"Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church."

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

1 Corinthians 14-35

* image from The Brick Testament

I remember reading 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 for the first time and not knowing what to think of it as it seemed such an extreme verse in the New Testament. It seems to be clearly stating that females should not talk in church. If they have questions, then wait till they get home to ask their husbands. It even says it is "disgraceful" if a female talks in a church meeting.  

This was a rather confusing and disturbing verse to read when I was reading my Bible through for the first time right after I graduated from college. I knew enough to know that in my limited experiences in churches up to that point, that females certainly did talk in churches. You didn't see as many teaching or preaching, but they didn't just sit there silently like this Bible passage says to do. So I kind of pushed it aside and didn't think about it too much until several years later when I realized I had to look at why this weird sounding verse is in there. How do you make sense of what sounds like an incredibly bizarre and chauvinistic practice? 

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Deuteronomy 7:2 – "and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy."

* Two great book that address this very uncomfortable passage are "God Behaving Badly" by David Lamb and "Is God A Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God" by Paul Copan. 

 

I write for Outreach Magazine and in the new issue the theme is "Becoming Tomorrow's Church". For the feature story, I interviewed several college students at George Fox University in Portland, OR about what they would hope the future church to be like. You can read a large section from the article here

Outreach Magazine cover

 I know that when speaking about the what our hopes and dreams are for the church are that we need to be looking to Scripture first. But Scripture gives us a lot of freedom and dreaming that can be done in imagining what church could be, so it was quite fun listening to these students share.

I have taken a new role as Professor of Missional Leadership at George Fox University (you can read the announcement George Fox University made about that here). This interview was one of many studies I will be doing with students there about various topics on church, theology and culture. George Fox University is a Christian liberal arts university so that means you will have a diverse breadth of students and backgrounds and points of where they are at in their faith journeys which is reflected in the group I met with. 

It was a very refreshing time with them and what was most interesting to me was that when I asked them to describe what their ideal church of the future would be – they didn't respond with what type of music they would want. Or whether the preaching style would be verse-by-verse or topical. They all responded with their dreams of how people would be impacted and changed. Yes, those other things will naturally happen, but there wasn't a sense of consumerism about church being all about them, but about others to experience Jesus. 

I love listening to college students and will be back in Portland in February for some further interviews as well as some meetings at George Fox University about Origins. Origins is a collaborative group of evangelical leaders, theologians, writers and artists who are passionate about mission and seeing future generations understand their vocation as mission, sharing ideas and learning together. Origins is an open community for those sharing this passion. We started Origins 2 years ago and it got off to such a great start that had so many interested and we had a big event in LA and was part of Catalyst West Coast. But we didn't have the time and energy to put into it since all of us were so consumed with our churches and what we already were doing. But the latest is that as part of my role at George Fox University we will be relaunching Origins in February 2012. But we now have staffing, video and media people and am very much looking forward to what will happen. Robin Baker the president of George Fox University shares the same passion and Origins will now be based out of the university, although there are several other universities involved. This is a Kingdom project as Robin has called it, so it is multi-university and multi-seminaries involved.

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NativityI might be overly sensitive to this topic, as I remember being surprised reading the Bible for the first time as a college student and realizing the nativity scene I had learned all my life up to then wasn't accurate to the biblical account with some parts of it. But here's some thoughts that have been stirred from this morning listening to my daughters talk.

This morning I was quite happy hearing our daughters talking to each other as they were drafting up a play portraying the wise men and Jesus they are going to be doing with their friends. The reason I was happy was that they were talking through the real story vs. what Christmas cards have created as the story and basing it from the Bible and discussing the differences. I hadn't talked to them directly about it for their play. They were writing it on their own and began talking about making sure they wrote the play the way the Bible taught it on their own which was why I was happy listening in to their discussion.

We had recently talked as a family about a friend of ours who sets up a nativity scene in their home, but they place the wise men in another part of the room not at the manger. They do that indicating that in the Bible story, you don't see the Magi there on Christmas Day but they would likely have been back in Persia somewhere at the time of the birth of Jesus. So that is likely what Katie and Claire were remembering we talked about when they were drafting up their Christmas story play. But I was glad hearing them discuss the importance of looking into Scripture for what the actual story is vs. Christmas cards and medieval artwork. 

