That saying, “Go back to the Bible,” features the word back. But this juncture, we have no choice but to move forward. No matter how much we pine for familiar comforts, we press on to a future that is strange and uncertain.
In this climate of postmodernity, we hear questions that a generation ago were unimaginable. In my undergraduate days, people were asking, “How can I know that Christianity is true?” The words know and true needed no explanation. But today, many are asking profound, unsettling questions about the foundations of truth and knowledge. If we cling to old ways of speaking about the Bible without understanding the ethos of the times, we risk alienating an entire generation, rendering ourselves and our message irrelevant.
Is going back to the Bible an appropriate direction for today? That depends on the context.
Yesterday, a friend called my attention to an article titled, An Open Letter to the Church: How to Love the Cynics. The author, Addie Zierman, writes from the standpoint of those who have left their evangelical churches.
The article begins very abruptly:
You should know, first of all, that there’s no quick-fix here. There are not ten steps. There is no program that you can implement, no “Young Adult” class you can start.
This is not about your building or your music or your PowerPoint slides.
There is not a trendy foyer in the world with the power to bring us wandering back.
After all, there’s not much you can say to us that we haven’t already learned in some Sunday School classroom somewhere. We know the Bible stories. We heard them over and over, year after year until they became part of our blood, part of our bones.
At a recent breakfast with a group of Christian men, one person offered this verse as an illustration of how believers ought to have fellowship with one another. Real friendship, he suggested, is not merely for relaxing and enjoying one another’s company; it is also for holding one another accountable and telling one another the hard truths that we all need to hear.
Accountability is certainly needed. And who can dispute the importance of telling anyone the hard truths that they need to hear?
Lent is universally observed in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and the so-called high church Protestant traditions. In recent years, many low church Protestants and evangelicals have begun to appreciate the season as well.
I’ve heard people say that Lent is unbiblical because it is not mentioned in the Bible. The Apostle Paul tells us not to let anyone judge us by what we eat or drink or by the religious festivals and holidays that we keep (Col 2:16). Observing Lent is not a matter of right or wrong. However, Lenten practices go back to the earliest days of the Church, and many Christians throughout the ages have found them to be beneficial.
Lent is part of the annual church calendar which does have biblical roots. An annual cycle of religious feasts was established in the Old Testament. Jesus observed those feasts, and the main events of the gospel are embedded in them. Jesus died at feast of Passover; he rose from the dead on the feast of Firstfruits; and he sent his Holy Spirit on the feast of Pentecost. The church liturgical calendar is partly a Christian adaptation of the Jewish cycle of feasts.
Joshua’s recent comment moved me to tears. His words, phrases, comments and articulation strike at the core and at the root of the matter regarding “shepherding” that needs to be seriously and intentionally addressed and drastically re-thought. This is what Joshua wrote that touched my heart (The bullet points are my insertion):
The hardest part about leaving spiritual abuse is forgiving myself for letting (spiritual abuse to) happen.
- Forgiving myself for letting my wife to be trampled on and treated little more than just a “sheep’s wife.”
- Forgiving myself for allowing leaders to attack her and malign her while I said nothing. Continue reading →
In the near future, I hope to write more about the history of Lent and how Christians can benefit from Lenten practices. For now, I will share a traditional Lenten prayer that was composed in the fourth century A.D. by Saint Ephrem the Syrian.
O Lord and Master of my Life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust of power and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to your servant.
Yea, O Lord and King!
Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother; for you are blessed from all ages to all ages. Amen.
I had previously shared about my “worst” sin and my “worst” humiliation. In keeping with my predisposition toward making sweeping generalizations and extreme statements, this is my “worst” infuriation: “Implying that people are spineless idiots, because they cannot resist my strong overpowering personality.” (Warning: This is a rant and rave. So stop reading further if you do not want to become infuriated!)
Continue reading →
Not long ago, we received the following message from a curious reader.
[Okay, I lied. The reader didn’t call me Bibleman. But please indulge my superhero vagaries.]
I was wondering if someone can write an article on UBFriends regarding John 15, specifically mentioning John 15:2. Do you mind explaining to me briefly the meaning behind Jesus’ words? I want to clarify what that verse actually means. I was told often to cut of certain things in my life that did not bear fruit. To a certain degree, I agree with that. For example if I habit of lying and end up hurting people, that does not produce in me Christlike character. At the same time, this verse is often used or implied as you need to get rid of your girlfriend, job, whatever, because it doesn’t bear fruit! If you don’t mind explaining that verse to me, I would appreciate it!