Category Archives: The Bible

Was Jesus a Zombie

I have not posted a lot here on The Ekklesia in Southern Maine in the last coupe weeks. That has a lot to do with being busy at work; it has more to do with putting most of my efforts into zombietheology.com, a project that Alan Knox and myself are working on which looks at the zombie genre from a Christian Theological perspective. I don’t know how interesting that site will be to the majority of readers here, but the post I wrote today may be of more interest to you then some of the other content over there. We have been doing a series called “Zombies in Scripture.” This is a weekly series that looks at various Biblical passages that may relate to zombies. This morning’s post is one that I would say is the center of controversy between Christians and zombie enthusiasts. It looks at the question of the resurrected Jesus being a zombie. I use the standard definition of zombies (as laid out by George Romero’s films) and compare that to the record we have of Jesus’s resurrection in the New Testament. If this interests you at all, please take a second to read through that post and let me know what you think.

You can find the post here, and, to give you a taste of it, here is a brief excerpt from the post:

I feel like it would be an obvious oversight if we didn’t deal with one of the most commonly held beliefs about zombies in scripture: that the resurrected Jesus was a zombie. Jesus died on a Friday, was laid in a grave, and on Sunday morning, when some ladies went to check on him, he was gone. Later that day he visited some of his closest friends and over the next few weeks several other people saw him out and about as well. Jesus died and came back to life – that is the premise from which many assume that Jesus was a zombie. So the question is: did the resurrected Jesus’ behavior fit that of a zombie? Let’s try to consider this as neutrally as possible.

We are enjoying writing and interacting with new and old friends at Zombie Theology and hope you will check it out and share your thoughts.

Thanks!

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I’m Open To Other Views

People have this idea that I always think I’m right, that I am arrogant and don’t listen to other people’s perspectives. Well those people are dumb.

But seriously, I like to think of myself as a pretty open-minded person. I am ready to hear and learn from other people. The problem is that THEY think they know everything and usually they don’t.

Take this conversation I had the other day. I was talking with a guy about Amillennialism and trying to explain it in small words because, as I explained to him, he didn’t know anything about eschatology because his pastors never wanted him to think. So he started to argue with me. He couldn’t help it. He had been indoctrinated, brainwashed if you will. I tried to be patient, but he kept asking all these questions that I couldn’t answer. They were the type of questions his pastor probably told him to ask even though he paused thoughtfully before asking them (I think that was part of his training as well, to make the trick questions seem more genuine). Well I was getting exhausted trying to explain these difficult concepts to someone so under the brain-control of some local pastor. Finally I had to shake him up; I had to get his head out of the haze, so I said “Listen buddy, if you don’t believe this is true, then you are blind to the truth.” That showed him. He shut right up … and he left before we could finish our conversation, but it was obviously because he knew I was right.

There was this other time when I was telling a friend how God had spoken to me about election. How he had laid it all out there for me and I finally understood it all for the first time. Do you know what my friend did? Tried to “discuss” the topic with me. As if there were anything left to discuss! When God tells you something you know it’s true. Why would people try to change your mind about it?

Then there was this other time. A buddy of mine was concerned that I may be a little too zealous about my feelings concerning how I interpret the Bible. He explained that he thought it may not make sense to say that when you read the Bible in faith you come to the same conclusions I have. I said I didn’t understand his concerns. He told me there were a lot of people who interpreted the Bible differently than I do who have come to different conclusions, but they seemed to have demonstrated great faith in their Christian walks. I told him they obviously didn’t. He asked me why I thought that, and I said that if they had REAL faith they would have come to the same conclusions I did. He asked me how I knew this. I said it was because I had real faith. He went silent. That’s what I thought!

See, the problem isn’t that I won’t listen to others. The problem is that they don’t have any good arguments to oppose mine. Is it wrong that my views are hole-proof? I don’t think so. Maybe if other people weren’t so blind and faithless, and would actually listen to God they would come to the truth as well, and maybe then I could learn something from them.


