Thursday, August 30, 2007

Next Cohort Meeting

The Next Cohort meeting is this Saturday September 1, at 10AM at the Starbucks in Miami Lakes.
8012 NW 154th Street.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dark Knight Pics





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The Dark Knight






Check out these awesome Dark Knight Pics...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Christian And The Scientist

The Scientist and the Christian

"We have been told that the scientist thinks it his duty to proportion the strenth of his belief exactly to the evidence; to believe less as there is less evidence and to withdraw belief all together when reliable adverse evidence turns up. We have been told that on the contrary, the Christian Regards it as positively praiseworthy to believe with evidence, or in excess of the evidence, or to maintain his belief unmodified in the teeth of steadily increasing evidence against it. Thus a 'faith that has stood firm,' which appears to mean a belief immune from all assaults of reality, is commended."

-C.S. Lewis, On Obstinacy and Belief

Christians use a scientific mindset to rationalize their belief in God. They tell of the wonders of creation and how if the earth were one millionth of a centimeter this or that way then it would either freeze or burn. They mention how improbable it is that 66 writers authored the Bible without one contradiction. Yet, their bias does not allow any evidence that contends their belief system, evolution, the Jesus tomb, alternative views of miracles, etc.

Christians have confided in science instead of surrendered in trust. Science cannot possibly quiet any Christians doubts successfully because God doesn't fit inside a test tube or under a microscope.

The conclusion must be made that there is no parallel between the scientists and the Christian, because Christians are not conducting an experiment on natural phenomena but reacting to a divine being that they have met.

God is not a specimen that we may test, instead we are at His disposal. The dog must trust the caring human to get him out of the trap and the child must trust the adult to carefully take the thorn out of his/her finger. In that sense, there is no hypothesis to rationalize God but only our finite trust to lay at his feet.

--Adam

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Next Cohort Meeting

The Next Cohort meeting is this Saturday June 16 at 10AM at the Starbucks in Miami Lakes.
8012 NW 154th Street.

We will discuss chapters 1-3 in N.T. Wright's "The Challenge of Jesus".

Hope to see you there!

Books You Should Read

Since everyone is coming out with lists of music you should listen to, and movies you should see...

Here is my list of my top 10 books I've read in the past year that you should definately read, in no particular order:

1. The Missional Leader [Roxburgh & Romanuk]
2. The Secret Message of Jesus [McLaren]
3. The Character of Theology [Franke]
4. Who's Afraid of Postmodernism [Smith]
5. Velvet Elvis [Bell]
6. Jesus and the Victory of God [Wright]
7. The Coming of God [Moltmann]
8. Truth is Stranger than it used to Be [Walsh & Middleton]
9. Contemplative Youth Ministry [Yaconelli]
10. How (not) to Speak of God [Rollins]

So head on over to Amazon, and get reading!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Next Cohort Meeting

The Next Cohort meeting is this Saturday May 26th at 10AM at the Starbucks in Miami Lakes.
8012 NW 154th Street.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wedding Dress

A post by Adam:

Derek Webb, Wedding Dress

"If you could love me as a wife and for my wedding gift your life
Should that be all I'll ever need or is there more I'm looking for
And should I read between the lines and look for blessings in disguise
to make me handsome, rich and wise Is that really what you want

Could you love this bastard child though I don't trust you to provide
With one hand in a pot of gold and with the other in your side
Cause I am so easily satisfied by the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take just a little cash over your very flesh and blood

Because money cannot buy a husband's jealous eye
when you have knowingly deceived his wife

So I am a whore I do confess I put you on just like a wedding dress and
I run down the aisle
I'm a prodigal with no way home I put you on just like a ring of gold and
I run down the aisle to you"

Why isn't Jesus' ring on our finger enough? Why isn't His mercy and
salvation enough? The prominent message in church is do this and you'll get
that. More specifically, come dressed up on Sunday, put money in the plate,
go to sunday school, later hand out tracks and... God will bless you. By
'God will bless you' we mean you'll get a raise, you'll get a mate, you'll
get a promotion,

(Side note, there are tangible examples of this in our church. remember the
video that we showed where someone gave the church money and she claimed
that she got a raise. Or how many testimonials have we heard of a similiar
nature.)

Back to the ring on our finger. Our marriage to Christ gives us all that
we'll ever need in form of His mercy and salvation. HIS LOVE will compel us
to do His work. HIS LOVE must compel in contrast to a raise, a mate or a
promotion.

--AP

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Theology Part IV

How can we properly speak of God? In the presence of the divine, our humanity is ever before us. We become acutely aware of our inability to properly define the experience of God.

