A Tour of Love, Jewish-Roots Style

Never underestimate the importance of love. Although all creation will glorify God by hook or crook (Rom. 9:22-24), our love for God and others is the volitional focus of the Christian life (Col. 3:14). There are too many passages to site, but reading 1 John or the Gospels (Luke 10:26-28, for example) should make the point.

I am not going to tackle the Hebrew word hesed, nor the Greek word agape. There is a place for that, but today we are going to look at love in relational fashion.

We were created to love. Love affects our entire being, even our physical health. For example,

The experimental group wrote with affection about one person in their lives for 20 minutes on three occasions over a five-week period. The control group wrote mundane descriptions of their activities over the week, jobs they had done and places they had lived…. [A]fter only 25 days, the experimental group who had written affectionate notes, showed a significant reduction in cholesterol. (Affectionate Writing)

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Book Review - Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word)

Image of Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word)
by Christopher Ash
Crossway 2014
Hardcover 496

If you search for “suffering” on Amazon in the books section you will find almost 11,800 results. If you search for “help for suffering” on Google there are 151 million entries to choose from. Indeed the world is a place full of suffering people looking for help. You cannot make it through more than four chapters in the book of Genesis without encountering suffering in the lives of the first two people God created and the first family they made. In reading through the pages of Scripture one encounters suffering at almost every turn. Ironically, it is Job, the oldest book in the Bible, which solely addresses the subject of suffering and how God relates to it and the sufferer.

Tackling this rich, long and sometimes puzzling book, Christopher Ash has written Job: The Wisdom of the Cross. This is the most recent installment in Crossway’s Preaching the Word commentary series edited by R. Kent Hughes. Staying true to the series, Ash writes with the heart of a pastor as he seeks to show the reader the glory of God in Christ through suffering in the life of Job. Read more about Book Review - Job: The Wisdom of the Cross (Preaching the Word)

God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 4

Read the series so far.

In chapter four, Vines addresses the first of six biblical texts dealing with homosexuality. The remaining five are considered in subsequent chapters. Vines’ aim is to demonstrate that none of these passages prohibit committed same-sex relationships.

Chapter four analyzes God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as recorded in Genesis 19. That Christians have traditionally understood this event to indicate God’s strong disapproval of same-sex relationships is both mistaken and unfortunate according to Vines. He believes that a more careful study demonstrates that the sins of Sodom were inhospitality and violence, not homosexuality.

Vines begins by examining a list of Old Testament texts that mention Sodom, pointing out that none of these explicitly cite same-sex relations as the reason for destruction. He follows with evidence from extra-biblical Jewish literature, drawing the same conclusion. He believes that Sodom’s offenses were lack of hospitality and attempted gang rape. Next, he briefly examines and explains all negative New Testament references to Sodom, continuing to muster evidence for his premise. Vines claims that no one linked Sodom’s destruction to homosexual behavior until Philo, the first century Jewish historian. He asserts that Philo inaugurated a gradual shift in perceptions, until the destruction of Sodom became linked to homosexuality in the minds of most Christians from about the tenth century onward. But from the beginning, he assures us, it was not so. Read more about God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 4

The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 3)

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Three

Organizational Requirements

The Synagogue

For the organization and operation of a synagogue, it was anciently specified that there be in a given locality at least ten adult Jewish men of leisure who could devote themselves to the study of the Torah. In the Mishnah, Aboth 3:6 records: “Rabbi Nehunya ben Ha-Kanah said: If ten men sit together and occupy themselves in the Law, the Divine Presence rests among them.”1 Sanhedrin 1:6 in the Mishnah states, “And whence do we learn that a congregation is made up of ten? It is written, ‘How long shall I bear with this evil congregation?’ but Joshua and Caleb were not included.”2 The proof-text is Numbers 14:27, which is understood to be a reference to the spies who had returned from scouting out the land of Canaan rather than the whole congregation of Israel. Of course only ten of the spies were evil—those who discouraged the people with their pessimistic report—and therefore, Joshua and Caleb are excluded from their number, which leaves ten, and ten are here called “a congregation.” This, in rabbinic thinking, is sufficient proof that a congregation (synagogue) must consist of ten men. Other OT proof-texts are also employed to support this notion.3 Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 3)

The Education of a Parent

A few days ago my daughter turned 10.