Doc Rivers, Shaq, and Context

The Celtics are down 2-0 in their playoff series against the Miami Heat. Not great for Celtics fans. Shaq has been out for quite awhile now but may be coming back for Saturday’s game at the Garden. That is good news. Most people, myself included, think that this game will be the deciding factor of whether they stand a chance in the series or are done.

This morning, on sports talk radio, they played a clip of Doc Rivers (coach of the Boston Celtics) explaining something along the lines of “if we had a game Thursday he could have played but he didn’t practice because of his achilles or foot or whatever” (paraphrased) . The guys on the radio had this whole idea worked out about how Doc was getting frustrated with Shaq for being out so long and when he said the “achilles or foot or whatever” line he was intentionally dealing with the injury callously to imply that Shaq had to man up. That made a lot of sense to me since Shaq has been out so long and the team has been really struggling through this series.

Then a caller made an interesting observation: the clip does not ever reference WHO “he” is. We have no idea, based on the clip, who Doc is referring to, because we didn’t hear the question he was asked. The caller said that he thought the clip was referring to Paul Pierce who suffered a seemingly minor injury to his achilles. If Doc was referring to Pierce it would not have been viewed the same way because Pierce himself wasn’t taking the minor injury seriously.

Knowing who the “he” Doc was referring to made all the difference in understanding what he was saying, and incorrectly identifying the “he” would drastically change how we understood Doc’s comment. The difference between it being Pierce instead of Shaq took it from being a cheap shot about one guy’s toughness, to a passing observation on a minor injury. The question he was asked, the context of his comment, makes all the difference.

This is a very important rule for Christians, and not just Christians who enjoy watching the NBA. Christians go to the Bible for answers and understanding. The Bible is an ancient collection of even more ancient documents written over several millennia by many different people, living in many different cultures, writing in many different genres. I would say that understanding context is crucial to properly understanding the Bible.

Take this quote for example:

“Remember now, who [ever] perished being innocent? Or where were the upright [ever] cut off? Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, And by the breath of His anger they are consumed.” – Job 4:7-9 NKJV

The gist of it? Bad things happen to bad people, not good people. Sounds like a great sermon. The problem? This was a quote from a guy named Eliphaz, who would later hear this from God for the above quote along with some other helpful advice:

And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me [what is] right, as My servant Job [has].” -Job 42:7 NKJV

So maybe that whole “bad things happen to bad people, not good people” thing might not be so sound after all. Thanks to Doc Rivers and the WEEI morning show for demonstrating this simple, yet important, lesson: context is vital!

Check out That verse may not mean what you think it means at Till He Comes for a great, non-NBA, explanation of this subject.


The Bible – A review

The Bible is never really treated like other books. Since The Bible is a major source for how we understand God we usually shy away from criticizing it, at least out loud for fear of being sacrilegious, but the truth is that sometimes we, or at least I, think things in the Bible are weird or confusing. Would I be ok with that in any other book? I don’t know, but I thought it would be interesting to look at the Bible as a book and review it like I would other books, just for fun… I apologize if my thoughts offend you; please know that I believe the Bible is true and this is just an attempt to humorously share my struggles with understanding it. 

The Bible
By God (sorta)

Synopsis: Well this book starts out with some really bizarre stuff about talking snakes, girls trying to get their father to impregnate them, a dude killing his kid to thank God for helping him win a battle, the sun standing still in the sky, people blowing trumpets to knock down walls, some kids getting eaten by a bear because they called a prophet bald, and a bunch of other really weird stuff.

The story is mostly about this guy, God, and the people that he created. For a big part of the book it focuses almost exclusively on God dealing with a certain racial group, the Jews. They are special to him for some reason, but they keep doing things he doesn’t want them to do, so he punishes them but makes all these promises that he will make things good for them again someday.

