Saturday, October 03, 2015

Interesting Greek note

I'm editing a Greek Discourse Handbook right now on 1 Thessalonians. In the course of reading through it, I noticed that the Greek word ἀδελφοί (adelphoi, brothers/sisters/fellow believers) seems to occur more frequently than normal. So, I started Accordance and did a search on the inflected form.
Sure enough, as you can see from the above chart, the density is much higher in 1 Thessalonians than any other books than James and 2 Thessalonians. Wonder what's going on here? Any ideas?

Personally, I wonder if it might be that Paul is trying to reassure the Thessalonians that even though he got driven out of town and hasn't been able to revisit them, they are still dear to him—family even.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Go to church?

[W]hen I hear them make “church” something one goes “into” I cringe. Part of our problem here is that the word “church” has become a building or an institution and has lost its cosmic shape from the Bible (ever read Colossians and Ephesians?!)…— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 232

<idle musing>
Ain't that the truth! Have you been following Roger Olson's review? He's sympathetic to Scot's view—very sympathetic. But, and here's where I'm at as well, what about the "dones?" What about the ones who have become disillusioned with church as it is done in the U.S.? Where is it more God and Country, or God and Self, or God and whatever. The whatever is anything but Jesus; A.W. Tozer in Pursuit of God says that whatever comes after the and is a distraction from God. I agree. And that's where the vast majority (in my experience over 43 years of being a Christian) of churches land.

There's something wrong when a church's web site features the U.S. flag in a prominent position. There's something wrong when a church's web site brags about their pastor/teacher, what have you. There's something wrong when a church's web site promotes a particular political view (right or left!).

Lord, purify your church! And start with me!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

At what cost compromise?

Randy Balmer, one of America’s finest historians of evangelicalism, after years of studying the relationship of evangelicals and politics, concludes on a similar note in his God in the White House: “My reading of American religious history is that religion always functions best from the margins of society and not in the councils of power. Once you identify the faith with a particular candidate of party or with the quest for political influence, ultimately it is the faith that suffers.” He concludes with a subtle, but searing reminder: “Compromise may work in politics. It‘s less appropriate to the realm of faith and belief.”— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 215 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
That quotation alone is worth the price of the book! The kingdom of God is just that, the kingdom of God. Trying to mix our best efforts at creating a kingdom just isn't going to work. God's calling is higher and beyond our meagre efforts.

Jesus said you can't serve two masters. I fear some have sold the true master for a chance to influence the current world. At what cost?

Lord, have mercy! Open our eyes that we may see! That we may catch a vision of your kingdom!
</idle musing>

Monday, September 28, 2015

Vain attempt

The Christian Left and the Christian Right are doing the same thing—seeking to coerce the public or, more mildly, seeking to influence the public into their viewpoint through political agitation and majority rule. Hauerwas describes the ultimate goal of both sides: “their common goal of making American democracy as close as possible to a manifestation of God’s Kingdom.” I need not provide details in a history that has been told well by others. But I will say that Hauerwas and I agree that American democracy can’t be the kingdom of God until it submits, for one thing, to Jesus as the redemptive King.— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 211

<idle musing>
Amen and amen!
</idle musing>

Friday, September 25, 2015

Constantine again

The church’s historical temptation is to make “kingdom” public by aligning itself with the state or the powers of culture, often called the Constantinian Temptation. In the United States, both the Moral Majority (or the Christian Coalition) and the Christian progressives have succumbed to Constantine; that is they are tempted to use the state’s force (even if of the majority) to legalize the Bible’s teachings and its arena to carry out their battles.— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 206

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What's a person to do?

In the last post, I mentioned that Roger Olson is blogging through the book Kingdom Conspiracy. Yesterday, he asked a serious question about the nature of church. Here's the relevant paragraph:
My experience of visiting numerous churches in numerous locales is that very, very few are fitting “kingdom of God” as Scot describes it (“a new kind of fellowship, a new community, a new people of God” [emphasis original]). Most of them, in my humble opinion, are American first and Christian second or Baptist first and Christian second or middle class first and Christian second. Most of them function like community clubs. There’s a lot of God talk but very little God showing up among them. They are not really “a people, a community, a fellowship.” For the most part they don’t even know each other well. They certainly don’t share their lives; they value their privacy and individuality far, far too much for that.
Think about that. Is it true? Is a megachurch really a church? Or is it a social club that talks a bit about God? Is there real community there?

I'm not picking on megachurches; they can be places where real fellowship happens, but I would submit that you have to work at it very hard to make it happen. And just because a church is small doesn't mean fellowship happens. You still have to work at it, but it's a bit easier when you can't hide in a crowd. But our culture still works against real's got to be a supernatural move of God to get people out of themselves. Even so, come Lord Jesus! Move in your people!

Just an
</idle musing>

But are they really?

[I]t is reasonable to say that the kingdom is the church, and the church is the kingdom—that they are the same even if they are not identical. They are the same in that it is the same people under the same King Jesus even if each term—kingdom, church—gives off slightly different suggestions. In particular, “kingdom” emphasizes royalty, while “church” emphasizes fellowship. Slight difference aside, the evidence I have presented in this book leads me to the conclusion that we should see the terms as synonyms.— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 206 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
Not sure I agree totally with him here. Roger Olson is blogging his way through the book, too (part 1 and part 2). He has not yet come to this section, but before he began, he expressed his disagreement with an equation of the two: kingdom does not equal church. Maybe, given the caveats that Scot expressed here, Roger will agree, but I doubt it.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Are we really that screwed up?

Two stories from pastors. One, the pastor of a megachurch, confessed to me over a round of golf that he could do away with Sunday morning services because small groups did everything he believed a church should be. Of course I asked, “How so?” To which he replied, “Because church is about fellowship, and I’m not sure that happens on Sunday mornings.” Another pastor, convinced that churches ought to be marked by fellowship, created the practice of the church gathering for a church-sponsored, cheap meal on Thursday evenings. For a long time the only ones who gathered were the pastor and his wife and the youth pastor and his wife, with an occasional straggler. It took years for the congregation to embrace the idea. Over lunch at an Italian restaurant he said these two things: “our people are too busy for fellowship,” and “One person asked me what fellowship had to do with church!”— Kingdom Conspiracy, page 202

<idle musing>
Are we really that confused about what the church is all about? Do we really think it is only a 1–2 hour stint of sitting in pews (or padded chairs) on Sunday morning, singing a few songs, and then listening to a person (usually a man) expound on a verse or two of scripture? Doesn't your heart long for more?

Mine does! I want vibrant interaction among people who love Jesus. People who know that their lives have been re-created in him. People who know that the power of the Holy Spirit is real and can make a difference as they face the trials of daily living.

But apparently most people are too busy for sad.
</idle musing>