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From Newton’s Pen: I Am What I Am

As quoted in the Christian Spectator in 1821.

 I am not what I ought to be — ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be — I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good! I am not what I hope to be — soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”

All Around the Web – August 21, 2019

AATWTrevin Wax – How The Church Became “Missional”

Public Discourse – How the Rise in Unreligious Americans affects Sex and Marriage: Comparative Evidence from New Survey Data

John Stonestreet – A Failure of Faith Formation

Facts & Trends – One of the Least Wanted Traits of a College Roommate—Being an Evangelical Christian

Chuck Lawless – 7 Questions to Ask about the Length of a Worship Service

TGC – Hell Is More Than a Choice

Christian Post – James MacDonald hints at return to ministry to followers

Independent – Church of England staring at oblivion as just 2% of young Britons say they identify with it

Palm Beach Post – EXCLUSIVE: After sex scandal, Billy Graham’s grandson is starting a church in Palm Beach Gardens

The Hill – F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever (Language warning)

Babylon Bee – Hollywood Wedding Chapel Now Offering Same-Day Divorce Services

Babylon Bee – Alexa Helpfully Interrupts Couple’s Argument To Provide Recordings Of Their Previous Conversations

Babylon Bee – Trump To Buy Greenland, Install Shiplap, Hardwood Floors, Flip For Profit

Babylon Bee – God Demands America Remove ‘In God We Trust’ From Currency

We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf – The Theology Part 4

In the previous post we discussed in greater detail Grendel’s treachery against the Dane. Grendel is an violent outsider – really an outlaw, someone who is outside the law – who hates celebratory worship. Though cursed as a descendant of Cain, we see that Grendel is really a mirror for the treachery of human society as seen throughout the narrative of the human actors.

We turn now to Grendel’s unnamed mother. Following Grendel’s death, caused by the severing of his arm by Beowulf, his mother returns quietly and kills a friend of Hrothgar in the middle of the night. If Grendel represents the violence of the culture he is not welcomed in, his mother represents the spirit of revenge equally prevalent in that culture.

The reader knows nothing of Grendel’s mother until the aftermath of Grendel’s execution. It is then that we are told that Grendel was not the only bloodthirsty monster in the dark. Grendel’s mother, too, is a descendant of Cain (and of Adam we should add) and thus the curse is equally upon her. The spirit that is upon Cain is upon her and her son. She does not flinch at the thought of taking an eye for an eye or, as in this case, a life for a life.

In the book, A Companion to Beowulf, author Ruth Johnston Saver offers the following insight:

The Anglo-Saxons must have felt a keen interest in the story of Cain, his crime, and his banishment. They may have wondered why the feud ended with Cain, because in Germanic tradition the sons or brothers of the dead man would have to carry out revenge. The Bible does not list any son for Abel, but Adam had a third son named Seth. To Germanic minds, Seth would have the duty of continuing the feud. (33)

This is precisely what Grendel’s mother did. Without regard of real justice, she acts out in revenge. The reader is aware that Grendel’s death, though violent, slow, and bloody, was, in the end, just. Grendel was a murderer who had to be stopped. Beowulf carries out the sentence of death upon the demon.

This is what makes Grendel’s mother revenge so despicable. We all agree that the family of a convicted criminal executed cannot, at least under the banner of justice, seek revenge. Yet that is precisely what Grendel’s mother does. Grendel is, in fact, the son of violence for his mother proves she is just as despicable as her lifeless son. Yet her first act of revenge was not enough for her. When Beowulf enters her lair, her lust for revenge when faced with the real killer of her son.

Revenge is a drink that never quenches our thirst.

Again, Grendel’s mother is a mirror to the broader world she hunts in. One author provides the evidence in the following:

Revenge also motivates the many feuds that the poet refers to and is a way of life — and death — for the Germanic tribes. Old enmities die hard and often disrupt attempts at peace, as the poet recognizes. Upon his return to Geatland, Beowulf (2020 ff.) speculates about a feud between Hrothgar’s Scyldings and the Heathobards, a tribe in southern Denmark with whom Hrothgar hopes to make peace through the marriage of his daughter. Beowulf is skeptical, envisioning a renewal of hostilities. In fact, the Heathobards do later burn Heorot in events not covered by the poem but probably familiar to its audience. Another example of revenge overcoming peace occurs in the Finnsburh section (1068-1159).
Beowulf’s final battle is the result of vengeance. A dangerous fire-dragon seeks revenge because a fugitive slave has stolen a valuable cup from the monster’s treasure-hoard. His raids across the countryside include the burning of Beowulf’s home. Beowulf then seeks his own revenge by going after the dragon. (source)

It is at this point the Christian theologian should pause and consider the biblical warning against revenge. “‘Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord, ‘I will repay.’” Remember, also, the history behind the story. The pessimism of Wiglaf at the end of the story was a real one for the people of this culture. But the spirit of revenge would not cease until a new world entered their society. That was the story of Christianity rooted in a Messiah who defeated such violence by succumbing to it.

