Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reconciling the Irreconcilable

For Paul a lot more than a simple faith in “Jesus as Messiah” had to take place after his encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. For Paul he had to “reconcile the irreconcilable”. The resurrection to him wasn’t just a signet proof of Jesus’ authenticity which thereby demanded a belief and following of "The Way". Remember, Paul was a devout Jew in the strictest sense. He was brought up at the feet of Gameliel, steeped in the customs & traditions of ancient Judaism and blameless regarding Torah. No, a simple posit of faith wasn’t suffice. What Paul needed was a radical shift in his thinking, (what someone today might call “a paradigm shift”), really, a re-theologizing of his current perspective of God’s plan for humanity and what that was supposed to look like. Again, the Jewish religion of Paul’s day was as much diverse and fragmented as the Christian religion is of our day. There were a variety of anticipations and explanations of what the coming kingdom was to look like and be. Paul held to a sect of Judaism which called themselves “Pharisees”. They believed in the resurrection of the dead at the final judgment. Thus Paul had to rethink his views as the “resurrection” had happened in Jesus. What did this mean? What were the implications, etc? These were the kind of things he had to grapple with and put into a context that fit not only his worldview but now this small growing cult called Christianity. This Paul did when he went to Arabia, he received what he calls the “revelation of Jesus Christ”. After those years he finally had his head wrapped around his gospel with all the apocalyptic implications i.e. resurrection of the dead, gift of the Spirit (God's Presence), gentile inclusion etc. etc.

This should lead us to an application today of perhaps the need to "reshape", "rethink" and/or even "re-theologize" our understanding of some of the key components of "the faith". I would suggest two aspects immediately taken from Paul's shift. One is the understanding of the Kingdom of God. Without being able to go into greater detail here, there needs to be a realization that its not off in some distant future, but has already intervened in time and history and began its rule & reign in the first coming of Jesus. Although, not fully culminated into what it will be, there needs to be a vital change in that we see it as already here. Think for a moment of the Gospels... How often did the phrase "kingdom of God/Heaven is at hand" occur. Also, remember the parables; specifically the one of Jesus speaking of the kingdom like a mustard seed, how it was the smallest of all their known seeds yet it grew to be one of biggest plants etc. The same needs to be thought of in terms of the kingdom, much wasn't expected in Jesus of Nazareth's life, death, etc. but look what grew out of it.

Secondly, i believe another major shift in todays theology should be our notion of inclusion vs. exclusion. Again, for Paul, he saw this effected in his gospel. An ecumenical shift needed to take place. This polarization of "Jews/non-Jews had to be reconciled if Abraham's seed was to bless all the nations, etc. His understanding of the gentile inclusion was vital in his thinking. So too, we would do well to reshape our understanding of ecumenism. For Paul (as should with us) there was a great amount of allowance for diversity in the church. No matter what your background: cultural, ethnical or religous, all were unified in Jesus the Christ. An amazing thought, that religous Jews could now participate at the table with pagan Gentiles. Today, there needs to be an "ecumenical reform" within the church, according to Paul's gospel...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Five Introduction Quotes Commenting On Paul's Letter To The Galatians

  • Galatians is "a singularly impassioned attempt, to get some early gentile believers to stay true to his gospel as they have first received it, when he was among them" ~Gordon Fee
  • "Galatians is the most pungent and forthright of Paul's expositions of his own understanding of the Christian gospel" ~James Dunn
  • "That the epistle breathes an indignant spirit is obvious to everyone even on the first perusal... since Paul then saw the whole Galatian people in a state of excitement, a flame kindled against their church, and the edifices shakened and tottering to its fall, filled with the mixed feelings of just anger and despondence... he writes the epistle" ~John Chrysostom
  • "The epistle to the Galatians is my epistle; I have betrothed myself to it; it is my Katie (my wife)" ~Martin Luther
  • "Paul's letter to the Galatians is one of the most fiercest and polemical writings in the Bible. It begins with a denunciation of those to whom it was written and of unnamed trouble makers (1:6-9), it dismisses another group of Christians as "false brothers", makes snide remarks about the leaders of the Jerusalem Church, (2:6) and accuses Peter of hypocrisy adn deceit (2:13-14). After two somewhat more restrained chapters, the tone of urgent pleading and denunciation is resumed (5:2-4, 7-10), including a rather crude and blackly humorous aside (5:12). And the final paragraph cannot resist a parting swipe at those behind the problems and challenges which the letter seeks to address (6:12-13)." ~James Dunn

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Interesting Statistics

A friend of mine emailed me these statistics regarding pastors in ministry:

According to Shiloh Place Ministries (, which drew its information from Focus on the Family, Ministries Today, Charisma Magazine, TNT Ministries, and other respected groups:

• 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
• 4,000 new churches start each year in America.
• 7,000 churches close each year in America.
• 50% of pastors' marriages end in divorce.
• 70% of pastors continually battle depression.
• 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
• 95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses.
• 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor. 
• 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way to make a living.
• 80% of pastors spend under 15 minutes a day in prayer.
• 70% of pastors only study God's Word when preparing a message. 
• Nearly 40% of pastors have had an extra-marital sexual affair since entering ministry.
• 80% of seminary graduates who enter ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
• 80% of pastors' wives feel their husbands are overworked. 
• 80% of the adult children of pastors sought professional help for depression.
• 90% of pastors said their training was inadequate for ministry.
• 85% of pastors report that their biggest problem is dealing with abstinent elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors. 
• 90% of pastors said the hardest thing about ministry is uncooperative people.
• 70% of pastors are grossly underpaid.
• 80% of pastors' wives feel unappreciated by the congregation.
• 90% of pastors said ministry was completely different from what they thought it would be. 
• Only 70% of pastors felt called of God into ministry when they began.
• Only 50% of pastors felt called of God into ministry three years later.
• 80% of pastors' wives feel pressured to be someone they are not and do things they are not called to do in the church. 
• Over 50% of pastors' wives feel that their husbands entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The End has Come! The End has not Come!

One of the greatest needs in the church today is a shift in our understanding of the term "eschatology". There needs to be a dismantling of this "left behind" futuristic only ideology of the "end times" and a reshaping of it to what it biblically is. I'm reminded of a couple quotes from a paper I have just read by G.K. Beale entitled "The Eschatological Conception of New Testament Theology" where he quotes two people specifically who have helped shape and redefine a right paradigm of the "latter days"....

In his book entitled "Christ and Time" Oscar Cullman uses the analogy of World War II to help understand the events of the Eschaton. With D-day being the decisive day/battle of the war and V-day simply the culmination of what has already been done at Normandy. He writes:

"The hope of the final victory is so much more vivid because of the unshakeably firm conviction that the battle that decides the victory has already taken place."

Another quote by William Manson also helps our understanding:

"When we turn to the New Testament, we pass from the climate of prediction to that of fulfillment. The things which God had foreshadowed by the lips of His holy prophets He has now, in part at least, brought to accomplishment...The supreme sign of the Eschaton is the Resurrection of Jesus and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church. The Resurrection of Jesus is not simply a sign which God has granted in favour of His son, but is the inauguration, the entrance into history, of the times of the End."

Also, he writes "Christians, therefore have entered through the Christ into the new age...What had been predicted in Holy Scripture as to happen to Israel or to man in the Eschaton has happened to and in Jesus. The foundation-stone of the New Creation has come into position."

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Review of "The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham" Pt.1

This series (New Testament Theology, NTT published by Cambridge, Series Editor James D.G. Dunn) has been a successful endeavor of bringing out the various aspects of the theological threads that are found in the particular writings of the New Testament. It has (by its own admission) sought & remedied the gap that is often found in conventional or traditional style commentaries i.e. to bring to light, the author’s (often too marginalized) dense theological inferences that seem more often than not, to get brushed over or even in some cases sad to say, not even mentioned. Theology should always complete the circle in “biblical exegesis”. Whether throughout the interpretive task highlighting the overtones, or adding as a synthesis the correlative understanding. Either way, the importance cannot be overstated living in an age of post enlightened criticisms.

Bauckham, in this book demonstrates the art of handling the apocalypse as a mass treatise of theological density. He weaves together rather masterfully the distinguished nuances of the book, to name a few:

The structure and composition

The emphasis of a theocentric perception

A high view of christology

A pneumatic prophecy

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

panem et circenses

"bread and circuses" is an ancient Latin phrase utilized to help depict the tactics of ancient Rome's political persuasion by pacification & entertainment to the general populace. In light of the upcoming election, I'm nauseated by the way candidates say "whatever it takes" to get to the noble position of head of state/government! Forgive my cynicism, but i regret the fact that i can't believe "the good i would" from any participant in this election and still feel it my moral obligation to cast my meager vote.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Doctrinal Sanctification

In considering the sine qua non i.e. without which it could not be, of the "historic christian faith", i am wondering how much of "the faith" a person has to understand in order to be considered "in the faith"? In other words, i am wanting to know how many, or which of the tenants does it take to be associated in the church, and how much of what i will call "doctrinal sanctification" can play a role in shaping a person's correct understanding of those tenants post-christian conversion/experience. Roughly stated: it seems to me that the sanctification of a person can deal with attitudes that are unchristlike as well as doctrines that are unchristlike. While not affirming error, but desiring truth (especially in this post): how much did your understanding of Christ and the cross (associated terms and doctrines) did it take for you to truly be saved, and how much has your understanding of Christ and the cross morphed since then? My hunch is that some people will naturally propose the tenant: "justification by faith", that said (and if i'm right) how much of that teaching must one understand? Again, does someone simply believe in the value of Christ going to the cross for their sins or is the implication that, that person has to comprehend the matrix of the phrase "justification by faith"? I realize my post is rough around the edges in cognancy but hopefully it makes a little sense... :-)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Great Offer from Regent!

