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What about the Rapture?

Last month the movie Left Behind was released. The film is based on a 1995 novel by the same name written by Tim LaHaye. The movie and book are inspired by a theological theory regarding the second coming of Christ - that when Christ returns, he'll first make a secret pit stop on his way and kind of Star Trek beam all of his followers into heaven before all hell breaks lose. It is a widely held view of North American evangelicals.

While I do not tend to take a hard-line approach on things pertaining to eschatology, there are some issues that I have with this particular rapture theory and I think it would be prudent to discuss some of them in perhaps a time when the film has raised some questions. I will simply refer to the pre-tribulation rapture theory (the Church is an away team in trouble and Scottie is God beaming them to safety) as "the rapture theory" for the sake of discussion.  
The rapture theory is a very new theological position. 
Of course just because somethi…

Where Do They Come From?

Every now and then, as I'm surfing through social media, a story, usually accompanied by a video, will pop up over and over. The contents of the videos are often described as "shocking" or "surprising."  "You won't believe what happened next!" they proclaim. The most recent video that comes to mind is a homeless man, Ryan Arcand, who has been homeless in Edmonton for the past 30 years. You can see the video and read the background here: http://globalnews.ca/news/1645325/watch-video-of-homeless-piano-man-in-edmonton-goes-viral/

Now, before I go further, I want to make something very clear - Mr. Arcand is talented, his song beautiful, and the recognition is warranted. This blog is in no way intended to call into question any of those things.

When I see the surprised reactions I find myself wondering, "Where do people think that they come from?" You see, everybody has a story. Every person that is homeless has a story. Part of the problem i…

Sex: Our New Religion?

Consent and Liberty. That's it. That's the only thing governing the masses of culture regarding sexual expression. The battle was won quickly. A small single weapon shaped like a pill single handily loosed the shackles of temperance and chastity. We are all the illegitimate children of parents who failed to safeguard the ethos of our being. Lust is just another thing to be consumed. We love consuming, it's in our nature. We consume the world and we consume each other, one orgasm away from attaining some definition of meaning that isn't there. We are a generation out of control.

I am not a saint. I live in the cognitive dissonance of the morality of my Creator. I battle the dark regions of the mind, winning and losing, hoping one day to be made whole.
Religion is always enduring. People have attempted to squash it out, but it always has a way of resurfacing. The religious way of thinking, talking and acting will always influence us. To be irreligious is a contradiction …

If "Everything" Changes, We Lose

It's taken me a few days to try and process what happened this week.

Our soldiers are suppose to lay down their lives for our citizens, not die at the hands of them.

It doesn't make sense, and I don't think it is suppose to. Whatever delusional and disturbing sense of identity two people thought they had found, that they would take the lives of two soldiers, isn't suppose to be rational. My heart broke as I read of the mother of the Ottawa shooter, with no explanation for their son's actions, wanting to hate the very child she brought into this world. What happened was a terrible tragedy on so many levels.

I must admit, my sadness quickly turned to concern. Words like "terrorism" began to quickly emerge from certain media outlets and individuals on social media. "Terrorism" is not a new thing in this country (FLQ), but usually (not always) refers to actions conducted by an organization. I am worried that a word is being used for emotional/politi…

What about John 8:1-11?

If you have any familiarity with the Bible, you will undoubtedly know the story about the woman caught in adultery found in John's gospel. According to the story, a group of religious leaders, scribes and Pharisees, bring a woman caught in the act of adultery demanding that Jesus act as judge over her fate. Jesus' famous retort: "let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" is one of the most famous lines in all of scripture, known to most in the Western world.

Without going into many details, there is essentially good reason to believe that the Apostle John did not actually include the story in his original writing - the chief reason being it's absence from early manuscripts. This is not to say that the story isn't historical - clearly Jesus historically was at odds with the religious leaders, and the gospel of Mark, the earliest of the gospels, records several instances in which the Pharisees confront Jesus (Mark 7, 8, 11, 12)…

Team Israel

In a few days or weeks the state of Palestine will more than likely be a wasteland. It's hard to imagine an area suffering any more heartache. I know when I look at pictures, and read about the staggering number of children, some 80%, that live in extreme poverty my heart breaks. I cannot relate to such a life - a life in which two Palestinian children die every week as a result of being forced to live on the bare minimum, a pattern stretching back fourteen years.

As I read the social media musings on the situation, I can't help get the feeling that there are a lot of people on "Team Israel". They say things like, "Israel has a right to protect itself", and paint a portrait where Israel is an innocent victim. They divide people into "good" and "bad", a classic national strategy to shed any culpability of action. A nation or group can't be morally culpable when the people dying are bad guys, or at the very least, the people who happen…

Lessons in Friendship

Over the years I have had the privilege of having some great friends, people who have invested into me, encouraged me, and helped me along the ups and downs of life. Many of my closest friends - my family, have modeled a type of friendship that has had a lasting impression on me. I've tried my best to model the following type of friendship over the years, and like most lessons in life, have learned more from my failure than my success. Here are some things I think will help us all excel in the friendship department.

1. Take an interest in the interests of your friends. 

I can honestly say that I have come to love so many different things in life simply by determining to be interested in the things my friends love. I think sometimes we define friendship as simply a relationship between two like minded people. Certainly it is nice to share interests with people that you care about, but a relationship will be deeply cultivated when you take an interest in what your friend loves. Lets …

Dear Sarah Palin

"If I were in charge, they would know that water boarding is how we baptize terrorists." - Sarah Palin

I am not sure if you aware of this, but you just committed a pretty serious sin. No, you didn't commit adultery, get caught doing drugs, or pocketed public money. This type of sin makes those look pretty petty. Let me try to spell out just exactly was has happened here.