As we know, the Christmas story often shown in most church musicals as well as Christmas cards and nativity scenes is not quite accurate when looking in the BIble itself. Such as: 

1) Jesus was likely born in the Spring or Fall not December:The December 25 date was based on the winter equinox and celebration of that which was happening in the days of the early church. December 25th is the date pagan religions of that time period celebrated the alleged birth of various gods like Mithras etc. So after Christianity began the legal religion of Rome several hundred years after the birth of Jesus, the early church then desginated the 25th to say Jesus was also born on that day to counteract the wide spread celebration of the birthday of other alleged gods that were celebrated that day. See here for more info on the December 25th date and here if you want to know more.

2) There is no indication the star was there on Christmas Eve -  When you read the biblical account, there is no mention of the star appearing in Christmas Eve or shining above the manger. That was added in artwork, not based on the Bible. The star comes later when the Magi (Wise Men) visited Jesus in a "home" when he was anywhere in age up to two years old. In fact, there is some interesting thinking about the whole "no room in the Inn" understanding of the story, may not have been an "Inn" at all, but a home that they went to. And underneath homes at that time, was the place they kept animals. But the typical sort of Christmas Eve barn-like structure we see the Nativity scene in, it wouldn't have been that. See here for more info on that. There are various theories on this, but there is no star mentioned in what happened on Christmas Day on the day of the birth. That came next when the Magi (the Wise Men) visited Jesus at a later time than the day of His birth. 

3) The Wise Men weren't at the manger scene and Jesus was likely up to 2 years old when they visited Him - The wise men went to a "house" the Bible says (Matthew 2:11) when they visited Jesus, not a stable or barn or cave. This could be explained by the time the Wise Men arrived, Joseph and Mary had settled for time in a home somewhere in Bethelehem. Some speculate it was the same home that Jesus wasa born in, but now it was in the main quarters and not in the cellar where the animals were. We don't know for sure. But it was a house that is what we know.

Jesus was likely not a baby at the time of the Magi visit, but could have been up to two years old. It explicitely uses the word "child" in this verse which is translated from the Greek word “paidion”. There is a different Greek word for a “newborn” (brephos) that was used in Luke when describing the infant Jesus. The word paidion can mean infant also, but it does mean “young child” (paidion) which fits the scene of some time having gone by after Jesus' birth. Some scholar believe Jesus could even been up to two years old as we see that as the age Herod went and ordered the killing of children in Bethlehem of those 2 years and younger. From everything I have read in commentaries, most scholars suggest 6 months to 18 months is the age Jesus was when He was visited by the Magi. But again… we don't know for sure. But in all likelihood, he was older and the Magi did not appear like we see in Nativity scenes. 

The Wise Men weren't "Kings" either. That idea of them being actual Kings came from a Christmas carol written in 1863 ("We Three Kings Of Orient Are"). That was written without biblical backing as well as the idea that there were 3 of them. We don't know for sure how many there were, but early tradition even says there were 12 of them. And they likely were not from the Orient but somewhere in Persia, which is what is modern day Iraq. And they were likely astrologers not kings. 

In the play Katie and Claire are writing, the scene of the Wise Men coming has Jesus as a 2 year old in it. So they have selected a friend who is around that age to portray Jesus when the Wise Men visit as they tell the story. 

I have always found it fascinating that even in the church, we keep portraying some of the story based more on Christmas cards, medieval art and Christmas carols written in the 1800's  vs. the biblical account. Now, I know it is just artistic license and the point is celebrating the birth of Jesus and the incarnation which is what we truly celebrate as the focus. So whether the Wise Men were there or not Christmas Day, or if there was no star that was shining above the baby Jesus etc. isn't important as we focus on the incarnation with joy. So I am not overly bothered when I see the wise men at the manger and a star on Christmas Eve as we show in most Christmas graphics and portrayals of the birth of Jesus. The birth of Jesus is something to be amazed at, in wonder at and celebrate whether we know the date or the Wise Men and the star were at the manger as we show in nativity scenes. So in many ways this is a very petty thing to even raise up. 