If your into textual criticism, or if you like Gordon Fee (or both) then this book is for you! The price can't be beat, its a 482 page, hard back edition that normally lists for around $60.00 and $36.00 at amazon, it is on sale for $9.33 plus around $6.00 for shipping. below is the description from their site:

Product Description
The seventeen studies in this volume provide a comprehensive presentation and assessment of past and current methods applied to the New Testament text. Both acknowledged specialists in historical and methodological studies of textual criticism, coauthors Epp and Fee offer an introductory survey of the whole field of New Testament textual criticism, followed by sections of essays on these topics: definitions of key terms; critiques of current theory and method; methods of establishing textual relationships; studies of the papyri with respect to text-critical method; and guidelines for the use of patristic evidence. Volume 45 of the Studies and Documents series, founded by Kirsopp and Silva Lake and edited by Irving Alan Sparks, Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism represents a coherent and complementary collection of essays - most but not all of them previously published - whose abiding worth and considerable influence have been demonstrated through extensive citation by textual critics and exegetes.

This compilation of studies will serve as a welcome resource for biblical scholars and students taking seminary or graduate courses in New Testament. From the more introductory studies to the constructive critiques of current theory to the more specialized analyses concerning New Testament textual criticism, this volume will provide information and challenge to beginners and experts alike.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Revelation Pt.2 (My First Thoughts...)

The book of Revelation promotes three types of genres:

3)Prophecy/Prophecy :)

These three different forms of writing styles/genres blend together into a cohesive unity thus forming a relatively distinct and multi nuanced literary composition.

John is not drafting this as he is seeing it. He shows reflection and intentionality with how he weaves the message of the Revelation. Again, John is writing into a contemporaneous Sitz im Leben i.e. a historical setting which involve local communities in Asia Minor that are going through or about to go through severe testing, trial and (from John's perspective) a testimony unto death! John wants to encourage them to be overcomers and utilizes the rich tapestry of this book to do so.

The Book of Revelation Pt. 1

After a decade plus of being a christian, i have carefully sought to understand the books of the bible in their original context i.e. literary, social, grammatical, etc. etc. with the hope of better understanding the Words and Will of God. But to my chagrin i have steered clear of the Revelation. I have embellished in what has rightly been called "eschataphobia", due to the fanatical products i've witnessed over the years of people obsessed with its content. Well, recently i have started to trod on the shallow brink of what has (to my surprise!) been a wonderful experience. Starting the journey with Richard Bauckham's book "the theology of the book of revelation" couldn't have been a more proper place.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Witherington takes a Stand!

There is a good post (and discussion) entitiled "What Price Relevance, What Effect Effectiveness?" over at Ben Witherington's blog on Halo 3 and youth ministries. It's based off a story in this weekend's NY Times. I encourage you to check it out and maybe even get involved, is it ethical or not?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Concept of Exegesis

Exegesis is beyond a shadow of all reasonable doubts, one of the most important concepts to grasp, for its supreme worth in what I will call theological fundamentals, and philosophical particulars. By theological fundamentals, I mean one’s own fundamental understanding of biblical truth, and that truth as related primarily to God, and His teachings, specifically those teachings that apply directly to His person and plan for mankind. By philosophical particulars, I intend to mean, that conceptual frameworking for living out one’s fundamental theological understanding of God & His teaching. Making a distinction between “essentials” of “the faith”, and a philosophical outworking of those “essentials”, which distinguish men, movements, and traditions while keeping a knitted thread of theology in consensus. Perhaps the phrase “unity & diversity” would help one understand my latter emphasis.

