Theology

The Good Addiction

One of the things that always amuses me about being a pastor’s wife is that people think they have to be careful around me. As if I have a delicate condition that can’t handle the realities of the world. In order to protect me, they shuffle, they fumble, they apologize and then use euphemisms to describe situations that I could paint in living color. What they don’t understand is that, behind this genteel exterior, I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen the brokenness, heard the sobs, and felt the ache of a creation waiting for redemption. In this kind of work, you lose your innocence pretty quickly.

Those who haven’t probably aren’t doing their jobs.

The other amusing thing is how quickly my conversations with my pastor-husband turn from the prosaic to the profound. One moment we’re discussing the rotation of children’s workers, and the next we’re talking about how to apply the realities of theosis to counseling.

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God Gave Us a Book

Can the supernatural and the natural realms talk together? Is communication possible between God and people? This crucial question polarized our nation’s founding fathers. All of the founders believed in a supernatural realm—God was a given. But a few of the founders insisted that God created the universe to run on its own without Him (a view known as Deism). For all practical purposes, these men dismissed the very possibility of communication between the natural and supernatural realms.

Since the early influences of Deism, American culture has been shaped by the anti-supernaturalist philosophies of biological evolution and secular humanism. Secularism is not merely anti-religious, although it is that. Secularism is, more fundamentally, an utter denial of the sacred and thus a disaffirmation of the indispensability of a supernatural realm—a supposition rendered reasonable by the theory of biological evolution. Whereas Deism was stuck with a Creator (albeit a silent one), evolutionism eliminated the notion of a Creator and completely eradicated the necessity of a supernatural realm. Secularism stands in at this point to assert what evolutionism suggested: supernaturalism is a myth.

It would seem that most Americans today embrace some form of evolutionism (fueled by evolutionism’s monopoly of the public education system), but few Americans are pure secularists. Surveys indicate that most Americans pray, and praying evidences at least a wishful hope in the existence of a supernatural realm (which goes far to explain the angst secularist educators suffer when public school students talk to God). Despite the inroads of Deism and secularism, many Americans still believe in a supernatural realm with which communication is possible.

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Book Review - Slave of Christ by Murray Harris

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Paul begins his letter to the Romans by identifying himself: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ”—at least, this is how it is translated in the King James, English Standard, American Standard, Revised Standard, and New International versions. The New King James Version translates it this way, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ,” while the Holman Christian Standard Bible and New Living Translation say, “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus.” This translation difference can be seen in most instances of the English translation of the Greek word doulos, used 126 times in the Greek New Testament.

What is the meaning of the Greek word doulos in its linguistic and cultural context? In Slave of Christ, Murray J. Harris presents a convincing case that the New Testament use of doulos refers to the ownership and authority of a master over a slave. Through a comprehensive review and synthesis of biblical and extrabiblical literature, as well as a detailed description of the meaning and connotation of slavery in the world of the New Testament, Harris argues that the New Testament use of the word doulos is a metaphor for wholehearted and total devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ (p. 19).

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What Are the Essentials?

Aristotle introduces his Nicomachean Ethics with these words: “Every skill and every inquiry, and similarly every action and rational choice, is thought to aim at some good; and so the good has been aptly described as that at which everything aims.”

While Aristotle identifies different intermediary goods on his way to his ultimate good (happiness), he underscores the importance of the question, “Good for what?” In Aristotle’s view, we can’t really define good until we understand at what goal the good aims. While his conclusion is problematic, his line of questioning is insightful.

Likewise, we can’t answer the question “What are the essentials?” until we first answer the question, “Essential for what?” One popular website asserts that, “The Bible itself reveals what is important and essential to the Christian faith. These essentials are the deity of Christ, salvation by God’s grace and not by works.”

While this sounds like a helpful enough answer, I wonder upon what basis the writer identifies these doctrines over others as essential. Are these intermediary essentials or they ultimate essentials?

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