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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

building a cheaper house

I admire earthships.
The earthbag builder says his method is easier.
I can't see that being quicker than dry stacking concrete blocks, which, however, cost more than bags full of dirt.
I'm thinking the Hesco R-house has got to be the easiest. I wrote them but they didn't reply. The U.S. branch of Hesco does not have the R-House on it's page. They make webbing/fencing that are gabions for dirt or rocks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Deca dome or round home

I came across another kit dome or round home today at EconoDome and at Decahome. The same outfit is responsible for both, the spelling challenged, Faze Change Produx. They sell the plans, or the roof kit, or an everything kit. The homes and domes useHardipanel cement composite panels. I'm a sucker for domes. Here's a page of some schematics and here's an index of dome pics.

Optimism on church discipline by the imonk

I think Michael Spencer is ending his series on church discipline, and he ends on a high note. He gives a very positive approach to church discipline. The "getting kicked out" part is like the emergency room doctors pulling out the high voltage paddles. There is much soul medicine that could be applied beforehand.

He states,
I would like readers to consider what church discipline looks like when it is the church’s compassionate ministry to those who are suffering, rather than primarily a punitive action toward those who are sinning...

In other words, where there is genuine sinful behavior that is affecting a spouse, child, family or fellow church member, the church should act like the church, with gentle and consistent reminders and interventions pointing to the onset of a process that can bring the entire church into a “sin intervention” process...

Those familiar with the Andy Griffith Show will know why I always think of Sheriff Andy Taylor in this kind of discussion. Sheriff Taylor was a law enforcement officer who was capable of being tough, but he preferred to be a friend, encourager, teacher and surrogate parent to those who found themselves doing the wrong thing. Our leaders need to have the “Sheriff Taylor” attitude: Shepherd the sheep carefully and you’ll have to fire your gun a lot less often.

Andy Griffith? How about Jesus versus James and John? Those guys asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to destroy an entire Samaritan village who wouldn't host Jesus and crew for a night, Luke 9:54. Jesus rebuked them and just kept moving. It is so much easier to shoot than to spend time with those on the path of selfishness. Especially when so many continue on that path despite our efforts. I think some of us get worn out from long evenings or lunches away from our own families with their own needs and conflicts. I also think we prefer the company of those who do practice self-control. They are so much more pleasant to be around. So even in the pews, we who have jobs but want to contribute to a healthy church, do not know if we have the time to be in people's lives individually. That is the benefit of church small groups. the load of nurture can be spread around. That's where stuff can happen. It's not one sheriff of Mayberry that does the work, it's all the volunteer deputies who share the load of nurture and encouragement and exhortation.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blogs I commented on this week 3rd week of April 09

Here are some blogs where I joined a conversation or applauded a blog post this week.

It's nice when a higher trafficked blog links here and sends a couple days worth of visitors in a couple hours here. Truewomanhood has a massive thread going on with hundreds of comments and one person linked to my post on Sarah calling Abraham "master". Turns out the link to here was unintentional, but I felt I needed to thank them for sending so many visitors and introduce myself. It seems like another blog I will have to add to my feedreader.

Rob has the best response for those who think casinos compensate for genocide. "would you sacrifice your friends and relatives for $350,000 a year?" Probably, some would.

Missionary Guy Muse shares an amazing God story.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Internet Monk on Church discipline

He has good thoughts on Matthew 18...
So what we have here is a very grace and forgiveness filled chapter. It is not a chapter filled with the duty of elders to root out errors and go looking for reasons to accuse. It is not about seeking the purity of the church but about recalling that we all are lost sheep, little children with limited understanding and bankrupt sinners treated with amazing grace.
He contends that the process is optional. I think this is in agreement with the concept of love covering a multitude of sins.

Now, things get interesting. If the brother refuses to acknowledge the sin, a second option appears that does involve the church community. I do not believe it is compulsory. I believe it is up to the individual to take the following two steps, but IF both are part of a church that has openly established a community standard of relationships based on this principle, then it should be no surprise when a second conversation occurs, this time involving two other brothers....
This makes it clear that the church has a stake in restoration and reconciliation prior to anything that excludes. Reconciliation is an aspect of the Gospel that is proclaimed and offered by Christians to the world and to one another.
Discipline is an act of love. Just as we consider parents who refuse to guide their children as unfit parents, what of a church that won't guide their brothers and sisters?

Church discipline in I Corinthians seems to be about a failure of a church to understand grace. Grace loves so unconditionally that it will not abandon a person to his own rebellion and waywardness without a fight. If my son had drugs in his room, and I knew it and said, “That’s OK. It’s normal,” I would be failing to be loving and gracious, something God never fails to do. So Paul is angry that the church has presented God as one who cares so little about whether someone lives in the enjoyment of his grace that he approves of an incestuous relationship. This is a scandal of a higher order than a sexual scandal. It’s the scandal of cheap grace.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

i'm grateful Obama released the torture memos

Although I have massive issues with Obama's stance on abortion, see details, there are things he does that I am grateful for. One of those things is his release of the previous administration's memos on torture. Torture is morally repugnant. On NPR this morning I heard an interview with an Bush administration official who circulated a memo condemning torture, but the administration responded by issuing a call to destroy all copies of the memo.

True or not, the world views us as a Christian nation. When we permit the use of torture, we prove, in their eyes, how deficient Christ is. It is not weak to stand on the principles of human rights and human dignity at all times. Lord forgive us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How to kick someone out of church

I think there are a couple more ways to cover as reasons to get disfellowshipped, but I wanted to pause and share something I read this morning with a good friend over breakfast. This is also prompted by another friend who grew up in a church which practiced kicking people out an awful lot. The New Testament really has many similar passages like this. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
Finally then, brothers and sisters, we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received instruction from us about how you must live and please God (as you are in fact living) that you do so more and more. For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is God’s will: that you become holy, that you keep away from sexual immorality, that each of you know how to possess his own body in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God. In this matter no one should violate the rights of his brother or take advantage of him, because the Lord is the avenger in all these cases, as we also told you earlier and warned you solemnly. For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness. Consequently the one who rejects this is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, to aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you. In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.

Paul covers the big one, sex, but couches it in love and tells us to mind our own business. Hence, I think it's not my job to find out if a discreet sinner is actually doing one of the big ones. Paul's complaint about Corinth was started by a guy living with his mother-in-law and everyone knew it and were proud of their tolerance.

So this is where Matthew 18 may play into this. Jesus wants us to keep it discreet. Two friends who presumably have each other's best interests in mind should help each other stay on the straight and narrow. They need to keep each other pointed heavenward. They also need to have enough love for each other that it will cover a multitude of sins.

What does it mean to cover sins? I thought about drunk and passed out naked Noah, who I wrote about before. One son mocked his father's sin and its consequences, but the other two covered him up.

There are abundant reasons to expose a sin and disfellowship a sinner immediately, usually involving trauma against someone else. This is where the church messes up a great deal. We are so discrete we never solve anything or we are never discrete and only 5 people at a time are members in good standing. I think 1 Thess. 4 is a great example of balance.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Obama's pro-life buddies slip sliding away

What do you call someone who can find the silver lining in any morally repugnant policy? Moral Accountability uses the slur derivative, "house Catholic" for Doug Kmiec, who
Not too many months ago, he declared himself dedicated to changing the mind of a young presidential candidate in whom he saw much promise but whose views on abortion he declared unsatisfactory. Today those views are “pragmatic”; Kmiec’s fellow Catholics are un-Christian in their vocal opposition to those views; the call of the unborn on our attention is muffled in obscurantist twaddle about “legal personhood” and private religious views; and opponents of a pro-abortion black president’s coming appearance at a Catholic university might as well be Klansmen.

Into what new shape will Douglas Kmiec contort himself next?

Protestants have their shape shifters as well. Joel Hunter is quoted at BeliefNet

"They have hit the right balance by limiting funding to particular slated-to-be-destroyed IVF cells, yet expanding significantly the number of diseases that can be addressed by increasing the number and range of stem cell lines from which we can learn," said Joel Hunter, pastor of an Orlando-area megachurch. "These guidelines respect life from beginning to end."
Not really Joel. Killing unwanted humans is not a means of respecting life.

BeliefNet also reports, The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said "the new regulations embody caution and care that respect pro-life values."

No they don't Rev. If the church is to be the conscience of society, it needs to scream when the most vulnerable, the weakest, the smallest, the most unwanted are treated as research material. It should not look the other way or call evil, good.

