Friday, December 19, 2014

Listen to A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol will be streamed live over the internet at A couple of my friends are playing multiple roles.  If you can't catch the live show, it will be replayed December 24 at 7:00 p.m. CST.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings...Worth $11.50?

Here's a guest post from my friend, Shannon Gianotti, which she wrote on December 14:
After going to the movies last night to see Exodus: Gods and Kings (and recalling the strain that Noah put on church-theater relations earlier this year), I decided to create a quick guide to help movie-goers decide whether they should risk $11.50 on Hollywood’s latest foray into the Pentateuch. Here it is:
1) Are you expecting Hollywood to get all the facts right?   YES   NO
2) Would you like to see Hollywood nod to the Bible and portray a world where God intervenes in history?   YES   NO
3) Will watching white people playing Egyptians make you twitch?    YES   NO
4) Next time you read Exodus, do you want to imagine it better–see the locusts, feel the the boils, and taste the blood in the Nile?    YES   NO
5) Will you lie awake at night, gritting your teeth, because they cast a child as God?   YES   NO
6) Will you appreciate (even if you disagree with) the artistic rendering of God as a slave boy, an attempt to show his identification with the Israelites?   YES   NO
7) Are you hoping that Hollywood gets Yahweh right?   YES   NO
8) Do you want to feel the wonder and terror of what God is able to do?    YES   NO
Answer Key: 
If you answered yes to 1, 3, 5, or 7:  Consider sticking with Charleton Heston—except if you answered yes to #3. Or, as an old man in Canada once said, think of the movie like a fish dinner. You don’t expect to eat it all. You enjoy the meat, and put the bones on the side of your plate.
If you answered yes to 2, 4, 6, or 8:  Go and enjoy. Afterwards, reread Exodus 1–14, and where the movie falls short be glad that God doesn’t.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On Gender-Inclusive Language

When the Collins Dictionary linguists used their computational analysis to query their database on language use (4.4 billion words!), they discovered that evangelicals are using "man" to refer to the human race far more often than the general population. As in three or four times more often.

Douglas J. Moo said in his report to the Evangelical Theological Society at the San Diego 50th anniversary dinner for the NIV translation, "What determines 'correct' English is not some nineteenth or twentieth-century style manual or the English we were taught in grade school but the English that people are actually speaking and writing today. And the data are very clear: modern English has latched on to the so-called 'singular they,' which has been part of English for a long time, as the preferred way to follow up generic nouns and pronouns." That means, despite what our English teachers taught us, that someone can take their toys and go home. In fact, if we say someone can take his toys and go home, listeners notice—and not in a good way.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Reflection: Sinner and Sinner Reconciled

“The angel answered [Mary, saying], ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:35, NIV)
Back in the beautiful orchard on a Friday afternoon, God made male and female in His image. What an astonishing creation—human flesh imaging God! But before long something horrible happened.
Sin destroyed the unity humanity experienced, and all creation was affected by their plunge into sin. One ramification was the distortion of male/ female relations. Enter the gender wars—the battle of the sexes. Loneliness and selfish independence replaced unity and interdependence.
As a consequence of sin, God issued a devastating prediction: woman’s desire would be for man, and man would rule over woman (Genesis 3:15–16). The author of Genesis recorded this traumatic news, and one chapter later, he used the same juxtaposition of “rule” and “desire” to describe the power struggle of sin with Cain’s will (4:7).
Until Christmas. Enter the God-Man. A male, arrived sans-sperm through the womb of a virgin. Human flesh once again perfectly imaged God, only this time that “image of the invisible God” was incarnate in the person of the Son of God.
The very way Jesus came demonstrated male/female interdependence. And through Christ and His Spirit we have the reason and the empowerment to overcome rebellion and regain unity. The God who is all fair abolishes the prejudices that divide us.
In Christ we sing of “God and sinners reconciled.” And that reconciliation is both horizontal and vertical. Because of Christmas, we are reconciled to God. Because of Christmas, we can and must also be reconciled with each other.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Child Brides and the Christian

