Avoiding Slander: What the New Testament Teaches About Speaking of Spiritual Beings

As Christians, we are called to love and respect all people, regardless of their beliefs. While we may have different convictions and worldviews, it is essential to show kindness and compassion towards others. This raises the question: Do Christians have a license to slander the gods of others? Let’s consider some biblical passages that address this question and seek insight on how we can approach this topic with grace and truth.

Paul in Ephesus
In Acts 19:37, the town clerk of Ephesus is trying to calm a riot that had erupted due to the preaching of the apostle Paul. He reminds the crowd that the city’s reputation for worshiping the goddess Artemis is well-known, saying, “For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess”. This implies that the apostles did not engage in slandering pagan gods, even in a heated situation like a riot.

Warnings against false teachers
Both 2 Peter 2:10-11 and Jude 1:8-10 warn against false teachers who speak disrespectfully of celestial beings, whether those beings be angels or demons. These passages caution against arrogance with things we do not understand and urge Christians to be mindful of their words. It also implies that those slandering such beings are out of line.

Implications for Christians
Based on these passages, it doesn’t seem that Christians are are given any license to slander pagan gods, even were we to consider them demons. While we are called to proclaim the truth about God and the gospel, we must do so with respect and kindness towards others. We should not use our words to tear down or belittle those who hold different beliefs but rather seek to engage in meaningful conversations with them.

In addition, it is important to remember that our ultimate goal is not to prove others wrong but to share the love of Jesus with them. As 1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

In conclusion, Christians do not have a license to slander pagan gods. Instead, we are called to love and respect all people, regardless of their beliefs. While we may have different convictions and worldviews, we must approach conversations about spirituality with grace and truth, seeking to build bridges rather than walls. May we always honor Christ with our words and actions and show the love of Christ to all those around us.

Merkavah and Apocalyptic Literature: Exploring the Relationship Between Two Jewish Mystical Genres

Merkavah and apocalyptic literature are both genres of Jewish mystical and visionary texts that emerged in the Second Temple period, but they differ in their focus and content.

Merkavah literature, also known as Hekhalot-Merkavah literature, is a type of Jewish mystical text that dates back to the Second Temple period (c. 515 BCE to 70 CE) and is concerned with the visionary ascent to the divine throne, or the “chariot” (merkavah), described in the Book of Ezekiel. Merkavah literature is characterized by its focus on the ecstatic experience of the individual visionary who ascends to the divine throne, encountering a series of angelic beings and mystical secrets along the way. The goal of Merkavah literature is to achieve a closer relationship with God through mystical experience and knowledge.

Apocalyptic literature, on the other hand, emerged in the Second Temple period and continued to be produced into the early Christian era. It is characterized by its focus on the end of the world, the coming of a new age, and the revelation of divine secrets that were previously hidden from human understanding. Apocalyptic literature typically features highly symbolic and visionary language, and often depicts cosmic battles between good and evil forces. The goal of apocalyptic literature is to reveal the divine plan for history and to provide hope for a future redemption.

While Merkavah literature and apocalyptic literature share some similarities in terms of their visionary and mystical content, they differ in their focus and purpose. Merkavah literature is primarily concerned with individual spiritual transformation and closeness to God, while apocalyptic literature is focused on the revelation of divine secrets and the hope for a future redemption on a cosmic scale. Additionally, Merkavah literature tends to be more concerned with the experience of the visionary, while apocalyptic literature is more focused on the unfolding of history and the ultimate triumph of God over the forces of evil.

Fear Not: Embracing Christ’s Message of Love and Redemption

I am going to be blunt. Fear mongering goes against the fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ. Christ teaches us to love one another, to have faith in God, and to live with compassion and empathy towards all people. Fear mongering, on the other hand, seeks to exploit people’s fears and anxieties for personal gain, often at the expense of others.

When we engage in fear mongering, we are essentially spreading a message of fear and anxiety, which can be incredibly damaging to individuals and communities. Fear can paralyze people and prevent them from making rational decisions. It can also lead to division and mistrust, which can further harm relationships and communities.

Moreover, fear mongering often involves spreading false or misleading information, which can lead people to make harmful or destructive decisions. As Christians, we are called to seek the truth and to avoid bearing false witness against our neighbors. Fear mongering can also foster a sense of despair and hopelessness, which is antithetical to the message of hope and redemption that Christ brought to the world.

Instead of fear mongering, we should strive to be messengers of hope and love. We should seek to build relationships with others, to show compassion and empathy, and to spread messages of hope and encouragement. We should also seek to understand and address the underlying fears and anxieties that may be driving people to engage in fear mongering in the first place.

Ultimately, as Christians, we are called to be agents of change and reconciliation in the world. We are called to be peacemakers, to love our enemies, and to seek justice and mercy for all people. Fear mongering goes against these core teachings and ultimately serves to divide and harm rather than unite and heal.

Is patriarchy essential to Christianity?

No, patriarchy is not essential to Christianity. While some interpretations of Christianity have traditionally emphasized male leadership and dominance over women, there is nothing inherent in Christian doctrine that requires or condones patriarchy.

