Friday, October 30, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It has been the inspiration of some of the most powerful and alluring works of art in history. Many of you I’m sure have seen images of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel. This image is both inspiring and terrifying. In it the martyrs are called to Christ’s side while the Damned are carried off in heaps by demons to Hell.
It has also inspired works a little less then grand. I remember when I first took a Job as a youth leader I had to clean out the office of the minister who had worked there before me. On one of the book shelves was a collection of Movies about Revelation, which were set of course in "modern" times. From the look of the actors it seemed that the “Mark of the Beast” must have been getting a bad perm. And of course for better or worse many of us are familiar with the “Left Behind” series that was popular a few years ago.
I used to watch broadcasts of people who had theories about how current events were actually a fulfillment of prophesies in Revelation. I thought they were funny, until I realized that sometimes their messages were used to justify some very ugly things. As captivating as the book of Revelation is there are those who misuse it to manipulate others and promote their own agenda. I have also known others who have become obsessed with the images in revelation. The book becomes a series of puzzles to unravel that consume them. Their hope becomes the quest to understand the signs of the times, and the Gospel can often get lost in the hunt.
This weekend the New Testament reading is a passage in revelation that is one of my personal favorites. I like it partially because it’s easier to understand. There are no beasts with horns hand heads and crowns. I don’t have to try to figure out who the whore of Babylon. The message is actually something you can hang your hat on.
In Revelation 21:1-6a there is a Hope revealed which is the hinge upon which the rest of the book seems to turn. There are many troubles in Revelation but at the end God sets things right. In the passage we see several things:
-There is a New Creation ( the terminology of “a New Heaven and a New Earth” show the breath to the new creation. It extends to everything!)
-The Heavenly Jerusalem comes down (dressed as a bride many scholars view this image at the Church and place it in contrast to the church presented at the beginning of the Book. An imperfect church at the beginning, a perfect church at the end)
-God Dwells or “Tabernacles” with his people
-Death is done away with (AND there is life in Christ seen in 6b)
This passage gives me a great hope... and who wouldn’t find hope here. Someday things will be right again. There is great suffering here, but things won’t always be that way. One fine morning when this life is over I’ll fly away!
But there is something interesting in this passage. I didn’t pick up on it for a long time. No one flies away... in fact we don’t go up the New Jerusalem comes Down, and God lives here.
That sounds scarily like what Jesus tells us to pray in the Lords Prayer
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”
Look at Revelation 21: 1-6a. Seriously LOOK AT IT! Is there anything listed there that cannot be realized in some way today?
There is a bizarre tendency in the church to take our hope in Christ and relegate it someplace where we never taste in our lives. Why do we do it?
Look at the passage
Do we experience New Creation?
Do we experience God’s Comfort?
Do we experience life in Christ?
Does God dwell with us?
Is the Church bringing heaven to earth in any ways today?
Has death been done away with?
We believe in life that is so full that those who are a part of it are never overcome by death. That is why we celebrate All Saints Day on November 1st. On this day we celebrate the lives of those who have known that life in ages and generations before us, and take up the call to live the life of a Saint today, that is to LIVE RESURRECTION!
Revelation 21 offers us great hope, but do we see that hope as a calling?
The funny thing about Saints is we can so often abstract them in the same way we abstract Revelation. So often when I think of Saints I imagine a person who has access to some life beyond me. I imagine they have somehow tasted something I will never be able to touch myself. By calling someone a saint we can create a barrier between their life and ours. Maybe this is why Dorothy Day once said, "Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed that easily."
Saints give us great Hope, but do we see their life as a calling?
The Gospel for this weekend demonstrates that Jesus took the hope of resurrection as a reality that was being realized by his very life. In John 11 we read the story of the Death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. When he arrives at his home he promises his sister Martha that Lazarus will rise again. Like us Martha assumes resurrection is something “one fine morning” She says, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." But Jesus has a different perspective. The same hope we see in Revelation was something Jesus lived. He spoke and Lazarus was raised from the dead!
Now do I take this seriously? Do I take this seriously with my life? Am I living Apocalypse Now. In my real life? Lazarus was raised from the dead! .... I'll say it again, Lazarus was raised from the dead!
