About four months ago my life was turned upside-down. I’ve written about it pretty extensively on this blog, but some things have occurred that I wanted to discuss, and I figured it was time for a dedicated post.

So lets jump in and see what it’s like for a hermit who has been alone for 13 years to use a dating app….

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I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of sacrifice. What does it really mean? Does God really require it from Christians? The same kind of sacrifice from everyone, or are we each, in turn, asked to surrender parts of ourselves that are unique to us? This, of course, stems from the conviction I received about four months ago from (I believe) God that I should prepare for a future wife. It’s only been four months and it feels like it’s been a hundred years already. I can’t imagine what it will be like if I’m asked to spend another four months with this unsettled feeling inside of me, having given up several things in the process of trying to obey and surrender to his will.

So, let’s dig into the sacrificial nature of obedience to Christ….

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Not long ago a new tv show came out and I was immediate captivated. And, so was the rest of the world. I’m talking about 1883, the western set back in the pioneer days, following the Dutton family, the ancestors of John Dutton, the character on another great tv show, Yellowstone. But, sadly, it appears as if television people aren’t really all that bright when it comes to what projects to work on. While Hollywood consistent pumps out crap show after crap show, after this show wrapped its first season, it was announce that there would be no second season, but more episodes, then a second season but with different characters, then a different show entirely, to Taylor claiming he never intended on going beyond the first season to begin with.

At this point, I really would like to just give up on the future of television altogether. When they find something that actually works and has an interesting story and fascinating characters, they just cancel it, or live it in indefinite limbo (like Mindhunters). When it is crap on a shovel, mind you, they pump out hundreds of episodes.

So, as I finish up my second viewing of 1883, I’m left with mixed feelings. They did actually close the story out, sort of. Elsa died in the end. We find out why the ended up in Montana instead of Oregon. We discover that Shea killed himself once he reached the beach, and that Thomas and Noema found land and a life and hope and love in the Willamette Valley.

But that’s it. We can’t expect now to ever know what became of James Dutton, his wife, or Thomas and his family, or the two camp hands that rode off toward the end of the season.

But, as I watched this time around, I took some notes on the show that I thought I would share, regardless of the writer or producers’ poor judgment and inability to read a room….

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The next course I selected as part of my Unschooled Master of Theology program was the KI course, Genesis part 1, which covers the first half of the Book of Genesis. Here are the Discussion Questions for the entire course along with my responses.

As a reminder, you can find all of my course assignments for the uThM here.

So, let’s get started….

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About a year or two ago I started listening to Dr. Heiser’s podcast, the Naked Bible. I had discovered him while doing research for my Master’s program, and especially while doing my dissertation for my ThD program. During that time, Dr. Heiser left Washington State, as well as his job at Logos Bible Software (Faithlife), to head up a new “school” based out of a megachurch in Florida, Celebration Church.

I have to admit, I was a little surprised that Dr. Heiser had made such a move. I know he had expressed frustration in the past on his podcast concerning the lack of financial success or being able to garner a wider audience. But, from a cursory look, there was something off about Celebration Church, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. So, I suspended bias and thought maybe he saw something in this odd church that I didn’t.

But, yesterday, I took a minute to look up Celebration Church again, and I’m not surprised at what I found.

Let’s dig into it and discuss…..

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A few days ago, my email alert popped up on screen to let me know an email had just come in. It was from CredoCourses, an online ministry that provides theological teaching to lay people in the church. So I stopped what I was doing and checked it out. Oddly enough, it was a course on doubt (serendipitous I think) and it was free. So I threw it in my cart, checked out, and within a few minutes had the four sessions downloaded.

So, let’s jump in and see what Michael and others at CredoCourses have to say about the doubt I’ve been going through lately…..

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If you’ve manage to catch the news lately you probably have seen something about the sexual abuse scandals that are rocking the Southern Baptist Convention, with more then 700 pastors being accused. This is actually not news, or at least it’s not new. It’s certainly old hat for the Catholic church and their priest clergy. It was occasionally spoken about in large, mega-church organizations, whenever a high profile pastor was busted. But, what we’re seeing today is rather pervasive, pointing to a systemic issue that has yet to be addressed by the church leadership or the parishioners.

Given the nature of the situation and what I think are the deep rooted reasons for why this is happening (has actually been happening all along), I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about. This post is actually prompted by an article written by Dena Johnson Martin at Crosswalk.com, titled, “Why is Abuse Rampant in the Church?” I’ll discuss this article specifically and my overall thoughts and opinions on the subject in general.

