Tag Archives: Christianity

from Aish.com by Dr. Gerald Schroeder

How did I get to this site?  My thought process was something like

  1. How old is the world?
  2. How old is the world according to Scripture?
  3. How can we best understand what Scripture means (answer: find out what the people who wrote it and originally read it thought it meant.)
  4. Who would know better what the ancient Jews thought...than ancient Jews?
  5. What is the closest we can get to that?

A lot of this made my head hurt.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder earned his BSc, MSc and double-Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics and Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...

So...he's a smart guy  😉

Now...add to that, the Bible commentary he uses is all pre-1300 (so, no modern science has affected the reading of Scripture.)

In 1959, a survey was taken of leading American scientists. (...)Two-thirds of the scientists gave the same answer: "Beginning? There was no beginning. Aristotle and Plato taught us 2400 years ago that the universe is eternal. Oh, we know the Bible says 'In the beginning.' That's a nice story, but we sophisticates know better. There was no beginning."

That was 1959. In 1965, Penzias and Wilson discovered the echo of the Big Bang in the black of the sky at night, and the world paradigm changed from a universe that was eternal to a universe that had a beginning. After 3000 years of arguing, science has come to agree with the Torah.

Okay - when do the Jews say the universe began?  They start with Rosh Hoshana - the Jewish New Year.

"Hayom Harat Olam ― today is the birthday of the world."

Does it mean that (about)5,700 years ago, the universe came into existence?  According to this article, the "birthday of the world" celebrates, not the cosmos, but rather the creation of the human soul.

So (to use the article's wording) the Bible has two clocks.  The first "clock" is the time leading up to Adam, the second clock begins with the soul of Adam.

One of the reasons for seeing this concept is the language.  Is there anywhere else in the Bible where a "day" is described as "morning and evening?"  This bizarre word usage is used until Adam; after Adam "normal" human time is always used.

Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations;(Deut 32:7 ESV)

Nachmanides (died 1270 AD) saw this verse as "split time" - "days of old" = pre-Adam; "many generations" = post Adam.

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Phil and I have been discussing this exact topic - how Christian should respond to the state's newly revised definition of "marriage" and what to do when pastors can no longer, with good conscience, act as state administrators

In many jurisdictions, including many of the United States, civil authorities have adopted a definition of marriage that explicitly rejects the age-old requirement of male-female pairing. In a few short years or even months, it is very likely that this new definition will become the law of the land, and in all jurisdictions the rights, privileges, and duties of marriage will be granted to men in partnership with men, and women with women.

As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. This is a perilous time. Divorce and co-­habitation have weakened marriage. We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are ­being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word.

The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.

Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles ­articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.

Please join us in this pledge to separate civil marriage from Christian marriage by adding your name.

Drafted by:

The Reverend Ephraim Radner

The Reverend Christopher Seitz

Link here

This is my second time through this book, the first time I breezed through, this time I want to get at what he wants to get at.

Worship matters. It matters to God because he is the one ultimately worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshiping God is the reason for which we were created. And it matters to every worship leader, because we have no greater privilege than leading others to encounter the greatness of God. That's why it's so important to think carefully about what we do and why we do it.

The first chapter is about how Kauflin started his career, and about a really dry spot he went through. Frustrated and tired, he was pointed again at the cross (a good thing.)

What I hope to get from this book HOW worship matters, as well as WHY worship matters.

There is a line that Sunday morning groups need to grapple with, that many don't: what is the difference between being in a performance group, and being in a group that deliberately leads a congregation in corporate praise?

That's not a matter of how to choose songs, that's a matter of leadership technique.

I am starting on a task: to memorize the book of Philippians. So far, I have chapter 1, verses 1-7 (7 is shaky)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,

because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

It struck me again, the "why" - it's the Gospel.

Why does Paul thank God for the Philippians? Because of their partnership in the Gospel.

What is the good work? the partnership in the Gospel.

Why does Paul hold them in his heart? they are partakers with him of grace (the Gospel)

I am puzzling over verse 7.

NIV renders it

whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

vs the ESV

or you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

It seems a little thing, in the NIV Paul comes first, in the ESV, the Philippians come first.

But it is a big thing:

In the NIV Paul puts himself first, and (given the lack of punctuation in the translation, is taking the credit for himself.

whether I am in chains or [whether I am] defending or confirming the Gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me.

The two acts are as one - in chains or defending and confirming

In the ESV, Paul puts other first:

YOU are all partakers with me, BOTH in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel

the "both" specifically makes them two different acts.

The Philippians shared grace with Paul while he was imprisoned and they shared grace when they defended and confirmed the Gospel.

To me, that becomes important in knowing the character of Paul.

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I have heard it said (correctly) that the early Christians faced a moral world that in either the same depravity, or worse than what we see now.

Well, farther back than that.

If the Hebrew people had not lived surrounded by idolators and other evils, they would not have fallen in WITH them. So the evidence is that their world saw evil, as ours does.

The Jews just before Christ had forcibly dispersed, and some had returned; and the evil that they saw was as evil as today.

I think (purely subjective) that today seems more difficult for us because it appears so new to us. And (objectively) we do see things that we have NEVER seen before.

Was immorality rampant in 1st Century Rome? Absolutely. Was it worse than today? I don't know. Some say yes, others say no.

I think that we feel it more because Western Christians have long enjoyed "majority rule," thus staying safely wrapped in the insulation of tunnel vision.

The phrase "total depravity" best describes the world, and always has. We expect it.

We grieve - yes, for that depravity, but we grieve having to stand by, seemingly helpless, watching the DECLINE of our country and culture, at a breakneck speed.

Homosexuality is the best example.

Only a couple of decades ago, we (collectively) viewed same-sex-sex as abnormal. We knew gay people, we loved them as friends and family, but we loved them, not their chosen lifestyle.

Gay people sometimes (perhaps often) faced bullies and that should never have happened. People should never see bullying as acceptable.

In (culturally speaking) a very short amount of time, we see a decline.

- Traditional family unit (dad, mom, kids) and the gay community as outliers.

- A move away from the traditional family unit with the introduction of "consequence free sex" and "no-fault-divorce" (note: we do find good and Biblical reasons for divorce, and I don't find "nobody's fault" on the list.)

- With the traditional family unit undermined, open acceptance of the homosexual becomes tolerated by the culture

- As single motherhood becomes more acceptable, homosexuality becomes not only tolerated, but acceptable as a viable option.

- Demand of recognition of gay relationships becomes more popular, as does public spending for single motherhood.

- Demand of recognition of gay relationships becomes the demand that the culture view those relationships as identical to heterosexual relationships.

- The demand to see homosexual relationships as identical becomes the demand for culture (via "we the people") to sanction these relationships.

- the demand for sanction becomes the demand for approval

- the demand for approval becomes the demand for celebration by all people.

- the demand for celebration becomes the demand for participation, regardless of sincerely held religious convictions.

As Christians today look around and see our spiritual siblings SUED and FORCED to provide services to ceremonies found morally offensive, I find myself able to identify with Christians in other times and places, who steep in total depravity through no fault of their own.

We, who enjoyed cultural insulation for centuries, may find this a difficult transition. No, we WILL find this a difficult transition. From power to weakness, from majority to minority, from peace to persecution.

Is the "remnant" ready? I want to be part of the remnant - and I know I'm not ready. If the "steps of grieving" can be applied to this - I'm still in the "denial stage" but we need to get ready.

We need to be in the world, but not of the word. Persecution awaits, Jesus promised. Whether we will be found worthy of the persecution that HE endured, is yet to be seen.

I finished "Fierce Women" (by Kimberly Wagner) this past week and was really encouraged to learn from my own past behavior (in my first marriage.)  When a marriage breaks down, there is rarely an "innocent" party - even if it's a bad reaction to a bad situation.

Women (welcome to the human race) have an insecurity (as most human beings) and feel a need to be in control.

Written from a Complementarian viewpoint, Wagner writes from the painful spot of a woman who has been there, done that - and who, as a couple, brought their marriage from a painful union, to a joyful communion.

Teaching that women have a different role in a marriage than their husbands have, the point of the book is to help women recognize that role, how to step out of trying to fill their husband's shoes, and how to gracefully and joyfully submit to the will of God in marriage.

Whether or not you realize it, you are in a battle, and God has placed strengths within you to be used in powerful ways. When you enter the marriage relationship, you are entering the sacred metaphor God designed to explain Himself to a watching world. Marriage is the great mystery, the glorious platform God created to display His love relationship with His bride. This is why marriage is a flashpoint for Satan’s attacks; he seeks to destroy the beauty and effectiveness of God’s model. In light of this, we must strive for the Great Story to be lived out in our marriages.

I hope as you read, you will take moments to pause, ponder, and pray. May you encounter the Lord of Battles within these pages and receive insight and instruction for serving Him as a soft warrior—the Fierce Woman who is empowered by the Spirit and softened by His grace.(1)

Wagner uses examples from her own life, as well as examples from women that she knows or has known, to show how women can use their strength to either help or hurt their marriages.

Being a Complementarian does not exclude a woman to having a pastoral tone to other women, and Wagner excels.  Her "I've done this, don't follow me down that path" plea a wonderful tone to a world of women who are at once frustrated with the state of their marriage, and frustrated with the way they are dealing with it.

With these women as her audience, Wagner is uniquely qualified because she HAS been there.

My "book review template" asks at this point: What does the book promise? What is the problem the book promises to solve?

In the author's words:

I hope as you read, you will take moments to pause, ponder, and pray. May you encounter the Lord of Battles within these pages and receive insight and instruction for serving Him as a soft warrior—the Fierce Woman who is empowered by the Spirit and softened by His grace.(2)
.

And yes, the book delivers.

As a woman who will be entering a marriage covenant in a few months, with Christ at the center, and Complementarianism as the framework, "Fierce Women" is a playbook of how to relate to your husband in a way that is fitting for a woman who loves Christ.

What does "respect" look like?  Submission?  Do I need to be a "doormat?"

This matters because Satan wants nothing more than to strike at the soul of marriage.  If marriage reflects Christ and His bride, turning those roles upside down in a marriage leaves us with a distorted view of Christ and His church.  How should the church submit to Christ - wives should be able to reflect that.

I really like this book.  I printed out a couple of things and put them in my planner.  If you have a power struggle in your marriage and want to be part of the solution, read this book.

If you want to be a Biblically submissive wife, read this book.

If you want to build your husband up, instead of tearing him down, read this book.

I've read a lot of books on how to be a submissive wife.  This book is, at the end of the day, not how to make yourself more submissive, but how to build your husband up, to better help him to be the husband God wants him to be.

~~~

(1)Wagner, Kimberly (2012-08-24). Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior (True Woman) (pp. 10-12). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)Wagner, Kimberly (2012-08-24). Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior (True Woman) (p. 12). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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It's been a couple of weeks (TWO trips to California - one northern, one southern)

From Good Friday - Ordinary Pastor -

How would you like to be a liberal “preacher” tomorrow? Some of these guys will moralize, emotionalize, sensationalize, or trivialize the work of Christ. They gloss over the wrath, sacrifice, blood, sin and guilt. Instead the focus is on us and the hopefulness of humanity.

~~~

Well, here's one of my own!  I highlighted this in my Kindle book, "Fierce Women."

“It was as if they were not making marriage, but being made by it, and, while it held them, time and their lives flowed over them, like swift water over stones, rubbing them together, grinding off their edges, making them fit together, fit to be together, in the only way that fragments can be rejoined.” —WENDELL BARRY1

~~~

This is timely for me, from Resurgence

7 Prayers for Jesus' Church -

Jesus has been building his church, is building his church, and will continue to build his church (Matt. 16:18) until he returns in glory to redeem his bride. And absolutely nothing and no one can get in his way.

~~~

Why I Will Keep Talking About Biblical Womanhood -

2 excellent takeways:

Because as long as the culture feeds us an image of women that is contrary to God’s word, I will keep talking about biblical womanhood.

and

Because at the end of the day it’s not about biblical womanhood at all. It is about the authority of God’s word. Do we believe it to be true? Do we believe God has really spoken and we can take him at his word? Or do we need a new interpretation or a new vision for a new day?

~~~

Friday I linked to a blog post by Karen Campbell on "Patriarchy on Trial" - which included

At one time I can remember reading articles from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood that were edifying; now their website is a scary place if you are a woman.

Scary.

I read Manhood Marred: Is Male Supremacy Biblical?

Unfortunately, all too many Christian men act or behave in a male chauvinistic fashion. Some would even go so far as to say that the bible speaks to the supremacy of the male gender. This, of course, requires scriptural ignorance or an intentional twisting of biblical manhood from a position of self-sacrificial authority into a mechanism for the diminishing of women and the magnification of men. Frankly, the Lord has not instituted a gender bias. Using scripture to justify a sense of male supremacy is exploiting or confusing position for power.

Is that so scary?