We see the outworking of this in the story of the golden calf in Exodus. While Moses is on the mountain in the presence of God the people become impatient and command Aaron to craft for them a golden calf. At first look it appears that the golden calf is to be a replacement for God, however, upon further inspection we see that the golden calf was meant to be a representation of the one true God [Exodus 32:5].

The reason for the wrath of God being poured out on his people, and the violent reaction of Moses is due to the fact that any human conception cannot adequately describe God. Our richest, and most robust theological statements cannot adequately represent the one and only true God.

Even the name of God, the divine YHWH [pronounced Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh] lacks the proper vowel sounds to be pronounced by humans. The result is a breath like name, one that cannot be pronounced adequately with human language. The message in the divine name of God is clear; God cannot be contained in a name, and even the most personal name that we can attribute to God inevitably falls short of his glory.

But what of the side of God that has been revealed to us? What of the truth statements of the Scriptures that we derive our theological statements from? Are we to completely abandon all hopes of adequately describing God, hence tying our hands from the ability to share the God of our salvation with others?

Karl Barth said that even the revealed side of God is mysterious. That which we know about God cannot be seen clearly. Paul seems to advocate this position in 1 Corinthians 13:12. We currently see only a dim reflection of God, we see through a foggy mirror, the reflection is there, but it is hazy. We cannot comprehend the depth and breadth of God.

We believe in a God who is hyper-present. That is a God who transcends both our cognitive minds, and our experiences. Our experiences of God are only dim reflections of the one true God. Our experiences, and the language we have available to describe those experiences are woefully inadequate.

Does this mean that we rid ourselves of all statements of God? I think that would be to take our inability to an extreme. In Scripture we have a God who comes to live in our neighborhood [John 1:14]. Jesus is the incarnation of God; he comes to our level so that we can glimpse God in some small way.

Theology at the same time must be incarnational. It must seek to take the transcendent God and translate that experience into human words. We must be faithful in describing the experience of God to others. However, by understanding our limited ability both linguistically and experientially, it helps to insulate us from making absolutist and all encompassing statements. This understanding necessitates the whole church contributing to our theology.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Theology Part III

What is the purpose of theology, what is its telos? Theology is defined as the study of God, and often times reduced to formulating a conceptual understanding of the characteristics of the divine. Proper theology is often times demarcated as that theology which fits into our foundational assumptions.

While our assumptions are global, they are not always recognized. We operate in a world of cognitive dissonance, a world where our understanding is so colored by our context, and yet we are unaware of its influence. Our world is viewed through a set of colored glasses, glasses that change the way we view the world. Over time, and absorption into our particular context we soon become unaware of the affect of those glasses, and progress to the point where we deny the existence of the glasses at all.

This plays directly into the hands of our foundational assumptions. We assume that our beliefs are orthodox, historic, and Biblical. Our glasses have taught us that our particular denomination, or theological school has the truth pinned down. We assume that we have discovered the objective rational perch on which to stand that gives us a birds eye view of all truth. From this perch we are able to avoid the pitfalls of context, background, desire, and assumption.

The affect of the Enlightenment on our theology is abounding. We have valued pure, rational, and absolutist statements about God above all else. We have assumed that we can properly speak of God in a manner that correctly defines both his character, and his work in the world. This assumption however, does not recognize the linguistic barrier between mankind and the divine. Linguistics is the tool we utilize to speak of God, however they are inherently flawed as a methodology to speak of the divine. Language inherently separates us from God. It is a human conception, with human pitfalls, unable to capture the divine.

In the process, many of our theologies abdicated their proper role. With our obsession regarding “right” theology we have ceased to fulfill our mission on the earth. Theology became more about right belief than about right action. The purpose of theology is mission. As Christians we are called to be the representatives of God on earth. We are called to reflect the image of God [the imago dei] on earth.

If our theology ceases to propel us into mission, it ceases to be an effective theology. While right teaching about God is important, and right belief equally necessary, if a theology ceases to send us into the world to accomplish the will of God it becomes a terminal theology.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Theology Part II

The return to the narrative has been a theme amidst biblical conversation as of late. There are many who advocate seeing the Scriptures as a narrative, and literary composition rather than a systematic and literal encyclopedia. When we encounter the Scriptures we come to them as characters in an ongoing narrative. Everyone involved in Christian faith and praxis finds themselves as characters in an ongoing biblical drama.

N.T. Wright in his excellent article “How Can the Bible Be Authoritative”, presents the idea of Biblical authority like a Shakespearean five act play. What we have before us in the narrative of Scripture is a five-act play, we come to this play having in our possession the first four acts, but as we read through the play we come the disturbing realization that we are missing the fifth act of the play.

