Full credit to Adam Ford for his creative, cutting edge work. Click here to go to Adam’s site – enjoy the random button.
This will be the last in the Eichenwald Files. All the pieces I have linked to or excerpted say similar things (consistency anyone?) and are all by credible scholars – in the world of scholars. I have posted this series each week to leave a resource trail for Christians and the ‘curious and open-minded other’ to be exposed to careful, thoughtful, rigourous and defendable material. Rarely are ordinary Christians (like me) aware of such voices or exposed to them. That is one of the purposes of the Humble Donkey.
For the last File (5) I am directing you to Dr. Dan Wallace and his response to Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek piece.
You can find the full Wallace response here as well as other interesting materials by clicking here.
But here is an interesting excerpt from the section entitled:
Error 4: Simplistic Biblical Interpretation When it Suits His Purpose
Second, Eichenwald employs other simplistic interpretations to deny the NT’s affirmation of Christ’s deity. His statement that ‘form of God’ in Philippians 2.6 “could simply mean Jesus was in the image of God” betrays his ignorance about biblical interpretation. The kenosis, the hymn about the self-emptying of Christ (Phil 2.6–11) has received more scholarly interaction than perhaps any other paragraph in Paul’s writings. To claim that Jesus’ being in the form of God may mean nothing more than that he was human is entirely against the context. The hymn begins (vv. 6–7) as follows:
“who [Christ], although he was in the form of God,
he did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,
but he emptied himself,
by taking on the form of a slave,
by looking like other men,
and by sharing in human nature.”
Christ’s humanity is mentioned only after he is said to have emptied himself. Thus, ‘form of God’ must mean something more than humanity. Further, the parallel lines—‘he was in the form of God’ and ‘taking on the form of a slave’—are mutually interpreting. Jesus was truly a slave of God; this is how he regarded himself (cf. Mark 10.45; Matt 20.27; 26.39). If ‘form of slave’ means ‘slave’ then ‘form of God’ may well mean ‘God.’ The rest of the hymn confirms this interpretation. Philippians 2.10–11 alludes to Isaiah 45.23, where God says, “To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (NRSV). Paul quotes this very text in Romans 14.11 in reference to YHWH—a book Paul wrote six or seven years prior to his letter to the Philippians. Yet in Phil 2.10–11 he says,
“at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father” (NRSV).
Now the confession is about Jesus and it is a confession that he is ‘Lord.’ Either Paul is coming perilously close to blasphemy, something that a well-trained rabbi could hardly do, or he is claiming that Jesus is indeed true deity. And to underscore the point, he notes that all those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will make this confession—language that is reminiscent of the second of the Ten Commandments, as found in Exodus 20.4: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (NRSV). The Decalogue—known as well as any Old Testament text to an orthodox Jew—is unmistakably echoed in the kenosis. To use this in reference to Jesus is only appropriate if Jesus is true deity, truly the Lord, YHWH himself.
If you wonder how ISIS can appear so serious about Islam?
If you wonder why ISIS kills so easily?
If you wonder why ISIS is killing more Muslims than Christians?
If you wonder why Muslims all over the western world condemn ISIS?
Read this article by Graeme Wood. I encourage you not to rail against it but to consider it. I don’t agree with all his conclusions but I have encountered similar Muslim ideology on the streets of London and actually meet Anjem Choudary in an east London coffee house. Met, said hello, shook hands and that was it. It’s a longer story but not as sinister as it sounds.
Over the years, a number, quite a number in fact, of Muslims doing street faith sharing, Dawah, calling people to Islam, in answer to questions about the killing or subjugation of non believers, always cited the lack of the rule of a Caliph, the existence of a Caliphate as the reason, Muslims generally lived at peace in the West. It was a matter of timing and they and I never expected that that would change in our lifetimes. Legitimate or not, this ISIS Caliphate is making waves. Let’s hope it won’t be a Tsunami. Before you say I am over reacting, I must say that I never thought we would see some of the things happening in European cities as have happened in the last year. I hope and pray for a de-escalation of this wave of one of the forms of Islam. But the time for being naive is coming to an end. ISIS is certainly a form of Islam, thankfully not the majority form. But it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog that counts. That’s and unfortunate metaphor, considering Muhammad, the muslim’s role model, relationship to dogs.