In fact, there are many examples of women playing important roles in the Bible and in Christian history. For instance, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is revered as a powerful figure in the faith, and there are many stories of female prophets and leaders in the Old Testament. Additionally, many Christian denominations today ordain women as pastors and allow them to hold leadership positions within the church.

It is worth noting that while patriarchy has been historically present in many Christian societies, this is often due to cultural and societal factors rather than theological ones. In recent years, many Christian scholars and leaders have worked to challenge patriarchal structures and promote gender equality within the church.

The Doctrine of Sin: How we make it unnecessarily offensive

Have you ever noticed how the doctrine of sin can sometimes be unnecessarily offensive? Like many of you, I’ve seen firsthand how this doctrine can be abused, causing harm and creating division. In this blog post, I want to explore some of the ways we make the doctrine of sin unnecessarily offensive and offer some suggestions for how we can approach this topic in a more constructive way.

The Problem with Sin

First, let’s take a moment to define what we mean by “sin.” At its core, sin is simply the idea that humans have a tendency to do things that are wrong or harmful to themselves or others. While this may seem like a straightforward concept, the way we talk about sin can often be problematic.

For example, some people use sin as a way to shame others or make them feel guilty. This can create a sense of judgment and condemnation that is not only unhelpful but can also be harmful. Others use sin as a way to justify their own bad behavior, blaming their actions on some innate “sinful” nature rather than taking responsibility for their choices.

These approaches to sin not only create unnecessary offense but also miss the point of what the doctrine is meant to convey. Sin is not about making people feel bad or excusing bad behavior. Rather, it’s a recognition that we all have a tendency to make mistakes and do things that cause harm. By acknowledging this fact, we can begin to take steps to address the harm we’ve caused and work towards a better future.

The Role of Humor

One way to approach the doctrine of sin in a more constructive way is to use humor. While it may seem counterintuitive to use humor when discussing a serious topic like sin, humor can actually be a powerful tool for breaking down barriers and encouraging people to see things from a new perspective.

For example, a popular book on the topic of sin is “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. In this book, Lewis uses humor to explore the concept of sin and the ways in which humans can be influenced by external forces. By using humor to explore this topic, Lewis is able to make the doctrine of sin more accessible and less intimidating.

Similarly, in pop culture, we see examples of humor being used to explore the topic of sin. In the television show “The Good Place,” the characters are all grappling with the concept of sin and how it relates to their eternal fate. While the show is certainly humorous, it also raises important questions about morality and human nature.

By using humor to approach the doctrine of sin, we can make this topic more approachable and less intimidating. Humor can help us to see the absurdity in our own actions and encourage us to take a more lighthearted approach to our mistakes.

Moving Beyond Judgment

Ultimately, the key to approaching the doctrine of sin in a constructive way is to move beyond judgment. When we use sin as a way to shame or condemn others, we miss the point of what this doctrine is meant to convey. Instead, we should approach sin with humility and a recognition of our own fallibility.

One way to do this is to reframe the concept of sin in a more positive light. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of sin, we can focus on the ways in which we can grow and improve as individuals. By acknowledging our mistakes and working to address them, we can become better people and make a positive impact on the world around us.

In Conclusion

The doctrine of sin can be a difficult topic to navigate, but by approaching it with humor and humility, we can make this topic more approachable and less intimidating, and work towards more positive outcomes. After all, the point isn’t to wallow in our worst moments but, by God’s grace, to grow beyond them and to flourish.

Grace and Karma: How Christianity Views Cause and Effect

I have always been fascinated by the concept of karma. It’s one of those ideas that transcends religious boundaries and speaks to something universal in the human experience. But, as I’ve delved deeper into the topic, I’ve come to a somewhat different perspective on what karma is and what it means for our lives.

First of all, I think it’s important to acknowledge that the concept of karma has its roots in Hinduism and Buddhism. In those traditions, karma is seen as a sort of cosmic justice system. If you do good deeds, you accumulate good karma, and that will bring positive outcomes in this life and the next. If you do bad deeds, you accumulate bad karma, and that will bring negative outcomes.

But as a Christian, I believe in a different kind of justice system. I believe that there is a loving and just God who sees and cares about everything we do. And I believe that God’s justice is not based on some sort of cosmic ledger of good and bad deeds, but on the fundamental value and worth of every human being.

So where does that leave us with karma? Well, I believe that there are still some valuable lessons we can learn from this concept, even if not taken literally.

Here are a few reflections on karma from my perspective:

  1. We reap what we sow.

This is a biblical principle that is echoed in the concept of karma. In Galatians 6:7-8, we read: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

In other words, the choices we make have consequences. If we live a life of selfishness and greed, we will ultimately find ourselves unfulfilled and unhappy. But if we live a life of generosity and compassion, we will find joy and fulfillment.

  1. We are interconnected.

Another principle of karma is the idea that everything we do affects others, and everything that others do affects us. This is sometimes referred to as the “law of cause and effect.” In Buddhism, it’s described as “dependent origination.”

As Christians, we believe in the interconnectedness of all things as well. We are all part of God’s creation, and we are all connected to one another. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers (1 Corinthians 12:26). When we hurt others, we hurt ourselves.

  1. We can choose to break the cycle.

One problem with the concept of karma is that it can be fatalistic. If you believe that your fate is determined by your past actions, it can be easy to give up and resign yourself to your lot in life.

But as Christians, we believe in the power of redemption and transformation. We believe that no matter how much we have messed up in the past, we can always choose to turn our lives around and start fresh.

In Romans 12:2, we are told: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We are not trapped by our past mistakes. We have the power to break the cycle and create a better future for ourselves and those around us.

So, while I don’t believe in karma in the traditional sense, I do believe that there is wisdom to be found in this concept. I believe that as Christians, we can learn from the idea of cause and effect, the interconnectedness of all things, and the power of redemption and transformation. Ultimately, I believe that the most important thing is not whether we accumulate good or bad karma, but whether we live a life of love and justice just for its own sake.

What is Anabaptism?

Anabaptism is a Christian tradition that emerged in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation. While Anabaptism has its roots in historic Christianity, it has some distinct beliefs and practices that set it apart from other Christian traditions. In this post, I will briefly be exploring the history and key beliefs and practices of Anabaptism, as well as its relationship with other Christian traditions and the state. I will also discuss the importance of discipleship and nonviolence in Anabaptist theology, and how these values shape Anabaptist communities both historically and in the present day.

History of Anabaptism:

Anabaptism emerged in the 16th century as a response to the Protestant Reformation. Anabaptists believed that the reformers had not gone far enough in their efforts to purify the church, and that true discipleship required a more radical approach. Anabaptists believed in the separation of church and state, and rejected the idea of infant baptism, instead insisting on believer’s baptism. This belief, along with their rejection of the state church, led to persecution and martyrdom for many Anabaptists.

Key Beliefs and Practices:

Anabaptism is perhaps best known for its commitment to pacifism and nonviolence. This commitment arises from the belief that Jesus’ life and teachings call for a rejection of violence and a commitment to peace. Anabaptists also emphasize the importance of community-oriented living, believing that Christians should live in intentional communities that prioritize service and sharing resources.

Examples of Anabaptist Practices:

Historically, Anabaptist beliefs have been put into practice in a variety of ways. During the 16th century, Anabaptists established communities that were often self-sufficient and sought to be separate from the larger society. In the 20th century, the Mennonite Central Committee was established to provide relief and development assistance to people around the world, reflecting the Anabaptist emphasis on service.


Neo-Anabaptism is a term used to describe the resurgence of Anabaptist ideas and practices in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Neo-Anabaptists seek to build intentional communities, live out pacifism and nonviolence, and prioritize discipleship. Neo-Anabaptists often see themselves as countercultural, seeking to reject the individualism and consumerism of modern society.


Anabaptism is a living Christian tradition that emphasizes pacifism, nonviolence, and community-oriented living. Anabaptists reject the state church and believe in the separation of church and state. The tradition emerged in the 16th century as a response to the Protestant Reformation, and has evolved over time. Neo-Anabaptism represents a resurgence of Anabaptist ideas and practices in the modern era. Anabaptism offers a distinctive approach to Christian discipleship, emphasizing the importance of service and living in community.

The Prayer of Saint Patrick

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through a belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today

Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today

Through the strength of the love of cherubim,

In obedience of angels,

In service of archangels,

In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In the prayers of patriarchs,

In preachings of the apostles,

In faiths of confessors,

In innocence of virgins,

In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven;

Light of the sun,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightning,

Swiftness of the wind,

Depth of the sea,

Stability of the earth,

Firmness of the rock.

I arise today

Through God’s strength to pilot me;

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s hosts to save me

From snares of the devil,

From temptations of vices,

From every one who desires me ill,

Afar and anear,

Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,

Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets,

Against black laws of pagandom,

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ shield me today

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,

Christ in the eye that sees me,

Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through a belief in the Threeness,

Through a confession of the Oneness

Of the Creator of creation.

What is Paul’s primary concern in Romans 1?

I get the impression that many preachers consider the primary sin being highlighted in Romans 1 is homosexual sex. However, when I look at the way Paul structures his argument it would seem things are otherwise, that the primary sin being highlighted is actually idolatry. This is why the “therefore” is immediately proceeded by:

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”

Everything else is seen as a consequence of this, as evidence of God’s abandonment. His “giving them over”. That’s the logic of the passage. Which begs the question: why aren’t we focussed more on idolatry, if this is where Paul’s focus was? I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because it would put us in the spotlight more.

Falling short in how we explain how we fall short.

I think we often make the doctrine of sin unnecessarily offensive by failing to make clear that any imagined dualism between “good people” and “bad people” is thoroughly rejected by Jesus and the apostles. Jesus insisted that all have sinned, that all have fallen short, so none of us is in position to stand on a moral pedestal, least of all us, his followers, who should know better if we’ve been paying attention. And let’s be honest, we’re not always paying attention. We all fall short even in that.