What are we to do in this situation? We are to read and understand the first four acts of the play, and act out the fifth act in concordance with the first four acts of the play. We immerse ourselves in the study and understanding of the flow and structure of the play, and we seek to be faithful to the fulfillment of that play. We are not called to regurgitate the previous acts, for they have already been played out through the course of history. Rather we are to faithfully seek to live out the future of that play.

Scripture functions in the same way. We have the first four acts of the drama that is unfolding before us, and we look forward to the eschaton. In the meantime we faithfully live out that play before us.

In viewing Scripture as a narrative, instead of a series of propositions about God, we understand Scripture, and the dealing of God with the world as always evolving. As the story progresses the characters develop, the way in which the play proceeds follows along a path that is both sensitive to history, and fully aware of the path before us.

If we understand that theology is not about a system of beliefs, but rather the working of God in individual lives we adhere to the principle of a changing God. In each situation God’s activity in the lives of individual believers and in communities varies. Every situation calls for a specific response from man to God. If we are living in a narrative, and if God is working in the lives of believers in relationship that relationship is in constant flux, growing, changing, adapting, and changing in distance.

The culture in which we live is in constant flux. Theology is the church’s response to the cultural situations in the world. Throughout time theologians have formulated responses to events. As a result theology has been in constant development throughout the history of the church. As we are faced with new challenges and situations our theologies must adapt, and create answers to those questions. In this way our message is always changing.

As a result we are unable to point to a systematic theological system as THE way of thinking theologically. Rather we can only refer to a system as being apt for a specific time and place. Theological systems that have worked in the past worked in a context and a situation. As the situations change so must the systems. We cannot hold on to our systems of theology as if they were the anchor points for all eternity.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Lewis does it again

This C.S. Lewis guy keeps coming up with great stuff. Here is a poem entitled the footnote to all prayers:

He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow

When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,

And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart

Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.

Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme

Worshipping with frail images a folk-lore dream,

And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address

The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless

Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert

Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;

And all men are idolaters, crying unheard

To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.

Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great

Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.

--Lewis captures the idea that even our prayers to God fall short of capturing who he is. We shoot arrows to the sky not realizing that we are aiming in the opposite direction of God. And somehow he takes our vain words, hears them, and listens to them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Theology Part I

So I've been reading and thinking about some theological issues lately. And I have been really lax on the blog as of late, which is a bummer. So I've decided that all this reading and thinking should be shared with the masses. Today's post is on the idea of a bounded set of theology, and what I hope will follow will continue more theological dialogue [I hope to have some comments, and further ideas to advance what I've written].

This is by no means meant to be final, but rather a starting thought. I hope that some will find it interesting. I'll try and keep these as short as possible, once I start, I tend to go on and on... and that's enough of an introduction.

So here is Part I of my thoughts on theology and the theological method:



In the world of postmodernity where change is the new norm advances in every field of art and science are overtaking our world. In the world of theology revision has become a hot topic issue. How much of our theology is either in need of revision, or open to revision.

I am currently working my way through John Franke’s “The Character of Theology’. In his book he outlines two distinct stances on revision: traditionalists and revisionists. Traditionalists are inherently skeptical of any revisions, or the ongoing process of theological reflection. The creedal formulations of the 16th and 17th centuries remain the bedrock of theological reflection. Theological discourse found its foundation there, and is in no need of revision from contemporary theologians.

This view leads to a bounded set theology. The premise of theological systems is to divide between those who are in and those who are out. Our bounded set of theology sets up a firm and stable fence. This fence serves the dual purpose of keeping those who align with our beliefs in, while keeping those revisionists and “heretics” out. Our theological formulations are the stronghold that we must hold on to in order to save ourselves from being washed away into the evil world of relativism and pluralism.

In the traditionalists view proper elucidation of theology involves the recapitulation of historic dogmatism. Both revision and cultural engagement are red headed stepchildren in this family. What was decided on several hundred years ago remains the foundational premise behind all theology.

The revisionists on the other hand actively engage with culture seeking new ways of appropriating Scripture to everyday lives. Instead of a bounded set, there remains a centered set of primary beliefs around which theology revolves. The coherence of theology is provided through this centered set of beliefs.

The essence of our Christian faith is not to be found in the doctrinal statements of years gone by, but rather in the working of God in individual believers lives. Because we face new contemporary problems, new answers and solutions are needed. Theology is an ever expanding, ever evolving art form. It is not bound by our theological assumptions founded in ancient formulations of belief that were relevant for that time, but are no longer the context and situation in which we find the working of God.

The suggestions laid before us of course beg the criticism of the foundationalists that this sort of theological stance necessitates the questioning of all theological formulations. A revisionist view does not entail the rejection of all propositional statements about God, but rather it recognizes the limitation of those formulations.

