Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

In the News: John the Baptist’s Finger?

The cable news television station, CNN is running a series titled Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery. The programs are typical fare. Supposed scholars and researchers intersperse comments with a dramatic reenacting of Bible events, trying to “separate truth” from the gospel accounts and church legend. There is no respect for the inspiration of scripture. The resulting program, though claiming to be even handed, is a skewed, skeptical view of the life and ministry of our Lord.
One aspect of this series is the examination of “Christian” relics as an adjunct to the narrative. In this they attempt to establish the authenticity of such items as the Shroud of Turin, the ossuary of the “brother of Jesus”, and bones claimed to be from John the Baptist.

Of course, each time such a relic is shown to be inauthentic, it emboldens some to claim another victory against the “superstition” that is the Christian faith.

Continue reading » In the News: John the Baptist’s Finger?

In The News: A “More Diverse Context”

inthenewsAn article in the January 3 New York Times related the religious convictions of Tom and Claudia Riner of Louisville, KY.

Tom is the pastor of a small Baptist church, and has served as a Democratic representative in the Kentucky state legislature for the past 26 years. He is constantly introducing legislation that is designed to keep faith in God at the center of government and society. As such, he and his wife are constantly opposed by such groups as the ACLU, and have had numerous pieces of legislation overturned by the Supreme Court.

Continue reading » In The News: A “More Diverse Context”

In The News: Moses the Egyptian

ImageA review of the book, Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism, 1997, appears in the March/April 1998 issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review. The book was written by Jan Assmann, the review by Ronald Hendel. It seems that both the author and reviewer have a modernist view of the Bible, and the history it records.

Continue reading » In The News: Moses the Egyptian

In The News: Bi-Directional Superstition

inthenewsLast week I came across a news article relating the exhumation of a body in Italy. The body is that of Francesco Forgione, a Capuchin friar, popularly known as Padre Pio. He died in 1968, and was ordained a Catholic “Saint” by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

Many Catholics believed that Padre Pio had the “stigmata”, the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion, appear on his hands and feet by a miracle. Though some believe him to have been a fraud, and it is suspected that he used carbolic acid to create the wounds, he remains revered by millions of Catholics. His body will be contained in a glass topped coffin, to be viewed by Catholics for several months.

Continue reading » In The News: Bi-Directional Superstition

AOTS: The Old Paths

AOTS Number 11

A poem praising the virtues of past days where the Bible and God were respected, and there was less evil in the world.

 

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In The News: A Famine of the Word of God

inthenewsCecil May is the President of Faulkner University, and holds meetings in institutional (liberal) churches throughout the nation. He has some conservative inclinations, and from time to time in his bulletin, Preacher Talk, complains about the direction that institutional churches are heading in attitudes and worship. The following recently came from his pen.

“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land — not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord’” (Amos 8:11). While Amos was not talking about us or today, his words fit.

Many changes taking place today indicate a decline in appreciation for preaching.

Contemporary services typically focus on “praise and worship” and down-play preaching. Instead of two sermons on Sundays, Sunday night preaching is replaced by small group meetings. (These are not wrong in themselves and are often beneficial, but they do replace preaching.)

In the preaching that remains, popular demands are requiring shorter and shorter sermons. Film clips from television programs or movies replace significant parts of the sermons. Drama is deemed more effective than preaching. Preaching designed to make us feel good replaces preaching to convict and call to repentance.

The Bible still says, “How shall they hear without someone preaching” (Romans 10:14) and “It pleased God by the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

Cecil May, Jr.
Preacher Talk, Vol. 23, No. 1, pg. 2

Analysis:

When the movie The Passion of the Christ came out I wrote an article for the River Oaks News mentioning the furor surrounding the movie. (You may remember that certain representatives of the Jewish community took exception to the movie’s premise that the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. I guess they would not appreciate Peter’s statement, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36).

Regardless, in the article I mentioned that I had no desire to go see the movie. I had the New Testament itself, and felt no need to see the dramatization of the words I had read. The editor of the paper and others in the office had watched the movie, were very moved by it, and were convinced that it would bring some to Christ. So, she feared some would be offended by my words, and declined to run the article.

The attitude is typical. But, the idea that we need to spice up and dramatize the words of God (if you carefully think about it) is rather insulting to the Spirit of grace. While emotion certainly has its place in the lives of Christians, it should be noted that the types of emotional responses which lead to true zeal, ardor and love come as a result of edification. And edification is the byproduct of preaching and teaching.

Churches that are interested in truly lighting a fire under members would do well to remember that a movie, play or skit may cause someone to walk out the door sad, happy, or angry (depending upon the purpose of the dramatics); but the preaching of the gospel of our Lord (if heeded) will lead to lifetime commitments and zeal. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). As always, God’s way is the best way!

Corporate Fellowship?

The River Oaks News reported in the Thursday, May 25th edition of the paper, the generosity of the Wal-Mart corporation in giving away $28,500 in grants to various non-profit groups. Among the grants given were donations to various area schools, fire departments and police departments, and city governments.

