dear ephesus
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Kyle Beshears

Kyle is a pastor at the People of Mars Hill in Mobile, AL where he lives with his beautiful wife.

Posted 2/23/15 at 1:52 PM | Kyle Beshears

The Son's Delay

End Times is a big topic. Much ink has been spilled and breath expended on the topic of Christ's second coming. Eschatology, as it is called by theologians, provides endless fascination (and sometimes distraction) about the End. Shoot, even Nicolas Cage is cashing in on our obsession with the second coming of Jesus.

We're told this is coming soon, to be ready! "Keep awake," Jesus warns, "for you do not know in what day your Lord is coming (Mt 24:42)."

Okay, check, got it – he's coming very soon. Immanence.

Then, we're thrown a curve ball. Jesus speaks of tarrying, slowness, delay. In Mt 24, he tells a parable about how the Master was delayed in returning. In the next chapter, during the same teaching, he tells another about the delay of the bridegroom.

Immanence and delay. It's the tension that each believer finds themselves living in. On the one hand, scripture pleads for our preparedness. "Be ready, stay awake!" On the other hand, Jesus himself informed us of a delay. "The Master was delayed..." FULL POST

Posted 2/12/15 at 10:22 PM | Kyle Beshears

Scholarship & Ministry

I had the joy of speaking at a local university today on the relationship between scholarship and ministry to future Christian leaders. Here's the gist of my short talk.

What is the relationship between scholarship and ministry?

I think the fact that these two (scholarship and ministry) are separated is indicative of a larger issue – compartmentalization of pastoral skills and responsibilities. We’ve split scholarship and ministry apart, dividing a line between mind and heart, seminary and church, head and hands.

But is that really wise? Is it healthy for the church to make hard distinctions between scholarship and ministry? I don't think so. To me, scholarship is a subset of ministry. Not that it’s less important, but I believe that all Christian scholarship is ministry.

Think about it. Why do theologians write books? Why do Christian leaders blog? Why do pastors research for sermons? They do it with people in mind, to both inform and transform the Church. FULL POST

Posted 1/8/15 at 9:46 AM | Kyle Beshears

What's Up With Images of Muhammad

In the wake of yesterday's horrific massacre of twelve people in France, we may ask ourselves, “Why?”

French officials are still trying to answer that question as well, yet is seems that the most likely motivation for the attack is satirical images of the Muslim prophet Muhammad printed by the French publication Charlie Hebdo.

This, of course, begs another question. “What’s the big deal with Islamic terrorists and cartoons of Muhammad?” After all, if the motive for the Charlie Hebdo attack does turn out to be Muhammad’s depiction, this wouldn’t be the first time. Most notably, Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard received numerous death threats and assassination attempts for his satirical depiction of Muhammad in 2006.

So what gives?

The answer lies in the earliest days of Islam. Muhammad viewed his mission as ridding the world of idolatry. He was born and raised in polytheistic, pre-Muslim Arabia and became disillusioned with the idolatry surrounding him. So, he chose a life preaching strict monotheism to counter the polytheism he so despised.

He also challenged Christianity’s understanding of monotheism, rejecting the Trinity (as he understood it) as tritheism, the belief of three separate gods. He believed Christianity enabled idolatry with its many depictions of saints and Jesus. To Muhammad, Jesus was simply a prophet in the line of many prophets. He was certainly not worthy as an object of worship. Yet, here were Christians worshiping him through crucifixes and paintings. FULL POST

Posted 12/31/14 at 12:56 PM | Kyle Beshears

Snoping Newsweek: Is the Bible Really that Misrepresented?

Newsweek published an article, authored by columnist Kurt Eichenwald, that has attracted a lot of attention recently. With a title like The Bible: So Misunderstood It's a Sin, of course you're going to have some fireworks.

But, man, those fireworks have been bright.

Admittedly, when I first read the article, I found it either intentionally misleading or hopelessly naive, reckless either way. So, you can imagine, there was much I wanted to say by way of commentary, most of it was not exactly kind. What I wanted to do was write a clever and snarky response to match the tone of Eichenwald’s essay.

Then, I remembered Proverb 26:4, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” #jesusjuked

Yet, I still felt like something must be written for friends and family and friends of friends who may happen to read Eichenwald’s article and find themselves lost in this labyrinth of half-truths and (hopefully) genuine ignorance. But so much has already been written on it, like this popular response from Albert Mohler. So, what to do? FULL POST

Posted 11/28/14 at 6:21 PM | Kyle Beshears

McGospel

A group called Lux Dei Design is starting a campaign to raise $1M on Indiegogo for supporting church planting and local missions. Sheltering the homeless? No. After school programs for underprivileged children? Nope. A new church that feeds the poor? Well... kinda.