We understand that we as humans are neither divine nor perfect. Any idea that we have of God is inherently flawed, as fallen human beings we understand the difference between God and us. Our views and formulations describing the divine inherently fall short. As such they must be under constant reflection and criticism. I would also add that this criticism as such comes under the rule of faith. We are not criticizing, or revising for the sake of revision, rather we are constantly seeking to understand the contextual, and social influences that our theologies are formulated in. There is no promised land of pure objectivity, or a place where we can evaluate our assumptions without outside influence.

At the same time, this view does not preclude our ability to make propositional truth statements. What it does preclude is our making these statements from a position of absolute authority. As humans we understand that the only pure truth is the truth of God Himself. We can point towards that truth, and come into relationship with that truth, but that does not mean that we are the truth, or that we have apprehended.

This sort of thinking stimulates theological exploration into new worlds. There is no end point of theology, no land of arrival where further consideration and study is no longer necessary. Rather we are constantly learning, constantly growing, and constantly learning more about a God who makes Himself known to us.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I'm voting for this guy




Mike Gravel at the Democratic debate. One of the few candidates that I have seen in a debate who really spoke his mind. He provided a spark at an otherwise mundane debate.

I may not agree with his policy, and there is almost no chance that he will get the nomination, but I will watch every debate that he is in leading up to the election just for the entertainment.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Orthodoxy

Tony Jones has recently posted about a presentation he did at Wheaton. His presentation elucidated his position on orthodoxy. Jones purports that orthodoxy is an event, not something static and established. People come together at different times and establish what they believe to be orthodox.

I find the entire concept interesting, and challenging. We are constantly claiming orthodoxy in our beliefs as if they are tried and true, grounded and never to be moved. We act as though our creedal formulations of beliefs are so well established that they are without need of adaptation or updating.

If we view orthodoxy not as an established set of rules, but rather as a fluid dynamic process, what is orthodox today, and who is to decide? What determines right belief?

I think theology like all other forms of art and science must be ever evolving. If you stop growing your dead.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pride

Posted by Adam:

"You probably think this blog is about you. Don't you?"

"How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshipping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the presence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how he approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a penny worth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound's worth of Pride toward their fellow men. I suppose it was of those people Christ was thinking when He said that some world preach about Him and cast out devils in His name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them.

And any of us may at any moment may be in this deathtrap. Luckily, we have a test. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good- above all, that we are better than someone else - I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not be God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether."

-C.S. Lewis, 'The Chief Cause of Misery'

This hit me hard. How many times a day does my religious life make me feel that I am good, or better than somebody else? This must be one of the chief snares of the devil. God bless my debating and philosophy. Yet, what is my intention? What is my motivation? It is many a time pride that makes me challenge another. God speaks in silence and beauty and no one can hear Him in the noise of debate. Religion can be a funny thing; Man believing in something bigger than himself, yet MAN is the one doing all the speaking and the doing.

--Adam

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tithing

Another post by GED Nate...

Although I do not totally agree with some of what he says [he seems to skip over some verses in Scripture], I do think he is on the right path in some of his thoughts.

So here we go!



"The consequence of Privileged information."

The Receiving End of Sirens "The Evidence"

It seems to come around every year without fail, stewardship month. A month full of Pastors begging for its members to dedicate X amount of dollars for the year. How much, and how many times are we to give our tithe? But how important is tithing? What about giving to the poor?

First lets get the actual definition of tithing so we are all on the same page: the tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy.

First, how many times are you to give a tenth of your earnings?

Deuteronomy 26:12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.

Amos 4:3-54 "Go to Bethel and sin;
go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three years.

So right from the begging the commandment if for every 3 years during the year of tithe. This is something I have never heard sitting in front of a pulpit. My question is when did it go from a 3-year thing to a year or every month commandment?

Secondly, giving or tithing to the poor.

Acts 10:4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.

Its seems that when we give to the poor, or are asked to give it is supposed to be an offering above and beyond the tenth that is dedicated to the church. But as this verse clearly states’ giving to the poor is giving to God.

Why does giving to the poor have to be a secondary gift, when we are commanded over and over again to give to the poor? When did we make the distinction of giving to the poor is different from giving to God?


Thirdly, how important is tithing?
Luke 18:9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

13"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'

14"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Luke 11:42 "Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. (Also see Matthew 23:23)
When you place such an importance on tithing you are in going against the commandments of Jesus himself. Taking one month out of the year solely to focus on tithing seems to me to be doing just this.

The thing we have to remember is that tithing is not the greatest commandment.

1 Corinthians 13:2-4 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Now I must state that I am not against giving to the church, the church needs money to operate. Tithing is a commandment of God; there is no question of that. My question is how did we get this new definition of tithing. The way the church, or at least every church I have ever been to, speaks about tithing is unbiblical.

