Category Archives: Articles on Culture

Identifying Authorities

Identifying Authorities

This entry is part 13 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Within the avalanche of information coming at us, how do we identify true authorities in any domain of knowledge? How do we judge the anonymous Youtube channel, the self-proclaimed discernment ministry, the mega-church pastor, or the well-known author? We need something more than merely an intuitive feeling that a person ‘makes sense’, or ‘seems to… Continue Reading

Who Made You the Authority?

Who Made You the Authority?

This entry is part 12 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The explosion of information on the web has made the idea of authoritative information almost a thing of the past. A CGI-Enhanced Youtube video about the non-existence of the South Pole is as accessible as the online Encyclopedia Brittanica’s information on Antarctica. The crowd-edited Wikipedia is found as easily (or more so) than a peer-reviewed journal.… Continue Reading

A Tidbit on “Taste”

A Tidbit on “Taste”

This week I am studying Psalm 34, and the two instances (one noun, one verb) of a Hebrew word for “taste” (טעם) caught my attention. Since discussions of “taste” frequently accompany discussions of the topics addressed on this website, I thought that it might be useful to share a bit regarding the biblical usage of… Continue Reading

Authority and Authoritarianism

Authority and Authoritarianism

This entry is part 11 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When authority is usually discussed, about three sentences later, the word authoritarian will make its entrance. In fact, for some, authority is authoritarian – there is no other kind. Recovering the mangled word authority from all the thought-debris that has been hurled at it requires distinguishing it from authoritarianism. I’m not sure whether dictionaries help or… Continue Reading

Pastors – Become Literate in Christian Culture

Pastors – Become Literate in Christian Culture

When the topic of music and worship comes up, a favorite slap-down argument against thoughtful discrimination of music is that pastors need not study music to be faithful pastors. It is beside the point to say that pastors need not become art critics. If their vocation is that of shepherding the flock, it is manifestly… Continue Reading

Authority – Its Origin

Authority – Its Origin

This entry is part 10 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The English words authority and author come from the same Latin root, auctor – an originator. Strange how far we’ve come from older ideas, where the concept of authority was connected with authoring, creating, and making. Today, authorities are guilty until proven innocent of being destroyers. English etymology aside, Scripture, in its first chapter,  makes… Continue Reading

Ten Mangled Words – “Authority”

Ten Mangled Words – “Authority”

This entry is part 9 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The popular consciousness has knee-jerk reflexes when it comes to authority. Play the word-association game with the average person, show him the flash-card “Authority” and ask him to blurt out the first word that comes to mind. I’ll wager that if you repeat the experiment across thousands of subjects, you’ll have a top-ten list pretty… Continue Reading

Judging Matters of Freedom

Judging Matters of Freedom

This entry is part 8 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Modern Christians are in the habit of labelling all sorts of things as ‘matters of Christian liberty’ or ‘areas of preference’. We do not doubt that these adiaphora (“indifferent things”) exist; Scripture explicitly deals with them in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8-10. The question is, how do we identify them? Genuine adiaphora can be… Continue Reading

Matters of Conscience and Freedom

Matters of Conscience and Freedom

This entry is part 7 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Scripture devotes two sections of the New Testament to explain how certain choices in the Christian life are not explicitly or implicitly forbidden or prescribed: explicitly by commands or prohibitions, or implicitly by a very clear application of general Scriptural principles. These two sections are Romans 14, and 1 Corinthians 8 to 10. Here we… Continue Reading

Freedom and Churches

Freedom and Churches

This entry is part 6 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

A church is a voluntary society. Baptists believe that people join churches not by birth but by choice. People freely associate, and can freely disassociate. Voluntary societies cannot use force or coercion on their members; they can only persuade. Having said that, a number of things need to be said to overturn the muddled thinking… Continue Reading

Freedom – Societal and Individual

Freedom – Societal and Individual

This entry is part 5 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Liberty is the absence of unwarranted coercion, leaving the human open to persuasion and his own agency to choose what he ought. Freedom does not, and never can, mean an unlimited amount of choices. The freedom of a man should be limited in two ways. Externally, he is not free to harm the common good,… Continue Reading

Freedom

Freedom

This entry is part 4 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Freedom is another word that the disingenuous enjoy. Just as the Tolerazis cry ‘intolerance’ and pose as victims even while they terrorize and bully others, so similar people shout freedom while insisting that others submit to their choices, or at least abdicate legitimate authority over them. Freedom has a nice ring to our ears. Restraint and… Continue Reading

Rehabilitating “Tolerance”

Rehabilitating “Tolerance”

This entry is part 3 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

How do we rehabilitate this word? First, we must insist that tolerance does not mean agreement, nor does disagreement mean intolerance. Tolerance actually suggests disagreement, for when you agree with someone, you do not merely tolerate him, you agree with him and welcome his opinions. We must patiently explain that disagreement or disapproval of one… Continue Reading

What Psalm 137 Does

What Psalm 137 Does

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series God's People in Exile You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Over the past several weeks, we have been looking at Psalm 137 and its relevance for Christian today. I have presented the historical background of the psalm and argued that it has significant relevance for us since, like the author/audience of Psalm 137, Christians are exiles living among a pagan people. Now let us consider… Continue Reading

Tolerance (2) – We Oppressed Left-Handers

Tolerance (2) – We Oppressed Left-Handers

This entry is part 2 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

It is becoming abundantly clear to many that the call for tolerance has in fact not been a call to tolerate all opinions everywhere, but to express agreement and endorsement of certain groups and positions. The LGBT community, feminists, non-Christian religions, minorities or previously oppressed ethnicities are usually those said to be suffering from intolerance… Continue Reading

Dual Citizens

Dual Citizens

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series God's People in Exile You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Last week, as part of our study of Psalm 137, I pointed out the striking similarities between the conditions in which the Hebrews exiled in Babylon found themselves and the Church today. I ended by asking, “How many Christians today consider themselves sojourners and exiles? How many Christians recognize that their citizenship is in another… Continue Reading

Tolerance (1)

Tolerance (1)

This entry is part 1 of 30 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Words are more than names. Words are things that either correspond to something in reality, or fail to. When words fail to correspond to something true about God’s reality, they become part of the darkening of human understanding. Like a sign pointing the wrong way, like a faulty map, the mangled word gives the human… Continue Reading

A People in Exile

A People in Exile

This entry is part 3 of 9 in the series God's People in Exile You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Last week I presented the historical context for Psalm 137, a context of the people of God living in exile among a pagan people. Now once again, understanding this immediate context may cause us to wonder, how in the world could this psalm be relevant for Christians today? Certainly we do not live under such depressing… Continue Reading

The Historical Context of Psalm 137

The Historical Context of Psalm 137

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series God's People in Exile You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Last week I began a series looking at Psalm 137. I am going to do two things with the psalm; first, I will look at the psalm, and then I would like to look through the psalm and allow it to speak to us today. So let us begin by looking at Psalm 137. The psalm… Continue Reading

God’s People in Exile

God’s People in Exile

This entry is part 1 of 9 in the series God's People in Exile You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres. 3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song… Continue Reading