by Dietrich Gruen, Bridge Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Columbus
Engaging controversial issues from the pulpit is difficult for me, but so is the dilemma faced by many at the dinner table, post-election. Our problem and opportunity are how to talk politics with family and friends who disagree on today’s political flash points. To help in that regard, I shall share wisdom gleaned from several bloggers, family, and holy scripture.
First, to graciously discuss hot topics, get permission to go deeper. When friends & family gather at the table for Thanksgiving or Christmas, keep the food hot and the rhetoric cool. IF more heat than light is being generated, that’s time to back up, read the body language, and get permission to go further. Once you have permission, agree on rules of engagement. You could start with these: Continue reading When your table hosts a divided America
by Dietrich Gruen
Bridges out, roads blocked, businesses closed, basements flooded. One death. Many water rescues by boat, helicopter, and human chains. Untold storage items, basement appliances and family treasures soaked and lost. Lakeside decks and docks float away. Lakes appearing suddenly where there were none the day before. Hundreds of flooded cars ditched in either underground parking or clogging above-ground streets. Continue reading May the worst of times bring out our best
Every church is changing. Even though the gospel is unchanging, every church is an expression of the gospel through their language, culture and time. But as the culture, language and time outside of the church continues to change, and each church’s cultural expression will fall behind if it does not change. No church that prevails in this culture can measure itself by other normal, or even “successful,” churches. Even growing churches tend to grow because they are “better” when compared with other churches, which means that often these churches grow because people transfer from other churches. There is some growth by conversion, but very little even in most growing churches. Continue reading Our Changing Church
We have a team in the Dominican Republic this year painting buildings, praying for families, teaching Vacation Bible School, and leading students in small group ministries. They do all this while, most importantly, sharing the Good News of the gospel of Jesus. Pray for them, and check below throughout their trip for updates as the team invests in the Dominican Republic! Continue reading 2018 Dominican Republic Team Updates
For 2000 years Christians have believed in the authority of the Bible as an inspired document. Christians have believed that God’s inspiration of the Scriptures has left us with a written word that is both infallible and inerrant. That is, that the original manuscripts of the original authors are inspired by God while simultaneously being the product of the intellect and personality of the human biblical author. This means that the Scripture is both the product of the writing of men and the inspiration of God. Yet, because Scriptures are inspired by God, they are fully trustworthy and without error in the original manuscripts.
To confirm or deny this belief, we can look and see if there is anything in Scripture that can be proven false or that is self-contradictory. Because of this, those who have resisted believing in the authority of the Bible have often pointed out passages that they believe are in contradiction to each other—what we might call “apparent contradictions.”
I have been considering dozens of these apparent contradictions for more than 20 years. In general, I find that they are very easily resolved and are not contradictions at all. However, the solutions to some are easier than others. The most difficult I have ever come across is the apparent contradiction of Mark 6:8 compared to Luke 9:3 and Matthew 10:10.
Mark 6:8-9 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.
Matthew 10:10 Take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep.
Luke 9:3 He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.
The apparent contradiction is that in Mark the disciples are instructed to take a staff, and in Matthew and Luke they are instructed not to take a staff. This appears to be as obvious and direct a contradiction as could be possible. Perhaps the best analysis of solutions to this problem is still the article “Staff or No Staff?” in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly by Barnabas Ahern from July 1943. Continue reading Staff or no staff: the worst Bible “contradiction”