Tithing was not established for churches to buy new projectors or a fancy new pulpit, it was meant to benefit the people who attend the church. It is meant to do God's work, which I simply don't think is new comfortable pews for the people to sit in.

Maybe if more Pastors would preach tithing as giving to do the Lords work, and then the people saw the church doing God's work, they would be more interested in giving.

GED Nate

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'm Impressed

By a comment made by GED Nate...

I just don't see how we can think God created a world, tells us to enjoy the world, died for this world, and yet we are to have nothing to do with it.

I think we need to stop looking up, and start looking around the corner at the people suffering.

We need to see the difference in loving a world of sin, and loving a world of people who sin.


[We may just have to give him back his honorary doctorate]

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hetero?

School of Hetero

This is a questionnaire that was presented to a middle school sometime last year.

1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

2. When did you decided you were heterosexual?

3. For those you have disclosed your heterosexuality, how did they react?

4. How do you know you are not attracted to the same sex if you have never slept with them?

5. Do you think you have simply not met the right same sex partner yet?



Now as humorous or outlandish these questions must seem they prove a valid point. When the word homo is replaced with hetero it shows how foolish the questions must seem to a gay person.

Its basically the "walk a mile in their shoes" theory. I think that everyone especially Christians should do this. Before you write off a homosexual person as an "evil person" or a "fag" think about what they must feel like.

Same with abortion. Now, I am not for abortion, and I do believe homosexuality is wrong, but I think we always have to remeber the greatest commandment. Which is love.

Before you judge, you must first love. Before you correct, you must first love, because love is the greatest comandment.

By Master Nate [He has been upgraded from GED Nate to a Master's of Debating Nate after this interesting post]

Saturday, March 17, 2007

More Thoughts On The Future

Here are a few thoughts on the future by GED Nate:

Apocalypse is not in the Bible, Armegedon is only mentioned once as a place not a time, tribulation mentioned once with no seven year time laps:

Rev. 7:15 And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them."

The rapture not mentioned, millennium nope, antichrist is only mentioned in 2 John and the verse does not point to one person:

2 John 1:27 Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist, as well when it does point towards one person it also points to someone already on earth:

1 John 2:22 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.

Notice the plural antichrists

By GED NATE
[His doctorate from Oxford was recently revoked]

Friday, March 16, 2007

A More Positive View?

"Christian eschatology must be broadened out into cosmic eschatology, for otherwise it becomes a Gnostic doctrine of redemption, and is bound to teach, no longer the redemption of the world but a redemption from the world, no longer the redemption of the body but a deliverance of the soul from the body. But men and women are not aspirants for angelic status, whose home is heaven and who feel that on this earth they are in exile. They are creatures of flesh and blood. Their eschatological future is human and earthly future – ‘the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come’.”

--Jurgen Moltmann, The Coming of God

If your like me, a bit slow, you have to read Moltmann twice to really understand what he is saying...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Most Positive View Of The Future?

Is dispensationalism the most positive viewpoint for the future of our world?

We get to be raptured and watch all the horrors from the safety of heaven...

Dispensationalists in their own words:

“God will destroy this earth that is so marred and cursed by Satan’s evil. He will include the atmospheric heaven to guarantee that all semblance of evil has been cleared away.”
[Tim LaHaye]

“John was hurtled by God’s Spirit through time up to the end of the twentieth century, shown the actual cataclysmic events of the Tribulation, then returned to the first century and told to write about what he had witnessed”
[Hal Lindsey, The Rapture: Truth or Consequences, 101-102]

“We are seeing in my judgment the birth-pangs that will be called in the future the beginning of the end. I believe in my mind that the Third World War has already begun.”
[John Hagee, BBC Interview]

Rayford Steele, Left Behind’s hero, is given multiple opportunities to thwart or destroy the evil Antichrist early in the series. But he refrains from doing so because he views the Bible as a preset script dictating that the Antichrist “must” live for seven more years.
[From Soul Harvest, The World Takes Sides, Volume 4 in the Left Behind Series]

“Scripture had come to life. This was the Red Horse of the Apocalypse. Next would come more death and famine and plagues until a quarter of the population of the earth that remained after the rapture was wiped out.”
[LaHaye and Jenkins, Nicolae, 108]

“The first time He came to earth, Jesus was the Lamb of God, led in silence to the slaughter. The next time He comes, He will be the Lion of the tribe of Judah who will trample His enemies until their blood stains His garments, and He shall rule with a rod of iron. Even so, come Lord Jesus!”
[John Hagee, Daniel to Doomsday, 239]

“That old curiosity was back. Rayford couldn’t shake it. No way he could be this close to Armageddon—he guessed less than seventy miles—and not do a flyover. It was crazy, he knew. He might find himself in an air traffic jam. But the possibility of seeing an aerial view of what he had been hearing and reading and praying about drew him like an undertow.”
[LaHaye and Jenkins, Armageddon, 234]

The new heavens and new earth won’t waste any space with oceans or mountains or deserts, since such landscapes are uninhabitable for humans and are therefore “worthless.”
[LaHaye]

Monday, March 12, 2007

Adam Threatens To Go America...

