After a fairly long hiatus as an active blogger, it is nice to come back and host another Christian Carnival. As near as I can tell, this is my 13th Carnival, and it is always a pleasure.
The posts are in the order that I recieved them in.
Often I hear people say that they don't give to their church because they don't trust how the money is being spent, don't like the fact that the pastor drives such and such of a car, and the like. Yet they continue to go to the church. They just don't give to it. Here are my thoughts for these people:
A look at Romans 2:1-3
Paul is the Ultimate Family Man. Article discusses Paul as "father," "mother," family member, and how he teaches tha tevery family member is a minister. Bonus: Information about visiting Turkey "the other Holy Land" with the BAS.
How much money should we be seeking as Christians - and why should we be seeking it?
This story is going to sound too magnificent to be true, but I promise you this this just recently happened to me and is completely true. I'm sharing it because it is a great example of the magnitude of God's glory
G-ds creatures teach us life lessons
Whether looking for a single voice in a certain denomination or for a community of others just like you, Christian mothers will enjoy these top 100 blogs. Don’t forget to grab dad and the kids if you find one or more you really like.
I've talked with quite a few people lately who maintain that Christian rock music and Christian rap are sinful and lead to a life of rejecting God. I simply can't fathom how they come up with this idea
if you’re going to be the leader here are some things you’re going to need to stay in the game:
Bringing your faith into business transactions can be a tricky situation. This post hopes to look at when and how it may be appropriate.
Blog team member Derek Ashton describes an interesting experiment he conducted with his kids, and the possible theological implications.
It's all about prayer.
Weekend Fisher considers what it does to our idea of truth when Truth is the person of Jesus rather than an abstract idea.
Waiting on God is where a lot of us are in our lives right now . . . The question which perhaps we need to consider is "How do we wait on God?"
Did you know that as a Christian you have access to the secret thoughts of God? This post discusses what the Bible has to say about our access.
In rereading the first few chapters of Genesis, I was struck by something I hadn't fully explored before. Why did God ask Where are you?
Is this how YOUR pastor search would go? (Note: Jevlir Caravansary (jevlir.com) is next week's Christian Carnival host)
A response to Craig Blomberg's recent post on Calminianism.
Fundamentally Changed contributor Erik D. writes about his journey in fundamentalist Christianity
As part of my series on illegal immigration and a Christian's responsibility, I posted this examination of three cases of civil disobedience to examine the motivating factors and see if there are any principles that might carry over into the immigration issue.
Shontta looks at the implications of us being created imago dei - in the image of God
This is another of those long comments I made on another blog.
One nice thing - other than these great posts - about the Christian Carnival is that there is always one forming: send your submissions to blog carnival for the next Carnival.
Another one: There are a whole lot of past Christian Carnivals you can look at as well.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
After a fairly long hiatus as an active blogger, it is nice to come back and host another Christian Carnival. As near as I can tell, this is my 13th Carnival, and it is always a pleasure.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Obama Justice Department yesterday filed a brief urging a California district court to dismiss a little-known constitutional challenge to DOMA filed in late 2008 by a married gay couple . . . For lots of reasons, gay-marriage advocacy groups would like to see this case go away . . . A dismissal on jurisdictional grounds would nicely suit that purpose, and that seems to me the most likely outcome.Certainly, there can be lots of discussion on the Federal DOMA and it's constitutional merits - but what caught my conservative eye was Carpenter's point of interest #3:
But the DOJ brief goes further than it needs to go at this point in the case by addressing the merits of the constitutional issues in the case, . . .
Of most interest is what the DOJ has to say about the due process and equal protection claims, rejecting just about every single variation of an argument that gay-rights scholars and litigants have made over the past 30 years.
(3) The Obama DOJ also has new understanding of federalism:The continual erosion of the rights of the several states vs the Federal government is, of course, worrisome to me.[B]ecause Congress recognized both the freedom of States to expand the traditional definition, and the freedom of other States to decline to recognize this newer form of marriage, a policy of neutrality dictated that Congress not extend federal benefits to new forms of marriage recognized by some States. Given the strength of competing convictions on this still-evolving issue, Congress could reasonably decide that federal benefits funded by taxpayers throughout the nation should not be used to foster a form of marriage that only some States recognize, and that other States do not. (emphasis added)Historically federal marriage benefits have been available to anyone married under state law. The federal definition was parasitic on the state definition. If a state chose to allow 14-year-olds to marry, but most states did not allow that, nobody thought federal recognition of such marriages functioned as a subsidy forced on the taxpayers of other states. DOMA changed that, but only for gay marriages. "Neutrality," as the Obama administration understands it, does not mean federal recognition of state choices in this matter. It means denying federal recognition of state choices.
