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“The nature of a paradigm is such that it cannot change unless it is replaced" - Sarah Sumner
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Saturday, March 17, 2012
This blog has moved.
This blog has moved to www.sojournalism.wordpress.com. Please visit there and continue the conversation. Thank you.
posted by Ben Thomas @ 2:52 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Wednesdays with the Wesleys
"Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it. You are in danger of [fanaticism] every hour, if you depart ever so little from Scripture; yea, or from the plain, literal meaning of an text, taken in connection with the context."  - John Wesley. (Works, 11:429).
posted by Ben Thomas @ 10:43 AM   0 comments
Monday, March 12, 2012
Mondays with Martin.
"A living, creative, active and powerful thing, this [Christian] faith. Faith cannot help doing good works constantly. It doesn’t stop to ask if good works ought to be done, but before anyone asks, it already has done them and continues to do them without ceasing. Anyone who does not do good works in this manner is an unbeliever...Thus, it is just as impossible to separate faith and works as it is to separate heat and light from fire!" - Martin Luther 
posted by Ben Thomas @ 4:02 PM   0 comments
Friday, March 09, 2012
Science, Creation, and the God of Natural Law
A great interaction between William Lane Craig and christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga on science, creation, and understanding God in the midst of them. Listen here:

Click Here


posted by Ben Thomas @ 5:11 PM   0 comments
Thursday, March 08, 2012
What I've Learned from Peyton Manning
If you lived in Indianapolis over the past few days, and you have any interest in sports, football in general, you probably are a little sad today, sad that we will no longer see #18 throwing touchdowns while wearing the horseshoe on his helmet. I am realist when it comes to these things, and I know that things change, so I am hoping for the best for Peyton and for the Colts. I find it interesting however, to watch a city like ours deal with this change. Last night on one of the local news stations they had produced an hour long special remembering the player and person Peyton Manning (almost like he had died). As a part of this special they had interviewed 6 local teenagers, all athletes, who had in their short lives, known no one else but Peyton as the Colts quarterback. The news anchor went from adolescent to adolescent asking what at first seemed a strange question, "What did Peyton Manning teach you?" At first I laughed a little because it was most likely these young people had never even met Manning, let alone had him teach them anything, but then I reconsidered. As a public figure, Manning more than anyone realizes has a responsibility to use his position in the public eye to instruct. These children have actually learned from Peyton Manning, and now that I think about it so have I. So, here are some things I have learned from our now released Hall of Fame quarterback.
1. Relationships should take priority. In the press conference Peyton and Colts owner Jim Irsay answered some questions from reporters and as a part of one of his answers Peyton relayed a truth that his father, the once NFL quarterback, conveyed to him, that this is a "relationship business". He went on to say how much he will miss the support and equipment staff and how they played an important part. A millionaire star quarterback on the day he leaves the franchise he put on the map mentions the relationships with support staff as what will be among the hardest thing to lose. This is a reminder to me that the tasks I have to do are not as important as the people that are in my life. We should spend more time on relationships than check lists.
2. It is not about me. As we have gone through the last couple of months, not knowing whether Manning would be in a blue and white uniform or not, it became clear of how different Manning dealt with the situations than many athletes. He could have spouted off all the things, that being true, support why Irsay and the Colts should pony up the money. The 10+ years of 10 win or more seasons; the multiple passing records; the superbowl; the fact the team can only win 3 games without him; and so on and so on. But he didn't. Even in his conversation with Irsay, the owner admitted that Manning was thinking about what was best for the franchise. I know, it is more complicated than this, however it reminds me that as a Christian it is not about me, or even about my role, it is about the larger plan of God and how I should be willing to set aside my desires for kingdom purposes.
3. Preparation matters. When asked what sets Peyton Manning apart from other quarterbacks, former Colts coach Tony Dungy says it is "his dedication and willingness to go all out in preparation". For those of you who are Colts fans this is not news to you. We have all heard stories about Peyton's preparation; long nights in the film room; pushing receivers on the field to be perfect with timing; always being the last to leave the Colts complex. His work ethic is unsurpassed. Don't get me wrong I do realize you can work too much and it can become a hindrance in life more than a help, but I am reminded looking at Manning that we should all, no matter what our vocation, work as hard as we can to do the best that we can. It is an inspiration and challenge to me.

