What About Genocide in the Bible? Is the Bible “Bloody, Brutal, & Barbaric?”

Questions That Matter

Christianity is known for making the claim of being nonviolent. Jesus, after all, allegedly taught his followers to “turn the other cheek,” and to pray for those who seek their harm and undoing. Jesus even went so far as to tell fellow Jews living under Roman rule to “go an extra mile” if a Roman soldier commanded them to carry his armor for one mile. This certainly didn’t help his popularity.

So Jesus was about peace and reconciliation.

But what about the Old Testament? What about the apparent chasm between troubling Old Testament passages and what the New Testament presents? What then are we to make of texts in the same Bible that seem to contradict each-other? What about texts glorying in the gruesome acts of enemies’ infants being dashed against rocks? What are we to make of the Israelite conquests? These and other questions are what William Webb and…

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The Church, Technology, & Pastoring During COVID-19: Introducing Jay Kim

Questions That Matter

I had the great honor of asking Jay Kim a few questions about his latest book Analog Church (foreword by Scot McKnight) which I highly recommend. We talk about the nature and calling of the church, navigating through a hyper-technological and individualistic age, and the Church during COVID-19.

My questions are in bold.

You wrote a book about the value and importance of gathering together and maintaining the personal-ness of Christ in the midst of a such a technologically-driven and impersonal time. What was your initial thought process as the COVID-19 (and its implications for worship services) first began to unfold?

Like most pastors and church leaders, my initial thought process was to stay flexible and do whatever we could to continue serving our community. Honestly, back in early March when shelter-in-place orders were first put in place here in California, we thought it’d be a few weeks. We were…

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Christianity: “The Poor Man’s Religion”

Questions That Matter

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland is now facing flack over an interview gone wrong where he is pressed about his lavish lifestyle.

Much can be said about this interaction, but I want to bring to the surface something he said at the start; refering to global missions, Copeland stated, “It takes a lot of money doing what we do.”

Copeland is known for unashamedly identifying the cross with money and wealth, in essence with power. The New Testament writers seem to take a very different approach, unapologetically tying the gospel to weakness and to shame, mainly the weakness and shame of Roman crucifixion. (One hymn writer calls death by crucifixion “The emblem of suffering and shame.”)


Identifying Christianity with power is not something new and is certainly not something found only within charismatic circles (many point to Constantine for paving the way for a Christianity of glory, devoid of weakness)…

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Is Hell Eternal? John Stackhouse says No (Interview)

Questions That Matter

I had the great honor of asking John Stackhouse (Samuel J. Mikolaski Professor of Religious Studies & Dean of Faculty Development, Crandall University) a few questions regarding hell and its nature, namely, is it eternal? My questions are in bold.

Can you describe in brief your views on hell and what is commonly referred to as conditionalism or annihilationism?

John: Hell is the consequence of human sin. It isn’t something devised by God as a chamber of torture. Hell is what each person experiences to atone for his or her sin. Atonement is the act of making right what we have made wrong, and the global intuition is that suffering is appropriate experience to make up for damaging the universe through evil. The gospel is that Jesus’ suffering can be substituted for our own if we will realign ourselves with God, accepting his great gift of forgiveness, reconciliation, justification…

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The Humanity of Jesus & the Kingdom of God: a Conversation with Cherith Fee Nordling (Part I)

Questions That Matter

I had the great honor of conducting an interview with Dr. Cherith Fee Nordling (of Northern Seminary, Chicago) regarding the kingdom of God and some of its everyday implications. This is part one of a transcript of an hour-long phone conversation (stay tuned for part 2). My questions are in bold.

The kingdom of God is a phrase that gets thrown around so often. Do you feel that it’s used in its proper sense, and in your mind what does Jesus mean by this?

Cherith: How about you give me some examples of conflicting ways that you feel it’s used?

Sure. Some view the kingdom of God more as social justice, whereas some might see it more as soteriology, and a certain dichotomy is created. I’m wondering if this dichotomy exists in the Gospels, or if it’s something that perhaps we impose on the Gospel texts?

Cherith: That’s a great…

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John Mark Comer on “Progressive Theology” (video)

Questions That Matter

It’s becoming increasingly clear that within the American church there is a growing fascination with “progressive theology,” or at least aspects of it. Names like Rachel Held Evans, or more recently Rob Bell, seem to constantly be stirring the waters of evangelicalism; some think this is for the better of the American church, and others think this paves the way for her downfall. (See here for a recent and short post by Scot McKnight: Why Are So Many (Young) Evangelicals Now Progressives?)

Here’s what pastor John Mark Comer (of Bridgetown Church, Portland, Or) has to say about it.

Note: Comer is not exactly known for being a fundamentalist; some actually put him in the same boat as Progressive Christians.

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Jesus Needed A Mother

Questions That Matter

It may be hard for Christians who revere Jesus as divine (as God) to think of God as ever being needy or vulnerable. And yet the Bible is not the Bible if it doesn’t shock us (even those, or especially those steeped in Christian tradition). Jesus’ relationship with his mother certainly has many elements of mystery, but here’s what we do know: Jesus needed his mother.

Why might this shock us? It may have to do with the fact that we view vulnerability as a sign of weakness, and we dare not put God in that same boat. It also may have to do with the lens through which many of us view the Jesus of the Gospels: as a sort of superman Jesus who never tripped as a boy, or who never broke a jar by accident, or who never cried as a child.

The Gospels beg to differ…

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Tortured For Christ (movie review)

Richard Wurmbrand movie “Tortured for Christ” review

Questions That Matter

[by Alex Pascal]


The 2018 film ‘Tortured for Christ’ is based on the true story of Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian minister who was imprisoned and tortured under the Ceausescu regime for many years due to his preaching the gospel.

The film is beautifully shot, well-acted, and both heartbreaking and moving. Supposedly, the film is two hours long. However, according to my calculation, the actual running time is just over an hour. I specifically remember looking at my phone after I realized that the film was winding down and being surprised that I had only been in the theater for about an hour. There is an additional modern worship scene at the end that tacks on a few minutes, but it seemed greatly out of place to me.

Overall, the film felt…unfinished. There are many things that could have been added on to fully flesh out Wurmbrand’s amazing story and…

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