Embryonic stem cell research is evil. That may not be politically popular but it is ethically true, killing humans for research or for convenience (read "Choice") is evil. I thought all life mattered to these Democrat belivers/faith partners. Then why do the unborn not get defended in the public sphere by these partners? Washington does it over and over again. Jesse Jackson was pro-life. So was Al Gore. So was Ted Kennedy. So was Bill Clinton. Read their pro-life statements earlier in their careers here.

My liberal Christian friends chose Obama because the Republicans gave them so little. Do they really think Obama will give them any more?

How to get kicked out of church: fornication

We've arrived at the last in the series but first in Paul's list from 1 Corinthians 5:11 What I meant was that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Don’t even eat with such people. NLT

Instead of making it long with the negatives, I'll keep it short by stating it positively.

Fornication is any act of sex outside of a marriage to one person of the opposite gender.

Here is the Greek on this.

1. illicit sexual intercourse
1. adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
2. sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
3. sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,
2. metaph. the worship of idols
1. of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

For much more information I recommend the entry on sexual immorality in Baker's.

I also wrote a few posts on the topic while discussing the 7th commandment.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

book report: Seeds of Discontent by J. Revell Carr

I picked up Seeds of Discontent: The Deep Roots of the American Revolution 1650-1750 in the new releases section of my local library and was intrigued by my gap in knowledge of this time and by the author's association with a local museum, the Mystic Seaport. I can never find the books in my Amazon wish list but I can usually find something new and interesting and all the history books promise NEW and PARADIGM SHIFTING insights between their covers. This book was more modest. It's byline is "A narrative history of the largely unexplored events - starting more than a century before - that paved the road to the American Revolution." I don't think my public schooling included much more information than what can be learned from Schoolhouse Rock in 2 minutes.



As a Christian who believes rebellion against our government leaders is only allowed in the most egregious situations, I did not have much sympathy for people who felt they were overtaxed. However, this book shows the blood and debt the Americans either volunteered or were impressed into on behalf of England and its many wars with its neighbors. Recompense usually favored English proper over English North American. As the colonies foundered in their own debt from expeditions against the French at Cape Breton, economic reimbursement from England never materialized. Then when England wanted the Americans to pay for the delivery from the French that the Americans had already accomplished 25 years before but forsaken by the English in the peace treaty, the insult was severe and heavy.

I am so glad I read beforehand A Great and Noble Scheme by John Mack Faragher, reviewed in 6 parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. It provides an Acadian perspective on the love-hate relationship they had with the New Englanders. This history read quickly. I didn't dog ear many pages because little jumped out at me. The two paragraphs of interest to me were less about the lead up to the American Revolution and more about life in the 1700's.

This one interested me because I hadn't heard of piquet construction before.
Most of the fishermen lived in simple homes with garden plots outside the walls of the city along the three miles of harbor shoreline that stretched west from the Dauphin Gate [of Louisbourg on Cape Breton] along the most densely populated "suburb," known as the fauxbourg, then northeast to the upper reaches of the harbor. Their homes were usually of piquet contruction, which consisted of walls formed by standing small posts upright, side by side in a trench, and then chinkind the space between the psots with clay and straw. A cost of lime and mortar sealsd te outside with a smooth white surface. The houses were made weather tight by a sod, thatched, or shingled roof. This simple construction style was also found within the walls of the fortress, as homes for the lowere classes or utilitarian outbuildings of the more well-to-do. p.124

I also was intrigued by the rum consumption in America.
Distillers throughout the colonies used molasses to make rum, which was consumed at the astonishing rate of four gallons a year for every man, woman, and child in the colonies. Assuming that the consumption by females and children was substantially less that of men, it was clearly an imprtant aspect of live for the men in the colonies. Distilleries exported over one million gallons per year in addition to local consumption, so the commodity had a serious impact on the balance of trade. To force the colonial distillers to give up their inexpensive Spanish, French, and Dutch molasses and purchse the British variety, a huge tariff was imposed on foreign molasses through the Molasses Act of 1733. p.138
At first I thought, that is a lot of liquor. Then I thought, I probably drank that much alcohol per year in college; that's not so much. Additionally, they didn't always have clean water and adding alcohol to every beverage kept the wife and kids healthy, if not a little tipsy.

This was a great read and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

blogs i commented on 3rd week of April '09

Phelan the Homesteading Neophyte is looking into homeschooling. I told her how we like Sonlight.

Christianity Today's blog notes a churchman turned atheist, A.N. Wilson, is now believing in Christ.

Stuff Christians Like has a great post on loving our enemies. I mentioned forgiveness.

Justin has a fantastic cat story.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to get kicked out of church: greed

The #2 way to get kicked out of church is greed.
1 Corinthians 5:11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. NASB

All the Americans can now leave the room. Actually, wealth and greed do not necessarily go hand in hand. Greed is only an aspect of covetousness. I covered this topic as well in the 10 Commandment series. It's the 10th commandment.
"Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17 (The Complete Jewish Bible)
I wrote previously, In short, if God wanted you to have it you would get it. As a parent, I say similar things. Our children do not have many popular toys, at least at the same time as they are popular. When the popularity cools and the price drops, then they may get it, and, surprise, they aren't as interested in it. Why did they want it so bad? Lust. It gets everyone. Even if you could keep all the other 9 commands, they are external in their manifestation. But this one is internal. It proves our hearts are depraved.

I also wrote this, The issue with this command is not that I want something just like yours, rather, I want yours. It's not, I want a wife like yours, but I want your wife. This reveals an attitude toward God, ungratefulness. When we recognize God's blessing in someone's life, we should rejoice with them and praise God with them because, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (NIV) Thus, the positive version of this command is: See my blessings in others as reminders to praise me for my generosity.

This comes back to my discussion on character and self-control. Yes, covetousness resides in all our hearts, but how do we respond to that sin of the heart? Do we repent and confess it to God, or do we act on it? Do we act like mature adults or impulsive toddlers? I again need to refer to my experience and practice as a parent. Previously, I compared church discipline to table discipline in my home. If a child is disruptive at the table during a meal, he or she will be reprimanded. If the behavior continues, the child will not be allowed to continue to eat with the rest of us and will have to remove himself or herself and eat alone in the kitchen. When they were younger, too young to toddle, but more at the crawling age, we would keep them in the dining room with us, while we ate. They were not afforded an opportunity to disrupt our meal then because they either stayed in their high chair, exersaucer, or playpen. If they wanted something from the meal they were taught sign language before they could speak so they could tell us "please" and "thank you." We;ve been teaching them self-control since they were tiny. But we've also been teaching them dependence on God. We can't afford everything they want. Whenever they ask us for something bigger than pocket money our first response is "Ask God." In fact, when my wife and I propose big ticket purchases to each other we'll say, "Ask God."

The definition of this Greek word by Strong is 1) one eager to have more, esp. what belongs to others 2) greedy of gain, covetous. Treasures typically give humans treasure fever, the compulsive desire to have more. Accumulation follows accumulation for the sake of accumulation. Jesus cautions us about treasure in his sermon on the mount at Matthew 6:19-24.
Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
This is why the greedy person deserves being kicked out of the dining room in God's house, because his worship is split. He worships his stuff and God. He is an idolater. So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. Colossians 3:5

Treasure on earth is like mud in your eye. It keeps us from seeing much. It results in a fruitless spiritual life. Jesus spoke of this in the parable of the soils. Luke 8:14. As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Jesus wants us to trust God who is generous. Luke 12:29-34
So do not be overly concerned about what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not worry about such things. For all the nations of the world pursue these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, pursue his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out – a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Greed is a heart problem that can be treated with physical actions. If you suffer from greed, get rid of your stuff and give it to those in need. Then you'll only have god. Then your spiritual eyes will see God clearly and your heart will be full of light. Unlike 401k's here on earth, heavenly treasure never decreases. Don't be like the farmer, as described by Jesus, who came into a windfall. Luke 12:13-21
Then someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”But Jesus said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator between you two?” Then he said to them, “Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
He then told them a parable: “The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop, so he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, celebrate!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.”
Money is not worth it from the perspective of eternity. Perspective changes our behavior.

As I watched the stock market melt down, I wondered about the lost opportunity of the money I've been setting aside for retirement. If I had invested that money in people and ministries, my treasure in heaven would have increased. Instead I have numbers on spreadsheets that, for some reason, caused emotional strain. I'm not condemning financial planning. I think that is Biblical. I need to provide for my family. 1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (NASB) That's another way to get kicked out of church, which I'll discuss later. There is a balance. We have needs and wants. Greed is much more than our needs and even beyond our wants.

