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Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

It’s Not Evan Funny

Posted by Adam Graham on July 1, 2007

Dennis Mansfield takes issue with Dr. James Dobson for refusing to endorse Evan Almighty. Before getting into this discussion, I should clarify that I do respect Dennis Mansfield and his accomplishments both past and present.

Having said that, Dr. Dobson raised a great concern:

My greatest objection to the film is its use of God’s name irreverently in eight or 10 instances, as in “oh my —.” It was simply unnecessary to write the script this way, and I was bothered by it. I was also uncomfortable with the depiction of our most righteous God as an ordinary man who, though endearing and warm, danced and performed funny miracles. Some people, even individuals with similar beliefs to mine, will not be offended by this presentation. But I was taught at my mother’s knee that God is profoundly holy, and we are to approach Him with deep humility and reverence. The first four of the Ten Commandments refer to this divine nature, including a warning to those who would misuse His name or refer to it disrespectfully. How can I endorse a movie that runs past those boundaries, even though most others do far worse?

Finally, I was concerned about the rewriting of the story of Noah and his ark. “God,” played charmingly by Morgan Freeman, told the new Noah character that the first flood occurred because the people hadn’t done enough “acts of random kindness” (as in A.R.K. Get it?). God destroyed the world and its inhabitants, the contemporary god said, not to punish a wicked and perverse generation as we read in Genesis 6, but as a benign object lesson to encourage people to be nicer to each other. It was bad theology and a radical distortion of Scripture.

As is usual with Dr. Dobson, I thought the response was quite appropriate and measured in tone. Dennis responds:

So, as I read his review I had to pause. Not because I disagreed with Dr. Dobson (though I did), but because I came to realize how I just don’t think I am “there” ….My forced entrance into the drug addiction world (and recovery world) has shown me: the deepest levels of pain can only be bridged by love, respect and honor. Not by criticism. Nor by inordinate “Christian-ism”, somehow out of synch with a world that is Biblically illiterate, yet it is starving and searching for truth. Somehow, withholding support for such a film pales in comparison to the things thadt REALLY are not good in our culture. Is “Evan Almighty GREAT”? No. but it is good. Is it BIBLICAL? No, but it is good. Is it a Sunday School lesson. Again, No – and it never was supposed to be.

I have to admit, this makes little sense to me. On one hand, the film is good because people are looking for truth and are biblicallly illiterate. On the other hand, the film is good even though its unbiblical and not truthful about the character of God. So, because people are searching for truth, it makes sense for Christians to support a film that tells an untruth about God.

While, I find the occurences of taking the name of the Lord in Vain to be a concern (as well as my own tolerance of it and desensitization to it in our culture), the question of the Truth of God’s character is essential.

God is often painted as some one-dimensional lovey dovey teddy bear, or an aloof “big guy in the sky.” Yet, our God is a consuming fire; He’s both perfect love and perfect judgment, and when a movie or a book creates something other than that, they’ve presented not the True God, but a false one.

If folks remember around the time I came to Boise, there was a huge row with AOL. AOL had run an ad for a New York Premiere that included this line, “You Didn’t Think We’d Launch Something Like This in Boise, Did You?” People were offended because our city had been defamed. How much more appropriate is it to be offended when God Himself is the subject of mockery and made into a false caricature?

Yes, I do believe that for recovery to happen and people to come to know Christ, we must be real, but being real is being honest about who we are and about who God is, and I can’t see how hurting people can be healed by stories of a God who’s made in the image of man, rather than being a portrayal of the true living God.

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Playing God

Posted by Adam Graham on June 30, 2007

Andrea and I watched “The Gospel of John” this weekend. Overall, it wasn’t too bad Henry Ian Cusick does a good job most of the time as Jesus, but his performance wasn’t without problems. At some times, when delivering some of Jesus’ lines, he acted wild eyed and crazy, which wasn’t true to the character of the Gospel. I thought he brought appropriate emotion, inflection, and charisma to Christ’s role most of the time and helped bring the Gospel to life.

