The Pilgrim’s Pensieve #25

Lost Direction

My first ever post in this series was more or less my manifesto. Coming from a Pentecostal/Charismatic background I’ve seen the movement’s brilliance but also its shortcomings, which I have personally experienced and been harmed by. I am not willing to throw out the baby with the bath water but the movement does need a reformation. On my part I do not hold any pretensions that I can save Pentecostalism but I do want to recover for myself a biblical vision of a charismatic faith. I’ve made quite a lot of progress pursuing some tough questions even though many still remain. Continue reading “The Pilgrim’s Pensieve #25”

Is Easter pagan in origin?

BIG Questions

It pops up repeatedly on social media this time each year.

A graphic on Facebook proclaims that “Easter was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility.”

A meme on Twitter touts, “The real reason Easter exists: meet the Germanic goddess Eostre, her existence began with the Anglo-Saxon Pagans.”

Attempt to fact-check suchclaims via the internet, and you’ll find as many contradicting “historical facts” as you’ll find fish in the Aquarium where I work. (Even dictionaries and other purveyors of etymology can’t seem to agree on the origins of the word “Easter.”)

So didpagan cults celebrate something called “Easter” prior to Christianity?

Ultimately, the answer to that question really doesn’t matter. Because, regardless of what title we assign to this coming Sunday, the BIGGER question is this: “did the resurrection of Jesus Christ that Christians celebrate on Sunday actually happen?”

“But Matt,” a skeptic may…

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Confessions of an Ex-Dispensationalist or the Rapture Left Behind

It seems it’s becoming a tradition on this platform that during important liturgical seasons in the church calendar I post material that has nothing to do with it. I am not deliberately trying to be contrarian but it always seems to turn out that way. This time around I want to talk about the rapture, something that is usually not discussed during this period but then again it does not have its own designated period. However, I do think Easter is probably the most appropriate time to talk about it. I have never discussed it here before but this time I have been prompted to do so by a recent conversation I had with a friend. Continue reading “Confessions of an Ex-Dispensationalist or the Rapture Left Behind”

Leaving Behind the Rapture

Renowned New Testament scholar and theologian, N.T. Wright once remarked,

Little did Paul know how his colourful metaphors for Jesus’ second coming would be misunderstood two millennia later.

He was talking about the popular misunderstanding of scripture that is the rapture.  Continue reading “Leaving Behind the Rapture”

Human Son of God, Divine Son of Man

Christians, and to a lesser extent the rest of the world, have over the centuries wrestled with the identity of Jesus of Nazareth ever since his first followers encountered him in 1st century Roman Palestine. Probably, the most well-known challenge of the Church has been navigating the intricacies of Trinitarian theology. How is Jesus the same as God yet different from him and how does the Holy Spirit fit into all of this? However, there is a subtler problem which comes from not paying attention to how Jesus understands and identifies himself in the New Testament. Christians consistently mistake what one of his most well-known titles mean with another title’s meaning who’s meaning is very counterintuitive. This is one of those situations you really have to pay attention because this is going to be a deep, long dive into what the scriptures actually say. Continue reading “Human Son of God, Divine Son of Man”

The Grand Drama of the Gospels

On this blog I have often spoken about the importance of treating scripture as literature. Part of that is recognising the macrostructure of scripture at various levels. The gospels all present individual accounts of Jesus but when you compare them to each other, there is an overarching narrative structure they all follow. This macrostructure consists of basically three acts: a beginning, a middle and an end. Specifically, these parts in Jesus’ narrative are his introduction, vocation and the resolution of his mission. There is much to be said in detail about each part but instead I will provide a quick sketch. Continue reading “The Grand Drama of the Gospels”

The Pilgrim’s Pensieve #24

The Blogger and the Preacher

If you are a regular church goer like myself, over the years you have probably listened to hundreds if not thousands of sermons. If we are going to be honest with ourselves not all sermons are created equal. Some months back I wrote a piece about sermons which was inspired by something I learnt about C.S. Lewis which was at first a little disconcerting. He and his brother Warren enjoyed listening to sermons… and grading them. Continue reading “The Pilgrim’s Pensieve #24”