I can try to make excuses about how It’s all well and good for Jesus but I’m just a man, but then Jesus has the audacity to come back three chapters later and say “anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these”
Our Hope in Christ is a Calling... a real calling... for real days, like today.
Are we willing to ask the question, “what ‘greater things than these’ do you have for me?”
Revelation 21 convicts me because it shows me what God’s desire for the Church is. When the church is on earth these things happen. It’s so easy for us to go to church and experience the word of God. We gather and celebrate the resurrection in everything we do from the Church year, to the Lord’s Supper, to Baptism. We sing and pray about the resurrection, but we leave it there. We leave the resurrection in the church.
I am more guilty then anyone of this. Revelation shows us an image of the perfect church. Let it inspire us to say “LORD LET US LIVE OUR HOPE IN YOU!”
We all know people in need of Comfort...
We all know communities in need of New Creation...
We all know places of Death...
We know the loneliness of this world first hand...
We have a hope that can change that.
So, May the God who dwells in his New Creation make his home in every part of your lives... Amen
Saturday, October 24, 2009
‘they may indeed look, but not perceive,and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”
-Mark 4:10-12 (NRSV)
I always read Mark 4:10-12 several times whenever I get to it. The statement that Jesus says seems so counterintuitive to everything else he says or at least to what I imagine Jesus to be like. The passage seems to be indicating Jesus’ parables are given to intentionally to keep people from forgiveness. This doesn’t gel well with our theology of evangelism as Christians, and doesn’t even gel well with Jesus’ own words just a few verses later in verses 21-22 where he states “whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed.” What is going on?
To understand this passage it’s important to look at its context. It’s no coincidence that this passage is sandwiched between the parable of the sower and its explanation. The sower parable is described by Jesus in verse 13 as something of a decoder ring for all his other parables. It seems as if the words are placed early on in Mark’s Gospel as a framework by which you can understand the remainder of the book, and the life of Jesus. R.T. France argues in his commentary on Mark (The Gospel of Mark, Eerdmans, 2002) that the “everything” in verse 11 could be read as the life and works of Jesus not simply his teachings. The question is now, are we to see Jesus enigmatic words and life as intentionally beguiling OR is beguilement a natural consequence of what Jesus is doing?
Verse 12 consists mostly of a condensed quotation of Is. 6:9-10. This passage had been controversial even before Jesus used it for many of the same reasons it is controversial today. In the LXX we see that the language is somewhat softened to indicate the preaching of the prophet is causative rather than intentionally initiated to blind the people. There is also a rabbinical tradition that views the Isaiah passage as a promise rather than a treat (France, pg 200). The text doesn’t seem to indicate Jesus was taking this line at all. Instead he used the controversial ινα at the beginning of verse 12, which could mean a variety of things but in any case does not support the view that Jesus viewed this passage as a promise. Others like B. Hollenbach translate the whole passage with an air of sarcasm, while some translate the ινα as simply a quotation marker and sidestep intention all together.
France points out that this passage is directed at insiders, who were not always insiders. The people Jesus reveals the “secret of the Kingdom of God” is not a static set of folks, and the “secret” is not something that has the same connotation in the Greek at it does in English. The word in Greek is μυστατηρον and in this context it is something that “once known is to be shared” (France, 201). The extent to which the secret is to be shared is hard to know. As I mentioned before Jesus’ second parable is about disclosing what is hidden. However we must not ignore the places where Jesus does censure people from speaking of what he’s done (8:30 and 9:9).
I would like to conclude by saying that we are not in a position in which we are called to be silent. As a Christian I have been called to proclaim the secret of the Kingdom of God. In doing so there will be many upon which my words will fall on deaf ears. It is not within my power to open ears, hearts, or lives, but that task continues to be done. The secret has always had an outward momentum and in that momentum there is a grace to make the enigma incarnate in our own identity.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The chapter opens up with two verses from John (10:9-10) where Jesus states “I am the door,” and concludes that he has come to bring life in abundance. This passage is cited directly from the Amplified Bible. This gets my attention right off the bat. Although I enjoy reading the Amplified Bible its whole premise is using an illegitimate totality transfer of the Greek to the English which I think can be VERY dangerous, and is not appropriate for teaching. It’s ok in this case though since Meyer doesn’t actually use the text for any of her points. Instead she goes on a series of anecdotal tangents for five pages.