So, these are just few things I have learned from Peyton as I watched from a far, and know that he will be missed. I don't pretend to know Peyton the man and I am sure he is not perfect, none of us are, however, where ever he goes I will root for him because I believe, not only in sports but in life, we need more examples like his.
posted by Ben Thomas @ 3:08 PM   0 comments
Tornadoes and Reformed Theology

Here we go again. It seems like every time there is a natural disaster or tragedy we have a Christian leader/pastor or two speak out and tell us that this was the act of God and he is trying to bring attention to himself. This time it is reformed thinker and pastor John Piper who spoke up on his blog about the recent tornadoes that ravaged the southern part of Indiana. I want to deal with Piper’s thoughts and share why I disagree and how it is important to see these events correctly.
I believe this issue highlights a key problems with reformed theology around the concept of God’s sovereignty. Piper, a reformed thinker, lands on the side of God’s sovereignty in a that he eliminates God’s freedom. Thinkers like Piper when faced with tragedy, natural disasters, and crisis, are hemmed in with their view of God to believe that in His sovereignty he must have been the author of these things. I.E. because God is God and he knows all things and is in control of all things, he created these things for his “unknowable” purposes. As Piper said, “The tornadoes were his”.
            There are significant problems with this view in my opinion. First, I agree with Lawson Stone, that many times reformed thinkers hold to God’s sovereignty in a way that enslaves God to his sovereignty and eliminates his freedom. Just because he has the ability to do something, or something has been done, doesn’t mean that he did it. God is sovereign but he is free…and freely chooses. Which brings us to the second point, focused on the character of God. If God is free to choose, as we all agree that he does, what do we know of him and his character to know what types of things he would choose? I recently read a blog from Ben Witherington III in which he was talking about the recent  and unexpected death of his daughter and thinking through why it happened. He mentions that understanding and grieving tragedy begins with “the premise of a good God”. He goes on to say that if God is the type to out of malevolence or even indifference create pain than “all bets are off”.  Witherington goes further by saying,
“If God is almighty and malevolent, then there is no solace to be found in God.   If God is the author of sin, evil, suffering, the fall, and death, then the Bible makes no sense when it tells us that (1) God tempts no one, that (2) God’s will is that none should perish but have everlasting life, and that (3) death is the very enemy of God and humankind that Jesus, who is life, came to abolish and destroy”
What is probably the biggest issue with Piper’s and other reformed thinkers view of a God that uses “his tornadoes” to wipe out towns full of people is that it just doesn’t jive with the God we see in the NT, a God of love, a God that has given his very son to destroy the death of this world.
            So lastly, if God is free to act, and knowing his character we know he is not the author of pain and evil, than why does allow things like this to happen. We have to understand that allowing something to happen is not the same thing as making it happen. For some reformed thinkers it is, but there is a difference. God allows things to happen because he doesn’t want to interfere in a freedom eliminating way.
Things like tornadoes, cancer, war, etc, are not the result of God who is dragging his fingers across the earth, rather, they are the result of sin in this world. Sin that entered God’s good creation because he created humans, the stewards of his creation, with free will and freedom to choose him. In creating in this way he didn’t give up his sovereignty, but gave freedom. He gave of himself, so that his creation could truly love him. Because this freedom was abused and humanity thought themselves to be like God, sin twisted his creation. God has not been using his creation to force people to pay attention to him, he has been working to restore his creation through his Son Jesus Christ.
Tornadoes like the ones last week are signs that the world is still not what it should be, not that God is trying to get the attention of southern Indiana. The hope is this, that we know because of the life death and resurrection of Jesus, that one day creation will be what God originally intended for it. This is not the end of the story, but resurrection is the end of the story. No doubt that even though God did not send the tornadoes, he will use this tragedy for his good, to bring others to him and to show his love.  
posted by Ben Thomas @ 2:09 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
NT Wright on the Perspective of Paul

