Don’t Miss List: ‘Risen,’ Adam, Shepherd Pastors, the UCC and More

The internet is just so full of things. And it’s been some time since I put a list together, so please bear with me this week.

Risen, Reviewed by Michael Coughlin

RISEN

Michael Coughlin watched and reviewed the new movie, Risen, and his post is available at Michelle Lesley’s site. I saw the film for myself on Sunday afternoon and found Coughlin’s assessment hit the mark. If you’re considering seeing it, check out his review first.

My own brief thoughts about the film: great acting, cinematography and a gripping story that affirms that Jesus did in fact rise from the grave. It also does confront a nonbeliever with the truth of Jesus’s deity, a truth that demands a response: believe and follow or reject it. If was also considerably more accurate in its history and plausible in its fictional parts, than many other made for TV or cinema movies about the Bible or Jesus Christ. It was not perfect though.

My gripes about the film were mostly small, with these notable exceptions: there was little indication of why Jesus died on the cross (Because our sins separate us from God Jesus sacrificed himself to redeem us from our sins and restore that relationship with God if we repent and believe in Him.) and no real mention of sin or repentance (that I could spot with one viewing). As a result it lacked a clear gospel message for the viewer to understand (and accept or reject). Second, the portrayal of Jesus as all about “love” was what I would consider incomplete truth. Certainly Jesus was loving, sacrificing himself for our sins was the greatest demonstration of love in all of history. But he also made it clear He would someday judge the world, and those who did not believe in Him (for example: Matthew 25).

Josephfiennes

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My Rick Warren story and a giveaway

I wish I could remember the first time I heard of megachurch pastor Rick Warren or the first time I was introduced to his Purpose Driven Life (PDL) book.

I know that it was sometime before the fall of 2003, because that the semester Warren came to Liberty University and spoke for two days straight (sharing his Purpose Driven Church principles). All students were required to attend and were all given “free” copies of PDL. (If you’ve ever heard an LU student talking about the $7-free-book, that was it) Continue reading

Warren: Scripture twisting, eisegesis and allegorization

Despite Warren’s recent tweet condemning imaginary people for reading the cross into every verse of the Bible, Warren himself has been guilty of eisegesis. Let me show you just a few examples.

In case the word is unfamiliar, eisegesis is “the interpretation of a text (as of the Bible) by reading into it one’s own ideas,” according to Merriam-Webster. Continue reading

What I’m reading today

Just a few pieces to share today.

In case there was any doubt Thomas Merton was heavily influenced by Buddhism just check out this update from Lighthouse Trails. Pirate Christian himself gives very easy to follow instructions on “How to Hear God’s Voice 100% of the Time” at Letter of Marque. He’s spot on and I’ll be tackling this issue in an upcoming post. Brooke at White Horse Inn writes about Francis Chan’s children’s book Halfway Herbert which sounds quite interesting. I’d like to take a look at it. Oh, and this headline personally distressed me (being a Liberty University grad myself) – Ken Silva writes “Jerry Falwell, Jr.: Liberty University “No Official Position” on Cult of Mormonism.” Be sure to watch the video for yourself.

He Arose!

Happy Resurrection Sunday! Isn’t it wonderful to know that Christ did not stay dead and buried in that tomb?

I rejoice in the words of 1 Peter 1: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

And Romans 6:4-10 states: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”

Jesus rose, just as he said he would. He appeared to many witnesses after his resurrection. Before his death, Jesus declared himself to be the “resurrection and the life.” And according to the gospels, when the women went to Jesus’ tomb an angel told them, “He is not here, he has risen just as he said.” His resurrection is the confirmation that his words, his claims to deity were true, and because he has risen we have hope, as believers, that we have been saved by his blood and one day we shall rise as well.

I’ll never forget listening to Dr. Gary Habermas preach about the necessity of the resurrection during one of the many convocations I attended at Liberty University. In fact it is one of the only speakers I do remember. If you struggle to comprehend or believe in the resurrection of Christ check out his website.

Here are a couple more things I spotted online today about the resurrection. From The Christian Post: Theologian Gives top 10 Myths about the Resurrection and from Sharper Iron: Christ’s Resurrection and Our Newness of Life.

Telling Stories?

I was foraging through a number of my favorite websites this week and spotted a video clip on Brannon Howse’s Worldview Weekend that was from my alma mater: Liberty University. It turns out the video is from a convocation back in November, but I’d still like to make some briefs comments about it. The two young men speaking at LU that morning were Jason Russell of Invisible Children and Alex Harris, author of “Do Hard Things.” You can watch the entire thing here. Glancing down the list of other videos, I’ll have plenty to critique if I just subscribe to the LU video account.

I realize that Russell and Harris weren’t at convocation to give a sermon, but a few of Russell’s comments were actually shocking in their deviation from a Biblical perspective. 

 The first was his remark (roughly 4 mins. 11 seconds mark) that Invisible Children is trying to accomplish its goals by “just telling stories,” but he added that: “We believe that Jesus Christ was the best storyteller and we believe that he truly said go out and tell stories because that’s the most powerful thing. That wins the heart and the mind and it will get people to follow what you’re doing.”

WHAT? I almost fell out of my chair when he said that. Boy does that miss the point and denigrate the mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus was not just some great storyteller who persuaded people with his eloquence. He was GOD! He was fully God and fully man. And his time of ministry was a whole lot more than years of storytelling. He was proving his deity, telling people he was the promised Messiah, he was demonstrating the nature and power of God. It is also important to remember that although multitudes followed him, many also turned on him and called for his crucifixion. His “stories,” more appropriately called parables, also offended many people.

Also, the mission he commanded us to do was not “go tell stories.” It was much more explicit. In Mark 16:15 Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Christians are to share the good news about who Jesus is, what he accomplished on the cross and through his resurrection from the dead, and how people can be saved by faith in what Jesus has already done.

Later in the video (roughly 17 min. mark) Russell also made the strange claim that people’s insecurity is the cause of all world problems. “I truly believe insecurity is the cause of every single problem in the world. I believe that,” Russell said.

I think the Bible makes it clear that the cause of all the world’s problems is sin (one of those sins – pride is condemned often in Scripture). Not insecurity. Sin is the root problem of humanity, it is what separates us from God and only Jesus is the solution to the problem. After all, it was he who conquered death. Revelation 1:18 says, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”