BUT…. my nagging question is if we aren't noticing (or at least having some discussion to be correcting things as we portray and tell tell the story as we teach it) which has some some significant fact errors in of who was there, the star etc. …. then is there any concern that we set an example for not being good teachers of Scripture? Do we set an example of being poor Bible teachers inaccuratly telling the story? Let me play this out with some examples.

 

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I blogged about why I am going to be posting weird sounding verses from the Bible here. As often as I can on Wednesdays, I will post about an unusual sounding verse and try to offer some explanation of it. In the first one I wrote about the verse from 2 Kings 2:23-25 where Elisha gets made fun of by some youth for being bald. Elisha then calls a curse on them and two bears kill all 42 boys. So there are plenty of very weird passages from the Bible to be looking at. As I said in the first Wednesday-Weird-Bible-Verse entry that I am interested in these strange sounding verses:

  • For one, they are Scripture. And if all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:15-16) then we shouldn't ignore them.
  • Secondly, the internet and Twitter and Facebook are flooded with Christians posting the nice, cheery types of BIble verses already (which I love as it is encouraging to read cheery Bible verses about the truths of Scripture). But I think if we only are reading or focusing on the nice, encouraging cheery verses, then we can subtly only paint one part of the BIble to the exclusion of other parts. Or get only one understanding of God's character and the full Bible narrative and neglecting parts we don't like. It's easy to just focus on the nice, cheery understandable verses (which is needed and wonderful!). But we better not ignore God's Word and also explore the not-so-cheery-verses and not-too-easy-to-understand often weird sounding verses as well. 
  • Thirdly, there are a bunch of web sites and in several of the neo-atheist writings out there who are understandably pointing out the bizarre and troubling sounding Bible passages. I don't blame them for thinking how crazy the Bible allegedly sounds based on singling out these passages. But often what happens is the verses are not studied in their specific cultural context or how they fit in the whole Bible narrative. So as Christians we should be apologists in studying how to respond to when the very strange, often violent, sexist-sounding, bizarre verses are singled out and pointed to. 

So there are multiple reasons for looking at these types of verses and posting most Wednesdays on one. *I'll be interacting with any comments here, but mainly posting further comments on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DanKimball 

The weird verse for this week, is the story of David being asked to get 100 foreskins as a wedding price for a bride, and that is crazy enough sounding. But he didn't just get 100, he went and got 200 of them and killed the men he cut the foreskins off of. I can't comprehend this whatsoever.  

The verse is 1 Samuel 18:27:

"David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage"

In reading this story straight from the Bible, it even states how after David brought the forsekins back to Saul that they counted them to show how many there were. What an incredibly weird image of David standing there counting out 200 foreskins. I have beeen fascinated with the life of David lately having studied through the his story in the Hebrew Bible/First Testament (I try not to say "Old Testament" as that can subtly indicate it isn't valid or important. So I use the term "First Testament" or "Hebrew Bible" instead). But what is fascinating to me is that David was truly a man after God's heart - Acts 13:22. We hear sermons about his life and of his great faith. We do hear sermons about David's sin with Bathsheba and that he murdered her husband. The story does tell how he did grieve and repent afterwards (2 Samuel 11-12) and he wrote one of the most beautiful songs of sorrow and repentence in Psalm 51. But at least in my experience we don't hear in sermons some of the other strange things he did as a man seeking after God's heart in his time period. Killing 200 men to give their foreskins to his future father-in-law, polygamy with over 10 wives at once, having multiple concubines and the violence he participated in is so incredibly over the top as recorded in the Scriptures. 

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In our 14 week Sunday teaching series on core doctrines of the historical Christian church, I taught on the doctrine of the afterlife today. The sermon was about what we the Bible reveals regarding what happens when we die and about heaven and hell. Not very easy subjects to teach on, and it was one of the few times I have actually texted some friends in the morning to please pray for me as I taught. 