It actually shouldn't be news to you. In fact, there have been people calling you and your lot out on this for as long as I can remember. From within the Church, and from without. People from all walks of life, from all over the world, from every political persuasion. The criticism basically is this: You have turned Jesus into a war lord.

Now, you may deny this. Many on your side have carefully constructed a personal/state dichotomy which looks at the message of the Kingdom and applies it differently in different circumstances. Different standards are expected from different groups of society. A Chri…

Headaches & Tantrums

When I got home from work yesterday, my head was pounding - the kind of headache that pain killers don't touch. This was the moment my daughter unleashed a full on, 20 minute, scream competition winning, angry at the known world, tantrum.

It all started because my daughter had barely been drinking all day. She has been just getting over a cold, and I, because I wanted my daughter to you know, "feel better", offered her a cup of water, even from her favourite Montreal Canadiens cup. She proceeded to show her gratitude by launching herself off the couch, and kicking the cup of water out of my hand with ninja like accuracy. (Dear Leaf fans, you can insert your joke here.)

A few minutes later, after a mutual break from each other, I sat her down to eat dinner. She was hungry. I knew, as a parent, that she was pretty angry because she was hungry and thirsty. She needed food. I am afraid that my condition, which I like to call "Bruce Bannerism", a condition that turn…

John Calvin on Doubt

The whole, then, comes to this: As soon as the minutest particle of faith is instilled into our minds, we begin to behold the face of God placid, serene, and propitious; far off, indeed, but still so distinctly as to assure us that there is no delusion in it. In proportion to the progress we afterwards make, (and the progress ought to be uninterrupted), we obtain a nearer and surer view, the very continuance making it more familiar to us. Thus we see that a mind illumined with the knowledge of God is at first involved in much ignorance, - ignorance, however, which is gradually removed. Still this partial ignorance or obscure discernment does not prevent that clear knowledge of the divine favor which holds the first and principal part in faith. For as one shut up in a prison, where from a narrow opening he receives the rays of the sun indirectly and in a manner divided, though deprived of a full view of the sun, has no doubt of the source from which the light comes, and is benefited by…

What's This All About Part 2

Warning: The following is a brutally honest, religiously charged article about a 30 year old's Christian experience.

I don't get it. I don't remember completely not believing it. I don't remember completely believing it. I've wandered away from it, beat others up with it, ignored it, immersed myself in it, been saved by it, been lost by it. I've learned from it, but it's confused the hell out of me (or into me). It keeps me up at night, it helps me fall asleep. It makes me angry, cry, laugh, cower and wonder. I love it. Part of me hates it. I've watched it bring people together, I've watched it tear people apart.

When the Bible refers to itself as a "two edged sword", I can't think of a better metaphor. I've spent the better part of a decade slowly biting away in the form of a theology degree on the meal that is Holy Scripture. Last year I went back to college full time after a two year hiatus, and I've had more restless night…

Comment on Oilsands

My good friend Andrew Barley is a huge Neil Young fan. He also happens to live in Fort McMurray and work in the energy sector. Here is what he had to say.


Disclaimer: if you're interested in winning friends and influencing people, don't do what I'm about to do.Dear friends on both sides of the oilsands arguments, we all suck. If you aren't going to be objective in how you deal with the topic of environmental stewardship and the mining of oil, you should probably just stop talking about it. Yes, I get it, Neil young hurt your feelings or you applaud the things he's said. The good/bad news is that your emotions don't matter in the discussion. What matters is objective reasoning and sound science. People need to use FACTS not OPINIONS. Supporters of oilsands(I am one, for the record), you need to accept that there are LEGITIMATE concerns that HAVE to be addressed and stop shoving your fingers in your ears and singing lalala when faced with opposition(that response…

Operation Become Citizen Ninja

As some of you know, on a monthly basis I receive emails from a variety of people for people with the first initial of "M" and the last name Burkholder. Sometimes these emails contain pretty personal information, and I almost always try to contact the "mburkholder" and let them know they are using my email address. Sometimes I have a little bit of fun with them, and this was just too good to pass up. Start from the bottom if you want the context of my message.

On Wed, Jan 15, 2014 at 3:25 PM, Matthew Burkholder <mburkholder@gmail.com> wrote:
Please remove me from this conversation, you are using an incorrect email address.
Please also tell Mike, or Meredith, or Merlin, or Mandy or whomever is accidentally using my email address to learn their address and stop using mine. However, if this was your way of letting me in on your secret government "Citizen Ninja" workshop, I would be honoured to train in the ways of ninjutsu. 
I am assuming that the chair…

Sunday Thoughts

One people group that Christians love to use as an exam
ple of how not to live are the Pharisees. Jesus challenged their hypocritical lifestyle, and often went toe to toe with how they lived, eventually creating so much tension that these religious leaders sought his execution. It's easy for Christians to point fingers and play the "Pharisee" card when they feel others Christians have missed the mark of true Christian living.

It surprised me to learn that the Pharisees actually were one of the most beloved and popular groups present in 1st century Jewish life. The Pharisees represented the idea that if the people of God lived a pure and holy life, God would rescue them from their Roman overlords. Consider the Pharisees the heroes of the "blue-collar", working class 1st century Jew - they held out hope that God would reward those who lived a righteous life, and punish those who didn't. To add to the confusion, the Pharisees and Jesus seem to have more in comm…