I will post an excerpt and encourage you to read the whole thing. Remember reassurance and denial will only work if there is nothing to worry about.
Here is an excerpt ……
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
Two continuations today 1) another careful handling and critique of the now notorious Newsweek article “The Bible So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” by Kurt Eichenwald and 2) the New Zealand connection continued from yesterday.
The resource I am pointing to today was posted at The Gospel Coalition which I highly recommend and written as a guest post by Dr. Darrell L. Bock, a serious New Testament scholar whom I had the priviledge of hearing for 3 hours and chatting with in New Zealand at the Matamata Bible Church in 2012.
Here’s an excerpt from the post at The Gospel Coalition – specifically Justin Taylor’s blog – click at the end of this excerpt to get to the whole post and do consider its reasonableness, it’s content and it’s implications.
So let’s go through this piece one issue at a time. Let’s start with what is said about the actual text we have. For this I could just cite the response of my colleague, Dan Wallace, who has spent his life investigating and photographing the very manuscript evidence this article raises as so untrustworthy. Dan correctly opens up saying the issue is not the fact that Eichenwald asks hard questions. The Bible makes such important claims, so such questions should be asked. It is the way he answers them that is the problem. Dan also shows how the nature of the issues Eichenwald makes about our manuscripts does not lead to Eichenwald’s conclusions. I leave the Textual Criticism side of the argument to Dan’s piece.
Eichenwald’s way in is to cite Bart Ehrman, whom he calls a ground-breaking New Testament scholar. Now Bart himself has said that what he writes is a reflection of current discussion that has been around a long time. He and I have debated over the radiom where he made this statement to me as something I was well aware of, something I also affirmed at the time. The views presented (including the appeal to the telephone game as Erhman’s illustration for how poorly copies were passed on) are but one take on these issues that are argued pro and con in the public scholarly square. This hardly makes him a ground-breaking source. Ehrman is a spokesperson, a very competent one, for one take on all of this. But the article even uses his material extremely selectively. Here is another quotation Ehrman makes on this topic: “Essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.” What this means is that people on all sides recognize that what we have in the Bible, in terms of the core things it teaches, is a reflection of what made up these books originally. The caricature by Eichenwald that what we have in our hands has no resemblance to what was originally produced is misleading in the extreme, even considering the source the journalist uses to make his point.
Recently we have seen, both the threat of violence and the denunciation of that violence from the same source. Islamic believers. Different Islamic believers, I hasten to add but the common denominator is most definitely Islam.
The threat and/or manifestation of such violence and the correspondent denunciation of violence does two things for Islam. It expands the place of Islam at the table of civil discourse. This place is maintained because of the denouncement of violence and the general ‘religion of peace‘ vibe but this place is actually strengthened because of the threat or actualisation of violence.
I am not suggesting that the actors who violate and the actors who denounce the violation are in cahoots. I am just noting the obvious – Islam is in no way harmed and is in fact only helped by it having a minority – only numbering in the hundreds of millions as opposed to billions, thus making it a minority – who will threaten violence and a smaller number who will bring to fruition the rotten threat.
I have to say that what I am proposing only applies to western, liberal, secularising democracies. A government dominated by Hindu nationalists for example will tend to see the world of Islam differently and time will tell, though our confirmed liberals may never be able to tell for dogmatic reasons, how accurate the Hindu view is or isn’t.
So why does this strengthening of the place at the table occur? There are a couple of reasons. In the western, liberal, secularising democracies, the denunciation from some of the Islamic community is what those at the table want and need to hear. Need to hear – if they are to remain in any way confident about a possibly peaceful future. But also they are glad to hear and entertain it because to consider a lack of denunciation and it’s implications would be too nightmarish. Nightmarish – both in terms of future possible events but more immediately because it would challenge the very foundation of their non-negotiable assumptions about the world.