Yesterday Adam threatened to "go America" on me if I didn't give at least a little hint as to my views on eschatology. Since I don't know what "going America" entails, I'm assuming that it's not the least bit pleasant.

So in order to escape my imminent fate, here are a few thoughts [These are taken from a book I am engaging with right now: "The Rapture Exposed" by Barbara Rossing, pg. 41] The book challenges the "dispensational" interpretation of the book of Revelation.

1. There is no mention of a rebuilt Jerusalem temple anywhere in the New Testament, including Revelation
2. Neither Daniel nor Revelation uses the word Antichrist
3. There is no record in Revelation or Daniel o the Antichrist making a covenant with Israel
4. There is no record in Daniel or Revelation of the Antichrist breaking the covenant with Israel
5. There is no mention that Jesus will set up an earthly throne in Jerusalem

I hope these points will be taken into consideration anytime one seeks to properly exegete the book of Revelation.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

For Your Enjoyment...

Romans in a few words...

This post is borne out of a discussion on the topic of Romans 9 God loving some and hating others...

Here are my brief thoughts on the book of Romans as whole, eventually getting around to Romans 9 and the issue of God's giving mercy to some.

The book of Romans has often been called “Paul’s most systematic theology”. The book is often times divided into neat little divisions, 1-3; 5-8; 9-11; 12-16, and given titles for each section. Often times as readers we approach the book of Romans as if it were several different books with different subheads. I think that reading of Romans is what has lead people to read Romans 9-11 with what I call 21st century glasses, and ignore the overall context, and message of Paul in Romans.

One of the main issues, if not the issue for Paul and the early church was the admission of Gentiles into the people of God. The Jews were the chosen people of God, saw themselves as “in”, and the Gentiles were most certainly out. Throughout the book of Romans Paul addresses this issue.

Romans 1:5 “Through Him and for his name’s sake we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles”
Romans 1:16 “[The gospel] is the power of God first for the Jew and then for the Gentile” [Side note: I don’t think this verse explains the gospel, but rather shows the power of the gospel. Too often people assume that Romans 1:16-17 is Paul’s definition of the gospel, I disagree, but that’s another story for another time]

Paul then goes on to show the sinfulness, and lost ness of every man. Carefully outlining that both Jew and Gentile are sinners in need of God
[1:18-32 — the depravity of all people] [chapter 2 both Gentiles and Jews are sinful. 2:14, 17-29 is especially enlightening]
In fact in chapter 2 Paul goes on to show that just because you are a Jew and have the law it doesn’t mean that you are better than someone else.
3:9 Paul comes to the conclusion that both Jew and Gentile are both under sin.

So we can see here that Paul is weaving this argument throughout the entire book. Jew and Gentile are sinners; neither can claim that they are in because of race alone [nor could they ever do that].

Romans 3:28-29 “Justification by faith” Here is where I follow Wright

Justification in this passage, and the “works of the law” are not referents to the fact that the Jews were trying to earn their salvation by their outward actions. Rather what Paul is referring to here in observing the law is the fact that the Jews believed that their Torah obedience was a badge of membership that set them apart from the Gentiles. It was how you could tell one was a real Jew. Paul challenges them here in this passage stating that God is the God of both Jew and Gentile. Their works of the law were not Pelagian self-righteous works. Once again the Jew/Gentile divide is clear.

Romans 4 — An appeal to Abraham. He was justified before circumcision [Jew vs. Gentile]

Romans 5 — Adam, all are sinners regardless of race. [BTW Romans 5:18 seems to hint at universalism — threw that in there for Nathanael]

Romans 6 — No longer under Law but under grace for all

Romans 8 — The spirit comes to all through faith, not through racial privilege [as if it ever did]

So then we come to Romans 9 [I know this is a real short synopsis of the first 8 chapters, but I don’t want this to go on forever in the hopes that you may actually read it]

We must keep in mind Paul’s central thesis of Jew vs. Gentile [he makes this clear in vs. 7 where not all Jews are Abraham’s descendents]

When we read passages like “Jacob I loved Esau I hated”. Both were Jewish sons of Isaac. Jacob received the promise Esau did not. Is Paul making a referent here to the fact that one was elect and the other not? One was destined for hell and the other not?

