Saturday, August 28, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
I will quote from the 1965 Penguin Books version translated by G. A. Williamson. But I encourage the reader to refer to all the footnotes in the online CCEL version.
In a polemic composed by one of these against Artemon's heresy, which again in my own day Paul of Samosata has tried to revive, there is extant a discussion pretinent to the historical period under review. For the assertion of the heresy in question, that the Saviour was merely human, is exposed in this book as recent invention, because those who introduced it were anxious to represent i as ancient and therefore respectable. After adducing many other arguments to refute their blasphemous falsehood, the writer continues:They claim that all earlier generations, and the apostles themselves, received and taught the things they say themselves, and that the true teaching was preserved till the times of Victor, the thirteenth Bishop of Rome after Peter: from the time of his successor Zephyrinus the truth was deliberately perverted. This suggestions might perhaps have been credible if in the first place Holy Scripture has not presented a very different picture; and there are also works by Christian writers published before Victor's time, written to defend the truth against both pagan criticism and current heresies - I mean works by Justin, Miltiades, Tatian, Clement, and many more. In every one of these Christ is spoken of as God. For who does not know the books of Irenaeus, Melito, and the rest, which proclaim Christ as God and man, and all the psalms and hymns written from the beginning by faithful brethren, which sing of Christ as the Word of God and address Him as God?How then can it be true that when the mind of the Church has been porclaimed for so many years, Christians up to the time of Victor preached as these people say they did? And are they not ashamed to slander Bictor in this way, knowing perfectly well that it was victor who excommunicated Theodotus, the shoemaker, the prime mover and father of the God-denying apostasy, when he became the first to declare that Christ was merely human? If Victor regarded their views in the way their slanderous statements suggest, how could he have thrown out Theodotus, the inventor of heresy? pp. 235-236
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Roles are Christian practices such as having faith or being a witness to the gospel. They are slightly different from the fruit of the Spirit in that they involve more doing than being. And they are different from spiritual gifts and similar to the fruit in that they a re expected of every Christian.Faith is a spiritual gift and fruit of the Spirit that is also a role. Faith is required to become a Christian, but over and above this is the special gift of faith given by God to only a few members of the body. The gift of faith is much more than the fruit of faith and role of faith that we see in an ordinary Christian. Another example is celibacy. Some are gifted with it, but all Christians must be prepared to practice the role of celibacy if single or widowed or even when [apart from] a spouse. p. 189-190 The Portable Seminary, David Horton
Friday, August 13, 2010
Their message can go something like this: American Christianity is rapidly dying, and Christians are immoral, disliked, and not very good at being Christians, so ... go invite your friends to join us. Frankly, if after two millennia on Earth and several centuries in this country, Christianity is as messed up as people like to describe it, we should probably just give up. No book or conference or magazine article is going to save it now. Thankfully, this appears not to be the case, and many things are going well. When we invite others to join us in our faith, we are not asking them to jump onto a sinking ship; rather, it's a ship going at maybe three-quarters speed in mostly the right direction. p. 213Thank you professor Wright. You can get a sense of his conversational tone in his writing. Although an academic, he has written this for anyone. There are tons of graphs and charts in the book, but that's a good thing, because a picture is worth a thousand words. There are pictures showing the growth of evangelicalism in america since the revolution, the retention of the youth, the consistent practice of Christian ethics and practices in the church, etc. The sky is not falling on the american evangelical church. Jesus made a promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church, Matthew 16:18. Maybe the Holy Spirit really does work in the lives of believers and changes their hearts, and if that is true, maybe this year's crisis is nothing the Holy Spirit is worried about. Wright's book, seems to support a correct theology of the Holy Spirit, indirectly, simply using large data samples from groups without interest in selling solutions.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Monday, August 09, 2010
You see, truth by definition is exclusive. If truth were all-inclusive, nothing would be false. And if nothing were false, what would be the meaning of true? Furthermore, if nothing were false, would it be true to say that everything is false? It quickly becomes evident that nonsense would follow. p. 314If I tell you something is true, then I am also telling you something is not true. If I tell you that the apple is red, then I am also telling you it is not blue. This plays out in a conversation he had with a reporter.
