Friday, July 31, 2020
Thursday, July 30, 2020
It has been refreshing the last few years to see books appearing that emphasize the ascension and enthronement as an essential part of the gospel. You can't lose the cross, but equally, you can't lose the resurrection and ascension and enthronement. Without any of these you end up with a truncated gospel.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Monday, July 27, 2020
Friday, July 24, 2020
Nobody, even in the free—grace movement, wants to claim that the demons in Mark’s Gospel—who know Jesus’s divine origins and who utter, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24) and “You are the Son of God” (3:11)—are in actuality saved because of their true knowledge of Jesus. Free—gracers are quick to disavow such a conclusion. All would agree with the Letter of James, which affirms that such “facts” are not enough: “You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe and shudder” (James 2:19). Nonetheless, problematically, at least some in the free—grace movement want to make salvation depend on nothing but a slight variation of the Son-of-God fact, an affirmation that Jesus died for my sins.—Matthew W. Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 25
Thursday, July 23, 2020
The key point is that true pistis is not an irrational launching into the void but a reasonable, action-oriented response grounded in the conviction that God’s invisible underlying realities are more certain than any apparent realities. Stepping out in faith is not intrinsically good in and of itself, as if God is inherently more pleased with daring motorcycle riders than with automobile passengers who cautiously triple—check their seatbelt buckles; it is only good when it is an obedient response to God’s exercised sovereignty. We are not to leap out in the dark at a whim, or simply to prove to ourselves, God, or others that we “have faith.” But the promise—keeping God might indeed call us to act on invisible realities of his heavenly kingdom.—Matthew W. Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 19–20
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
But there is one change that baffles me, and has for years. Back in the 1980s, the Republican party bought the (mostly white, middle-class) Evangelical vote with a promise of a constitutional amendment against abortion. Remember that? At the time they proposed it, they didn't have enough clout in either of the houses of congress to make it happen. But, then all of a sudden they did.
Do you remember any of them introducing a constitutional amendment? Me either. But they kept promising it. Until they stopped. Then they just started promising judges who were anti-abortion. But the evangelicals decided that was enough.
Here's the thing, though. Historically, abortion rates have gone up, not down, under Republican administrations. Why? Because outside of the white, middle-class world where abortions are matters of a convenient way to keep status, another mouth to feed means real economic hardship. The Republicans have traditionally reduced spending on social programs, hence to aid for those who need it. Ergo, increased abortions.
A side note, but not unrelated: Since the 1980s, the party that has been the most war-happy and bomb 'em into submission, has been the Republican party (it was the opposite during Vietnam in the 1960s). How is that "pro-life"?
Don't recite to me the litany of evils about the Democrats. There are plenty! Government is a human institution with plenty of institutional sin to go around for all!
All I'm asking is that if you label yourself as an evangelical Christian, you need to take a closer look at why you vote the way you do—by taking into consideration the entire New Testament. Especially the Beatitudes and one of my favorites: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 NIV
Dismantling the social safety net doesn't seem to be in line with that, does it? Think about that the next time you endorse a candidate only because they claim to be "pro-life." It might turn out that they are simply "put a judge in there who claims to be pro-life" and has all kinds of other baggage that is morally questionable, at best.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
If that's your opinion and you call yourself a christian, then you had better pay closer attention to the scriptures that you claim to hold as authoritative, because 90 percent (at least) of what he does is antiscriptural. He spews hate, fear, and lies continually. Is that what you want? Is that the kind of toxic environment you want to live in?
For the record: I don't. And I don't believe most people do. Of course, neither does he, or he wouldn't be working so hard to suppress the votes of those who disagree with him. And don't go telling me that the other guy is just as bad. It's not about that. It's about what you want this country to become (or remain, as it seems to be heading very quickly toward authoritarianism). Be a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent. Fine. But don't buy into their platform without checking it out. Fight for changes to it.
But, as christians, your number one job is to radiate LOVE, not hate. Not fear. Not violence. Love! And pray! Pray for the soul of the nation. Pray for a godly attitude in your own heart, too. If you are against what is happening, but react in hatred, you are as much a problem as "that other guy."