As part of the teaching, I once again walked through a biblical narrative storyline and drew it on the white board. Everything we have taught in this series, we are framing within the biblical narrative. I believe a weakness of straight forward systematic theology is the often not teaching how the doctrines historically developed or fit in the grand biblical narrative.  So each week we have sketched out a biblical narrative from eternity past/creation/Fall/Israel etc. to the new heavens and new earth and eternity continuing. This way doctrines don't sit in isolation but fit within the narrative.

The teaching today was on the afterlife so I went into scholars persectves on the soul/spirit and physical body composition of human beings and then taught primarily on heaven, the future resurrection of our bodies that the Scripture reveals and about the new heavens and new earth. In addition to the several systeamtic theology books I am using for study I also had N.T. Wright's "Surprised by Hope" and some others I had read in prep of this as part of the afterlife study. 

As I was teaching on heaven, Celeste Young was to my left and painting colors on a canvas. Basically she painted what colors she felt would represent the joy of heaven. Which is this photo below. After I taught on heaven, Photo[2]I then made the shift to teach on hell. I have taught on hell in our church several times in the past (I have put summaries of previous hell sermons here and here and here) so I focused more of a shorter but blunt look at its reality. There are many unknowns and mysteries about the specifics of hell, but most scholars do believe it is eternal and I emphasized that as my personal belief as well. Although I did share how some like John Stott who are very credible evangelicals believe in annihilation (that people who aren't followers of Jesus will basically cease to exist in the afterlife). I would be a wishful annihilationist but from scholars I trust, the great majority believe in the eternal nature of it. I'd be a wishful universal reconciliationist but I don't believe there is a solid basis for Scriptural support for that view if one holds to a full inspiration of the Bible. So I mentioned some various beliefs out there and I recommended Francis Chan's "Erasing Hell" book for further reading on the topic of hell.

After the heaven teaching, I transition to teaching on hell and as I did Celeste began painting with black paint over the beautiful colors she had put on the canvas which represented heaven. So by the time I was done, the canvas then looked like this below. It was a graphical representation of seeing the beauty of "heaven" being painted over and become darkness and void of light.

PhotoI taught then about Jesus, the cross, atonement and the eternal life offered through faith in Jesus and to wrap it up I then scraped away some of the paint (as cliche as it sounds did it in the shape of a cross) of how Jesus breaks through the darkness and removed the sting of death and how faith in Him gives us the gift of eternal life. I ended the message with an old school walk through a prayer for those wanting to put faith in Jesus and trust in Him.  IMG_6545

After the 3rd worship gathering, we had our 4th theology Open Forum and had Professor Gary Tuck with us from Western Seminary in San Jose. We have been holding these theology forums and they have been quite fun with any question goes or disagreement and sharing of opinions. Gary has been part of 3 of them and tonight's primary focus was heaven and hell for the questions that came up. 

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Over the past two or three years I have paid attention to how often we quote single Bible verses on Facebook pages or we Twitter a single Bible verse. I love Scripture and it is always refreshing seeing inspired Scripture posted on-line. So I am all for quoting verses of Scripture. Jesus quoted passages of Scripture and it is wonderful seeing BIble verses popping up on Twitter and Facebook.

But there a couple of interesting things to think about regarding these single Bible verse posts. One is that we have to be careful when we quote one Bible verse or use a single Bible verse to then apply to something directly in our life. Greg Koukl from Stand To Reason said it well here about how we need to be careful in how we use single Bible verses. So I won't go into that here, but there is another observation I would like to make. 

Happy faceWhen you scan Twitter and Facebook, virtually all the Bible verses that are quoted, are always the positive, encouraging and cheery ones. Again, all Scripture is inspired, so I absolutely love the positive and encouraging cheery verses. May those quoting them continue to do so, as we need cheer and encouragement in this world for sure from God inspired words.

