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Books

To Love and Cherish

Doing Apologetics

Christianity: The Basics

What is Wrong with Social Justice

Christianity and Secularism

Evidence for the Bible

Alden Thompson and the Law as Gospel

March 22nd, 2021 by Elgin Hushbeck

Alden Thompson’s recent article, The Law As Gospel, has an instructive view of the law. For many evangelicals, the law is, for the most part, ignored.  The law is in the Old Testament, and something the Jews followed or tried to follow before Jesus.  Now, we are under grace. We do not need to follow the law, at least as gentiles.

This is all true. Still, it is not the complete picture and Thompson, seeks to present “a more balanced view.” The law is part of God’s scripture and his plan and not something we should ignore.   Towards the end, Thompson presents two views. In one, “the cross is pointed heavenward and the demands of the law.” In the other, “sees the cross pointed earthward, towards the human heart.”  The first Thompson calls “objective atonement” and sees Romans 8 as “a good source for that view.”  The other he calls “subjective atonement,” which he finds in John 14-17.   Thompson concludes,

Some of you will find Romans 8 more helpful, the cross pointed heavenward to the demands of the law.  Others will be blessed by John 14-17, the cross pointed earthward to the needs of the human heart. By God’s grace, you will find what nurtures your soul best.

There is a lot to be said for Thompson’s views. The message of both the Old and New Testament is both simple and yet rich and complex. You can study them for a lifetime and still feel like you are scratching the surface.   We are also complex, unique individuals.  So it is no wonder that some passages and some messages will resonate more with some than others.

Sadly, some Christians conclude there is some deficiency or error on the part of others when this happens.  If only they were as spiritual as I am, they would share my concern.   Not only is this view wrong, but it also damages the unity of the body.  Thompson’s article is a corrective to this view.   It is also a corrective to the common ignoring of the law among evangelicals. 

Thompson is not arguing that we under the law, but neither should we ignore it. Thompson very effectively uses the examples of seatbelts. If the laws concerning seatbelts went away, would it then follow that we should ignore seatbelts?  We are not under the law, so does it follow that we should ignore it?  This is not a backdoor way of getting people under the law while not being under it. What Thompson seeks is to “paint a more balanced view of law,” and there is a lot to think about in his article.  Some of the laws are to protect; some are to teach; some concerns ceremonial matters.  Some are more applicable today than others.  We can learn from all of them, even the ones we need not follow.

I do have one quibble, a minor disagreement, with something Thompson says.  In talking about the shift from fear as a motivator found in the Old Testament to the love found in the New, Thompson says, “love cannot be commanded.”  Here my disagreement is not so much with Thompson, but a disagreement with a common view of our times.  

As I write in “To Love and Cherish: Ephesians 5 and the Challenge of Christian Marriage,” the common view today is that love is just something that happens. You either have it, or you don’t. It is not something you can control. Yet God repeatedly commands us to love.  We are to love one another, love our neighbor, love the stranger, and husbands are commanded to love their wives. What do such commands mean if love cannot be commanded? If love is something over which we have no control?

Still, this does not detract from Thompsons’ overall message. It is a message worth considering.

Christian Idealism

February 16th, 2021 by Elgin Hushbeck

I recently read an article by Eric Scot English, asking, “Do Evangelicals Really Believe in God?”  English agued evangelicals have an Idealistic faith.  “Idealistic faith is more about the ability to construct an idealized ‘truth’ about God rather than an actual truth. It’s a faith that has more to do with us than God.” (emp. in original).   While true of all, progressives, according to English, move past this taking a “leap of faith” to Christian realism. “Realism allows for the demonstration of a faith that is authentically ‘real’ instead of idealized.”

There is a lot of truth in the first part of his argument. English draws upon Kierkegaard’s beliefs, for which there is a lot to be said.  Christianity is more about transformational experience than rational disputes over doctrine. Still, even though I agree with Kierkegaard on this, I do not follow him into his rejection of reason.  

As such, I find English’s second part artificial, if not a little self-serving. I think it can safely be said that no one understands God. As I write in my forthcoming book, Faith and Reason,

 “In one respect, there is only one correct answer to the question, what do you believe about God? Not enough. After all, God is infinite; we are finite. How could we ever hope to have a complete understanding of God? Thus, a common experience when learning about God is realizing how much you do not know. Put another way, how much there is still left to know?”

This is not a question of realism vs. idealism. We all know too little, and we all tend to fill in the gaps in ways that best fit us and our existing beliefs. This tendency is why prayer and Bible study are so important. Done correctly, these challenge us; they change us.

