If Your Election Lasts Longer than Four Years. . .

Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes

In the current climate, with perhaps the most bizarre run up to a Federal Election in U.S. history, now seems a good time to re-read Jacques Ellul’s study of modern scientific propaganda which is helpfully titled Propaganda. In this important work, Ellul examines the techniques of the Russian, Chinese, and Nazi propagandists. Many of these techniques are regularly employed throughout the world. Propagandists (whether they call themselves that or not or whether they are aware that they are or not) continue to employ and perfect these techniques.

Available on Amazon

We are constantly bombarded with propaganda. In the (post)modern world, many of us in technological societies are so immersed in propaganda that we are like flying-fish who momentarily discover that they are wet before they are pulled back into the water. Perhaps, it is more like moving through a warm spot in the pool, noticing the temperature change and hoping that it’s not what you think it is. That is, we may not realize that we are immersed we may only notice that we have encountered someone else’s propaganda.

Like the proverbial frog in the pot of water being slowly heated, many people don’t even notice it is happening. Continue reading “If Your Election Lasts Longer than Four Years. . .”

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Advent, Christmas & the Nativity: Immanuel, God With Us, Is that good news?

Merry Christmas!

In Matthew’s Gospel, he states that the birth of Jesus fulfills Isaiah 7:14.

Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:20-23

Fulfillment in Matthew:

Matthew employs the phrase “this was to fulfill” a number of times in his gospel before citing a passage from the Old Testament. While his fulfillment language can sometimes refer to a rather direct prediction, like the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, the city of David, this prediction/fulfillment scenario does not exhaust the phrase.

The phrase is better understood as meaning something more like “this (event) brings to completion” or “this (event) is the fullest expression of”. As far as we can tell, no Jews were expecting the Messiah or Messsiah(s) to be born of a virgin. Continue reading “Advent, Christmas & the Nativity: Immanuel, God With Us, Is that good news?”

Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part VI: Strange Women or Xenophobia & Genealogy 

While those of you who have read my previous posts are scrambling to put together a model of a first century Bethlehemite home complete with guest room and attached stable, I am departing slightly from the Nativity scene itself as I turn to Matthew’s genealogy which precedes his passing reference to Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem.

In his genealogy of Joseph’s line, Matthew includes references to four women from Abrahamic/Davidic line. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah (or Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon).

Why does Matthew mention these women at the beginning of his gospel? As with most good storytelling, there is no single right answer to this question. That is, I think Matthew likely had multiple reasons for highlighting these women at the beginning of his gospel. In this post, I have no intention of being exhaustive because that would be exhausting.

Who is Tamar? Continue reading “Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part VI: Strange Women or Xenophobia & Genealogy “

Evangelical, Fundamentalist, and Dispensationalist: What’s the Difference?

A recent conversation with a family member who was a little disturbed by me describing myself as an Evangelical Christian inspired this post. In this conversation, it was clear that the term Evangelical is often seen as and used as a synonym for Fundamentalist.

I am an Evangelical Christian but I am neither a Fundamentalist nor a Dispensationalist (nor a Young Earth Creationist — but I have written enough about that in other posts).

Whaaaaat? Is that even possible?

Yes. Yes it is.

In this post, I attempt to clarify the meaning of the terms evangelical, fundamentalist, and dispensationalist by setting them in their historical and Christian contexts. Continue reading “Evangelical, Fundamentalist, and Dispensationalist: What’s the Difference?”

What Motivates N.T. Wright? Well, Why not Ask Him? So, I Did.

A Brief Interview with N.T. Wright

As I was writing my previous post, What Motivates Ken Ham? or What AiG Gets Wrong about N.T. Wright, I thought to myself maybe I should just ask Dr. Wright myself.

I wonder if the folks at Answers in Genesis have thought of this radical off the wall approach to dialogue. Do the writers at AiG consider actually engaging in conversation with the scholars that they so readily judge and condemn? I have it on good authority that Wright and other scholars do receive mail from Young Earthers, hate mail, that is.

In my view, scholarship is engaging in an ongoing conversation. Conversation requires listening and responding. Moreover, as the word itself suggests true conversation allows for the possibility of conversion. That is, when one enters into a conversation it is possible that you or your conversation partner may have a change of mind. (see “The Discipline of Study” in Richard Foster’s The Celebration of Discipline) In Academics, this dialogue is often carried out by reading one another’s writings and seriously engaging with and responding to each other’s arguments and thoughts.

Now, I have met Wright a few times at Regent College and at Society of Biblical Literature meetings. He likely does not remember me but we do have some mutual friends who could vouch for me. So, I re-introduced myself and asked him the following questions:

1. What motivates you to engage the Academy?

2. What motivated you to accept the theory of evolution (if indeed you have)? Continue reading “What Motivates N.T. Wright? Well, Why not Ask Him? So, I Did.”

The Death Penalty: Red Herrings, White Evangelicals, Black “Felons”, and the Gray Wastes

Am I supposed to be opposed to the Death Penalty?

I keep encountering facebook posts, articles, and tweets that seems to assume that I as a Christian would be or ought to be opposed to the death penalty. Of course, as a white North American evangelical, many will not be surprised that I am not opposed to the death penalty. For many, I fit neatly into their box and do not challenge their prejudices. Everything remains neatly black and white. You’re welcome.


For that reason, I hesitate to write a blog post on the death penalty but if you are reading this post, then I have apparently only hesitated.

If you want me to remain in your box, stop reading now. Continue reading “The Death Penalty: Red Herrings, White Evangelicals, Black “Felons”, and the Gray Wastes”

Sons of God, Daughters of Adam, and the Nephilim (Genesis 6:1-5)

In my recycled posts about aliens in the Bible, I poke fun at some popular Christian authors who argue that UFOs are real, aliens are really demons in disguise, and therefore suggest that the Bible tells us we will be deceived by these demon-aliens. Often UFO and alien abduction enthusiasts read alien visitation into ancient texts, ancient artifacts, and structures. Who really built the pyramids? Why are gods from the heavens?

Continue reading “Sons of God, Daughters of Adam, and the Nephilim (Genesis 6:1-5)”

Genesis 3: When is a Snake not merely a Snake?

While I highly recommend Michael Cosby’s Intepreting Biblical Literature (see my post on this textbook), I have yet to read a textbook where I agree with everything in it. In his chapter on the Primeval History or Genesis 1-11, Cosby writes the following, “The talking snake in Genesis 3:1-5 is merely that — a snake.”

So, when we get to this moment in a classroom setting, I usually put this quote on the screen followed by the question in my title:

When is a snake not just a snake?  Continue reading “Genesis 3: When is a Snake not merely a Snake?”

Syrian Refugees and Jews Aboard the St. Louis

In the wake of Kristallnacht, some Jews were able to flee Nazi controlled Germany. Yet, when the St. Louis bound for Cuba sailed across the Atlantic, they were not allowed to disembark. Eventually, they sailed back across the Atlantic where various nations took in a few hundred Jews each.
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It should not be forgotten that anti-Semitism was not only a problem in Germany nor were the theories of race and religion and fitness for life*. Continue reading “Syrian Refugees and Jews Aboard the St. Louis”