But…. in the Bible there is also hundreds and hundreds of verses that aren't the nice, encouraging and cheery ones. My friend Mike Frost posted on his Facebook a couple weeks ago that he noticed it was all the happy ones always quoted and it got me thinking about this. Who quotes the other ones? And why aren't we quoting them if they are inspired Scripture just like the cheery and happy ones? The Bible is filled with verses that you never see in those daily calendars with a Bible verse each day in it. Or on Christian coffee cups or t-shirts or memory verse cards. There are hundreds of very strange sounding, weird, sex descriptive, bizarre and even violent verses in the Bible. It shouldn't be a surprise as life is filled with weird, bizarre and all kinds of unusual things. The Bible captures life at different time periods in history and I love the honesty of the Bible. That is one of the things when I first was studying the Bible I was impressed with and made me have more confidence in it's inspiration. If it was soley a human document, we probably would have cleaned up all the stories to have nice endings and removed the weird sounding things. But I believe God gave us an accurate record of what was happening and left in the happy, encouraging parts as well as the bizarre, weird and not so happy ending parts. 

Something else about the weird, sometimes violent and difficult to understand passages from the BIble is that they are being noticed. If you are to read some of the neo-atheist writings, you find that these types of Bible verses are the very ones they are pointing out. I have been in multiple conversations with college students who have raised up these very type of Bible verses which generally are not the ones rasied up. But today, there are web sites such as this one which strive to show many of these Bible verses as evidence why Christianity cannot be true. (I have seen a bunch of these web sites and not abandoned faith, so I do believe there are rational, reasonable responses to claims such as this web site and others make). However, many Christians aren't prepared to respond to when these Bible verses are pointed out and I have talked to some who never even realized they were in there. So I will on most Wednesdays point out a Bible verse that is more of an unusual one. Sometimes I will give some explanation of it, sometimes I will just post the verse.  

There are a lot of Christians who post the hundreds of encouraging and cheery verses (which I am thankful they do), so I am going to once a week post the not-so-cheery and often very weird sounding verses in the Bible. My hope is it will raise up an awareness of these types of verses and have us pay attention to them more, so when we are asked about them or read about them in books are blogs that point them out trying to disprove Christianity – we then aren't caught offguard. I think the more difficult, strange verses actually force us to be better students of the Bible. 

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Junia Not Alone cover - Scot McKnightMy New Testament theological friend, guru and the one whom I emulated his haircut – Scot McKnight has written a little e-book on the topic of women in leadership in the church. It is called "Junia Is Not Alone". It is available on Amazon Kindle. And if you don't have a Kindle, you can download a Kindle reader on to you laptop or smartphone or iPad. It is a short little book and only $2.99. 

This is an important topic and something people should not avoid studying. I have served in a church that was complementarian (women are limited in their roles in the church) and have served in a church that is egalitarian (women serve in any role in the church if they are gifted in the area to serve in). I have friends who are complementarians and friends who are egalitarians. I have friends who are in the middle of it or soft complementarian (as one friend called himself). I think there are wonderful churches and leaders who hold differing beliefs on what the Bible says about this. Yet it is a discussion which weirdly isn't talked about enough (in my opinion). 

No matter what your viewpoint is on this issue, this little e-book is worth a read. By the title, you can already know that Scot comes to an egalitarian conclusion. But I'd encourage you if you are egalitarian to look at why you believe what you do. And if you aren't egalitarian, to understand why egalitarians believe what they do. I personally want to be looking at different perspectives of all types of issues to try and understand them. I don't want to ever automatically suppose that my view I first learned in a my first church experience or in a denomination is always the one that has the most biblical backing to it. I have often discovered that some Christians never have looked at other ways evangelical Christians understand some doctrines and only have one opinion as that is all they ever studied in their church. I remember I was initially taught a pre-tribulational rapture was THE way Jesus was going to return. To even look at other beliefs on the return of Jesus (even with evangelical spectrum) was not seen as healthy. But since then I have learned that we need to be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) and searching the Scriptures and studying them with great diligence with prayer. And it is wise to look at other opinions within evangelicalism about what we believe and why. 

We are near the end of a 14 week series on the historical doctrines of the church in our Sunday worship gatherings. We used a systematic theology book by Wayne Grudem as the book we promoted and sold a ton of them to people reading through it as we taught through the series. Wayne is a strong complementarian. But in the book, Wayne expresses a variety of opinions and then his own opinion in the book. So we can learn multiple ways that people may have beliefs on a specific doctrine that differ within evangelicalism. And that is a positive thing as until one day we know the answers, there will be differing opinions on non-core doctrines of faith. But I think it is wise to learn the differing beliefs and understand why people have these differing beliefs. That is why I recommend Scot's little e-book to those who hold differing beliefs on the issue of women in church leadership. As I would recommend reading Wayne Grudem to understand his perspective. 

