Monday, March 30, 2009

How to Regard the Law, Perhaps?

There are so many nuances to the New Perspective in Paul. Too many to recount here. I found a quote from one proponent, N. T. Wright (surprise!) that really helps me see one aspect of it. This was the kind of idea that makes me continue to look at the New Perspective and find helpful nuggets in it (can't buy all of it, but it sure is helpful). This is in relation to the Israelites' regard for the Torah:
When God frees you from slavery, said the Torah, this is how you must behave, not to earn his favor (as though you could put God in your moral debt), but to express your gratitude, your loyalty, and your determination to live by the covenant because of which God rescued you in the first place.

(From Simply Christian, page 82)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Public Apology

I have to admit, I did not like the Mike Anderson hire. When I thought that perhaps John Calipari had any interest in the Mizzou job a few years ago, I was so disappointed that we didn't go after him. Anderson's first two years were very "ehh..." I would look at the rafters at Mizzou arena and see all of the banners representing Big 8 championships (regular season and tournament). I would see all of the appearances in the NCAA tournament and I didn't see Anderson heading in that direction. Even this year, blowout losses to Kansas St. and Kansas. Disappointing losses to Nebraska and Texas A&M. I didn't see this tournament run coming. I've always liked Mike Anderson, I thought he was a good guy, I just thought there were better coaches. Mizzou won this year by playing as a "team" (playing selflessly as well as any other team). They were a fun team, great defense and making the extra passes until they have the best shot. Right now, Mike has earned my benefit of the doubt for the next five years. Hold me to it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Can't Think of a Better Supply Preacher for the Occasion

MARYVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- The Illinois church where the senior pastor was killed during his sermon a week ago has resumed services with support from a clergyman whose church also experienced a violent attack.

The Rev. Al Meredith of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, opened Sunday's early service at Maryville's First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois, by apologizing that he's not "Pastor Fred."

Meredith recounted how his own church in 1999 was the scene of an attack in which another gunman killed seven people and committed suicide.

Meredith says First Baptist may never get over what happened but should use the tragedy for spiritual outreach.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Gospel Has Power: Romans 1 (part 2)

There is no shame in the gospel. Paul states that he is not ashamed of the gospel. It seems as if he is familiar with the statement of Jesus from Mark 8.38//Luke 9.26: If any of you are ashamed of me and my words…the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes…

Why would anyone be ashamed of the gospel? We see in 1 Cor. 1.18-31 that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who do not accept it. There may be a temptation to make it more palatable to those who may find it to be foolish. Paul stands firm in his message and is not ashamed of it and will not alter it to suit anyone’s worldview.

The gospel is the power of God. We have seen that the evidence of the Kingdom was Christ’s power (Matt. 11.2-6). It was initially displayed in his ability to display God’s power. It’s ultimate power was the resurrection from the dead and ultimately the power of God is the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer (see Rom. 8.11).

The gospel is salvation. Believing in the gospel saves us from the wrath of God (Rom. 5.9). Salvation in the Old Testament has the connotation of deliverance also from one’s enemies and results in restoration to wholeness.

It begins with the Jews and spreads to the Gentiles. This stems back to the original covenant with Abram. God chose him and his family to be his people and ultimately to bless every other people group in the world.

The gospel reveals God’s righteousness. Righteousness should be understood in terms of a relationship. It is related as well to the salvation that Paul has already mentioned. God is righteous when he fulfills the obligations he took upon himself to be Israel’s God, that is, to rescue Israel and punish Israel’s enemies. God acts to restore his people and to sustain them according to his covenant with them. Righteousness helps explain how the “gospel” is the power of God for salvation.

The gospel must be experienced by faith. God’s righteousness is accessed by human beings from beginning to end by faith. Our acceptance of the truth and the power of the gospel makes God’s righteousness available to us. Our faith in the gospel is what incorporates us into God’s people. And this has been the plan from the beginning. It has been revealed (once again) in God’s previous revelation (the Old Testament). Paul has previously shown (in Gal. 3.7-9) and will reiterate in Romans (chapter 4, citing Gen. 15.6) that our connection to God’s righteousness (that is, our status of an unbroken relationship with him) is accessed by our faith and not our adherence to the Law or our status as members of the chosen people. Paul here finally appeals to Habakkuk 2.4 – “The righteous will live by faith.”

Thus, there is no shame in the gospel. The gospel is the power of God. The gospel is salvation. The gospel reveals God’s righteousness and the gospel must be experienced by faith.

