Category : Theology: Scripture

(Authority & Interpretation of Scripture)

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samar′ia,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel come!
Pass over to Calneh, and see;
and thence go to Hamath the great;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are they better than these kingdoms?
Or is their territory greater than your territory,
O you who put far away the evil day,
and bring near the seat of violence?

“Woe to those who lie upon beds of ivory,
and stretch themselves upon their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the midst of the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David invent for themselves instruments of music;
who drink wine in bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first of those to go into exile,
and the revelry of those who stretch themselves shall pass away.”

The Lord God has sworn by himself (says the Lord, the God of hosts):

“I abhor the pride of Jacob,
and hate his strongholds;
and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.”

–Amos 6:1-8

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:6-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved….Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore

Psalm 16:7-8;11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

–2 Peter 3:11-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

–2 Peter 3:8-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) The First Christian: Mary’s preeminent example as a Christ follower neither began or ended at Christmas.

Once upon a time, the Virgin Mary pervaded the life and thought of the Western world. Her presence was so expansive, in fact, that even European fairy tales acknowledged her status. Take Cinderella. An abusive stepmother was still the cause of Cinderella’s impoverished conditions, but in one of the earliest tellings of the tale, she knew the one to call upon was the Virgin Mary. In no time at all, Cinderella’s hunger was resolved, and a prince was proposing. By replacing the Virgin Mary with a Fairy Godmother, the story of Cinderella was successfully secularized for today without disenchanting it. But it’s not just fairy tales that have stripped Mary from a well-loved story. She’s missing from The Story, too.

It’s not that Protestants have entirely forgotten Mary. At this time of year, the mother of Jesus gets some attention. But Mary is not a Christmas figure to be stored away like the manger and the Star of Bethlehem until next year. She played an extraordinary role throughout the life and ministry of Jesus, from the Annunciation to the day of Pentecost. By overlooking the roles she played throughout Jesus’ ministry, we may think that we are protecting Protestantism from falling into old “Catholic” habits of elevating her beyond what Scripture declares about her. But there’s nothing “Protestant” about neglecting what Scripture does say about her—and about the other women named by the New Testament writers.

Before Easter this year, I (Jennifer) stepped out of my comfort zone and preached a sermon at a church on the women named in Luke 8, who traveled with Jesus and financially supported his ministry. In one sense, it was an obvious choice for a sermon. I wanted the congregation to know who the women of Luke 8 were before they met them again at the tomb on Easter. After all, every single Gospel account mentions that women were the first witnesses to the risen Christ. And there is no better evidence of the truth of the Christian claim that Christ truly, bodily resurrected than the fact that the Gospel writers absurdly and consistently base it on the testimony of women during a time when a woman’s testimony was legally worthless. Still, I was uncertain about how a sermon with this kind of focus would be received. Afterward, I had just a swarm of people saying to me that they had never even heard of these women before. They told me that while they had heard sermons focusing on a number of biblical characters other than Jesus, they had never heard a single Sunday morning sermon focused on a woman. And this was in a congregation that’s part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a denomination that takes pride in its inclusion of women into all areas of ministry! As I officiated communion afterward, a line of women softly whispered to me “thank you,” some with tears in their eyes. Women have a hunger to know that women were faithful and active participants in Jesus’ ministry. They were not just recipients of his miracles. Not just people shown love and respect, but people transformed by Jesus for new life as participants and witnesses in his ministry.

Numerous women are named in Scripture as supporters and participants in Jesus’ ministry. Many more are named as co-workers with Paul. These women are not entirely forgotten by Protestant churches today, but when we tell the stories of Priscilla, Phoebe, Susanna, Chloe, Junia, or the many other women of Scripture, we almost always reserve that focus for the women’s retreat. The whole testimony of Scripture is for the whole church—both men and women. What would it mean for men in the pews to think about the examples of women not as particular “women’s stories” but as universal Christian exemplars? Women in our churches have long had to learn special listening and application skills as they considered the many examples of men following Jesus. It is the normative filter for women in the pew. What if the tables were turned to better reflect the practice of the Bible? What if the New Testament writers didn’t just name female disciples to show women that they too can participate in Jesus’ work? What if the New Testament writers also intended men to learn from women how to follow Jesus? What if Mary, the Mother of God, is for men too?

Read it all.

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love will enter thy house, I will worship toward thy holy temple in the fear of thee.

–Psalm 5:7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Atlantic) The Crisis of American Christianity, Viewed From Great Britain The theologian N. T. Wright is unfazed by the faith’s politicization in the U.S.

Green: Do you feel hopeful about the future of Christianity?

Wright: Yeah, of course I feel hopeful. Lesslie Newbigin—does that name mean anything to you? He was a Presbyterian who went out to India as a missionary.

Somebody once asked him whether he was an optimist or a pessimist, and he said, “I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist; Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.” In other words, something has happened, as a result of which the world is a different place. If we put our faith only in a Western Enlightenment version of the spread of Christianity, how foolish would we be? Christianity is thriving in Africa and Asia—in China, for goodness’ sake. It’s amazing, actually.

Green: Looking to America and Britain to be the future of Christianity—you think that’s misguided?

Wright: Who knows? You know, God is the God of surprises. New things can happen; new things should happen. But there are more Anglicans in church in Nigeria on a Sunday than in the whole of Britain and America put together.

Green: If you were talking to a young person who feels anguish about what Christianity has come to mean in America, what would you say to him or her?

