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Brain Cramps for God



"Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising



Updated: 2018-02-17T00:26:12.702-08:00

 



Romans 8:26-27 --
"Help in our Weakness"

2010-02-28T22:53:42.803-08:00

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:
The text:

(NET) Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, 29 but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. 27 And he30 who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit31 intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.
Notes:

29 tn Or “for we do not know what we ought to pray for.”

30 sn He refers to God here; Paul has not specifically identified him for the sake of rhetorical power (for by leaving the subject slightly ambiguous, he draws his audience into seeing God’s hand in places where he is not explicitly mentioned).

31 tn Grk “he,” or “it”; the referent (the Spirit) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
Sermon Notes:
  • The Spirit prays for believers, interceding for them in their weakness. In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness the Spirit himself intercedes for us.
  • The Spirit prays for us in our weakness, asking for what we do not know to ask for. We do not know what we ought to pray for...but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
  • The Spirit asks for what is God’s will for us.
    • God does not expect us to always know His will.
    • In our weakness and groaning, God understands us perfectly.
    • God works in us and for us in ways we do not know or understand.
    • Our God has done (and will do) everything we need to enable us to bring Him glory — even in our weakness.



Moral Reasoning and Parental Notification Laws

2010-02-07T22:20:54.085-08:00

Each side in the parental notification issue has their "poster children" for why parental notification laws should, or should not, be passed. On the "should" side are the instances where boyfriends and statutory rapists talk and/or coerce their pregnant underage girlfriends into abortions without their parent's knowledge - in one prominantly quoted case leading to the death of the girl from complications of the abortion because the parents did not know that a surgery had been performed.On the "should not" side you are advised to go read "Abortion and parental notification laws" and the two posts (here and here) the author links written by someone who works within the justice system processing judicial exception requests to parental notification laws.However, I really am not interested - at least in this post - about the "poster children" . . .[As a disclaimer, I (as the parent of a 17 year old girl) believe that there is no reason why my daughter should be able to get surgery without adult supervision (her parents or a judge) just because it happens to be an abortion rather than having a mole removed. Indeed, as someone who believes that an unborn child is the type of being whose life it is seriously wrong to end, I am much more comfortable with her getting the mole cells killed without my permission than I am with having an unborn child killed.] What I am interested in is the concepts of moral agency and moral reasoning - not only as regards parental notification in specific but also more generally about human moral decisions in general. This post is triggered by this comment in the linked post above: Don't you think that if your child isn't coming to you, you've already failed and lost the "rights" to make their decisions?And the expression rational "moral" agent; what does that mean? It sounds like a nebulous expression for "I'll decide when you're ready to start agreeing with me on all topics"!Is disagreeing with your personal, religious and political ideas the type of thing that makes someone incapable of their own "moral" agency?Not trying to be a pain, just throwing it out there. I'm not sure how we can legislate that every parent gets exactly the type of relationship with their child that they desire. While the "poster children" examples on both sides are indeed rare exceptions designed to evoke an emotional response, the questions in this comment - despite their inherant hostility and condescenion - are more fundamental to the real questions: the expression rational "moral" agent; what does that mean? It sounds like a nebulous expression for "I'll decide when you're ready to start agreeing with me on all topics"! One of the common defenses of the unfettered right of a woman to choose to have an abortion is that to inhibit that by law, or even by moral pronouncements, is to demean a woman as a moral agent - that somehow it is believed that she is impaired from making these decisions on her own. This is presented as a misogynist impulse designed to control woman and the decisions about their own body: This is a very unforgiving perspective, not to mention a punitive one. As Digby has said over and over again, the laws intended to strike down Roe aren't about ending abortion. They're about regulating women's sexuality, so that Papa always guides the family. After all, he's the only one who can think clearly enough to lay down the law. I think all humans are impaired moral agents - again, all humans are impaired moral agents [different link]. I believe we are moral agents - I think the hyper-determinists on both ends of the spectrum are wrong: we do have real moral choices that we can make that are neither determined by our "synapses firing just so" (the brain vs mind discussion), our culture, and/or our experiences; or by an omnipotent God. We are not robots programmed by nature/nurture or God.That we are all (mostly all at least) moral agents capable of making, and being responsible for, our own decisions does not mean we make the right decisions. This is my favorite list[...]



Romans 8:22-25 --
"Waiting Eagerly in Hope"

2010-01-27T21:34:32.848-08:00

[The index for the series is here.]I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are: Audio fileNote sheetThe text:(NET) Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. 23 Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,25 groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, 26 the redemption of our bodies. 27 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance.28 Notes:25 tn Or “who have the Spirit as firstfruits.” The genitive πνεύματος (pneumatos) can be understood here as possessive (“the firstfruits belonging to the Spirit”) although it is much more likely that this is a genitive of apposition (“the firstfruits, namely, the Spirit”); cf. TEV, NLT.26 tn See the note on “adoption” in v.15.27 tn Grk “body.”28 tn Or “perseverance.” Sermon Notes: In Romans 8, Paul unfolds great assurances for the children of God — even though we “suffer” and “groan.”Being justified by faith in Jesus Christ means: no condemnation because we are “set...free from the law of sin and death” new life “in the Spirit” free from the domination of “flesh” to be led by the Spiritnew inheritance as “sons of God” adopted as children of Godcertainty of coming glory affirmed by perseverance in suffering suffering is confirmation we are “co‐heirs with Christ”!part of a creation that waits “in hope” “the creation”—waits for coming “glory”“the children of God”—wait eagerly for coming “glory”All of creation “groans” in anticipation of future glory.God’s people also “groan inwardly” in anticipation of future glory.We have “the firstfruits of the Spirit” now.Yet we “groan inwardly.”And we “wait eagerly” for what we do not yet fully have: “our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Our salvation in Christ is “now and not yet.”Just as God has given us bodies suitable for this earth, so God will give us new bodies suitable for a new earthGod has given us a salvation with a certain future experience of glory.God’s people should be greatly influenced by “hope.” This is why we “groan inwardly” for something much better.This is why we can be confident and hopeful people!This is why we are able to “wait for it patiently.”Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. 3 Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance, character, and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.For the Christian who believes God, our future changes our present! Our salvation is incomplete—so we “groan inwardly” (8:23)Our salvation is glorious—so we “wait eagerly” (8:23)Our salvation is certain—so we “wait patiently” (8:25)[...]



