Category : Theology: Scripture

(Authority & Interpretation of Scripture)

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I will sing of thy steadfast love, O LORD, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim thy faithfulness to all generations. For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens.

–Psalm 89:1-2

Posted in Theology: Scripture

John Stott on the Ascension

There was something fundamentally anomalous about their gazing up into the sky when they had been commissioned to go to the ends of the earth. It was the earth not the sky which was to be their preoccupation. Their calling was to be witnesses not stargazers. The vision they were to cultivate was not upwards in nostalgia to the heaven which had received Jesus, but outwards in compassion to a lost world which needed him. It is the same for us…

We need to hear the implied message of the angels: ‘You have seen him go. You will see him come. But between that going and coming there must be another. The Spirit must come, and you must go— into the world for Christ’….

–From his commentary on Acts, cited by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Ascension, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God–not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

–Ephesians 2:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the Lord being strong upon me; and I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who dwelt by the river Chebar. And I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days.

–Ezekiel 3:14-15

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(TLC) Michael Cover reviews Ephraim Radner’s New Book “Time and the Word: Figural Reading of the Christian Scriptures”

…Radner is committed to an ecumenical and indeed Jewish-Christian history of figuralism less concerned with winners and losers (and the tired struggles of Christian schism) or particular philosophical stances, and more concerned with reconciling our history of divisive figuralism through the recognition of a shared posture toward Scripture. Radner’s performance of certain tensions throughout the study can thus be seen not only as an exercise in Christian skeptical occasionalism in the spirit of Butler, but also as part of a larger program of reconciliation among the warring factions of the faithful seeking understanding in the common words of Scripture, which takes up the mantle of George Lindbeck. This is not to say that Radner’s theological and philosophical commitments are completely obscured in the work. He nonetheless adopts a posture of ecumenical openness and invites his readers to an armistice in a no-man’s land between the historical reductionism of Scripture to a human artifact, on the one hand, and the antecedent interreligious and interdenominational warfare over appropriate figural readings of Scripture, on the other. The study reaffirms the author’s place as one of Anglicanism’s foremost theologians and ecumenists. This book is a gift to the Church, and warrants serious, sustained attention by pastors and scholars alike.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Books, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Will you not give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you?

–Psalm 85:6

Posted in Theology: Scripture

N.T. Wright on the Ascension and Second Coming of Jesus

Additionally, early Christians were not, as is commonly assumed, bound to a three-tier vision of the universe, i.e., heaven, hell, and earth.

[W]hen the Bible speaks of heaven and earth it is not talking about two localities related to each other within the same space-time continuum or about a nonphysical world contrasted with a physical one but about two different kinds of what we call space, two different kinds of what we call matter, and also quite possibly (though this does not necessarily follow from the other two) two different kinds of what we call time.

So heaven and earth, understood in this way, are two dimensions of the same reality. They “interlock and intersect in a whole variety of ways even while they retain, for the moment at least, their separate identities and roles.” Combine this with the doctrine of the ascension and we do not have a Jesus who floats up into a heaven “up there” but disappears into a reality we cannot yet see. Because heaven and earth are not yet joined Jesus is physically absent from us. At the same time he is present with us through the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, linkages where the two realities meet in the present age.

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Posted in Ascension, Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

John Calvin on the Ascension (Acts 1:9)

The readers may learn out of our Institutions what profit we reap by the ascension of Christ. Notwithstanding, because it is one of the chiefest points of our faith, therefore doth Luke endeavor more diligently to prove the same; yea, rather, the Lord himself meant to put the same out of all doubt, when as he hath ascended so manifestly, and hath confirmed the certainty of the same by other circumstances. For, if so be it he had vanished away secretly, then might the disciples have doubted what was become of him; but now, sith that they, being in so plain a place, saw him taken up with whom they had been conversant, whom also they heard speak even now, whom they beheld with their eyes, whom also they see taken out of their sight by a cloud, there is no cause why they should doubt whither he was gone. Furthermore, the angels are there also to bear witness of the same. And it was needful that the history should have been set down so diligently for our cause, that we may know assuredly, that although the Son of God appear nowhere upon earth, yet doth he live in the heavens. And this seemeth to be the reason why the cloud did overshadow him, before such time as he did enter into his celestial glory; that his disciples being content with their measure might cease to inquire any further. And we are taught by them that our mind is not able to ascend so high as to take a full view of the glory of Christ; therefore, let this cloud be a mean to restrain our boldness, as was the smoke which was continually before the door of the tabernacle in the time of the law.

–Commentary on Acts

Posted in Ascension, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is thy name in all the earth!

Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted
by the mouth of babes and infants,
thou hast founded a bulwark because of thy foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which thou hast established;
what is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou dost care for him?

–Psalm 8:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Eli”²jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.

–James 5:13-18

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.
He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments….

–Psalm 78:2-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(RNS) Emory’s Brent Starwn asks: Is the Old Testament dying?

But is the Old Testament really dying, and is there more than anecdotal evidence to prove its demise?

Yes, says Strawn, whose book examines sermons, hymns and weekly lectionary readings in mainline Protestant as well as Catholic churches.

Strawn analyzed 879 sermons published in collections called “Best Sermons,” and found that only 21 percent of those sermons were devoted to lessons from the Old Testament. As for lectionaries, heard in many churches each Sunday morning, the Revised Common Lectionary omits seven books of the Old Testament and severely underrepresents 13 others, Strawn writes. Contemporary worship songs fare no better at inculcating scriptural knowledge.

His conclusion? The patient is experiencing death throes, and churches and church leaders are largely to blame.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before E’phraim and Benjamin and Manas’seh! Stir up thy might, and come to save us!

–Psalm 80:1-2

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Scotsman) Princess Royal: Scotland’s churches have ‘major role in welcoming strangers’

The Princess Royal has praised the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly as a place for “reasoned debate” in her opening address at the annual event.

Her remarks come ahead of a debate at the assembly later this week which could move the Kirk a step closer to allowing ministers to perform same-sex marriage.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Scotland, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(Good News) Tom Lambrech–Bright Spots in a Confusing Decision by the recent United Methodist Judicial Council

1. The Judicial Council clearly and forcefully upheld the principle that a jurisdiction’s bishops, acting on behalf of the whole United Methodist Church, cannot legally consecrate as bishop a person who does not meet the qualifications for office. The Western Jurisdiction had maintained that it could elect and consecrate whoever it thought would be an appropriate bishop in light of their particular context, and that the rest of the church could say nothing about their choice. The ruling recognized that bishops are bishops of the whole church and that jurisdictional bishops are acting on behalf of the whole church when they consecrate a bishop. No jurisdiction or annual conference is completely autonomous. We are part of a connection that is responsible and accountable to each other.

2. The Judicial Council clarified that “a same-sex marriage license issued by competent civil authorities together with the clergy person’s status in a same-sex relationship is a public declaration that the person is a self-avowed practicing homosexual.” This important ruling will put an end to games that some openly homosexual clergy have been playing by living in a same-sex marriage, yet declining to acknowledge that they are practicing homosexuals. Rather than requiring church authorities to ask intrusive questions about the personal lives and practices of clergy, all that is now necessary for a person to be brought up on a complaint is the public record of being in a same-sex marriage. The Judicial Council recognized that being in a marriage assumes a sexual relationship, and that it would then be up to the clergyperson under complaint to give “rebuttal evidence” during a complaint process to refute that assumption in an individual case. This should make it much easier and more straightforward to hold accountable some clergypersons who are living contrary to the moral teachings of the church.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture