WHAT ABOUT HALLOWEEN?

"Last year some people in my church hosted a Halloween party," writes a gracEmail reader. "When I got there I was very uncomfortable with the decorations, which included pictures of witches, ghosts and demons. I stayed about 30 minutes then made an excuse and left. People tell me this is harmless fun. Am I making too much of this?" * * * The truth is that very devout Christians hold a variety of … [Read more...]

BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT (4)

A gracEmail subscriber asks: "What is your understanding of man as body, soul and spirit?" * * * This subject is one about which many believers have (to them) clear ideas, make absolute distinctions and teach with uncompromising vigor. After 50 years of Bible study, I still find it inhabiting a largely gray area of Scripture teaching. These differences of opinion will surely remain until we all … [Read more...]

BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT (3)

A gracEmail subscriber asks: "What is your understanding of man as body, soul and spirit?" * * * The words most commonly translated as "spirit" in the Scriptures of both Old (Hebrew: ruach) and New (Greek: pneuma) Testament are also the words for "wind" and "breath." When someone dies, the "spirit" (breath, life-force) returns to God who gave it (Psalm 104:29-30; Acts 7:59). There is no … [Read more...]

BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT (2)

A gracEmail subscriber asks: "What is your understanding of man as body, soul and spirit?" * * * The New Testament uses the words "soul" and "spirit" in more nuanced ways but it never contradicts what we have seen already in Genesis. The New Testament generally uses "soul" (Greek: psyche for a "person" or "self." This word speaks of a person as a unified, whole being with emphasis on life or … [Read more...]

BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT (1)

A gracEmail subscriber asks: "What is your understanding of the human being as body, soul and spirit?" * * * The Bible is not crystal clear about this topic although the dogmatism of some teachers might suggest otherwise. For that reason, I like to begin with the scene described in Genesis 2:7, which says: "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the … [Read more...]

THE FACE BEHIND THE GRACEMAIL

Now and then a gracEmail reader asks, "Who are you anyway?" The truth is that I am a broken conduit of God's mercy with a life full of divine surprises. * * * I was born prematurely in July 1944 in a country clinic 20 miles from a small North Alabama town and was not expected to survive the first week. I am a grandson of Alabama sharecroppers on one side of the family and of African missionaries … [Read more...]

A WORD OF INTRODUCTION

From time to time, gracEmail readers ask who I am, where I came from, and where I am situated on the Christian spectrum. For the sake of the curious, please forgive these personal remarks today. * * * For several generations my ancestors on both sides of the family served God in Churches of Christ and I came to know and trust in Jesus Christ within the nurture of that same heritage. Having … [Read more...]

NOT YOUR ORDINARY GRACEMAIL

A gracEmail subscriber writes: "The note at the end of your column encourages readers to help spread this message 'by every means possible.' Does that mean you want me to nail it to doors, put it under automobile windshield wipers and throw copies into the air when the wind is blowing?' * * * Although your question is neither biblical nor spiritual, the philanthropic purpose driving this column … [Read more...]

READER SAYS ‘CANCEL ME’

A Christian Church preacher writes, "You do not believe that baptism is part of the introduction to the Way of life. I'm saying that you're not a Christian until you have been buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in new life. If I'm understanding you correctly, please quit sending me your excellent daily devotionals." * * * No matter how many times and ways I insist that baptism is … [Read more...]

AN ‘AGENDA’ ISSUE (2)

I recently referred in passing to "the gay agenda" without defining what I meant, possibly suggesting (incorrectly) that people of same-sex orientation all are participants in some secret and sinister conspiracy. I have apologized for my carelessness and will now define the expression as I meant it. * * * One cannot read the morning paper or watch the evening news for many days without realizing … [Read more...]