I would agree that far too often, we project our faith on others. As I write, “A quick way to end up in trouble is to see the Bible as mainly discussing what others should be doing.  Sadly, this has been demonstrated far too often in history.”  Still, I do not see this as an issue of realism vs. idealism, or even progressive vs. evangelicalism, but as a universal problem.

The solution? To realize there is God, and there is also the Body of Christ.  I do not assume everything I believe is correct or that everyone who disagrees is wrong.

“We are all fallen and fallible, prone to mistakes and errors. This is where others come in. We all make mistakes, but we do not make the same mistakes. Discussing with others is the best way to discover your mistakes while helping others discover theirs.”

Rather than labeling each other, we should spend more time talking to each other. This is talking to, not talking at. We may not agree; in fact, we probably won’t. Hopefully, we will come to a better understanding of each other, our views, and why we hold them.  We can break down the stereotypes that exist on both sides.  In this way, we can get past our idealized views of why the other side is wrong and come to a better understanding of the real reasons they hold their beliefs.  Maybe even what we can learn from them.

Global Christian Perspectives

July 9th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

Global Christian Perspectives is a new weekly show on Google Hangouts discussing world events from a broad Christian perspective. It will be hosted by Chris Eyre from England who is more to the left politically, and myself an America who is more on the right. So while we are both Christians, there is very likely to be large areas of disagreements.

Each week we will be joined by one or two guests so there should be no shortage of differing perspectives as we discuss the issues in the news. In addition we will have an in-depth section to get behind the current event and explore some of the factors that leads us to reach such different conclusions, and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

While subject to change, currently we are planning to discuss

News Segment:

Greece: What should we do?

The Pope’s Encyclical: Are Climate Change and Capitalism really the most pressing problems facing Christians today?

In-Depth Segment:

Is there such a thing as a Christian economics?

We are looking to have a good, and lively discussion. So be sure to join us Fridays at 2:00 ET

 

Social Justice Good Or Bad? – Rescheduled

June 9th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

Last month’s Energion Hangout debate on Social Justice was off to an energetic start when audio problems prevented us for continuing. So we will be going to try again. So be sure to join us this Tuesday June 9th at 7:00 PM when I will again be debating the question Social Justice Good Or Bad?  I will be arguing that it is harmful, while Steve Kindle, author of Stewardship: God’s Way of Recreating the World, will be defending it.   Steve and I agree on many biblical principles, but our application of those principles to our daily lives is vastly different. If last month’s start is any indication it will be lively and interesting discussion.

Social Justice Good Or Bad?

May 10th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

Join us for the next Energion Hangout on Tuesday May 12 at 7:00 PM when I will be debating the question Social Justice Good Or Bad?  I will be arguing that it harmful,  while Steve Kindle, author of Stewardship: God’s Way of Recreating the World, will be defending it.   Steve and I agree on many biblical principles, but our application of those principles to our daily lives are vastly different, so it should make for a lively and interesting discussion.

“White Christians” and Baltimore

May 8th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

In his article “Why White Christians Need to Listen to Amos and Isaiah” Rev Morgan Guyton, the director of the United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola University, asks “I wonder what Amos and Isaiah would say about the self-satisfied scorn that so many white Christians have been spewing out into social media in response to the rage in Baltimore?”  Given the question sets up a straw man, it answers itself.  God is never pleased with “self-satisfied scorn.”  While it fails as an indictment of “white Christians” in general, Rev Guyton’s article is, I think, a clear example of the problems with the attitudes of social justice.

At the risk of falling into “self-satisfied scorn,” I think that Rev Guyton’s claim that “the collective rage that has exploded into violence is an expression of God’s wrath” is absurd. Still it goes to the heart of my problems with his article, and with social justice in general.

For me it is easy to condemn the rioting. It brings nothing good and I agree with President Obama that those who participated in it are thugs.  I am mad at the police so I am going to burn down an innocent person’s store?  I am mad at the police so I am going to steal a TV?  Just how does that make sense? The destruction of the community they brought about, not only caused a great deal of innocent suffering during the riots, but if history is any guide, it will cause problems and suffering for years, if not decades to come.

As for the “collective rage” that Rev Guyton claims is behind them, I would ask, rage about what?  This question is asked in all seriousness as we still do not know who or what caused the injuries that lead to Freddie Gray’s death.  So how do we do know what is behind the rage?  This is the problem with Social Justice. It is the agenda that is important. The facts really don’t matter.