The Strength of Uniqueness

2010-01-24T15:09:08.269-08:00

There were a couple of diaries at Street Prophets reflecting on some of the political and social aspects of two strategy/war games -- Chess and Go: "Metaphor and The Game of Go . . ."Part 1Part 2Part 1 is really mainly introduction - Part 2 is the one I really caught and involved myself in. My comments in the diary itself were mainly to correct some more or less serious errors (IMO) about chess - a game I both palayed and organized tournaments in a past "life". However, the real point of interest to me was some the underlying philosophical assumptions of the author:I will step aside from the contention that there is some eastern and western philosophical differences when it comes to actual warfare - the experiences of the modern era just do not support that in my opinion. Nor do I wish to fall into some idealistic notions of eastern vs western spirituality. First, they are probably stereotypical; and, second, they idealized western view ignores some of the horrible outgrowths of the differences.However, this point in the chart:is interesting to me on a political, social and theological level. A good disclaimer here is that what I am about to say may have nothing to do with what the other author meant, believed, or desired to convey. It is only about how it struck me, and the place it spun me off to.The first thought is that western enlightenment thought, while glorying in the individual, has led to an economic and political system that attempt to detach humans from the very sources of their uniqueness and create interchangeable "stones" that can replace each other easily when it comes to industry, the state, and the military. Folks are, IMO, deluded in believing that breaking the bonds to family, community, and religion that they give themselves an autonomous existence as free-acting individuals; but they really weaken themselves and become attached to the industry, the state, and the military. They cease to be part of organic structures and become part of modern organization - a modern organization that resembles a machine with human interchangeable parts rather than any naturally occuring structure.You see this "scizophenia" in the problems facing "progressive" politics. On the one hand, they wish to honor diversity of language, culture and belief; and on the other uphold enlightenment concepts that led to the modern capitalist state - or even worse the modern socialist ones. Modern nation states need the strength of homogenity and all of those interchangeable and easily replaceable "stones". Socialism is even more detrimental to diversity - it's whole reason for existence is to create a "new man" and then a new society; and for that to occur anything that divides "the class" from its goals (and leadership) is despicable and must be crushed.The conservative movement, even on an ideal level, has a similiar problem. While recognizing, as Russel Kirk did, that:Affection for the proliferating variety and mystery of human existence, as opposed to the narrowing uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of most radical systems; conservatives resist what Robert Graves calls "Logicalism" in society [see "Civilization without Religion?" for more on Graves]. . . .Conviction that civilized society requires orders and classes, as against the notion of a "classless society." With reason, conservatives have often been called "the party of order." If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum. Ultimate equality in the judgment of God, and equality before courts of law, are recognized by conservatives; but equality of condition, they think, means equality in servitude and boredom.they too are wedded to a concept of nation state and commerce that only works well with masses of interchangeable "stones" for industry and the military.Against both of these comes Christianity as taught in scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27: For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many[...]



Romans 8:19-21 --
"The Renewal of all Things"

2010-01-07T00:01:00.038-08:00

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:
The text:

(NET) Romans 8:19 For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility – not willingly but because of God24 who subjected it – in hope 21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.
Notes:

24 tn Grk “because of the one”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

Sermon Notes: The sermon (and note sheet) began with the "The tantalizing promise of Ephesians 1:9‐10…":
He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ – the things in heaven and the things on earth.
Also, in the following notes it is important to keep in mind Romans 8:16-18, where the definition of "children of God" resides:
The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us.
So now Paul discusses:
  • The longing of the creation. (v 19). The “creation” is made to depend upon (and to follow) what God does with His children.
  • that the creation was “subjected to frustration.” (v 20) Creation shared the penalty of man’s fall.
  • that Creation will be set free—from its slavery to decay. (v 21a)
  • Creation will be “brought into” the freedom of the glory of God’s children. (v 21b)
This all points to:
  • The glorious future of creation is connected to our glorious future as children of God.
  • When we see a suffering creation, we should remember the cause (man’s sin) — and know that God intends to liberate His people — and change all creation.
  • We should view ourselves as part of an entire suffering creation — which longs for “glory”!
  • We should have a biblical view of creation.
  • If we are true children of God, we will one day rule over God’s renewed, renovated, regenerated creation.
  • We can glorify God by working to experience the glory of His design for all things.
  • At this present moment we are being prepared for something “glorious.”
  • We live today—in faith—in a totally victorious God!



Christian Carnival CCCIX (309) is up

2010-01-06T09:33:34.409-08:00

Go read the excellant posts linked at RodneyOlsen.net. Jeremy Pierce's standard blurb about the Carnival:
The Christian Carnival is a weekly collection of some of the best posts of the Christian blogosphere. It's open to Christians of Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic convictions. One of the goals of this carnival is to offer our readers to a broad range of Christian thought. This is a great way to make your writing more well known and perhaps pick up some regular readers. For examples of past carnivals, see the Christian Carnival archive.

To enter is simple . . . [go to that link to find out more]