(Help in this section was provided by the commentaries of C. K. Barrett and James D. G. Dunn).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Gospel Has Power: Romans 1 (part 1)

In this lesson we take a look at the gospel in Romans 1. We narrow in on verses 1-5 and verses 16-17. As we have looked through all of these nuances of the gospel, I have enjoyed seeing how many of the references of the gospel have been intertwined with what we’ve already looked at.
Verses 1-5
We see that Paul was set apart for the gospel (it was his calling by God to proclaim the message of and about Jesus Christ).
The gospel was:
• Promised beforehand – we have looked at this before in our first lesson on Mark 1. The first note after the announcement of the beginning of the gospel was a reference to the Old Testament (see here).
• It was regarding his Son, who:
  • o In his earthly life was a descendant of David. Now why was it important to denote that Jesus’ descent from David was critical to the gospel? If we look back to the Old Testament, we see in 2 Sam. 7.12-14 that God promised to establish a dynasty through David and that this dynasty would last forever. God claims that He will be the king’s father and the king will be God’s son. We start to see how the King is designated God’s son (or the son of God). We also look to one of the Royal Psalms (Psalm 2) where the King is installed and God says to the King (from the line of David), “You are my son; today I have become your Father.” We see a connection with the four Gospels to Jesus being the son of God after his baptism by John. In the Synoptic Gospels, God states that Jesus is his son, with whom he is pleased. In John’s Gospel, John the Baptist reveals that God has revealed Jesus to be the Son of God.
  • o Jesus’ resurrection revealed that his was appointed the Son of God in power. This was accomplished by the Spirit of Holiness (or Holy Spirit). It points out that he was more than just a good moral example, but now we see that the Son of God is truly King. He is more than just king in the earthly sense (in the line of the Davidic kings), but he is the King who has ushered in the Kingdom of God. (We discussed the connection between the gospel and the Kingdom of God in lesson two, see here).
  • o Jesus Christ is our Lord. He is our Kurios, which would have been an ascription of the Roman emperor. Caesar is not our Kurios, but instead, through his resurrection, Jesus is our Kurios.

• Paul points out that his calling is to the Gentiles. We see the universality of Jesus’ kingship. He is not just the King of the Jews, but he is King of all. Paul’s commission is to spread the message that Jesus is King (Lord/Kurios) to the Gentiles.

We will look at Rom. 1.16-17 in another post.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Favorite Obscure 80s Band

Russell and Ron Mael - Sparks. Started in the late 60s and are still recording.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Magnificent - Certainly Applies

I will have to admit that I did not like the new U2 release “No Line on the Horizon” very much at first listen. I was thoroughly underwhelmed by Get on Your Boots. I listened to a stream of the cd a couple of times on U2 myspace page and just didn’t get it. But things slowly began to change. I saw them sing “Magnificent” on Letterman last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I found myself singing the chorus to the title track, No Line on the Horizon, so I gave it another chance. And now I think it is fantastic. I will admit that it is like a lot of other U2 cds, there are some really forgettable songs: Get On Your Boots still reminds me of Vertigo, catchy but ehh… And I’m not a big fan of “Crazy Tonight” but like their greatest releases, their high points outshine the forgettable songs.

Magnificent begins like one of their old school anthems with some Zooropa electronic touches. You see Bono almost comparing his calling to sing with the calling of an Old Testament prophet:
I was born/I was born to sing for you/I didn’t have a choice
But to lift you up/And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice/From the womb my first cry
It was a joyful noise

The song closes with a sort of doxology:
Justified till we die/You and I will magnify/
Oh, the magnificent

You see an honesty of his spiritual struggle on White as Snow (which sounds a lot like "O Come, O Come Emanuel"):
Once I knew there was a love divine
Then came a time I thought it knew me not
Who can forgive forgiveness where forgiveness is not
Only the lamb as white as snow

In Stand Up Comedy, we see a great line about God:
I can stand up for hope, faith, love/But while I’m getting over certainty/
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady

Bono is not afraid to make fun of himself and his self-importance:
Stand up to rock stars/Napoleon is in high heels
Instead of standing up for ourselves or standing up for our rights, Bono admonishes us to “Stand up for your love.”

In the song Breathe, grace equates to freedom:
I’ve found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it’s all that I found
And I can breathe/Breathe now

Bono sings as if this power of love he has tapped into can defeat any foe:
Every day I die again, and again I’m reborn
Every day I have to find the courage
To walk out into the street/With arms out
Got a love you can’t defeat

The release closes with Cedars of Lebanon, where the singer starts off sounding homesick as if he has been away from his wife and family for a long time. Then he moves to juxtaposing the haves versus the have nots:
Child drinking dirty water from the river bank
Soldier brings oranges he got out from a tank
I’m waiting on the waiter, he’s taking a while to come.

