Category: The Epistles

Reading Revelation

Kurt Willems has begun a valuable study through the Book of Revelation, probably the most misunderstood text of Scripture. We’re so far removed from the context that we end up usually just making up our own interpretations of imagery which was originally very powerful symbols of particularly culturally-relevant things. It looks like Kurt is going to do a much better job than most at looking at this a little more accurately.

Here are his three general principles for reading Revelation:

This book is theopoetic (“worship”), in that it is similar to a counter-liturgy, one that reminds Christians both then and now that the civil religion of Empire must never capture our imaginations. Our version of reality must be informed by our allegiance to the Slaughter Lamb and to worshipping the God and Father of our Lord Jesus. Reading Revelation poetically should shape our imagination as faithful disciples in circumstances where the pressures of Empire attempt to lure us. As we worship God the temptations of this evil age fade as we bring glory to God.

N.T. Wright on Jesus’ Battle

I came across this reading this morning in my Bible reading plan for Lent on YouVersion. This is written by New Testament scholar N.T. Wright and the associated passage is Matthew 12:22-50:

Just in case anyone thought that the vision of a gentle, humble Messiah meant that he would be a pushover for every evil power that came along, the present passage sets the balance straight. One of the things everyone knew about the coming Messiah was that he would fight God’s battles and rescue his people. The Bible had said so.

Due Penalty for Homosexuality

This is the last for me to look at of the six texts in the Bible that arguably condemn homosexuality.So far, at least for me, the other five haven’t really held any weight as an actual argument for the sinfulness of homosexuality: Sodom is clearly stated to have been punished for their injustices, not for homosexuality as often claimed; it would be unfair to treat homosexuality in the Levitical Holiness Code as absolute law for all time while not doing the same for the rest of that code; and there are serious translational issues with the two other New Testament texts found in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy.  That leaves one text, and to me it carries the most weight of any of them, so let’s look at that here:

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error

Arsenokoites

So far I’ve looked at the three biblical passages that arguably condemn homosexuality: first the story of Sodom and then the instances of homosexuality in the Levitical law code. The real heart of the debate lies in the three texts which appear in the New Testament, and whether or not they really do condemn homosexual activity as sinful. I’ll leave the text in Romans for my next post, but here are the two others:

9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT)

9 For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. 10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching.  

Sermon: Saved by Grace Through Faith, but What is Faith?

This sermon, with the preparation notes included as per the assignment, was completed for my Preaching course in Winter 2011.

Text Interrogation on Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

After a couple readings over the text and some time in meditation on it, I quickly had a central theological question: what is faith? As I began the more intensive text interrogation, I was open to other ideas but this question remained by far the predominant one and I did ultimately stick with it for the sermon topic.