Archives For Jesse Johnson

Syrian refugee camp

Relevant Magazine recently ran a post called “What the Bible says about how to treat refugees.” To help you understand where they are coming from, remember that Relevant seems to exist primarily to tie Christian ethics to whatever cause célèbre has captured the kids these days. The list was frustrating to read not because of what it said, but what it omitted (to spare you the click, the gist is that Christians should open their borders to refugees).

But the actual refugee problem runs deeper than that, and it is yet further evidence of the juvenilization of evangelical thought that actual theologians think the issue of Syrian refugees should be settled by pointing to Levitical law about letting foreigners reap in your grain field.

At risk of sounding pedantic, this is a complex issue with competing interests and ethics. Namely:   Continue Reading…

I recently came across this short article (perhaps it was even a sermon outline?) by W. H. Pike, who pastored Eagle Rock Community Church in Los Angeles in the early 1900’s. It serves as the introduction for “The Summarized Bible,” by Kieth Brooks, which is a Logos resource I recently stumbled across and can’t put down (if you have Logos, look for that work). It is a list of commands the Bible has concerning itself. In other words, it tells you what to do with the Bible:    Continue Reading…

October 22, 2015

The myth of race

by Jesse Johnson

One of the most harmful effects of evolutionary theory is the concept of race. Despite having zero scientific validity to it, the idea that human beings can be categorized into general “races” that are supposedly connected to their biology has wormed its way into our world views. It needs to make a quick exit—stage left.

Thabiti Anwaybwile (pastor of Anacostia River Church in DC) said it this way: “Believing in race is like believing in unicorns, because neither exist.”

Certainly cultures exist. Certainly ethnicities exist. And certainly racism exists (largely fueled by the whole notion of race to begin with).

But unicorns do not, and neither does race.

Here is a definition of race, followed by four reasons you should evict the concept of race from your vocabulary and your worldview:  Continue Reading…

Last week I was doing a Q/A session with AWANA students, and one of them asked this question:

In light of the shooting in Oregon, where the gunman asked students if they were Christian, and if they said ‘yes’ the gunman shot the student in the head, what would happen if a Christian lied? What if it would have been me, and I would have said ‘no’? Would I still go to heaven when I die?

This question is of particular importance because Christianity contains no exception to prohibitions against lying. Islam, for example, has a doctrine called Taqiyya, which allows a Muslim to temporarily deny his faith if his life is in danger—so long as it is not a “heartfelt” objection. Continue Reading…

October 6, 2015

The Simplified Guide

by Jesse Johnson

I recently came across two principles that, when put together, show the spiritual difficulty that we often have in dealing with Christian gray areas. Before I share the principles, let me tell you about where I read them:

David Hazelton is a well-regarded attorney in the DC area. He wrote a book, The Simplified Guide to Paul’s Letters to the Churches, that systematizes all of Paul’s instructions to local churches in his Epistles. What makes this book so fascinating to me is that it reads almost like a legal brief—and I mean that as a compliment. Over the past few years I’ve developed a hobby of reading briefs filed with the US Supreme Court. A good brief asks the right questions, then answers the questions by assimilating the conclusions from many different cases, and then presents the desired conclusion in light of all of the evidence.   Continue Reading…

October 1, 2015

Gaining the Kingdom

by Jesse Johnson

I’m preparing to preach 2 Samuel to my congregation, and I’m breaking it up into two sections. This year I’ll preach from 2 Samuel 1-14, and next year I’ll finish the book (dv). This is my letter to the congregation introducing 2 Samuel 1-14:

Gaining kingdomDavid’s life was truly one of hardship. For forty years he ran for his life by running from Saul. Now with Saul dead, the kingdom is his and he gladly received it. Although he fled from Israel’s king, he never fled from being the king of Israel. But securing the crown did not secure his safety. In fact, the trials he experienced as king (2 Samuel) far-and-away exceeded all of those he had while hiding in caves (1 Samuel).

It was foreboding that the news of Saul’s death came to David from the lips of a liar. He ascended the throne based on a lie, and things went down hill from there. His generals lied to him, his sons lied to him, and by the end of 2 Samuel even the Devil had lied to him.

Becoming the king did not give David the rest that God promised those in his kingdom (cf. Psalm 95:11).  Continue Reading…

September 17, 2015

Review: Captive

by Jesse Johnson

It was a jail break 10 years ago that helped make Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life one of the best selling books of all time.

In Atlanta on March 11, 2005, an inmate awaiting trial for rape found himself in an isolated hallway with a lone female deputy. What followed became a nationally televised man-hunt that you likely remember.

The inmate, Brian Nichols, punched the deputy in the face so hard he put her in a coma, stole her gun and radio, entered court, murdered the judge and a court reporter, and then killed another deputy while fleeing the building.   Continue Reading…

September 10, 2015

Review: War Room

by Jesse Johnson

Christian movies can’t win. If they are overt about the gospel—such as Courageous or Fireproof—then they are criticized that they are too in-your-face. If they are more subtle—Chronicles of Narnia, for example—then they are criticized for not being Christian enough, whatever that is supposed to mean.

There are two new Christian movies that fill opposite ends of this dichotomy: War Room (in theaters now) and Captive (releasing next week). I saw them both back-to-back and was struck at how they each intentionally aim for different ends of that dichotomy. I’ll review War Room today, and Captive next week.   Continue Reading…

Gavin NewsomFlashback: the year is 2004, and same sex marriage is illegal in California (by a law approved by voters in 2000 and affirmed by the State Legislature—this was the “everything but marriage” approach to the SSM issue, allowing same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples, just without the word “marriage”). San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom, ordered the county clerk to illegally start issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. The California Supreme Court stepped in, ordering the process stopped. Eventually the Federal Courts intervened and (a homosexual judge) ordered the process started again, under the ridiculous legal reasoning that since that county clerk had allowed licenses to begin with, there was no rational reason to stop the process.


Present Day: Unlike California, Rowan County, Kentucky elects their county clerks. Before running for clerk herself, Kim Davis (a democrat) had worked in the clerk’s office for twenty-six years. In fact, her mother was clerk before her, and she had been the clerk for 40 years. Continue Reading…

God wanted him to be a Lobo.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the NFL theological conundrum: if prayer works, and two opposing teams pray for victory, who will win?

Here is a variation of the question: In a game against the Steelers, Green Bay Packer’s receiver Jordy Nelson tore his ACL. After the game he made headlines when he told a reporter that in a regular season game he would have just rubbed dirt on it, but since it was pre-season he left the game, and now is likely out for much of the season.

Enter the theological dilemma: Green Bay’s division rivals, the Detroit Lions, have a safety who unsafely commented on Nelson’s injury. Glover Quin said that in any injury God is at work, and that all things that happen, happen for a reason.   Continue Reading…