Christian Living

The Allure of Scandal

Everybody loves a scandal, it seems—evangelicals and fundamentalists included. When news of some alleged or actual misdeed hits the Web, traffic soars and discussions heat up. Emotions (or affections, for purists) run the gamut from shock and disappointment, to outrage, to barely-disguised glee.

What just about nobody seems to feel is what’s needed most: caution—no, outright fear.

Christians should regard scandal as a kind of femme fatale, as dangerous as it is attractive. (Proverbs 7 comes to mind.) We ought to approach every scandal suspiciously, expecting that some kind of trap is hidden there waiting to ensnare us. We should be all the more alert when the scandal seems to call for an obvious response. That’s the seduction at work. The eyes are batting and the perfume is wafting. Probably wisest to walk (or maybe run) away.

Watching for missteps

By “scandal” I mean a report of about someone misstepping. Though the English “scandal” doesn’t precisely match the biblical Greek terms σκάνδαλον (skandalon, e.g., Matt. 13:41) and σκανδαλίζω (skandalizo, e.g., 1 Cor. 8:13), it shares with them the idea that some misstep has occurred or may have occurred.

In August two scandals—by this definition—gained much attention here at SharperIron (as well as elsewhere). One concerned sexual immorality on the part of a Baptist leader who was much admired by one segment of Baptist fundamentalism and about equally despised by another segment (along with many who are neither Baptist nor fundamentalist).

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The Zealots (Part 2)

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There were two political choices facing the Jewish person in Judea under Roman rule—submit or rebel. Those choices were personified by two groups or sects that were active during the period—the Herodians and the Zealots. This is not to say that every Jew belonged to one or the other of these “fraternities.” They each actually had very few “members” as such. But the Herodians and the Zealots exemplified the extreme ways in which conquered peoples have always reacted to foreign rulers. Who were these Jewish sectaries and how did they themselves respond to Jesus’ unique message of salvation?

The Herodians are mentioned only twice in the Gospels, once in Galilee (Mark 3:6) and once in Jerusalem (Mark 12:13, Matthew 22:16). In each of these occurrences they are associated with the Pharisees in their opposition to Jesus. While they may have agreed with the Pharisees in their religious views, they must have been distinguished from them in their political beliefs. The Pharisees tended to be rather non-political, more concerned about the Mosaic and Oral law and its application to their daily lives. On the other hand, the Herodians, by their very name, must have been active supporters of Roman rule. The Emperor Augustus was wise enough to know that a subject people could be kept under control better if they were ruled immediately by a “puppet ruler” from the people themselves. Therefore, he appointed Herod who was of nominal Jewish background as a descendant of forced converts to the Jewish faith. Herod, his sons, and their sons ruled over the Jewish people for over a century. This rule, however, was exercised by the permission and blessing of Rome. The Herodian dynasty represented Roman rule to the people. Those who actively supported Roman domination of Judea manifested that support by devotion to Rome’s puppets, the Herods. Hence they were known as Herodians.

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Proskartereo: Dedicated, Committed, Devoted, Persistent and Focused

A sermon delivered at Calvary Baptist Church, Derby, Kansas. Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Tonight, I want us to study a single word in the NT: proskartereo. It looks and sounds like a perfect candidate for use in a Jeopardy category: “twelve-letter Greek words that are difficult to pronounce”!

This word caught my attention as I ran across it at various times over the years in my studies of the NT in Greek, and I thought its various occurrences and uses rather interesting.

It is a compound word, composed of the preposition pros, which means, “to, toward, in the direction of” and kartereo, a verb with the root idea of “to be strong, firm.” So it literally means “to be strong toward something or someone.” As used in the NT, the word carries the sense and meaning “to be devoted to, to be dedicated to, to focus on, to be committed to, to persist in” some purpose, object or person.

This word is used ten times in the Greek NT, six of which occur in Acts. I want to briefly note each of these uses.

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The Fellowship of Suffering

Reprinted with permission from Baptist Bulletin July/August 2012. All rights reserved.

Chaplain Stan Beach was not supposed to be here, not climbing up the narrow trail toward Nui Cay Tri Ridge near Vietnam’s Demilitarized Zone.

Four months earlier, the Navy had given him orders to report to the South Pole. It would have been a cold, quiet way to spend 1966, a nice place to wait out the war. But after the chaplain from Cass City, Mich., received his papers, he had petitioned the Navy for a transfer—to Vietnam.

Now he was walking toward another no-name hill in the jungle, a place the Marines called “Mutter’s Ridge” in their radio call-signs. The southern boundary of the DMZ was marked by an east-west line of mountains, Razorbacks, named for crests that might only be 15 yards wide. Tough territory to defend. And the trail, the only way up, was an obvious target.

The Marines pass by a bloody fatigue jacket, then a skull impaled on a stake. Having fought for this real estate before, they were now challenged by reinfiltration. The North Vietnamese Army was somewhere, everywhere, dug in and hiding.

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To Do: Nothing

todo

There are seasons in life where you learn to just hang on for the ride. My family’s in one of them now.

For several weeks, we’ve been in the middle of preparing for an interstate move (with husband there and me here), trying to find the “perfect” house (which apparently doesn’t exist), finishing all the end of school year activities for two kids, and trying to occasionally write interesting blog posts (although at this point I’d settle for adequate). And through it all, the one major take away has been learning that human beings were not intended to subsist on six hours of sleep a night, diet coke, and chocolate.

I confess I’m pretty much an idealist. In my world, if I want something badly enough, if I work hard enough, and if I just commit to making sure it happens, it will. Food, sleep, rest? What are those? They’re simply props for the weak. And yet, what I’m discovering—once again even after several decades on this planet—is my own weakness. I’m learning about my inability to do it all, how quickly stress affects every part of me and my tendency to be really mean when I’m overwhelmed.

But thankfully, this week I re-learned something even more important.

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