How is the church supposed to identify the greedy person? I don't know. It's a heart issue. Only friends can discuss heart issues. However, it is considered by Paul disruptive to the table. He warns the Corinthians. He warns the Colossians about it. He warns the Ephesians about it. Eph 5:3 But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints.

Greed caused great disruption for the Israelites. When they were sent to completely destroy Jericho, they were warned to not take anything for themselves. One guy named Achan saw a really nice gold robe from Babylonia and some other riches he snuck them back to his tent. The story is told in Joshua 7.
vv20-26 Achan told Joshua, “It is true. I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel in this way: I saw among the goods we seized a nice robe from Babylon, two hundred silver pieces, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels. I wanted them, so I took them. They are hidden in the ground right in the middle of my tent with the silver underneath.” Joshua sent messengers who ran to the tent. The things were hidden right in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took it all from the middle of the tent, brought it to Joshua and all the Israelites, and placed it before the Lord. Then Joshua and all Israel took Achan, son of Zerah, along with the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, ox, donkey, sheep, tent, and all that belonged to him and brought them up to the Valley of Disaster. Joshua said, “Why have you brought disaster on us? The Lord will bring disaster on you today!” All Israel stoned him to death. (They also stoned and burned the others.) Then they erected over him a large pile of stones (it remains to this very day) and the Lord’s anger subsided. So that place is called the Valley of Disaster to this very day.
His sin resulted in the deaths of soldiers earlier that day. It's consequence resulted in his death and his family's.

Greed is still obnoxious to God. In the church age we no longer stone the greedy in our midst, but we are told to break fellowship with them. When fellowship is broken then Satan can afflict their flesh that their spirits may be saved. 1 Cor. 5:5

thinking about tolerance

Christian political conservatives recognize we all have sinful hearts and sinful thoughts and push for legislation that restricts the physical expression of those things.

Political liberals seem to want to additionally legislate against thoughts or opinions, especially those that Christian conservatives might express, such as the condemnation of sexual immorality or abortion or religious criticism of other faiths. Is speech no longer a civil right? Have they not read 1984 by Orwell?

Just asking.

Examples? Here

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

how to get back into church after you've been kicked out

This is really part B of the idolatry topic from yesterday. A return to idolatry happened en masse a few times in the history of the early church when the Roman emperors tried to crush Christianity. They are called the lapsi.
The regular designation in the third century for Christians who relapsed into heathenism, especially for those who during the persecutions displayed weakness in the face of torture, and denied the Faith by sacrificing to the heathen gods or by any other acts. Many of the lapsi, indeed the majority of the very numerous cases in the great persecutions after the middle of the third century, certainly did not return to paganism out of conviction: they simply had not the courage to confess the Faith steadfastly when threatened with temporal losses and severe punishments (banishments, forced labor ... death), and their sole desire was to preserve themselves from persecution by an external act of apostasy, and to save their property, freedom, and life.
When things got hot, they withered, as Jesus predicted in the parable of the soils, Luke 8:13. Jesus says they have no root. They weren't completely rejected by the church, and they didn't seem to get the treatment the guy in Corinth got, of whom Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2,
6 This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, 7 so that now instead you should rather forgive and comfort him. This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.
In the 4th century the process of public penance was tough.
The first question, therefore, was whether the Sacrament of Penance can effect a reconciliation whereby the apostate, or in some cases specifically the traditor, may be returned to full communion. The orthodox Catholic position was that the sacrament was for precisely such cases, though at the time the Church still followed the discipline of public penance whereby a penitent for such a grievous offense would spend years, even decades, first outside the doors of the church begging for the prayers of those entering, then kneeling inside the church building during services, then standing with the congregation, and finally receiving the Eucharist again in a long progress toward full reconciliation. The Donatists held that such a crime, after the forgiveness of Baptism, rendered one unfit for further membership in the Church, a position of extreme rigorism.
It's amazing in our time today to think the Donatists weren't satisfied. The Catholics and Orthodox have two different formal procedures for reconciliation with the church. Protestants usually disentangle confession from fruits of repentance, which could be why the church appears so weak. However, it's not like any church seems very strong, except for the heavy handed legalistic, soul-destroying churches. The article on public penance at wikipedia is amazing in its useful brevity.

Catholic
In the Catholic Church, the sacrament of Penance consists of three parts: contritio, confessio and satisfactio.

Contritio is in fact repentance as Protestant theologians understand it, i.e. love of God causing sorrow for sins committed, and long before the Reformation the schoolmen debated the question whether complete "contrition" was or was not in itself sufficient to obtain the Divine pardon. The Council of Trent decided, however, that no reconciliation could follow such contrition without the other parts of the sacrament, which form part of it (sine sacramenti voto, quod in ilia indudatur). Contrition is also distinguished from "attrition" (attritio), i.e. amoral repentance due to fear of punishment. It was questioned whether a state of mind thus produced would suffice for obtaining the benefits of the sacrament; this point was also set at rest by the Council of Trent, which decided that attrition, though not in itself capable of obtaining the justification of the sinner, is also inspired by God and thus disposes the soul to benefit by the grace of the sacrament.

In this Sacrament, the penitent (repentant sinner, known as confessant) accuses himself of his sins to an ordained priest (known as confessor). The priest may then offer advice and imposes a particular penance to be performed. The penitent then prays an Act of Contrition, the priest administers absolution, thus formally forgiving the penitent of his sins, and finally sends him out with words of dismissal. Often, penitential acts consist simply of prayers, fasting, charitable work or giving, or a combination thereof. Such penance is frequently accompanied by a requirement for the penitent to be reconciled with anyone against whom he or she has sinned.

Orthodox
In Roman Catholicism, the goal of the sacrament of Penance is reconciliation with God, through means of justification. However, in Orthodoxy, the intention of the sacramental mystery of Holy Confession is to provide reconciliation with God, but through means of healing.

Similar to the Eastern Catholic Churches, in the Eastern Orthodox Church there are no confessionals. Traditionally the penitent stands or kneels before either the Icon of Christ the Teacher (to the viewers' right of the Royal Door) or in front of an Icon of Christ, "Not Made by Hands". This is because in Orthodox sacramental theology, confession is not made to the priest, but to Christ; the priest being there as a witness, friend and advisor. On an analogion in front of the penitent has been placed a Gospel Book and a Crucifix. The penitent venerates the Gospel Book and the cross and kneels. This is to show humility before the whole church and before Christ. Once they are ready to start, the priest says, “Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages,” reads the Trisagion Prayers and the Psalm 50 (in the Septuagint; in the KJV this is Psalm 51).

The priest then advises the penitent that Christ is invisibly present and that the penitent should not be embarrassed or be afraid, but should open up their heart and reveal their sins so that Christ may forgive them. The penitent then accuses himself of sins. The priest quietly and patiently listens, gently asking questions to encourage the penitent not to withhold any sins out fear or shame. After the confessant reveals all their sins, the priest offers advice and counsel. The priest may modify the prayer rule of the penitent, or even prescribe another rule, if needed to combat the sins the penitent struggles most with. Penances, known as epitemia, are given with a therapeutic intent, so they are opposite to the sin committed.

Epitemia are neither a punishment nor merely a pious action, but are specifically aimed at healing the spiritual ailment that has been confessed. For example, if the penitent broke the Eighth Commandment by stealing something, the priest could prescribe they return what they stole (if possible) and give alms to the poor on a more regular basis. Opposites are treated with opposites. If the penitent suffers from gluttony, the confessant’s fasting rule is reviewed and perhaps increased. The intention of Confession is never to punish, but to heal and purify. Confession is also seen as a “second baptism”, and is sometimes referred to as the "baptism of tears".

In Orthodoxy, Confession is seen as a means to procure better spiritual health and purity. Confession does not involve merely stating the sinful things the person does; the good things a person does or is considering doing are also discussed. The approach is holistic, examining the full life of the confessant. The good works do not earn salvation, but are part of a psychotherapeutic treatment to preserve salvation and purity. Sin is treated as a spiritual illness, or wound, only cured through Jesus Christ. The Orthodox belief is that in Confession, the sinful wounds of the soul are to be exposed and treated in the "open air" (in this case, the Spirit of God. Note the fact that the Greek word for Spirit (πνευμα), can be translated as "air in motion" or wind).