Andrea didn’t buy him as Christ, and I have to admit that unlike watching Jim Cavizel could be believed as Jesus, and you forgot it was an actor on screen, not so with Cusick. Cusick’s skin was too perfect, and he really looked too good physically in my opinion. The movie also suffered from the Bible version (the utterly forgetable Good News Version)  and there were some visual suggestions of something more with Mary Magdalene.

Overall, the movie was good and had some stories brought to screen such as the healing of the blind man in John 9 and it was just what we needed after a stressful week.

However, to me it opens my mind to a far greater topic, I’ve been giving some thought to. The role of Christ (or God) is perhaps the hardest part to play in cinema. Why? Because there is so much expectation tied up in that role. One thing is certain, you won’t please everyone.

The versions of Jesus that come to mind include: The Passion of the Christ, Greatest Story Ever Told, King of Kings, Jesus of Nazareth Mini-Series, The Miracle Worker (Claymation), The Visual Bible (Matthew), The Jesus Movie, The Revolutionary (TBN’s Version),  The Living Christ Miniseries (from the 1950s), and the Color of the Cross.

Now, one could add to the list such as the movie, Judas, Jesus Christ Superstar, and the Last Temptation of Christ. These films will never be quite popular with Christians as the Jesus portrayed isn’t the real Christ.

 However, for the others, one has to say that with the exception of Cavizel most movie Christs rarely meet most people’s expectations. Reading reviews on Amazon, it seems everyone has one (or two) Jesus movies they really don’t like and one or two they love.

For me, I personally thought the Revolutionary was an awful adaptation of the Gospel story. The others have been at least okay.

The ones that I think are the best are the Passion of the Christ. The Miracle Maker did a good job telling the gospel story. While many have ripped, “The Greatest Story Ever Told” for the dubious casting of John Wayne as the Centurion at the Cross, other casting choices were great like Telly Sevallas as Pilate, Charlton Heston as the best John the Baptist ever, and the music. The music was what made the movie so compelling. I also enjoyed the “Living Christ” mini-series. Often derided by those looking only at traditional guidelines, the series was poweful on many levels. Perhaps, its greatest triumph was the scene where the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray.

But, of course many will disagree. If you play Christ in film, you can expect your work to be summarily critiqued and evaluated, and often to have the harshest barbs fired in your direction. Perhaps, it’s because in the end, try as we might, we can’t replicate Christ as all he is on the screen, which will make even the best performances unsatisfactory.

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The Ten Misquoted Commandments

Posted by Adam Graham on June 30, 2007

Doug Van Curen, Vice-President of the Idaho Humanist Society greatly twists the Ten Commandments in a recent letter to the Editor:

Adrian Arp’s Letter (June 7) suggests our society is being systematically destroyed by compromising moral absolutes like the Ten Commandments. This makes me wonder if he has actually read the book of Exodus. The first commandment requires that you worship only the Judeo-Christian God. Punishment for not? Death by stoning. How does this fit in with freedom of religion?

And the commandment says:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

Nothing about stoning. Now, who hasn’t read Exodus?  Van Curren continues:

The second prohibits the making of idols and decries punishment for four generations of an entire family for the misdeeds of one person.

And the commandment says:

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I, the LORD thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.”

Here God is the one who is making the punishment, not the government, and it should be mentioned that the curse and punishment is broken should one turn to God as explained in Ezekiel 18:14-19:

“Now, lo, if he beget a son who seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth and doeth not the like, who hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbor’s wife, neither hath oppressed any, hath not withheld the pledge, neither hath despoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry and hath covered the naked with a garment; who hath taken off his hand from the poor, who hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed My judgments, hath walked in My statutes — he shall not die for the iniquity of his father: he shall surely live.

As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, despoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.

“Yet say ye, `Why? Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?’ When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all My statutes and hath done them, he shall surely live.”

So, moving on to Commandment #3:

The third, death to those who use their deity’s name wrong.

The real commandment says:

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.

No mention of stoning. Then we move on to #4:

The fourth mandates that everyone who works on the Sabbath be stoned to death.

