Thursday, March 22, 2007

"The gold standard of academic integrity"

Concerning the whole Jesus family tomb issue that has been much discussed recently, I am left with one overarching thought. It seems that the great mistake that Cameron and Jacobovici made was not the controversial claim, nor was it the slip shod methods , nor was it the lack of conclusive evidence, for claims as ridiculous and controversial as this are made every day. No. The great mistake they made was going public into a multinational media forum without having offered it up to peer review, which Jonathan Reed from the Society of Biblical Literature calls "the gold standard of academic integrity." That step that was skipped is happening now, as you can see many archaeologists and scientists discrediting this "discovery" (which, by the way, was discovered in 1980, and is nothing new). Had they done a peer review, it never would have gotten far enough to be made into a prime time documentary, but they they would not have made their money, either.

If you have not yet, I encourage you to read up on this topic. It seems that the evidence is flimsy at absolute best. Here are a few articles:

This is the article quoted above.

This is a great article exposing a few of the major flaws by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina.

This is a blog by Dr. Ben Witherington pointing out many of the flaws as well.

Lastly, you can check out The Society of Biblical Literature Site that has scholarly articles on many current subjects. I have added it to my links on the right. And, may we always continually quest for good information.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"A Parody of Jesus"

On Sunday, my pastor made in interesting statement in response to a comment we hear often in today's world, that being the phrase, "I like Jesus, I just don't like the Church/Christians." His response was that people who say that don't really like Jesus. Rather, they like the parody of Jesus that is often portrayed; the soft, cuddly Jesus who just wants to bless everyone and would never ask you to do anything to risk your comfort. How backwards is the general conception of Jesus?

In reality, Jesus asked, correction, demanded that all who would come after him to die. As Bonhoeffer would say, we have created a death-less (or a cross-less) Christianity, which, he would argue, is not Christianity at all. Jesus is offensive. If the people who say they like Jesus, but not Christians knew that Jesus called them to lose everything, family, friends, comfort, wealth etc., to follow him, I doubt they would like him so much. If there is one thing that Jesus threatens, it is selfishness, which automatically offends the selfish.

Now, to be clear, was Jesus loving? Yes, more than any other person ever. Is the church perfect? Absolutely not. Are we as the church responsible for being better witnesses to the world? Absolutely, yes. But can we please stop pretending that Jesus was a human sized kitten?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Blog Update

I thought I would take a minute and officially go through and give some dap to the blogs that I link to. I am not a "Free linker", so when I link, it is for a reason. If you are interested in broadening your blog horizons, allow me to recommend some and give a word about each.

Emerging Minister is maintained by Greg Atkins, a media pastor and songwriter. He has interesting thoughts on church media and some great videos as well.

Eric Peters is a friend of mine who is an independent singer/songwriter. I absolutely love his music. In addition, he is a fantastic writer. He has recently become a father. Congrats buddy.

Ravelings is the blog of one of my friends here at church, Chip Burkitt. Chip is a great thinker, and there are few people with whom I like to talk and have deep discussions more than Chip. His wit and grasp of subjects come through in his writing.

Ben Witherington is a blog I just added today, but I can tell that he has some great thoughts. Apparently a PhD who teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary, he blogs a lot on current events from a scholarly Christian perspective, which is great.

Malcolm Gladwell had my full attention after I read his book Blink, which is a great read (that you can purchase on the left). He is a writer for The New Yorker and writes great blog articles as well. He seems to have taken a hiatus from blogging for a few months, but I expect him to come back.

Joel's Thoughts is run by Joel Maners, who I met through another blog. He is a good thinker and has an active blog. Check him out.

Vanguard Church is a blog I added recently because the author and myself seemed to be on the same page on a lot of things. The author is a pastor and has a history of working with the younger generation.

Think Christian has become one of my favorite blogs to read. A handful of contributors do a great job of posting on relevant issues in a well researched manner. Two thumbs way up.

Church Relevance is another of my favorite reads. It offers up many studies and stats that are interesting and helpful, as well as many links to great stuff.

The Tune of Tim is another recent addition. Tim placed some good comments on my blog, which led me to check him out, and I found out that he has a pretty cool blog. He writes about similar things as me (so it has to be good, right? :) )

No Kool Aid Zone is a sight dedicated to thinking and not accepting anything blindly. A great premise. A great blog.

Liquidoxology is a blog I linked to because of the great pictures that are posted. It is worth stopping by occasionally because there are always interesting images there.

Randy Dean is a friend of mine who I get to hear preach regularly. He is a fireball and a thinker (imagine that combo!).

Simply Kurt is the blog of Kurt Johnston, the Jr High Pastor of Saddleback Community Church. He is very funny and has a lot of good ministry insights.

Tim Ellsworth is the site that got me started blogging, and still the one I check most often. The site is very active and there is (almost) always some heated discussion. Those who frequent the site tend to be much more conservative than me from a ministry standpoint. I'm pretty sure they think I'm a heretic (not really).

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sand Art

So I wanted to share something amazing with you. There is an emerging form of art that involves the manipulation of sand on a lighted surface. You may have seen it in action in the new Quest commercials that are out. I first saw it last August at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, and then I just saw it again this week at Willow's Student Ministries Conference (which was great, by the way), both times done by Willow's resident sand artist Mark Demel. This is one of the most amazing art forms I have ever seen. This link will take you to where you can watch the video. You won't be disappointed. You can also find this sort of thing on youtube, but without the Christian message in the art, it loses something. Anyway, let me know what you think.