All Around the Web – August 20, 2019

AATWRussell Moore – When Someone You Admire Abandons the Faith

Denny Burk – How feminism treats heterosexuality as a problem

Joe Carter – Why Every Story and All of Literature Is Christ-Haunted

WORLD – Harris and homeschooling

TGC – Is There Really Anti-Christian Discrimination in America?

John Stonestreet – A Crisis of Purpose and Meaning

Chuck Lawless – 8 Reasons We Preachers and Teachers Might be More Boring than We Think

Thom Rainer – Five Healthy Ways to Run Your Church Like a Business

TGC – John Wants to Be Jane: 3 Ways to Counsel a Gender-Confused Child

Ligonier – Did the Early Church Baptize Children?

Sam Storms – Is God still “mad” at you?

Justin Taylor – A Navy Seal Admiral on the One Thing You Can Do Each Day to Change the World

Babylon Bee – Proud Parents Of 28-Year-Old Millennial Post Annual Back-To-Basement Picture

Babylon Bee – Women Who Don’t Believe Israel Has Right To Exist Not Sure Why They Got Banned From Israel

Babylon Bee – Christian Movie Kinda Like Secular Movie But Without All The Cussing, Quality

Babylon Bee – Christian Artist Renounces Faith Now That Jesus Has Served His Purpose Of Providing Fame, Fortune

Reviews in Brief

Once again, I want to share a number of books that I have not been able to offer a fuller review of. Most of these are shorter works, yet their content is worth a fuller treatment. I just don’t always have the time.

 

What is a Christian?” by Roger Carswell

Introductions to Christianity for new believers are vital resources for pastors and churches. In this volume, Roger Carswell walks the reader through some of the basics of the faith. Yet I would say its an introduction to introductions. It does not walk the reader through Scripture reading, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines, nor do I recall it exploring the church, membership, or worship. Instead, it focuses on Jesus, repentance, God, etc. This is a helpful book, but I will not probably use it for new believers.

 

That Hideous Strength: How the West was Lost” by Melvin Tinker

Cultural Marxism is all the rage now. And that is not a good thing. For those uninitiated, cultural marxism, as the term suggests, is Marxism ideology applied to the broader culture. It is evil and it is destroying the West. In this work, Tinker shows how the Tower of Babel narrative in Genesis 11 as well as an often overlooked fictional work by CS Lewis called That Hideous Strength is prophetic for our time. Tinker offers a helpful introduction to Cultural Marxism yet I struggled keeping up with him. Tinker is smarter than I am (which isn’t hard) and at times left me behind. Regardless, he shows how our current moment was predictable and explores what we ought to do in response.

 

Can We Trust the Gospels?” by Peter Williams

If the Gospels are untrustworthy then the Messiah it proclaims is not to be believed. In this volume, scholar Peter Williams walks the reader through introductory arguments in favor of the Gospels reliability. Many of the arguments are not new. Williams explores manuscripts, non-Christian resources, etc. Yet what makes this work unique is his exploration of names, places, and overlooked terms that demonstrate that the Evangelists were eyewitnesses. He has explored this in more detail elsewhere (see below) but lays out the facts in a more simplified way here. For those who need to be reminded of the trustworthiness of the Gospels, Williams offers a helpful introduction.

 

Runner’s World Complete Book of Beginning Running” by Amby Burfoot

I’ve been running a lot this year. I hope to run a 10k and at least five 5k’s. To begin this journey, I picked up this helpful book at my local library. Published by Runner’s World Magazine, the author offers an easy to understand introduction to running. I found the chapters on diet particularly helpful.

 

 

 

All Around the Web – August 19, 2019

AATWAlbert Mohler – Hxrstory, Cisheteropatriarchy, and the Remaking of America: A New Curriculum Emerges in California

Tim Challies – The Power Over Christian Publishing We’ve Given To Amazon

Denny Burk – Apostasy and Pastoral Preparation for the Conflict Ahead

John Stonestreet – Millennials and the Bible

Facts & Trends – Are Churchgoers Seeking God Throughout The Day?