~~~

Long, but useful - Al Mohler's "God and the Gay Christian?"It's a PDF, and it's easier for you all just to read it.~~~Rethinking Spiritual Growth -

For me, the elusiveness of measuring spiritual growth occurs because the focus has always been on the individual Christian in the individual church. It’s a bedrock principle that what we’re measuring is how a lone Christian in a lone Church grows.

But I wonder if we’re getting this all wrong from the first step.

~~~

 

Ponderings courtesy of C. Michael Patton.

Double Imputation means that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us.

imputed: To pass into one's account.  I can think I have $10,000 in my account, but until it's imputed to my account, it's in my imagination.

If the doctrine of "Double Imputation" meant that my sin is imputed to Christ and His righteousness is imputed to me, I'd be good.

But "Double Imputation" means that Christ's righteousness is imputed to me...and so is the sin of Adam.

I am not only guilty of my sin...I'm "accounted guilty" for eating the fruit in the garden.

I know a person who looks at a certain doctrine and "just can't believe that." and I'm in the same boat here.  I try to "get it" and just can't.

I'm going to cite Patten's article, and respond with my thoughts...

Most particularly, the doctrine of imputation is being questioned. This is quit understandable.

It's important to MY thoughts that I make the distinction that it's not "imputation" - it's "DOUBLE imputation I struggle with.

Perhaps John Calvin defines Original Sin most concisely as “The deprivation of a nature formerly good and pure.” More specifically, from a Reformed Evangelical perspective, it refers to the fall of humanity from its original state of innocence and purity to a state of corruption and guilt (distinguished later). It is the cause of man’s translation from a state of unbroken communion before God to one of spiritual death and condemnation.

I'm in full agreement.  Because of Adam, sin entered into the world and we are all sinners - in our own right.  We are sinners, and it's because of our nature that we inherited from Adam.

We inherit the nature, not the sin.

Patten refers to Romans 5:18 and says

Romans 5:18 states that the transgression of Adam resulted in our condemnation. So then, we are not only destined to die physically because of Adam’s sin, but we are also condemned to eternal death.

But he doesn't quote it, or verse 19.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousnessleads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners

The "for" at the beginning is there for a reason.

Because of Adam's sin we were MADE SINNERS - it doesn't say we were made guilty of Adam's sin.

At the end of the day, I just don't see it.

We inherit the nature, not the sin.  Maybe someday I'll be able to buy into the doctrine.  But not this day.

Karen Campbell linked to one of my posts twice (same article, two different places.)

 

What I find interesting is that Campbell freely states that

The first point I want to make today is that I see the most common views of men and women within the body of Christ in more recent times as being on a continuum.

So...putting thoughts, beliefs, actions on a continuum is an okay thing.

But when Grudem does it...(the article I posted by Grudem came as a result of people asking what he believes women can do in the church.)

Grudem puts positions on a...continuum...and describes where he believes the line is.

Campbell describes that as:

That discussion has shifted to listing all the things women cannot do outside of working in the nursery and putting on potlucks.

Obviously that statement "overlooks" the many, many articles at CBMW that discuss many, many other things.

It also creates a double standard:

When Campbell puts things on a continuum and describes where the line should be:  good

When Grudem puts things on a continuum and describes where the line should be:  bad.

"one set of rules for them...another for everybody else."

“When we think of Christ dying on the cross we are shown the lengths to which God’s love goes in order to win us back to himself. We would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son! We cannot measure such love by any other standard. He is saying to us: I love you this much.

The cross is the heart of the gospel. It makes the gospel good news: Christ died for us. He has stood in our place before God’s judgment seat. He has borne our sins. God has done something on the cross which we could never do for ourselves. But God does something to us as well as for us through the cross. He persuades us that he loves us.”

~Sinclair Ferguson