It’s quite a milestone for both of us. For her, it means finally passing into “double digits”—that mysterious world that few of us ever pass out of. For me, it signals a decade of motherhood. When my Phoebe came into the world a little after 3:30 on a rainy South Carolina Thursday, it wasn’t simply the beginning of her life; it was the fundamental altering of mine.

Looking back, I can see how much motherhood has changed me, how much it has forced me to grow beyond myself. I realize now that when folks spoke of me as a “young mother,” they weren’t talking about the age of my daughter so much as about the fact that I myself was new to the game. I had a lot to learn.

Those first few years were spent learning to make the “right” choices; choices about…feeding and sleeping habits, immunizations, potty training, and pacifiers. And once I’d figured how to actually keep her alive (and not alienate all my friends and family in the process), it was time to learn how to “train her up in the way she should go.” Suddenly the questions were about when to let her to use electronics and where to send her to school. Read more about The Education of a Parent

The Person and Work of Jesus Christ

(About this series)

CHAPTER VII THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST

FROM “SOME RECENT PHASES OF GERMAN THEOLOGY,”*

BY BISHOP JOHN L. NUELSEN, D. D., M. E. CHURCH, OMAHA, NEB.

Every Old Testament problem becomes in course of time a New Testament question. Every Biblical question places us after a while face to face with Him who is the center of the whole Bible, with Jesus Christ. In the present discussion over the person and Gospel of Jesus Christ, I shall confine myself to pointing out briefly some of the most interesting and important features of this subject.

WAS JESUS A REAL, HISTORICAL PERSON?

In the closing years of the eighteenth century the thought was advanced by a number of rationalistic theologians that the doctrines held by the Church and formulated in her creeds were the joint product of New Testament religion and Greek philosophy. This thought was taken up by Professor Harnack of Berlin, and in his great work, “History of the Christian Doctrine,” he disclosed the complicated process by which the Church in developing her doctrines became Hellenized; thus it was made incumbent upon the student of Church history to extricate, by a process of careful analysis and comparison, the genuinely Christian elements from the meshes of foreign thought. Harnack, it is true, applied this principle only to post-apostolic times, but since the appearance of his book investigation has proceeded along the same lines and is now covering the Biblical writings as well. Read more about The Person and Work of Jesus Christ

Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 2)

Read part 1.

The subject of this article is how covenants clarify and underline specific terms about certain important (indeed, central) theological topics. If we all spoke the truth and we all could hear it unimpeded by sin’s effects, there would be no need of covenants. Covenants presuppose subjects (at least one) who have a propensity to diverge from an important truth. (It is for this reason that any pre-fall covenants, which are exegetically weak and empty in the first place, seem superfluous).

Covenants also assume the parties to the covenant (at the bare minimum) understand and acknowledge the terms of the covenant. Read more about Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 2)

God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 3

Vines’ third chapter aims to show that those holding to traditional Christian sexual ethics have a major dilemma on their hands. Allegedly, the traditional view of celibacy is not compatible with the traditional view of homosexuality. One or the other must go.

The claim is part of Vines’ overall strategy in the book—to frame the homosexuality debate as a matter of human suffering and doctrinal progress vs. uncaring and rigid traditionalism. To Vines, the view that homosexual conduct is wrong even within “committed, monogamous same-sex relationships” (41) causes great suffering for homosexuals and depends on a faulty understanding of Scripture. (Kindle location numbers appear here rather than page numbers.)

The basic argument

Specifically, chapter 3 argues that the non-affirming view (Vines’ term for the view that all homosexual conduct is sin) forces celibacy on homosexuals and that this forcing is contrary to the traditional view that celibacy is voluntary and a gift from God.

He writes: Read more about God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 3

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