"The McMass Project" seeks to build a McDonald's in a church in order to start a trend of reversing the decline of service attendance in American churches. In the past three years, according to McMass, the "Church" has lost an estimated 9M people and in 2013 as many as 10K church permanently closed their doors.

What do we do?! McMass has an answer... Build a McDonald's Church. Yes, the solution to American Christianity is American fast-food. Burger them and they will come.

*sigh* I literally can't even... FULL POST

Posted 10/29/14 at 2:26 PM | Kyle Beshears

Mormon Church Addresses Past Polygamy

Recently, the LDS Church published an essay on the Church's polygamous history. The very admission of this is extremely admirable. Up until the past few days, the Church has held to a sort of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy with regard to its polygamous past. However, all that changed last week with the release of the essay.

I was excited to read the essay when I first caught wind of its release. Yet, when I opened it to read, I initially had difficulty getting past the first two lines. Both sentences demonstrated a repeated pattern of the LDS Church presenting a delusive account of Mormon history to the public.

Of course, such an accusation is serious; however, I truly believe it is warranted. The first sentences of an essay set the tone for the entire piece. In this instance, the first two sentences feel intentionally designed to give a misleading impression of both Mormon history and biblical truth. FULL POST

Posted 10/22/14 at 6:11 PM | Kyle Beshears

Secret Magic Mormon Underwear

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) has recently published an article and accompanying video explaining the mystery behind its temple garments. Commonly (and pejoratively) referred to as "secret magic Mormon underwear," the LDS Church has pealed back a layer of secrecy that has long perplexed outsiders and has acted as a lightening rod of ridicule and criticism to Latter-day Saints throughout the history of Mormonism.

The term "secret magic Mormon underwear" is quite a misrepresentation of what Latter-day Saints believe about their temple garments, though they are uniquely Mormon. Temple garments are neither "secret and magic" as notorious Mormon critic Ed Decker describes them in his infamous The God Makers (Harvest House Publishers, 190), nor are the garments underwear in the sense that we think of underwear. FULL POST

Posted 9/19/14 at 10:29 AM | Kyle Beshears

Is God (Literally) Everything?

One of the most pervasive imports of eastern religious and philosophical thought into Christianity is pantheism – the idea that God is not only everywhere, but is literally everything. From the largest star to the smallest molecule, from the device by which you're reading this article to you yourself, everything is God.

Pantheism is a prominent idea in many eastern religions. Hinduism and Taoism, for example, both speak of a God being the mysterious underlying element to all existence. God is not an individual divine being, but itself constitutes all reality.

This idea has become more and more popular over the years and it is becoming more and more identifiable in Christian thought. But are the two compatible? Does Christianity and pantheism jive?

DOES THE BIBLE TEACH PANTHEISM?

At the end of the day, pantheism blurs the line between the Creator and his creation. For Christianity, this quickly becomes a major problem. FULL POST

Posted 9/2/14 at 9:48 AM | Kyle Beshears

Obviously Some Muslims Vandalized Indiana Churches

Yesterday, news broke that three Indiana churches, Saint Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, Lakeview Church of Christ, and East Columbus Christian Church, were vandalized. Parishioners and pastors arrived at their buildings to discover that they had been graffitied.

Typically, such an event wouldn't make it past local news. But in this instance the graffiti was anti-Christian, purportedly done by angry Muslims. Many news outlets picked up the story to make it national news.

It shouldn't comes as a surprise to anyone that these verses were originally written with the goal of inciting violence. FULL POST

Posted 7/17/14 at 11:12 AM | Kyle Beshears

The Book of Abraham: Sacred Translation?

In 1835, a man by the name of Michael H. Chandler would have a chance meeting with the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. Little did Mr Chandler know that the meeting would play a large part in altering the course of Mormon theology forever.

Chandler, the owner of some Egyptian artifacts, was touring the American frontier, showcasing his ancient treasures to curious spectators. The artifacts contained writing that Mr Chandler could not decipher. At some point in time, it was suggested to him that Joseph Smith had the ability to translate the mysterious writing on the Egyptian artifacts. Such an ability was absolutely remarkable in mid-19th century America.

Today, translating ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs seems like a relatively menial task – surely any academic who studies such things could provide a translation. However, in the 1830s such a task would have been considered absolutely remarkable.

Why? Because the key that unlocked the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Rosetta Stone, had only been discovered about 36 years prior, and an English translation of the demotic (Egyptian) text from the Rosetta Stone in the United States was not published until 1858, twenty-three years after Smith’s acquisition of the artifacts from Chandler (and fourteen years after Smith’s death). FULL POST

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