Celebrity Priests: Who is Your Prophet? Who is Your God?

All have a priest. All have a prophet. All have a god. And way too many have celebrities as one, if not all, of these. I have been holding back my feelings about the celebrity gods, priests, and prophets for far too long. I am finally going to come out and say it: Not a single celebrity, or talk show host, is Jesus.

As someone who studies religious phenomena, mystical experiences, and cultic leaders, I feel the need to say that the celebrity/talk show host cult is very worrisome. I use the word cult, because no one generates countless followers, who will do whatever he or she says, without being cultic (religious) in some way. By religious, I mean, regularly practicing and professing one worldview. We can be religious about anything—atheism, deism, self-helpism, the list goes on and on.

The entire set-up of many talk shows is religious. When the host walks on stage, one would think a god just walked in the room—bar minimum, a high-powered priest or prophet. One drop of a book name, and the bookstores sell books like crazy. And really, who needs to put their face on the cover of every single magazine they produce? (You probably know whom I am referencing here). Its iconography of a leader, dare I say, maybe even a god-want-a-be. Caesar put himself on almost every coin. The pharaohs made monuments to themselves and their ancestors. Elaborate processions and iconography are the first two signs of a heavy religious movement.

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Some Thoughts About Advent

 Though Thanksgiving is not a part of the liturgical season of Advent, I think it fits perfectly as segue or entry point into this period of the church calendar.

Advent, after all, is about anticipating and reflecting upon the mystery that is the Incarnation: the nearly incomprehensible moment when God entered human history by becoming a baby on earth. Thanksgiving is an appropriate predecessor, as a day that we set aside to take stock of what we have, what God has done for us, the bounties and blessings and loves he’s bestowed us. Thanksgiving gets us in the mode of self-effacing gratitude, but it doesn’t end there. It prepares our hearts and minds for the bigger, more solemn, more awesome experience of meditating upon God’s greatest and most mind-blowing gift ever: himself.

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Tags | Belief

A Turkey, a Psalm and Biblical Theology

What do turkey, Psalm 8, and biblical theology share in common? Well, I read Psalm 8 almost every year on Turkey Day. Interestingly, Psalm 8 is quoted several times in Hebrews 2. And Hebrews 1-2, in my opinion, is one of the cornerstones of developing a Biblical Theology—a theology that connects the testaments (Old and New).

My family usually has our Thanksgiving dinner on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. So, my reflections are probably a bit belated for most of you. Nonetheless, I think it is always appropriate to discuss turkey, Psalm 8, and Hebrews 2.

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Thanksgiving as a way of life

Adam and Eve had it good! Living together (naked, no less!), in perfect union with each other and God in a garden whose name meant “delight.” No guilt, no shame, no grief, and no death.

There was only one restriction: don’t eat of the fruit of a specific tree. In a garden full of “yeses’ there was only one ‘no.’ Of course, we know how the story goes. The tempter comes and his first move is to direct their attention to the one thing they couldn’t  have.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Human nature hasn’t changed much since then. We can have a life full of blessing, but our temptation will still be to focus on what we don’t have or can’t do.  Why is it that ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are two of the hardest words to teach our kids?
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Beauty and the Existence of God

The existence of beauty suggests that a God exists and that He is good. It is not a sufficient proof for the existence of God by itself, but a confirmation of His existence to those with other reasons and personal experiences that suggest His reality.

From Plato to C.S. Lewis, creation as a whole has been viewed as marvelously elegant.

The harmonious plan of the cosmos allows for variation and freedom for created beings. There is a fundamental pattern and order to creation, but also room for the unexpected within the design plan. Too much regularity would seem stagnant, so thankfully the created order also shows variability and the marvelously engineered capacity to adapt and change.

So delightful is the universe that elegant mathematical and scientific theories work better in explaining it than inelegant ones. It is no accident that scientists discover that more elegant theories are more useful in the “real world” than less beautiful ones.

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Flotation Devices and Prophets

When you are sitting on an airplane with your seat belt fastened and your seat and tray in upright position, you may have noticed the words on the bottom of the pull-out tray: “In case of emergency: Use seat cushion as flotation device.” I don’t know about you, but those words have never comforted me.

Sure, as this plane plummets at a gazillion miles an hour towards the ocean, I am going to rip my seat cushion off of the chair and say, “Wow, I am glad I have this.” I doubt I will even have a chance to use it. When I read, “In case of an emergency,” I think, “I am not going to survive the emergency, so who needs the just ‘in case’ item.”

Many people think that faith is a “just in case of emergency” thing. “When things go bad, I’ll grab my ‘faith’ flotation device—that will help me.” But by the time we have even realized that we are in a faith emergency, our plane has already crashed. When things go bad, you may not get a chance to place your faith in Christ. We try and tell ourselves, “I’ll come back to Jesus later,” or “I will seek God later,” but what if there is no "later?" What if there is no second chance?
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The Bible and Slavery

The Old Testament acknowledges the existence of economic, not racial, slavery in the ancient world and attempts to regulate it. The New Testament undermines the economic viability of slavery by calling for slaves to be treated as “brothers,” but does not call for immediate abolition.

Why not?

The Bible attacks slavery and many other social injustices indirectly. The main focus of the Bible is not human culture, but the relationship between God and humankind. The Bible prioritizes healing the dying soul over dealing with corrupt cultures.

God also recognizes that revolutionary change in human institutions often produces more harm than good.

The fallen world is full of great social evils and humans are busy thinking up new ones every day. Scripture does provide general principles that can be applied to specific cases with the potential to bring about large cultural change, but slowly and over time.

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My Life Will Never Be The Same

Fantastic. Thoughts?

 

 

Am I a Pantheist?

Pantheism, Deism, Darwinism, Atheism, Agnosticism—whoever you are, wherever you are at, there’s a label for you. I often get pinned with Pantheist, or something like it, because I use phrases like “seeing the Infinite God in everything.” Let’s take a moment and see if I really am a pantheist.
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The Bible and Science Collide

The biblical world and the planet scientists live on appear to be on a collision course. Pastors around the world, look out, scientists are on the prowl. They will steal your belief with one theory and spit you out like tobacco from a baseball player's mouth. Of course, I am being sarcastic. But seriously, what is the deal with so many churchgoers fear of science? And honestly, don't many scientists seem to be just as scared of the Bible? Can't we all just get along?

Does the Bible claim to provide scientific answers? What is the Bible interested in teaching? Was it the intent of the biblical authors to offer proof for how the world was created, like a scientist offers proof for a theory?

The Bible is not interested in science. Science did not exist when any of the biblical books were penned. The author of Genesis was not out to prove creation or the existence of God, because everybody in the ancient world believed in creation. There were no atheists, and there were definitely no evolutionists. We should not attempt to make the Bible answer questions for which it has offered no answer.

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