I found it interesting that her tangents seemed somewhat disingenuous. Her second main point focused on not accumulating too many things. She talked about collecting more stuff then you need and cluttering the house. I find that her own life doesn’t mirror this lesson all that well. She owns who owns several homes so I suppose she has room to avoid “clutter,” but if you teach accumulation of things as something that will “steal your joy” make an attempt to live like it. The whole thing felt to me like an appeal to a common complaint the reader may have, but her point was not backed up with any passage of scripture or even a credible personal anecdote. For me passages like this give me the impression that Meyer does not think her audience to have significant biblical literacy.
When we finally do get back to the Bible (five pages later), she beings to do a word study on the term foolishness found in 1 Corinthians 1:21. Instead of looking at the context of the passage or the Greek she uses the definition of the word found in Strong’s Concordance. To me this is silly it either indicates that Meyer is either ill-equipped to study the word in depth, or is trying to squeeze the word somewhere it was never intended to go.
The next passage used is 2 Corinthians 11:3. This passage expresses Paul’s concern that the church in Corinth might be deceived by other preachers. Meyer takes it a completely different direction and claims that it’s talking about Satan complicating out lives. This kind of blatant disregard for what the text is actually saying continues. She uses Deuteronomy 6:4 to construe the oneness of God to mean going to him is simple. Then she changes the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 that says “pray without ceasing” to “Pray as long as the anointing is on you to pray.” This seems to be a clear example of changing scripture to fit a more charismatic perspective which Meyer holds.
She ends by using James 4:2 and John 16:24 to show that we should ask God for Joy. In this case she mostly lets the scripture stand without commentary so I have no big issues. Meyer doesn’t teach heresy in this chapter, she even has some good things to say, but I can’t get over how loosely she seems to hold the scripture she claims to hold so tight too.
Why do you think televangelists misuse the bible so often?
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Why do we create Images?
“Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favor of his image, because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.”
- Marshall McLuhan
"He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed." Revelation 13:15
Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice.
"Cursed is the man who carves an image or casts an idol—a thing detestable to the LORD, the work of the craftsman's hands—and sets it up in secret." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!" Deuteronomy 27:15
Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life.
King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:1
The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Genesis 1:26
I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4
Hell is an outrage on humanity. When you tell me that your deity made you in his image, I reply that he must have been very ugly.
Man is an exception, whatever else he is. If he is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust. If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head. G.K. Chesterton
“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”
"The whole person, with all his senses, with both mind and body, needs to be
involved in genuine worship." -Jerry Kerns
God says to Moses in the Mathnavi of Rumi
"Ways of worship are not to be ranked as better or worse than on another
Its all Praise its all right
Its not me who is glorified in acts of worship
It's the worshippers! .
I want burning, burning."
"Worship changes the worshiper into the image of the One worshiped"
Friday, October 16, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
My life, in all its bravado, often feels like one testimony of “I am not” after another. I can wield a term like “born-again” like a sword cutting off the ears of all those pretenders and offenders of Jesus, but Jesus simply replies “put away your sword, shall I not drink the cup My Father has given Me?” How can we be identified with Christ and not just His religion? How does one identify with something other than oneself at all? How can a person be united in light if even their highest ambitions are simply masks that cover deceit? How do we love a God?
In John fifteen Jesus says, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love (NIV).” If we are to obey Jesus just as he obeyed the Father it get’s scary. Wasn’t his crucifixion a “cup” his father had given him? John tells us Jesus’ love is complete in pouring himself out, not even for the Father but rather for the ones the Father loved. I was all on board with doing great things for God, but being despised and rejected by those I don’t even like! STOP THE BUS! My heart is racing, I can’t do it, I’m sorry I just can’t. Let me out.