Obviously, for folks who expected President Obama's administration to support gay marriage, Carpenter's conclusion may be a surprise:
My point here is not to claim that the DOJ's arguments are anti-gay, homophobic, or even wrong. Much of the brief seems right to me, or at least entirely defensible, as a matter of constitutional law. My point is only to note how much continuity there is in this instance, as in others, between the Bush and Obama administrations. In short, there's little in this brief that could not have been endorsed by the Bush DOJ. A couple of rhetorical flourishes here and there might have been different. Perhaps a turn of phrase. But, minus some references to procreation and slippery slopes, the substance is there.Read more!
Obama says he opposes DOMA as a policy matter and wants to repeal it. Nothing in the DOJ brief prevents him from acting on that belief. He is, he says, a "fierce advocate" for gay and lesbian Americans. When does that part start?
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Seriously, taking the Bible literally can lead to people tying themselves into knots. Take original sin. God said what He said in Genesis, but by the time of the 10 commandments in Exodus, His wrath was limited unto the 3rd or 4th generation. By Ezekial 18, every man's sin is his own and the sins of the fathers are not visited on the sons. So which version is right?I gave an answer that included discussion of progressive revelation - and that I did not think these areas were that contradictory. The chat continued with this comment:
Then Augustine's ideas on original sin are no longer in play? And there's no longer the original need for salvation?Frankly, I really haven't read what Augustine said about original sin - but folks who talk about it act like it is some kind of infection passed on by our genes at birth - Augustine apparently thought by the lust associated with sex. However, Augustine's views on original gave over, within the Catholic Church and within a century, to Aquinas' view:
Last I looked all Christianity was based on the idea of salvation starting with the original sin; I'm totally confused at this point.
He distinguished the supernatural gifts of Adam before the Fall from what was merely natural, and said that it was the former that were lost, privileges that enabled man to keep his inferior powers in submission to reason and directed to his supernatural end. Even after the fall, man thus kept his natural abilities of reason, will and passions.This makes sense to me - our legacy from the garden is not some positive infection - it is a lack of something we should have. (This falls in with my view that evil is also a lack of good rather than a force in and of itself.) This, in my view, is why God gave Israel Mosaic Law - to serve as a substitute for those lost supernatural gifts/priviledges.
That the views of the Catholic Church are far closer to Aquinas than Augustine can be seen in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church. From Wikipedia:
Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that in "yielding to the tempter, Adam and Eve committed a personal sin, but this sin affected the human nature that they would then transmit in a fallen state … original sin is called "sin" only in an analogical sense: it is a sin "contracted" and not "committed"—a state and not an act" (404). This "state of deprivation of the original holiness and justice … transmitted to the descendants of Adam along with human nature" (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 76) involves no personal responsibility or personal guilt on their part (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 405). Personal responsibility and guilt were Adam's, who because of his sin, was unable to pass on to his descendants a human nature with the holiness with which it would otherwise have been endowed, in this way implicating them in his sin.For me, the definition of sin is anything that turns us away from God - anything. We are supposed to love God with ALL of ourselves - anything that gets in the way of that is sin. The original sin was Adam and Eve disobeying God's command not to eat some fruit from a tree - a fruit that gave them the knowledge of good and evil.
One pastor I heard said this about the two trees in Eden:
- the tree of life (חיּים); and
- the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (רע- ra): the root of ra is רעע- raa - which can mean to spoil (literally, by breaking to pieces)
So, our sin is that we choose our own desires over God's will for us - who we are to give ALL to; and over the needs of other humans - who we are to love as we love ourselves. We know this as well - universally. Our consciences convict us; and, in our shame, we seek to hide our true selves behind masks and fig leaves - we break ourselves off from the community with God and each other we were created for. When our consciences convict us, we should:
- feel remorse and flee from wrong;
- confess what one has done;
- atone - pay the debt;
- reconcile - restore the bonds that have been broken; and
- become justified - get back in the right.
- do not flee from wrong, but just from thinking about it;
- compulsively confess every detail of the story but the moral;
- punish ourselves again and again offering every sacrifice but the one demanded;
- simulate the broken bonds of intimacy by seeking companions as guilty as ourselves; and
- seek not to become just but to justify ourselves.
Not because Adam did it; but because we - by our nature that we share with Adam - choose universally to do the same; and God "gives us over to our nature" and lets us choose it. We choose it because, as Satan tempted in the Garden, we want "to be as Gods".