This five-year-old child
bride was spirited
off to her wedding
in the night by her uncle. 
About one in every three girls worldwide becomes a bride before the end of her seventeenth year, and one girl in nine marries before age fifteen.[1] Many countries have passed laws outlawing child marriages, but often communities ignore the law. Child marriages disrupt education, limit girls’ economic potential, and correlate with high levels of sexual abuse and violence. Early marriage is also associated with increased rates of maternal and infant mortality. All of this perpetuates the cycle of poverty, reinforcing it, and making it hard to escape, and ultimately contributing to regional instability.
And that’s where we come in. Christians can do much to change attitudes and practices at a heart level. Here are some suggestions:
  •  Share the gospel and biblical resources online.  Many people without flush toilets own cell phones and access web content with them. The best way to change attitudes is through changed hearts. The Council on Foreign Relations reports that Internet and cellular phone technology through which people access online content means that “modern and international influences are felt” (p. 18). 
  • Speak on behalf of victims. Such speaking includes challenging rape-culture thinking and paying attention to how we talk about those who have been violated. In many communities, sexual violence becomes a reason to shame the victim. Challenge such thinking! Work to shift the dishonor from the victim to the criminal. Affirm those who have endured sexual abuse and violence when they speak out about their trauma.  
  •  Sponsor girls. Help girls stay in school. Their education is strongly connected with a family’s ability to pull itself out of poverty, and often parents will not let girls attend school unless someone sponsors them. Each additional year of age at marriage boosts the likelihood of literacy by 5 percentage points. And helping girls stay in school increases their literacy, which is correlated with many improvements in safety, health, and community stability.
  • Train pastoral leaders. Teach all who speak and who perform weddings to embrace a biblical view of gender equality that eschews viewing girls as commodities. And encourage spiritual leaders to obey local laws about age at marriage. The report cited above—produced by an independent, nonpartisan think tank—suggests that trainers work with religious leaders across the world, “educating men and boys about why delaying marriage is beneficial to all” as “these two groups are influential in deciding the future of girls and women in many communities” (p. 16). In your conversations with nationals, raise questions about girls’ education, emphasizing how much you value making female education a priority. Express admiration, respect, and honor for those who demonstrate a high view of women and who teach that God views females as fellow heirs. Consider giving a public award that acknowledges those who have done so.
  • If you are involved in relief work, factor the unique needs of girls into post-disaster planning. The periods immediately following such disasters are times of especially high vulnerability for females. Studies show that women and girls bear a disproportionate brunt of the long-terms effects of upheavals. In Uganda, for example, food crises due to climate change have forced girls into “famine marriages” (p. 37). Tsunamis, typhoons, civil war, and regional conflicts also drive up the child-bride and violence-to-women rates. Such crises disrupt education, too. So include in your efforts providing security and education for children in refugee camps. And support outreaches that work to educate child brides long-term, such as Arab Woman Today Ministires.
  • Consider joining an education team going to a location where leaders are asking for teachers. A priest I met in Jordan asked for English-speaking volunteers to come for two weeks and help the students in his school improve their language skills. Your knowledge can help.

Genesis tells us that females are made in the image of God and that they share with males the mandate to have dominion over the earth. We demonstrate that we are fulfilling this mandate when we use our influence to bring about global good in the name of Christ—doing justice (Mic. 6:8) and speaking up for those who have no voice (Prov. 31:8–9).  

 Gayle T. Lemmon and Lynn S. ElHarake, “Child Brides, Global Consequences: How to End Child Marriage,” Council on Foreign Relations: New York, 2014, vii. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

NY Times Editors' Top Picks for 2014


By Anthony Doerr

By Jenny Offill

By Lily King

By Akhil Sharma

By Phil Klay


By Roz Chast

 ON IMMUNITY: An Inoculation
 By Eula Biss

By Hermione Lee

A THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: An Unnatural History
By Elizabeth Kolbert

THIRTEEN DAYS IN SEPTEMBER: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David

Friday, December 05, 2014

Gettys Coming to Dallas

NASHVILLE, TN  – What is fast becoming a new holiday concert tradition, “Joy—An Irish Christmas with Keith & Kristyn Getty,” is coming to Dallas next Tuesday, December 9, performing at the Winspear Opera House.