Blog Tour:
Catch-up Part I

2010-01-05T00:07:46.202-08:00

A style that I seemed to have settled into is that whenever I have a brief hiatus from blogging (or do not have much to say) I tend to start up again with posts that tour blogs I am interested in.I had a mini-hiatus and I filled up my Google Reader with literally hundreds of posts that I had not read through. In a smaller group, I had some "starred items" that I had marked with the intent to perhaps blog on myself.I went through and cleaned out my Reader on Sunday, and thought that I might highlight some posts that I think are interesting - with a strong emphasis on some series and/or topics that I found attractive but have not written on:C. Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen has a series titled “. . . And Other Stupid Statements”: "Belief is No Good Without Practice": Part I, Part II, and Part III Translation in our generation: “Since right belief (doctrine, systematic theology, understanding, etc) does not evidence itself in practical matters immediately and causes people to be arrogant, we should not even worry about belief at all and just get out there and “do” what we know is right. Orthodoxy is bad. Orthopraxy is good . . ."You Ask Me How I Know He Lives . . . He Lives Within My Heart" As started by Luther and developed further by Melancthon and others, the understanding of faith was expressed in three separate yet vitally connected aspects: notitia, assensus, and fiducia Notitia: This is the basic informational foundation of our faith. It is best expressed by the word “content.” Faith, according to the Reformers, must have content or substance. You cannot have faith in nothing. There must be some referential, propositional truth to which the faith points. The proposition “Christ rose from the grave” or “God loves you” for example, provide a necessary information base or notitia that Christians must have.Assensus: This is the assent, confidence, or assurance that we have that the notitia is correct. Here we assent to the information, affirming it to be true. This involves evidence which leads to the conviction of the truthfulness of the proposition. According to the Reformers, to have knowledge of the proposition is not enough. We must, to some degree, be convinced that it is really true. This involves intellectual assent and persuasion based upon some degree of critical thought. While notitia claims “Christ rose from the grave,” assensus takes the next step and says, “I am persuaded to believe that Christ rose from the grave.”But these two alone are not enough, according to the Reformers. As one person has said, these two only qualify you to be a demon, for the demons both have the right information (Jesus rose from the grave) and are convicted of its truthfulness. One aspect still remains . . ."I Was Going to Preach this, but the Holy Spirit Led Me to This" The idea it conveys is that the particular message that was prepared was not of God (at least at that time) and this new message was most certainly of God. In fact, the new message is miraculously of God! Why? Because I did not really prepare for it. It must have been God who prepared it. “I just step back when that happens and let God do his thing. Who am I to interrupt God?”"One White Lie Will Send You to Hell For All Eternity" I have to be very careful here since I am going against what has become the popular evangelical way to present the Gospel, but I don’t believe this is true. Not only do I not buy it, I think this, like the idea that all sins are equal in the sight of God, is damaging to the character of God, the significance of the cross, and I believe it trivializes sin. Let me explain . . ."The Trinity is Like 3-in-1 Shampoo" “The doctrine of the Trinity is like an egg: three parts, one thing.” Ever heard that? How about this, “The doctrine of the Trinity is like a three leaf clover: three leaves, one clover.” Or how about THIS, “The doctrine[...]



Romans 8:17-18 --
"Suffering and Glory"

2010-01-03T00:01:01.819-08:00

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:
The text:

(NET) Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)22 – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared23 to the glory that will be revealed to us.
Notes:

22 tn Grk “on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other hand, fellow heirs with Christ.” Some prefer to render v. 17 as follows: “And if children, then heirs – that is, heirs of God. Also fellow heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.” Such a translation suggests two distinct inheritances, one coming to all of God’s children, the other coming only to those who suffer with Christ. The difficulty of this view, however, is that it ignores the correlative conjunctions μέν…δέ (men…de, “on the one hand…on the other hand”): The construction strongly suggests that the inheritances cannot be separated since both explain “then heirs.” For this reason, the preferred translation puts this explanation in parentheses.

23 tn Grk “are not worthy [to be compared].”
Note Sheet: The note sheet points out the parallelism in the two verses - Christ's suffering and glory in verse 17; and our present suffering and future glory in v 18. These things are tied together.

How should the follower of Christ respond to suffering?
  • What we should not do…:
    1. We should not be surprised by it.
    2. We should not doubt God.

  • What we should do…:
    1. We should see suffering as belonging to this present time.
    2. We should humble ourselves and find peace and privilege in sharing the experience of our Master.
    3. We should let suffering convince us of our weakness and need.
    4. We should depend upon God’s Spirit to transform us—as we endure with confidence in His certain love.
    5. We should let suffering move us closer to our brothers and sisters in deeper relationships.
    6. We should let suffering motivate us to long for the full joy of our eternal home—and know it is “not worth comparing with the glory” we shall soon experience.




Does God Feel Emotions?

2010-01-02T10:26:47.016-08:00

Not having spent a lot of time studying theology - I am at home with the exposition of scripture. As someone who could be close to being a "Biblicist", I certainly have not had much use for concepts of God divorced from the clear teaching of scripture.In a discussion over at Vox Populi there was a running debate (well, not really a debate) in the comment thread about whether God feels emotion. The person holding forth the position that God did not feel anger, or joy, or any other emotion related it to the theological positions of Aquinas and others. Most of the comments by "Benyachov" were fairly rude and arrogant - but the main point seemed to be that to believe that God has emotion is an unwarranted characature of God:Based on your overly literalistic anthopomorphism carried to it's logical extreme, God MUST be some kind of Bird since he has "wings" or he must have an appendage like "wings". Your reasoning here is just plain silly. Yet even here with your use of the phrase "similar to human emotion" you are all but admiting this verse must be understood analogously and not literally. Now, one of those principles of reading the Bible is not to allow one isolated passage to overwealm others- and there are literally hundreds of places in scripture where God is described as having wrath, joy, anger, love, etc. Is all of this anthopomorthic "nonsense" or bad understanding of the ancient use of these words? Also, if "Benyachov"'s entire point is that we can only know how God feels by imperfect analogy rather than by literal understanding from our own emotions then why insult someone over this? After all, "Benyachov" has no more understanding about what "exactly" God feels than his antagonist did.I didn't find "Benyachov" to be a particularly inviting to have a conversation with - I wasn't in the mood to be insulted. However, he did recommend an essay on the theology here: Does God Have Emotions?. In looking at that essay, it seems that Benyachov has pushed the argument too far. From the essay: Thus, I will argue that classical theism has much more to say in its defense than is usually admitted by its detractors. God is indeed personal, and knows and loves us, but we simply cannot assume that what is true of human persons, knowledge and love (which involve change and dependence) is true of the divine persons and knowledge and love. To make that assumption, as process and open theists blithely do, is to compromise God’s transcendence. and When we ask, does God have emotions? the most straightforward, correct answer is, Yes, because he became man. Jesus is both God and man, fully divine and fully human. So, Jesus has human emotions: joys, desires, fears, sadnesses, and so on. The Christian faith holds that Jesus is one divine person but with two natures, human and divine. I do not wish here to examine in detail this central dogma (since I will concentrate on the question of whether God has emotions in his divine nature), but briefly the following should be said. A person is an intelligent and free subject of actions, a morally responsible agent. A nature is the intrinsic source of characteristic actions, that by which or with which one acts. In Christ, the one who acts is God himself, so he is a divine person. But Christ can act by his divine nature or by his human nature (or by both). Thus, after the Incarnation, literally, God does suffer as we suffer, he does have emotions as we have emotions, since it is the person who has the emotions, even though he has these emotions by his human nature. Traditionally it was believed that at least one main reason why God became man was so that the God-man Jesus Christ could be a mediator. God’s transcendence, that is, the infinite difference between his perfection and ours, did, from our angle, make approaching him difficult, certainly somewhat[...]