Once the penitent has accepted the therapeutic advice and counsel freely given to him or her, by the priest then, placing his epitrachelion over the head of the confessant. The priest says the prayer of forgiveness over the penitent. In the prayer of forgiveness, the priests asks of God to forgive the sins committed. He then concludes by placing his hand on the head of the penitent and says, “The Grace of the All-Holy Spirit, through my insignificance, has loosened and granted to you forgiveness.”

In summary, the Priest reminds the penitent what he or she has received is a second baptism, through the Mystery of Confession, and that they should be careful not to defile this restored purity but to do good and to hear the voice of the psalmist: “Turn from evil and do good” (Psalm 34:14). But most of all, the priest urges the penitent to guard him- or herself from sin and to commune as often as permitted. The priest dismisses the repentant one in peace.

Protestant
The Reformers (e.g. Puritans), upholding the doctrine of justification by faith, held that repentance consisted in a change of the whole moral attitude of the mind and soul (Matthew 13:15; Luke 22:32), and that the divine forgiveness preceded true repentance and confession to God without any reparation of "works." As Calvin says in his piece Of Justification By Faith: "without forgiveness no man is pleasing to God." Rather, "God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance" (Romans 2:4, ESV); nonetheless, there has traditionally been a stress on reconciliation as a precondition to fellowship.
As a Protestant I admit I am partial to the Reformers position. I like the 12 steps in AA.
  • admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion;
  • recognizing a greater power that can give strength;
  • examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member);
  • making amends for these errors;
  • learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior;
  • helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.
That sounds like public confession, submission to God, personal accountability, demonstrated fruits of repentance, repentance, and discipleship. Perhaps Paul would say the first 5 happen before the offender returns to fellowship.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How to get kicked out of church: Idolatry, part a

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. (NRSV)

We arrive at number 3 in the top 6 list of ways to get kicked out of church. As the links in the verse indicate, I have posted on the last three. I'm working my way up the list. I figure sexual immorality may take several posts, since humans have found so many ways to be sexually immoral and the Bible covers many of those. As I noted earlier, I think all of these sins, except drunkenness, correspond to one of the 10 commandments. Idolatry is the number 2 commandment. For the Corinthians, who came out of the Greek and Roman mythology and idol worship, this demarcation is very important to them. When I wrote about idolatry earlier, I spent many posts on its importance today. I will quote from those posts in 2007.

The commandment itself is at Exodus 20:4-6
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

I wrote, this anti-idol statement can be positively stated as, "only the Creator deserves worship." The ancillary statements point out that God can affect your descendants quality of life, unlike the piece of wood or rock you are worshiping.

God's point is that he isn't perceived with our eyes, but with our spirits.
Philip asks Jesus in John 14:9-10 to show them the Father. Jesus replies,

“Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?"


Yet, we have no image of Jesus to adore from the Bible. We have a negative image. Isaiah 53 tells us he was unattractive.

53:2 He sprouted up like a twig before God,
like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
53:3 He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.


He didn't stand out, yet seeing him was seeing God. His image is the only image of God that is acceptable to worship. We don't have that image now, not the physical one. But we do know a lot about God by the record of his life among us. We are prohibited from worshiping a thing of creation, but we are called to worship a creator. What do we know about Jesus? Gayle Erwin summarizes, based on the Gospels and Philippians 2:5-11, the Nature of Jesus:

The Nature of Jesus

1. Servant
2. Not Lord It over Others
3. Lead by Example
4. Humble
5. As A Child
6. As the Younger
7. As the Least
8. Last
9. Used No Force on Us
10. Was Not Driven by Selfish Ambition
11. Made Himself of No Reputation
12. Was Fully Human
13. Obedient
14. Unto Death


How can this God, just described be reduced to an image? It's an insult. It's a blasphemy. One that God punished the Jewish nations for by Assyria and Babylonia. By that time, they supplemented worship of him with worship of other gods and their idols and the dissipation that followed inevitably. We are conformed to the image of what we worship. Even noble things, though approaching an aspect of God's nature, are limited. Why would someone only enjoy one facet on a diamond? All those facets together cause the brilliance and the beauty. Any idol is partial. Worshipers realized this and had to supplement their pantheon. Which Paul speaks about on Mars Hill in Acts 17:29-31 So since we are God’s offspring, we should not think the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human skill and imagination. Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead.

God closes all the loopholes.
1 - don't make it
2 - not of anything
a - above
b - below
c - swims
3 - don't bow down to it, see Daniel 3 where Daniel's buddies get busted for refusing to bend their knees to an idol
4 - don't worship it

I'm part of the company that John the disciple wrote too, "dear children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21 - NIV) I figure he wrote that because they were having trouble with them.
This one isn't that hard to break. If i kiss a wad of cash, aren't I adoring something other than God? If I reverentially caress a brand new car...If I bow to a Christian statue? Now that's a divisive issue in Christendom. Here's the argument in the 8th century
1. Iconoclasm condemned the making of any lifeless image (e.g. painting or statue) that was intended to represent Jesus or one of the saints. The Epitome of the Definition of the Iconoclastic Conciliabulum held in 754 declared:

"Supported by the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers, we declare unanimously, in the name of the Holy Trinity, that there shall be rejected and removed and cursed one of the Christian Church every likeness which is made out of any material and colour whatever by the evil art of painters.... If anyone ventures to represent the divine image (χαρακτήρ, charaktēr) of the Word after the Incarnation with material colours, let him be anathema! .... If anyone shall endeavour to represent the forms of the Saints in lifeless pictures with material colours which are of no value (for this notion is vain and introduced by the devil), and does not rather represent their virtues as living images in himself, let him be anathema!"

2. For iconoclasts, the only real religious image must be an exact likeness of the prototype -of the same substance- which they considered impossible, seeing wood and paint as empty of spirit and life. Thus for iconoclasts the only true (and permitted) "icon" of Jesus was the Eucharist, which was believed to be his actual body and blood.

3. Any true image of Jesus must be able to represent both his divine nature (which is impossible because it cannot be seen nor encompassed) and his human nature (which is possible). But by making an icon of Jesus, one is separating his human and divine natures, since only the human can be depicted (separating the natures was considered nestorianism), or else confusing the human and divine natures, considering them one (union of the human and divine natures was considered monophysitism).

4. Icon use for religious purposes was viewed as an innovation in the Church, a Satanic misleading of Christians to return to pagan practice.

"Satan misled men, so that they worshipped the creature instead of the Creator. The Law of Moses and the Prophets cooperated to remove this ruin...But the previously mentioned demiurge of evil...gradually brought back idolatry under the appearance of Christianity." [20]


It was also seen as a departure from ancient church tradition, of which there was a written record opposing religious images...

The thing that strikes me about idols is they are never cheap. Why can't an idol be made of dirt? Why the investment? Perhaps its a front loading of worship. Unlike the living God who requires our entire life and every facet of it, idols, perhaps, are satisfied with a glitzy upfront payment with small daily payments thereafter.

Idolatry and greed have something in common.
Ephesians 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
This is scary, so scary that some translations make" idolater" a separate descriptor instead of a modifier of the covetous person. Perhaps that is a key for us modern idolaters. In case we didn't get it, Paul restates it in his letter to the Colossian church. Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Egypt, in contrast to Israel, is a metaphor for the world; tangible, immediate, easy, enslaving. The land of Israe, however,l is promised, comes with struggle, and is free as long as enemies are not allowed in, alot like the life of the Christian. Our struggle is the temptation to return to Egypt, a land of idols and abundance and slavery. We are called to a life of rejection, abundance, freedom, and true worship of the one God. In Egypt, even the children are enslaved and can be killed at whim of the king. In Israel, generations can thrive and blossom, as long as they stay away from Egypt. Egypt and Israel need to stay separate. In Israel, there is no other God and there are no images of Him. The reward of faithfulness is a blessing on our descendants, a much better inheritance than a chunk of corruptible stuff.

God makes it simple. Do I want to bless my family or curse it? Will i hold onto and worship the false gods in my life, the little household gods in my heart or in my driveway or my refrigerator, and bring misery to my family, or will I embrace the one true God and embrace Him fully, totally to the happiness of my family?

If you click on the links you can see more context of what I quote from. In part B of this topic I will look at how the church dealt with mass idolatry among Christians, the Lapsi, during Roman persecution, something know as the Novatian and Donatist controversies of the 3rd and 4th centuries.

