Today, we’re used to reading the worst possible motives into the character of the Pharisee. But Jesus’s original listeners would not have assumed that the Pharisee was the bad guy, not at first. They would have seen this Pharisee as a model citizen—a decent, upstanding religious man who was pious in his practice.
In God’s kingdom, there isn’t “us” and “them.” There’s just us and Jesus, and we have to deal with the mercy he’s shown to all. Notice Mark says the disciples were with Jesus in Levi’s house. I wonder what they thought about Levi when Jesus called him? I wonder what they thought about entering his house with all those tax collectors? Remember, the first disciples of Jesus were fishermen. They worked hard to make a living. Remember, too, that it was beside the sea working in his booth that Jesus called Levi. That must have taken the disciples back to their fishing days when they would come to shore, and a man like Levi—maybe even Levi himself—sat in his booth, taxing the fish they caught. And now here is this man among them—one who, if he himself had not extorted them, his certainly friends had. What would they do with this? What kind of rabbi is this Jesus?
There are lots of odd beings in the Bible, aren’t there? There are the Nephilim of Genesis 6 who some believe were the offspring of fallen angels that bred with human women (though others believe they are nothing more than depraved human beings). There are angels and archangels, giants and demons, and even a talking donkey. But of all the mysterious creatures, none have more captured my imagination than the cherubim.
What the prosperity gospel — sometimes called “name and claim it” or the “health-and-wealth gospel” — relies on is a pragmatic spirituality that correlates circumstantial blessings or curses with human strength, achievement, or even faith. Here are 4 ways ordinary evangelicals like you and me sometimes fall prey to a kind of prosperity gospel in our thinking:
While it’s tempting to ignore it altogether, there are solid reasons why it deserves a rebuttal. The fact that the argument is made by an expert (i.e., a professional philosopher) and published in America’s paper of record gives is an air of undeserved credibility. This might lead some people to question whether our beliefs about God’s attributes really are incoherent. And while some people may intuitively understand that the article is flawed, they may not be able to explain the reasons to themselves or to others.