The major shifting point in the book is when this guy Jesus is born. Apparently he is God’s son who is planted in Mary without the, umm, normal means of seed planting, so to speak. Not a lot of people really seem to get who he is or what he is supposed to be doing, but they are all pretty interested in him because he can heal sick and handicapped people, he talks like he has God’s authority, and he just seems to get what’s going on better than anyone else. Some people think he is going to be the Jews’ new king and overthrow the Romans who are oppressing them, but he says that he is supposed to be a “spiritual” king which I can only imagine some people saw as a cop-out. So, he seems to want people to change and not be so comfortable and they don’t really like that so they have him killed, but then he comes back to life after being dead for three days.

Some of his followers go on to other places to tell other people about him and now it seems like the focus of the book largely shifts from God caring about just the Jews to him caring about everyone again. The book ends with some really weird stuff about lamps and bowls and Jesus coming back to earth again and making everything all better finally.

My Opinion: So, this is like God’s autobiography. I don’t think he casts himself in a very good light. First of all he seems racist when he is so preoccupied with the Jews and trying to get them to kill everyone else. Why should all those other people die? Just because they aren’t Jews? Seems kinda messed up to me. Another thing is that God seems to be all about himself. I mean the book is full of really awesome things that he does, but he always seems to do them so people will think he is great.

Another problem I had with The Bible is that there are so many confusing parts like the prophecies and the stuff about Jesus coming back and all the stuff that was going on with the Jews. It just seems to me like the book lacked focus and clear direction. The reader was left to infer a bunch of meaning and connections in the plot. Seems like a novice mistake by the author. There also seem to be a lot of contradictory facts, like how God chooses people he wants to follow him, but at the same time people choose to follow God. If he could have ironed all that out a little better I think it would have made more sense.

Some of the characters were confusing too. You weren’t sure if they were supposed to be good guys or bad guys. Like this one guy David who seems like he is all about following God and then he sleeps with another guy’s wife and kills the guy! What is that about?!?! Or David’s son Solomon who is supposedly super wise (like Mr Miyagi or something) yet he marries a bunch of women, and turns away from God to impress certain chicks? Doesn’t seem even slightly intelligent to me.

So much of this book’s plot, characters, and morals are confusing. You get a general idea that people are bad, that God loves them but he’s upset with them, that Jesus loves them and that him and God made a way for them to follow him. Love seems like a big deal. Humility seems like a big deal. God seems pretty interested in everyone knowing how awesome he is. Beyond that I just didn’t get much else.

FYI: there are several unofficial sequels and bonus materials to go along with The Bible like The Book of Mormon, The Apocrypha, and several additional gospel sections

The Bible at amazon.com
Or read it free lots of places online. I like reading it at blb.org


Dangers of Expository Preaching

So, yesterday I asked if there is consistent biblical example or mandate to preach expository sermons. I don’t think there is and I find that pretty ironic since it is based on the principle that Christians should look to the Bible for answers on how to live (apparently excluding how to preach).

I made a statement about halfway through the post that I want to talk about in this post:

topical preaching may risk the danger of manipulating the Bible into saying what the preacher wants it to say, whereas preaching from the text (and generally through the text) means that people are learning and living out what the Bible says.

In this, I think, is an assumption that makes expository preaching much more dangerous than topical preaching. When someone preaches an expository sermon the impression they give is that they are telling the audience what the Bible says, not what they think. This would be great, if it were true.

Expository sermons can be just as full of opinions and personal agendas as topical sermons. At least in a topical sermon it is clearly stated that the person is trying to make point X and will use Bible Passages a, b, and c to prove X. In the expository sermon point X is given some super-powerful association with being “from the Bible” and now carries the weight of being “biblical” as opposed to an opinion that is merely supported by the person’s interpretation of the Bible.

I think Steve hits on this point well in his comment on yesterday’s post:

expository preaching doesn’t guarantee that the preacher deals with the text. Yes, he may READ the text out loud before his sermon, and he may talk about it during his sermon, but the true meaning can be easily avoided. I’ve heard it happen numerous times from very gifted expositors. (emphasis mine)

Be cautious of people who try and tell you what the Bible says, especially those who tell you they have no agenda.


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