The liberal worldview posits the view that ‘others‘, like muslims, real muslims don’t and so the dogma goes, can’t actually pose any threat to anyone in anyway. The counterpart to this underestimation is the overestimation of who can be an actual threat – an enemy of the state. There is an enemy within – those still holding too firmly to the Judeo-Christian perspective. The Christians, real Christians, are alas not ‘other’ enough. Christianity is the mother, father, and forbear to the western, liberal, and now through mutation, secularising democracy. And like so many children in this age of individualism, the child has grown to hate it’s parent, it’s past, it’s heritage. Now the sole enemy is the dark shadow of the West’s previous self. At the table, the liberals look soley at their forebears with suspicion. Generally speaking, everyone else gets a free pass. There are no enemies without, only enemies within. The shameful, historical, hegemonic, did I say shameful, colonizers are the Christians. Muslims, gays and the new kids on the block, the transgenders are their victims. All new arrivals are innocent. Not by proof but by dogma.
Today I’m going to start a potentially short season of Waxing Lyrical on a Wednesday – a poem each Wrdnesday for as long as I can make it happen. I am not a poet but I enjoy expression through poetry. I increasingly like it as art form. To read and to write.
I have written other poems and posted them here on Humble Donkey – check the Categories on the right hand side and click Poetry to read more of them if you wish.
Also for those interested in the question who should be welcomed to the communion table at church, then check out my thoughts here The Table. Who’s it for?
coming near to the coming near – communion
coming in to the incoming – communion
broken in by the inbreaking – communion
partaker in the partaking – communion
flesh remembering flesh – communion
eating and drinking remembering the eater and drinker – communion
grace received from the grace giver – communion
holy wooden table points to holy wooden cross – communion
presence with – communion
union – communion
Original poem by humbledonkey. Please feel free to publish this poem electronically, citing this humbledonkey post as the source. Thank you.
In the scripture, it says it is the name above every name, technically meaning the title Lord Jesus.
Phillipians 2:9 – 11 (NIV)
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
In Ireland outside of religious ceremony and devotional acts, the Holy name of Jesus ranks down there with every expletive known to man, rank, and filed alongside them; lyrically flowing from the melifluous tongue of the Irish man and woman. Class, employment, upbringing is no barrier to such streams of ironic injury to the divine honour. The name Jesus, Jesus Christ, is used every minute of every day across Ireland and the diaspora throughout the world. Its used instead of Wow! What? Agghh! and Noooo! The great and the good, the young and the old, the religious and the non-religious all misuse it. By misuse I mean they treat it like they don’t realise what they are doing who he is, how we should honour and relate and love him. Therefore it becomes this device of exclamation – almost like a four letter word functions for many also instead of Wow! What? Agghh! and Noooo! Protestantism in Ireland perhaps is the thin dam holding out against this gaelic pastime. This verbal blasphemy may not be entirely sanctioned, or even desired but it is rarely spoken against, cautioned about or educated on. And the uneducated adherent goes after every opportunity to blaspheme – like a ‘divil’.
Why? one wonders. I can’t say I really know except that in a land of apparent religious history, there is but the superstitious form of adherence to the Christian religion with precious little life flowing from its fountainhead. God. Imagine a great family, where the head of the family both deserves and demands deference. And yet no one values the name and by implication the nature of the name bearer. Such is the tattered relationship the Irish now have with their supposed family head. It is in many ways unbelievable. The supposed stewards of the name in Ireland – the roman catholic clergy – are sleeping their way through a fuzzy ritualistic co-dependency. They dare not challenge too hard or even at all – lest The Faith lose another ‘practitioner’.
The day of challenging or instructing is long gone. Regarding the name and the climate that prevented or challenged its misuse, that day left town on a limping mule at least 30 years ago. Instruction happens only for the young. The concrete is certainly set by late adolescence if not before. After that, next to nothing. External compliance and use of the Faith for milestones is all that is required and again the weight and gravitas of the stones are lessening.
I still haven’t answered why the Irish engage so blindly in this dark art because I don’t have an answer. The great theologian of Ireland, Terry Wogan, long departed from the lush green sod, once spoke about the appearance of trash talking the holy name. He proposed that this apparent blasphemy of the name of Jesus was widely misunderstood by outsiders, when in fact no such disrespect or devaluation was at work. I cannot remember his treatise entirely but I remember not thinking it much for carrying water then, and I suspect I wouldn’t change my mind if I heard it repeated.