Monday, April 13, 2009

How to get kicked out of church: Verbal Abuse

The verse under inspection is 1 Corinthians 5:11,
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian 1 who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, 2 or a drunkard, or a swindler.
Do not even eat with such a person. It can be a hard thing to be dis-fellowshipped or shunned over a behavior you love more than your Christian family. Previously, I discussed drunkenness and swindling, today I'll look at verbal abuse. King James' Bible uses the word, railer, which doesn't help the modern speaker much. Nave's Topical Bible suggests a couple similar injunctions against this type of talk, 1 Corinthians 6:10, 1 Timothy 6:4; 1 Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 2:11; Jude 1:9. I found the translation note on this word by the NET editors very helpful. They write, Or “revilers”; BDAG 602 s.v. λοίδορος defines the term as “reviler, abusive person.” Because the term “abusive” without further qualification has become associated in contemporary English with both physical and sexual abuse, the qualifier “verbally” has been supplied in the translation. Verbal abuse is a very real problem. It can cause a great deal of hurt and damage. It can destroy a marriage and a church. The church has not had a good track record to verbal abusers in their midst. But the church is waking up. Here is an extended quote about verbal abuse from Troubledwith.com, a ministry of Focus on the Family.

The well-worn chant, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me" is just not true. As Dr. Grace Kettering writes in her book Verbal Abuse, "Cruel names and labels can hurt us — dreadfully! Many times the emotional damage is unintentional. Crippling comments may seem so trivial to the speaker as to be soon forgotten. But at a crucial moment or from an important person, certain words spoken to a vulnerable, receptive individual can make or break a life."

Verbal abuse takes on many forms including criticizing, insulting, degrading, harsh scolding, name-calling, nagging, threatening, ridiculing, belittling, trivializing, screaming, ranting, racial slurring and using crude or foul language. Disparaging comments disguised as jokes and withholding communication are also examples of verbal abuse.

Hurling hurtful words at another may sound like: "You're a nag just like your parents!" "You don't know how to do anything right." "It's your fault!" "You're too sensitive." "Come on, can't you take a joke?" "That outfit makes you look fat." "You're worthless in bed." "Who asked you?" "You don't need that second helping." "All you do anymore is go to church stuff." "Your ex sure screwed you up emotionally." Verbal abuse can happen anywhere, at any time. Individuals who are teased and pressured at work or school may in turn take out their pent-up frustrations at home. "Kicking the dog" is not enough; instead, they verbally attack their spouse, children, parents, close friends — no loved one is safe.

Wounds that typically accompany emotional, physical and sexual abuse must not be ignored. Both men and women inflict verbal abuse, but women tend to be more often on the receiving end of this destructive behavior. What may seem innocent and infrequent at first can escalate. Verbal abuse frequently plays a major role in violent crimes. According to a 1998 U.S. Justice Department report on violent crimes, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.

All forms of abuse follow a pattern that, left unchecked, will only increase over time. Injuries from verbal and emotional abuse can run deep and leave lasting scars. Many emotionally and verbally abused people reason that, because there are no bruises or broken bones, their abuse must not be serious. But it is. Fortunately, support and resources are readily available to guide individuals into safe, loving relationships. In their well-received book Boundaries, Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend state that, "Our pain motivates us to act." If pain motivates you to act against emotional and verbal abuse, then listen and act. You may be saving more than your life.

Paul wants action in the church as well. Separate those who offend this way from the family table of believers. Not only is the offender acting like an unbeliever, but is also causing pain at the table. In the case of a marriage, the hurt spouse might need a safe place to go to away from the home. The offending spouse then needs to demonstrate effort toward healing. For more on this see this excellent website, Brokenpeople.org, and this article on marital separation in particular. Let me add, if Paul is this worked up about verbal abuse, how much more would he be about physical abuse in a marriage. Some Christians reason that since their is no proof text about physical abuse in marriage, the abused has to persevere in it. However, I reason from the lesser to the greater. I'm not alone.

This is not an issue of the seven dirty words. The Bible speaks elsewhere on that kind of language. Those words are not at the level of being kicked out of the dining room. The issue is about intent and effect. With the nicest words, the most brutal of intentions and greatest of pain can be inflicted. This is what is unacceptable. This does not remotely resemble the life of Christ. This deserves ejection from the fellowship.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blogs I commented on this week April 11th

Pastor Lance at Blaque Tulip offers on the ground assessment of the negative effects of prosperity theology in Kenya.

The Fat Cyclist tells a good bike crash story as a Mormon missionary in Finland, which reminded me of the good day when I saw that special bus in Turku which belonged to John's Turistfart.

The Homesteading Neophyte is thinking of building a strawbale home on their farmstead. Cool.

Newspaper Rock
celebrates Brown University's de-recognition of Columbus Day. They are calling it "Fall Weekend." How about Carib Nations Day?

I thanked Koinonia blog for setting me straight on the Good Thursday theory.

Joe jots down Satan's party invitation after the crucifixion.

I have affection for tiny houses. Mine is 1000 s.f. I also like DIY houses and low cost houses. I really like the free plans and concepts at Earthbag House Plans. This latest one impressed me.

********************************
I also received comments this week.

anonymous tells some of her story about being a Christian who suffered from domestic violence in two marriages at my post pointing to resources for those in such an awful situation.

My friend, Geoff of the Providence Granola Project, wished I had received some discipline in my past.

My wife, the Smart Mom, contends I did sin.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Umbl0g's 4th Birthday

My 2nd post was at the end of March on Good Friday 2005. 1800 posts later we are still going.

What makes Good Friday so good?

Paul tells the Athenians as recorded in Acts 17:22-34.

So Paul stood before the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone. From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move about and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ So since we are God’s offspring, we should not think the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human skill and imagination. Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead.

Now when they heard about the resurrection from the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul left the Areopagus. But some people joined him and believed. Among them were Dionysius, who was a member of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

How to get kicked out of church: Swindle

We are working from 1 Corinthians 5:11. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. (NET) Today's focus is on swindlers. The Greek word is harpax. Paul uses the word three times in this very letter and Jesus uses it twice. Here are the verses.

Jesus

Mat 7:15


“Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.


Luk 18:11


The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.

Paul

1Co 5:10


In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world.


1Co 5:11


But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.


1Co 6:10


thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.



Recent news makes it easy to conjure up a name to associate with the name "swindler." Bernie Madoff comes easily to mind. He operated on the confidence of Jewish social circles. Christians do it to other Christians as well. Here's one from the end of 2008 and another from 2007. The second one is interesting in that an anonymous commenter at the blog claimed to be a neighbor of the deceased offender and considered the neighbor a waste of oxygen. However, a close Christian friend of the offender defended him in an open letter as just another sinner. The friend is quoted in a newspaper, "Derrich was exactly like the rest of us, a sinner who rebelled from a holy God and fell far short of his glory," Rowley said..."No, Derrich didn't stop sinning after he became a Christian," Rowley said. "The difference between him and other sinners was he was simply a sinner saved by God's grace." I think Paul would disagree with the minimization of the sin. He didn't just sin, he swindled people, and he was not worthy of Christian fellowship. He was not living a transformed life. The difference between this Christian guy and Bernie Madoff is that Paul wants us to reach out to the unsaved swindlers like Madoff, but deny the privilege of fellowship to swindlers who call themselves Christians.

Is this an example of Christians shooting their own wounded? I don't think so. I think it is what any healthy family does. They bring consequences on those who hurt family members. In fact, we sometimes practice this in my own family. If one of the children is especially mean or disruptive at the table, they have to go eat in the kitchen by themselves. They are not allowed to ruin everyone else's meal. They are invited back when they settle down or apologize or resume acceptable behavior. Likewise, guests are welcome to eat with us, but disruptive guests might not be invited back.

Swindling is worse than stealing. It involves betraying confidence. Cons are confidence scams. When you've been conned, your confidence has been betrayed to the benefit of someone else at your expense. Theft is bad enough but to add betrayal on top of that jeapordizes community at a deeper level. Judas was guilty of this. He had the confidence of the apostles to hold the band's money bag, John 12:6, which he spent on himself. He also betrayed Jesus for cash. Swindling is top-notch wickedness. Paul wants it kept out of the church. However, he wants swindlers converted. They are destined for hell, 1 Cor. 6:11. Jesus wants us to be humble about our salvation. The rest of the parable in Luke 18:9-14 is very important.
Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’ I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Swindling can be done by anybody at any time in their lives. As Iris Chang wrote, "the veneer of civilization seems to be exceedingly thin." Opportunity tests our characters. And as I concluded before, no one has character that is not corrupt. The Bible says that as well, Romans 3:10-18.

The Bible talks about stealing as well. It's the 8th commandment, which I previously wrote about, see here and here.