The sixteen-city 2014 tour will include eighteen performances at such landmark venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall (Dec. 17), the only NY appearance; Dallas’ Winspear Opera House (Dec 9); Cleveland’s Connor Palace Theater (Dec 13 and 14); and Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre (Dec. 19), before concluding at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center (Dec. 22). Bluegrass master Ricky Skaggs will join the Gettys as a special guest performer at their New York and Atlanta concerts.

Combining traditional carols, modern hymns, and Irish folk music, the holiday event is a joyful celebration of the birth of Christ. Accompanying the Gettys will be their band of virtuoso musicians from North America and Ireland, performing on Celtic and bluegrass instruments. Also, each concert will feature Irish step dancing, along with the spirited voices of a multigenerational choir. After each concert (with the exception of Carnegie Hall), the band will take to the lobby of the theater to perform a fun acoustic jam—a hallmark of the Gettys' concerts.

Keith and Kristyn Getty are renowned contemporary hymn writers from Northern Ireland. One of Keith’s most popular compositions, “In Christ Alone,” (co-written with Stuart Townend) is the #1 most-sung hymn in the UK since 2006 (CCLI) and among the top twenty most-sung hymns in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The duo has released six albums and performed at notable venues as diverse as London’s Royal Albert Hall and the Grand Ole Opry.

The Gettys' annual “Joy—An Irish Christmas” tour began in 2010 and has been seen by more than 100,000 people throughout North America. This year, the tour returns following a hiatus in 2013 as the couple awaited the arrival of their second child.

2014 tour dates are listed below, and additional information regarding each concert is available on the Gettys web site.

Dec. 7 - Hattiesburg, MS  - Temple Baptist Church

Dec. 8  - Jackson, MS - First Presbyterian Church *free concert

Dec. 9  - Dallas, TX - Winspear Opera House

Dec. 10  - Austin, TX  - The Riverbend Center

Dec. 13 & 14  - Cleveland, OH  - Connor Palace Theater

Dec. 15 & 16 - McLean, VA  - McLean Bible Church

Dec. 17  - New York, NY - Carnegie Hall

Dec. 19 - Atlanta, GA - Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

Dec. 20 - Knoxville, TN - Tennessee Theatre

Dec. 22 - Nashville, TN - Schermerhorn Symphony Center

The Gettys met in Belfast, Northern Ireland, when they began songwriting together. They were married in 2004, and two years later, they recorded their first project as a couple in the United Kingdom and Nashville. In 2007, they made the journey to America and lived in Ohio for three years as they began their professional career, but found their permanent home in Nashville in 2010. The Gettys have released six full-length albums and two limited-edition EPs.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

How to Watch The Red Tent

The Red Tent

Yes, The Red Tent is coming to television in a two-night mini-series on Lifetime TV. One hour before the series airs, some well-known Christian women talk about women of the Bible. If you want to gather some friends, or even turn this into a meaningful personal experience, a decent guide for thinking about The Red Tent is Women of Faith's conversation guide

Genesis presents Dinah as the daughter of Jacob and Leah, and the sister of the men who would become the twelve tribes of Israel, including the famous Joseph of the “coat of many colors.” She was the lone daughter in a family with twelve brothers and four mothers.

Dinah is briefly mentioned in Genesis (see chapter 34), but her story ends abruptly, as the point of the Genesis text is to answer “How did the twelve tribes come to be?” and not “Who were all the children of Jacob?” The fact that Dinah is even mentioned, then, is actually a nod to women, as Moses chose to include an episode about her. 

Where the text falls silent, Anita Diamant picks it up and imagines where Dinah’s story might lead.