Thom Rainer – Six Reasons Why the Minimization of Numerical Metrics Is Dangerous – Rainer on Leadership #563

Chuck Lawless – 7 Reasons Why Pastors Must Invest in a Few Young People—and How to Begin

Facts & Trends – 6 Qualities of a Healthy Church That Motivate People to Invite Others

Facts & Trends – 4 Keys to Replanting Rural Churches

Facts & Trends – 10 Ways to Lead Your Church in Orphan Prevention

Gizmodo – Nothing to See Here, Just Someone or Something With a TV for a Head Leaving TVs on Porches at Night

Babylon Bee – Sauron Builds Wall To Prevent One From Simply Walking Into Mordor

Babylon Bee – Report: King George Really Regretted Not Imposing Red Flag Laws On Deranged American Colonists

Babylon Bee – Uh-Oh: The Pastor’s Preaching About Sin And He’s Staring Right At You

Babylon Bee – FDA Investigating Link Between Vaping, Looking Like A Total Cheese Bag

All Around the Web – August 17, 2019

AATWJoe Carter – Why Are Christian Parents Abandoning Their Children?

Facts & Trends – Evidence of Biblical Story Found in Layers of Jerusalem Ash

John Stonestreet – Talents and Tigers

Erik Raymond – I Pray God Turns the Church Upside Down

TGC – Tuition Is Rising and Enrollment Is Holding. So Why Are Christian Colleges Struggling?

Anchored in Christ – 3 Questions D.A. Carson Asks Potential Apostates

Facts & Trends – 3 Reasons to Kill the ‘Lazy Pastor Myth’

Stand to Reason – Why You Should Resist Conspiracy Theories

Chuck Lawless – Thanksgiving in August: Thinking Out Loud about Things I Take for Granted

Thom Rainer – Using Part-time Ministry Leaders in a Revitalization or Replant – Revitalize & Replant #106

TGC – What Unlikely Converts Can Teach Us About Evangelism (and Ourselves)

Independent – Scientists find way to distinguish male sperm from female, which may allow couples to choose IVF boy or girl

Babylon Bee – Scarred, Disfigured Trump Flips Coin To Decide If He’s Gonna Do Something Good Today Or Something Totally Insane

Babylon Bee – America Offers To Trade All Of Its Communists For Democratic Protesters In Hong Kong

Babylon Bee – Six-Year-Old Saying, ‘Why Don’t We Just Give Everything Away For Free?’ Surges To Top Of Democratic Polls

Babylon Bee – Wise Father Suggests Cutting IPad In Half To Settle Kids’ Dispute

All Around the Web – August 16, 2019

AATWAlbert Mohler – There Is No Escape from the Justice of God: Christian Thinking about the Death of Jeffrey Epstein

Trevin Wax – The Church Isn’t Missional?

Tim Challies – Missing Elements in Our Discussions about Apostasy

John Stonstreet – Breaking Up with Purity Culture?

Cogent Christianity – Skillet’s John Cooper on Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders

Facts & Trends – 5 Strategies for Implementing Successful Changes in Ministry

Thom Rainer – Five Lessons We Have Learned from the Revitalizer Profile

Chuck Lawless – 9 Places to Find Church Workers

CNN – Archaeologists find evidence of Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem — as told in the Bible

CNN – From Reagan to Trump: Here’s how stocks performed under each president

Baptist Press – State agency’s transgender ideology and foster families

Babylon Bee – Bill Clinton: Epstein’s Cause Of Death Depends On What Your Definition Of ‘Suicide’ Is

Babylon Bee – Trump Rewards Himself For Great Job This Week With ‘World’s Best President’ Mug From White House Gift Shop

Babylon Bee – Snopes Strikes Deal With Netflix To Provide On-Screen Fact Checks Of Fictional Shows, Movies

Babylon Bee – New Law Requires All Cutting Implements To Be Replaced With Paper Knives

That moment when a congregation thought John Piper was a comedian.

All Around the Web – August 15, 2019

AATWDenny Burk – A Subversive Netflix Documentary Titled “The Family”

John Stonestreet – The Problem with “Do Something!”

TGC – Why Pastors Burn Out (and How to Avoid It)

TGC – Why Church Interns Are More Valuable Than You Think

Thom Rainer – Six Reasons Why “People Are Saying . . .” Is the Most Frustrating Comment for Church Leaders – Rainer on Leadership #562

Chuck Lawless – 7 Things to Do when You’re Mad at a Church Member

Sean McDowell – How Should I Pray for My Future Spouse?

Facts & Trends – 3 Reasons We Need to Have Hard Conversations

TGC – Themelios 44.2

Hustle – The Worst Sales Promotion in History

Babylon Bee – As School Starts Again, Nation’s Parents Chant, ‘Send Them Back!’

Babylon Bee – Lioness Who Killed, Ate Own Cubs Hired As Planned Parenthood Mascot

Babylon Bee – We Would Like To State For The Record That Hillary Clinton Is An Upstanding Citizen And A Fine Human Being

Babylon Bee – Man Visiting Lakewood Church Marks Himself Safe From Hearing The Gospel