P.S. I am going to become increasingly vocal about these things as time goes on. I want to be able to stand before God and say I spoke up on behalf of the underprivileged, the widow, the orphan, the immigrant. What about you? Matthew's parable about the sheep and the goats is pretty clear! Where do you stand?
Of course, those anxious to harmonize Jesus’s teachings with their understanding of Paul’s gospel of salvation by grace through faith tend to see any suggestion of the necessity of works as a threat to God’s free gift of salvation and an insult to the sufficiency of Jesus’s sacrifice. So the specific teachings in the Synoptic Gospels pertaining to eternal life are filtered, often ingeniously, through the lens of Paul in order to explain how they do in fact teach salvation by faith alone—that is, if one reads with enough care. The discerning reader should judiciously evaluate such maneuvering. How many beams of good works must we toss aside as we strain to find the sawdust speck of “faith alone” before we start to wonder precisely how this salvation house has been constructed? If we have to read the “good works” requirement out of so many of Jesus’s teachings about eternal life, might it be the case that the assumed Pauline interpretative lens of “by grace alone through faith alone” and “not by works” is causing the distortion? Or could it be that we have foisted our own questionable contemporary understandings of faith, works, the gospel, and salvation onto both Paul and the Gospels?
For reasons that will become clear in due course, I submit that the gospel is not primarily about the necessity of the human response of “faith” in Jesus’s saving work, but rather as about how Jesus came to be enthroned as Lord of heaven and earth. Allegiance alone is required for salvation.—Matthew W. Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 12–13
Monday, July 20, 2020
1. The true climax of the gospel—Jesus’s enthronement—has generally been deemphasized or omitted from the gospel.—Matthew W. Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 9
2. Consequently, pistis has been misaimed and inappropriately nuanced with respect to the gospel. It is regarded as “trust” in Jesus’s righteousness alone or “faith” that Jesus’s death covers my sins rather than “allegiance” to Jesus as king.
3. Final salvation is not about attainment of heaven but about embodied participation in the new creation. When the true goal of salvation is recognized, terms such as “faith,” “works,” “righteousness,” and “the gospel” can be more accurately reframed.
4. Once it is agreed that salvation is by allegiance alone, matters that have traditionally divided Catholics and Protestants—the essence of the gospel, faith alone versus works, declared righteousness versus infused righteousness—are reconfigured in ways that may prove helpful for reconciliation.
Friday, July 17, 2020
Thursday, July 16, 2020
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
That's the final excerpt from this book. We'll start a new one tomorrow, from the New Testament this time.
Monday, July 13, 2020
Read this, and think about it for a few minutes. Bottom line: do you want a leader whose only line is "trust me"? If so, then at least choose one who has a moral compass! Hint: Donald Trump isn't that guy! How many lies has he told? And for you Christians who support him, who does scripture say is the father of lies? Hint: it's not God!
We had a great harvest of snap peas in June. They are done now, and I've replanted that area with a fourth planting of green beans, more green onions, and a second planting of carrots. My first and second plantings of green beans are both producing now; we're eating fresh beans and freezing them for the winter. I experimented with not blanching them before freezing last winter. The results were great; I suspect their storage life was shortened, but we use them all up before spring, so there were no ill effects. Sure does save time!
The strawberries are done, too. I ordered ever-bearing strawberries last year, but they sent me June-bearing instead, which was a disappointment, but the flavor makes up for it. I only have an eight foot bed, so we didn't get enough to freeze. Next year, I'll plant ever-bearing because it will be time for new ones anyway. A bed of strawberries is usually only productive for about three years before requiring replanting.
We are gorging ourselves on raspberries! Last year I planted some ever-bearing raspberries that a friend gave us. We got a few berries in the fall, just before frost. But this year, they are producing like crazy. They also are trying to take over the surrounding beds, so it's a continual pulling of stray plants in those beds. Raspberries spread via root, so I might have to move the berries to a corner bed. Right now they are in a central bed, so they can infect three other beds.
My squash are doing wonderfully well. The winter squash are climbing all over their trellis and are loaded with squash. I'm experimenting this year with a new variety in addition to the favorites (delicata and carnival). We'll see how it goes. The patty pan summer squash are producing more than I can eat, and the zephyr has given me two so far. I might end up pulling one of the patty pan plants if this keeps up; nobody in the neighborhood likes summer squash. For that matter, only the one neighbor likes vegetables at all! No wonder the US is so unhealthy.