So let’s jump in and talk about what’s actually taking place in the modern day church, why it might be happening, and maybe what people can do about it…

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been wrestling with a lot of doubt. Doubts about what God will ultimately do with me and the remainder of my life (however long that is), what he’s actually doing (or if I’m just deluding myself), what he could do vs. what I think he will or will not do based on my unworthiness, are all forefront in my mind, cycling through on perpetual repeat.

When I spend time talking with God my faith is bolstered, I feel that familiar confidence surging through me, as if I can’t help but believe in what (what I think) he’s given me to do in preparation for what he plans to do in the near future.

Yet, without fail, throughout the day my fear, my anxiety, they sneak in without notice until they have a stranglehold on the things God has whispered to me, the things he says he is going to do, is doing. It all traces back to doubt. Disbelief. And that is rooted deeply in self-loathing, self-recrimination about so many things in my life, in my past, etc. So, tonight, I thought I would spend some time studying doubt, see if the Bible had something to say on the matter. Something that might help a stubborn mule such as myself. To my surprise, the Bible is quite clear, though we tend to not believe him. Ironic, I think.

So, let’s jump in and discuss doubt, doubting God’s abilities, doubting God’s willingness, doubting our own worth, and having deep-seated down when we feel like God has let us down in the past. How can we trust him now?

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This morning I checked in on the homeless shepherd out of Oregon. If you’re not familiar with him, this is Aaron Fletcher, a man who has spent a decade or more as a homeless man wandering around Oregon with several milk producing sheep that pull his miniature wagon where he lives. He gets much of his food from the milk the sheep produce and I would imagine he also does barter with people and also gathers edibles along the roadway. They were hostile to him in Ashland, passing ordinances to keep him and his sheep out of the city. From his videos it looks like he spent some time on walkabout, making it north and then to the coast, only to return down south again, I would imagine because the terrain in the northern region of the state is probably not as conducive to guerrilla grazing as down south.

But, Aaron is really not the focus of this post. Instead, I wanted to tackle a video he put out that I took as a kind of personal challenge (not to me individually since I’ve never met this man). As a Christian I am very interested in cultic behavior. I’m also VERY interested in the claim Aaron levels in this video, that all of Christianity is a cult. Because, after all, I do agree with him: much of modern evangelicalism is not biblical, it is truly a cult. Many if not most churches today are cult organizations run by prideful, arrogant men who enjoy power and authority and desire to rule over a people. They are the Nicolaitans that Jesus warned about in Revelation. But, Aaron takes it a step further and is basically dismissing the Bible itself because of the contradiction he states is in Genesis 1-2.

I thought to myself. “If it’s all an error, if it’s just a cult and I’m not bound by Christianity or the Bible, this has several significant implications for my life. I would like to test his conclusion against what the Bible actually says and also against what I’ve experienced in my life in my own interactions with God.”

So, let’s jump in and see if Aaron is correct. Is Christianity a cult?

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This afternoon I stumbled onto a video from a podcast called Authentic Christian that was responding to the responses given by James White over Authentic Christian’s original videos describing (in their view) Calvinism. As I went back and started down the rabbit hole with their original videos I thought it would be a productive use of my time to interact actively with the content instead of just passively watching it.

So, I’m creating this blog post as a run down of all my comments, thoughts, opinions, etc on all the videos in question, starting from their first two videos on Calvinism, to James White’s rebuttal, to their 4 hour long rebuttal of his rebuttal. I’m not kidding when I say there is a lot to talk about here. It’s going to get very theologically weedy very quickly so might be a good idea to put on some knee high rubber boots. Or, maybe it would just be better to jump in head first.

Trust me, though the water is theologically dark and murky, it’s still quite warm….

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Another season has just finished of one of the few good shows left on television. Young Sheldon is not only a full seasons (22 episodes) but it was renewed a few years ago for 3-4 episodes in advance. Despite this great billing, there are some issues with this season as well as with the show overall. But, it’s still the best show on tv anymore. Especially given the new nature of putting out only half seasons and spreading those out with several years between each installment.

So, let’s jump into all things young about Sheldon Cooper and find out what it’s all about….

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Awhile back I stumbled onto a discussion between Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro on Dave Rubin’s show on Youtube, and when I started watching it I noticed a claim that Dr. Peterson made that caught me rather by surprise. His claim was that the purpose of Christ and the cross was to provide an example for each of us to model in our own lives, which brings about a kind of salvation through good deeds or being a good person.

Now I’ve watched Dr. Peterson for a few years. He seems to be inching closer and closer to the edge of faith in Christ, but I think his intellect and his learning in psychology is getting in his way. But, let’s tackle this concept in detail, discussing what is the actual purpose of the Cross of Christ, what it is to do for us, and how we should approach this messianic figure….

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