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Prayer Request

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:34 AM

I have an interesting day tomorrow (Tuesday, 1/17). For now, I'll leave it at that, but I'd appreciate your prayers.

What do you mean when you say, "I believe in the communion of the saints?"

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:49 AM

The Westminster Confession of Faith (26.1-2) answers that question in a very helpful manner that shows how the good news of being made a part of this body leads us to respond by caring for the same:

All Saints, that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his Spirit and by faith, and have fellowship with him in his grace, suffering, death, resurrection, and glory. United to one another in love, God's people have fellowship in each other's gifts and grace and are obliged to perform those public and private duties which nourish their mutual good, both spiritually and physically.

By their profession of faith God's people are bound to maintain a holy fellowship and communion with each other in the worship of God and in the performance of other spiritual services for their mutual edification. They are also bound to help each other in material things according to their different abilities and needs. This fellowship is to be offered, as God gives the opportunity, to everyone in every place who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus.

Happy Christmas

By Tim Butler | Posted at 2:00 AM

I have never liked going to bed on Christmas day. There is a certain wonder in Christmas night and I'm never quite ready for it to end. But, that is one reason that I often have taken to this blog and urged folks to observe the 12 days of Christmas.

Even the Christian radio station — which I am still annoyed at for taking over the airwaves that were once St. Louis's classical music station — shut off the Christmas music at midnight. (There is surely some irony tied to how we play songs such as “the Twelve Days of Christmas” and “We Three Kings” but often set them aside for another year before the twelve days have passed.)

Why do we move on so quickly after Christmas? In this darkest part of the year, what can be better than celebrating the Light who came into the world? And while Advent serves that purpose to a point, the 12 days between Christmas and Epiphany offer a chance to reflect on the joyous news in a less hectic way than most of our pre-Christmas schedules permit.

So, without a further ado, on to the Second Day of Christmas…

Calvin on Luther

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:42 AM

If he were to call me a devil, I should still regard him an outstanding servant of God.

So quoth John Calvin, while reflecting on Luther, in a letter to Bullinger.

Paved Paradise

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:48 AM

Too often we don't know what we've got until it is gone. How often is it that we look at what God has given us and say, “that's not good enough”? It may be an inevitable part of this life, though one that we need to actively combat.

Bad Christian Art

By Tim Butler | Posted at 3:06 PM

Tony Woodlief writes on the tendency of Christians to pass off garbage as “Christian art:”

Consider, for example, some common sins of the Christian writer:

Neat resolution: You can find it on the shelves of your local Christian bookstore: the wayward son comes to Christ, the villain is shamed, love (which deftly avoids pre-marital sex) blossoms, and the right people praise God in the end. Perhaps best of all, we learn Why This All Happened.

The article offers a very cogent analysis of the problems with Christian books and movies (most of which also apply equally well to Christian music). The Christian artist, if anything, should feel less free to pass off half-baked art, particularly if they are going to claim to be creating “Christian” works.

The Combination is What Makes the Cross

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:07 PM

I meant to post this Bono quote on here months ago:

There's nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that's why they're so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you're a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

Well said.

Happy Easter

By Tim Butler | Posted at 3:27 PM

He is risen!

Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.

Chrislam

By Tim Butler | Posted at 8:19 PM

Google that word and you will discover dozens of blog articles hailing the approaching end times, noting how people like Rick Warren are now pushing for a merger of Christianity and Islam. Reading even one of these reveals the poorest of justifications for saying Warren has “embraced Chrislam.” I am no Warren fan, but any Christian who writes such junk should be ashamed.

But, if fallacious argumentation is not enough to demonstrate the flaws of these “reports,” maybe plagerism will do the trick. All of the content I have found seems to originate from a pseudo-journalist named Paul L. Williams. The posts seem to be minor variations of each other, using the same words — and even the same church sign picture. Also note that all of them talk about the same events happening “this week” despite being posted anywhere between November and this week.

This smells more of an email urban legend than news. Yet this misinformation is being passed around as news and people will take it as such. Even when we disagree with people, we must reject spreading mistruths, no matter how perfectly they may confirm our biases.

To do otherwise is sin.

UPDATE: My friend Ed Hurst notes that the Chrislam church sign accompanying such posts was fabricated using a church sign making site.

Doubt and Faith

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:26 AM

Paul Tillich once said,

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.

Generally, I think our modern conception of faith suggests it is either something built on entirely warranted belief or is entirely unwarranted. Tillich here offers a middle way that is more in accord with Scripture. Being human involves uncertainties and doubts arising whenever we deal with something of great import. If we take the Bible seriously, then, inevitably, some doubts will exist.

That is why we pursue theology. As St. Anselm said, theology is “faith seeking understanding.”

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