Archives For Clint Archer

I have very fond memories of my grandmother, but she had one strange taste: an inordinate love of taxidermy. Her house was infested with a menagerie of stuffed animals. From the menacing buffalo head that greeted me at the door, to the glassy-eyed kudu bull who guarded the staircase, to the yellow-billed kite keeping watch over me while I played with trains. It was a pretty freaky and intimidating place to spend a weekend, and goes a long way to explain my latent agoraphobia that favors hotels over the outdoors.

But the most terrifying trophies were the leopard and lion skin rugs. My dear grandma made no effort to allay my fears that these creatures were able to maul me if I got too close.

Thankfully, none of this scarred my psyche; I still wanted to own a dog. My first puppy was a pavement special, a mutt of note. Ugly, scrawny, and dumb as dumbbell, but I’d still choose that mongrel any day of the week over a stuffed leopard, lion, or anything.

Everyone understands that a living poodle is better than a dead lion. (Of course a dead poodle is not a bad idea either). King Solomon offers us this eccentric serving of sideways wisdom in Ecclesiastes 9: 4But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.

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Southern Africa’s theological landscape is immersed in the heritage of the Reformers. A tide of persecution in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries washed legions of harassed French Huguenots and Dutch Calvinists up on the shores of the Cape of Good Hope. Their theology was understandably soaked with covenantalism and its most distinctive mark—infant under water

Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists are all well established denominations in South Africa. The practical implication for a Baptist pastor like myself is that almost everyone who wants to join our church—old and new believers alike—inquires about why we don’t recognize their infant baptism.

I’d like to piggy-back on Jordan’s excellent post from last week, and offer a primer to help frame the discussion you may have with someone who wants all this explained to them.

This eon-old debate is very nuanced and complicated, and unlikely to be settled by one discussion unless the person is already predisposed to change their view. But this is a primer for the discussion. The following five points are not an exhaustive treatise, but may help keep your head above water in the discussion.

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han soloWhat body do we occupy between the time our lifeless bodies decompose into worm-fodder and when they are resurrected in glory?

The short answer is that we don’t know. The Bible doesn’t say. Biblically speaking, it’s a secret. But it’s no secret that the absence of knowledge can’t deter bloggers from opining for 800 words.

So, let’s start with what the Bible does say:

  1. Disembodied spirits seem to require a material, animated host, i.e. a person or animal (remember the pigs) in which to operate in the material world. In Scripture we see spirit beings such as angels and demons disengaged from the material dimension until they manifest in a bodily form.
  • Matt 12:43 When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.
  • 2 Kings 6:17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
  1. Bodies are mortal but spirits are immortal. A human being’s spirit separates from his/her mortal body when that body stops functioning—dies—and translocates to where Jesus is, a realm called Paradise (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor 12:3).

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This year, as with every other one, Halloween came and went. And again, the unholy holiday did nothing more and nothing less for the cause of Christ than any other day of the year.

Some Christians may have revelled in their liberty to let their kids dress up as Anna, Elsa, and Olaf. (Incidentally, except for the snow man the other characters in Frozen would, like their creator Hans Christian Andersen, have been Lutheran; apropos costumes for Reformation month!). They may even have carved toothy grins into a pumpkin or two.Jesus pumpkin

Other Christians may have railed against the nefarious worldliness and ghoulishness inherent in the Catholic-turned-pagan carousing. Some probably contributed to the collective national insulin spike by dolling out assorted nutrition-free candies, while others likely distributed gospel tracts and toothbrushes to the dismay of their crestfallen trick-or-treaters.

So what? (Or in the ESV “What then?”)

It seems that every year this perennial discussion of liberty’s limits pops up like a whack-a-mole, only to reoccur eight weeks later with the flavor of controversy  having something to do with Christmas trees and mistletoe. I’ve contributed to this in the past and probably will again in December. But my 2c will be the same every time because the holly wreath withers, the polyester costume fades, but the word of the Lord stands forever. And Scripture is not silent on these issues.

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snoozeI relish a heavenly nap as much as the next guy, but not at the expense of actually getting to Heaven. There persists in some evangelical circles a pertinacious little misunderstanding known as “soul sleep” or, to the more erudite, “psychopannychism.”

It’s the view that when you die your spirit goes into an unconscious, uncomprehending state until the final resurrection.

The reasoning is that since every human being is a body-soul composite (or for our pedantic tripartite readers: body-soul-mind), when your body dies your soul cannot function until it is reunited with your resurrected corpus.

This argument isn’t merely a logical one, but putatively a biblical one. Proponents point out that the writers of Scripture routinely referred to the dearly departed as those who had “fallen asleep.”

For example,

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It used to be easy for Christians to formulate an opinion about tattoos. Sailors had them. And some prisoners. Other than corpsmen and convicts the only ink you saw in church was on the page.