I had just finished lecturing at a university. She [the reporter - jpu] had very graciously stayed through the entire length of the lecture even though she had other pressing engagements. After the lecture was over, she was walking beside me and asked, "Can I ask you a question that really troubles me about Christians?" I was glad to oblige. "Why," she asked, "are Christians openly against racial discrimination but at the same time discriminate against certain types of sexual behavior?" (She was more specific about the types of behavior she felt we discriminated against.)I said this to her: "We are against racial discrimination because one's ethnicity is sacred. You cannot violate the sacredness of one's race. For the same reason, we are against the altering of God's pattern and purpose for sexuality. Sex is sacred in the eyes of God and ought not to be violated. What you have to explain is why you treat race as sacred and desacralize sexuality. The question is really yours, not mine. In other words, our reasoning in both cases stems from the same foundational basis. You in effect switch the basis of reasoning, and that is why you are living in contradiction." pp. 322-323
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
Ravi Zacharias. In the chapter by Danielle DuRant titled, Idolatry, Denial, and Self-deception, I was intrigued enough but her thoughts that I wanted to put them here for the viewing public's consideration.
What is idolatry? It is "treating what is not ultimate as though it were ultimate, making absolute what is only relative," says Emory professor Luke Timothy Johnson. Whenever we deem a particular relationship or goal an absolute necessity - I must have this - we are in danger of idolatry. According to Martin Luther, whatever your heart clings to and relies upon, that is your God. "An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as a substitute for God,: suggests Dick Keyes. Since an idol is a counterfeit, it is a lie. Deception is its very identity...Tather than look to the Creator and have to deal with His lordship, we orient our lives toward the creation, where we can be more free to congtrol and shape our desired directions."...Idolatry distorts our knowledge of God, ourselves, and others. p. 279
Though our doubts and ambivalence may sometimes overwhelm us, they also help us ease our internal conflict by allowing us to avoid commitment to a particular known truth...Social scientists label the experience of attempting to hold two opposing views ("I know this is wrong but I want it") as cognitive dissonance. One endeavors to reduce the conflict by changing the conditions ("Did God really say?"), adding new conditions ("My spouse doesn't love me anyway"), or changing one's behavior. When the individual refuses to submit to the truth, an attempt is made to reconcile the internal conflict by rationalizing the behavior ("God understands my weakness") or by refusing to acknowledge the truth (avoidance).In this valley we attempt to internalize our dissonant voices in a way that allows us to alleviate our anxiety by avoiding commitment to a particular truth. p.286
Moses reminds them, the Lord your God is compassionate, attentive, and trustworthy.The next verse reveals, however, that the Israelites have not resolved their fear and doubts: "In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord you God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go" (vv.32-33: emphasis added). Bible teacher Beth Moore underscores the significance of this introductory phrase as it appears in the King James version: "Yet in this thing you did not believe the Lord your God." She proposes that we may have no trouble believing God in many areas of our lives, with the exception of "this thing." Yet leaving "this thing" unresolved will ultimately undermine our faith and trust in him because "this thing...corresponds with the deepest brokenness in your life." Thus, "deep down in our psyche, we just know God is not going to be faithful to us here" - because God was seemingly unfaithful in our place of brokenness. p. 288
Monday, August 02, 2010
Perhaps the most perplexing issue facing Christan believers is a series of jarring texts in the Old Testament. After liberating Israel from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites arrived on the edge of the promised land. The book of Deuteronomy records that God then commanded Israel to “destroy totally” the people occupying these regions (the Canaanites); the Israelites were to “leave alive nothing that breathes.” The book of Joshua records the carrying out of this command. In the sixth chapter it states “they devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” In the tenth and eleventh chapters the text states that Joshua “left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.” The text mentions city after city where Joshua, at God’s command, puts every inhabitant “to the sword” and “left no survivors.” If these passages are taken in a strict, literal fashion then it is correct to conclude that they do record the divinely authorised commission of genocide. In light of this critics of Christianity often ask how a good and loving God could command the extermination of the Canaanites?