But then again:
“When the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"… As the Father
has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said,
"Receive the Holy Spirit. ” -John 19-21 NIV
I don’t have to do it alone…
"Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus
asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things;
you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I tell you the
truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but
when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress
you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the
kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow
me!" – John 21:17-19 NIV
I don’t have to do it alone…
“I do nothing on my
own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with
me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." –John 8:29
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you
forever” –John 14:16 NIV
Friday, October 9, 2009
The people come hungry for a feeding like they got on the mountain, but Jesus confronts their hunger. The bread we seek contains the life we desire, and all our desires end in death. Jesus says he is not the giver of bread but bread itself. There is no life apart from his identity. Then in an alarming move he offers his flesh as food and invites the people to eat. He lays himself down as an answer to hunger.
I had always found John 10:17 disturbing, it states, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again” (NIV). I bothered me because it seems to say The Father’s love was conditional on Jesus laying his life down. By looking at the passage again I realized that isn’t what the passage is saying at all. The Father loves who Jesus is in his identity, which IS being poured out. He doesn’t love Jesus because of what he does in John 10:17 but who he is. He is the Son of God whose death brings freedom from slavery (John 2), he is the truth that must be lives not just know (John 3), he is the living water (John 4), he is the true flesh and blood that give us the life he calls us to desire (John 6), and he is the LIGHT. A light that reveals our deeds, our self-centeredness and our egotism by being so other our masks are shattered and our complacency obliterated.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
By talking to this women Jesus was assaulting the ego of his own followers. Both women and Samaritans were seen as at the bottom of the social ladder in Jewish eyes. The fact that Jesus speaks to the women in chapter four both astonishes her (verse 9) and his disciples (verse 27). It sends a clear message to his disciples that the light extends beyond the boundaries gender and race. If they are to walk in the light they must be willing to go beyond what makes them comfortable.
Jesus’ conversation with the women is laced with an understanding of the role of geography and morality in determining identity. In Jesus’ time Jewish-Samaritan relationships centered on geography more than anything else. The Samaritans viewed Jews as Israelites corrupted by Babylon, and the Jews saw the Samaritans as half-breeds. This tension came to a head over the question of worship. Samaritans worshiped at Mount Gerizim, while Jews worshiped at Jerusalem. The woman tries to turn the question toward pedigree and geography right off the bat by attempting to provoke Jesus into responding to the origins of her well (verse 12). Jesus however side steps the issue all together and shatters the women’s own ego first by revealing the darkness in her own life (verse 18). The women, again tries to bring geography into the equation, this time by bringing up the debate over which temple to worship at. Jesus again goes to the issue of identity. One cannot find identity in place they worship in, but state they worship in. True worship is in spirit and truth. Worship in spirit identifies us with God and living in the truth brings us into the light (John 3:21).
Jesus’ call is beyond a place or way of life. The well is not as important as the water it contains.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Living in what God is doing is much more important than being knowledgeable. We don’t see how this encounter ends but Nicodemus is seen last bringing aloe and myrrh to care for Jesus’ body (19:39). I take this as a sign of great hope that Nicodemus began to love the light.
Here are 10 of the perspectives you can find in the book....
- Leonhard Ragaz argued the Sermon on the Mount is no utopia or fantasy. It is realistic.
It is to be fulfilled here and now. The kingdom is a political and social matter. He sought to use the Sermon to develop a comprehensive plan for social reform. He labeled the Sermon on the Mount “the magna charta of Christian socialism.” He saw that the Sermon assumed involvement in kingdom, but he thought the speech of Jesus is full of paradox and is not to be followed legalistically. The Beatitudes proclaim a transvaluation of values. There is no literalism here, but principles and symbols. Jesus abolished the law in order to fulfill it. He thought the Sermon is an indictment of religion; for him God and religion are mutually exclusive. He sought proclamation of the kingdom through Christ. He was not an absolute pacifist and thought that one can do the opposite of Jesus’ statements without contradicting the intention. He progressively disassociated himself from the church and concluded that God cannot be where religion is and hates everything associated with it.
- Albert Schweitzer argued Jesus presented only an “interim ethic,” an ethic only for his disciples in the short time before the kingdom dawned, about which dawning Jesus was mistaken. The historical Jesus remains a stranger and an enigma. He has no authority over our knowledge, only over our will. Moral criteria are abolished. The kingdom is upramoral.