I think a better way to read Paul would be to understand that in Romans 9-11 he is outlining his sorrow for the Jewish nation. He wants them to believe in Jesus, he wants to shake them out of the belief that they are on their way simply because they are Jewish [9:1-2; 10:1]. His point is that God has called some who are not Jewish to be a part of his people [9:24-26]. Esau was a Jew, yet he was rejected, the same fate can await you.

He continues in chapter 10 with that thought in 10:11-13 [whoever calls on the name of Jesus will be saved, Jew or Gentile]

Chapter 11 he continues with the grafting in of the Gentiles into the branch further accentuating the fact that the Gentiles are now apart of the “chosen”.

So when someone comes along and tells me that God elects some for heaven, some for hell, and that Romans 9-11 is a clear example of that, I think they are not reading the entire context, and they most certainly are reading the passage through our 21st century eyes. Just because you are a part of Israel does not mean that you are Jacob, you could be Esau. Israel had hardened their hearts, and needed them to be softened so that they could respond to Paul’s call to salvation.

Well, there in as brief a format as possible is my reading of Romans. I skipped a lot of important info as I’m sure will be pointed out. But I think we have to ground any discussion of election in this argument of Jew vs. Gentile. We often times assume that this was not an issue for Paul, and that has led us astray for the most part in my opinion.

And if you read all of this you get a gold star!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Missional Theology

John Franke has written a great article on missional theology.

Click on the title to read the article.

Dr. Nate

I have heard the cries from the wilderness. Nathanael sent me this email a week or so ago, and has since then spent most of his time complaining that I didn't post it...

So here it is:

It’s a question I have heard asked a thousand times.  What about the people who live in foreign countries and have never heard the “gospel?”  What about the people who don’t know Jesus died for them?

Then you get the response from Romans 1:19-20 “…because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…” and it goes on from there.

But see here is where the problem arises.  I have read that passage a number of times and no where do I find a “sinners prayer,” or anything about, Jesus dying for them.  But isn’t that the fundamental step into becoming a Christian?  The faith in believing Jesus died for them?

And furthermore, what if instead of calling God, God.  What if they refer to him as Bobobebo, and worship him for giving them rain and food.  What if they praise Bobobebo for killing their enemies, getting their wives pregnant, and instead of a cross they put up as a symbol of their creator, they make a man of wood as an image of God?  (not to say they worship the image, but let’s not get side tracked.)

Are they “saved”? Do they get to go to “heaven?”

As far as our American Salvation is concerned, and I mean if you literally base salvation on what a preacher will tell you during the invitation, the answer would be no.

(As well, of course not many people believe that the “sinners prayer,” or as I call it, the “magic prayer,” is all there is to salvation, but almost everyone I talk to they say that it has to be the FOUNDATION for everything else.)

So there is my problem, if the FOUNDATION for becoming a Christian is the “sinners prayer” and what it contains, then there must be a lot of people in “hell” with no idea why.

--Nate

Let me know your thoughts about Nathanael's post!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Karl Barth and Scripture

My understanding of truth [and Truth] in a postmodern context came into clearer focus today with a discussion on Karl Barth and his view of revelation.

Barth contended that Truth [capital T] was from the Word of God. The Word of God functioned in three ways:

1. Revelation -- Jesus Christ is the revelation of God. Jesus is Truth [capital T]
2. The Bible -- The Bible functions as witness to the revelation of God. The Bible is the Word of God, but since it comes to us in the form of human words it can only contain words about God. It is not the direct revelation of God, it is therefore truth [small t]
3. Proclamation -- Good preaching contains proclamation about God. However, as a human construct, like the Bible, it contains truth [small t]. It is truth to us, but it is not the Truth.

Only God is Truth, but since God is beyond all our understandings, all we have access to is truth [small t]. We access Truth [God] through the Bible, and through proclamation of the Bible. However, we must keep in mind that the closest we can come is truth [small t].

In Scripture God makes Himself cognitively available to us in such a way that we can provide formulations as good as we can make them. And yet even our best formulations remain inadequate in relation to the one whom they bear witness to.

Absolute Truth is only available to God, not to us. The best we can come to is truth [small t again].

So maybe the church's fascination of Absolute Truth is a discussion that we cannot engage in. Even our best constructions and formulations of God fall frustratingly short.

So what do you think? Can we know Absolute Truth?
Is this discussion beyond us?
Should the church purposely get away from Absolute Truth statements?
How much Truth, and truth are contained in other churches, and other religions?
Interested in your thoughts

Monday, February 19, 2007

Refreshing

"At Biblical the Bible is not under scrutiny, but our interpretations of the Bible are under scrutiny."