The biblical account tells readers that Dinah was raped, but The Red Tent has a different take on that narrative. In fact, Anita Diamant portrays all of the women in this series with more agency than the biblical text gives them, so you’ll find no victims here, even if the text says they were treated unjustly. And the women are shown to have completely harmonious relationships rather than having any infighting (as the text suggests—as do most people with knowledge of polygamous families). Those who can overlook this detail, will find a powerful story about forgiveness and an interesting excursion into how each person’s point of view on events might differ. 

A few warnings: As with the biblical text, this story is R-rated, so expect some nudity. Also, try to overlook that Joseph’s character looks about as Semitic as Owen Wilson. And finally, if you can suspend disbelief and expect the story to differ from the biblical text, you will get more out of it. That is not to say the biblical text is unimportant. But rather, this show is an exercise in how points of view can differ. This story takes place in Dinah's point of view, and in a number of cases, she is shown to have incorrect perceptions. 

I suggest reading Genesis 25–50 before watching the show. When I previewed it with my husband, we found ourselves constantly curious about what the text actually said. So finally, we stopped and read it. Again, the point was not to be irritated that the film didn't stick to the biblical narrative. Rather, it helped us to better appreciate the Genesis story.

Typically when we read Genesis, believers make Jacob's children out to be Boy Scouts rather than murderous brutes. The Red Tent helps us imagine them more accurately. Remember, most of them sold their brother to slavery. One slept with his father's wife. And at least one is known to have paid a prostitute. 

I read the book, The Red Tent, which is better than the movie. In fact, both Diamant's text and the biblical text are better than the movie. I recommend both! But both my husband and I liked this mini-series, too.  

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

How to Help Veterans Re-enter Society

Chaplain Justin Roberts was one of my writing students. He was part of "The Hornets Nest" (you can watch via Netflix). Here he talks with Darrell Bock about helping returning veterans re-enter society.

Give When You Buy Without Spending More

It's that time of year again—when many of us order more in one month online than we order in all other months combined.

While you're buying this month, if you will swing by here before making purchases on Amazon, you can help contribute to our ministry in Kenya without spending one dime more. By simply scrolling down in the right column of this blog and using my Amazon search box to access that site before you purchase, you allow us to receive a percentage of anything you buy. It adds up. We are committed to using 100% of that income in our work in D.R. Congo and Kenya. It costs you nothing, and it helps those who really need it.

Feel free to tell your friends.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The Red Tent Premiers Sunday

The Red Tent

All-Star Cast Features:
Academy Award®, Golden Globe® and Emmy® Nominee MINNIE DRIVER
Golden Globe Nominee REBECCA FERGUSON
Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy Nominee DEBRA WINGER
The Red Tent
Lifetime’s miniseries The Red Tent, based on the best-selling novel by Anita Diamant, premieres December 7 and December 8 at 9pm ET/PT. The Red Tent is a sweeping tale that takes place during the times of the Old Testament, told through the eyes of Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob. Airing over two nights, the all-star cast includes Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Minnie Driver (Return to Zero, About a Boy), Emmy nominee Morena Baccarin (Homeland), Golden Globe nominee Rebecca Ferguson (The White Queen), Iain Glen (Game of Thrones), Will Tudor (Game of Thrones) and Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Emmy nominee Debra Winger (Terms of Endearment).
The miniseries begins with Dinah’s (Ferguson) happy childhood spent inside the red tent where the women of her tribe gather and share the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood. The film recounts the story of Dinah’s mothers Leah (Driver), Rachel (Baccarin), Zilpah and Bilhah, the four wives of Jacob (Glen). Dinah matures and experiences an intense love that subsequently leads to a devastating loss, and the fate of her family is forever changed. Winger portrays Rebecca, Jacob’s mother while Tudor stars as Joseph, Dinah’s brother.
The Red Tent has sold millions of copies worldwide and has been translated in 28 languages. The novel is a New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today and Entertainment Weekly top-ten bestseller.
Vanessa SimmonsFIDM
Produced by Sony Pictures Television, The Red Tent is executive produced by Paula Weinstein (Blood Diamond). Roger Young (Law & Order) directs from a script by Elizabeth Chandler (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) and Anne Meredith (Secrets of Eden).