This is the reason Christ came. By being the "second Adam" and living through life without sin - without choosing poorly, we have recieved through the Holy Spirit, those supernatural gifts from God that enables us, as Aquinas said:
to keep our inferior powers in submission to reason and directed to our supernatural endWith this supernatural gift/priviledge as a guide, we are no longer bound to Mosaic Law. That is if we listen and then choose to follow. Read more!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
(NET) Romans 2:1 Therefore2 you are without excuse,3 whoever you are,4 when you judge someone else.5 For on whatever grounds6 you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth7 against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think,8 whoever you are, when you judge9 those who practice such things and yet do them yourself,10 that you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know11 that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness12 and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!13
Notes:My Comments: I almost posted the last message along with this one in the same post. I think it is essential for anyone looking at Romans 1:24-32 to make sure they REALLY focus on this passage. For me, Paul draws the audience into a good "head-nodding" session on all "those" bad people - and then snaps them back to reality with the punchline here: you are "those bad people" so get off your high horse. It is good at this point to remember the verse at the end of the last post as well:
1 sn Rom 2:1–29 presents unusual difficulties for the interpreter. There have been several major approaches to the chapter and the group(s) it refers to:
2 tn Some interpreters (e.g., C. K. Barrett, Romans [HNTC], 43) connect the inferential Διό (dio, “therefore”) with 1:32a, treating 1:32b as a parenthetical comment by Paul.
- Rom 2:14 refers to Gentile Christians, not Gentiles who obey the Jewish law.
- Paul in Rom 2 is presenting a hypothetical viewpoint: If anyone could obey the law, that person would be justified, but no one can.
- The reference to “the ones who do the law” in 2:13 are those who “do” the law in the right way, on the basis of faith, not according to Jewish legalism.
- Rom 2:13 only speaks about Christians being judged in the future, along with such texts as Rom 14:10 and 2 Cor 5:10.
- Paul’s material in Rom 2 is drawn heavily from Diaspora Judaism, so that the treatment of the law presented here cannot be harmonized with other things Paul says about the law elsewhere (E. P. Sanders, Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People, 123); another who sees Rom 2 as an example of Paul’s inconsistency in his treatment of the law is H. Räisänen, Paul and the Law [WUNT], 101–9.
- The list of blessings and curses in Deut 27–30 provide the background for Rom 2; the Gentiles of 2:14 are Gentile Christians, but the condemnation of Jews in 2:17–24 addresses the failure of Jews as a nation to keep the law as a whole (A. Ito, ”Romans 2: A Deuteronomistic Reading,” JSNT 59 : 21-37).
3 tn That is, “you have nothing to say in your own defense” (so translated by TCNT).
4 tn Grk “O man.”
5 tn Grk “Therefore, you are without excuse, O man, everyone [of you] who judges.”
6 tn Grk “in/by (that) which.”
7 tn Or “based on truth.”
8 tn Grk “do you think this,” referring to the clause in v. 3b.
9 tn Grk “O man, the one who judges.”
10 tn Grk “and do them.” The other words are supplied to bring out the contrast implied in this clause.
11 tn Grk “being unaware.”
12 tn Grk “hardness.” Concerning this imagery, see Jer 4:4; Ezek 3:7; 1 En. 16:3.
13 tn Grk “in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
Matthew 7:3 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? 5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.As opposed to the critic who questioned the authorship (and intellectual depth) of Romans 1:18-2:5; I think this is one of the most important sections of scripture. Here is a review of Paul's argument here - minus the details:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them . . . So people are without excuse. For although they knew God, did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened . . . Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity . . . They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions . . . And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done . . . Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them. Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth against those who practice such things. And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed!Carl presents that Paul's points here are:
- that the people who do the things on "vice list" between 26 and 32 are wrong:
John 8:3 The experts in the law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They made her stand in front of them 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone to death such women. What then do you say?” 6 (Now they were asking this in an attempt to trap him, so that they could bring charges against him.) Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 When they persisted in asking him, he stood up straight and replied, “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground. 9 Now when they heard this, they began to drift away one at a time, starting with the older ones, until Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up straight and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She replied, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”While Jesus, further making the point Paul made, reproved the crowd for judging and condemning the adulteress for her sin - He did not ignore her sin. He let her know it was sin, and that she needed to stop sinning
- those that approve and support those that do such things are worse:
Luke 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples, “Stumbling blocks are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 Watch yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him. 4 Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”Approving of folks who sin is indeed causing them to sin further - it is indeed just the kind of "stumbling block" Jesus talked about here. Notice - again - that Jesus does not say to ignore sin. We are to rebuke our brother when they sin, and then forgive them
- those who judge others that do those things (while they do some/any of them themselves) are worst of all. That brings us back once more to:
Matthew 7:3 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own? 5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Appendix: This section is included in a textual issue one reader brought up
Next: 2:6-16 -- "God's Impartial Judgement" Read more!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
The crosspost at Street Prophets brought on an interesting discussion. Usually between the commentaries at Bible.Org and the notes to the New English Translation (NET) most of the serious textual issues with passages are brought up and discussed. Usually. I guess not so much this time:
I wouldn't call this "revelation". At least not the unspiritual hodge-podge that is strung along after 1:17 (running all the way to verse 8 of Chap 2 in my opinion). It juts into the document like a page of emotional notes inserted by a novice. It’s a series of low reflections trying to hitch a ride on a great letter simply on the brute strength of a few stray scriptural allusions and some lurid detail. It is a poor litany of unregenerate sentiment and philosophic drivel, the dross of a lesser mind than Paul’s - one who cannot approach the level of Paul’s genius.I asked for some sources and got a very good one:
In my opinion the 22 verses starting at 1:18 bear a tone and form that are distinctly different from that of the Epistle as a whole - not to mention the jumble of uncharitable and uncouth words that do not occur anywhere else in Paul.
