The Weirdness of Christianity (Audio)

What does a Christian believe? People assume they know. They deeply assume they know—just as I would have assumed the very same before I knew differently.

The general formulation of what a Christian believes goes something like this: “If you are a good person and you make a decision to believe in Jesus, then you will go to heaven after you die.”

I placed that formulation in quotes because the interesting thing about it is that every element of that statement is at least questionable or incomplete. Taken as a whole, that formulation almost entirely misses the point.

These drawings relate to the opening moment
of my talk. I use the analogy of a two-dimen-
sional creature who can move only along a flat
surface (as the arrows show) to suggest how
Jesus transcended three-dimensional space in
the ability he demonstrated to enter a closed
room. As I mention in my talk, scripture is
peppered with this weirdness, which points to
something profound.
I recently had a chance to speak about this to the Village Church of Mariemont. Listen to the audio at the link below. The voice you will hear from the beginning of the audio is mine (no introduction is included), then the different voice you hear at the very end of this audio file is that of the Village Church’s pastor, Todd Keyes.

My title for the talk was “The Weirdness of Christianity.” Follow this link to listen. What we actually believe as Christians is as strange as it is simple.

(Link will take you to a new screen. You might need to hit the download icon at the top of that screen before audio will play.)

The Beatitudes (Audio)

The Beatitudes are a distinctive passage of scripture. The passage is familiar to most people—it begins with “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and proceeds into a list of several other “Blessed are” statements, including “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Yet most people are also fuzzy on what Jesus is saying here, and unclear about why he began the Sermon on the Mount with these odd-sounding lines.

I recently had the chance to speak about the Beatitudes at the Village Church of Mariemont. In the audio at the link below, the voice you’ll hear introducing me is that of Todd Keyes, the Village Church’s pastor.

Listen here to my talk about the Beatitudes.

(Link will take you to a new screen. You might need to hit the download icon at the top of that screen before audio will play.)

Count It All Joy

James 1:2 says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” That sounds like a strange way to think about trials.

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Feeling Big or Living Large

Why do we not confront our fears? Sometimes it’s not because we feel too small. More often, it’s because we feel too big.

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Genesis 5

In the Bible, the last we hear of Adam is when he fathered Seth. After that, says Genesis 5:4, he lived for 800 more years.

Eight hundred years.

What was he doing during this time?

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How to Defeat a Stronghold

Do not worry, said Jesus in Matthew 6:25. He wouldn’t have said that if it wasn’t possible to do.

Perfect love casts out fear, says 1 John 4:18, but worry is precisely antithetical to this. In worrying, here is the cycle: I spend time on scrambling to head off fears, which leaves less time for pursuing and experiencing peace, which means I am undernourished and therefore more vulnerable to worry.

The reason the enemies in our minds are able to launch this kind of ongoing, successive attack is because they occupy bases of operation there. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says the enemies in our minds live in strongholds.

How do you deal with a stronghold?

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Nee’s Circles

The Bible says that each of us is comprised of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. What does each of these parts mean, and how do they interrelate?

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Permission

In chapter 5 of Luke's gospel, there is a scene in which Jesus helps Simon Peter catch a large amount of fish. Simon had just spent a disappointing night on the lake. Jesus told him to push back out, go to the deep water, and let down his nets. Simon did, and the haul was huge.

What was going on here? Our inference is that Jesus produced the haul directly, but this is not stated. What if Jesus instead gave permission?

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Quotation Marks

Quotation marks were invented around 1700. The Bible was written without them. All quote marks were added later.

Look at Genesis 12:1-3, God’s promise to Abram. Abram obeyed the command to leave his native land, setting out for distant Canaan. But what did Abram hear and when did he hear it? We see quote marks and we assume a literal utterance. We assume a current conversation.

Remove the quotation marks and the matter is much less clear.

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Roadside Assistance

We listen on our feet. I’ve been writing about how we listen to God, how we receive the next increment of understanding he would have us obtain. Sometimes—perhaps most of the time—the way to do this is by taking a step.

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Scripture

What is scripture? Among other things, it’s food. Second Timothy 3:16 says scripture is breathed by God. Genesis 2:7 says human beings are breathed by God. Just as our biological bodies need biological matter for sustenance, the breath of the divine within us needs sustenance that is comprised of the breath of the divine.

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These Words

The most important fact in all of reality is that God exists. What are you to do with this fact? From more than 3,000 years ago, here is quite possibly the ultimate writing on the subject….

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Trinity

Isaac Newton rejected and argued against the Christian idea of the Trinity. This fascinates me.

We have this popular picture of Newton’s physics describing a mechanical universe and the physics of Einstein, among others, describing a quantum-mechanical universe whose rules are more subjective and strange. The picture is partly right….

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Why Doesn’t God Speak to Us Audibly?

Why does God not speak to people audibly, at least not to people today? There is actually a concrete answer to that question. For God to speak audibly, he needs….

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Work

Not only does the Book of Exodus give us the Ten Commandments, it also includes the Bible’s earliest reference to a person being filled with the Spirit of God.

A man named Bezalel was the one about whom God said….

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