Women of the Bible to Air Immediately before The Red Tent

The husband-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey—producers of the popular mini-series, The Bible—have produced a new two-hour Lifetime Special, The Women of the Bible, set to air right before The Red Tent. The program will include my friend Priscilla Shirer among other high-profile women Bible teachers.  

The Women of the Bible, narrated by Downey, will recount stories from Scripture, and it is billed as “a fresh look at the sacred text from the perspective of its heroines.” Faith leaders such as Shirer, Christine Caine, Victoria Olsen, Eva Rodriguez, and Joyce Meyer will reveal little known facts about Eve, Sarah, Rehab, Mary Magdalene, and the Virgin Mary. Also providing commentary is Kay Warren, who is scheduled to speak at DTS on April 20 as the keynote speaker at our conference on Ministry to the Marginalized.

Come back here on December 4 to find out my take on the film as well as my suggestions for watching. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

Dan Wallace: NT Manuscripts and Islam

Recently my friend and colleague Daniel B. Wallace was interviewed about the reliability of the New Testament text. What do all those variants suggest about the accuracy of our New Testament?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

My friends from the Orvieto trip. Looks like they are posing
for their new album cover, huh?
I've had quite a week. I flew to San Diego to present a paper at the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), which has about 2% women attending. While there I was interviewed for some research about what it's like to be a woman in the ETS world. Not only were women underrepresented, but all minorities were missing from the conversation. I'm working on some ideas to help change that.

While there, I heard some great presentations and shared meals with a couple of authors whose books I use in my class that traces the role of women in the church, home, and society. Some of the men, in advocating fearlessly for women, have paid big prices professionally. It was an honor to hear their stories.

While in San Diego, I drove up to Anaheim to meet my Italy reunion group (they all live in California) to go together to Disneyland and California Adventure for the day. One of our group (pictured, on far right) is a Disney animation supervisor, and she got us in for free, so we had fun getting a behind-the-scenes perspective. But the best part was being together after sharing such meaningful experiences last summer.

Pacific sunrise from my room in San Diego at AAR.
Back in San Diego, I attended a day at the AAR conference—American Academy of Religion. That group was much larger than the thousands at ETS, and it included people from all religious perspectives, including atheism. I attended an interesting panel discussion on climate change as well as heard a wonderful speech by Makoto Fujimura as he received AAR's 2014 Religion and the Arts Award. I loved getting to meet him and seeing more friends from the Orvieto, Italy, adventure.

I arrived home to a clean house and a stocked fridge (my husband rocks!), and four members of my husband's family arrived the next day from Washington, DC, for Thanksgiving. We spent one morning at the Gaylord Texan show, "Ice," featuring Frosty the Snowman this year. We also had some movie marathons watching "Live, Die, Repeat," "November Man," and "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit." I liked all of these.

I also had a chance to preview "The Red Tent," which is coming to Lifetime television in early December. More about that soon.

I received a jury summons—so I guess I'll spend half of December on call. Considering what so many endured to give women the right to participate in the process, I'm trying to see this as a blessing rather than as punishment for being one of the few people in Dallas County to vote in the last election.

Last night we had dessert with my younger sister's family, and today is our final Thanksgiving feast in Frisco with more family (Carlos and Karla). We are really grateful for meaningful work and time with friends and family. I'm also thankful for a West Coast "beauty fix." Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Embryo Adoption

Thanks to my friend Shannon B for bringing this to my attention: People magazine is running a series on embryo adoption (part I  and part 2), and so far it's been quite good. Check it out!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014


Adam Greene was the mastermind behind a million-dollar Kickstarter campaign for "Bibliotheca." After reaching his starting goal in 27 hours, he went on to hit $1.4 million in 30 days.