Back then, I was an insider and practitioner of the sacrilegious art of trash-talking the name of Jesus and now I am an outsider by conversion, immersion and expulsion. The name and its namesake has taken its place, higher than any; wife, beloved, or friend in my life. I would not recklessly demean their titles and names and it is no different in regard to the Divine Word made flesh – Jesus. My wife is esteemed to me above all persons and her name above all human names. How much more is the name of and being of the Son of God.
Dear, dear Humbledonkey readers – sorry for taking so long to get back in the game and for the December false start – I actually thought I had cancelled both of those random posts.
Here’s why I have been away:
My Dad passed away in October 2014 and all my energies since have gone on the daily/weekly task of living and surviving, working and being. Bereavement is the funniest thing. Even on your best days, you only have access to so much mental energy. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Blogging requires an abundance of mental energy.
Here’s why I am back.
I like blogging, it helps me get a handle of my own thoughts. And I missed it. I also have a little more mental energy available – not a lot. It’s a bit risky, certainly, but hey what’s the worst that can happen?
So let’s start with some music that is timely and timeless. Timely in that it is a tune to the New Year’s anthem, Auld Lang Syne but these new words by Dunstin Kensrue speak of the timeless eternal Son of the Eternal Father, who created time, entered time, submitted to it, lived, died and rose triumphant o’er the grave and time itself and now lives forever more – the first of a new generation. The resurrected ones.
Enjoy the music, thanks for the warm thoughts and have a good day. More again tomorrow.
This question comes out of a recent conversation with our best buds on Communion and when, if ever, one should hesitate to partake. It is something I have been thinking about for some time. A side question of who exactly can participate in communion arises and that will be my main focus in this post. I will be using the phrase ‘the table’ to describe the receiving of and participating in communion. For those wondering what is meant generally by communion within a christian context and what I am meaning by, it will become clear as we go along.
Thoughts and issues:
- Anyone can physically go to the table and receive the bread and wine (often grape juice) – that is obvious. That anyone can physically walk into a church worship gathering and go forward to take at the table does not mean that they should. In fact they shouldn’t and they may actually be exposing themselves to trouble in doing this.
- Firstly no one gets to the table in the true spiritual sense except by their being an adopted child of God. By this I mean that there are spiritual realities and benefits at the table that can only be accessed if the person is of the faith and is receiving said benefits by faith.
- So by a kind of membership and by a kind of remembering coupled with believing in what is remembered, spiritual realities – blessings and graces, are available to them – the believing member who remembers.
- And there is a right way for such a christian believer to approach the table. In faith, remembering what it symbolises and in fact is, and remembering what has made it possible. Firstly, what it symbolises and is. It is two things and the interplay between them is necessary to keep in mind and beautiful to behold. The first thing that it is – is drama – a double re-enactment. On the night before Jesus was crucified, he took a cup and took bread and spoke of them as being his body and blood. Body and blood being broken and being poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Spoken and broken.
- Hours later he would be nailed to a cross where his body was broken and his blood poured out. Broken and bled. The table re-enacts and captures both these realities – the last supper and the last brutal hours of Jesus’ life.
- But another thing the table is is a family gathering. Brothers and sisters together sharing the communion they have together before their heavenly Father who sent his eternal Son to bring others into this family relationship. Jesus is, in a very real sense, our elder brother. The Father and the Son have made family membership available to all – by invitation only. The invitation is the Gospel. See my posts on the Gospel for clarity on what this actually means.
- If there are three components (and there are more) to the table this should help us answer the key question of who should participate in the table and what state this participation demands.
- Recapping, there are three components to the table a) the re-enactment of the Last supper of Jesus b) the remembering of the last hours of Jesus c) and it is the family meal for those doing the first two and rembering and receiving the benefits of them both with gladness.
- The answer to the question who can participate and receive is clear when we remember all three of these. The family members – the christian believers can and should enjoy the table and its benefits. They should approach the table in faith and in good conscience – being at peace with their God and his people. To approach otherwise is inviting trouble and the scripture speaks of physical implications of demeaning the table by a poor approach.
- The non-believer however should not participate at the table at all. The believers should support the non believing visitor in understandiing what is open to them and what is not and why? Actually, something greater than the table is open to them and through it and after it, the table becomes open to them.
- If the Gospel is the door to the house, the table is something enjoyed having entered the house by the door.