I say, accept it at your risk. What I believe is that Jesus himself will hold every fundamentalist responsible for emphasizing this kind of pre-Christian stuff in place of his (or Paul’s) true mission and message.
I find that several ancient Greek manuscripts comprising the most complete collections of NT witings are missing key portions of the first 3 chapters of Romans.This seems to be an admission that there is no solid uncontested scholarship on this; and that this is subjective for him as well. My question still is:
Chief among which, from those called the "Western" group of texts [here is one discussion]:
"D" codex Claromontanus, missing Rom 1:1-7 and 1:27-30
"F" codex Augiensis (in both Greek and Latin), missing Rom 1:1 to 3:19
"G" codex Boernerianus, missing Rom 1:1-5 and 2:16-25
And from those called the "Alexandrian" group:
"C" codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, missing Rom 2:5 to 3:21
"P" codex Porphyrianus, missing Rom 2:15 to 3:5
I do not seek to imply that the gaps in these texts suggest the presence of bogus writing in the "fuller" versions (Sinaiticus or Alexandrinus, for example). But I believe it is rational to conjecture that some of those gaps might have been created as a means of ending the question of strange or variant texts among the earliest pieces of paper on which the Epistle circulated. Where a strange hand or spirit was noticed, eliminate the passage (especially if the same thought appears elsewhere in the Epistle).
The distinct variety of styles present in the Pauline Epistles (between Romans and Ephesians for example) has been a long-debated question. Here I am talking about an abrupt change of style within the first chapter of one Epistle.
But all of the scholars who have proposed interpolations in the text of Romans (profs. H. Weisse and D. Volter in the 19th Century, to name 2) are (rightly, I think) accused of the sins of subjective judgment and arbitrary decision. So I offer my theory only as a personal guideline.
Back to the comment:
I’m saying Romans 1:18 to about 2:3 (I was rash to push it to the 9th verse) sounds to me like rehash and bad faith, it doesn’t sound like revelation, and it doesn’t sound like Paul at his highest inspiration. What I find in it that is at all worthy is said better elsewhere in the Epistle or in other scripture.I really meant authorship in my comment; but I will pick up this challenge anyway. I think it is hard to find anything to support anything prior to 150AD really, so this is quite a challenge. Elsewhere, the critic accepted the following 4 folks as Apostolic Fathers: Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Irenaeus. I will accept that as a given - and add Clement of Alexandria. Certainly, he was not an Apostolic Father - he was a student of Tatian - however he was one of the founders of Christian literature along with Irenaeus; and Origen was his student. Alexandria became the "brains" of Christianity while Antioch was still its heart. He was in the last 30 years of the second century - but long before the codexs the critic has mentioned. So, I have broadened "before 150" to "second century and before".
However, your statement is not correct
[Me:] this has been attributed to Paul very nearly universally since the earliest of compilations of Paul's letters - and therefore seen by people who knew Paul. The first "compilations of Paul's letters" were early, but, with respect to the portion of canonical text in question here, I don't think you can go back earlier than 150 AD with those "attributions" to Paul you mention. I didn't find any in the Apostolic Fathers or Justin Martyr, for example.
Now, short of someone saying the links I am about to give are not by the above four Fathers, then I found allusions to Romans 1:18-32 in two of the four, and outright quotes in one of them. The links:
I restricted myself to two works at the site:
I believe this meets the requirement to find use of Romans 1:18-32 clearly cited by an Apostolic Father: Irenaeus
However, it doesn't really deal with the textual issue, just the documentary evidence. So, what do you all think about that?
Appendix to the Appendix: The critic addressed the texual issue here
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
(NET) Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people39 who suppress the truth by their40 unrighteousness,41 19 because what can be known about God is plain to them,42 because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people43 are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts44 were darkened. 22 Although they claimed45 to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings46 or birds or four-footed animals47 or reptiles.