Adam believes content should match design—that the two should complement each other. Even in the Information Age, he believes in creating books that are elegant and allow the reader to get lost in the story. So he applied these beliefs to one of the oldest pieces of literature in the world: the Bible.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Kay Warren is Coming to Dallas

Those living with mental illness and developmental disabilities consistently find themselves on society's margins, often being shunned or ignored. Yet each person is an image-bearer of our God, has a role in his kingdom, and deserves love and care. So how do we sensitively minister to those on the fringes of our communities and reflect the kind of care Jesus gave? How do we compassionately exhort God’s people, in all areas of ability, to follow Him and work toward His redemption of the world? Kay Warren of Saddleback Church will help guide us in this event that's open to the public.

Kay Warren
Kay Warren cofounded Saddleback Church with her husband, Rick Warren, in Lake Forest, California. She is a passionate Bible teacher and respected advocate for those living with HIV and AIDS, orphaned and vulnerable children, as well as for those affected by a mental illness. She founded Saddleback's HIV& AIDS Initiative. Kay is the author of Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn't Enough and Say Yes to God, and coauthor of Foundations, the popular systematic theology course used by churches worldwide. Her children are Amy and Josh, and Matthew who is in heaven, and she has five grandchildren.

Date: Monday, April 20, 2015
Place: Dallas Theological Seminary, Lamb Auditorium

Registration Fee

$70/person (until 2/20/2015)
$85/person (until 4/3/2015)
$95/person (after 4/3/2015)

Go to for more info.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Register for the Women's Leadership Conference

There's still time to register—but not for long. I'm doing a workshop titled "Writing to Expand Your Ministry." Join us! In fact, bring your team and get a discount. See you there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Book You Should Know About: Dwell

What does it mean to be spiritual? We humans inhabit bodies. We are not shades or ghosts or zombies. We are, like Jesus, enfleshed. And that makes for an embodied spirituality.

My friend and colleague, Barry D. Jones, has written a deep but accessible book—Dwell: Life with God for the World (IVP)—that shows how it looks to allow “the logic of the Incarnation to inform our vision of the spiritual life.” Grounding his work in Jesus’s dwelling with humans in the flesh and God's intention for the world's wholeness ("shalom"), Jones walks readers through practices that create space for an infusion of God’s vision. In such a world there is no room for isolationism. Nor is there an approach to worship where the transformative becomes merely the therapeutic. Rather, we live in true community and we do so locally—blessing our communities, and not just our communities of faith. As the Babylonian exiles were called to do, we seek the good of the places where we live.

In a context of grace we rest not because we are supposed to stop having fun once a week, but so we can stop to savor life in the one who "shines on all that's fair." We pray, opening ourselves to a God who is good and kind and just and desires for his world to be so. We practice hospitality—literally, loving strangers—because God is hospitable. We fast and we savor food (i.e., feast) because God in his great love both gave us opportunities to benefit others through our sacrifice and taste buds through which to savor his creation.

The psalmist wrote, “The earth is the Lord’s and fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1). Those who shall inherit the earth have five senses with which to perceive God and his world. So Jones helps readers know how to be with God and as a result of that union to be for the world. In order to become fully mature spiritually, we need both.

Highly recommended. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Are Science and Faith Compatible?

While science and faith have often been pitted against each other, the September Evangelical Leaders Survey finds that most evangelical leaders are comfortable with the compatibility between their faith and scientific findings.

Evangelical leaders were asked to what extent they agree with the following statement, “Sometimes I have to choose between the teachings of my evangelical faith and scientific findings.” Seventy percent disagreed with the statement, with 30 percent strongly disagreeing.

What Evangelicals Are Saying about Science and Faith

“Evangelicals are committed to the authority of the Bible but also are grateful for and respectful of science,” said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals. “They recognize that there can not be ultimate disagreement between nature and Scripture.”

Margaret Feinberg, a popular Christian author and speaker, said, “Science and faith inform each other in the most beautiful way. Science illuminates the wonder of God.”

Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, continued, “The Creator is known through that which has been made (Romans 1:20). If there seems to be disagreement, we have either misinterpreted Scripture or science has not yet caught up to it.”