- This is actually the place of great confusion, often emotional confusion for many christians – unnecessarily so. Many christians wish for the table to be accessible to all – christian believers and non christians. They are motivated wonderfully but mistaken woefully. The motivation comes from the true understanding that Jesus is for all, that on the cross as his arms were forcefully kept apart through the nails of execution, he was opening his arms to all mankind to come to him for forgiveness, for restoration, for love and for life.
- All true. However they make the simple mistake of treating the table like it is an invitation to Christ. Christ turns away none who would come. Then none should be turned away from the table – Christ’s table. For such a person the wooden table and the wooden cross have become one and the same. No christian would turn away anyone from going close to the fountain of forgiveness – the cross and so it should be with the table. Such a conflation of two wonderful things is highly problematic and is in danger of leaving the seeking, wondering, searching non-christian with a sense of welcome but without reality.
- An inappropriate understanding leads to inappropriate guidance. When I say the non christian does not have access to the table, I am not saying he does not have access to Christ and his salvation. I am in fact saying and shouting that he has. And having received Christ’s salvation through repentance and faith, he then has access to a great many things, one of which is the table. First things first. Faith first, then the fruits of the faith. If you invite someone to the fruits without first encountering the gardener whose fruit it is – you are at risk of demeaning the fruit, the gardener, the faith community and the seeker.
- Communion is therefore exclusive. It is an insiders meal. Christ is exclusive. Exclusively for all.
- All outsiders may come via the wooden cross to the wooden table. But none may come directly to the table. What sense would it make to them. See the scriptures below – see their obvious context and apllication.
- Jesus said to his disciples – Do this in memory of me. The outsider, the non disciple is not asked to do this in memory of him. Of course I can hear the ‘proving’ testimony being advanced with haste. It goes something like this “My friend or I came to faith eventually in Christ after receiving or after a season of participation at the table, it is what drew me”.
- I delight in and don’t doubt your wonderful arrival in Christ. But the vageries of your journey, like mine with all its quirks should not be seen as normative or necessary or recommendable. That we arrived in Christ, the one who said Come unto me, is the repeatable, necessary, recommendable step.
- The table is exclusively for those who profess Christ (as Saviour and LORD). The table is a family meal. For the family of God in Christ – who have made this profession.
- Look at the verses – the activiity of partaking, breaking bread, is among the believers. Not among the interested, the seeker, the one who physical can go to the table but the one who has a rightful, blood bought, family space at the table.
Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Acts 2:42 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
Acts 20:7 ESV
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.
Acts 20:11 ESV
And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Acts 2:42-47 ESV
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,
He V You
Competence V Incompetence
Saviour V Lost
Mighty V Weak
Humble V Proud
Sees V Blind
Sinless V Sin
Love V Non-love
Other-love V Self-love
Life V Death
Heaven V Hell
Hope V Despair
Full V Empty
Truth V Falsehood
Obedient V Rebel
Competence V Incompetence
He V You
There is a method of marking out Jesus’ words in Bible publications. They are printed in red. This method is only sometimes used. On the positive side, it makes his words easier to spot and quite convenient when scanning through a page quickly. However it has its downsides. Some chrsitians have begun to elevate these red letter words above the black letter words. We can then lose context and fail to see the rest of scripture as of equal value.
I attended an exciting evening of friendly christian-muslim discussion and debate in London last night. One of the thoughts that came out from the muslim perspective was a general though not complete acceptance of the red letter words of Jesus in the Gospels. Many though not all. This is not too surpirsing because many of the sayings and teachings of Jesus would be happily endorsed by almost every religious group in the world. His teachings on love, justice, sacrifice and service are unparraleled but yet universal. Hence their attractiveness. So I understand that my muslim friends (like Hindus and Buddhists) would be very accepting of much but not all of the actual spoken words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels.
But I took a few minutes today to just scan through one of the gospels – Matthew – and see a few of the things my muslim friends ceratinly could not accept because of a message from 600 years after Jesus that they have an allegiance to. I think I can hear a couple of muslim friends saying “no problem” to one or two of these. But an honest reading and a sense of their meaning in the original context should deflate any such aspirations. But I do accept them because long before an ostensibly good man in a cave brought to those outside the cave, a message so contrary to Christianity, the black letters and the red letters of the Gospels were part of the literature of the world – that’s the parts that the good man in the cave would like and those he wouldn’t. I must accept them all.
