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Reflections on Job, Part 8 – The Lord’s First Speech

We have come now to the climax of the Book of Job, the speeches of the Lord. There are actually two speeches, the first in 38:1-40:2 (with a brief reply by Job in 40:3-5); and the second in 40:6-41:34 (with a brief reply by Job in 42:1-6). Even though these speeches are the dramatic centerpiece of the book, there is widespread disagreement as to what the the Lord’s speeches actually mean. A common view is that the Lord is essentially rebuking Job, asserting His incomparable power and wisdom, leading Job to repent for his rash, ill-conceived accusations. I hope to show that this understanding of what the Lord says is crucially inadequate. But first, let’s look at these speeches in the context of the book. Continue reading

A Brief Defense of Traditional Christian Sexual Ethics

A good friend of mine recently asked my thoughts regarding this article, which offers a revisionist view of Christian sexual ethics (in this case, specifically with regard to same-sex issues). Over the years I have seen many articles like this which attempt to overthrow traditional orthodoxy on these highly personal and sensitive issues. I thought I would offer some brief thoughts in defense of the historical understanding of the biblical record on this topic. I want to begin with these crucial foundational principles of the Christian view of sexual ethics: Continue reading

The Greatest Campaign Speech Ever – and What We Can Learn From It

On April 4, 1968, Robert Kennedy was scheduled to speak in Indianapolis during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was slated to speak in a predominantly black neighborhood. As his entourage made its way to the campaign stop, Kennedy received word that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot and killed.

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Nazis, Morality, and Atheism

“Nazis. I hate these guys.”
Indiana Jones

Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Since the neo-nazi movement is in the news right now thanks to the debacle in Charlottesville, I thought I would use this unseemly moment to make a point about the nature of morality. Most everyone shares the sentiments of Indiana Jones about the Nazis. Nazi ideology is the epitome of evil. Continue reading

Reflections on the Events of the Weekend

Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Some thoughts about the weekend…

  1. Racial hatred is sinful. It is an affront to the image of God all humans share, and a denial of the gospel. This is obvious, but sometimes it is good to state the obvious. This is one of those times.
  2. The alt-right white identity movement is not merely anti-black. It is also anti-semitic and explicitly anti-Christian. This movement wants nothing to do with Christians, and we want nothing to do with it (other than to call its adherents to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ).
  3. Those of you who love smearing the “religious right” may want to rethink this now that you are seeing what the anti-religious right looks like.
  4. The white identity movement is part of a larger problem in our country, identity politics. Identity politics is an acid that eats through everything it touches. I heartily join with those on the left and the right in condemning it. Civil society is at stake, and those who want a civil society must oppose identity politics wherever it tries to seep in.
  5. Using the symbols of the 20th century’s biggest mass murderers (like Nazi symbols in Charlottesville and Communist symbols in Seattle) to promote your case is poor marketing strategy.
  6. Partisans who regularly use grossly exaggerated political rhetoric (like “Romney is a racist” or “Obama is a Marxist”) create an environment in which genuine extremism cannot receive the censure it really does deserve.
  7. I am thankful to be part of a church family that completely subverts the hatred of the white identity movement by displaying love that is defined by grace and not race, and where the only identity that counts is being in Christ.

Reflections on Job, Part 7 – What to Do with Elihu?

The Wrath of Elihu, by William Blake

One of the greatest mysteries in a book filled with mysteries is what to make of Elihu. He seems to appear out of nowhere, and after his speeches conclude, there is no further reference to him in the book. It’s almost as if someone from the street stumbled onto the stage of a musical, decided to sing a few songs, and then leave!

What are we to make of Elihu? Should we look at his four speeches as fundamentally different in tone and content from the friends? Does he add any new insight to the book? Does he get the reader a little closer to the truth about Job’s predicament? Continue reading

The Meaning of Beauty and the Ugliness of Pornography

What is “beauty”? What makes a piece or art or music or a landscape beautiful? Certainly we are dealing with something pleasing to the senses, something visually and/or audibly pleasing to us. And what pleases us is something more than the object’s utilitarian value. I have a beautiful desk set, given to me as a gift. It is a fantastic piece of equipment, a great place to work – but then, an ugly desk is also capable of being a sufficient place to do work. So the beauty of my desk must involve more than the use it serves. Its beauty is something I appreciate in and of itself. Continue reading

Reflections on Job, Part 6: What Job Wants

Job’s Despair, by William Blake

Throughout the course of Job’s speeches, both in his dialogues with the three friends and in his final monologue, there is one thing that Job repeatedly says he desires: an audience with God. Job believes that God is punishing him unjustly. Given his commitment to the Principle of Retribution as the mechanism of God’s providence, that’s the only conclusion an “upright and blameless man” like Job could draw. While his confidence that the Principle of Retribution is the comprehensive explanation of God’s governance does begin to waver in his later speeches, Job’s desire to bring his case beforte God does not.

Here’s a selection of these requests for redress with God.

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Reflections on Job, Part 5: Job’s Breakthrough

In my previous post I discussed what one commentator calls the “Triangle of Tension” in the Book of Job. Given the principle of retribution (the law of sowing and reaping), these three points cannot co-exist: God’s justice, Job’s righteousness, and Job’s suffering. If the wicked always suffer and the righteous always prosper, then either Job must not be righteous, or God must not be just. Job’s friends deny Job’s righteousness, and Job denies God’s justice.

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Why I Love Barbershop: Reason 5 – It Has Made Me a Better Person

Tonight several thousand people will jam into the Axis Theater is Las Vegas to watch ten quartets compete in the finals of the international quartet contest. It is a thrilling event to witness, and unbelievably exciting to be a part of. Some friends and I will stay up late tonight to watch the live webcast. I can’t wait!

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