Romans 8:15-17 --
"We are Co-heirs with Christ"

2010-01-01T14:18:44.764-08:00

[The index for the series is here.]I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are: Audio fileNote sheetThe text:(NET) Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear18, but you received the Spirit of adoption19, by whom20 we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness to21 our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)22 – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.Notes:18 tn Grk “slavery again to fear.”19 tn The Greek term υἱοθεσία (Juioqesia) was originally a legal technical term for adoption as a son with full rights of inheritance. BDAG 1024 s.v. notes, “a legal t.t. of ‘adoption’ of children, in our lit., i.e. in Paul, only in a transferred sense of a transcendent filial relationship between God and humans (with the legal aspect, not gender specificity, as major semantic component).”20 tn Or “in that.”21 tn Or possibly “with.” ExSyn 160-61, however, notes the following: “At issue, grammatically, is whether the Spirit testifies alongside of our spirit (dat. of association), or whether he testifies to our spirit (indirect object) that we are God’s children. If the former, the one receiving this testimony is unstated (is it God? or believers?). If the latter, the believer receives the testimony and hence is assured of salvation via the inner witness of the Spirit. The first view has the advantage of a σύν- (sun-) prefixed verb, which might be expected to take an accompanying dat. of association (and is supported by NEB, JB, etc.). But there are three reasons why πνεύματι (pneumati) should not be taken as association: (1) Grammatically, a dat. with a σύν- prefixed verb does not necessarily indicate association. This, of course, does not preclude such here, but this fact at least opens up the alternatives in this text. (2) Lexically, though συμμαρτυρέω (summarturew) originally bore an associative idea, it developed in the direction of merely intensifying μαρτυρέω (marturew). This is surely the case in the only other NT text with a dat. (Rom 9:1). (3) Contextually, a dat. of association does not seem to support Paul’s argument: ‘What standing has our spirit in this matter? Of itself it surely has no right at all to testify to our being sons of God’ [C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:403]. In sum, Rom 8:16 seems to be secure as a text in which the believer’s assurance of salvation is based on the inner witness of the Spirit. The implications of this for one’s soteriology are profound: The objective data, as helpful as they are, cannot by themselves provide assurance of salvation; the believer also needs (and receives) an existential, ongoing encounter with God’s Spirit in order to gain that familial comfort.”22 tn Grk “on the one hand, heirs of God; on the other hand, fellow heirs with Christ.” Some prefer to render v. 17 as follows: “And if children, then heirs – that is, heirs of God. Also fellow heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.” Such a translation suggests two distinct inheritances, one coming to all of God’s children, the other coming only to those who suffer with Christ. The difficulty of this view, however, is that it ignores the correlative conjunctions μέν…δέ (men…de, “on the one hand…on the other hand”): The construction strongly suggests that the inheritances cannot be separated since both explain “then heirs.” For this reason, the preferred translation puts this explanation in parentheses.Sermon Notes: Those led by the Spirit are sons of God. (vs. 14)The Spirit frees us from the life of slavery that leads to fear.The Spirit brin[...]



Romans 8:12-14 --
"If by the Spirit"

2009-12-28T09:04:09.622-08:00

[The index for the series is here.]I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are: Audio fileNote sheetThe text:(NET) Romans 8:12 So then,13 brothers and sisters14, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh 13 (for if you live according to the flesh, you will15 die),16 but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are17 the sons of God. Notes:13 tn There is a double connective here that cannot be easily preserved in English: “consequently therefore,” emphasizing the conclusion of what he has been arguing.14 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:13.15 tn Grk “are about to, are certainly going to.”16 sn This remark is parenthetical to Paul’s argument.17 tn Grk “For as many as are being led by the Spirit of God, these are.”Sermon Notes: There was a two month hiatus between the last sermon and this one so there was a review of what had been covered: In “the Gospel” we find “the power of God for salvation” (1:16) we experience “the righteousness of God” (1:17) — “through faith in Jesus Christ” (3:22‐23)we are “united” with Christ—in His death and resurrection. In our “union with Christ”—we have a new “life principle”—that we must understand… and practice The divine principle of “death to the old”and“life to the new.”God has called us to participate in that principle by choosing “death to the old” and choosing “life to the new”Followers of Christ have been freed from the slavery of sin and “flesh” ruling their lives—and have been placed in a new realm where the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit rules. Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him.Paul says: “This is true of you — so live this way! Reject the rule of the flesh and choose the rule of the Spirit.”Now, on to the current passage -- How do we do this? We must believe God gives freedom from sin—and see our obligation to not be ruled by it. (8:12-13a)God gives us His own Spirit to indwell us — to enable us to live as His people. God gives us His power, in our inner being, by the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16,20 Philippians 2:12‐13). “by the Spirit” = listening for His leading, obedience to His will, and dependence on His power (8:13b)God calls us to a lifestyle of continually choosing to “put to death” the things that hold us back from God’s best. (8:13c) “For sin will have no mastery over you…” (Romans 6:14)“You also lived your lives in this way at one time… But now…” (Colossians 3:5‐9)“If your hand or your foot causes you to sin…” (Matthew 18:8‐9)“I subdue my body and make it my slave,…” (1 Corinthians 9:24‐27)“If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23‐25)God promises us freedom and “fruitfulness” — as we “live by the Spirit.” “…you will live…” (8:13d) “live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22‐23)“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God.”How are you living out this principle?What are you now “putting to death” — so you can “live” more fully the way God wants you to live?Doing:This week, look for anything “of the flesh” that keeps you from fully experiencing being led by the Spirit of God.Depending [...]