Notes:From the Note Sheet:
39 tn The genitive ἀνθρώπων could be taken as an attributed genitive, in which case the phase should be translated “against all ungodly and unrighteous people” (cf. “the truth of God” in v. 25 which is also probably an attributed genitive). C. E. B. Cranfield takes the section 1:18–32 to refer to all people (not just Gentiles), while 2:1–3:20 points out that the Jew is no exception (Romans [ICC], 1:104–6; 1:137–38).
40 tn “Their” is implied in the Greek, but is supplied because of English style.
41 tn Or “by means of unrighteousness.” Grk “in (by) unrighteousness.”
42 tn Grk “is manifest to/in them.”
43 tn Grk “they”; the referent (people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
44 tn Grk “heart.”
45 tn The participle φάσκοντες (phaskontes) is used concessively here.
46 tn Grk “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God in likeness of an image of corruptible man.” Here there is a wordplay on the Greek terms ἄφθαρτος (aphthartos, “immortal, imperishable, incorruptible”) and φθαρτός (phthartos, “mortal, corruptible, subject to decay”).
47 sn Possibly an allusion to Ps 106:19–20.
Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
- No amount of knowledge, education, technology, cultural advance, sophistication, etc. – has overcome the problem of sin in the human heart.
- God is unalterably opposed to everything that mars His creation and good purpose.
- The problem of sin is not just wrong behavior, but wrong thought patterns that lead to wrong behavior.
- The great sin is suppressing the truth of God – and replacing Him with some part of His creation.
- There are great benefits of knowing “the wrath of God”:
- Why does Paul begin with “the wrath of God”?
- How is “the wrath of God” related to “the righteousness of God”?
- How is God’s “wrath” our only hope for a sinless eternity?
- What can be known about God from creation? What does creation not reveal about Him?
- Do we “suppress the truth”?
- In what ways do people today “exchange the glory of God” for something else?
The wrath of God is the settled, consistant, pure, deeply felt, eternal rejection of evilOne of the clearest analogies I have heard is in the audio when Carl talks about a mother and her hatred of the cancer she is battling in her son.
Thus the whole section from verse 18 on is couched in what Hays calls mythico-historical language, in which the whole pagan world is implicated. Paul's "exchange of truth for a lie," verse 25, is his way of expressing the primordial sin that continues as the fundamental stance of humanity. The charge is a corporate indictment of pagan society, not a narrative about any one individual.My comments: I have quoted this passage a fair number of times. First, because it is one of those "natural law" kind of passages; and second because it is a run-up to the laundry list of "sins" at the end of Romans 1 including the section on homosexuality.
The natural law element is important. One of those questions presented to followers of Christ is "how can God send someone to hell if they just didn't know?" Paul presents here that they do know - that "they are without excuse". Not only are God's attributes visible in His creation, but one of the translations of verse 19 is that "what can be known about God is manifest in them". Paul then is saying that not believing in God is not a matter of insufficient information, but a matter of will - we decide not to believe what is manifest both in the world and within ourselves. When the truth of God begins to rise up around us or within us we "push it down" - we suppress it. See also:
Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God;Appendix: This section is included in a textual issue one reader brought up
the sky displays his handiwork.
2 Day after day it speaks out;
night after night it reveals his greatness.
3 There is no actual speech or word,
nor is its voice literally heard.
Next: Romans 1:24-32 -- "God Gave Them Over" Read more!
Friday, July 10, 2009
I am not going to get into all the things, people, movements, cults, etc. that some followers of Christ follow - just how the plan is supposed to work (at least according to Christ).
We are to follow Christ. However, how do we know what to follow? This post was inspired by conversations at Street Prophets with some folks who are "red letter" Christians - focusing on the words of Christ Himself only - and other strains of folks who take their guidance in different ways.
This is the exchange that triggered this post:
Moi: Jesus made it pretty clear that the only judge was God; and the only true guide was the Holy Spirit resident in us.I was wrong: God isn't the judge, Jesus is actually. These are both persons of the same triune God - but it is the person of Jesus, sitting on the right hand of God, who will judge us and "the Nations". Technically, it is also Jesus who leads us - but how did He say that would be accomplished:
Other: No . . . the true guide was his only begotten son that he sent here to save ourselves from ourselves. To point out the errors of our ways and to direct us to the path that the JUDGE wants us to follow. What judge here or in heaven will reward you if his instructions are not followed?
John 16:4 . . . “I did not tell you these things from the beginning because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Instead your hearts are filled with sadness because I have said these things to you. 7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment – 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. So, there are no easy "written in book" answers in life. Now, those that know me know that I believe that the Bible is the Word of God. They also know I believed it is the inspired Word of God - and that it is still valid today. However, as Paul pointed out,
1 Corinthians 2:9 But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.It is the Spirit of God resident in us that gives us the "mind of Christ" so that we can understand what God wants us to understand. This is why it has never been effective to quote Bible verses to folks who do not have the Spirit of God to lead them - for them the truth of God is nonsense. It is effective for a follower of Christ to go to the Word of God often and deeply to see what the Spirit of God wants the follower to understand about the Will of God for their life.
