Henry Neufeld

Author's details

Name: Henry Neufeld
Date registered: March 3, 2012
URL: http://henrysthreads.com

Latest posts

  1. Threads from Henry's Web: Disruptive Inerrancy? — August 20, 2014
  2. Threads from Henry's Web: Is Killing Every One of Them Really Our Only Option? — August 20, 2014
  3. Threads from Henry's Web: Why Not to Tithe — August 20, 2014
  4. Threads from Henry's Web: Are Seventh-day Adventists Christians? — August 8, 2014
  5. Threads from Henry's Web: Our Emphasis in Responding to Issues in Society — August 8, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Threads from Henry's Web: Honoring Those Who Do Not Fight — 2 comments
  2. Threads from Henry's Web: Demonstrating Statistical Deception — 1 comment
  3. Threads from Henry's Web: The Scandal of Unprepared Pastors — 1 comment
  4. Threads from Henry's Web: Optimal Equivalence and the HCSB — 1 comment
  5. Threads from Henry's Web: Defining Christian — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Aug 20 2014

Threads from Henry's Web: Disruptive Inerrancy?

Original post at http://henryneufeld.com/threads/2014/08/20/disruptive-inerrancy/


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Scot McKnight wrote a very interesting post on inerrancy today. I have long rejected use of the term biblical inerrancy, yet have watched as people more liberal (another dangerously slippery term) than I am claim to be inerrantists. This article is very helpful in clarifying the terminology somewhat, though much more could be said, and has been!

My take-away line?

Inerrancy is a disruptive child in the theological classroom.

I wrote more extensively on this in my book When People Speak for God and then published From Inspiration to Understanding by Dr. Edward Vick, which is a senior cousin to mine. I would have footnoted Vick quite a bit had his book been written before mine!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/disruptive-inerrancy/

Aug 20 2014

Threads from Henry's Web: Is Killing Every One of Them Really Our Only Option?

Original post at http://henryneufeld.com/threads/2014/08/20/is-killing-every-one-of-them-really-our-only-option/


I saw a Facebook post that claims that in the light of the beheading of U. S. journalist James Foley our only option is to hunt down and kill every one of them as soon as possible.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a pacifist. I believe acts of violence and even war can be justified. On the other hand, I think they rarely are. The question is whether we’ll really get the results we intend.

I’m human. I’d like the people who did this to pay for it. I would have no problem condemning the perpetrators to death in a court of law.

The question is whether another war is actually going to make anything better. Will it make less people die? Will it reduce the number of fanatics in the world? Will it mean that we won’t see another American beheaded in some other place at some other time?

I hope we think about that.

But more importantly, why did the killing of one American make this sort of violence our only option, but the killing of hundreds of Iraqis did not. Is there a difference in the value of these various lives?

I pray that we, as Christians, will try to apply grace to this situation, to look on everyone, even those committing atrocities, as souls for whom Christ died. I hope as a nation that we will consider looking further forward in time and more broadly in space before we act to solve one problem by creating dozens of others.

There may be a military option. The state bears a modern sword. Were I still in the military, I would be prepared to participate, to help wield it. But let’s look at the results of our previous military efforts before we move too quickly and ineffectively.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/is-killing-every-one-of-them-really-our-only-option/

Aug 20 2014

Threads from Henry's Web: Why Not to Tithe

Original post at http://henryneufeld.com/threads/2014/08/20/why-not-to-tithe/


9781938434129The word “tithing” has undergone quite a substantial change in meaning over the course of my life. Growing up as a Seventh-day Adventist, it meant giving precisely 10% of one’s income to the church. This money had a special use in the SDA church, supporting pastors. For my parents, the tithe was just the starting point of their giving. They put aside an additional 10% and gave that to various other activities of the church. They called this offering. They had an additional fund, I believe around another 10%, that they used to help people personally.

When I started attending Methodist churches, I found that the term “tithe” had a somewhat different meaning. I think I ran into this first in a stewardship campaign, in which people were encouraged to begin to “tithe” at 2%. The idea of a “2% tithe” was somewhat puzzling to me, as I knew the Hebrew word was derived from “10″ and was used pretty much exclusively in that sense. (Not 10%, as not every instance of 10th turned out to be precisely 10%, but always related to 10.)

So tithing had the meaning of giving, rather than a specific type of giving, and the number was no longer considered relevant. There was a sort of goal at 10%, but the other amounts were still considered tithing. If one needed to distinguish them, one might say “full tithe” but I rarely heard that.