CHRISTmas as a Universal Impulse

2009-12-26T11:49:20.608-08:00

A woman online who is a non-Christian Unitarian Universalist was peeved by a follower of Christ who:had a history of complaining about non-Christians keeping "their hands off of CHRISTmas"always spelled CHRISTmas like that (emphasizing Christ in Christmas)She didn't have a problem with those two items at all until it got connected together with this on Christmas day:he commented: "I win at CHRISTmas. I got Super Mario Bros Wii!!"Certainly, we have no clue about the breadth of this Christian's feelings about Christmas day. And, I am not going to focus on the materialism of Christmas - at least not directly. I commented on her post about what I saw as the "wins" for me this Christmas:seeing my older step-daughter todayseeing my wife's joy at the gifts she recieved - and seeing her older daughtermy younger daughter nearly begging me to spend time with her at a movie ("Avatar") and the eventual conversations on substantive issues that movie may raise with her.cooking breakfast for my family, and now getting ready to cook dinner.attending Christmas morning mass with my MIL at her Catholic Church. She was blessed by it - and I "won" in her being blessed.Her response to that comment is what really triggered this post: I think the issue I'm having is ... all the things that were wins for you, are wins for me also. Or would be, I mean, if I had a wife and daughters. ;-)I think there are relatively few parts of a modern Christmas celebration that aren't shared by the whole world, and I think the holiday is richer for it.I do think winning can be ... not about a gift, but the gift can be a powerful symbol of a win. My sister, with whom I had a rather rocky relationship most of our lives (until she moved out of my parents' house a year ago) and who is on a very limited budget, happened to see something she thought I would like for my house ... and got it right; it's exactly my taste, and I didn't think she knew or cared what I would like. That's a win. It would have been better to see her in person, but that wasn't possible. So if he'd posted and said "John Doe's wife/sister/whoever knows him better than anyone else, he/she gave him Super Mario Bros because he/she knows he loves games like that" then I wouldn't have disputed that was a sort of win.But if one is going to insist that Christmas is a purely Christian holiday, shouldn't there be some Christ in there somewhere? Absolutely, but in the United States (or really in the world) what does that mean? It reminded me of three things:A quote from Christ Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.Christ certainly divides the United States, if not the world. People can see His death and resurrection as proof of God's love and grace; or as proof that the God of Christian scripture - if real - is a brutal sadist unworthy of being followed.A quote from C.S. Lewis The world does not consist of 100 per cent Christians and 100 per cent Non-Christians. There are people (a great many of them) who are slowly ceasing to be Christians but who still call themselves by that name: some of them are clergymen. There are other people who are slowly becoming Christians though they do not yet call themselves so. There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. As much as my life is proof that God does not let go of what is His easily, there is certainly truth in this when it comes to how one acts even i[...]



'Twas the Day Before Christmas

2009-12-24T09:25:21.759-08:00

And all through this house - we are having a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit (even the mouse). I have noticed a number of folks both in the blogosphere, and in real life, seem to be experiencing this.

Part of it for us is that the children are older. That brings both bad and good: our older daughter serving in the Navy will be visiting tomorrow because it is Christmas (probably wouldn't otherwise - for good reasons). Our younger daughter is still living at home, but is old enough to have a job, boyfriend, etc. Again, she has had her attention elsewhere.

I am working 60+ hours a week so my attention is elsewhere (and I am exhausted when home), and my wife is having a particularly hard physical time right now -- she has also been distracted and tired. So, the tree didn't go up until Saturday and the house is still not fully decorated with all the little Christmas things we usually put out. There was a major spurt of that activity yesterday and it will finish (whether finished or not) today. I realized when I dug out the favorite Christmas music yesterday as part of that process that we have not listened to Christmas music in the house until yesterday. I was spurred on to find our music here by "decorating" my Christmas Christian Carnival post yesterday with the family's choices for our favorite Christmas music. You can see the seven songs I picked here

The shopping is not done really - and will not be: the financial situation is not conducive to the kind of gifting we all would do otherwise. Indeed, only the youngest daughter has had the money to buy gifts - and she is finally ramping up and getting excited in that area. I have a love/hate relationship with the "commercialization" of Christmas: certainly the shopping furor does distract from celebrating the birth of the Savior; and I love picking out and giving gifts - and it is something I haven't really been able to do for years. One of my gifts is giving my wife whatever shopping money we have to do the shopping. This isn't just male laziness and lack of interest - it lifts her up to be able to shop for her children and family.

Which brings up the question here. Are we as a family so imbued with the "normal" ideas of Christmas - decorating, gifting, cards, etc - that the joy over celebrating the birth of Christ doesn't even enter into the equation? Probably a little - although we are all aware of Christ on a daily basis so I am not going to be too hard on us for this. The lack of an "advent" tradition in our household probably lends to this - we do not build up theologically to Christmas day. Indeed, Christmas (while celebrated) is not a major celebration at my church - Christ's death and resurrection are far more important theologically than His birth.

As our family transitions to a rapidly approaching "empty nest" and we (as older folks) start to lose the energy and interest in the decorating, shopping, etc that go with this season - we need to proactively change our ideas about what constitutes preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ in our household.

Got any ideas for next year.



Christian Carnival CCCVII - "A Carnival of Praise"

2009-12-23T17:14:01.919-08:00

Isaiah 9:6 For a child has been born to us,a son has been given to us.He shoulders responsibilityand is called:Extraordinary Strategist,Mighty God,Everlasting Father,Prince of Peace.* * * * * Rodney Olsen presents "Where did the magic go?" posted at RodneyOlsen.Net. Luke 2:8-20 There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights,Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!Ridge Burns presents "The Culture of Christmas" posted at Ridge’s Blog. . . . Liberia had no electrical service, so it was run by a generator. Where no one could see, where no one would drive by, this one Christian family wanted to celebrate the birth of Christ by lighting up their little hut . . .Kathryn Lang presents "Troubles with a Discouraged Husband" posted at Proverbs 31 Living. “What are you passionate about?” The question seems easy enough for me. I ask it all the time. But my husband was stumped by the question. “To tell you the truth, I know of nothing that I am passionate about.”Diane R presents "Presbyterians (PCUSA) and the "Gay" Question" posted at Crossroads: Where Faith and Inquiry Meet. Why don't more theologically conservative churches within mainline denominations just leave? The answer might just lie in this post.Tom Gilson presents "Wishing and Celebrating" posted at Thinking Christian. Starbucks says, "See the world not as it is, but as it could be.... Wish. It’s what makes the holidays the holidays." But isn't Christmas is a lot more real than wishing the world wasn't the way it is?* * * * *Mary’s Hymn of Praise“My soul exalts the Lord,and my spirit has begun to rejoice in God my Savior,because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant. For from now on all generations will call me blessed,because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name;from generation to generation he is merciful to those who fear him.He has demonstrated power with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts.He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position;he has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty.He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy,as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”* * * * *Jeremy Pierce presents "Satisficing Without Supererogation" posted at Parableman. A difficult problem about whether God could have made the world better and its connection with moral theory.Annette presents "Holiday Baking" po[...]