- Otto Baumgarten thought Jesus was a sunny, good-natured, and sentimental person. Our experience demands restriction of this happy confidence to the inner, personal life. It entails a boundless and unconditional individualism. Everything in contemporary culture is essentially irreconcilable with the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount. It is socially irresponsible, anticultural religious individualism and constitutes a transworldly, other worldly pilgrim ethic. It would mean an end to state, society, and family. It is not God’s highest design for human life; it is the spiritual biography of Jesus’ life. It is Jesus’ autobiographical self expression of an unexcelled socially and culturally irresponsible religious individualism.
- Johannes Weiss thought Jesus meant the Sermon on the Mount literally, but it is
eschatological and other worldly. The kingdom is entirely future. Jesus was not interested in this world but in the next. His demands under normal circumstances are simply impossible. We can shift to realized eschatology, but Jesus did not. The kingdom did not come and he died; therefore, the Sermon on the Mount is invalidated. The historical image of Jesus is not normative. Were he to come in our time, he would be a statesman or general and would be the most modern of all.
- Carl Stange said the Sermon shows us our impotence for good. It is a derogation of the idea of the good to seek its realization by imitating Jesus. Conversion of the will is not the goal of ethical achievement but its presupposition. The Sermon on the Mount is a call to repentance. It is the proclamation of an impossible law designed to awaken our consciousness of sin and shatter self-reliance. It is to prepare for the gospel by confounding with the law. (Note from me: this is a common understanding in the church today, and is very good at emasculating Jesus' words)
- Lewis Sperry Chafer, argued the Sermon is to the Jew before the cross and to the Jew in the coming kingdom and is, therefore, not now in effect.
- Martin Dibelius thought the Sermon is the law of the coming kingdom, not the law for this life. It has signs of the kingdom. The eschatological outlook is lost today. The sermon has no validity for workaday life. It is an eschatological stimulus to make us acquainted with the pure will of God. The sermon uses hyperbole.
- E. Thurneysen thought Jesus is the whole content of the Sermon. It is no model for
moral and religious conduct. It is gospel and nothing else. He understood the Sermon in terms of predestination and as a word of grace. It is accomplished for us by Christ. The law is not fulfilled through us but for us. Following Jesus never means imitating Jesus. We are to render symbolic obedience in complete hiddenness; we are not even invited to do what Jesus did.
- Johannes Müller thought the Sermon on the Mount is a torture rack on which people
uselessly torture themselves or a supernatural relic which one humbly reveres but does not obey. It is impractical and has insane demands and moral paradoxes. We must Germanize, contemporize, and individualize it to give natural principles of authentic humanization. It is not a moral law. We should remove the kernel from the husk, especially the offensive Jewishness.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer thought the Sermon teaches that you should surrender and obey.
For those willing to submit, the yoke is easy. Whereas Luther said not to aspire to live a
different life, Bonhoeffer said, “Only he who believes is obedient and only he is obedient who believes.” There is no fulfillment of the law without communion with God, and no communion with God apart from fulfillment of the law.
There is much more said in the book on these and many other views. DO YOU THINK ANY OF THESE ARE RIGHT? What is your view on the Sermon on the Mount?
In the book you will find views from:
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The Jewish festival פֶּסַח (Passover) is the occasion for Jesus’ visit to the temple in John chapter two. This is a festival that commemorates the freedom of the Israelites from their slavery under the Egyptians. The Egyptian government was essentially an institutionalized religion. The citizens all worshiped the Pharaoh as a god. The Israelites had been subjugated by this system and used as a means of generating wealth for the powerful in the theocracy. The Israelites are freed when Moses demonstrates his authority to the “god” Pharaoh through signs that culminate in the death of the “god” Pharaoh’s son. In Jesus’ own day many Israelites defined their identity as being worshipers of the One True God, with the temple as the center of worship. In John chapter two, Jesus’ cleansing is a confrontation of the institutionalized religion of his own day. Although he acknowledges he is in the temple of the one true God, he begins to attack those who are using the system to turn God’s people as a means of generating wealth for the powerful in the theocracy. Like Moses, Jesus is also asked to demonstrate his authority with signs. Jesus responds with an enigmatic illusion to his own death.