I picked my first cucumber yesterday. Nothing beats a cucumber fresh from the vine! I'm trialing five different kinds this summer, trying to see what does best here. So far it looks like all of them are winners. If all the blossoms and small cukes bear, I'll have far too many! I don't make sweet pickles anymore because the sugar content is far to high; same for pickle relish. So that just leaves eating them fresh and making dill pickles. My dill is doing fine, so that won't be a problem, but there is a limit to how many quarts of dill pickles a person can eat!
I can't forget to mention the kale and chard! I've frozen quite a bit of it. I've never had chard and kale do as well as they are this year. I think it must be because of the organic slow release fertilizer and fresh compost I'm using. I'll write more about the fertilizer later; I'm running short on time right now.
How's your garden doing? Here are a few pictures for you. The first one is from the mid-April snowstorm we had—again! Third year in a row for a mid-April blizzard, although this one wasn't as bad as the first two.
Not the questions we normally ask of the first eleven chapters of Genesis, are they? And that's why we get it so wrong so often. We're asking questions the text wasn't written to answer. It's not a science textbook. The Bible is concerned with who and why, not so much the how. We mistakenly think that if we understand the how of something, we understand it. Wrong! We don't understand something until we know the why and who, something that science isn't equipped to answer without straying from science qua science. Those questions are the realm of philosophy and theology.
Friday, July 10, 2020
Thus, rather than shrinking from the charge that science has caused us to go back to the biblical account of the flood to see if we are reading it correctly, we fully embrace it since it has led us to read the account in conformity with the author’s intention.—Lost World of the Flood, 175–76
Thursday, July 09, 2020
The U.S. frittered away that chance [to control the virus]. Through social distancing, the American public bought the country valuable time at substantial personal cost. The Trump administration should have used that time to roll out a coordinated plan to ramp up America’s ability to test and trace infected people. It didn’t. Instead, to the immense frustration of public-health advisers, leaders rushed to reopen while most states were still woefully unprepared.What can I say? Pride comes before a fall. The US is too proud to be sensible, and now we're reaping the whirlwind. It's only going to get worse because people won't sacrifice a little for others.
When Arizona Governor Doug Ducey began reviving businesses in early May, the intensive-care unit of Popescu’s hospital was still full of COVID-19 patients. “Within our public-health bubble, we were getting nervous, but then you walked outside and it was like Pleasantville,” she said. “People thought we had conquered it, and now it feels like we’re drowning.”
Second, religion must challenge science when it oversteps its bounds and proclaims itself the sole arbiter of truth, particularly when scientists start proclaiming in the name of science that religion is false. Here is where science becomes idolatry, and unfortunately, while the great majority of scientists know better, there are a handful of well—known exceptions. Perhaps the best—known today include Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, both eminent scientists, who demonstrate their ignorance when they speak about religion, embarrassing even many nonreligious scientists and intellectuals.—Lost World of the Flood, 175
Wednesday, July 08, 2020
We should take Augustine’s admonition, worth quoting at length, to heart:
Usually even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative posotions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics, and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions and to the great loss for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scriptures are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a ﬁeld which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books.—Lost World of the Flood, 173–74
Tuesday, July 07, 2020
Monday, July 06, 2020
Friday, July 03, 2020
Efforts to discourage and stamp out goddess worship are at best useless, and at worst harmful. Christians who attempt this are already conformed to the patriarchy of this world, and they can be transformed, as Paul said, only by the renewing of their own minds. The battle that has long been waged outward against the culture must be turned inward if it is to succeed—turned toward the long self-inquiry and self-analysis required to root out the ways in which the church continues to push people away from the God of the Bible, who offers his nurturing breast to all. The resources of the tradition are rich in this area. Using feminine language and imagery for God in worship is a starting point that can create fruitful discomfort and invite worshipers to ask hard questions about God and gender that lead to good conversations.—Christopher B. Hays in Divine Doppelgängers: YHWH’s Ancient Look-Alikes, 218