Anyway, just a quick post to say that Scot's e-book is cheaper than a cup of coffee at most places and worth a read even if you have a different viewpoint or if you have the same as what Scot concludes. Let's all continue to strive to be Christian thinkers in our world today, respecting those of differing opinions, but also knowing why we believe what we do. We need to be thinking Christians and I am thankful for what Scot wrote and highly recommend reading it as it is an issue all Christians should be able to understand the varying persectives on this within the evangelical spectrum. 

 

 

Billy Graham turns 93 years old today. I have been thinking about him because I used a clip of him preaching in 1949 in the worship gatherings at Vintage Faith Church this past Sunday.



 

We are in a 14 week series going through historical doctrines of the Christian faith and this past Sunday was the doctrine of "salvation". In the beginning of the sermon I showed the film clip of Billy Graham and shared how he is passionate about seeing people put faith in Jesus. I also had the spirit of Scot McKnight lingering with me the whole time (The King Jesus Gospel) so I explained how the gospel is not just personal salvation. But I very clearly said upfront that at the end of the sermon I will be walking through a prayer of commitment of putting ones faith in Jesus for those who never have before. I said it was "get saved" Sunday and explained how people have used the word "saved" etc.  I was very clear that as a church we aren't about making decisions but disciples and that is what this series is even about with the deepening of understanding theology and Jesus. All our mid-week community groups are studying through the book of Romans right now too. 

At the end of the message after teaching through the meaning of biblical words such as justification, reconciliation, propitiation and others about salvation –  I explained how at a Billy Graham meeting people all come forward, but we aren't doing that here. I did walk through a prayer and said if you want to let me know you put faith in Jesus today and weren't a Christian before – that I will hang out up front. So it was a joy to have people at each worship gathering come up to let me know. From high school students to older adults. I can't describe the joy of knowing people who weren't followers of Jesus are now entering into a faith trusting relationship with Him. Never believe that people are not open to knowing Jesus and putting faith in Him. Even in more progressive, liberal towns like ours to conservative Bible-belt towns who also need to hear the message. God's Spirit can melt anyone's heart and we just need to be faithful to share the truth of who Jesus is. 

I also in the message shared how I once got to go to see BIlly Graham speak when I was young adult pastor. And we took a bus of young adults to San Francisco to see him and when we got there it was totally full and they closed anyone coming into the actual building but set up video outside. I then joked (but I actually did this) and said I refused to watch Billy on video as this likely would be my only chance to see him – so I abandoned the young adult group in the video area and actually ran right past the grandparent older couple who were the volunteers guarding the entry from people coming into the building (still feel bad about that). So I illegally ran past the grandparent guards and went inside to watch Billy preach in person. When he gave the altar call, I even walked down into the front area where people were praying to trust in Jesus to be there amongst those moments. I don't cry at movies rarely ever, but I  doget emotional and cry every time I see on TV when Billy Graham would give an altar call or know people trust in Jesus. Maybe I cry when I hear Michael Jackson sing the song "Ben" too. But that's another topic. 

I know we have learned a lot about the weaknesses of mass evangelism, or the over emphasis we have put on "saying the prayer to go to heaven" and all that. But I am so thankful to Billy and his example of being passionate for people to know Jesus. Today I head to Monterey to speak at the "Organic Outreach Conference" which focuses on evangelism. And so thrilled to around people the next couple of days whom are rethinking what that means for today.

I just know there is such joy of seeing people put faith in Jesus like this past Sunday. And Happy Birthday Billy Graham and thank you for your life and example and also not embarassing the rest of us being the major Christian public figure that you have been. You have served well and inspired so many of us to never forget the importance of evangelism. 

Yesterday at Vintage Faith Church I taught on election/predestination and I showed this shirt to be the best summary of how to explain the debate.  Calvin-arminian-shirt

Shirt chose me