Jesus confronts the selfishness of the system. The money changers respond with indignation, they see themselves as justified in their exploitation by virtue of their association. They want to continue to live in the dark. Jesus demonstrates that God is not impressed by being in the right club, but by living in the light. He calls them to honor God in his house and away from building their own kingdoms at the expense of his children, but in this case the Darkness does not understand it.
The "Ten Guidleines" are as follows:
1.Framework against Liberal Bias:
providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation
without corruption by liberal bias
2.Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other
modern emasculation of Christianity
3.Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the
intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th
4.Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative
terms as they develop; defective translations use the word "comrade" three
times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in
meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle"
5.Combat Harmful Addiction:
combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than
"cast lots"; using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than
"enroll" for the census
6.Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect,
as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
7.Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables
with their full free-market meaning
8.Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted
liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
9.Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often
found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of
10.Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the
liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and
The one that bothers me the most is number 7... "Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning"
Monday, October 5, 2009
ASSISTANT: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the
Word was God.
GROUP: All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made
that has been made.
ASSISTANT: In Him was life and the life was the light of men.
GROUP: The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome
These words are forever burned in my mind as the summation of Christ’s Identity. He is the eternal light. The words come from John chapter one, verses one through five. It is worth noting that the above translation is not the one you will find in many bibles. The word translated as “overcome” is translated “comprehended” in the KJV and in the NASB, and “understood” in the NIV. This variation comes from an ambiguity in the Greek. The word being translated is Κατελαβεν, a form of Καταλαμβανω, which means grasp, comprehend, appreciate and overcome, put out, master (Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 2nd Ed. Gingrich, pg. 102).
For a long time I couldn’t stand the way these other translations translated this passage. For me it made no sense. How could darkness comprehend something? By translating it as “comprehended” it almost gave darkness a sentience, a character, and an identity. As I began to reread the passage, in light of the rest of John, I came to the conclusion that giving darkness an identity was exactly what John intended to do.
The book of John seems to be primarily concerned with telling us who Jesus is. One of the main ways John does this is by juxtaposing Christ’s identity with its antithesis. The book of John introduces us to Jesus’ identity as “The Light.” What identity would then be darkness? After reading chapter three it becomes clearer. Verse nineteen states, “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil” (NIV). This passage describes the identity of darkness as a place that is complacent with evil.
Complacence must be confronted to be identified. This is articulated beautifully in the words of Vladimir Nabokov, who once wrote, “Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.” The ministry of Christ is no less than a confrontation with the egotism, self-centeredness and indulgence of the people and systems he encountered. He tears off their disguises and reveals what they believed to be their identity was merely a mask. A mask used to hide their own selfish indulgence, and self centered egotism. Christ demonstrates a new way, and in that way we are drawn into a new identity. We are united with Christ.
Read about it at http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=31277
A few Highlights:
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Dressed in camouflage and stationed as the gunner in a Chenowth Desert Fast Attack Vehicle, Paige Patterson stormed onto the chapel stage. After firing a round of blanks from a .50-caliber Browning machine gun, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s president took his place behind the pulpit and initiated operation “Taking the Hill.”
… Patterson lifted his Bible, pointing out that God has armed believers with His Word, along with prayer and proclamation. Then, reading 2 Corinthians 5, he urged believers to testify to the Gospel of Christ, reminding them of Paul’s motivation: the “terror of the Lord,” the righteous judge of all men and women, and the “love of Christ,” who died to save all who believe.
… Lifting his left hand, Patterson saw that it was covered with blood — the blood of a woman who died without hearing the Gospel although she lived less than a mile from the seminary. His right hand was covered with the blood of a man who took his own life because Patterson did not witness to him at God’s prompting.
What do you think of the use of military analogies to describe the work of the Church?
I personaly think there is some room for them, within reason, but they must be approached with caution and solemnity. This one has gone way out of bounds in my opinion.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Note: The recorder ran out of room midway through part to... I can panta-mime if for you later if you want