Again, the real 4th Commandment says:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Again, no stoning. Moving on to the 5th Commandment:

The fifth requires that children who misbehave be stoned to death.

The 5th Commandment says:

Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

No stoning. Moving onto the 7th Commandment:

The seventh requires that adulterers be stoned to death.

The real 7th Commandment says:

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Of the 10th Commandment, Van Curen writes, “The tenth prohibits coveting (in America?).” That one he actually got right. The others totally incorrect.

While it’s true that many of the punishments are indicated elsewhere, it’s not those pre-New Testament punishments that really interest anyone, but rather the principles of the Ten Commandments in our hearts and lives. If we can honor God, rest, honor our parents, our marriage vows, and be people of honesty and integrity who are at peace with what God has given us without coveting someone else’s goods, then we’ve done well.

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Hey, Richard, Where’s the Beef

Posted by Adam Graham on June 29, 2007

Evolution News and Views on Richard Dawkins unsubstantive attacks on Michael Behe’s new book.

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5 Minute Ministry

Posted by Adam Graham on June 28, 2007

You want to serve God Online? Faithable has some great ways to do it. This is very useful and excellent post.

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Religious Freedom In Iraq

Posted by Adam Graham on June 27, 2007

Some good news, some bad from Christianity Today LiveBlog.

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Quote to Live By

Posted by Adam Graham on June 25, 2007

“When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.”-Abraham Kuyper

Hat Tip: World Magazine

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Christians Under Fire

Posted by Adam Graham on June 19, 2007

Contrary to the picture painted by some propogandists, Hamas is just as much an enemy of Christians as they are of Jews:

In an interview with WorldNetDaily, Sheikh Abu Saqer, leader of the group Jihadia Salafiya, said that Gaza’s Muslims “expect our Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real changes. They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in peace in Gaza.”

“Missionary activity” will no longer be tolerated, and those suspected of trying to covert local Muslims to Christianity will be “harshly punished,” said Abu Saqer. Additionally, the consumption of alcohol is now prohibited in Gaza, and all women must fully cover themselves in public.

In order to ensure compliance with these regulations, Abu Saqer announced the formation of a new “military wing” that will a close eye on the subjects of “Hamastan.”

Following last week’s unprovoked assault on a Catholic church and school in Gaza City, most are unconvinced that even full submission to Gaza’s new conservative Muslim overlords will afford any degree of peace and security to the area’s tiny Christian population.

Prayers up for Christians in Gaza and those who are trying to stop the Islamofascists.

Hat Tip: Persecution Blog

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Neither a Muslim nor a Christian

Posted by Adam Graham on June 17, 2007

A big story today appeared in the Seattle Times:

Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group on First Hill.

On Sunday mornings, Redding puts on the white collar of an Episcopal priest.

She does both, she says, because she’s Christian and Muslim.

Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she’s ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she’s also been a Muslim — drawn to the faith after an introduction to Islamic prayers left her profoundly moved.

When it gets to the point of describing the feelings of her Bishop on this, it begins to read like an Onion Article:

Redding’s bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. Her announcement, first made through a story in her diocese’s newspaper, hasn’t caused much controversy yet, he said.

Of course, it doesn’t, as Midwest Conservative points out, this is the Episcopal Church, we’re talking about and most people have given up being shocked at the Episcopal Church.

However, reading her description of the Faiths, she seems unable to hold to either Islam or Christianity very well:

She believes the Trinity is an idea about God and cannot be taken literally.

She does not believe Jesus and God are the same, but rather that God is more than Jesus.

She believes Jesus is the son of God insofar as all humans are the children of God, and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are divine — because God dwells in all humans.

Now, not only are her views of Christianity heretical, but her views from an Islamic perspective are quite troubling. The idea that all humans are divine is neither Muslim, nor Christian, but Pantheistic.

She does believe that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, and acknowledges those beliefs conflict with the teachings of the Quran. “That’s something I’ll find a challenge the rest of my life,” she said.

She considers Jesus her savior. At times of despair, because she knows Jesus suffered and overcame suffering, “he has connected me with God,” she said.

