Monday, June 30, 2014

Bibliotheca by Adam Lewis Greene

A friend alerted me to this astoundingly beautiful project by Lewis Greene, who it turns out is a friend of a friend. The brilliance, dedication, and pure art involved in this endeavor should make it a favorite among Bible aficionados. You can view the video below and then hop over to the Kickstarter page.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: Can You Be Gay and Christian? by Michael Brown

Michael Brown's newest book poses the question "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" and illuminates the Bible's clear prohibition of any kind of sex outside of heterosexual marriage, and specifically homosexual practice. Subtitled "Responding with Love & Truth to Question About Homosexuality," Brown's book is a bold, thorough, and uncompromising answer not only to the question of gay identity and practice converging with Christian belief, but also to arguments that homosexual practice is compatible with Christian faith.

This is a book primarily for Christians, for those who have bowed to Christ as their Lord and Master and seek to faithfully obey Him; however, it remains vital for all who seek to interact with the Christian Scriptures on this topic. While this is a popular treatment of the subject, it is filled with end-notes and a thorough bibliography of academic sources from across the field of study. Can You Be Gay and Christian? never becomes stuffy but draws heavily from the wide range of scholarship on homosexuality within Christianity. Dr. Brown's response to the question is exhaustive without being dense and clear without being dismissive. The book draws from gay authors and theologians and presents both the most compelling and the most horrifying arguments from those who identify as both Christian and homosexual. The question "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" must be answered within the context of Scripture and God's revealed will and Brown systematically examines the Scripture. He not only thoroughly examines the six passages that directly speak of homosexuality, but the whole scope and thrust and Scripture, and passages where gay theologians read homosexual relationships into the text. In spite of the controversy and the booming voices surrounding this question, "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" sounds a clarion call of truth and holiness, dismantling dissenting views of the Bible's clear witness against homosexual practice.

While the book is at no point unclear, there are moments when the undeniabley impressive scholarship overflows in the text. The sheer amount of quotes, and block quotes can be overwhelming, and undisciplined readers may find themselves skipping portions of text, willing to trust the author's citations. At other times, Dr. Brown seems to spend an inappropriate amount of space engaging his critics, especially in the first two chapters. Brown's first book on the topic of homosexuality was a thorough examination of homosexual activism and this book often strays into that realm, warning readers of the sheer number of voices seeking to obscure the truth on this topic. "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" is not as evangelistic as some might expect. The gospel is undeniably present, but the focus of the work is on acknowledging the truth within God's Word and obeying it without compromise. The stark reminder that regardless of our desires, no matter how strong or how integral, we must deny ourselves and follow Christ rather than affirm ourselves and reinterpret Christ should strike us all.

Dr. Brown writes more as a prophet than a pastor or even a missionary. While he expresses great compassion, he does not meet readers halfway; he does not bridge the discussion, but instead boldly launches into a call to truth and holiness. His clear teaching on the language of Scripture's prohibition of homosexual practice and the culture surrounding it, as well as his illumination of an accurate understanding of God's design and desire for human relationships leads to a strong exhortation to deny ourselves and follow Christ regardless of the cost. While some may desire a book that will simply confirm their beliefs and strengthen them against the culture onslaught of acceptance, Brown's presentation challenges readers to understand the grounds of God's demands for holiness, the purpose of God's design, and the challenges of those who are both struggling with the truth. This book is not fundamentalist blustering. It is a wealth of passionate thought regarding Scripture and homosexuality.

My thanks to Charisma House for providing a complimentary review copy. I have provided an honest review.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Good Seed on Good Soil (June 2014 Newsletter)

And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” – Luke 19:5
Jesus had a way of picking the hungry person out of the crowd. He was always looking for spiritual hunger and good soil. He was looking for those who would be honest with God and honest with themselves, confessing that they were sinners in need of a Savior. He was looking for those who would forsake all to follow Him.
When Jesus sent His disciples out, He told them to seek the lost. He taught them to preach everywhere, looking for a person of peace who would receive the message, instructing His disciples to stay in that place, sowing the word of God and bringing the kingdom to that home and community.
Some months ago I met H____, who came to the International Hope Center in Hamtramck looking for a pastor. I was there working with a mission team when H____ came in, and Andrew and I spoke to him. He was very open that though he came from a Muslim background that he needed to change his life. He was very disillusioned with Islam and its followers. I was adamant that his life could change that day if he gave his life to Jesus and made him his boss, but he wasn’t ready to make the decision that day. We exchanged phone numbers, but when I called the number he gave me, the phone was disconnected. I continued to pray for H____ and even tried his phone number again month’s later to no success.
While I was away at a conference in Florida, Andrew let me know that H____ had come back to the International Hope Center and that Andrew had shared the gospel with him and that H____ had made a decision to give his life to Jesus, agreeing that he needed to be baptized.
H____’s decision comes at significant personal risk. All of H___’s family and friends are Muslim and he is afraid of anyone finding out about his decision. He also has no background in church and very little knowledge of the Bible. He sincerely believes that he needs to be right with God and sees Jesus as the answer. In spite of his fear, he has identified two people that he believes it will be safe for him to share his faith with, and we are taking steps to see him obey Christ’s commands. I have met with H____ almost every day for weeks and we are moving forward to better know who Jesus is and how to follow Him. When we see Jesus, we fall more in love with Him and obey Him from a deeper passion and commitment.
There are many obstacles for a person like H____ and many distractions. H____ has many physical needs and problems that come with being an immigrant without a job and with limited English. While he has found brothers and sisters who are willing to help him with these needs, we always must be careful that each person’s commitment is to Christ Jesus as Lord and Master: that Christ alone is the focus.
I rejoice over every decision for Christ and all of Heaven rejoices when one sinner repents, but I know there is a soil that springs up quickly but has no root. I am looking for soil that bears fruit with perseverance that goes beyond a decision and follows through in genuine faith. My daily prayer is that Jesus would lead me to that one. In the same way that Jesus picked Zaccheus out of the crowd, I want the Spirit of God to pick out the hungry. I want to find the soil that is prepared. I want to find men and women who will forsake all and follow Christ in word and deed. I am encouraged that the Spirit drew H____ to us; I look forward to what God will do in His life. I know the best is yet to come.

Read the rest of June 2014 Newsletter.
Read previous Newsletters.