In response, I want to suggest that this strict, literal reading is mistaken. Reading these texts in isolation from the narrative in which they occur risks a distortion of the authors intended meaning. Consider the book of Joshua, critics are quick to point out that in chapters ten and eleven the text states that Joshua “totally destroyed all who breathed”, left “no survivors” in “the entire land”, went through the land “exterminating them without mercy”.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Two Wednesday nights ago, four 50 somethings from this area, could not fall asleep again. The previous nights were due to the heat and humidity, but this was humidity on a new level of misery. These Yankees had never experienced a thunderstorm so loud and violent and rain so hard as this one. But then, none of them had ever been in Haiti before, in July. Although this house in Jacmel, on the southeastern coast of Haiti had remained standing after the massive earthquake of January 12th, 2010, it apparently had lost some strength in its roof. With this much water coming down, so hard and so fast, all the cracks in the flat concrete roof let the rain in on the team, who were alone for their first night. So they got up in the night and started to mop out the wet rooms. At least they were on bunk beds off the floor. Compared to tens of thousands of Haitians throughout SE Haiti, they were living in luxury: electricity, flush toilets, showers, solid walls, fans that almost kept them cool at night and drowned out the screeching roosters who argue all night. Unlike thousands of Haitians still in tents that night, they wouldn’t have to stand up all night while the water gathered on the floor of their tarp shelter and soaked their bedding.
Why were these 4 middle aged Yankees there last week? Because they wanted to embody the mercy of God.
Are Haitians our neighbors? They aren’t even Americans. They live 700 miles south of Miami and a 90 minute plane ride. They practice voodoo which is scary and weird. Their country is so screwed up, they are the poorest country on this side of the planet. But on January 12 a massive earthquake killed nearly a quarter million Haitians and made a million survivors homeless. They are in need. And God blesses those who are kind to the needy.
But you know there are people in need right now in Norwich. Do you also need to concern yourself with Haitians too? Jesus met a guy with a similar question.
Luke 10:25-37 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
LK 10:26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
LK 10:27 He answered: " `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' "
LK 10:28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
LK 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
LK 10:30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest/UN worker happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite/Red Cross, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan/50 year old corrections officer, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. `Look after him,' he said, `and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
LK 10:36 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
LK 10:37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Back in January, right after the earthquake, Pastor Joe decided that all the money given that morning would be set aside for an opportunity to have mercy on some Haitians in need. We spent most of it on this trip. Because of the gifts made to this church, we were able to provide $6000 towards the construction of a new house for a single mom in Jacmel, built by Haitians your money hired, and 2 guys from here. It is only 12’x15’, but its enough to sleep in, especially in those monster thunderstorms, as well as a hurricane.
God’s word tells us, that caring for those in need, our neighbors is a way to honor Him, which means a way to worship Him. It’s a form of worship because it’s a form of imitation. God is merciful, so his children should be as well.
LK 6: 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
I want to thank you on behalf of the team for the honor of embodying the mercy of God in Haiti with your assistance. I want to thank you on behalf of a Haitian woman and her kids in Haiti for providing a home to replace the one destroyed in the earthquake. But that is only one woman. I want to encourage you to keep being generous to the Haitians. My hope for you is to embody God’s mercy consistently and make generosity part of your identity.
Your generosity goes so far in Haiti. One team member, when she returned realized her daughter, making $10 an hour was making in a day what we paid the Haitian house builders for the week. The Haitians aren’t paid by the hour, but by the day. They made $12 a day last week. That was good before the earthquake when unemployment was over 80%, but it’s even more important now. Not only did you bless one woman, but you blessed 4 families, whose men were able to bring in food money and rent money and clothes money.
When I came back in February and told you how kids could be educated, fed, clothed, and doctored for a dollar a day, many of you responded and committed to sponsoring over 60 Haitian kids.
Another team member returned and found out her dog needs some medical care. She realized her dog is getting better care than most Haitians. Your giving goes a long way down there.
Mercy is demonstrated in generosity to the poor. Jesus says in the beatitudes,
He explains this in more detail in Matthew 25:31-46.