That’s not to say she couldn’t develop as deep a relationship with Mohammed. “I’m still getting to know him,” she said.

Wow, first of all, you don’t have a relationship with Mohammed. In Islam, Mohammed was Islam’s great prophet who lived and died. There’s no relationship with him, no possibility of it.

Miss Holmes is actually showing profound disrepsect to both religions. We’ve heard of Cafeteria Catholics (or Supermarket Christians) who mix and match what they want to follow based on their own preferences. Well, we now have the ultimate manifestation of that.

“Yes, I’ll take a Pantheist view of man, an Islamic view of God, and a Christian view of Salvation.” When we do that, we don’t as much serve God for who He is, but rather who we want him to be, and at that point, we are truly exalting ourselves as god.

Also blogging on this:

As in the Day of Noah points us to Matthew 6:24. “No man can serve two masters.”

This confirms for the Inconic Midwest that the Epicopal Church is beocming increasingly liberal.

UPDATE:

My wife, who spent three years studying Religion and Creative Writing passed along something one of her professors once told here. Anytime, you combine two religions, the result is the New Age. Given the Pantheism involved that would appear to be accurate.

Posted in Christianity | 1 Comment »

Hope for Paris

Posted by Adam Graham on June 11, 2007

From ABC News’ Barbara Walters, Paris Hilton says she’s changed:

“I’m not the same person I was. I used to act dumb. It was an act. I am 26 years old, and that act is no longer cute. It is not who I am, nor do I want to be that person for the young girls who looked up to me. I know now that I can make a difference, that I have the power to do that. I have been thinking that I want to do different things when I am out of here. I have become much more spiritual. God has given me this new chance.”

Now, of course there’s reason to be concerned. In addition to the Bible, Hilton is reading “The Power of Now” and “The Secret” both somewhat occultish/new age books as World Mag Blog points out. And one must pray that she doesn’t merely develop the vapid “spirituality” of many celebrities that’s a badge they wear, but really makes no impact on their lives. Still, I’m optomistic and hopeful that there could be something positive come out of what has been an incredibly sordid and sad tale.

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Life Imitates the Onion

Posted by Adam Graham on June 8, 2007

Via CT Today Liveblog, confusion over what exactly that march for Jesus is about.

Breaking News: Something Happening In Haiti

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The Ironic Blow…

Posted by Adam Graham on June 4, 2007

Porn Industry folks who’ve fought regulations designed to protect minors from porn online were hit with shocking news:

The Internet was supposed to be a tremendous boon for the pornography industry, creating a global market of images and videos accessible from the privacy of a home computer. For a time it worked, with wider distribution and social acceptance driving a steady increase in sales.

But now the established pornography business is in decline — and the Internet is being held responsible.

The online availability of free or low-cost photos and videos has begun to take a fierce toll on sales of X-rated DVDs. Inexpensive digital technology has paved the way for aspiring amateur pornographers, who are flooding the market, while everyone in the industry is giving away more material to lure paying customers.

And unlike consumers looking for music and other media, viewers of pornography do not seem to mind giving up brand-name producers and performers for anonymous ones, or a well-lighted movie set for a ratty couch at an amateur videographer’s house.

Hat Tip: Instapundit

And now the paying porn industry is being killed. I’ve got mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it’s eminently just given the adult industry’s involvement in not only the debasement of women, etc. but also the frequent mix of porn, spyware, and electronic fraud.

On the other hand, this seems to suggest that people are becoming worth less to their fellow man, even in how much they pay for porn.

Take this letter from Roger Wood, which begins:

We don’t really care about prostitution, prostitutes or their “alleged” handlers.

A situation that leads directly to the exploitation and abuse of women and their debasement is something we “no longer care about”? Indeed, perhaps many don’t, but I don’t consider this a positive development for our society.

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Persecution Posts

Posted by Adam Graham on June 4, 2007

Some posts to read and pray about from Persecution Blog:

200 Million Christians Persecuted by Al Qaeda

Another Christian Sentenced to Death

Radical Hindu Becomes Pastor, Suffers Persecution:

INDIA – On May 6, 2007, former Hindu extremist, Pastor Pabitra Kata, was attacked and severely beaten by more than 35 Hindu radicals, while returning from a convert’s home.

