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Sandy Foundations

By Ed Hurst | Apr 08, 2008 at 3:57 AM
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was casting a view of God's ways. He did so as a corrective of a false view, by contrasting it with assumptions the people had about what the Law and Prophets required. They had been taught these assumptions mostly by the Pharisees, whose teaching dominated the synagogues at that time. Their teaching was a pedantic, worldly corruption of the Old Testament, strongly influenced by a system of interpretation developed over three centuries of Hellenistic rationalism, in turn preceded by two centuries of Babylonian and Persian materialism. At the end of His message, as recorded in Matthew's Gospel (ch. 7), Jesus declared His teaching was a reflection of the ancient and eternal truth revealed by God Himself, characterized by a distinctly other-worldly outlook. Any other basis for looking at life was comparable to building on sand.

Pilate's Truth

By Timothy R. Butler | Mar 21, 2008 at 4:55 PM

What is truth?

In three words Pilate asked the question of questions. What is truth? For a moment, the worldly Roman had moved off into something beyond this world. Truth.

Descending from the Liberal Arts

By Timothy R. Butler | Feb 22, 2008 at 7:05 AM

Paradoxes abound in life. According to Plato, the ideal ruler is one that does not want to rule. According to Jesus, the one who does not value his own life is the one who gets to keep it (Mt. 10:39). It is in a similar vein that if one wishes to know the particulars one must know general knowledge, and to know the general things, one must know the particulars of the “branches of knowledge.” This truth makes it disturbing that our society seems to be ever more hostile to the study of the liberal arts as it seeks after only “useful” knowledge.

An Elegy to the Year Now Passing

By Timothy R. Butler | Jan 01, 2008 at 12:51 AM

A single porch light glows across the night scene from my back window. The wind is blowing gently, but persuasively. A certain sadness seems entwined in this, and yet the warm glow of the Christmas lights that twinkle about me inside pulls me from waxing on too much about the cold I only see, and am not left to survive in this night. Such is 2007 as it bids us farewell.

On That Door

By Timothy R. Butler | Nov 01, 2007 at 3:44 AM

Four hundred and ninety years ago, an unremarkable Catholic monk posted a sheet of almost one hundred complaints at the place where people posted such things in those days. That would be a church door, and the monk, of course, would be Martin Luther. Unbeknownst to him at the time, he had just split the church into a group that would still be known for its “protesting” of Catholic doctrine a half millennia later: happy birthday, Protestant Church.

The Holy Office of Confession

By Ed Hurst | Aug 29, 2007 at 3:49 AM
Most of the time, the word translated "confession" in the Bible appears in the context of owning up to sin. That's a good word for translating the concept. The Latin word from which we get the English "confess" means "to stand with" -- in this case, it means standing with God, as a public endorsement of His declaration we have sinned.

Jesus’s Perfected Sign of Jonah

By Timothy R. Butler | Apr 06, 2007 at 7:38 PM

On Good Friday, it is traditional to look at the narrative of that day approximately two thousand years ago when Jesus was crucified by the order of Pontius Pilate and then try to make sense of it. Jesus Himself offered an interpretation of His future suffering that appears in both Matthew and Luke; in it, He chooses to interpret His death and resurrection as “the sign of Jonah.” What could this possibly mean?

Transitional Leadership

By Jason Franklin | Jan 04, 2007 at 8:15 PM

One of the scariest, most uncertain times for a church is a transition in leadership. In most Baptist churches, when a pastor is to resign or retire, it is the standard practice for a committee (or six) to be formed and a lengthy search for a new pastor to begin.

Battling Over Christmas

By Timothy R. Butler | Nov 30, 2006 at 5:44 AM

With Thanksgiving now past us, we find ourselves just days away from Advent, and already fully immersed into the Christmas season. Along with the tidings of “peace on earth” and “goodwill to men,” undoubtedly a number of familiar old arguments will also return; arguments over whether “Christmas is over-commercialized” and whether “our civic institutions are supporting state religion” are particularly cherished traditions of the season. It is the same old, same old, and lack of thinking on the subject will allow the debates to rage on despite that.

Reformation Day, 2006

By Ed Hurst | Oct 31, 2006 at 5:25 PM

It was October 31, 1517. Despite popular characterizations, it was merely a standard procedure for the young monk to post his debate proposal on the church door. By no means did he intend to start wars and create a permanent rift in the Body of Christ. It was simply the matter he took seriously the words he was being taught in his seminary classes about what really mattered in this world. Business as usual grated on his conscience. Nor was he alone in his complaints, so he hardly expected to become the lightening rod for institutional efforts to crush every dissenting voice.

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