Vocation and Submission

2009-12-06T09:52:58.609-08:00

One of those common misconceptions that I run into is expressed in this comment. And here we differ because I cannot believe in a loving God who created me with a long size ten foot only so that he can break the arch and bind it into a child's size four.That is no God of love. It is no deity I can fuel with worship any more than I would willingly feed someone who raped me.At this moment, I am not sure what exactly what was being commented on. And, frankly, I am not sure its important - this post is about what it provoked in me and not about what it was meant to convey. So, lets look at a couple of things I have posted on in the past:Submission (upotasso): We, as followers of Christ, are to be submissive: to God's will, to civil authority, to authority within our churchs, etc. Now, this is not slavery, or any sort of external binding: In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden"Just so we are clear that being submissive has a pretty impressive pedigree: Lexie, back when Intellectuelle was active, gave this magnificent example of submission: "Jesus allowed Himself to be subjected to the cross. He could have opted out, but He chose not to because of His love for us. Restraint of strength is one expression of power. Choosing to submit and serve is another expression of power."Now, in order to submit you have to have someone (or something) submit to; and it has to be voluntary and unforced. This brings up the second word -- Vocation: The familiar term "vocation", used in both religious and secular contexts, is rooted in the Latin vocatio, meaning "call" and is related to Latin-based words such as "voice" and "invoke." The Greek word is klesis and is found in our words "cleric" and "ecclesiastical". It is the root of the New Testament word for the Church, ekklesia, a point that is not etymologically significant except in that assemblies of all kinds were referred to with the same term. To say that the church consists of those "called out", however, is significant for more reasons than can be traced through linguistic usage: it was the reality to which the church had always attested.Vocation is the idea that we are called by something higher and outside of ourselves. Taking on that calling requires that we adopt "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden" - that we submit to the calling and allow ourselves to voluntarily be bound by it. Vocation implies submission because of the four features mentioned by Conyers:The idea of a call implies an agent outside of the one who is subject to the call. One does not simply "choose" a course of action, but one responds to a summons. A person might be "free" in either case; but in the case of one responding to vocation, the freedom is not an inner-directed impulse, but the use of the will to respond to an unforeseen and perhaps unknown reality.The summons is often against the will of the one who is called into service. Muhammed first believed himself to be mad. Moses complained that the Israelites, to whom God sent him, had never listened to him and therefore neither would Pharaoh, "poor speaker that I am." Jeremiah, the Hebrew prophet, not only resisted the call, but continued to complain that God had overpowered him and placed him in an impossibly difficult circumstance, even protesting that God's call had made him "like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter." Jonah attempted to flee from the Lord to Tarshish, rather than going to Nineveh where he had been called. Jesus prayed to be delivered from his appointed calling.The calling involves in almost every case hardships that must be [...]



Matthew 1:19-25:
Just Wow

2009-12-03T00:14:24.393-08:00

Jared Wilson at The Gospel-Driven Church saw an amazing metaphor in this passage:
Matthew 1:19 Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately. 20 When he had contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 This all happened so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep he did what the angel of the Lord told him. He took his wife, 25 but did not have marital relations with her until she gave birth to a son, whom he named Jesus.

The post really isn't long enough to excerpt it - so I am going to post it whole:

Was reading Matthew 1:18-25 this morning and it struck me for the first time ever to see a little shade of the gospel in Joseph's "acceptance" of Mary. Learning she was with child, he was going to divorce her quietly in order to spare her public disgrace. But the angel told him Mary was pregnant with the Christ-child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and so Joseph gladly took her to himself. Where he saw reason for divorce, he now saw the presence of Christ and pursued oneness.

It's not a perfect analogy (Mary hadn't sinned in this instance, of course), but it just made me think of all the reasons God has to divorce himself from me, from his people. Yet he is appeased by Christ in us, appealed to by the new life the Spirit has conceived in us. And we are approved by God -- perpetually, finally, eternally -- because of Christ in us, the hope of glory. He render us a spotless Bride.

This, from J.C. Ryle:
“Let us take comfort in the thought that the Lord Jesus does not cast off His believing people because of failures and imperfections.

He knows what they are.

He takes them, as the husband takes the wife, with all their blemishes and defects, and, once joined to Him by faith, will never leave them. He is a merciful and compassionate High priest. It is His glory to pass over the transgressions of His people, and to cover their many sins.”
I really suggest you pay some attention to Jared Wilson.



Culture wars:
For Our Names Sake

2009-12-03T00:01:02.958-08:00

[Point ten of Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]

Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."
10. The culture war is carried out for our name’s sake, not Jesus’. I am not a fan of gay marriage or Roe v. Wade, and even though I would vote to outlaw the former and repeal the latter, neither of those actions in themselves will make a single unbeliever say “How wonderful Christ is!”

The bitter truth is that the Christian culture war is not carried out for Jesus’ glory and renown, but for ours. It makes “Judeo-Christian values” the end-game, the treasure of our mission. And that is idolatry. Nobody was ever legally or argumentatively or even culturally convinced to believe in Jesus. But millions have been loved and served and submitted to into believing.

Dying for somebody says a whole lot more than debating them.

I cannot add anything to this. This series has marked a transformation for me.

* * * * *
Jared Wilson:
I choose the gospel. Come hell or highwater, come a liberal administration in Washington for the rest of my life or actual suffering. My treasure is not Christianity, but Christ. My hope is not a Christian nation but a Christ-saturated universe. I trust not in princes but in the King of Kings. I choose war on hell and death through the liberating power of Jesus in the glorious gospel of the grace of God.

For the glory of God.

Moi:
it is incumbant upon Christians to work for right order and justice in the society in which we live. However, our duties to the Body of Christ, the Great Commission, and the Kingdom of God trump our requirements as Christian citizens of a nation state.



John Mark Reynold --
"An Odious Law: Uganda and Homosexuality"

2009-12-01T23:18:41.870-08:00

John Mark Reynolds:
Uganda may pass a law that could lead to the death penalty for homosexual behavior.

The proposed law is odious.

Due to the legacy of colonialism, Western people should be sensitive about interfering in sub-Saharan African politics and modest in making moral pronouncements regarding Africa, but this law deserves universal condemnation. Uganda experienced many evils under colonialism, including the loss of basic liberties.

Experiencing evil does not give a free pass to do evil and this bill is wicked.

It is not a close call.

Some fringe Evangelical support may be behind the bill and so American Evangelicals have some obligation to comment and hopefully urge rejection of this hateful, useless, and dangerous piece of legislation by all Christians.

Hopefully conservatives who follow the Prince of Peace would not need much persuading to convince them that this is a bad bill. However, since at least some extremists have supported it, an argument is necessary.

Traditional Christians should strongly oppose this bill on moral, political, and pragmatic grounds.