Wright: For goodness’ sake, read the four Gospels. That’s what they’re there for. And recognize that in the prayer Jesus taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses.” You don’t just say that once, at the beginning of your Christian life. You jolly well say it every day, because you will need to. The trouble is that the Church is far too good at hoping that everyone else will be asking for forgiveness for their trespasses. Self-critique is part of the Gospel. And where the Church forgets that—oh boy, things go badly wrong.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these things are yours and abound, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

–2 Peter 1:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) Hans Boersma–Advent Arrow

The Fathers see evidence in Isaiah 49:2: “The Lord … made me like a chosen arrow, and in his quiver he sheltered me.” Theodoret directly identifies Christ as God’s arrow when he comments on the meaning of the Bride’s profession of love, “I have been wounded by love” (Song 2:5). He too appeals to Isaiah 49: “For [Christ] is after all the chosen arrow (Isa. 49:2) that wounds the souls it strikes.”

The patristic logic is impeccable: If Christ is the Groom who wounds our heart, then with impatient desire we search the Scriptures for how he does this. That’s exactly what the Fathers do by turning to biblical texts such as Psalm 45:5 and Isaiah 49:2. The broader canonical witness tells us how it is that the Groom wounds his Bride’s heart. Archery is his means—preachers’ words give the Logos entry in the human heart.

Patristic scholars talk about “intertextuality” or “verbal association” to explain what’s happening here. I won’t object. But really, we should call this kind of exegesis advent reading. It is a form of interpretation that longs for Christ to come and that looks beyond the empirical. Only an interpretation animated by desire can spot the arrow.

Scripture demands an Advent posture. The most important things are not the ones we see. The unseen word arrow is arguably the key to grasping what the Bride means when she exclaims, “I am wounded with love.” That, at least, is the consensus patrum.

Read it all.

Posted in Advent, Church History, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape. But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

–1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers. Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

–1 Peter 4:7-19

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

–Psalm 140:13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 131

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture readings

So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe,

“The very stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the corner,”

and

“A stone that will make men stumble,
a rock that will make them fall”;

for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.

–1 Peter 2:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.

–Psalm 121:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(1st things) Michael McClymond–The Heresy of Universalism–The Opiate of the Theologians

One of the most shocking passages in all of Christian literature has to be the section of City of God where Augustine speaks of the resurrected human flesh that suffers the fires of hell but is not consumed by them—an infernal rendition of Moses’s bush that burns without burning up. The horror of this passage has often deflected readers from other, more important themes in City of God. It is easy to miss that ­Augustine’s afterlife is of a piece with the earthly life. Human disharmony and duality did not arrive on the planet because a capricious God showed up at the end of the world and arbitrarily decided to cleave a harmonious earthly community in two. Duality began the moment that Cain raised his hand to murder his brother Abel. And so it has been ever since. In City of God, Augustine recounts the conflicts between the descendants of Cain and those of Seth, between ­Israel and the Gentiles, and between the Church and its ­persecutors—summed up in a single, overriding contrast between “the city of man” and “the city of God.”

If someone were to ask me why I embrace a particularistic view of salvation and a dualistic eschatology rather than a religion of solidarity, my answer must be not only “Because this is what the Bible teaches” and “Because church teaching confirms it,” but also “Because I have eyes to see.” I don’t need to hypothesize a world in which human pride and stubbornness cause people to turn away from God’s gracious offer of mercy in Jesus Christ. This is the world I live in. This is what I see happening every day. This is what I read in the news. It is also what I am told by the Church: Jesus was crucified. Perfect love appeared in history—and observe what man did in response. In contrast to the particularist, the universalist must hypothesize a state of affairs in which, as Rob Bell says, “everybody will turn to God and find themselves in the joy . . . of God’s presence.” This imagining not just of a heaven, but of men and a world that no one has ever seen, leads me to a definite conclusion. Universalism is hopefulness run amok, the opiate of the theologians.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

–Psalm 106:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
All nations surrounded me; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
They surrounded me like bees, they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me.
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Hark, glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
the right hand of the LORD is exalted, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”

–Psalm 118: 8-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood.

“I Jesus have sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let him who hears say, “Come.” And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price.

I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

–Revelation 22:14-21

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place. And behold, I am coming soon.”

Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.

I John am he who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

–Revelation 22:6-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!

–Psalm 105:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

–Revelation 21:9-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

–Psalm 97:1-6

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Do we See as God Sees or are we Blind (John 9)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli′jah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli′jah.” He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Eli′jah must come?” He replied, “Eli′jah does come, and he is to restore all things; but I tell you that Eli′jah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

–Matthew 17:1-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!

–Psalm 66:11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.

–Psalm 87:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?…Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

–Psalm 88:10-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Nicholas Kristof reviews Karen Armstrong’s ‘The Lost Art Of Scripture: Rescuing The Sacred Texts’

I’ve long believed that the great gulf in religion is not so much from one faith to another, but rather between sanctimonious cranks of any creed who point fingers and those of any religion who humbly seek inspiration to live better lives. Armstrong’s exploration of Scripture across so many traditions reinforces my view.

The ancient Chinese scholar Xunzi complained about an early version of what today we might call religious blowhards. “The learning of the petty man enters his ear and comes out of his mouth,” Xunzi protested, adding that the words have affected only “the four inches between ear and mouth.” Instead, the aim for a wise man should be that learning “enters his ear, clings to his mind, spreads through his four limbs and manifests itself in his actions.”

Scriptures historically were infused with contradiction and mystery, intertwined with ritual and music, to offer glimpses of deep truths and often to promote ethical behavior. Scriptures typically evolved flexibly to promote compassion, empathy and magnanimity — so it is particularly sad when today they are cherry-picked by ideologues, wrenched from context, to justify rigid and pusillanimous dogma.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture