Ministries
John MacArthur        Grace to You
John Piper                  Desiring God
Josh McDowell           Josh McDowell Ministry
Joyce Meyer               Joyce Meyer Ministries
Mark Dever                9Marks
Paul Washer               Heart Cry Missionary Society
Ravi Zacharias            Ravi Zacharias International
Rick Warren                rickwarren.org
R.C. Sproul                  Ligonier Ministries

I looked up a well known evangelist and then followed the ‘people who looked up that also looked up this’ links. The list is not exhaustive but representative. It is sad to see how many names are on both sides of the table.

It is my deeply held opinion that anyone who purports to know scripture well enough that they are qualified to teach should know why they should not me naming a ministry after themselves. I understand the business reasons for naming a ministry after a person. The business reasons are sound and strengthen exponentially with the fame of the person. It is the spiritual reasons that are wrong and they do not become less wrong in a good cause.

This is not the sort of activity that you can stop by complaining. People who teach tend to have a very high opinion of their own opinions. You know that expression ‘it takes one to know one’. Well I’m one so I know. Just don’t write the check. With time the ministries who glorify Christ will prosper and the ones who glorify an individual will wither.

Feel free to send more examples Christian teachers and their ministries.

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