10 problematic statements of Jesus (red letter) for our muslim friends:
- “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Matthew 11:27
- Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:5-8
- He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:39-42
- “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. Matthew 13:40-43
- Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Matthew 15:10
- The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life. Matthew 17:22-23
- We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life! Matthew 20:18-19
- This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28
- But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee. Matthew 26:32
- All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20
Not a balm
Not a comfort
Not a lift up
Not a help out
Not an improvement
Not a supplement
The Gospel of Jesus is for dead people
The Gospel of Jesus is LIFE for dead people
And from the wonderfully creative and insightful Adam Ford.
This is a reblog of a sad timely post by Tim Keesee over at Desiring God.
Background: The latest headline-making iteration of Islamic terror is the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which split with Al-Qaeda in 2010 because (believe it or not) Al-Qaeda was too timid in their use of violence and too slow in implementing a trans-national Islamic state known as a Caliphate (from the Arabic for “succession”). Considered the successor to the Prophet Mohammed, the Caliph is the political and spiritual leader of the world’s one billion Sunni Muslims (at least in theory). The ISIS commander, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, has declared himself to be the Caliph. Al-Baghdadi and his jihadists have startled the world with the swiftness of their conquests in Iraq and their brutal effort to obliterate the Christian communities from the region. Their stronghold is now Mosul, ancient Nineveh, the 2nd largest city in Iraq. Despite his rapid rise, there are realities that Mr. al-Baghdadi and his followers need to know. Christians should remember these, too.
Mr. Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi
Dear Mr. al-Baghdadi,
Recently, you publicly presented yourself as the Caliph, the leader of a new order for the Islamic world. In your inaugural sermon at the mosque in Mosul near the ruins of Nineveh, you said, “If you see me on the right path, help me. If you see me on the wrong path, advise me and halt me.” I’ve given that offer some thought and wanted to follow up with you.
Your reputation for unbridled terror has contributed to battlefield success and dramatic territorial gains in Syria and Iraq. As a result, tens of thousands of Christians have suffered at your hands. Those who could not flee your fury have been forced into dhimmitude. Others have been beheaded, some even crucified — making a mockery of their agony and making a mockery of Jesus the Messiah.
I think it’s best that you know that you will not succeed. You and your Caliphate are destined for failure. Of course, all empires, caliphates, and reigns of terror eventually come to an end, but something else is happening — another kind of failure in your command over the Islamic world. It’s that Jesus Christ is building his Church, and he said that “even the gates of hell” (which sounds a lot like Mosul right now) cannot stop its advance.
Christ is building the Church by gathering worshipers to himself from every tribe and language and people and nation — and that includes many, many among your subjects. From North Africa to Indonesia — and at many points in between — I’ve spoken with a number of formerly committed Muslims who are now joyful Christians. Several of your erstwhile subjects told me that Islamic terror in the name of Allah was what broke their faith in the only religion they had ever known. Having rejected Islam in their heart, when they heard the gospel, they believed! They told me that the September 11th attack — what your mentor (the late Osama bin Laden) did — first opened their hearts to the love and grace that is in Jesus alone. And so, Osama bin Laden and his kind have been unwitting agents in the gospel’s advance.
That’s why I said you can’t win. The gospel will continue to be heard in more and more places in your realm because our King will continue to send his servants there. These are men and women who are willing to die, but not like the suicide bombers that you use so often. The King’s servants are not bringing death; they are bringing life. As they go, they will risk everything, driven not by hate, as your servants are, but by the love Jesus demonstrated by dying for us.
Some days ago, your sledgehammer-swinging and explosive-detonating disciples destroyed the tomb of the prophet Jonah. The God of Jonah, whose name was first proclaimed there in Nineveh by Jonah, is nothing like the god you claim to kill for. Jonah’s God, the only God, showed grace to his enemies in Nineveh. God’s mercy would later reach its greatest, deepest, widest expression in his Son Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection forever secured life for all who come to him — even you, if you would come.
May the life-giving Christ, the God of Jonah, have mercy on your people once again. May they turn to him and live. May their ransomed voices shout with Jonah, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
Hidden in plain sight.