This is not a pointed tirade against tattoos, nor a defense of them; it’s a jab at bad hermeneutics. I have found that some like to decorate their arguments with Bible verses that have no place in the debate.

These are the three usual suspects…

1. Thou shalt not tattoo thyself.

Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.”

This one is the biggie. It is literally the only verse in the Bible to actually employ the word ‘tattoo.’ So if you can’t get this one to play for your team, you don’t have a team.

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legal alien greencard“I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien, I’m an Englishman in New York.” That oddball 80’s hit single by Sting could have been the soundtrack to my experience as I arrived at JFK airport in 2000. Coming to America as a South African on a student visa, I was greeted at passport control by a sign indicating the narrow way—US Citizens Only—and the broad way, marked unblushingly, “Aliens.” Yes, the US customs considered me a foreign invader of sorts. But at least I was legal.

To obtain the coveted status of legal alien to the promised land of the free and home of the brave, I had to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops of fire designed to intimidate anyone not dead set on obeying American law.

The process included comprehensive background checks, police clearance certificates, fingerprinting, interviews, proof of insurance, surety of a $17,000 deposit, and a hefty admin fee charged in USD but paid in my country’s languishing currency. I was eventually awarded a three year “F-1” study permit. I was permitted to work on campus, 20 hours per week. I legally and painstakingly obtained a social security card, bank account, and driver’s license. I never once availed myself of the welfare food stamps I was entitled to (since I was living below the poverty line) because I didn’t want a government hand-out I hadn’t earned.

When I wanted to remain in the country for another three years to complete a second degree, I had to go to the consulate in Canada and re-apply from scratch (and again pay the then heftier fee), despite by then being married to a US citizen.

All that to say I find it difficult to sympathize with people who enter any country illegally.

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cold feetLarry King is getting cold feet about dying. The iconic interviewer has a reputation that is larger than life, but is fixated on his own death.

In the New York Times article titled, “Larry King prepares for final cancellation,” Mark Liebovich reported that King told the journalist he was avoiding death by taking four human growth hormone pills every day, but that in case of death, has arranged to have his whole body put on ice pending the discovery for a cure for whatever killed him.

Cryonics is the process of dropping a human body’s temperature to -200F. The idea is to wait until the remedy for your disease is perfected and then they basically pop you into the microwave, thaw you out, and cure the revenant you…until you contract the next incurable, life threatening woe, whereupon I suppose you would hop back in the freezer and repeat the cycle.

In theory, if you avoided fatal accidents you could conceivably live happily ever after by dint of intermittent jaunts in the freezer. There are only a few problems that still need to be ironed out…

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With all the talk of blood moons and the putative “probability” of the rapture being today (September 28, 2015), I decided to reprise this…

All Bible-believing Christians are expecting the rapture; we all just define that event differently. My earlier post, Secret Disservice: Problems with the term ‘Secret Rapture,’  generated some questions I’d like to address.

1) What is the rapture?

The word ‘rapture’ comes from the Latin rapturo, meaning, “I seize, I snatch, or I carry away” which is the Vulgate’s translation of the Greek word harpadzo, meaning “I catch up, I carry away.” As a half-Greek etymology geek I can’t resist mentioning that English sailors sourced their word “harpoon” from the Greek for the implement used to snatch a large  fish out the water.

Harpadzo” or “Rapturo” is  rendered  “caught up”  in   1 Thess 4:16-17  where Paul says,

16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord, (ESV).”

Also, 1 Cor 15:51-53 refers to the fact that believers will not all die, but will all be changed in the twinkling of an eye.

This is why I could provocatively claim that all Bible believing Christians are expecting a rapture. We all agree that at some point Christians will be snatched up into the clouds to meet Jesus. The vexing question is: “When?!”

Some say, “Any moment now, before God judges the earth for seven years, which precedes the final return of Christ to usher in his 1000 year earthly reign.” (The correct This writer’s view). Continue Reading…

atomicWhen an explosion occurred on April 26, 1986 at the Ukrainian Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the first reaction of Soviet authorities seemed to indicate more concern with avoiding the spread of anxiety than the spread of radiation.

The Minister of Internal Affairs gave a telephonic report of current affairs in the Ukraine to his superior, and only at the end of the conversation casually mentioned an explosion at the plant. When he was asked how the people in the nearby town were doing, he replied “some are celebrating a wedding, others are gardening, and others are fishing in the Pripyat River.” A few hours later, however, the denizens of Pripyat experienced widespread symptoms of radiation poisoning, including uncontrollable coughing fits, vomiting, and headaches.

The aphorism “what someone doesn’t know can’t hurt them” has been debunked so many times and in so many ways that it is stupefying to me that people still use it.

An inescapable characteristic of the sin of believers is that it always affects other people. Since all believers are part of a community—the Body—even the most personal of sins always spawns devastating public fallout.

Eph 4:4-5 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism…

When you settle into unrepentant sin, it affects us all. How?

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