When contemplating the life and teachings of Jesus, there is no way to ignore the many miracles he performed – even if his death and resurrection are put aside. Each Sunday the Communion/Sacrament commemorates the glorious miracle of the Atonement in our faith. Perhaps because Jesus is already seen as the Savior not as much attention is paid to the miracles during his ministry. Yet, the gospel writers all included several illustrations of his power over Satan, Nature, and even Death long before his glorious act of salvation for the human race. They were included because the miracles demonstrated more than simple awe inspiring spiritual strength. Each of them pointed to his identity and mission.
Before the meaning of the miracles can be discussed, it is important to note that Jesus was perhaps best known as a miracle worker almost as much as a teacher. In fact, his first notable introduction as something special came during a family wedding party where he turned water into wine. His critics pointedly questioned when and to whom he did his miracles, without denying he did them. John, independent of the other Gospels, even implied that it was the miracle of raising Lazarus that angered the Jewish leadership enough to plot against his life. A contested reference to Jesus by Josephus includes the fact of his miracles even in a stripped down “non-Christianized” version:
Note: There be spoilers here. Ye have been warned.
In the Marvel comic world a few decades ago, a Civil War broke out among the superheroes. For the sake of national security, SHIELD (under Tony Stark) has decided that all superheroes should release their true identities, along with other key initiatives that increase security and safety at the cost of individual liberties. Captain America (Steve Rogers) leads the fight against this, soon turning into a Civil War between superheroes. When an innocent bystander dies in front of Capt America, he realizes that he cannot continue a battle that would ostensibly kill millions of innocents. So, he surrenders, only to be murdered while in handcuffs. Behind all of this shenanigans is Captain America’s old nemesis from WW2, the Red Skull and his secret organization, Hydra. They get their name from the mythological Greek monster, where if you cut off its head, two more will grow in its place. Continue reading
About three years ago I made a pledge to hand out 12 Books of Mormon a year. I have more than met that goal. I would estimate I have handed out more than 45 Books of Mormon over the last three years.
Now to be fair to readers, I should point out that I travel all over the world and bring Books of Mormon with me. Only about a dozen or so of the books I have handed out (four a year) are to people near where I live. The vast majority have been to acquaintances in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Panama, the UK and Hong Kong whom I have met over the years. A lot of them have been taxi drivers.
Random thought number one: the plural is Books of Mormon, not Book of Mormons. (If you have seen “The Best Two Years,” there is a funny scene regarding this that I tried to link, but I could not find it on Youtube).
Random thought number two: if you want to hand out Books of Mormon, you must bring them with you when you go someplace. Stop reading this right now and go put a Book of Mormon in your car or your briefcase or your purse or your backpack. If you do not have a Book of Mormon, you can either get one from the missionaries or order them on-line here. I cannot emphasize this enough: go put a Book of Mormon someplace so you can hand it out.
Random thought number three: I have encountered a LOT more atheists lately than I remember from a decade ago. Has anybody else noticed this trend? My experiences do not count as a scientific survey, but the average person seems to have migrated from “I am spiritual and believe in the value of religion but don’t go to Church” or “I am Catholic” to “I don’t believe in a God that would allow people to suffer on the Earth.” I am amazed at how many people openly claim to be atheist. Is this a sign of the times?
Back on October 29, 2011, I wrote a post attempting to summarize the “Theological Liberal” narrative “as it saw itself” and therefore tried to write about it in a wholly positive way as best I could.
But that post really only touched on the points of Liberal Theology that are considered the most positive aspects and are typically trotted out for public consumption.
As I did this post on John Dehlin, the thought occurred to me that my understanding of Liberal Theology came substantially from my time at Mormon Matters. The three biggest influences were Clay Whipkey and John Hamer – the two “open” theological liberals that didn’t mind talking about their beliefs – and John Dehlin himself, who is not as open, but not exactly closed either. John, in particular, pointed me to Karen Armstrong’s book, which taught me quite a bit. (See also my comprehensive response to her book.) Continue reading