Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 1)

Tags: 

Why make a covenant?

In Genesis 21 is an episode where a Philistine leader, Abimelech, comes to Abraham and wants him to “swear…that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity…” (21:23). Abraham consented, but there was strife over a well which had been seized by Abimelech’s servants (21:25-26). To make sure there was understanding on both sides Abraham and Abimelech entered into a covenant (21:27, 32). In particular the point at issue was the well. Abimelech was to take seven ewes from Abraham as a witness that Abraham had dug the well (21:30). The place where the two made the oath was named “Beersheba,” which means something like “the well of the oath of seven.” The covenant clarified whose well it was and emphasized in the oath and exchange of the lambs that both parties understood exactly what the oath meant. The oath obligated the parties (particularly Abimelech, the recipient of the “witness”) to stand by the terms of the covenant. Read more about Covenants: Clarity, Ambiguity, and Faith (Part 1)

Login or register to post comments.

Jesus Separated Better than We Can—Aphorism 8 for Thinking about Separation

Tags: 

Read the series so far.

Aphorism 8: All applications must include the sure knowledge that we can’t separate perfectly because we are still sinners living in the regime of sin and death. Thus part of the grace we extend to others must include the possibility that we ourselves are too narrow or too loose.

In seminary, a friend of mine from the Midwest told me that his father, who was a fundamentalist pastor, received a letter from a brother in Christ practicing strict separation. The letter informed him that he was being separated from. It was polite and earnest, established the chain of separation between the author and the recipient, and closed pleading that he separate from the closest of the offending parties. The only odd thing about the letter was that my friend’s father had no idea who the author was. They had never met.

My memory of the conversation is that the fellow writing the letter was practicing 5th degree separation, but the memory is hazy, so perhaps it was only 3rd or 4th. But if we were to imagine a chain of 5th degree separation, it would look something like this: the Roman Catholic Church (1st), J. I. Packer who signed Evangelicals and Catholics Together (2nd), prominent evangelical pastor who disagrees with Packer but does not separate from him (3rd), me who also disagrees with Packer, but who will not separate from him or my former pastor who is a friend of Packer’s (4th), anyone who remains in fellowship with me (5th). Read more about Jesus Separated Better than We Can—Aphorism 8 for Thinking about Separation

Login or register to post comments.

Why Marijuana Should Remain Illegal

Tags: 

Washington State has become the second state to legalize marijuana. Christians need to be prepared to speak to this issue. Reasons to oppose marijuana are here given in the form of Questions and Answers.

1. Marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol, and alcohol is legal.

Alcohol is America’s number one drug problem. Why should we now unleash another harmful drug on America? When marijuana has been legalized, it has led to an increase in crime and societal problems.

Alcohol and marijuana have been classified as “gateway drugs,” drugs that often lead to harder drugs. Isn’t one legal gateway drug enough? Read more about Why Marijuana Should Remain Illegal

Login or register to post comments.

The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 2)

Tags: 

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 Two

The Prima Facie Case

Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), an expert in rabbinic and other early Jewish literature, asserted that, “The outward form of the Church was in great measure derived from the synagogue.”1 Nineteenth century Baptist historian David Benedict similarly affirmed, after studying the matter in detail, “I have settled down in the belief, that the ecclesiastical polity of the Jewish synagogues was very closely copied by the apostles and primitive Christians, in the organization of their assemblies.”2 Additional authors could be quoted in support of this thesis.3 The question that must be asked is, is this conclusion a valid one? Is it in truth supported by the facts of the case? Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 2)

Login or register to post comments.

The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 1)

Tags: 

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

Chapter One

Introduction

The purpose of this study is to compare the practical functioning of the ancient Jewish synagogue and the New Testament church,1 to determine if and to what degree the structure and workings of the church are patterned after the synagogue. While the origin and historical development of the synagogue in the period before the coming of Christ is a subject of considerable interest, as is its development in the post-New Testament era, these are outside the parameters of this present study.

The chief source of information for both synagogue and church practices will be the New Testament Scriptures, supplemented by post-New Testament literature. For the synagogue, this will be primarily the Mishnah (ca. AD 200) and the Babylonian Talmud (completed ca. AD 500), while for the church, the writings of the early church fathers will be the most accessible and valuable source.

