A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. (Prov. 18:19)
Daily Archives: 2 Jan 2018
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made (Gen. 3:1)
In a powerful show of devotion to the president of the United States, members of First Baptist Dallas passed their golden jewelry, watches, and personal trinkets down to the front of the sanctuary Sunday morning, where Pastor Robert Jeffress melted the large pile of golden knickknacks into a towering statue of President Donald Trump.
Members then reportedly assembled themselves around the statue and danced, joining in a spontaneous rendition of the church’s own hymn “Make America Great Again.”
According to sources from within the church, members had demanded that Jeffress form the statue, crying out, “Simple faithfulness to the gospel hasn’t brought us the political clout we desire!” and “Make for us a political god who will go before us!” This reportedly prompted the pastor to ask for the church’s jewelry to be passed forward and forged into a Trump idol for the church to worship.
At publishing time, an angered Russell Moore had arrived from the Southern Baptist Convention to melt the statue down and force Jeffress to drink the liquid gold from which it was formed, sources confirmed.
A Christian without prayer is just as impossible as a living person without a pulse. The pulse is never motionless; it moves and beats constantly, whether one is asleep or something else keeps one from being aware of it. — Martin Luther
After a particularly heated membership meeting this past week, the South Lancaster Mennonite Church has decided to split the entire congregation into more manageable units of one.
“At first we decided to just split into two groups: those in favour of buttons on their shirts and those who preferred hooks,” explained Johan Landes, former South Lancaster elder and recently appointed pastor of Johan Landes Memorial Church. “But then the button-users started talking amongst themselves and found they had differences of opinion on baptismal water temperature. Those wanting hot and those wanting cold split into their own groups. So then we had pro-button pro-cold, pro-button anti-cold, anti-button pro-cold and anti-button anti-cold groups. I figured it was settled, but upon further discussion, the groups realized they couldn’t agree on whether to sing five or six hymns each Sunday, and so there was an anti-button anti-cold pro-five group and an anti-button anti-cold pro-six group, and a pro-button anti-cold pro-five group and…well, you get the idea. The groups just kept getting tinier and tinier. Eventually we all decided to each form our own churches…but there was some opposition to this idea, too.”
The once thriving South Lancaster Church is now 250 (253 to be precise) individual churches, although the division has still not stopped.
“This whole starting-your-own-church thing has got me studying theology,” explained Landes. “And now I keeping changing church doctrine every day. I don’t even agree with myself anymore!”
Johan Landes says he has excommunicated his past-self for differences on clerical celibacy, but is concerned that a future version of himself might also disagree.
“Who knows what I might believe this Friday afternoon,” explained Johan Landes. “I always get a little too liberal when the weekend is approaching. Being my own pastor is a lot harder than I thought. You get so much criticism from all sides and it’s almost impossible to get the people to agree.”
Pastor Johan is arranging an ecumenical reconciliation service between his various selves for Sunday morning…although he can’t figure out whether they should use real wine or just Welch’s grape juice.
- εἰδότι οὖν καλὸν ποιεῖν καὶ μὴ ποιοῦντι, ἁμαρτία αὐτῷ ἐστιν. (Jas. 4:17)
- Denn wer da weiß, Gutes zu tun, und tut’s nicht, dem ist’s Sünde. (Luther, 1545)
- Zu wissen nun, was es Gutes zu tun gäbe, und es doch nicht zu tun – das ist Sünde. (Zurich, 2008)
Luther’s reading is simplified and the Zurich Bible more accurate. If you’re looking for a German Bible, the Zurich Bible is the best choice.
Can no longer be expected today. As proof, here are the opening remarks on Genesis 1:1 from the 1914 Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:
1. In the beginning] B’rêshîth: LXX ἐν ἀρχῇ: Lat. in principio. This opening word expresses the idea of the earliest time imaginable. It contains no allusion to any philosophical conception of “eternity.” The language used in the account of Creation is neither that of abstract speculation nor of exact science, but of simple, concrete, and unscientific narrative.
First, students then could be expected, even at the ‘high school’ level, to know enough Greek and Hebrew to read the text in it. That can no longer be presumed even of Seminary graduates today! Not to mention high school or college students.
The opening words of John’s Gospel (ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, 1:1) are based upon this clause. But, whereas St John refers to the Word’s eternal pre-existence before time, the Hebrew writer simply speaks of “the beginning” of the universe as the historic origin of time and space.
Second- students could be expected to be biblically literate. Not so any longer.
In the Hebrew Bible the book of Genesis is called “B’rêshîth,” deriving its title from this first word.
God] Elohim: LXX ὁ Θεός: Lat. Deus. See Introduction on “The Names of God.” The narrative begins with a statement assuming the Existence of the Deity. It is not a matter for discussion, argument, or doubt. The Israelite Cosmogony differs in this respect from that of the Babylonians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, &c. The Cosmogonies of the ancients were wont to be preceded by Theogonies. The existence and nativities of the creating divinities were accounted for in mythologies which were often highly complicated, and not seldom grotesque. The Hebrew narrator, by beginning with the Creation, emphasizes his entire freedom from, and exclusion of, polytheistic thought. If Polytheism had existed in the earliest Hebrew times, it had been abandoned in the growing light of the Israelite religion. “God” is infinite; He was before all time: “In the beginning God created.” Upon the subject of the Divine Existence prior to “the beginning” the writer does not presume to speculate. That Israelite imagination did not wholly avoid the subject, we know from Job 28:25–28, Prov. 8:22–30, Wisd. 9:9, Ecclus. 24:9.
Third, they could be presumed to know ‘big words’ like ‘theogony’. Pop that into a discussion with a high school or college student these days and you’ll get a blank stare. But at least, thank God, they know the word ‘selfie’…
Concerning the Israelite conception of God (Elohim), we learn (1) from the present verse, that He (i) is a Person, and (ii) exists from all eternity; (2) from the whole passage, 1:1–2:4a, that He is (i) supreme in power, and (ii) perfect in wisdom and goodness. The attribute of power is shewn in creative omnipotence; that of wisdom in the orderly sequence of creation; that of goodness in the benevolent purpose which directed its successive phases.
Fourth, they could be expected to follow a philosophically intense line of reasoning. Yeah, today? Forget about it.
Many speak these days of the advances made in science and technology but the fact is, people today are less educated and less well read and less informed than they were a mere hundred years ago.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it for a while.
‘For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until today, the word of Yahweh has been addressed to me and I have never tired of speaking to you (but you have not listened. Furthermore, Yahweh has untiringly sent you all his servants the prophets, but you have not listened or paid attention). The message was this, “Turn back, each one of you, from your evil behaviour and your evil actions, and you will go on living on the soil Yahweh long ago gave to you and your ancestors for ever. (And do not follow other gods to serve and worship them, do not provoke me with things you yourselves have made, and then I shall not harm you.) But you have not listened to me (Yahweh declares, so that you have now provoked me with things you yourselves have made, and thus harmed yourselves).” (Jer. 25:3-7)