If you swindle your brothers and sisters, you can't sit at the table until you apologize and make amends. If you want to stay in the dining room with us don't betray us and stay sober.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The process of Jesus in confronting sin

This post would fall under the title excursus of the excursus from yesterday regarding church discipline and Matthew 18:15-22. I think Jesus's process is brilliant, but of course it is, he's God. Here is why...

Suppose a brother in the church rebukes me for farting in church. I rebuff his rebuke and tell him that I'm not sinning. So the guy decides to pursue this issue with me and rounds up a couple other brothers, but no sisters, to address my issues. As they listen to him confront me they start laughing. Their guffaws establish that this isn't a sin issue. Then the matter is sealed as someone rips one while laughing. With two or three witnesses the matter gets established. The accuser should abide by the agreement of the witnesses, even if he doesn't like it, in the same way he expected the offender, me, to agree. He should not, afterwards, round up three women who may be more sympathetic to his appeal. Nor should he stab me with a knife like this guy did to his room mate. Jesus does not allow for double jeopardy. I think prepping the witnesses might not be ethical either, which, if done, should result in a counter-rebuke.

Jesus is brilliant because his process keeps the focus on the big offenses and off the little ones.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Matthew 18 may not apply to getting kicked out of church

This is an excursus on the topic of "How to get kicked out of church." In my research on the topic of church discipline I have encountered many appeals to Jesus's words in Matthew 18:15-22.

18:15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 18:16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.

18:18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. 18:19 Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 18:20 For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them.”

18:21 Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother who sins against me? As many as seven times?” 18:22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!

I am really unhappy with the study note in the NET regarding verse 17. To treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector means not to associate with such a person. That's something a Pharisee would write, not Jesus who spent a great deal of time hanging out with these losers. I think v. 22 is the undergirding of this passage as well as the parable that precedes in Matt. 18: 12-14 and the one that follows in Matt. 18:23-35. Forgiveness should come easily because reconciliation is what makes God rejoice. There is no point when we can stop forgiving. There is a point however, in which we stop confronting.

Matthew puts no clarification on what kind of sin to stop and chat with your spiritual sibling about. Some manuscripts add "against you" after "sins" but I'll stick with the shorter reading for these reasons. So if they sin, you go to them and honor their dignity. If they don't listen, bring a couple others in, because they might negate the argument that it's just your problem. If they still don't listen invite the church in on the discussion. The community of Jesus has norms and they need to normalize. If they still won't listen, the church needs to switch their approach from discipleship to evangelism. The tax collectors and Gentiles, were, by default, in Jewish ears, not part of the kingdom of God. Jesus evangelized them and sent his disciples to do that as well, especially after his resurrection, Acts 1:8. If someone won't submit to a church's rebuke, according to Jesus, that person needs to hear the good news again, because it's not sticking. They are loving their sin more than their Lord.

It doesn't sound to me like 1 corinthians 5:11 where Paul gives a list of so-called Christians with whom we should not even eat. For example, I came back from college one break speaking with many foul words interspersed. My younger brother rebuked me and showed me where the bible forbids such talk. I was offended a youngster would rebuke me. But he was right. I needed to repent. God brought me there. My brother practiced Matthew 18 successfully. He didn't run out and find a couple guys minutes after I responded with foulness. He waited. God worked.

Perhaps it would be different if I had been speaking like that loudly in the congregation. Even that could have been handled by a couple guys. I'm glad God is eager to forgive.

Monday, April 06, 2009

cinema review: Osama (2003)

Remember the Handmaid's Tale? It was the dire story predicting a women's dystopia under the regime of the Moral Majority in America. Of course, it never happened. The abortion wars of 1985 are still going on and the Religious Right has splintered. Meanwhile, 10 years later, the Taliban came to power and imposed a religious regime that made Atwood's book seem like a joke. Osama is the first post-Taliban film made in Afghanistan. The director pieced together anecdotes from the insanity of life under the regime and cobbled together a story about a 12 year old girl who has her head shaved by her mother and grandmother that she might find work outside the home without arrest by the Taliban religious enforcers. The movie starts with a rally of women in burqas marching for the opportunity to work in order to make money to fend off starvation. The religious police respond with high power hoses and imprisonment.

All this young girl wants is to be a girl. She wants to jump rope. There is an unfinished theme in the movie about the power of rainbows, to provide hope, and change genders, boy to girl and girl to boy. As she waits in prison, guilty of being forced into Taliban boys training school under false gender assumption, she daydreams about jumping rope. As she is forced into being another wife of a Taliban mullah5 times her age, all she has is the daydream. The Wiki article on this movie suggests the rainbow theme was originally intended to provide a hopeful ending. But the director decided the true trajectory of the movie was a downward spiral. Who wants to admit hope returned with the American invasion which led to the Taliban downfall?

This is the truer Handmaid's Tale. It was the nominally Christian nation that stopped the oppression of these women. The rise of the Taliban could be blamed on the communist Russian invasion in 1979. That led to the death of 1 million Afghanis and 5 million refugees. Those numbers numb us, however, a story about one girl's life destroyed by the Taliban ricks our conscience. You can't enjoy this movie, but it is worth watching.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

book report: Christianity in Crisis, 21st century by Hannegraf

I think Hannegraf’s latest book, Christianity in Crisis, 21st Century, could have been half the length and twice as good. As he mentions in the preface,
Twenty years ago, I began working on a book…., titled Christianity in Crisis, [that] unmasked the fatal flaws of a movement that threatens to undermine the very foundation of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.” (p. ix).
I did not read that particular book, previously written, yet as I looked at the endnotes, being the compulsive reader that I am, I couldn’t help but notice the dearth of 21st century quotes. I felt this should have been the 10 year update, not the 20th. Most of the recent quotes come in the latter half of the book, which is why I think this book could have been half as long.

I don’t disagree with him that many of these preachers focus themselves and their listeners on rewards today instead of in heaven. In fact, he won’t say it, but makes it obvious that many of these ministers of the gospel serve mammon and not God. Regarding his claim that this theology could undermine the very foundation of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints, I’m not so sure. Here is an example of his claims that go to far. He weighs the words of Charles Capps who tries to describe the inner workings of Christ’s conception. “He goes on to say, ‘The embryo in Mary’s womb was nothing but the pure word of God – and it took flesh upon itself.’ Capps concludes his heretical remarks by saying, “Jesus Christ was born of a virgin through the miraculous conception of faith – the God-kind of faith.’ With a single stroke of the pen, Capps corrupts the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ into a miraculous confession. It this isn’t heresy what is?” (p.121) I like Theopedia’s answer to that question, “While there is a temptation for Christians to label whatever is not in keeping with sound doctrine as heresy, the Bible seems to make the distinction that heresy is not merely the opposite of orthodoxy. Rather, heresy is a divisive teaching or practice which forces those who call themselves Christians to separate from it or face condemnation for it. John the Apostle gave a prime example of such a doctrine: denying the true nature of the person and work of Jesus Christ (I John 4:1-3; 2 John 1:7-11).” Maybe Charles Capps is loony, but the speculative stuff he comes up with in this case is not heresy. This whole discussion of Hanegraff’s occurs in his debate over the translation of the Greek genitive, which tells me, he is probably not a Koine Greek reader himself. This is not a bad thing, but perhaps he should not wade into the deep end of the pool if he’s not going to swim without the water bubbles of A.T. Robertson, who is good to have with you, but better if you can swim some on your own.

His concluding chapters were really good. He provided a back to basics overview for the Christian to establish a healthy Christian lifestyle practices of prayer, Bible study, Christian fellowship in a local church, basic apologetics, and essential doctrines and creeds. No matter how long you have been a believer, a review of the basics is always refreshing. Unfortunately, he started his review with a tragic newspaper headline, but the publisher missed an important typo. The story was about a Christian father and husband who died when the hot air balloon he was in hit power lines. The headline written in the book says, “4 Killed When Balloon Hits Wives and Burns” (p. 281). There were a few angles instead of angels in the book as well.

I would have enjoyed the book more if Hannegraf’s tone was not so bombastic in the beginning. He did tone it down towards the second half. I’d recommend getting this book but start reading it about half way through. You’ll be done faster and get less irritated by the author, who steps out of the way more towards the end.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

6 ways to get kicked out of church: Drunkenness

Blues singer Albert Collins has a song, I'm not drunk. I'd hear it almost every week on the local college radio station with the lyrics,
I don't care
What the people are thinkin'
I ain't drunk
I'm just drinkin'

(But you're so high) Who me? I ain't high, man.
(But you're so high) I don't know why y'all are talkin' 'bout me like that
(But you're so high) You better mind your own business, brother
(Stay drunk all the time) You gotta watch yourself, too, you understand what I'm sayin'?

