Category: Bible Study

Pig

Pearls Before Swine

In a text that can definitely be confusing on its own, Jesus says this:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. (Matthew 7:6 NRSV)

I’m not sure Jesus’ real concern is not being stupid about giving good things to literal dogs and pigs. I’m also definitely not saying, as some have suggested, that some people are just inferior and we shouldn’t waste our time with them. Let’s look at that in context:

“Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s[a] eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor,[b] ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s[c] eye. 

Refugees on a Boat

Jesus the Refugee

Jesus and his parents Mary and Joseph were refugees.

God could have come as a prince or at least a priest. That would be a little more expected, at least from the perspective of privileged Western eyes. In the original Jewish context, steeped in the Hebrew Bible stories of refugees, immigrants, and other outsiders – the first time the command to “love your neighbour” is given, it is specifically in the context of immigrants – it would have made some sense, but despite that history many of them were still expecting a more privileged Messiah.

Bible

Review: Christian Hope Through Fulfilled Prophecy

Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy coverI’m going to front load my central thought about Christian Hope Through Fulfilled Prophecy. It is not primarily a book about eschatology; it is primarily an apologetics argument. It is all about making sure that Jesus, and other biblical authors, were not wrong when they made claims of imminency for things like the parousia and the end of the age. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the author is clear about that purpose.

The Argument

To summarize author Charles Meek’s full preterist view as succinctly as I can, noting my annoyance that he never did the same to make sure the key points were clear:

“The end of the age” and similar language we usually assume means the ends of all physical existence was referring to the end of the Old Covenant age that came about with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.

WikiGodPod: Our Stories Shaping God

Modern and Postmodern Christianity

WikiGodPod: Our Stories Shaping God

A while ago I was talking about stuff on WikiGodPod, a podcast out of the Greater Toronto Area (I live close to the GTA in Kitchener) centred around our stories and how that shapes how we understand God. I’m not somebody who speaks well without preparation, so the potential questions were sent in advance and I spent a few hours the night before and morning of planning. I figure since I already spent those hours writing notes, I may as well clean them up a bit and publish them here.

You write that the decline of the church is happening because of our obsession with possessing the “truth;” “The message sent by the modern churches view of truth is that it is more important to assert opinion as absolute truth than it is to actually connect and share Jesus with the world.” Why did that work for so long but no longer today?

It worked because that was the modernist epistemology that was the world was primarily operating under. It aligned well with nationalism that taught our nation was better. It aligned well with colonialism based on one culture being better than another so you justify forcing that better culture on them by any means necessary.

WikiGodPod: Our Stories Shaping God

Developing the Cult of the Bible

WikiGodPod: Our Stories Shaping God

A while ago I was talking about stuff on WikiGodPod, a podcast out of the Greater Toronto Area (I live close to the GTA in Kitchener) centred around our stories and how that shapes how we understand God. I’m not somebody who speaks well without preparation, so the potential questions were sent in advance and I spent a few hours the night before and morning of planning. I figure since I already spent those hours writing notes, I may as well clean them up a bit and publish them here.

How did what I call “the cult of the Bible” initially develop in/after the Reformation period?

That’s a good phrase that I haven’t run into. I went to a church once that actually sang a song to the Bible about how great the Bible was. It was a great church in a lot of ways, but cultish is definitely an apt descriptor for how I felt during that song.

Bible

Root Questions of Same-Sex Marriage Debates

Same-sex marriage is often categorized as THE ISSUE for our generation of the Church (for more “liberal” churches, that was last generation). As much as we can spend hours answering 40 Questions lobbed at the other side mostly as attacks rather than real dialogue, I’m pretty convinced that this question is often the manifestation of a pile of other big theological questions. These kinds of questions are central for understanding the kind of shifts taking place in the North American Church, much more than simply asking “what do you think of same-sex relationships?” can demonstrate.

What Is God Like?

It’s amazing how many questions boil down to asking what God is like. Particularly in the Western tradition, we really like a legalistic God. We like a God who follows the rules and enforces the rules, up to and including torturing people who break the most important of those rules (which in North America is almost always sex while things like genocide and slavery are less of an issue).

Rainbow Flag

40 Questions for Affirming Christians Part 5

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant,it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 CEB)

And even more to the point, love looks like Jesus on the cross:

Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

Bible

Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

Mark 3:20-35 came up in my daily lectionary. Here’s the full text:

20Jesus went back home, and once again such a large crowd gathered that there was no chance even to eat.21When Jesus’ family heard what he was doing, they thought he was mad and went to get him under control.

22Some teachers of the Law of Moses came from Jerusalem and said, “This man is under the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons! He is even forcing out demons with the help of Beelzebul.”

23Jesus told the people to gather around him. Then he spoke to them in riddles and said:

How can Satan force himself out?24A nation whose people fight each other won’t last very long.25And a family that fights won’t last long either.26So if Satan fights against himself, that will be the end of him.

Rainbow Flag

40 Questions for Affirming Christians Part 2

Continuing to tackle some questions aimed at affirming Christians.

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

Most translations render porneia as something broad like “sexual immorality.” Some older translations like the KJV use “fornication” which doesn’t really carry moral weight in modern English. Sometimes it is translated as “adultery” or “sexual unfaithfulness”, which is probably the best option, but the term in and of itself is not particularly specific.

I’ll admit to having not run through a Greek concordance, but as far as I could find with quick Google work, Jesus only uses the word twice, Matthew 5:31-32 and Matthew 19:9 (and parallels). The saying in 19 is really just a shorter version of 5, which says:

31 “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a divorce certificate.’[a]32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except for sexual unfaithfulness [porneia] forces her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (CEB)

Sodom and Gomorrah

The Destruction of Sodom

Cue the screams of pain from American dominionists* that the Supreme Court has declared marriage equality a right in all states. Comparisons will be made to Sodom. This comparison is made often. It’s also a really bad self-defeating argument. A simple search of what the Bible says about Sodom reveals this:

“‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were
arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

Ezekiel 16:49 NIV

Ummm… yeah, so even the Bible is pretty clear that Sodom wasn’t destroyed because men had sex with each other.