Exegesis to me then, is both a passion of pleasure (much like a hobby), and a reverential undertaking that demands toil and sweat. I tread on its ground with both fear & trembling, and blissful enjoyment. Without belaboring here all the different points of what exegesis is, I will propose two dimensions that I discern as invaluable to its task, which are science and art. Simply stated, the goal of exegesis is: a re-creation of a historical setting, so to arrive at a meaningful understanding of a portion of text, between an original author and that author’s intended audience. It is both an art and science. By stressing science, I mean a knowledge that comes through a rigorous research of data, from diverse fields of discipline. Whether those disciplines are social, geographical, political, grammatical fields, etc., one must commit to the pain of informing himself/herself at all costs to gain a proper familiarity of a foreign world, i.e. a culture and period of time long ago. Without this, there is no ground for assessing any material accurately for a fundamental theology or philosophical particulars. As well as a science, exegesis is also an art. By art I propose simply the ability or skill to apply and analyze that data one retrieves from the prowess of study/research. It is science, which gains facts; it is art, which creates life, and adds nuance and sentiment to scripture. It is art, which utilizes the information gained and allows you to visit the world of the past. It is something like a screenplay or movie, exegesis seeks to put into motion the story of scripture and accurately display a narrative. Whether that is the drama of the exodus, or Paul the Apostle, shut up in dungeon, seeking to encourage the churches he planted. In conclusion, exegesis should bring near the distant world of the O.T. and N.T. to help us realize their significance in forming and shaping what I called above: theological fundamentals, and philosophical particulars.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


After years of neglect i have decided to re-engage in (what is now) the ancient rhetoric of blogging. Hopefully, i won't settle for mere wishful thinking and actually particpate in this "labor of love"...

I can't believe my blog has never been removed though never used!
What nice people (or negligent) they are at blogger...

Faith in a RISEN Christ, not a DEAD creed!

After considering the long asked question of "why is christendom i.e. the church, as weak and sick as it is", in short I've considered the following: after "the dark ages", there shined down from above, a revelatory beam of hope in "the enlightenment", which resulted in a revival of historical criticism. Johann Salomo Semler, who was primarily the agent in the biblical/theological world, turned the tide of traditional dogmaticism to what today is taken for granted as the "historical-critical method" of interpretation. But as the old adage reminds us: "what God intends for our blessing, satan intends for our cursing", (or something like that) anyhoo, not long after the enlightment began, and as a sad twist to what God was working through higher criticism, their were those in the church, (and without) who began replacing the bible, with their own autonomy (God given ability to reason and capacitate) as the final authority, which gave rise to rationalism and liberalism. Upon such a faulty premise there were ramifications expressed of a disbelief and even scoffing at the supernatural. Naturally (or unnaturally) this led to the denial of such phenomenon's as the virgin birth, the resurrection accounts, Christ's miracles, etc. etc.

At the complete and polar opposite end of these views or groups (liberals), there arose a rebuttal; a voice or group that has come to be known as "the fundamentalists". This group or school of thought, in a polemic against the liberals stated and maintained "the fundamentals" with so much rigor and staunch, that anyone not upholding their "articles of faith", were deemed unregenerate. And hereto comes our dillema... In a sincere desire to contend earnestly for "the faith", somewhere we lost the content of these articles of "the faith" and magnified and shall I dare to say deified a creed, (statement of faith) and minimized the very creedal meanings. This I believe, is what has played a primary part in shaping and defining our mega-church American/Western age. To identify oneself to christendom today, one simply has to intellectually/mentally ascent and adhere to the back of a bulletin received from church. It says something like:

I believe in ...
I believe in ...
I believe in ...

If I hold to "the faith" all is well and I can sing some songs, sit and enjoy the message, and be on my merry way. Never really embracing or "trusting" Christ and His Risen Reality. Being a christian means: making sure my i's are dotted, and t's crossed theologically, but not necessarily experiencing the power of the gospel!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Faith that Works

Salvation it seems, has in today's world, been domesticated and localized to the current phrase:
The just shall live by faith...
As much as this notion is correct in its content, it appears to have been abused and minimized from its context. Did the apostle when he cites this reference from Habakkuk 2:4 and the anonymous writer to the book of hebrews really mean life in a forensic-one-time justified sense only?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Unburied Treasure/ Small Paraphrase of 2 Cor.3

After explicating the fact, that even the former covenant had glory, and as he thinks aloud in a theological moment saying: "fading as it was", he then comments on the sad plight of Moses, having to put a covering over his face, so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away; the apostle turns to what he knows to be the new/(re)newed covenant, and gloats in its prospect. Understanding the direct correlation of the Spirit, as God's Own Presence/Glory, Paul expands on the reality that the veil is taken away, and that the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom/liberty. Then finishing up his "tangent", he sweetly holds forth the echo of the ancient prophets, concerning this rich inheritance: "from glory to glory!"

Monday, November 07, 2005

Why Historicity? proposes this to mean: "historical authenticity; fact",
Since blogging to me suggests something of a journal,
or even creedal-type writing, I thought it suffice.
As well, seeing my surplus of time is thin, I figured
I better not spend hours, or even particles of the sands of time,
that I do have, trying to find a name better fitting for me right now...

Recent Discoveries

Seeing this is my first web blog, I decided to post it
as my newest finding.