Likewise, Joseph Tkach, President of Grace Communion International, said, “Proper and accurate interpretation has science and theology fitting like a hand in a glove.”

Do People Have to Choose between Faith and Science?

Of those who said that they have to choose between scientific findings and their evangelical faith, some noted that scientific conclusions are sometimes revised in light of new discoveries.

“I will always side with what Scripture says over any scientific ‘finding.’ Other times scientific discoveries confirm what the Bible has been saying all along,” said Bill Lenz, Senior Pastor of Christ the Rock Church, in Menasha, Wisconsin.

Anderson said, “Evangelicals have not always had the best relationship with science. But today’s evangelical leaders don’t think there should be such a division. Science is about studying the world God put us in. We should be the best scientists.”

The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.

Brought to you by the NAE. You can follow the NAE at or through Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Compelling Love and Sexual Identity

In a culture polarized by strong and often differing opinions, how can we connect with those whose beliefs, values, and lifestyles we find offensive? Over the past year, my colleague Dr. Gary Barnes and my student Nathan Chan along with lots of others have traveled the country, posing this question to scores of people with different sexual orientations and gender identities. In this feature film is the result of their work. Who sits across the table from you?

Friday, November 07, 2014

Bathsheba's Story: How I changed my perspective

Today we have a guest post from one of my former students, Sarah Bowler. I served as one of her thesis readers, and she did some brilliant work, a sampling of which you'll find here: 
Bathsheba’s story captures our attention. Painters, such as Jean-Léon Gérôme or Rembrandt, have depicted her bathing provocatively. Actress Susan Hayword brought her story to life in the 1951 film “David and Bathsheba,” nominated for five Academy Awards. Authors speculate on her life in historical fiction works.
I’ve even stumbled across various forms of this social media meme (see photo).
god uses
Notice the words “David had an affair,” a fairly common phrase. I thought little of it the first time I saw the meme, but when I conducted research for my thesis on Bathsheba, my perspective changed.
I started with the notion that Bathsheba tends to get a bad rap. I had always figured the details regarding her responsibility in the situation were ambiguous, and thus we should be careful with assumptions about her character. But the more I delved into the biblical text the more I realized her story wasn’t as ambiguous as I thought.
For example:
  • We often say Bathsheba bathed on top of a roof. 
  • >>> The text and cultural studies indicate she was probably in an enclosed courtyard.
  • We portray Bathsheba naked. 
  • >>> The Hebrew word is ambiguous. She could have been washing her hands or her feet only (while fully clothed).
  • We view Bathsheba as a woman whose immodesty caused a king to stumble. 
  • >>> We should instead view David as a “peeping Tom.”
  • We point out that Bathsheba “came to the palace.” 
  • >>> We fail to mention David sent messengers (plural) to fetch her.
  • We tend to call the situation an affair. 
  • >>>The evidence from the text suggests it was rape.
  • We bestow upon Bathsheba partial blame. 
  • >>> The biblical author placed the blame fully on King David.
But why do the details of one story really matter? Does our view of Bathsheba affect how we live out our Christian faith? I believe it does.
As I researched, I found current examples in which Christian writers and editors failed to be empathetic toward victims and demonstrated a “lack of understanding and discernment in regard to sexual predation, child abuse and rape culture mentality” (quote from: Heather Celoria).
Even sadder, some spiritual leaders rape or sexually abuse young women, and many of the victims still receive partial blame in situations where a spiritual leader is fully at fault.
How we interpret biblical narratives affects how we interpret events around us.
Now, when I hear phrases like “David had an affair” or “Bathsheba bathed on a roof,” I don’t just simply think about how she gets a bad rap. I think about how she was an innocent victim, and I think about the “modern day Bathshebas” who exist today.
Bathsheba’s story ought to prompt careful thought because the repercussions of allowing negative stereotypes to persist are very real. I long for the day when believers eradicate the line of thinking where the victim shares partial blame for a perpetrator’s sin.
One step toward that end is sharing the “true” Bathsheba story.