On the back page of the paper there is a picture of Dr. Bob Mullen, an evangelist for the Westworth Village church of Christ, receiving one of the big cardboard checks from Wal-Mart representatives in the amount of $1,000.

We have three questions:

  1. As the freewill offering of the saints is the only means by which the church has been authorized to raise funds (cf. 1 Cor. 16), where is the authority for the Westworth Village church of Christ to accept such a donation? (Answer: No such authority exists).
  2. As Paul indicated that the transfer of funds from the church in Philippi constituted a fellowship in the gospel of Christ (cf. Phil. 1:3-6), where is the authority for the Westworth Village church of Christ to have spiritual fellowship with a corporation like Wal-Mart? (Answer: Again, no such authority exists).
  3. Does the Westworth Village church of Christ care that what they are doing is without authority? (Answer: Apparently not, as it is the continuation of an unscriptural emphasis on the social gospel concept that has characterized that church for many years).

The DaVinci Code’s Audience

davincicodePolls have shown that one in five adults in the United States has read “The Da Vinci Code,” and many more are familiar with its themes. George Barna, a pollster in California, says 25 percent of those who had read the book said it helped them achieve personal growth or understanding. “Few people said that reading the book had actually changed any of their beliefs,” he said. “That was only 5 percent. Most people said that it essentially reinforced what they believed coming into the book.”

What they believe is what Mr. Barna calls “pick and choose theology.” It’s a trend that Christian conservatives find scary and maddening, but that liberals tend to embrace as “big tent” inclusiveness.

“Americans by and large consider themselves to be Christian, but when you try to drill down to figure out what they believe, you find that among those who call themselves Christian, 59 percent don’t believe in Satan, 42 percent believe Jesus sinned during his time on Earth, and only 11 percent believe the Bible is the source of absolute moral truth,” said Mr. Barna, a conservative evangelical who regards these as troubling indicators.

Da Vinci Christianity is not so disturbing to Gregory Robbins, an Episcopalian who directs the Anglican Studies program at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver.

“When I talk to groups, they say, tell us about the Dead Sea Scrolls, the discovery of the Gnostic gospels, what went on with Constantine, was there a massive book burning by the church in the fourth century” – all elements woven into the Da Vinci plot, Mr. Robbins said.

He said he emphasizes in his talks that in its first few centuries, Christianity was not monolithic. There were Palestinian Christians, Jewish Christians, Pauline Christians who appealed to gentiles, Gnostic Christians, and Ebionite Christians who saw Jesus as merely a prophet.

Among Christians today, he said: “I have found a willingness to entertain the idea that early Christianity was very diverse. Then they’re able to talk about the diversity that characterizes Christianity in the 20th century.”

Laurie Goodstein
The New York Times
(Partial transcript, edited for space).

Analysis:

The DaVinci Code, a novel which takes potshots at the Catholic church, and also makes outlandish claims about Jesus Christ, has been made into a movie. Many protests are being raised about the movie, as Catholics and Protestants alike take issue with the plot and characters in the movie.

What is interesting is that so much of this controversy revolves around whose lie is the truth! While The Davinci Code certainly attacks the Christian faith, it is mostly attacking a distortion of that faith, as it claims the Catholic church to be the “bad guy” in hiding what “really happened.”

And some people are being taken in by it all. The article above gives the main reason why this is so. People seem to think that you can pick and choose what part of the Christian faith you want to believe, and reject the rest! One man in the article asks, “All these people – the famous Luke, Mark and John – how did they know so much about Jesus’ life?”

Of course, “these people” are the inspired writers of the gospels of our Lord. As Peter said, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:16).

All scripture is given by God’s inspiration (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The attempts of some heretics 2,000 years after the fact nothwithstanding, the inspiration and veracity of the New Testament scriptures is beyond dispute.

First Christian Church Celebration

inthenews

The September 8, 2005 edition of the River Oaks News had a front page article detailing the upcoming September 18th celebration of the First Christian Church’s 150th year of existence.

In 1855, the first church in the city of Fort Worth was chartered as the “First Christian Church.” The small building built at that time has been replaced by the large structure presently occupying that same location.

Continue reading » First Christian Church Celebration

Revisionist History

Mel Gibson, a famous Hollywood actor and director, recently made a movie entitled “The Passion”, which purports to accurately depict the biblical accounts of the crucifixion. Without defending the movie, (Hollywood is hardly known for “accuracy”), it is interesting to note that the movie has incited quite a tumult as many groups are protesting the film’s depiction of Jews.

In the October 4, 2003 edition of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, R. Scott Colglazier, the senior minister of the University Christian Church in Fort Worth, wrote an article titled “Gibson movie opens old wounds of anti-Semitism.” Among other things, the article states:

“…in making this film, he has unwittingly opened a deep theological wound by portraying the Jews as killers of Christ.”

Readers of the New Testament are no doubt aware of the gospel accounts, which detail the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. (cf. Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19).

Continue reading » Revisionist History