The necessity of comparing the synagogue as presented in the NT with the church as presented in the NT is immediately apparent. The destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of the Temple there in AD 70 necessitated radical changes in Jewish religious practices. Among other things, it led to the standardization of the consonantal Biblical text, and the systematization and codification of traditional Jewish religious practices in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and other rabbinic literature of the second and later centuries AD.2 Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 1)

Login or register to post comments.

Book Review - Unashamed to Bear His Name

Tags: 

Image of Unashamed to Bear His Name: Embracing the Stigma of Being a Christian
by R. T. Kendall
Chosen Books 2012
Paperback 208

If you are not familiar with R.T. Kendall, you should take the time to learn about him. He is probably not on most fundamentalists’ spiritual radar screens. Brother Kendall replaced Dr. Glen Owen, who followed “the Doctor”, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, as the pastor of the historic Westminster Chapel in London, England. R.T. Kendall was the senior pastor there for 25 years (to the day) before he retired on February 1, 2002. Since his retirement, he has devoted the majority of his time to writing. He is the author of over 50 books which include Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649, The Parable of Jesus, and the subject of this review Unashamed To Bear His Name: Embracing The Stigma Of Being A Christian.

Overview

In this short work (201 pages), R.T. Kendall has written with compassion and conviction. He states his main purpose as follows: “My goal in writing this book is to bring you to rejoice as Peter and John did, when they embraced the privilege of suffering for the shame of Jesus’ Name” (p. 34). He says that the value of this purpose is found in three principles: Read more about Book Review - Unashamed to Bear His Name

Login or register to post comments.

If Adam Smith Ran a Christian School

Tags: 

Adam Smith is acclaimed by historians as being the “father of modern economics.” His 1776 treatise, The Wealth of Nations, is still published and widely read, and its influence seems hardly diminished over time. Its ponderings have bolstered generations of subsequent economic thought. Margaret Thatcher was reportedly such a devotee that she would regularly carry a copy of Nations in her ever-present handbag.

Among Smith’s lasting contributions to microeconomics is the concept of “economies of scale.” Theorizing about the characteristics of free-markets, he coined the enduring idiom “the invisible hand.” What can those who lead 21st century Christian schools possibly learn from an 18th century economist? My belief is “Plenty!”

A tale of two schools

Trinity Christian School sits at the crest of a gentle hill in a largely residential suburb. Founded in the mid-1960s, Trinity moved from the inner-city to its present location slightly more than a decade ago, after the members of its sponsoring church voted to rebuild on more acreage. Its current facility—a wing of the new church complex—is spacious and well-equipped. Nevertheless, the decentralized new location likely hastened declining enrollment. Students once numbered over 600; today there are about 200. The school’s budget is now stretched tight, with revenues scarcely meeting essential expenses. Raising tuition to increase revenue doesn’t seem feasible; the administration fears that doing so would force some current families to leave. Although there is no imminent crisis, church elders have privately discussed the possibility of closing the school should its financial situation worsen. Read more about If Adam Smith Ran a Christian School

Login or register to post comments.

The New Coach: A Parody on Sanctification

Tags: 

“OK, men, everyone gather around, and let’s get this football season under way,” Coach Paul deTarsus bellowed out.

As the young recruits swaggered over, jostling each other manfully, Coach deTarsus continued gruffly, “This year the school steering committee has asked us to try a totally new approach to the game developed by a new assistant coach they’ve hired for me—Coach Terry Trzwijiasck. He wants you to call him Double T, so do it.” With that, the grizzled old coach turned to a young fellow standing nearby: “Double T,” he said, “They’re all yours.”

As one, the recruits turned to give their attention to Double T.

The new coach smiled winsomely and began speaking. “I know that you’re used to working hard, striving to meet the team’s high standards, and knowing the rulebook and playbook from cover to cover. But this year, we’re trying a new approach,” he said. “And the key to the new approach is to remind yourselves over and again that your coaching staff accepts you no matter what. Win or lose, we accept you. Fumbles or first downs, we accept you. Turnovers or touchdowns, we accept you. And when you’re laying flat on your back after you’ve missed that game-saving tackle, don’t despair. Just remind yourself one more time that we accept you. Winning is fine, but when it’s all done, it’s not about what you do. All that matters is that we accept you. Any comments or questions?” Read more about The New Coach: A Parody on Sanctification

Login or register to post comments.

Pages