The Christian Studies Blog


"Don’t Judge” and other Ironies

Posted by Dr. Todd Hall on March 21, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Perhaps the greatest irony of our present age is the absolute moralism of a culture which rails against institutionalized morality. “Don’t force your morality on me” is often uttered in complete sincerity and without a hint of irony.

Increasingly in our contemporary world, this commitment to the morality of moral relativism is becoming manifest in the church. And as has always been the case, there’s “no Catholic like a convert.” One can often see in the language of these converts to the new morality of the West all the righteousness of the raging prophets, dealing out the fiery judgment of God against those who would dare to “judge others.” This desire to raise ourselves above others—to present ourselves as righteous crusaders for God’s cause—is not new; in fact it is ancient, maybe the oldest impulse of humanity. But it can be terribly destructive, and it is symptomatic of a deeper problem: the desire for self-justification (usually in comparison to others, maximizing their “faults” while minimizing our own) is the full expression of a lack of trust in the goodness of God.

Read More

Topics: On-Topic Today, Relationships

Man to Man about Lust and Love

Posted by Dr. Woody Woodrow on December 8, 2016 at 9:30 AM

I suspect no text in Holy Scripture has given me more problems or produced more guilt than this one:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better for you that one of your members be lost than your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better for you that one of your members be lost than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:27-30).

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus addresses abuses of misinterpretation. There may have been a free-wheeling view of sexual propriety in His day that needed correction. Jesus may be targeting a loophole legalism that limited “adultery” to the physical act alone. Here He takes men to the heartthe desire and purpose of the heart: To look with lust at a woman, with “lustful intent,” Jesus says, is to violate God’s command against adultery.

I remember in early adolescence how attracted I’d become to the opposite sex. There were girls, all with wondrous features, all over school. Beyond that however, some guys I knew secretly shared images which could not be considered classic sculpture, painting, or art. This photography was produced to be provocative, to arouse desire. Which may be the defining trait of pornography—the deliberate objectification of female flesh for mass male arousal.

Read More

Topics: On-Topic Today, Personal, Relationships

Jesus’ Tough Love

Posted by Dr. Jeff Peterson on September 29, 2015 at 9:30 AM

"Why can’t the church be more like Jesus?” people are occasionally heard to ask; and in principle who could take issue with the question? The church is called to imitate Christ, and Christians in all times and places fall short of the goal. On the other hand, it’s sometimes revealing to note what the questioner assumes Jesus was like. With increasing frequency today we hear the question put, “Why can’t churches be positive and affirming and embracing, as Jesus was, instead of preoccupied with rules and restrictions and requirements? Why can’t the church be more loving, as Jesus was?"

Read More

Topics: On-Topic Today, Teaching Moment, Relationships

What is Love (in the Bible)?

Posted by Dr. Jeff Peterson on August 27, 2015 at 9:00 AM

“Love is a many-splendored thing,” the half-remembered pop song tells us, and romantic love is quite a preoccupation at the movies and in popular culture. So much is this the case that when we hear the word “love,” our thoughts are drawn at once to stories of romantic (mis)adventures and sacrifices made for the sake of two lovers finding their way to one another and (as we anticipate the story ending) living “happily ever after.”

This cultural background noise informing our mental and spiritual lives makes it difficult to hear what the Bible teaches when it speaks of “love.” Citing Old Testament teaching, Jesus commands his followers to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength” (Mark 12:28–30 ESV, quoting Deut. 6:5) and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 ESV, quoting Lev. 19:18). So, if we are to consider ourselves Christians and live the life of disciples, must we experience feelings for God and for every person we encounter (that’s what “neighbor” means in the Bible, more or less) as intense and all-consuming as those of Jack and Rose in “Titanic,” or Bella and Edward in “Twilight,” or Gosling and McAdams in “The Notebook”?

Read More

Topics: On-Topic Today, Teaching Moment, Relationships

Christian Studies
Scholarship for the Church

Sign up to receive blog updates. You'll always have the option to choose the frequency by which we contact you. Email for questions. Happy reading!

Subscribe to Email Updates

All Christian Studies blog comments will be moderated before posting. Please keep them respectful and on topic with the article's content.
The opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily shared by other authors or the position of Austin Graduate School of Theology.