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 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

Posted 6/28/14 at 11:45 AM | Kyle Beshears

Evidence of God from Dr. Judge the Leviathan

So, there's this article floating around the internet that claims scientists have discovered the first evidence of God's existence. (No need for you anymore, Romans 1...)

The article has been shared almost a quarter-million times on Facebook, where I first came across it. The title was intriguing, so I went ahead and clicked on it. But the more I read, the more things seemed fishy to me. By the time I finished I felt like I was as at a fisherman's wharf.

Why? Because this article is obviously not real. It's completely fake.

Let's count the ways in which this article should raise some red flags:

  1. It's from the Wyoming Institute of Technology... which doesn't actually exist. Don't believe me? Go to their website and try to apply or even get a campus tour. Good luck!
  2. It claims that a fictitious institute joined up with the Human Genome Project and Bob Jones University, but neither of these real institutions make the same claim.
  3. Its author is Dr. Richter DasMeerungeheuer, which means Judge the Leviathan in German – not a real name.
  4. It cites BJU professor Matthew Boulder as being part of the discovery who is about as real as Dr. Judge the Leviathan.

All this reminds us of one simple lesson – you can't always trust everything you read on the internet, even if you want to. FULL POST

Posted 5/21/14 at 11:17 AM | Kyle Beshears

What's In a Day? Young vs Old Earth Creationism

What’s in a day? That’s the big question when it comes to any interpretation of Genesis 1 that is not a literal, plain reading of the text.

Taken at plainest reading, there is little getting around the fact that the author of Genesis recounts the timeframe in which God created the entire universe. Turns out, that’s a week – six days, with a seventh day of rest.

Then, when we add up the genealogies (assuming they don’t skip generations at any point) we are given about 5,700 – 10,000 years of history from Adam to us. This six-day creation with a young earth are central to the idea of Young Earth Creationism (YEC).

Yet, there are many who argue that a plain reading of Genesis 1 actually does the text a disservice. They say that the earth is much older than 10,000 years because of scientific evidence. These folks typically subscribe to Old Earth Creationism (OEC), along with Intelligent Design (ID) and Theistic Evolution (TE). FULL POST

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