Uncategorized

Samuel & Kings on Logos

Logos Mobile Ed has just released the courses I taped on 1, 2 Samuel and 1, 2 Kings.  If you’re interested in these two courses, here is the link.  (To watch one of the previews, click on that link.)

Logos Mobile Ed has created a curriculum of courses on the Bible, Apologetics, Counseling, Theology, Preaching, Ethics, etc, from many famous scholars and teachers (and a few less famous ones like me).  Check out the list here.

Each of my courses is 8 hours long, consisting of numerous 3-10 minute video segments. Yes, that’s a lot of segments to add up to 8 hours.

In 1, 2 Samuel I talk through the story of Eli and his evil sons, Samuel and his evil sons, and David and his evil sons.  Samuel contains some of our favorite stories from the Bible: David and Goliath (did David or Elhanan kill the giant?), Saul and the donkeys, David and Abigail (yet another wise woman), as well as some tragic stories from David’s family involving his children, the rape of Tamar by Amnon and the rebellions of Absalom and Adonijah (the latter is actually in 1 Kings 1).

In 1, 2 Kings, I discuss the rise and fall of Solomon, the many evil rulers of of Israel and Judah, the miracles and trash-talking of Elijah and Elisha, the reign of righteous Jehu and his evil heirs, the reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah, Hezekiah’s God-changing prayer (I’ll be presenting a paper on Hezekiah’s prayer in Nov), and finally the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple.  I’m working on a commentary on 1, 2 Kings right now for Zondervan.

To understand these stories we need to look at them in light of the ancient Near Eastern context and see how they connect to the greater story of Scripture.  We talk about how to understand the various genres of these books.  While most of Samuel and Kings (they were each originally one book) is historical narrative,  they also include poems, songs, regnal formulas, genealogies, prophetic miracle stories.

Hope you can check it out.  

Pastor Jimenez and Father Abraham

abraham-sodom-300x243Baptist pastor named Roger Jimenez in Sacramento has been making headlines for preaching that the 49 people who died at the gay club in Orlando deserved it.  Somehow a pastor in California has taken a horrific tragedy, the worst mass shooting in US history and made it worse.

I have many problems with his offensive message, but here I will only mention four points (keep reading after #1).  He apparently based part of his sermon on Romans, so I’ll focus my comments there before jumping to Genesis.

First, according to the apostle Paul, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) so, biblically one could agree with Pastor Jimenez that the people killed in Orlando deserved to die.  But this is not Paul’s main point, or where his message ends.

Second, Paul also said “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), so we should add Pastor Jimenez, and Dave Lamb to the list of people who deserve death (and all the readers of this blog).  His sermon went viral, but it would have been more biblical if he included himself and everyone in his congregation in his list of people who deserve death.

Third, when Paul talked about the wages of sin as resulting in death, he also spoke of the free gift of God through Jesus (Rom. 6:23).  I haven’t listened to all of Pastor Jimenez’s sermon, but at least as his message and his subsequent comments are being reported in the press, he doesn’t mention anything about God’s grace, which again would have made his message more biblical.  Preachers shouldn’t conclude by saying sinners, like us, deserve death, but they need to get to the good news about God’s grace.

Fourth, father Abraham* instead of condemning the wicked residents of Sodom to death, actually risked his life in prayer for them, asking God to show mercy to the Sodomites (Gen 18:16-33).  I discuss Abraham’s prayer, the Bible’s attitude toward homosexuality, and what really was the sin of Sodom in more depth in Prostitutes and Polygamists in my chapter on homosexuality (pages 161-183), so I won’t go into depth on those subjects here. Tragically, Christians are often perceived to be more like Pastor Jimenez, than Father Abraham.  But how cool would it be if Christians were known to be like Abraham, in this regard, interceding in costly ways for people associated with the sins of Sodom?  We have a long ways to go.

*Father Abraham actually had 8 sons: Ishmael, Isaac, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah; Gen. 16:1521:2-325:2.

The Stanford Rape Judge: Aaron Persky

I met Aaron Persky (here’s the link to today’s NY Times article on Persky) in the fall of 1980 when we were both freshmen at Stanford together. Aaron was the roommate of one of my best friends from Ames, Iowa, Eric Wolfe. (Eric and I were roommates our junior and senior year in our fraternity). I hung out with Aaron a lot our freshmen year, but I haven’t stayed in touch with him since then.

Aaron Persky was the judge in the recent Stanford rape case.  In case you haven’t been following it, a Stanford student (Brock Turner), a star on the swim team, raped a non-Stanford student who was drunk and unconscious. Turner was also drunk at the time. Judge Persky gave Turner a light sentence, 6 months. He could likely get off with good behavior at 3 months.

In my opinion (I’m not a lawyer, nor a specialist in sentencing for rape cases, like Judge Persky), I think Turner should have been given a more severe punishment. I discuss the problems associated with prosecuting rape cases in my most recent book (Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style). Our culture has a tendency to blame the victim. Many perpetrators of rape get off scot-free, so the fact that Turner is sentenced at all is a good thing, not ideal, but a step in the right direction.

Judge Persky is now being threatened, and trolls are hoping that his children get raped. (God, help us.) I have no problem with the petition that calls for his removal. But before I would sign my name to that list I would want to learn a lot more about rape law and rape sentencing in this country, and more about Persky’s record since he’s been a judge.

According to the NY Times article, Persky has been involved in leadership positions for several organizations that advocate for women and victims, including a support network for battered women, which doesn’t surprise me given what I know of Aaron.  It sounds like Persky is exactly the sort of person you would want deciding cases about rape and violence against women.

What do you think?  

The Emoji Bible

Bible EmojiThe twitter account has been going for almost a year, but the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the newest version of the Bible, in that special language we love, The Emoji Bible has finally arrived.

You can purchase it for $2.99 at iBooks.

Check out the perspectives of Christianity Today or The NY Times.

Before you get too excited, there are a lot more English words (from the King James Version), than there are emojis.

While I don’t use emoji’s except to make fun of them, or other people for using them, I don’t think this is a work of Satan (as some apparently do), but a great idea.  Anything that gets people to read God’s word in language that speaks to their heart, soul, mind, and strength is a good thing.  If you love to use emojis in your various forms of communication, this translation could speak to you.  History of full of people who have adapted God’s word into the vernacular of their day in creative ways.  The Emoji Bible fits into this tradition.

Although I was a bit disappointed when I typed in one of my favorite verses into the Emoji Bible verse translator site and this is what it gave me, only a couple legit emojis:

4 the whole 🏠 of ahab shall perish: & i will cut off from ahab him that pisseth against the wall, & him that is shut 👆 & left in israel (2 Kings 9:8 in KJV).  

What do you think?  Thumbs up, or thumbs down?