Reynolds gives a list of reasons the law is wrong and should be opposed:
  • Moral:
    • it places the life of the citizens of Uganda, fellow humans created God’s image, in peril for grossly insufficient reasons
    • the punishments in the bill are radically disproportionate to any harm done through the putative crimes, even if one views them as crimes. Punishment must always fit the crime!
    • the bill forces citizens who dissent from the bill to act as government informers or face prosecution.

  • Political: This expansion of government power anticipated in such a bill is enormous.
  • Pragmatic:
    Of course, the main reason to oppose the bill is that it is morally bankrupt, but it is also useless and counterproductive and associates the good name of traditional Christians with barbarism.

Read the rest of the post, and then make some noise - and if you can figure out a way to make it directly to the Ugandan government all the better.



Romans 8:9-11 --
"The Spirit of God Lives in You"

2009-12-01T19:38:52.742-08:00

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:
The text:

(NET) Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in7 the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but8 the Spirit is your life9 because of righteousness. 11 Moreover if the Spirit of the one10 who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ 11 from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.12
Notes:

7 tn Or “are not controlled by the flesh but by the Spirit.”

8 tn Greek emphasizes the contrast between these two clauses more than can be easily expressed in English.

9 tn Or “life-giving.” Grk “the Spirit is life.”
10 sn The one who raised Jesus from the dead refers to God (also in the following clause).

11 tc Several mss read ᾿Ιησοῦν (Ihsoun, “Jesus”) after Χριστόν (Criston, “Christ”; א* A D* 630 1506 1739 1881 pc bo); C 81 104 lat have ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν. The shorter reading is more likely to be original, though, both because of external evidence (א2 B D2 F G Ψ 33 Ï sa) and internal evidence (scribes were much more likely to add the name “Jesus” if it were lacking than to remove it if it were already present in the text, especially to harmonize with the earlier mention of Jesus in the verse).

12 tc Most mss (B D F G Ψ 33 1739 1881 Ï lat) have διά (dia) followed by the accusative: “because of his Spirit who lives in you.” The genitive “through his Spirit” is supported by א A C(*) 81 104 1505 1506 al, and is slightly preferred.

Sermon Notes:
  • Why has God done this (put His Spirit in our body)? For:
    • the deepest kind of relationship
    • the deepest work of change in us
    • the most complete “salvation”

  • How can we be “led by the Spirit of God”?
    • The essential 1st thing: Be certain we “belong to Christ”
    • The essential 2nd thing: Believe God’s Word -- “His Spirit lives in you”
    • The essential 3rd thing: Choose to “live by the Spirit”




Culture wars:
Missionally Challenged

2009-11-29T12:30:37.515-08:00

[Point nine of Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."9. It mangles mission. The culture war sets the Church above and against the world, rather than in but not of the world. It turns us into picketers and politicos. It makes us suspicious and speculative and sensationalist. It takes relationship completely out of the missional equation. It turns us from peaceful ambassadors for Christ into pontificating warriors for Christianity. It does not ask us to serve and sacrifice, which are non-negotiables for Christian mission, but to maneuver and argue.Paul, the main example of preaching the Gospel in scripture, gave us an example of the "what to do":Acts 17:22 So Paul stood before the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you.and an explanation of the centrality of the Gospel:1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for boasting, because I am compelled to do this. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward. But if I do it unwillingly, I am entrusted with a responsibility. 18 What then is my reward? That when I preach the gospel I may offer the gospel free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights in the gospel. 19 For since I am free from all I can make myself a slave to all, in order to gain even more people. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew to gain the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) to gain those under the law. 21 To those free from the law I became like one free from the law (though I am not free from God’s law but under the law of Christ) to gain those free from the law. 22 To the weak I became weak in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some. 23 I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it.We need to understand the implications of this.* * * * *Jared Wilson:I choose the gospel. Come hell or highwater, come a liberal administration in Washington for the rest of my life or actual suffering. My treasure is not Christianity, but Christ. My hope is not a Christian nation but a Christ-saturated universe. I trust not in princes but in the King of Kings. I choose war on hell and death through the liberating power of Jesus in the glorious gospel of the grace of God.For the glory of God.Moi:it is incumbant upon Christians to work for right order and justice in the society in which we live. However, our duties to the Body of Christ, the Great Commission, and the Kingdom of God trump our requirements as Christian citizens of a nation state.[...]



Culture wars:
Sign "The Manhattan Declaration"? Not Me.

2009-11-29T22:19:12.917-08:00

At the moment I am writing this line 178,536 people have signed "The Manhattan Declaration" - A Call to Christian Conscience. It is probably clear from my series on the culture wars that I will not be a signer of the Declaration - but some comments are in order. Their website front page reads:Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:the sanctity of human life the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife the rights of conscience and religious liberty.Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.The question is not primarily whether I believe that these truths are "foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society" - largely I do (at least in 2 of the 3 major points). It is also not whether I think "we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them."Followers of Christ (or any person) should do exactly that for whatever they believe - especially those things that are critical in their view to human dignity and the well-being of society.The question is "how" does a follower of Christ (at least this one) do these things? I am almost finished with a series based Jared Wilson's ten reasons the "culture war is going to hell". Jared's answer of "how", and mine, is: Preach the Gospel. As Paul said to the church in Corinth:1 Corinthians 2:1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God. 2 For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling. 4 My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.As Jared Wilson said in point 8 of his 10: Jesus knew heart change didn’t come through political power, cultural pressure, or zealotry, so he was keenly disinterested in those things.Jesus carried this through in His ministry despite the "culture war" of His day. The Pharisees and other "believers" were attempting to hold the line against the Pagan culture of the Roman occupiers and general Helenizaton of Jewish culture. This struggle to defend God's people against the corruption of Paganism gradually ramped up from around the time of Jesus' birth thru three Jewish Wars with Rome - and the complete de[...]