According to The Voice of the Martyrs’ contacts in India, Pastor Pabitra, received Christ in 1999 and immediately began preaching the gospel. Under his ministry more than 15 people have received Christ and several others have been baptized. The attack happened after extremists repeatedly warned he would “face dire consequences” for being a Christian.

“He was beaten with thick sticks, kicked on his jaw and face and dragged on the road. He was screaming because of the pain and praying out loud, asking God to forgive the attackers. He was bleeding profusely from his jaw and ear, and was unable to see. In spite of his painful cries, the attackers continued striking him until the police arrived and stopped the beating,” VOM contacts said. Following the attack, it was discovered the extremists had planned to murder Pastor Pabitra then make a false report claiming he had died in an automobile accident.

Pray, for those faithful who suffer in other countries for Christianity today stands the mots persecuted of all the World’s religions.

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Christian Mini-Round-Up

Posted by Adam Graham on May 31, 2007

Stacy Harp over at Persecution Blog has an incredible story of God’s power in Pakistan.

On May 7th anonymous letters were delivered to churches and Christian homes in the towns of Charsadda and Mardan, Pakistan. The letters demanded that the Christians close their churches and convert to Islam within the next ten days. While some of the letters did not specify what would happen if the Christians refused, others threatened bombings or execution of all Christians.

Christians throughout Pakistan responded to the threats by observing ten days of fasting and prayer, beginning on 17th May, the date that the ultimatum ended. At the time of writing there have been no reports of coming from Pakistan that any of the threats have been realised. The authorities have condemned the threats and called for the protection of the Christians.

At the same time as the letters were being received, other Pakistan Christians had also received threats. In Peshawar two Taliban-style militants put a gun to the head of a junior staff member at the Pakistan Bible Institute. They threatened him, saying “We hear you are converting Muslims”. Thankfully they were disturbed and fled before they carried out their threat.

Pray with Pakistani Christians that God will protect them from harm. Pray that their faith in God to protect them will be a witness to those who wish them harm, that the one who is with us is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Also, Mark Galli has an interesting piece on Christian education that raises many interesting questions. It doesn’t answer them, but if we an open our hearts to thing, we may find solutions.

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A Brilliant Attempt at Guilt By Association

Posted by Adam Graham on May 27, 2007

Pam’s House Blend points out that the disgusting Fred Phelps is furious at the birth of Mary Cheney’s son, Samuel:

Vice President Dick Cheney and his goofy wife Lynne are Mr. and Mrs. Antichrist America. If anybody now doubts whether God has cursed America with an irreversible curse, let him gaze upon the photo-op politically inspired picture, put out yesterday, of these two old fools who are holding dyke Daughter Mary’s newborn bastard son and pretending to like it. Just look at that picture–a shameless sodomite nation.

According to Pam, this is only “slightly more outlandish” than Matt Barber’s statement on the matter:

Ms. Cheney apparently intends to have a woman by the name of Heather Poe, whom she has identified as her lesbian “partner,” assist in the rearing of her son; but unfortunately, Ms. Poe can never replace little Samuel David’s other parent – his dad. One wonders if Ms. Cheney has ever contemplated what her childhood may have been like if she had been denied her own father.

What’s really outlandish is Pam’s attempt to link Mr. Barber’s defense of the importance of a “father” (and yes, that would have to be a male) in the life of a child (particularly a boy.) with Fred Phelps’ hateful venomous rant.

The goal here is to declare anyone who believes in traditional family values, the role of fathers or any such thing to be on par with racist bigots and Fred Phelps is the left’s foil.

I’ve often said that the Fred Phelps problem could be solved by simply ignoring him. If he didn’t get the media coverage, he’d probably die out, but you see the leftist media covers him with the goal of using him to tar Christians and to provide a pretext for anti-Christian biases and attacks. The sad thing is that more often than not these sleazy guilty by association schemes are more or less successful.

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