Also, we know Jesus focused not on the actions we perform, but the heart behind those actions - the reasons we act. If our actions follow where the Holy Spirit leads us - then we glorify God. Those same actions, for other reasons, may not glorify God at all - but only our own reason, desires, etc. They may only indicate, as the Old Testament often said, that we "did what was right in our own eyes".
Thursday, July 09, 2009
This was a post-size comment I made over at Street Prophets in a diary called "End Times: A set of prophecies or a set of hallucinations?". The real answer to that question in my mind is: "who knows?". Typically, it appears to me that prophecy isn't:
- proved until it comes to pass
- clear until it comes to pass
There are so many things here that are just wrong. Then, there are the things here that are certainly not agreed to by all New Testament scholars. I find it hard to take your source as an expert.
Let's start with just plain wrong:
Eventually, the city fell, and the people were slaughtered. Those remaining were expelled from the land. This is the time of the Diaspora--the scattering of the Jews, who were dispersed around the Mediterranean--Asia Minor, Greece, Northern Africa and Europe.Actually,
Modern historians have come to view the Bar-Kokhba Revolt as being of decisive historic importance. The massive destruction and loss of life occasioned by the revolt has led some scholars to date the beginning of the Jewish diaspora from this date. They note that, unlike the aftermath of the First Jewish-Roman War chronicled by Josephus, the majority of the Jewish population of Judea was either killed, exiled, or sold into slavery after the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, and Jewish religious and political authority was suppressed far more brutally. After the revolt the Jewish religious center shifted to the Babylonian Jewish community and its scholars.The next
The author, who we know only as John, had lived through the horrors that accompanied fall of the city.is only really, really wrong if it means the author was actually in the city during the siege. John was actually in Ephesis in Asia Minor, where he had gone after the deaths of Peter and Paul in Rome in the early 60's. He took over Paul's duties with the church there. Christians, in general, had been forced out of Jerusalem and Judea prior to the Great Jewish War.
[The Christians still in Judea, etc. sat out the war in Pella. Indeed, their unwillingness to involve themselves in this war cemented the final split of the Christians and the Jews.]
When you are dealing with an end times fundamentalist Christian, you are dealing with a person who believes that the Bible was written by God- God writes it and there is a secret code and if you are in the know you will know the code and the elect will know the code. The Bible itself becomes a magical book, a secret script.Huh? Who believes this? What folks believe is that prophecy in scripture is never exact, is almost always drapped in allegory and symbolic language, and therefore the events (such as Christ's life) that are prophesied usually help clarify the prophesy when they occur. However, there is no "secret code" or "secret knowledge" - it is all written for all to see. Then, on to opinions not shared by all:
The people who actually knew Jesus, the twelve, none of them left writings for us. All of these writings are written well after the death of Jesus.What is "well after"? What counts as "actually knowing Jesus"? Only three of the 12 are credited even by conservative scholars with New Testament works - John, Matthew, and Peter. However, James, probably Jesus' brother, probably knew him ;-) but wasn't one of the twelve. The Apostles accepted that Paul "knew" Jesus, at least after His resurrection - there is no other reason they would have accepted Paul into the church after his history. Luke and Mark have never been thought of as companions of Jesus - just companions of companions: Paul and Peter respectively. I think it is pretty clear that all of the New Testament works (except Revelations) were completed by 64AD (see Redating the New Testament or these Introductions for the arguments) - or within 30ish years of Jesus' death - and all within the possible lifetimes of the folks who knew him. They were almost all written to pass on knowledge to the church after it became clear that Jesus was not coming back immediately. I believe the earliest of the New Testament works was James (see article linked above) within 15 years of the death of Christ.
Narrowing to Revelations, there are two general views (with a bunch of other minor ones) - preterist (with postmillienialism and amillienialism) and premillienial - related to whether Revelations is looking at events already occurred (as the person interviewed believes); or is a prophetic work. It is interesting that the preterist view is key to replacement theology - that the Christian church has replaced the Jewish people in the promises of God. A small sliver of that group are the Reconstructionists - those real Dominionists - who believe that Revelations shows that only through destruction of what exists and replacement by the Church will God's Kingdom be advanced. These are the folks (along with the preterists in general) that believe God's Kingdom on earth is possible through the actions of Christians (or is spiritually here now).