In my own view, however, there was no obligation for Christians to follow the tithing laws from the Pentateuch, and even SDAs were not doing so. There was a more substantial effort on the part of SDAs to translate, but it nonetheless was not the same thing. It was not that Christians should be less generous. It was just not a law addressed to us. At the time, however, I was afraid to say that I didn’t believe in tithing. Why? I was afraid people would start giving even less, and the giving in Methodist churches (and many others) is rather dismal as it is.

In other words, I didn’t really believe in grace. I didn’t trust grace.

I believe that tithing can be a good starting point or guideline. I don’t believe Christians are called to give less. Rather, we are called to give more. I also don’t believe that we are necessarily called to give all to our local church. But we are called to give it to the kingdom of God, whether in the form of helping our neighbor in trouble, feeding the homeless, carrying out acts of love and mercy, supporting missionaries and all who are working in service to God and others. I believe this should be a response to grace, not a price we pay or a duty we fulfil. All giving, whether to support your local church, your local food pantry, or world missions, should be a joyful response to God’s grace.

Recently I had the opportunity to publish a small book on tithing, titled Tithing after the Cross by David A. Croteau. He says boldly what I failed to say, and backs it up with a large amount of additional research. While he has written larger works, in this book he distils it into a short volume that anyone can read. Don’t worry! He didn’t “dumb it down.” He made a concise version.

This afternoon he’ll be on the Janet Mefferd show with an interview on the topic. Show time is 4:00 PM eastern time. I invite you to listen and then check out his book, Tithing after the Cross, on Energion Direct.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/why-not-to-tithe/

Aug 08 2014

Threads from Henry's Web: Are Seventh-day Adventists Christians?

Original post at http://henryneufeld.com/threads/2014/08/08/are-seventh-day-adventists-christians/


This question, which I’ve written about before, was brought to my attention again both through reading and through some conversations. As an ex-Seventh-day Adventist, I’m often asked whether I believe my former denomination is truly Christian, or whether it is some sort of cult. Ignoring what I consider the hopeless muddle in the usage of the term “cult,” I suppose I could divide this question into two, neither of which I actually like. I’m going to use Methodists throughout as the foil for this discussion, because I am a member of a United Methodist congregation. Note that I prefer to call myself a Christian who is a member of a United Methodist congregation rather than a “Methodist” or “United Methodist.”

The first would be to ask whether the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Christian denomination. I dislike this question, because I think “denomination” is largely an extra-Christian idea. I’m not going to throw out all concepts of denominations simply because they can provide accountability to congregations, something lacking amongst independent churches. Both independent churches and denominational churches have their share of problems, but neither reflects the kind of connections that I believe a Christian congregation or assembly should have. I would like to be held accountable by my brethren in Baptist churches as well as in the United Church of Christ. As for Seventh-day Adventists, I would say the same thing. They suffer from all the problems of being a denomination, but they also are brethren to which I would like to be connected, and in a sense, accountable.

The second option would be to ask if members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are Christian. I think this is worse. It identifies membership in the body of Christ with membership in a particular human organization. However, my answer would be that it is about as likely for a Seventh-day Adventist church member to be a Christian as a United Methodist church member. Probably a bunch of people in each are not.

That leads me to a question I was asked regarding evangelism. If I was discussing Jesus with people, and this led to the idea of getting involved in a local assembly of believers, would I be willing to refer someone to a Seventh-day Adventist congregation? Hmmm! Now the rubber meets the road. Do I really mean it when I call SDAs Christian brethren? The answer here is that I’d do so on the same basis as I would refer someone to a Methodist congregation, with the additional note that I’d be specific about SDA distinctives. In other words, it would depend on the congregation. I know plenty of Methodist churches to which I would not refer a seeker. I know quite I number to which I would. The same issues would be in play. Where I think I might have more questions about an SDA congregation would be in whether the distinctives of the denomination got ahead of the gospel. But that is not a problem that is exclusive to SDAs. Any denomination, in fact, any independent church, is quite susceptible to replacing the gospel with its own distinctives, and even viewing the gospel as synonymous with its traditions.

