Who Are the "Weak in Faith?" (Part 2)

Relief with sacrifice to Asklepios (c. AD 320)

Sometimes the Weak Brother is Right

In 1 Corinthians 8-10, Paul wrote about idol meat. The one who avoided idol meat had a weak conscience. Romans 14 refers to meat-avoiding weak believers as well. Both passages warn the eaters that their eating could cause stumbling and destruction. Both argue for love over liberty. Both deal with standing and falling. However, though these passages deal with similar issues, the Corinthians were struggling with much closer involvement with idols.

In 1 Corinthians 8:1-7, the strong are said to have knowledge. Paul used two words for knowledge. First, γνῶσις, “knowledge,” is found in 1 Corinthians 8:1,7,10,11. The same word as a verb, γινώσκω, “I know,” is found in 1 Corinthians 8:2,3. Second, εἴδω, “I see” or “I understand,” occurs in four verses in 1 Corinthians 8:1 (know), 2 (know), 4 (know), 10 (see). These two words are somewhat interchangeable1. Romans 14:14a uses εἴδω, “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus.” Romans 14 does not use γινώσκω. Read more about Who Are the "Weak in Faith?" (Part 2)

Summer Daze

Kuckles Down by Norman Rockwell

Chalk it up to the latent truancy that exists in parent and child alike, but I’ve been less than motivated these last few weeks. From the middle of May onward, I found myself slogging through the final projects, class picnics, and end-of-school year programs. I bought the ice cream, clapped for the perfect attendance awards, and sniffled through fifth-grade graduation. When the last bell rang, my kids weren’t the only ones ready to be done.

No more lunches to pack…
No more homework to muddle through…
No more waking up in the middle of the night to remember what I forgot…
At least for the next 104 days or so.

I grew up in a teacher’s home; in fact, it was a two-teacher home. Both my mother and father spent their days schooling future generations in the finer points of history and science. For our family, life existed in discreet increments of 9 weeks that gradually worked their way toward the ultimate goal of summer vacation. Dad often had to take odd jobs during his months off to make ends meet, but occasionally, every so often, there was a glorious summer when we had enough. He could stay with us, tend his garden, putter in his orchard, and simply enjoy working at home. Read more about Summer Daze

Legalism & Galatians: What Was Going on in Galatia?

Loathing toward legalism (and perceived legalism) is commonplace in today’s evangelical ministries, including those of fundamentalist heritage, and Galatians often plays a prominent role in how we think about legalism and Christian liberty.

But liberty is often misunderstood, and overreactions—as well as under-developed reactions—to legalism seem to be a growing problem. It’s no coincidence that the Galatian error, and Paul’s remedial teaching, is also often misunderstood. The result is that a letter that has great potential to help us with our present-day understanding of law, grace and liberty ends up contributing to confusion instead.

So the question in focus here is, to paraphrase the title, what was the Galatian problem? Read more about Legalism & Galatians: What Was Going on in Galatia?

Mormonism: Its Origin, Characteristics, And Doctrines

(About this series)

CHAPTER IX - MORMONISM: ITS ORIGIN, CHARACTERISTICS, AND DOCTRINES

BY REV. R. G. MCNIECE, D. D., FOR TWENTY YEARS PRIOR TO 1897, PASTOR OF FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

The writer has lived in Salt Lake City, the official headquarters of Mormonism, for over thirty years, and he has improved the opportunity to secure a complete understanding of the system. In the great Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, during a whole generation, he has heard Mormonism expounded and defended, again and again, by its chief officials—by President Brigham Young, and President John Taylor, and their successors, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith. In various Mormon meeting-houses, also, from Idaho to Arizona, he has heard the system set forth by many of its chief apostles, bishops, and elders. Read more about Mormonism: Its Origin, Characteristics, And Doctrines

Aiming Small: A Pastor’s Thoughts to His Congregation

The average dieter puts all his weight back on plus five percent more. Why is that? One reason is that most diets are not maintainable in the long term. The “eating deficits” created now result in binges and cravings later. One diet is all protein and no carbs. Another is no fat and all carbs. The result: Americans weigh more than ever.

On the other hand, those who make permanent, moderate, maintainable lifestyle changes to their eating habits (like measuring ice cream, cutting down on simple carbs) or exercise regimen (taking stairs instead of elevator) may not lose as much weight—but they are more likely to keep off the weight they lose. Read more about Aiming Small: A Pastor’s Thoughts to His Congregation

Who Are the "Weak in Faith?" (Part 1)

The goddess Diana (2nd Century Roman depiction)

How Weak Are the Weak?

Paul addressed some ethical controversies in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. The “weak in faith” ate no meat. The one whose “conscience is weak” could not eat idol-meat. What does Paul mean by “weak”?

For many, it is a foregone conclusion that the weak brother is a doubting believer who lacks knowledge. In this series we will take a closer look at the weak brother. He is deserving of much more respect than he has been afforded.

A word of caution. The weak brother presented here is very different from what you might have previously learned. Most readers will find it new and unusual. Don’t try to fit it into your previous understanding of the “weak.” It might help to assume that you are being asked to understand that the “weak” brother is the good guy. Read more about Who Are the "Weak in Faith?" (Part 1)

An Interview on the State of Contemporary Dispensationalism

Editor’s note: This interview dates back to last fall, but I only recently discovered it—and found it quite interesting. The interview was conducted by Adrian Isaacs, M.Rel., Th.D (Cand.). He interviewed Dr. Christopher Cone for dissertation research at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto.

Isaacs: In your estimation, how would you describe the current level of scholarly, academic discussion regarding dispensationalism within the overall evangelical academic community (eg. virtually non-existent, some discussion exists, still a fair amount of discussion)? Read more about An Interview on the State of Contemporary Dispensationalism

Serving Students Stay - Part 3: A Plan for Teaching the Word

From VOICE, May/Jun 2015. Used with permission. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Some youth leaders leave youth ministry too early because they don’t have a plan. Without a plan that recirculates (yet leaves room for current and various studies throughout each year) the youth pastor continues to grow and grow, and brings kids with him, and then it becomes harder and harder to “start over” with a new group of kids.

Choosing topics to study month-to-month or week-to-week is an exhausting way to plan and teach, and it is impossible to duplicate. This kind of haphazardness (that we all have experienced to some degree as we figured out who we are in ministry) needs to be addressed so we don’t keep losing good leaders.

For some, youth ministry is just a stepping-stone to another ministry; I am not addressing those men. I am addressing the young man who is just starting out in youth ministry, with goals to change the world or at least the next generation, and plans to stay in youth ministry until God changes his passion. I am also sharing ideas with those who have been in youth ministry for years, yet struggle with continuity or structure and that fact is sapping their enthusiasm for the ministry they feel called to. Read more about Serving Students Stay - Part 3: A Plan for Teaching the Word