God in Christ.
For all to see.
Yet not seen by all.
To some it is given.
To those who have eyes and ears to see and hear.
Does God exist?
Where is he?
In plain sight.
God in Christ.
What about your beautiful eyes and ears?
Are they to see the Hidden in plain sight?
2 Corinthians 5:19
… in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Hat tip to Jared C. Wilson for posting this over at his blog. Octavious Winslow – great name, great meditation on the Son of God – eternally begotten of the Father.
Eternal love moved the heart of Jesus to relinquish . . .
heaven for earth;
a diadem for a cross;
the robe of divine majesty for the garment of our nature;
by taking upon Himself the leprosy of our sin.
Oh, the infinite love of Christ!
What a boundless, fathomless ocean!
Ask the ransomed of the Lord, whose chains He has dissolved, whose dungeon He has opened, whose liberty He has conferred — if there ever was love like His!
What shall we say of the ransom price? It was the richest, the costliest, that Heaven could give! He gave Himself for us! What more could He do? He gave Himself; body, soul and spirit. He gave His time, His labor, His blood, His life, His ALL — as the price for our ransom, the cost of our redemption. He carried the wood and reared the altar. Then, bearing His bosom to the stroke of the uplifted and descending arm of the Father — He paid the price of our salvation in the warm lifeblood of His heart!
What a boundless, fathomless ocean! How is it that we feel the force and exemplify the practical influence of this amazing, all commanding truth so faintly? Oh, the desperate depravity of our nature! Oh, the deep iniquity of our iniquitous hearts! Will not the blood-drops of Jesus move us? Will not the agonies of the cross influence us? Will not His dying love constrain us to a more heavenly life?
Just beginning to read Jared’s book The Story Telling God – which I am enjoying very much so far. An exploration on the Parables of Jesus.
- Beards [I have a beard]
- Consciousness about external modesty [I benefit from modesty in others]
- Gender roles are very clear [I am unclear about what the biblical gender roles are & how to negotiate them]
- Muslims seem pretty serious about Islam [I yearn for more seriousness in Christians]
- Long flowing robes [I fancy a bit of long flowing robe wearing, especially in summer]
- The faith does not easily lend itself to being an added extra in western life [Christianity does appear to – even if it actually doesn’t and can’t]
- Life does seem to be lived out corporatively to quite an extent – pray together, fast together [I would like more of that]
- The brand of Islam is masculine in the public square [Christianity less so]
- Unashamed conciousness about brotherhood and sisterhood [calling another christian ‘brother’ seems to embarrass – often them and sometimes me]
- Muslim actually get all sorts of free passes in western life – at work and at play [Christians are becoming more despised – like a when a child comes to hate it’s mother – it’s history – I desire free passes – regrettably]
- Strong emphasis on the Creator/creature distinction [many Christians have kind of forgotten this in a real and affecting sense]
- The control and effective policing of external life appeals to me [on my worst days]
- It has been influenced greatly by the strongest virtues of Christianity [Christianity is now being influenced by the strongest virtues of secular materialism – the culture]
- The understanding of who God is is harder to mess around with [Christians are going through a long phase of re-imaging God in their own image and now re-imaging scripture in cultures image]
- Emphasis on family is strong [now less so for Christians]
- Most resources go on helping the muslim community which strengthens the community considerably. [Christians following Christ’s example of superabundant generosity for the outsider are more promiscious in scattering their resources, helping those outside the community of faith to the glory of God in Christ Jesus]. This weakens the christian church in a spiritually bankrupt sense. Good thing.
- It is winning some of the numbers games [Jesus (my Lord, Master, Saviour & brother) was never a numbers person – he said narrow is the gate and few will come through it – many called but few chosen].
- Is so poorly understood by the western liberal media that a quick slight of hand from a muslim ‘talking head’ seems to cause the western journalist to exclaim “well folks, there you have it – Islam itself is great and innocent of all charges” [on my worst days I desire that kind of power over the media and that kind of idiocy from them].
- I like all the talk about honour [but not what the honour doctrines given full life within a believer can lead to. Can lead to death – the death of some one else – obviously the one who dishonoured].