NT Wright Afternoon Lecture (audio only) from Fuller Theological Seminary on Vimeo.


posted by Ben Thomas @ 1:45 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
Even more on Gen. 1 and Creation Narrative

"Genesis 1 is the inspired opening to Israel’s story as compiled and told in their context. The theological message is clear – and has been clear since it was originally written. God and God alone is responsible for the creation of the world. But the story does not answer modern scientific questions about creation – it assumes ancient ideas about creation. The questions answered don’t relate to the mechanism of creation but are more personal: “Who created the world?” and “Who are we?” The answer is God alone created the world and we are his representatives in the world – his images." - Scot McKnight. 

Amen..and Amen. 

posted by Ben Thomas @ 11:50 AM   0 comments
More on Creation from Peter Enns
"The theology of Genesis 1 becomes clearer when we read it in its ancient literary-religious context. For those who wish to see support in Genesis for modern science, it may seem a bit of a letdown that God is “only” said to have tamed a preexisting chaos, for example. After all, if we were truly almighty, would he not create out of nothing? But in the ancient world of the Israelites, this was not an active question. In that world the theology of a chaos-tamer working solo, commanding the elements to line up, was counterintuitive and set Israel apart theologically. Genesis 1 is not in any way a modern scientific statement, but an ancient religious one. It drew on the thought categories available at the time to create a powerful statement within its own context for the uniqueness of Israel’s God and his worthiness to be worshiped. (p. 45)" 


Emphasis mine....and I wish I could emphasize it even more!  
posted by Ben Thomas @ 11:48 AM   0 comments
Creation and ANE Creation stories.
Thanks Scot McKnight for this quote from the third chapter of Peter Enns book, "The Evolution of Adam" in which Enns deals with the Biblical Creation story along side of other ANE creation stories and what effect they should have on our views of the Biblical narrative.
"Perhaps a better way of thinking about the issue is to introduce the phrase “genre calibration.” Placing Genesis side by side with the primordial tales of other ancient cultures helps us gain a clearer understanding of the nature of Genesis and thus what we as contemporary readers have a right to expect from Genesis. Such comparisons have made it quite clear that Israel’s creation stories are not prepared to  answer the kinds of questions that occupy modern scientific or even historical studies. Genesis is an ancient text designed to address ancient issues within the scope of ancient ways of understanding origins. (pp. 35-36)" 


Could not agree more. 
posted by Ben Thomas @ 11:32 AM   0 comments
Coffee with Soren
"Aren't people absurd!" They never use the freedoms they do have but demand those they don't have; they have freedom of thought, yet they demand freedom of speech." -  Soren Kierkegaard.
posted by Ben Thomas @ 10:46 AM   0 comments
Monday, February 06, 2012
Gungor...A Wonderful, Worshipful Surprise
There are albums within musical genres, that although we might not recognize it at first, change the genre as a whole. Within the genre of Worship/Praise music, it is becoming more and more clear that Gungor's recent 2011 release "Ghosts Upon the Earth"is doing just that. If you haven't heard of Gungor it is not surprising. Theirs is not your usual contemporary Christian type of worship music, trading pop for creativity, catchy for musical instrumentation, and hooks for real meaningful narrative . Gungor is a self proclaimed "collective" and in fact when speaking of themselves they discard the idea of "musical genre" altogether, saying that their music is not that "simple".  Gungor is complex and full, yet accessible and clear. With the use of unconventional instruments they create unexpected levels of melancholic music that on face land them far outside the worship family. However their lyrics save them, not only drawing the music back to its purpose, but setting it within context. From the driving celebratory beat of "When Death  Dies" to the melodic invitation of "Let There Be", this is more a journey than an album. A journey of worship that helps to color in the lines of Gospel Story for us to see more clearly. They call us to let "children sing even if they don't know why", capturing the heart of worship as response.  And my response to Gungor is 'well done', and thank you for reminding us what it means to worship with all that we have.
posted by Ben Thomas @ 3:37 PM   0 comments
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