Culture wars:
What Jesus Did Not Do

2009-11-27T14:00:54.222-08:00

[Point eight Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."8. It has no root in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus knew heart change didn’t come through political power, cultural pressure, or zealotry, so he was keenly disinterested in those things. This is the "big one", at least to me, in this series: Jesus, in His ministry, bowed out of the "culture war" of His day - or took a side that those who do want to impose morality through political power or cultural pressure may not like.The political and social climate in Judea at the time of Jesus' ministry had every possible opportunity for Jesus to become a culture warrior on both the political and cultural levels - and He rejected those choices.By 30AD, Judaism was beginning to ramp up for the the three Roman-Jewish wars to come. There were two primary schools of pharisees - Hillel and Shammai - and one of the primary distinguishing characteristics between the followers (and not so much the leaders) of the two schools was about rigid adherance to Jewish law and customs as a guard against encroaching Roman culture and Hellenization. The Dead Sea Scrolls show that this process was well advanced at the time of Jesus' ministry.It would be Shammai's school that would eventually team up with the Zealots to take political control of Judea - and launch the rebellion against Rome 35 years after Jesus' death. The process of ramping up to this war was well underway during Jesus' ministry.However, if Jesus' ministry lined up with either of these schools - it was Hillel's. He did not, in scripture, deride the Hellenization of Jewish culture, call for rigid adherance to religious rules and traditions as a guard against the corruption of tradition, or team up with the Zealots in an anti-Roman campaign.Indeed, it was the opposite. Jesus spoke against the burdens that excessive religious rules placed on God's people; and it was the Zealot among His apostles that decided Jesus was not the "culture warrior" Messiah he expected, and betrayed him to the Sanhedrin.[Update: It has been pointed out that I have confused Simon the Zealot with Judas Iscariat. There is no mention is scripture that Judas was a Zealot. Many of my teachers in the past have speculated on this - including that there was some relationship between Simon and Judas before they joined Jesus.]* * * * *Jared Wilson: I choose the gospel. Come hell or highwater, come a liberal administration in Washington for the rest of my life or actual suffering. My treasure is not Christianity, but Christ. My hope is not a Christian nation but a Christ-saturated universe. I trust not in princes but in the King of Kings. I choose war on hell and death through the liberating power of Jesus in the glorious gospel of the grace of God.For the glory of God.Moi:it is incumbant upon Christians to work for right order and justice in the society in which we live. However, our duties to the Body of Christ, the Great Commission, and the Kingdom of God trump our requirements as Christian citizens of a nation state.[...]



Romans 8:5-8 --
"Opposite"

2009-11-26T15:04:29.313-08:00

[The index for the series is here.]

I am using the Pastor's titles for these posts. The appropriate links are:
The text:

(NET) Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by5 the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. 6 For the outlook6 of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Notes:

5 tn Grk “think on” or “are intent on” (twice in this verse). What is in view here is not primarily preoccupation, however, but worldview. Translations like “set their mind on” could be misunderstood by the typical English reader to refer exclusively to preoccupation.

6 tn Or “mindset,” “way of thinking” (twice in this verse and once in v. 7). The Greek term φρόνημα does not refer to one’s mind, but to one’s outlook or mindset.

“There are two ways, one of life and one of death;
and between the two ways there is a great difference.”
The Didache


Sermon Notes: Matt Bowen talked about:
  • Magnets:
    “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
  • Compasses:
    “Have their minds set on what that nature desires…have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
  • Vistas:
    “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”




Apologetics:
Epic Fail at the Pet Store

2010-01-01T22:54:06.233-08:00

I was having a chat with someone who seemed to believe apology was only about Christian apologetics. It isn't, as the examples in this comment point out. The definition I would hang with in the set was from Wiki:
In modern times, apologists refers to authors, writers, editors of scientific logs or academic journals, and leaders known for defending the points in arguments, conflicts or positions that receive great popular scrutinies and/or are minority views.

Right after posting that, I ran across a skit from Monty Python that is one of my all-time favorites - along with the Lumberjack Song of course (and the Cheese Shop . . .). It is, IMO, an example of Epic Fail at apology by the shop owner.

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Admittedly, the evidence against the position he was defending was pretty conclusive.

Happy Thanksgiving



Culture wars:
Fear and Comfort

2010-01-01T22:54:35.487-08:00

[Point seven Jared Wilson's criticism of the "culture wars": (Index)]Jared Wilson: "The 'culture war' is going to hell because . . ."7. It makes idols of comfort and safety and propriety and power. The culture war is largely driven by fear. We’re afraid our public schools will ruin our children, we’re afraid gay people will ruin our families. We’re afraid a Democrat will ruin our country, we’re afraid liberals will ruin our neighborhoods. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to protect our family, and safety of course is not a bad thing. But neither is it a biblical virtue. Ditto comfort.This point of Jared's is a bit harsh - so I will narrow my commentary a bit. I say it is harsh because, as a comment at the original post pointed out: I’m not sure I understand the bit on fear and so forth. Setting oneself against the world, in the world, is not the same thing as reacting fearfully to public schools, gays, liberals or whoever.I have argued consistantly against the usefulness of the term "homophobia" to describe folks who are opposed to homosexuality on scriptural and/or theological grounds -- it is not fear that drives their opinion. Attributing folks opposition to abortion as the "fear of women controlling their lives" and opposition to gay marriage as "fear of gays" are the classic "talking points" I see on the political left. Wrong, and common.Perception is everything (except right) so it is worthwhile to point out that whatever the true motivation of the culture warriors - fear seems to stick rather well to their arguments. Also, some folks arguments are so lacking in rational explanation (it may exist - but I do not hear it) that it appears to be based in reactionary fear even if it isn't. One example is that gay marriage threatens God's institution of marriage -- the "how" of that has never been made to me at least.If the arguments are based on real fear - then this (not doubt) is the exact opposite of faith. People fear because they do not trust that God is in charge and will make all things work for the Good.And, there is no basis in scripture to believe that God is concerned for the safety or comfort of followers of Christ - indeed exactly the opposite. We are promised adversity in His name, and told that that adversity is there to give us character and not contribute to our safety or comfort.I believe the Gospel teaches the adversity of society, and its continual (and increasing) separation from God's intent for our social relationships as a major opportunity to bring folks fearful about the future into the presence of God to experience the peace that faith in Him can bring. That doesn't happen if the follower of Christ is as fearful and concerned for their own comfort as the non-believer.* * * * *Jared Wilson: I choose the gospel. Come hell or highwater, come a liberal administration in Washington for the rest of my life or actual suffering. My treasure is not Christianity, but Christ. My hope is not a Christian nation but a Christ-saturated universe. I trust not in princes but in the King of Kings. I choose war on hell and death through the liberating power of Jesus in the glorious gospel of the grace of God.For the glory of God.Moi:it is incumbant upon Christians to work for right order and justice in the society in which we live. However, our duties to the Body of Christ, the Great Commission, and the Kingdom of God trump our requ[...]