To see this one only needs to consider the events in Ferguson Missouri.  Like Baltimore, riots occurred long before the facts were known.  When they were known, it became clear that the whole, “hands up don’t shoot” meme was false, and that Officer Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.

For some, the idea that Brown was unarmed is all the evidence they need to convict Wilson, but to see the absurdity of that claim one only need consider the case of Officer David Smith who just a few months before the events in Ferguson responded to a report of a disturbance and was attacked by an unarmed man before he could even get out of his car, very similar to Ferguson.  Unlike Ferguson, the unarmed man was able to grab Officer Smith’s weapon and then proceeded to shoot him to death.

Given the numerous split second decisions, and numerous mitigating factors in such a violent confrontation, it is not at all difficult to image that Brown had been able to get Officer Wilson’s gun, Officer Wilson would have shared the fate of Officer Smith, dead and largely unnoticed, like the other 127 officers who died in the line of Duty in 2014,

To put this number in perspective, something Social Justice advocates virtually never do, this is a number roughly equal to the number of black men killed by police each year.  The difference being that almost all of the police shootings are justified, the killing of police officers are not. Also given the relatively small number of police officers compared to the black population they encounter, the police face a greater risk of death.  One could also compare this to thousands of black men murdered each year, mostly by other black men, don’t those black lives matter?  The problem is that those deaths don’t fit the agenda of Social Justice.

In the end, the Justice of any given situation cannot be determined statistically.  It depends on the actions of individuals, not groups. In this case it depends on what actually happened that led to Freddie Gray’s death.  It will depend on the truth.

But for many advocates of Social Justice the truth does not matter. Only the cause matters. Thus you continue to hear Ferguson included in the list of alleged outrages, many of which are equally false, which led up to what Rev Guyton calls an explosion of “collective rage” in Baltimore.

The other really troubling aspect about Rev Guyton’s charge is its stark racial foundation in that it is directed against “While Christians.”  While troubling on many levels, it is very characteristic of Social Justice, which divides people into groups and then pits them against each other.  It seeks division, not harmony.

The injection of race into the situation in Baltimore is especially awkward and difficult given that the city is 60% black, most of its elected officials are black and 3 of the six officer charged are black. Given this why does Guyton single out “white Christians” for his condemnation?    These are the absurdities that come from abandoning true Justice for the false idol of Social Justice.

God is truth, and whenever we put our agenda ahead of the truth, we put ourselves ahead of God. This is never a good place to be. I, for one, am quite content to wait until I know what happened before I presume to know what would be Just. A rush to judgment rarely results in Justice.  Neither does mob justice, whether by a lynch mob, or by a prosecutor who puts appeasing the mob head of seeking Justice.

 

On The Chosen Generation Show

March 25th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

I will be on the Chosen Generation show with Pastor Gregory Young, Thursday March 26, from 10:00 -10:30 to discuss how the Social Justice movement continues to be negative force in society.  The show will be streamed live here. If you miss the show, it will be posted here.

Consider Christianity Week – Unity

March 25th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

Just an announcement that tonight, as part of Consider Christianity Week I will be discussing Christian Unity with Joel Watts.  Joel and I do not agree on a lot, but we both seek unity so it should be an interesting discussion.   It starts at 7:00 PM Central Time and you can post questions for us.

Hebrews 11:9-16

February 26th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

A verse by verse study of Hebrews
V    Accessing The Work (11:1-12:13)
    A   The Means – Faith (11:1-40)
        1    A definition of Faith (11:1-3)
        2    Faith to Abraham (11:4-19)
        3    Faith to Moses (11:20-28)
        4    Faith of the Exodus (11:29-31)
        5    Faith – Ongoing (11:32-38)
        6    Link (11:39-40)
    B   The Method – Look to Jesus (12:1-13)

http://www.consider.org/Classes/Hebrews/OutlineShort.htm

http://www.consider.org/Classes/Hebrews/OutlineLong.htm

Hebrews 11:4-8

February 26th, 2015 by Elgin Hushbeck

A verse by verse study of Hebrews
V    Accessing The Work (11:1-12:13)
    A   The Means – Faith (11:1-40)
        1    A definition of Faith (11:1-3)
        2    Faith to Abraham (11:4-19)
        3    Faith to Moses (11:20-28)
        4    Faith of the Exodus (11:29-31)
        5    Faith – Ongoing (11:32-38)
        6    Link (11:39-40)
    B   The Method – Look to Jesus (12:1-13)

http://www.consider.org/Classes/Hebrews/OutlineShort.htm

http://www.consider.org/Classes/Hebrews/OutlineLong.htm