Asking the Wrong Question: Can a person come to God through general revelation?

Often, theologians divide revelation into general and special, and mean by “general” what can be known of God through nature. By “special” they essentially mean biblical revelation or at least the explicit gospel. So the question comes down to “can a person turn to trust God through general revelation”?

I think that’s exactly the wrong […]

Miracle or Sign?

Paraphrasing a question from Susan Ramos:

In Luke 23:8, Herod is hoping Jesus will do something impressive so he can see it. Sometimes this is translated that he wanted Jesus to do a “sign” and other times that he wanted Jesus to do a “miracle”. You said that many recent translations are using the […]

Why did Israel seem so separate if God intended to bless all people?

The question, from Sitha, is, “Why did Israel seem so separate if God intended to bless all people?”

There are several ways to approach this question. One is to consider how the separation of the Israelites was as God intended versus their being separate out of their own sense of nationalism or pride. Both factors […]

Thinking about sex?

I’ve been asked in past days about whether the standard that sex before marriage is wrong – that Christians must wait for marriage to have sex – might not be a cultural standard from biblical times that doesn’t apply in our context today. I don’t believe the argument that this is a cultural thing that […]

Do you guys have a written policy for your mercy ministry? Do you have anything that explains your process or exceptions concerning helping people in need?

Someone recently (late 2011) wrote me and asked this question. This is a slightly edited version of what I said. Think of it as a description rather than a prescription.

Actually, we do not have any official written policy. We are not primarily a service agency or mercy ministry; we just have lots of neighbors […]

What makes a church? …Contrasting Catholic and Quaker thinking

In an essay entitled The Ecclesiology of Vatican II, Joseph Ratzinger (as of 2011, the current pope) explains a Catholic view of what constitutes a church:

No one can make a Church by himself. A group cannot simply get together, read the New Testament and declare: “At present we are the Church because the Lord […]

How can one reconcile Exodus 20:5-6 with Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18?

Colin asks:

I had a question. In verses 5 & 6, as part of the command to not worship false gods, God says “…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but […]

Does God intend Christians to be healthy and wealthy?

Does God intend Christians to be healthy and wealthy? Is the prosperity gospel on target? I say no. Here’s an explanation.

The argument I most often hear for the prosperity gospel is that God loves his people and knows how to give them good gifts. Thus, he gives them prosperity and health. I agree that […]

Aren’t the early stories in Genesis repetitions of the stories from earlier cultures?

Aren’t the early stories in Genesis repetitions of the stories from earlier cultures? We read similar stories from older sources elsewhere.

Perhaps they are. Let’s consider. If significant event events in human history happened before the time of the Israelites, wouldn’t one expect there might be echoes of these events in the stories of many […]

Joy vs. Happiness

Sitha suggested that I discuss the difference between joy and happiness.

When I think of happiness I think of a surface-level emotion associated with outward circumstances. Things that make one happy: winning a game in sports, doing well on a test, receiving a compliment, eating good food, etc. Happiness can be fleeting; when circumstances change, […]