A vague title, I know but it captures my thoughts at the moment as I am finishing up reading material on my text I am preaching on from Ephesians 4:7-16. The issue centers around Paul’s apparent use of Psalm 68 to speak of Jesus giving gifts to us. I have read the six most popular views by commentators and scholars for the fifth time. I have looked at the arguments pro and con from every perspective I can imagine and I step back just shaking my head. Remember, these are the serious interactions:
One view is that Paul simply is choosing to use the Psalm wrongly and doesn’t care. He will use the bible as he wishes for his theological interpretations. A second view make the “argument” that Paul is simply quoting from memory and got bit of it wrong. Oopsie! A third tries to say that Paul is taking his quote from the Aramaic Targum. Unfortunately that was written around the fifth century A. D. Which reveals that the advocate for this view doesn’t think Paul really wrote it and that it was done much later than any conservative scholar would allow. Then there is my favorite, a fourth view that says that Jesus ascended into heaven as Jesus and then descended not as Jesus but as the Spirit (read the passage if you are confused, it is 4:9-10).
All of this leads me to my point. Each of the above views comes because the scholar rejects in one way or another the biblical text as true, trustworthy. The result is that now the text can mean anything when it is a difficult passage. Just say that the writer made a mistake or some such drivel. Once a scholar steps away from the text as being true and right anything can go, it is really only limited to his mind and will.
This is all great for the scholarly world because every time a new view is postulated it gives everyone a lot of new material to work with. Meanwhile the guy working for Snap-on Tools or the single mother with two children are ignored. These people for whom Christ died are not fed. Frankly they are not even in view.
As a pastor who seeks to teach deeply and yet with the purpose of building my church up in truth this sort of stuff is just wearying. You wade through endless words that are written not out of faith but unfaith, not with trust but in distrust of the bible.
The church does not need another commentary that will fill up the pages with endless arguments that flow from unbelieving minds before the commentator works out his conclusion. The church needs men who will sift through those who are the doubters and double-talkers and bring to the pastors and students the food from the text, presented as their faithful efforts in presenting the truth as truth.
I am no fan, even sorta-kinda-maybe, of Andy Stanley and I am a big fan of Carl Trueman (even though we would disagree on several points of theology). So I have now made my full disclosure so let me point you to a fantastic article where Dr. Trueman weighs in on Stanley’s book on church strategy and growth.
Stanley is much like many mega-church pastors today. The presumption that big equals God’s blessing. Aside from the utter nonsense that is behind that thought comes a lot of deadly advice that flows into the ears of many aspiring mega-church pastors’ ears. It is something that has become more and more blatant as these men seem (note the acknowledgment that I may be wrong here) to think that because they are large and self-funded they don’t “need” the rest of the church. I think of Driscoll and McDonald and their E2 fiasco. Or Furtick and Hillsong conference sideshow in biblical narcissism. Truth is not the driving issues anymore, though all of these men would challenge that in one way or another. Stanley is simply saying what so many others have already believed and embraced.
With that I want to give my favorite part of Trueman’s analysis to whet your appetite for the whole thing,
And that is ultimately the saddest aspect of the Andy Stanleys of this world. It is not their patronizing attitude to others. It is not their arrogant assumption that they represent the culture or that they have the right to tell the rest of us how we should think. It is not the sloppy way they bandy words like ‘culture’ and even ‘happiness’ around without ever offering a definition of what they think they mean. It is not their crass prioritization of raw numbers. It is not their complete lack of imagination regarding the moral possibilities of ‘culture.’ Rather, it is the fact that what they confidently present as radical insights are really nothing but lazy, insipid, prosaic, and predictable capitulations to the values of the spirit of the age. In short, they are simply dressing up their society’s tastes as absolute truth. Unimaginative, respectable, lazy and lethal. The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie, is it not?
You are walking through the woods watching chipmunks getting snatched up by hawks and suddenly you stop and wonder out loud, “Whatever happened to those KGB spies?” Fortunately I’ve got your back.
Just one more example on how mankind continues to show dominion, often without knowing it.
Is it wrong to cheer this guy on? I decided it was not. Click on the images to enlarge.
Just a bear chilling in his new digs. Nothing to see.
I cannot remember if I posted this link already or not, but honestly I still watch it at least three times through each time.
Powerful video to show why video is not a good medium for truth and why I seldom interact with the latest video clip out there that purports to give the real story. Warning, a bit of a language issue here so be forewarned.
Also, note how this is used to ‘bash’ reality TV, as if serious news agencies don’t do the same thing on a consistent basis. If you doubt me then search for “Zimmerman 911 NBC”
An excellent set of photos, some are simply amazing but then I wonder why number 8 and 30 were in there. I could do those. The black and white ones are my favorite I think.
I came across this article last night and had to shake my head yet again. Read the article, it is interesting, but here is the gist of the story. You are pregnant, you want to tour the White House so what do you need to do? Well, you have to fill out a form so that they know how many will be in the tour. No biggie right? But that means that you have to include the baby inside the mother as a separate person.
Now how does that work? This president holds that the ‘baby’ is not a baby but only a fetus which is not a person. Therefore this none person is subject to death if the mother decides she doesn’t what the non-person. But if that same non-person is inside a woman and the said woman wants to tour the White House, all of the sudden the non-person becomes a person. This is the twisted world where reality and truth don’t have to intersect. Just like how his justice department argues that photo I.D. at the polls is wrong and racist, but if you want to enter the same justice department or the White House, you better have a I.D.
My wife is five months pregnant. Last month we went for an ultrasound to see the baby and have the doctors check to make sure everything was progressing nicely. We had done this three times before and were excited. As we met with the doctor and ultrasound technician they referred to what they saw as “your child.” They must have said it 50x during the ultrasound as they referred to “your child’s hand,” “your child’s heart,” etc.
But then something changed.
Another doctor was brought into the room and for 5 minutes he stared at the baby’s heart. The room was completely silent. He then began to tell us that there was a tumor on our child’s heart and started to run down all the scenarios we were now faced with. Then the doctor said to us: “If the fetus is abnormal and that is management problem for you, you have the option to terminate your fetus.” The slight change in wording tells the story. I was in too much shock to respond. But later it dawned on me what he had done. The child my wife was carrying was only a child if we wanted to keep it, as if it was our choice! However, if we did not want the baby, it was only a fetus.
This issue around abortion is an battle for truth. It is a battle that is ugly because what takes place in abortion clinics is ugly. It is a non-negotiable for a Christian. We can never relent is upholding truth no matter what we are told ‘reality’ is.
I don’t have a lot of time today due to needing to completely rewrite my sermon so I will make this one very brief. What would you do in this situation?
My Hispanic surname is from my adoptive, now deceased, father. Since childhood I was told I was Hispanic. And unlike my blue-eyed, sandy-haired mother, I have dark hair and dark eyes and look Hispanic. This is the ethnicity that’s been checked off for me on all school and other forms. My parents always told me this might give me an edge for college admissions or some government jobs. I have recently found out I’m not Hispanic. My mother told me my biological father was Mediterranean, maybe Armenian. I make good grades and was accepted into a good college on my own merits. I’ve been offered a substantial financial scholarship available only for Hispanic students. Is it ethical to take it?
This is a good one to think about because we live in a time when truth is relative, well actually everything is relative. We also live in a time where comfort reigns supreme over most everything and entitlements are just that, entitlements. What is your counsel to this young lady and why? After you finish thinking it through go to the actual story and see what counsel she did receive.