Monday, November 30, 2009

A little fun...

So I'm going to be having a really busy week and won't have time to do a proper post. This will have to suffice.

For those of you who don't know, Michael Bird is an Australian NT scholar (and regularly posts on the Euangelion Blog) who teaches at a theological college in Scotland. He's a brilliant scholar and all-around good guy.

Anyway, Zondervan has been going around interviewing various prominent authors/scholars and asking them which authors/books have been influential in their lives. For example, here is the video of my favorite Greek scholar, Bill Mounce.

Mr. Bird decided to have some fun with his interview:

This has kept me laughing for a long time... My favorite is Joel Olsteen and Joyce Meyer as "sentinals" of the faith... hehehehehe.

You can see his real interview here.

Anyway, I'm off to have a bubble bath and read some Barth!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to be un-Christ-like

I have to confess that I am doing in these last posts something that I hate when other people do it: intentionally stating things controversially just to get a reaction.

Please forgive me.

But there is a point behind all of this. What I desire is that we all understand who Jesus, the son of Mary & Joseph, really was: He was a first century Jew, living in first century Jewish culture.
As he heard the voice of the Father in His life He was obedient. This obedience led Him to observe the OT Law in the way that the Father originally desired all humanity to observe it. It was because of this perfect obedience that Jesus could be our all sufficient
sacrifice and completely fulfill the Law.

I'm assuming that most of us won't have too many issues with what I stated above. What I take issue with is that we don't usually let all of that interact with our Christian calling.

It is precisely because of all of this that we don't need to be like Christ.

Jesus was obedient to His God-given vocation to be the Son of Man; the Messiah.

I however, have not been called to be the Messiah. I have been called to be the best darned Timothy Braun that I can be; the one that God wants me to be. Jesus' vocation was to fulfill the OT Law. I have not been called to live under that Law. To do so would be to return to slavery (Gal. 5:1). Instead I have been called to live under the "law of the Spirit of Life" (Rom. 8:2).

Jesus didn't get to live under the Law of the Spirit...
Jesus didn't get to (in His unresurrected human life) live under the New Covenant because it was by His death that it was inaugurated (Heb. 9:15-22).

To actually live the way that Jesus lived would mean returning to the Old Covenant.

Don't be like Jesus; be who Jesus wants you to be.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Was Jesus a Christian?

Was Jesus a Christian or a Jew?

Maybe it's just me but I think the answer is pretty obvious.

Jesus was a Jew.

This is one reason why I think "What Would Jesus Do?" is actually kind of a silly question.

What would Jesus do?:

Jesus would eat kosher.
Jesus would worship corporately on Saturday.
Jesus would observe the Passover, the Feast of Booths, etc... all of the Jewish religious feasts.
Jesus's scriptures would consist of only the Old Testament.
Jesus would get his male children circumcised (had He married & had He then had children).

I think you get the idea.

The point of the Messiah (at least partly) was that He was the ultimate Human (that's what the phrase the Son of Man meant: the person who epitomizes what mankind was meant to be). In the context
of Judaism this means (in part) that the Messiah was to be the ultimate Law abider; as Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Matthew 5:17 (ESV).

I think this is part of why it is so important that we seek to truly understand the Old Testament and Judaism in general. After all, if the purpose of the Messiah was to fulfill God's purpose for the Law then shouldn't we, as followers of that Messiah, seek to understand exactly what it was that He fulfilled?

If we neglect to understand His purposes how can we truly be followers of Him?

Galatians 5:1 (ESV) says: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Paul says that we no longer need to observe the Law because Christ fulfilled the Law; to return to the Law would be slavery.

However, if we don't understand what we have been freed from are we really free?
Ignorance is not freedom...
... nor is it bliss.

What do you think?
What do you think it means that Jesus was the ultimate human?
What do you think it means that Jesus was the ultimate Law abider?
How important do you think understanding the OT is?

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Any other ideas about what I should blog on?
Yup, I'm taking requests :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gathering & Committing

Today I am going to conclude our discussion on "church." It's been a long, much interrupted, series of posts but I hope you have benefited from them. I know I have.

When it comes right down to it, church is all about getting together and committing to something. We've talked about the meaning of the word church. The basic meaning of church is an assembly or a gathering. In its secular context a church (secular def'n of ekklesia) is a decision making assembly. When we look at the OT church (see LXX) we see a similar pattern. Whenever the people of Israel gather together in corporate worship and it is described as an ekklesia there is also a call to respond: they are covenant gatherings (ie. a call to renew the covenant). When the people leave the church (assembly) they have committed themselves to fulfilling their part of the covenant with God.

I think this is what church needs to be. When we assemble for corporate worship it is church. However, for it to truly be church there needs to be a response; we cannot leave church without having in some way committed ourselves anew to the cause of Christ & the Kingdom.

Now, some of you might balk when I use the phrase "leave church" but I use that phrase intentionally. I think there has been a fair bit of confusion over the years over what is the church and what is the body. [I acknowledge that what follows is probably an overly simplistic explanation but I think it holds true. If you take exception to it we can discuss it in the comments.]

The church is an assembly. Hence, once the assembly disperses you are no longer part of the assembly. The assembly is only an assembly when it has assembled... duh. So, when we are talking about the church as the local gathering of the Body of Christ then it is very simply what we have already described: a decision making gathering of the people of Christ.

However, regardless of whether we are assembling or not, we are all members of the Body of Christ; the Universal Church. I think the term universal church is a bit of a misnomer because it really isn't a church... or at least not yet. The entire Body of Christ has never assembled, nor will it until Recreation. That's something to look forward to!

So anyway, this conclusion is hardly revolutionary but I always think the journey's worth the work. Maybe we already knew when we started what the destination was but the hike is worth the work-out.

We may all be a part of the Body of Christ, but God has called us all to be a part of the local expression of the Body: the church.

I think as we gather for church, whatever that might look like, we need to keep in mind the OT Worship/Covenant gatherings. If we walk away from a gathering not having committed ourselves again to the grand purposes of God then we have missed the point.

Also, I find it compelling that Jesus said that "... the gates of hades will not prevail against..." the church (Mt. 16:18). When we assemble and these assemblies are times of worship and commitment the very gates of hades tremble.

That says something about church.

So, what do you think?
What else would you add to the discussion?
Is this the same or different than you've thought of church?

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And if you only visit my blog for amazing YouTube clips, here's another DC*B video from last year's Dove Awards. The sound might bite, but it's a great song and I like the idea of what they did with the set. Enjoy.