--Dr. David Dunbar
President Biblical Seminary

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Universalism

“The doctrine of universal salvation is the expression of a boundless confidence in God: what god wants to do he can do, and will do. If he wants all human beings to be helped, he will ultimately help all human beings. The doctrine of the double outcome of judgment is the expression of a tremendous self-confidence on the part of human beings: if the decision ‘faith or disbelief’ has eternal significance, then eternal destiny, salvation or damnation, lies in the hands of human beings. What will happen to people in eternity really depends on their own behavior. God’s function is reduced to the offer of salvation in the gospel, and to establishing acceptance or rejection at the judgment. Christ becomes a persons savior only when that person has ‘accepted’ him in faith. So it is the acceptance in faith which makes Christ the savior of that man or that woman. But if this is so, do people not really save the damn themselves?

Who makes the decision about the salvation of lost men and women, and where is the decision made?”

Jurgen Moltmann
"The Coming of God"

Monday, February 12, 2007

Women in Ministry

On Saturday I asked the following question:

Which areas of our theology are in need of further development?

Almost everyone agreed that our view of women in ministry was in need of revision.

Maybe it's time that we admit our errors, and make a 180 degree turn.

More Thoughts On Salvation

I appreciate the comments on the last post.

A few thoughts on the subject matter of salvation.

I agree with Nathanael when he says that salvation in the Old Testament must include the idea of salvation from exile. Nehemiah 9:36 makes this clear. "We are servants to this day [in our own land]." Isreal viewed themselves as still in a state of spiritual exile. While they had returned to their land geographically, they still remained in a spiritual exile. The parable of the prodigal son is an excellent example of such a belief.

For too long we have viewed the parable as a simple story about the great love of God. But look at the paralells. A son [Israel] tells his father [God] to give him the inheritance [saying in essence that he wishes his father were dead]. He goes off to a far country [exile], and ends up with the most humbling of jobs [feeding pigs for Gentiles]. When he returns the father welcomes him back into the family [God welcoming the sinners, and the nation of Israel back into his family]. It is a picture of the radical forgiveness of God. The wrong people are getting into the kingdom, those who rejected God. The older brother [the Pharisees] cannot comprehend how the father could welcome the son. [He kills a fatted calf, far too much meat for a single family, it was the entire community that would celebrate the return of the son].

So Luke 15 is a beautiful picture of Isreal, exile, and return. Jesus tells the story with these obvious implications.

Evangelicals have wrongly assumed that Christ came to die on the cross for the primary reason of being substitutionary atonement for our sins. While I do agree that Christ's death on the cross does offer a covering for our sins, I also believe that His death is far more well rounded.

The death of Christ on the cross must be seen primarily through the lens of faithfulness to His covenant. In Jesus we have the beginnings of new creation [i.e. John 1, and Genesis 1. See also Luke 24:31, and Genesis 3:7]. Jesus saw Himself as fulfilling the vocation of Isreal [Isaiah 52-53], not simply as a covering for our individual sins.

This understanding of salvation keeps us from a "get out of hell" salvation, and helps move us forward to a more holistic understanding. For the Jews Jesus offered salvation from exile, and restoration. However, it came in a most unusual way. The kingdom was established [Mark 1:15], but it did not look as they imagined it would.

This also leads to our understanding of justification, but more on that at a later date. This is getting long already.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Salvation

A couple of starting points for discussion from chapter one:

1. Do you agree with McLaren's statement about salvation in the Old Testament:
"It's clear that in these passages [Exodus 15:2; 2 Samuel 22:3; Luke 1:69-73] the speakers aren't talking about being saved from hell. They're talking about being saved from the Egyptians, King Saul, the Romans -- about being liberated from violence and oppression and the distressing fear they engender" [pg. 21]

2. McLaren says that salvation needs to be seen not only as "salvation from hell" but rather "being rescued from fruitless ways of life here and now, to share in God's saving love for all creation, in an adventure called the kingdom of God, the point of which you definitely don't want to miss." [pg. 25]

Interested to hear your thoughts on chapter one. Email me your thoughts and I will post them here so that the conversation can begin!

JP

Monday, February 5, 2007

And Off We Go!

Hey guys,

Here is the blog that we will use for our conversation. If you want to post a blog, just email me:
JDPedrone@newtestbaptist.org the information, and I will post it for discussion. A couple of ground rules [even though I hate to put restrictions on a conversation]
1. Make sure your posts are well thought out.
2. Make them as concise as possible
3. Don't dominate the conversation [I want everyone to have a chance to post here]
4. Participate

Well, I'll try and post a starter discussion topic later today. For right now, we are blogging about the book "Adventures in Missing the Point".

And off we go!

JP