With every listen, I find something deeper to take away. I find myself charged up, inspired and even worshipful of my Creator. I can think of no greater complement to give a cd than that.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Old Testament Canon

I have been asked this question about three different times over the last couple of weeks, so I thought that I would post my notes on the subject. I compiled this when I taught Biblical Survey at College of the Ozarks and Old Testament History at SBU. I think I got most of this from OT survey by LaSor, Hubbard and Bush and I may have borrowed from Arnold and Bayer as well.
Long, but really only one page of a word doc.


The Church was born with a canon in its hands already. It is called canon because it comes from the Sumerians and their word for reed. Reeds were used as measuring sticks. The word has come to have a variety of meanings related to measurement: rule, standard, law, boundary, list, index…

How did the books that are compiled into our OT (or the Hebrew Bible) come into being?

By the canon of Scripture, we mean the authoritative collection of writings, the teachings of which are binding on believers.

Formation of the OT Canon

Four closely related yet readily distinguishable steps were involved in the formation of the OT canon: authoritative utterances; documents; collections of writings; and a fixed canon.

Authoritative Utterances – For the people of Israel, the principle of canonicity began when they received the laws through Moses at Mt. Sinai. God gave strong words, the people pledged themselves to abide by them, and Moses put them in writing (Exodus 24.3f). (This had already begun in that the people, aware of Israel’s peculiar role in redemptive history, treasured the commands and promises given to the patriarchs.

Authoritative Documents – In Deut. 31.24-26, Moses “finished writing the words of this law in a book” and commanded the Levites to “put it by the side of the Ark of the Covenant…that it may be there for a witness against you.’

Authoritative Collections of Writings – The traditional threefold division of the Hebrew scriptures into Law, Prophets, and Writings probably indicates stages in the formation of the canon as well as differences in subject matter.

Fixed Canon – evidence for the threefold catalog of sacred writings is found prior to 150 BC. In a preface to a work (Ecclesiasticus or Ben Sirach) which was translated into Greek in ca. 132, the author refers to “the Law and the Prophets” as well as “the other (books) that follow after them.” We find another Jewish reference to the canon in the Talmud where the threefold division is implied clearly, and authors are listed for most books, all of which are in the present Protestant canon. In the NT Jesus alludes to “the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms (Luke 24.44).

(The works found in the Apocrypha are never cited directly. No evidence suggests that either Philo or Josephus, both contemporary with the NT, included books not in the present OT.

We do not have a definitive narrative of how the books that are in the canon were selected. With the temple lost with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 and their faith contested by the rise of Christianity, the Jews clung to their Scriptures for security and unity. This attention to Scripture led to the recognition of the Hebrew canon as now known. The Jewish religious headquarters at Jamnia in SW Judah became the hub of discussions about the canon. The exact process by which the rabbis came to a final verdict came through a general consensus reached by common usage.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Problems with The Ban

I got this quote from Christopher Wright's book The God I Don't Understand. (It actually came from the Koinonia blog of Zondervan authors). Wright was discussing the conquest of Canaan narratives and asking why did God ask the Israelites to institute the Ban (the utter destruction of all living creatures) against the peoples of Canaan.
"This is the way in which God in his sovereignty chose to work within human history to accomplish his saving purpose for humanity and for creation, including me…at some point I have to stand back from my questions, criticism, or complaint and receive the Bible’s own word on the matter. What the Bible unequivocally tells me is that this was an act of God that took place within an overarching narrative through which the only hope for the world’s salvation was constituted." (p.106-107)
It is hard to deal with, but I think we often fail to look at individual narratives as part of the overarching story of the redemption of humanity. Still not easy, but I can't see the whole picture and I have to trust that God does and he knows what he is doing.
Any reactions?

Monday, March 2, 2009

More Pujols Love

For those of you who still might think that Ryan Howard should have been the NL MVP last year instead of Albert Pujols, look at a mock fantasy draft by fantasy experts on Albert went number one overall, Ryan Howard was picked number 22. The next Cardinal drafted in this league was Ryan Ludwick at 57. Ryan Howard was actually the third Phillie picked. Jimmy Rollins was picked 8th and Chase Utley was picked 11th. I know that fantasy geeks are not good gauges of the true MVP, but it should show you who stat geeks value above others. It also shows you that Howard had far more help in that lineup (and we haven't even mentioned an injured Pat Burrell) than Pujols. Anyway, that is my HOT SPORTS OPINION!