- The charismatic power and sheer showmanship of quoting your precious text in another and rarely understood language by the hearer, before a translation to English. [Christianity has long lost this quality of quaint bamboozleoscity (it’s a word) which is increasingly important in the West where the new is good, the old is bad, the known is toxic and the ‘other’ or unknown is exotic].
- The corporate & physical drama expressed during prayer [as a former Roman Catholic & Pentecostal I retain some physical drama in prayer but when expressed corporatively not so much]
- It is a religion based on Power [for the individual the central nexus is submission but for the Islamic community the central nexus is power – the old dead sinner in me, like a zombie walker cries out daily “get more power”].
- It’s a religion with an enormous and ‘flesh’ appealing system – there is a system of piety and good deeds (the halals) – if you do them you’re good with God – paradise bound. But it is of course the religious system of Schrodinger’s cat. As God cannot be bound by any system even one he designs and implements – God can say ‘No Cigar’ to the best of mankind (who would obviously be the best of the muslims). So like the religion of Schrodinger’s cat, there is a system to follow but it maybe for you, the follower, as if no system existed at all. System existing and not existing all at the same time. Like that darn cat. Who can tell whether it is really there at all. A system that is truely there must be systematic in it’s outcomes. Reliable. Trustworthy to deliver. The God of Islam is not systematic in his outcomes – or relating to your outcome as you engage with the system – through the halals and the harams. Nothing commits this God – not even himself. Not even his own system. [On my bad days I seek a system – even such a flawed system. But on my even worse days I am so glad there is no system, just the grace and forgiveness of the Holy and wrathful God of the Bible offered to all sinful mankind through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, his eternal Son; during what can only be described as this season of the gospel. This season spans from the moment of the resurrected Christ’s return to the right hand of his eternal Father until his second coming. Or for an individual perspective – that season offering grace, forgiveness and amnesty lasts for you from now until the day of your death and no longer than that].
- It has produced people who seem better than the sum of its parts. Some wonderful people.
- Did I mention the beards?
Jesus could not be God – he hungered, ate – game over!
I say to lovely muslims that I, a christian
expect to see Jesus eating and hungering;
because Jesus on earth was the eternal Word of God – made flesh.
Flesh – real flesh – not fake flesh – not pretend flesh;
real eating – real hungering.
That is what incarnation (Word made flesh) means; what one expects with incarnation.
Jesus – God but not solely God
Jesus – man but not solely man.
Jesus – God and man.
Read the scriptures – all of them – not just the ‘Jesus eats! Game Over’ ones.
So when the lovely muslim person says to me, “Jesus ate, he was hungry”, said muslim undoubtedly has an expectation of a light bulb moment for me. There certainly is one – but not the one he expects.
The lightbulb moment for me is the sudden awareness that although this muslim knows I am a christian, he clearly does not know what christians understand our scriptures to say and what we therefore believe.
The lightbulb moment is seeing that the lovely muslim is putting 6th century islamic requirements on the first century Jesus and our scriptures.
We have work to do to understand one another and have a productive chat, this lovely muslim and me.
Gospel according to John – Chapter 1 – Verses 1 to 5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Gospel according to John – Chapter 1 – Verse 14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus the ultimate one who fasts – he fasted – laid aside his divine privileges to be rough and ready in the neighbourhood with us & for us
Jesus the ultimate breaking of the fast – arose after three days in death to break the fast of desolation and begin a new kind of life for those who would become his brothers
Jesus the ultimate one to pray behind – he said ‘pray like this “our Father in heaven …” ‘
Jesus the ultimate call to prayer – ‘he said “come unto me …” ‘
Jesus the ultimate alms – he is the embodied kindness of the Father to the poor and sin sick of this world
Jesus the ultimate striver for the Father’s glory – resists the way of Satan in the wilderness and in the garden
Jesus the ultimate one on pilgrimage – journeys from eternity into time to raise a band of brothers and sisters under his banner of grace
Jesus the ultimate religion of peace – opposites are reconciled in his crucified body
Jesus the ultimate brother – to all brothers and sisters adopted by his Father through the Holy Spirit
Jesus the ultimate in resurrection – first over a new creation
Jesus the ultimate one over all the angels
Jesus the ultimate advocate for repentant and believing sinners on the day of judgement
Jesus the ultimate eternal word of God – enfleshed
Jesus the Ultimate