The premillienialist on the other hand do not think that the events in 70AD resulted in the "end of the Age"; and that therefore the destruction of Jerusalem was not the event looked at in scripture. They believe that human Christians are not capable of creating a Kingdom of God on earth prior to the actual return of Christ to lead that Kingdom - and do not support the Dominionist idea that the governments on Earth must become Christian before Christ can return.
I am thinking that last section on "end times" theological differences is pretty weak - it just isn't an area I concentrate on. Y'all can help me straighten out/deepen my understanding.
It isn't an area of interest because I am pretty sure it shouldn't be for a follower of Christ. He said to be ready, but He also made it pretty clear we would not see the scenario coming when it came. So, I think folks who are focused on when the end times are going to get here would be better off focusing on now. Tell me if you think I am wrong about that. Read more!
(NET) Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.34 17 For the righteousness35 of God is revealed in the gospel36 from faith to faith,37 just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.”38
Notes:From the Note Sheet:
34 sn Here the Greek refers to anyone who is not Jewish.
35 tn The nature of the “righteousness” described here and the force of the genitive θεοῦ (“of God”) which follows have been much debated. (1) Some (e.g. C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans [ICC], 1:98) understand “righteousness” to refer to the righteous status given to believers as a result of God’s justifying activity, and see the genitive “of God” as a genitive of source (= “from God”). (2) Others see the “righteousness” as God’s act or declaration that makes righteous (i.e., justifies) those who turn to him in faith, taking the genitive “of God” as a subjective genitive (see E. Käsemann, Romans, 25–30). (3) Still others see the “righteousness of God” mentioned here as the attribute of God himself, understanding the genitive “of God” as a possessive genitive (“God’s righteousness”).
36 tn Grk “in it”; the referent (the gospel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
37 tn Or “by faith for faith,” or “by faith to faith.” There are many interpretations of the phrase ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν (ek pisteōs eis pistin). It may have the idea that this righteousness is obtained by faith (ἐκ πίστεως) because it was designed for faith (εἰς πίστιν). For a summary see J. Murray, Romans (NICNT), 1:363–74.
38 sn A quotation from Hab 2:4.
Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
- Are we “ashamed of the gospel”? What can we do about it?
- What does “salvation” mean to you? How is our understanding of salvation “smaller” than Paul’s?
- Can you describe God’s “righteousness” in a way anyone could understand?
- Why do you think God chose the way of “faith” to save people and accomplish His purpose?
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Thursday, July 02, 2009
(NET) Romans 1:1 From Paul, 1 a slave 2 of Christ Jesus, 3 called to be an apostle, 4 set apart for the gospel of God. 5 2 This gospel 6 he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son who was a descendant 7 of David with reference to the flesh, 8 4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power 9 according to the Holy Spirit 10 by the resurrection 11 from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him 12 we have received grace and our apostleship 13 to bring about the obedience 14 of faith 15 among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name. 6 You also are among them, 16 called to belong to Jesus Christ. 17 7 To all those loved by God in Rome, 18 called to be saints: 19 Grace and peace to you 20 from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Notes:My comments: At Street Prophets there was a diary examing the ideas of obedience/slavery/submission vs consent. That theme arises is these first 7 verses. The NIV that Carl preaches from uses the word "slave", some use "servant", and it should be "bondservant" - but in any case Paul sees himself as the servant or slave of Jesus, or the Gospel, for the Glory of God. However, there is no way, I think, to not see that Paul is in full consent with that status.
1 tn Grk “Paul.” The word “from” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.
2 tn Traditionally, “servant.” Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times...in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.
sn Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s “slave” or “servant” is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For someone who was Jewish this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.”
3 tc Many important mss, as well as several others (Ì26 א A G Ψ 33 1739 1881 Ï), have a reversed order of these words and read “Jesus Christ” rather than “Christ Jesus” (Ì10 B 81 pc). The meaning is not affected in either case, but the reading “Christ Jesus” is preferred as slightly more difficult and thus more likely the original (a scribe who found it would be prone to change it to the more common expression). At the same time, Paul is fond of the order “Christ Jesus,” especially in certain letters such as Romans, Galatians, and Philippians. As well, the later Pauline letters almost uniformly use this order in the salutations. A decision is difficult, but “Christ Jesus” is slightly preferred.
4 tn Grk “a called apostle.”
5 tn The genitive in the phrase εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ (euangelion qeou, “the gospel of God”) could be translated as (1) a subjective genitive (“the gospel which God brings”) or (2) an objective genitive (“the gospel about God”). Either is grammatically possible. This is possibly an instance of a plenary genitive (see ExSyn 119-21; M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek, §§36-39). If so, an interplay between the two concepts is intended: The gospel which God brings is in fact the gospel about himself. However, in view of God’s action in v. 2 concerning this gospel, a subjective genitive notion (“the gospel which God brings”) is slightly preferred.