MT 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
MT 25:34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
MT 25:37 "Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
MT 25:40 "The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
MT 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
MT 25:44 "They also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
MT 25:45 "He will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
MT 25:46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Hunger? Yes! The team had a block party with kids on the streets for 3 nights. They saw kids with the distended abdomens which indicated malnutrition. They also children with orange hair which indicates lack of protein. Children still die in Haiti, as they did before the quake from malnutrition. You can feed Jesus in Haiti.
Thirsty? Yes! There well water isn’t safe for Westerners to drink. They buy bottled water. Instead of oil trucks up here in New England, Haiti has water trucks that people who have so little money need to buy from if they don’t want the dirty water. I read one account of the business owners in Haiti complaining about the aid distribution that included water, because it was hurting their bottom line! You can help Jesus’ thirst in Haiti.
Naked? Yes! Some kids run around bottomless. Most of the kids have worn through shoes, but on that rocky island, really need something better for their feet. The house builders were mixing cement with shovels in bare feet. The Yankee thought for sure someone would lose some toes. Each team member ended up giving the extra clothes and shoes they came down with to Haitians. You can clothe Jesus in Haiti.
Strangers? Yes! Between 2 and 300,000 children are house slaves in Haitian households. Here is one woman’s story.
Alina "Tibebe" Cajuste described her childhood as a restavèk this way:
"This is a sad, sad story to the world. A woman who used to come sell in the market told my mother to give me to her. My mother had no support, so she had to.You can welcome Jesus out of slavery in Haiti.
"What did this woman make me do? I had to get up before 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning to make the food, sweep the floor and wash the car, so that when the family woke up everything would be ready. Then I had to wash dishes, fetch water and go sell merchandise for her in the countryside. When I came back from the marketplace, I would carry two drums of water on my head, so heavy, to wash up for her. Then I'd go buy things to make dinner. And I couldn't even eat the same food as her. If she ate rice, I only got cornmeal. I didn't even wear the same sandals or dresses as her child. My dresses were made out of the scraps of cloth that were left over from what she sold in the marketplace. I couldn't even sleep in a bed."
Sick? Yes! The team went to one understaffed orphanage where the children were provided for physically. They weren’t starving, but even kids up to 7 years old were laying in cribs. The women couldn’t make it past the third crib before they were overwhelmed with tears and broken hearts for these kids. They were able to leave toys in the cribs and hug these kids and hold them. In fact, I have a picture of them each holding a child and trying to smile, but their puffy wet eyes tell a more complicated story. You can look after Jesus in Haiti.
Paul encourages us in Galatians 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
So the team partnered with a ministry and a local church down there. After traveling all day Saturday, they were able to worship with their Haitian family on Sunday. Then Monday through Thursday, they tried to bless that family.
While the guys mixed cement and lifted block, the women taught a Vacation Bible School. Haitian kids have nothing, so they play with garbage. But the women had gone to the dollar store and bought pencils and stickers and glow in the dark bracelets and post-it notes in the shape of stars. The kids were so excited to have these trinkets. Even the adults wanted them.
And every kid wanted the gift of Jesus. Apparently, they will receive the gift of salvation from Jesus every time the invitation is made by visiting teams. But why not?
Jesus offers hope. In the midst of all the devastation and poverty that the Haitians live in, not one Christian they met was bitter or nasty. The know the truth, better than we of 1 Timothy 6:17-19
1TI 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Jesus makes it so easy for us to go to heaven, by taking on himself the just penalty due for our sins. All we need to do is agree with him. Jesus tells us several times how simple it is. In Luke 18:9-14 he says
LK 18:9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
LK 18:13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
LK 18:14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
But we want to earn it somehow by doing something good. But Jesus says there is only one thing to do in John 6:28, 29, 40, 47.
JN 6:28 Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
JN 6:29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
40 For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
If you haven’t received God’s mercy first, I plead with you today to do so. If you have done it, I plead with you to honor God by being kind to the needy and care for Jesus by caring for the poor. If you are not already regularly being generous, I hope you will consider helping Haitians through groups like our hosts in Jacmel, or sponsor kids with the groups (story 1 a, b, c, or story 2) I went with, Mission E4, and Calvary Chapel Port-au-Prince who have an orphanage as well, or Samaritian's Purse, or the Salvation Army. I have seen what they are doing, and I can assure you, your money will be spent on the poor.
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.