The rest of lyrics are all funny in a sad way. I think he captures perfectly the attitude of the drunk. It takes one to know one. I've been one. I have told some of my story before. I was never disfellowshipped for my drunkenness but perhaps I should have. What are the problems with drunkenness? I'll put all the verses and Bible dictionary information below, but I'll get to the conclusion before all the supporting work. In my personal story I wrote that drunkenness became an idol, something that I served. It no longer served me. It stole my time away. I gave it my study time. I gave it my evenings. It took my best. All of these things belong to God and to his glory alone.

I think alcohol is similar to cash. By themselves, in moderation, no problem, but like money, the love of alcohol is the root of all kinds of evil and brings many griefs, 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Proverbs 23 describes drunkenness very well, written by one with experience.
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. 31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. 34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 35 "They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt! They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?" (NIV)
It's only when I suffered from drinking induced bed spins that I understood v. 34. I doubt many people believe that drunkenness does not include drug induced highs. But if they did, v.33 seems to include that type of altered state. Drunkenness is incompatible with good judgment. Bad choices can bring a world of hurt in an assembly committed to submission of the flesh to the spirit. In Corinth, they were getting drunk at the church potluck meals, 1 Cor. 11:21. In Ephesus it was a problem as well, Eph. 5:18. Getting drunk was part of pagan worship. In college it was culturally accepted to drink from Thursday afternoon until Sunday night. Not getting drunk can be the distinction of the believer in Christ who does not need to escape reality with chemicals, but can transcend the trials of this world by prayer and worship and fellowship. Drunkenness is earth bound. It keeps the focus here. It's easier than prayer and worship buy comes with ever worsening consequences. God knows we fall for easy so easily, hence, keep the drunk/stoned believers out until they repent.

fail owned pwned pictures

The only way to know who is a drunk is to have friendships with people in church. As we spend time together, we learn each other's faults and weaknesses. We encourage each other to live in repentance of those things. But when those things overcome us, our friends in church can bring in more friends and the leaders to coach us. They all function like lifeguards at the pool. If they see us drowning they can try to rescue us, but if we don't want to be rescued then we won't be allowed in their pool anymore. If we insist on fouling up the pool, then we'll have to go do it somewhere else. Hopefully, we will miss our friends and realize how nice the pool of Christ is compared to all the other pools, and seek reconciliation. That's always the goal of kicking someone out of church, make them miss us so they'll want to straighten out and rejoin us.

Here's more information than you'll know what to do with on drunkenness.

R.A. Torrey lays it out in his topical textbook.

# Forbidden Ephesians 5:18
# Caution against Luke 21:34
# Is a work of the flesh Galatians 5:21
# Is debasing Isaiah 28:8
# Is inflaming Isaiah 5:11
# Overcharges the heart Luke 21:34
# Takes away the heart Hosea 4:11

# LEADS TO
  • Poverty Proverbs 21:17; 23:21
  • Strife Proverbs 23:29,30
  • Woe and sorrow Proverbs 23:29,30
  • Error Isaiah 28:7
  • Contempt of God’s works Isaiah 5:12
  • Scorning Hosea 7:5
  • Rioting and wantonness Romans 13:13

# The wicked addicted to Daniel 5:1-4
# False teachers often addicted to Isaiah 56:12
# Folly of yielding to Proverbs 20:1
# Avoid those given to Proverbs 23:20; 1 Corinthians 5:11

# DENUNCIATIONS AGAINST
  • Those given to Isaiah 5:11,12; 28:1-3
  • Those who encourage Habakkuk 2:15

# Excludes from heaven 1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21
# Punishment of Deuteronomy 21:20; Joel 1:5,6; Amos 6:6,7; Matthew 24:49-51
# Exemplified
  • Noah Genesis 9:21
  • Nabal 1 Samuel 25:36
  • Uriah 2 Samuel 11:13
  • Elah 1 Kings 16:9,10
  • Benhadad 1 Kings 20:16
  • Belshazzar Daniel 5:4
  • Corinthians 1 Corinthians 11:21


TEMPERANCE. [Nave]
Esth. 1:7, 8; Prov. 23:1-3; Prov. 25:16; Dan. 1:8, 12-16; Rom. 13:14; 1 Cor. 9:25, 27; Phil. 4:5; 1 Thess. 5:6-8; 1 Tim. 3:2, 3 [Tit. 1:7, 8.] 1 Tim. 3:8; Tit. 2:2, 3, 12; 2 Pet. 1:5, 6 Appetite kept in subjection, Dan. 1:8-16; 1 Cor. 9:27.
See: Abstinence; Drunkeess; Wine.
TEMPERANCE; TEMPERATE [ISBE]
TEMPERANCE; TEMPERATE - tem'-per-ans; tem'-per-at (egkrateia), (egkrates, nephalios, sophron): the American Standard Revised Version departs from the King James Version and the English Revised Version by translating egkrateia "self-control" (Acts 24:25; Gal 5:23; 2 Pet 1:6; 1 Cor 9:25), following the English Revised Version margin in several of these passages. This meaning is in accordance with classical usage, Plato applying it to "mastery" not only of self, but of any object denoted by a genitive following. Septuagint applies it to the possession "of strongholds" (2 Macc 8:30; 10:15), "of a position" (2 Macc 10:17), "of the city" (2 Macc 13:13), "of wisdom" (Sirach 6:27). The reflexive meaning of "self-mastery," "self-restraint," is equally well established in the classics and Septuagint. Thus, in the verbal form, it is found in Gen 43:31, for the self-restraint exercised by Joseph in the presence of his brethren, when they appeared before him as suppliants, and in 1 Sam 13:12, where Saul professes that he "forced" himself to do what was contrary to his desire. For patristic use of the term, see illustrations in Suicer's Thesaurus Ecclesiasticus, I, 1000 ff. Clement of Alexandria: "Not abstaining from all things, but using continently such things as one has judged should be used"; "such things as do not seem beyond right reason." Basil: "To avoid excess on both sides, so as neither by luxury to be confused, nor, by becoming sickly, to be disabled from doing what has been commanded." Chrysostom (on 1 Tim 1:8) applies it to "one mastering passion of tongue, hand and unbridled eyes." Ellicott and Eadie (on Gal 5:23) quote Diogenes Laertius to the effect that the word refers to "control over the stronger passions." In 1 Cor 9:25, Paul illustrates it by the training of an athlete, whose regimen is not only described in the Ars Poetica of Horace (412 ff), and in Epictetus (quoted in Alford on this passage), but can be learned of the many devotees and admirers of similar pursuits today.

The principle involved is that of the concentration of all man's powers and capabilities upon the one end of doing God's will, in and through whatever calling God appoints, and the renunciation of everything either wholly or to whatever degree necessary, however innocent or useful it may be in its proper place, that interferes with one's highest efficiency in this calling (1 Cor 10:31). Not limited to abstinence, it is rather the power and decision to abstain with reference to some fixed end, and the use of the impulses of physical, as servants for the moral, life. It does not refer to any one class of objects that meets us, but to all; to what concerns speech and judgment, as well as to what appeals to sense. It is properly an inner spiritual virtue, working into the outward life, incapable of being counterfeited or replaced by any abstinence limited to that which is external (Augsburg Confession, Articles XXVI, XXVII). When its absence, however, is referred to as sin, the negative is generally more prominent than the positive side of temperance. The reference in Acts 24:25 is to chastity, and in 1 Cor 7:9, as the context shows, to the inner side of chastity. In 1 Tim 3:2,11; Tit 2:2, the word nephalios has its original meaning as the opposite to "drunken" (see SOBRIETY; DRINK, STRONG). See also the treatises on ethics by Luthardt (both the Compendium and the History), Martensen, Koestlin and Haring on temperance, asceticism, continence. H. E. Jacobs

DRUNKENNESS [ISBE]
DRUNKENNESS - drunk'-'-n-nes (raweh, shikkaron, shethi; methe):

I. Its Prevalance.

The Bible affords ample proof that excessive drinking of intoxicants was a common vice among the Hebrews, as among other ancient peoples. This is evident not only from individual cases of intoxication, as Noah (Gen 9:21), Lot (Gen 19:33,15), Nabal (1 Sam 25:36), Uriah made drunk by David (2 Sam 11:13), Amnon (2 Sam 13:28), Elah, king of Israel (1 Ki 16:9), Benhadad, king of Syria, and his confederates (1 Ki 20:16), Holofernes (Judith 13:2), etc., but also from frequent references to drunkenness as a great social evil. Thus, Amos proclaims judgment on the voluptuous and dissolute rulers of Samaria "that drink wine in (large) bowls" (Am 6:6), and the wealthy ladies who press their husbands to join them in a carousal (4:1); he also complains that this form of self-indulgence was practiced even at the expense of the poor and under the guise of religion, at the sacrificial meals (2:8; see also Isa 5:11,12,22; 28:1-8; 56:11 f). Its prevalence is also reflected in many passages in the New Testament (e.g. Mt 24:49; Lk 21:34; Acts 2:13,15; Eph 5:18; 1 Thess 5:7). Paul complains that at Corinth even the love-feast of the Christian church which immediately preceded the celebration of the Eucharist, was sometimes the scene of excessive drinking (1 Cor 11:21). It must, however, be noted that it is almost invariably the well-to-do who are charged with this vice in the Bible. There is no evidence to prove that it prevailed to any considerable extent among the common people. Intoxicants were then an expensive luxury, beyond the reach of the poorer classes.