6 tn Grk “the gospel of God, which he promised.” Because of the length and complexity of this sentence in Greek, it was divided into shorter English sentences in keeping with contemporary English style. To indicate the referent of the relative pronoun (“which”), the word “gospel” was repeated at the beginning of v. 2.
7 tn Grk “born of the seed” (an idiom).
8 tn Grk “according to the flesh,” indicating Jesus’ earthly life, a reference to its weakness. This phrase implies that Jesus was more than human; otherwise it would have been sufficient to say that he was a descendant of David, cf. L. Morris, Romans, 44.
9 sn Appointed the Son-of-God-in-power. Most translations render the Greek participle ὁρισθέντος (Jorisqentos, from ὁρίζω, Jorizw) “declared” or “designated” in order to avoid the possible interpretation that Jesus was appointed the Son of God by the resurrection. However, the Greek term ὁρίζω is used eight times in the NT, and it always has the meaning “to determine, appoint.” Paul is not saying that Jesus was appointed the “Son of God by the resurrection” but “Son-of-God-in-power by the resurrection,” as indicated by the hyphenation. He was born in weakness in human flesh (with respect to the flesh, v. 3) and he was raised with power. This is similar to Matt 28:18 where Jesus told his disciples after the resurrection, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
10 tn Grk “spirit of holiness.” Some interpreters take the phrase to refer to Christ’s own inner spirit, which was characterized by holiness.
11 tn Or “by his resurrection.” Most interpreters see this as a reference to Jesus’ own resurrection, although some take it to refer to the general resurrection at the end of the age, of which Jesus’ resurrection is the first installment (cf. 1 Cor 15:23).
12 tn Grk “through whom.”
13 tn Some interpreters understand the phrase “grace and apostleship” as a hendiadys, translating “grace [i.e., gift] of apostleship.” The pronoun “our” is supplied in the translation to clarify the sense of the statement.
14 tn Grk “and apostleship for obedience.”
15 tn The phrase ὑπακοὴν πίστεως has been variously understood as (1) an objective genitive (a reference to the Christian faith, “obedience to [the] faith”); (2) a subjective genitive (“the obedience faith produces [or requires]”); (3) an attributive genitive (“believing obedience”); or (4) as a genitive of apposition (“obedience, [namely] faith”) in which “faith” further defines “obedience.” These options are discussed by C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans (ICC), 1:66. Others take the phrase as deliberately ambiguous; see D. B. Garlington, “The Obedience of Faith in the Letter to the Romans: Part I: The Meaning of ὑπακοὴ πίστεως (Rom 1:5; 16:26),” WTJ 52 (1990): 201-24.
16 tn Grk “among whom you also are called.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation. The NIV, with its translation “And you also are among those who are called,” takes the phrase ἐν οἳς ἐστε to refer to the following clause rather than the preceding, so that the addressees of the letter (“you also”) are not connected with “all the Gentiles” mentioned at the end of v. 5. It is more likely, however, that the relative pronoun οἳς has τοῖς ἔθνεσιν as its antecedent, which would indicate that the church at Rome was predominantly Gentile.
17 tn Grk “called of Jesus Christ.”
18 map For location see JP4-A1.
19 tn Although the first part of v. 7 is not a complete English sentence, it maintains the “From...to” pattern used in all the Pauline letters to indicate the sender and the recipients. Here, however, there are several intervening verses (vv. 2-6), which makes the first half of v. 7 appear as an isolated sentence fragment.
20 tn Grk “Grace to you and peace.”
The subtle differences in those three words are important:
- Servant: could be a slave, or could just be hired.
- Bondservant: has sold themselves into slavery.
- slave: could be a bondservant, and also could be someone forced into slavery.
It is interesting to me that the translator's notes pinpoint the change in translation from "slave" to "servant" to the period of early American history. I think particularly in the west, and most clearly in the United States, the idea of autonomy and freedom is most important. We do not wish to see ourselves as servants or slaves to anyone (even God) or any cause (including what is right and just). We want to be independent partners with God, rather than lovingly doing His will to perhaps our own personal detriment. We are, perhaps more than anywhere else on the planet, the center of our own personal universe - a universe that is here to serve us and not us to serve it.
Further, the idea of the "obedience of faith" or "obedience from faith" is deep. Do we obey because we have faith, or do we develop faith through obeying - or both (that is what I think)?
Also in these first seven verses is Paul's understanding of why the resurrection was important - it proved that Jesus was the long promised Messiah. It also was the point where Jesus, born in weakness as a human, assumed (or re-assumed in my mind) the position/power of Son.
Finally, for those who didn't get through all the audio, the word "saint" is not about behavior - it is about position.
Next: Romans 1:8-15 -- "Paul's Desire to Come to Rome" Read more!