What Makes Jesus Angry?

Since Jesus was human “in every way that we are, except without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), it is not surprising that He showed anger. His anger never ran wild, however, and anger danger was never an issue with Him.

But Jesus often got angry at His disciples, especially Peter. He got angry with the Pharisees. Jesus got angry with the priests and publicans of the temple. It is very revealing what ticked Jesus off. Of course, we are encoded beings, and human nature is not the same in all ages. If Jesus exhibited the seven basic facial expressions that correspond to seven basic emotions recognized by people from all cultures, the emotion ascribed to that face would depend on the broader context in which it occurred. What sparks anger in particular can differ radically from one age to another.

The Range of Jesus’ Ire is Impressive

The range of Jesus’ ire is impressive. For example, within a very short period of time in Jesus’ life, three things made Him see red, and each one reveals something important about the essence of the Gospel. In this post, we’ll just look at one of them . . . along with His greatest irritant.[Continue Reading…]

Interview — Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola

Last year, Mike Morrell interviewed Leonard Sweet and me on our book Jesus: A Theography. Here is the complete interview.

Mike Morrell: “Theography?” What’s a theography?   

Len: “Theography” literally means “the story of a god.” Even though I’m not averse to coining words (some would call that an understatement), we did not make up the word “theography.” It’s an actual genre of literature which has a long history. Rather than write a “biography of God” (Jack Miles) or a “history of God” (Karen Armstrong), we decided to lay our cards on the table and write the story of someone we believe is, as the Nicene Creed puts it, “God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made.”

Frank: A theography is a theological biography. The book, therefore, tells the story of Jesus, beginning from eternity (John 1:1), all the way through the Old Testament (where Christ is foreshadowed, prefigured, and prophesied about), all the way through the New Testament and ending in Revelation. It seeks to marry theology with biography, bringing together Christology with historical Jesus studies.[Continue Reading…]

Five Principles of Interpreting the Bible

The following principles come from T. Austin-Sparks.

1. The Eternity Of God

The first principle of the interpretation of the Bible is the eternity of God. We must always remember that all time is present time with God. There is no past and future with God: all that is past and future with us has been present with God always. At any moment in what is time to us, eternity is present with God.

The architect always has the completed plan before him. If he is the designer of a ship, he has a model made of that ship before anything is done. He sees in the model the completed object, that is, exactly how the thing will appear when it is finished. If it is a great building, or even a city, it is the same. The architect draws what we call a scale model, and he sees in that model exactly how the building, or the city, will be when it is finished. The builder works day by day according to that completed plan. Those who only see the parts cannot understand, and must not take the parts as being the whole. Sometimes when you look at the parts of a building, you cannot for the life of you understand what it is going to be. It is only as the completed thing is seen that you can understand the parts.[Continue Reading…]

Envy & Jealousy on Facebook – What New Research Has Revealed

Several new studies have revealed that Facebook makes countless people feel bad about themselves, leading to anger and hate against other people. Why? Because of envy and jealousy.

Shine recently published the findings of the research. And it’s not pretty. Here’s an excerpt:

“More than a third of the respondents reported feeling negative, but it had nothing to do with Facebook’s ever-changing privacy policies and advertisements—most of those bad vibes were rooted in jealousy . . . We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook, with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry . . . The fact that we spend so much time on Facebook means that our petty retaliations take place there as well. Users who felt jealous of their friends’ status updates, photos, and life events often dealt with it by exaggerating their own accomplishments, posting unrealistically pretty profile shots, and sharing over-the-top status updates. That, in turn led other Facebook friends to feel jealous and inadequate—something the researchers dubbed an ‘envy spiral.’ All of that virtual envy creates a real-life problem: Users end up feeling dissatisfied with their own lives. “

Many people who aren’t happy with themselves will read of the successes of other people on social media sites and blogs. Instead of “rejoicing with those who rejoice,” they will instead become envious. This will often lead them to embellish their own accomplishments, successes, and life-achievements, lifting themselves up while tearing others down. Often people they don’t know personally. This kind of envy and jealousy is often the root behind personal attacks, slander, and character assassination which are designed to hurt the reputation of others. The motive of which is jealousy.

Christians are not immune to this problem. And it has been with us since the first century. James wrote,[Continue Reading…]

A Reminder from Paul of Tarsus

“Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part . . . Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.”

~ Paul in I Thessalonians 5:13-15 (The Message)[Continue Reading…]

9 Lies the Media Likes to Tell About Evangelical Christians

I realize that “the media” is not a monolith. So I’m using the word generally here. However, over the last year, I’ve seen the following narrative played out in scores of interviews, commentaries, and pundit discussions across the TV news networks, magazines, and the Internet.

So while there are certainly exceptions, I’ve identified nine common lies perpetuated by people in the media. Granted, there are enough vocal evangelicals to bolster each of these stereotypes, so the media isn’t completely responsible. But nuance is necessary here. Thus this post.

Lie 1. Evangelical Christians are intolerant. “Intolerance” is the new clay word that is used to strong-arm an entire group of people who dissent from the conventional wisdom. Thus if a person believes that Jesus is the only way to receive eternal life (as most evangelicals do), they are deemed “intolerant” because the conventional wisdom is to believe that eternal life doesn’t exist. Or if it does, Jesus is but one way among many ways to obtain it. In short, “intolerance” has been redefined by many in our time to put pressure on those who dissent from the status quo. Granted, some evangelicals are (unfortunately) intolerant of anyone’s beliefs but their own. But many are not.[Continue Reading…]

Interview with Christian Blogger Extraordinaire Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones blogs at TallSkinnyKiwi. He is one of the pioneers of Christian blogging. For those of you who may not be familiar with Andrew, you may recall his name from his endorsement of Pagan Christianity. I caught up with Andrew for a full-on interview about blogging in the Christian world. His insights are fascinating.

Frank Viola: Andrew, you are one of the pioneers of the Christian blogosphere. Tell us the story of how you first learned about blogging and what motivated you to begin your blog.

Andrew Jones: Around the end of 1997 I started “Andrew’s Tea Salon” on a free Geocities webpage. I used it as an online journal and for each entry, I added the date above it. It was just a way to record my thoughts, link them to a place and time, and make them public. The word “blogging” was not yet used and most web sites were static vanity sites rather than dynamic interactive journals.

A few years later, Blogger.com came out and I saw an automated way of date-stamping my thoughts, as well as sorting them into monthly sections, and I was hooked. That was the birth of Tallskinnykiwi in 2001. Amazingly, it made number 3 in the world in 2003 according to Blogger Forum, even beating the political blogs. It’s not as popular today and I don’t have the time I used to have to blog, especially with all my travels and non-wifi zones that I spend time in. But I still enjoy blogging and sometimes get to teach it at conferences and universities. [Continue Reading…]