Now there’s a certain arrogance to this post. Who am I to decide who is a Christian and who is not? Nobody. Absolutely nobody. It’s not my job. What I do have to decide, what I think I have scriptural warrant to decide, is how I will help connect others to the body of Christ, and to do that I must discern. If I believe that I am referring someone to a place where they will be torn apart by judgment rather than led to join fellow overcomers, then I must choose some place else. But God is the only one who knows what’s on the inside, i.e. who is a “true” believer.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/are-seventh-day-adventists-christians/

Aug 08 2014

Threads from Henry's Web: Our Emphasis in Responding to Issues in Society

Original post at http://henryneufeld.com/threads/2014/08/08/our-emphasis-in-responding-to-issues-in-society/


I burden my post with a somewhat long title, but it could be longer. The question is where do I put my focus when I respond to what is going on today. Now many readers are going to make assumptions as to what my beliefs are on the issues I use as examples, but I’m not talking about what our particular position on the issue is, but rather what is our first response.

Dave Black wrote about this on his blog, and with his (blanket) permission, I’ve extracted this to The Jesus Paradigm site supporting his book by the same name, because Dave’s blog doesn’t allow linking to particular posts.

Early on, he says (quoting an e-mail he wrote):

I wonder why we in the church focus so much of our attention on gay marriage when it is so easy to overlook the sins that so easily beset us, such as gluttony and divorce….

My observation is that often in the church when we decide to “call sin by its right name,” we really mean that we will call other people’s sins by their right names. I tell people there are clean sins and dirty sins. (What? Where did I get that in Scripture?) No, it’s not in Scripture, it’s in our practice. “Clean sins” are the ones I commit. “Dirty sins” are the ones you commit. Dave brings up gluttony. I’m overweight. That’s pretty good evidence that I have sinned. But it’s easier for me to go on a crusade about some other problem than to address that one, because as I address the sin of gluttony, I address myself, and that isn’t so comfortable. Now I’ve lost some weight, and I need to lose more, and contrary to all the various diet plans, what I really need to do in order to accomplish that is quit committing that particular sin.

Now I said it’s easier for me to crusade against other sins. That’s true. Easier for me. But it’s not more effective. When people see you committing seven (or more) sins of your own regularly and then going after someone else’s problem, one with which you do not struggle, they are rarely impressed. It’s more effective to say, “Here’s what I need to overcome. Come along with me and let’s be overcomers together.”

These days when we talk about “issues” people automatically assume the issue is same-sex marriage. I’ve had people assume I was saying things about that topic when I absolutely wasn’t thinking about it at all. So let’s use gluttony as an example. What should the church’s primary response be to the sin of gluttony? I think we can all agree that excess weight is not good for our health. It would be good if we maintained more healthy bodies.

Should we make laws? Perhaps we should join the crusade by the former mayor of New York City to reduce the maximum size of soft drink that people can purchase. Perhaps we should change food packaging laws or make regulations about the fat and calorie content of various foods. No, I’m not talking here about the value of such laws. I’m not concerned with whether those moves would be good or bad for the country and for us. I’m asking what should our first response be as Christians.

And that, I would suggest, must always be the gospel. “Just look at the sort of love that God has given us, letting us be called children of God. And we are” (1 John 3:1)! What is it that God will do for His children? What possible reason can we have, as Christians, for offering something else first? It’s so human to go straight for cleaning someone else up, thinking somehow that his sins are dirtier than ours, before we offer the gospel.

But you say that there are so many people in our churches who have these problems. Well, I have a simple answer to that too. Offer them the gospel. No, not a theological lesson (though it is theology at its best), but membership in the family with the invitation to grow right there with it, to grow in a group of people who love you and realize they are also in the process of growing.

I’m not saying not to think of political solutions. I believe in being involved. I’m at the polls for every vote for which I’m eligible. But as Christians, our solution to everything from drug addiction to an attitude of judgment toward others should be the good news about Jesus, not forced on others because we need to fix them, but offered to others so we can grow together.

As Dave concludes:

I believe it’s time to stop seeking God in the misguided and erroneous teachings of do-goodism, whether the source is liberalism or conservatism. Jesus Christ is the only answer to the malaise plaguing our families, our churches, and our society.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/our-emphasis-in-responding-to-issues-in-society/

Aug 02 2014

Threads from Henry's Web: I Think I’d Go Somewhere Else

Original post at http://henryneufeld.com/threads/2014/08/02/i-think-id-go-somewhere-else/


A discount for praying? Actually, yes, I say a blessing over my food. So I have some problems with the “disobeying Jesus” thing. There are occasions when you don’t have to hide in order to pray. That’s not what Jesus was getting at in Matthew 6:1, though making a public show of it, which this restaurant seems to encourage, is definitely what he was talking about.

But the idea of profiting by praying is just so wrong in so many ways …

(HT: Exploring Our Matrix)

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/08/i-think-id-go-somewhere-else/

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