See DRINK, STRONG.

II. Its Symptoms and Effects.

These are most vividly portrayed: (1) some of its physical symptoms (Job 12:25; Ps 107:27; Prov 23:29; Isa 19:14; 28:8; 29:9; Jer 25:16); (2) its mental effects: exhilaration (Gen 43:34), jollity and mirth (1 Esdras 3:20), forgetfulness (1 Esdras 3:20), loss of understanding and balance of judgment (Isa 28:7; Hos 4:11); (3) its effects on man's happiness and prosperity: its immediate effect is to make one oblivious of his misery; but ultimately it "biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder," and leads to woe and sorrow (Prov 23:29-32) and to poverty (Prov 23:21; compare 21:17; Ecclesiasticus 19:1); hence, wine is called a "mocker" deceiving the unwise (Prov 20:1); (4) its moral and spiritual effects: it leads to a maladministration of justice (Prov 31:5; Isa 5:23), provokes anger and a contentious, brawling spirit (Prov 20:1; 23:29; 1 Esdras 3:22; Ecclesiasticus 31:26,29 f), and conduces to a profligate life (Eph 5:18; "riot," literally, profligacy). It is allied with gambling and licentiousness (Joel 3:3), and indecency (Gen 9:21 f). Above all, it deadens the spiritual sensibilities, produces a callous indifference to religious influences and destroys all serious thought (Isa 5:12).

III. Attitude of the Bible to the Drink Question.

Intemperance is condemned in uncompromising terms by the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as by the semi-canonical writings. While total abstinence is not prescribed as a formal and universal rule, broad principles are laid down, especially in the New Testament, which point in that direction.

1. In the Old Testament:

In the Old Testament, intemperance is most repugnant to the stern ethical rigorism of the prophets, as well as to the more utilitarian sense of propriety of the "wisdom" writers. As might be expected, the national conscience was but gradually quickened to the evil of immoderate drinking. In the narratives of primitive times, excessive indulgence, or at least indulgence to the point of exhilaration, is mentioned without censure as a natural thing, especially on festive occasions (as in Gen 43:34 the Revised Version, margin). But a conscience more sensitive to the sinfulness of overindulgence was gradually developed, and is reflected in the denunciations of the prophets and the warning of the wise men (compare references under I and II, especially Isa 5:11 f,22; 28:1-8; Prov 23:29-33). Nowhere is the principle of total abstinence inculcated as a rule applicable to all. In particular cases it was recognized as a duty. Priests while on duty in the sanctuary were to abstain from wine and strong drink (Lev 10:9; compare Ezek 44:21). Nazirites were to abstain from all intoxicants during the period of their vows (Nu 6:3 f; compare Amos 2:12), yet not on account of the intoxicating qualities of wine, but because they represented the simplicity of the older pastoral life, as against the Canaanite civilization which the vine symbolized (W. R. Smith, Prophets of Israel, 84 f). So also the Rechabites abstained from wine (Jer 35:6,8,14) and social conveniences, because they regarded the nomadic life as more conducive to Yahweh-worship than agricultural and town life, with its temptations to Baal-worship. In Daniel and his comrades we have another instance of voluntary abstinence (Dan 1:8-16). These, however, are isolated instances. Throughout the Old Testament the use of wine appears as practically universal, and its value is recognized as a cheering beverage (Jdg 9:13; Ps 104:15; Prov 31:7), which enables the sick to forget their pains (Prov 31:6). Moderation, however, is strongly inculcated and there are frequent warnings against the temptation and perils of the cup.

2. Deutero-Canonical and Extra-Canonical Writings:

In Apocrypha, we have the attitude of prudence and common sense, but the prophetic note of stern denunciation is wanting. The path of wisdom is the golden mean. "Wine is as good as life to men, if thou drink it in its measure; .... wine drunk in season and to satisfy is joy of heart, and gladness of soul: wine drunk largely is bitterness of soul, with provocation and conflict" (Ecclesiasticus 31:27-30 the Revised Version (British and American)). A vivid picture of the effects of wine-drinking is given in 1 Esdras. 3:18-24. Stronger teaching on the subject is given in the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. The use of wine is permitted to him who can use it temperately, but abstinence is enjoined as the wiser course (Testament to the Twelve Patriarchs, Jud 1:16:3).

3. In the New Testament:

In the New Testament, intemperance is treated as a grave sin. Only once, indeed, does our Lord explicitly condemn drunkenness (Lk 21:34), though it is implicitly condemned in other passages (Mt 24:49 = Lk 12:45). The meagerness of the references in our Lord's teaching is probably due to the fact already mentioned, that it was chiefly prevalent among the wealthy, and not among the poorer classes to whom our Lord mainly ministered. The references in Paul's writings are very numerous (Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18, et al.). Temperance and sobriety in all things are everywhere insisted on (e.g. Acts 24:25; Gal 5:23; 2 Pet 1:6). A bishop and those holding honorable position in the church should not be addicted to wine (1 Tim 3:2 f; Tit 1:7 f; 2:2 f). Yet Jesus and His apostles were not ascetics, and the New Testament gives no rough-and-ready prohibition of strong drink on principle. In contrast with John the Baptist, who was a Nazirite from birth (Lk 1:15), Jesus was called by His enemies a "wine-bibber" (Mt 11:19). He took part in festivities in which wine was drunk (Jn 2:10). There are indications that He regarded wine as a source of innocent enjoyment (Lk 5:38 f; 17:8). To insist on a distinction between intoxicating and unfermented wine is a case of unjustifiable special pleading. It must be borne in mind that the drink question is far more complex and acute in modern than in Biblical times, and that the conditions of the modern world have given rise to problems which were not within the horizon of New Testament writers. The habit of excessive drinking has spread enormously among the common people, owing largely to the cheapening of alcoholic drinks. The fact that the evil exists today in greater proportions may call for a drastic remedy and a special crusade. But rather than defend total abstinence by a false or forced exegesis, it were better to admit that the principle is not formally laid down in the New Testament, while maintaining that there are broad principles enunciated, which in view of modern conditions should lead to voluntary abstinence from all intoxicants. Such principles may be found, e.g. in our Lord's teaching in Mt 16:24 f; Mk 9:42 f, and in the great Pauline passages--Rom 14:13-21; 1 Cor 8:8-13.

IV. Drunkenness in Metaphor.

Drunkenness very frequently supplies Biblical writers with striking metaphors and similes. Thus, it symbolizes intellectual or spiritual perplexity (Job 12:25; Isa 19:14; Jer 23:9), bewilderment and helplessness under calamity (Jer 13:13; Ezek 23:33). It furnishes a figure for the movements of sailors on board ship in a storm (Ps 107:27), and for the convulsions of the earth on the day of Yahweh (Isa 24:20). Yahweh's "cup of staggering" is a symbol of affliction, the fury of the Lord causing stupor and confusion (Isa 51:17-23; compare Isa 63:6; Jer 25:15 ff; Ezek 23:33; Ps 75:8). The sword and the arrow are said to be sodden with drink like a drunkard with wine (Dt 32:42; Jer 46:10). In the Apocalypse, Babylon (i.e. Rome) is portrayed under the figure of a "great harlot" who makes kings "drunken with the wine of her fornication"; and who is herself "drunken with the blood of the saints, and ... of the martyrs of Jesus" (Rev 17:2,6). D. Miall Edwards